The Fighting Hannah


The Hannah lives on because WE live on.. as long as there is life and breath in those who served in her, the Hannah will live on. When we are gone, we hope America will keep US alive in Memory

The Yeoman has striven to provide a very comprehensive collection of HANCOCK History in this document, gleaned from various sources. He does not take any credit for the history except gathering it here for your perusal. He hopes that you are statisfied with what we have here. Unfortunately most history on the Hancock available on the Web is general history. I hope we've gone above and beyond in gathering history on this Website. The Yeoman has to thank the XO, Dennis Milliken a great deal in providing continued History on our Ship. Visit the XO's Office when you have a chance.

The Yeoman also needs to thank our individual contributors in helping to make this one of the most comprehensive Websites on the History of the U.S.S. HANCOCK CV/CVA-19 found anywhere.

Visit our Website Galleries for more Visual History.

Thanks for your continued visits as well as your support. Please consider supporting this Website. Go here for that.

- Jake


The Essex Class Aircraft Carrier Hull #19, originally laid down as TICONDEROGA, but changed to HANCOCK (CV-19), third vessel of the American Navy named in honor of the famed statesman, John Hancock, was launched on January 25, 1944, at the Bethlehem Steel Company, Fore River, Quincy, Massachusetts.

Note: The fourth Ticonderoga (CV 14) was laid down as Hancock on 1 February 1943 at Newport News, Va., by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co.; renamed Ticonderoga on 1 May 1943, launched on 7 February 1944, sponsored by Miss Stephanie Sarah Pell, and commissioned at the Norfolk Navy Yard on 8 May 1944, Capt. Dixie Kiefer in command.

Click Picture for Launching
The Hancock being launched January 25, 1944 at Bethlehem Steel Company, Fore River, Quincy, Massachusetts

Click Picture for Launching

Mrs. Dewitt Ramsey, wife of Rear Admiral Ramsey, USN, acted as sponsor for the 27,000 ton carrier.

The first ship of the Navy to bear the name Hancock was one of the first group of thirteen frigates authorized for our Continental Navy. This 52 gun ship was named for John Hancock, first signer of the Declaration of Independence. The Hancock, in company with the Boston, captured the British Frigate Fox. A few days later the Hancock was alone and fell in with the HMS Rainbow. After a long chase the Rainbow succeeded in capturing the Hancock. She was renamed the Iris, and as such was known as one of the fastest frigates of her day.

The second Hancock was taken over by the Navy from the War Department in 1902. She had various assignments as receiving ship and troop transport. During World War I she was engaged in transporting the American Expeditionary Forces to France. She was stricken from the Navy list in 1925 and sold in 1926.

Following her commissioning on 15 April 1944, the present Hancock moved to Port of Spain, Trinidad, B.W.I. for her shakedown then back to Boston, Mass., and then via the Panama Canal headed for the Pacific Theater of Operations. After brief stops at San Diego and Pearl Harbor, the Hancock joined Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet at Ulithi in the Western Carolines. Steaming north and west from Ulithi the fast carrier hit airfields on Okinawa Jima on 10 October, thrusting devastation upon airfields and assembled shipping. Her planes chalked up their first kills in a highly successful sweep which reduced Japanese surface forces by a submarine tender, a large tanker, a medium freighter, one small oiler, one oil barge, one LST, and six luggers. Striking again while the Japanese were off balance, the force swung north through the night to launch strikes against Formosa on Columbus Day. As the sun set over the East China Sea a swarm of almost a hundred Japanese aircraft set upon Task Force 38.2. Two confirmed kills were credited to the Hancock's AA guns in a series of raids which lasted for over seven hours.

The Task Force now headed for Ulithi for rest and replenishment. Before they were able to get there, however, the fleet was in motion toward the Philippines and the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The Hancock turned back toward the Philippines but was unable to reach them in time for the opening day fight. Nevertheless, the Hancock's planes caught the retreating Japanese force off the northeast coast of Samar. Attacking again and again the avenging planes scored hits on numerous battleships and cruisers. As the last strike was delivered the central enemy force lay under a heavy pall of its own smoke. Retreating through San Bernardino Strait in the night the enemy found "Hannah's" planes waiting for it as it fled through Jintotola Channel. The force entered the Sibuyan Sea where the battleship Musashi, Bismark of the Japenese Navy, was hit with a 1000 pound bomb.

Through this first operation and the second which followed shortly, the Hancock came out unscathed while dealing a hard blow to the enemy. On her third operation the Hancock's accompanying carriers were hit hard, but the Hancock's luck held. The next operation was cut short due to a severe typhoon which prevented refueling and damaged the anti-aircraft cruiser San Juan as well as damaging three destroyers so badly that they foundered with severe loss of life.

The next sortie from Ulithi saw the Hancock attacking airfields and shipping from the Philippines to Thailand. This was the first penetration of the South China Sea by our surface forces since the beginning of the war. The Hancock drew her first damage on this operation when a returning TBM torpedo plane blew up on the flight deck adjacent to the island.

A Front view of Hancock during WWII with spotted Hellcats on Bow

A Front View of the Hancock in WWII with Spotted F6F Hellcats on Bow.

Details From Official Navy History Website (see below), Raids against Formosa were resumed 20 January 1945. The next afternoon one of her planes returning from a sortie made a normal landing, taxied to a point abreast of the island, and disintegrated in a blinding explosion which killed 50 men and injured 75 others. Again outstanding work quickly brought the fires under control in time to land other planes which were still aloft. She returned to formation and launched strikes against Okinawa the next morning.

Note: There seems to be a discrepancy in the casualty report, as the Official Navy Record differs from the Deck Log entry aboard the ship at the time:

Detail of this accident and explosion from the Deck Log by Jake: "She blazed under fires on her flight and hangar decks, the result of an accidental explosion of two bombs in a returning TBM on 21 January 1945...

A Kamikaze hit on the Flight Deck... April, 1945

"The Deck of the Hancock shortly after a VT-7 TBF Avenger was trapped aboard and while taxiing with two 500-pound bombs in its bomb bay - the pilot, not knowing that he had armed bombs hung up in his Bomb bay.. opened his Bomb bay doors; the bomb falling to the deck and exploded.

The 'Official Navy History Website report states one bomb, when the actual deck log from the time shows that two (2) bombs were "adrift" in the bomb bay which fell to the deck and exploded, obliterating the TBM, her crew and 62 men.. see the Log Entry next..

The Story from the Deck Log:

January 21, 1945.

1328: VT 124, Bu #23539 [a General Motors TBM-3 Avenger], pilot, LT(JG) C.R. Dean, 298954, and crewmen F.J. Blake, ARM3c, and D.E. Zima, AOM2c, made a normal landing and taxied forward. As the plane reached a point abreast the island a violent explosion occurred, believed to have been caused by the detonation of two (2) 500 lb. bombs adrift in the plane's bomb bay. The immediate results of the explosion were: casualties: killed - 62; critically injured - 46; seriously injured - 25; slightly injured - 20. A 10x16 foot hole in the flight deck, gallery deck area in the vicinity demolished, inboard side signal bridge wrecked. Three airplanes demolished. Numerous shrapnel holes throughout the island structure. Fires broke out on the flight, gallery, and hangar decks. Hauled clear of the formation and commenced maneuvering at various courses and speeds in an attempt to control the winds over the deck, and with high speed turns, to wash flooding water out of the hangar deck.

1342: Fire in hangar deck under control.

1405: Fire in gallery deck under control.

1406: Hancock planes in the vicinity commenced landing on other carriers of the Task Group.

1500: Rejoined station in formation.

1510: Emergency repairs to the flight deck completed.

CDR Joseph F. Parker, Senior Chaplain

CDR Joseph F. Parker, Senior Chaplain, 1944-45

Father James J. Doyle, Chaplain, WWII

See Taps Section on these two Chaplains

CDR's Joseph F. Parker and J.J. Doyle were witness to the terror and mayhem that was experienced aboard Hancock during the destruction sent our way, by two exploding 500 Lb. bombs which dropped from the bomb bay of a returning TBM.

These images and more are located in the
Earl P. Ayres WWII Extended Gallery

Somber Remembrance

Funeral for 7 Officers and 43 Enlisted men due to bomb explosion, January 23, 1945.

Burial at Sea

Burial at Sea, October 4, 1945.

Tokyo was the target for raids made by Air Group Eighty on 16 February, 1945 when strikes were directed at airfields east of Tokyo and vicinity, resulting in dogfights over the Japanese capital. The record set by Air Group Eighty for that day's operations surpasses the old one set by the Lexington in 1943 at the "Marianas Turkey Shoot." Six strikes from the Hancock's decks knocked seventy-one confirmed enemy planes out of the sky plus eighteen probables and twenty-seven damaged.

Emphasis by Jake on a very Exciting and Tense moment in Hancock's History (20 March 1945):

During a strike against the home islands of Japan, while the Hancock was refueling the destroyer Halsey Powell, the taskforce was attacked by Kamikaze. An enemy plane was stopped at seven hundred feet overhead by a direct hit but the heavy engine and bomb carried over the starboard side and crashed into the fantail of the Powell. The blow eliminated steering control on the destroyer which immediately sheered to port while the Hancock backed emergency full. From the island Captain Hickey lost sight of the crippled destroyer as she careened across Hancock's bow and under the flight deck overhang. Watchers waited with braced feet for the grinding noise of steel under the momentum of the Hancock's 33,000 tons, but the Powell cleared by inches.

In support of the Okinawa invasion, the Hancock was hit by a Japanese plane when he skimmed through heavy fire in a low attack that ended with the enemy cartwheeling across her flight deck into the spotted planes of Air Group Six. His bomb hit the port catapult with a terrific explosion, followed by the blast of pent-up gasoline fumes as tanks burst under the onslaught of the Japanese juggernaut. Many men were blown over the side by the initial explosion while others were forced to jump to the comparative safety of the open sea. Once again Hancock left the formation and fought against destruction. Wheeling in high speed right turns, the skipper attempted to throw three burning planes forward over the side and to dislodge the sixteen planes parked aft. 62 men were killed and 71 wounded.

In less the 50 minutes the Hancock was back in action and planes returning from strikes were able to land aboard four hours later. Hancock needed extensive repairs and headed for Pearl Harbor.

Jake's additional note, taken from the Deck Log: "Twice now, Hancock experienced Flight and Hangar Deck Fires (21 January 1945 and 7 April 1945), yet in each instance her damage control parties controlled and extinguished the fires quickly enough to limit damage to make it unnecessary for the ship to return to the United States."

Repairs completed, the Hancock again headed for Japanese waters, giving Wake Island a severe pounding enroute. A plane from the Hancock shot down the last enemy plane of the war--a torpedo plane diving on a nearby British Task Force. Her scoreboard showed 732 Japanese planes, 17 warships, and 31 merchant vessels destroyed by her Air Groups and 10 planes destroyed by her guns. Three Air Groups had flown from her decks: Seven, Eight, and Six. Listed as killed or missing were 221 shipmates.

Jake's additional note on he Hancock Deck Log which did not report the death and burial at sea of Roger Gunn, a member of VF-6 operating off Hancock at the time the war came to an end. This report is given by Capt Herschel A. Pahl, USN (Ret), who gave the report to me to add to our Taps Page. I felt it important that Roger's death worthy of note in the Hancock Log and also the Hancock History, but was left out. Therefore, I am taking the privilege of placing it here. It may only be here that it is reported (sadly), but nevertheless all deaths aboard this ship need to be reported, not forgotten as so many have been. Please read Capt Pahl's eye-witness report of the loss of AM1/c Roger W. Gunn...

"On 23 Aug. '45 , while Admiral Halsey's "Operation Tin-Type" was taking place, tragedy struck our squadron when Roger W. Gunn, AM First Class was electrocuted, in an unusual accident, in the Aviation Metal shop. Gunn was making souvenir ash trays from the butt ends of solid brass 40MM and 5" shell casings. The electric drill he was using was apparently improperly grounded.

"Gunn had joined " Butch" O'Hare's VF-3 about the same time as I, and a number of other guys and had continued on in VF-6, as we had done. Others who had been together, with Gunn, for the 3 combat tours were Cliff Seaver, Chief Piwetz, " Buzy" Bauer, Frank Shamrow, Fred Ahern, Joe Robbins, " Cherry" Klingler, " Ken" Decker, George Rodgers, myself, and others.

"It was a sad occasion, yet very impressive, when everyone not on watch, formed on the flight deck to pay last respects to our shipmate. Captain Gallery turned our giant carrier, " The Hannah," downwind, dropped out of formation, and adjusted the speed so that there was a perfect calm over the flight deck during the ceremony.

"Our friend and shipmate, " Shot" Gunn, was buried at sea with full military honors, while his wife, Wilma, waited patiently at home for the latest information. After the honor guard had fired the last salute, and as the bugler had sounded "Taps," the National Ensign covering Roger's remains fluttered slightly, and then lay motionless at attention. The remains of Roger W. Gunn, encased in a weighted cocoon of canvass, had quickly slid from under the Flag as the portage was momentarily tilted toward the sea, by two attendants. As the gentle waves received his remains, a peaceful hush settled over the flight deck and his shipmates assembled there. It was as if everyone was paying their last respects and perhaps mourning inside, not only for their beloved shipmate, but also for all those lost in this long bitter conflict."

This report is also part of the Roger W. Gunn Taps Notice here.

The Hancock made several cruises after the war, the "Magic Carpet" Operation, bringing the troops home. The Hancock was inactivated in 1946.

Recommissioned in 1954, the Hancock was chosen as the first carrier in the U.S. Navy to have steam catapults installed. Equipped with these catapults, the mirror landing system, and angled deck, the Hancock is capable of operating all carrier type planes now in service.

In August 1955, the Hancock again deployed to the Far East where she carried on intensive training and flight operations. Returning to her home port at Alameda in September 1957, the Hancock operated off the California coast carrying on an extensive training program.

The Hancock's next Far East cruise was made in February 1958. During this cruise she was called upon to patrol the Formosa Straits during the tense Quemoy situation. The ship returned to the United States in October.

Again, in August 1959, the Hancock deployed to the Far East, this time in a time of unrest in Laos. Arriving in the Philippines in the latter part of September, the Hancock was made the ready carrier and was kept alert in the area for quite some time before resuming her scheduled deployment in Hong Kong and Japan. She returned home in January 1960.

During the 1960-1961 Western Pacific cruise, the Hancock piled up a record that is envied by bigger and newer carriers. Her readiness and capability are attested to by her log of flight hours, and record of drills and exercises. In March of 1961 Hancock returned to Alameda completing her cruise. She steamed to Bremerton, Washington where shipyard workers took over and began the start of a four month $4,000,000 overhaul. December brought another change of command for Hancock, when Captain P.K. Blesh relieved Captain Kelly on the 19th.

On February 2, 1962, with Carrier Air Group 21 aboard, she again set sail for far eastern waters, pausing at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for operational readiness inspection. As flagship for ComCarDivThree, Hancock departed Yokosuka for the South China Sea. During her stay in this tropical climate, she proved her readiness in numerous exercises and in the breakout of strife in Laos, and Viet Nam.

*She returned to San Francisco 20 August 1962: It was at this time that I came aboard as Ships company. You can read about my time on board ship by being Piped Aboard the USS Hancock (CVA-19) once more and 'Live the Adventure' again with me.

On August 23, 1962, the Hancock sailed across San Francisco Bay for six weeks of repairs at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard, Hunters Point. November 28, 1962 saw Captain P.K. Blesh relieved by Captain T.D. Harris in ceremonies aboard the carrier.

Note: A Shipmate sent the Yeoman an Email September 1, 2006 asking, "Why are we not mentioning the part the Hannah played in October 1962, durring the Cuban Blockade? - John F Davis 1961-1964

And so I sent the XO a Query regarding this short moment in history, and our XO and Website Historian, Dennis Milliken quickly responded:

"No problem on this assignment Jake! You should remember a little about that period! It was about the time when you came aboard. Sadly the Hancock did not play any role, in either event (referring to the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Blockade).. During the Cuban missile crisis the ship was in dry-dock at Hunter's Point. I was going home on leave when the crisis broke out. When I got to Salt Lake City, Utah, there were military police checking serviceman's leave papers. (Remember you had to travel in Uniform then) Those from the East Coast were turned around. West Coast got to continue home, with instructions to contact or Telegram their duty stations for instructions as to their leave status. I did and waited one day for a response. Leave status unchanged! We did not have the massive news media like we have today, so a quick check with the short Six o'clock national news was a priority every evening while I was home. I do remember it was kind of hard to enjoy that leave. I was on leave for 14 days and the crisis consumed 10 days of it "Ten Days October" and "The Missiles of October" were titles for books and movies about the events of October 1962. As I mentioned except for major newspapers and limited television news programs, for some, the crisis was over before they knew about it in any detail, except for the East Coast. They were well aware of it! ~ Dennis"

After operations off the coast of California, she made a brief cruise in December 1962 to the coast of Hawaii while qualifying pilots which we called our "Pineapple Cruise" then again sailed 7 June 1963 for the Far East, arriving June 20, 1963*, Subic Bay, Philippines to join the Seventh Fleet. (*this date is dubious - I am trying to discover the correct date we arrived at Subic after ORI. If you have that date, please sound off.)

The following is a brief synopsis of WestPac Cruise '63 as Jake experienced it...

On 7 June 1963, Operations saw us begin our 7 month WestPac Cruise in the South China Sea around the waters of South Vietnam.

Hancock passed her ORI (Operations Readiness Inspection) with flying colors during her three weeks trials in the waters around the islands of Hawaii. Upon satisfactorily completing ORI, she set sail for the waters of the Western Pacific, but first stopping for a brief stay in her WestPac port of Subic Bay, P.I. Here, her crew enjoyed great liberty in port at Cubi Point,  Grande Island, Olongapo City and also Manila.

Sometime in November, Hancock received word about troubles in the tiny Southeast Asian country, and while on a two weeks R & R port of call in Hong Kong, was called to steam into the Gulf of Tonkin on emergency orders, It was during this time, that President Kennedy and also the puppet president Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam were assassinated. Hancock and the Nation was entering troubled waters and troubled times, which would not only bring us into the Vietnam conflict, but would keep us in it for a period of over 10 years. The "10,000 Day War" as it has come to be known in History.

Hancock was called off it's position as "Southern Carrier" and steamed into the Sea of Japan, to cover for the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43), which needed extensive repairs in Pearl Harbor.. with some Port calls in both Yokosuka and Sasebo, Japan. It was here, that the picture you see of me here was taken.

Hancock filled the position of "Northern Carrier" until relieved by USS Midway sometime in December. During this time, the crew and ship endured several very dangerous typhoons (Read about that experience in greater depth by reading my Memoirs.

Hancock then completed WestPac Cruise '63 in December and steamed back to ConUs but just in time to enjoy a brief stay in Hawaii just before the festive Hawaiian Christmas Holidays.

* Synopsis of WestPac '63 was added by Jake from experience and information gleaned from Cruise Book '63

Captain A.J. Brassfield relieved Captain Harris on December 19, 1963 after Hancock returned to the U.S.

Since then the 45,000 ton carrier has gone through an extensive yard period. Numerous operations and exercises paved the way for the present Far East cruise.


Some sad news to report, that after the end of the Vietnam war, Hancock had finally come to the end of her usefulness, and on 30 MAR 76, was decommissioned and stricken from the Navy's List and was scrapped. Hancock enjoyed a 32 year history of Faithful and Honorable service to her country. It is with much sadness, to report this, and although she is no more, she will always remain in our hearts and memories as one of the Navy's Best! The Fight'n Hannah is now only a Memory.

SOURCE: 1964-1965 Log 19 Cruise Book,
Committee Chairman: Cdr. J.J. Gallegher

A US Naval Communication (Orders) was issued when Hancock was completing WestPac '65 and sent out to PIO (Public Information Office), Pacific Fleet, Hawaii.....

USS Hancock CVA-19 Press Release - May 15, 1965










West Pac '67 - '68 Statistical Box Score

Anyone having Statistics on Hancock during your 'tenure', please send them to me

Deployed 228 Days - 16 June, 1967 To 31 January, 1968
Steamed 92,645 Nautical Miles

Launched 15,421 Aircraft

Recovered 15,177 Aircraft

Flew 9,552 Combat and Combat Support Sorties

Dropped 7,500 Tons of Weapons On North Vietnam

Flew 181 Major Strikes In Northeast Sector (Critical Sector)

Conducted 212 Underway Replenishments

Consumed 19,741,749 Gallons Of Black Oil

Consumed 11,230,000 Gallons Of Jet Fuel

Consumed 974,000 Gallons Of Aviation Gas

- 1,398 Combat Awards Recommended -

The North Korea - USS Pueblo Incident - The Hancock was deployed to Korea during 1968. It was part of a naval presence off the Korean coast until the release of the POWs' It was in Nov.-Dec. of 1968.

In early January 1968 the ship was sent on an electronic intelligence collection mission off the coast of North Korea.
On the 23rd PUEBLO was attacked by North Korean naval vessels and MIG jets.
The 82 surviving crew members were captured and held prisoner for 11 months.

Left, Rear Admiral George S. Morrison, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Il Kwon, and Right, Admiral William F. Bringle, Commander, 7th Fleet, Pacific.

Source: Unknown

Aboard the USS Hancock off South Korea, December 3, 1968: South Korean Prime Minister Chung Il Kwon is flanked by his hosts, Rear Adm. George S. Morrison, left, commander of Carrier Division Nine, and Vice Adm. William F. Bringle, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet in the Pacific, as he watches jets from Air Wing 21 take off and land on the deck of the carrier USS Hancock.

Morrison, father of singer Jim Morrison of The Doors, later served as commander of U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas, before retiring in August, 1975. In January of that year, an Australian humanitarian group dealing with Vietnamese refugees on Guam praised "the high degree of compassion and respect accorded to every single refugee, the fine example set by (Rear) Adm. G.S. Morrison being followed by each American serviceman and servicewoman."

Note: This news release was sent to the Yeoman 19 December 2009 by a contributor, without providing the source. It is worthy of note on this page, and the Yeoman would like to give credit to the source, so if you are the source, please sound off.

Another History Entry on the Hancock can be found in the Dictionary of American Fighting Ships, Vol. III, 1968, Navy Department, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History Division, Washington, D.C.

Notice to the Reader:  If you were a Hancock crew member during her 32 years with the Fleet, I would appreciate reading your own memoirs, and if you have good pictures of the ship during your time aboard, I would like copies of them. You can have them scanned and sent to me via Email - send to admin(at)usshancockcv19(dot)com, or if you wish to send them via surface mail (Snail Mail), please send me an Email with some identification (e.g., Name, time aboard, your rank/rate, etc.) and I'll send you an address where you can send them. Use this Emailer. Submit your Oral History Here.

* I am now providing an area on this Site for your Memoirs + Pictures as a Public Free Service....

Hancock Oral Histories Site

There are interesting Graphic files located at this site.. Visit our onsite Galleries!

Hancock Photo Gallery

Also...Support our Assoociation by a visit to this site and perhaps joining. You don't have to be former shipmates to join. You may join as an "Associate" member!

Visit the Hancock Association's Homepage

Do you have graphic files of Hancock?

If so, you can send them to me at my Internet
Email address, and will be reviewed for consideration on this site.
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Dennis F. Milliken, our XO and Chief Historian has assembled some interesting data of a Historical nature regarding the Hannah, Crew and the Vietnam War. Please visit the XO's Office and the XO's Desk..

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Military Hot Links Page (Old Site)

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Naval Museum Links

This historical document was assembled by Ken "Jake" Jaccard, Web Yeoman, USS Hancock CV/CVA-19 Memorial located on the internet at and gathered from various and sundry other historical documents found on this historical ship. Much of the data assembled here and on other history pages on this Website were gleaned from a thorough search; most of which came to us from the U.S. Naval History Website located at

The Yeoman does not claim authorship of this data, nor does he claim that all data found here or on other historical documents found on this website are completely factual. He merely is providing access to what has been written and discovered on this historical warship, the U.S.S. Hancock CV/CVA-19 and providing it to our visitors. We do, however, hope that what has been written and displayed here is factual since it is our hope that we are delivering history as it happened and not what was interpreted by the talking heads in our society whose interest is not in history but in sales of history books. Such has never been our aim or goal.

Official Navy History (Mirrored from the Navy History Website Above):

Displacement: 27,100 tons
Length: 888 feet
Beam: 93 feet; extreme width at flight deck: 147½ feet
Draft: 28 feet 7 inches
Speed: 33 knots
Complement: 3,448 crew
Armament: 12 5-inch guns, 44 40mm.guns, 59 20mm guns
Aircraft: 80+
Class: Essex (Long Hull)

From: Dictionary of American Fighting Ships and
United States Naval Aviation, 1910-1995, both published by the Naval Historical Center

The fourth Hancock (CV-19) was laid down as Ticonderoga 26 January 1943 by the Bethlehem Steel Co., Quincy, Mass.; renamed Hancock 1 May 1943, launched 24 January 1944; sponsored by Mrs. DeWitt C. Ramsey, wife of Rear Adm. Ramsey, Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics;
and commissioned 15 April 1944, Captain Fred C. Dickey in command.

After fitting out in the Boston Navy Yard and shake-down training off Trinidad and Venezuela, Hancock returned to Boston for alterations 9 July. She departed Boston 31 July 1944 en route to Pearl Harbor via the Panama Canal and San Diego, and from there sailed 24 September to join Adm. W. F. Halsey's Third Fleet at Ulithi 5 October. She was assigned to Rear Adm. Bogan's Carrier Task Group 38.2.

Hancock got underway the following afternoon for a rendezvous point 375 miles west of the Marianas where units of Vice Adm. Mitscher's Fast Carrier Task Force 38 were assembling in preparation for the daring cruise to raid Japanese air and sea bases in the Ryukyus, Formosa, and the Philippines. Thus enemy air power was paralyzed during General MacArthur's invasion of Leyte. When the armada arrived off the Ryukyu Islands 10 October 1944, Hancock's planes rose off her deck to wreak destruction upon Okinawan airfields and shipping. Her planes destroyed seven enemy aircraft on the ground and assisted in the destruction of a submarine tender, 12 torpedo boats, two midget submarines, four cargo ships, and a number of sampans. Next on the agenda were Formosan air bases where 12 October Hancock's pilots downed six enemy planes and destroyed nine more on the ground. She also reported one cargo ship definitely sunk, three probably destroyed, and several others damaged.

As they repelled an enemy air raid that evening, Hancock's gunners accounted for a Japanese plane and drove countless others off during seven hours of uninterrupted general quarters. The following morning her planes resumed their assault, knocking out ammunition dumps, hangars, barracks, and industrial plants ashore and damaging an enemy transport. As Japanese planes again attacked the Americans during their second night off Formosa, Hancock's antiaircraft fire brought down another raider which splashed about 500 yards off her flight deck. On the morning of the third day of operations against this enemy stronghold, Hancock lashed out again at airfields and shipping before retiring to the southeast with her task force. As the American ships withdrew, a heavy force of Japanese aircraft roared in for a parting crack. One dropped a bomb off Hancock's port bow a few seconds before the carrier's guns splashed the attacker into the sea. Another bomb penetrated a gun platform but exploded harmlessly in the water. The surviving attackers then turned tail, and the task force was thereafter unmolested as they sailed toward the Philippines to support the landings at Leyte.

On 18 October 1944, she launched planes against airfields and shipping at Laoag, Aparri, and Camiguin Island in Northern Luzon. Her planes struck the islands of Cebu, Panay, Negros, and Masbate, pounding enemy airfields and shipping. The next day she retired toward Ulithi with Vice Admiral John S. McCain's Carrier Task Group 38.1.

She received orders 23 October to turn back to the area off Samar to assist in the search for units of the Japanese fleet reportedly closing Leyte to challenge the American fleet and to destroy amphibious forces which were struggling to take the island from Japan. Hancock did not reach Samar in time to assist the heroic escort carriers and destroyers of "Taffy 3" during the main action of the Battle off Samar but her planes did manage to lash the fleeing Japanese Center Force as it passed through the San Bernardino Straits. Hancock then rejoined Rear Adm. Bogan's Task Group with which she struck airfields and shipping in the vicinity of Manila 29 October 1944. During operations through 19 November, her planes gave direct support to advancing Army troops and attacked Japanese shipping over a 350-mile area. She became flagship of Fast Carrier Task Force 38, 17 November 1944 when Vice Adm. McCain came on board.

Unfavorable weather prevented operations until 25 November when an enemy aircraft roared toward Hancock in a suicide dive out of the sun. Antiaircraft fire exploded the plane some 300 feet above the ship but a section of its fuselage landed amid ships and a part of the wing hit the flight deck and burst into flames. Prompt and skillful teamwork quickly extinguished the blaze and prevented serious damage.

Hancock returned to Ulithi 27 November 1944 and departed from that island with her task group to maintain air patrol over enemy airfields on Luzon to prevent enemy suicide attacks on amphibious vessels of the landing force in Mindoro. The first strikes were launched 14 December against Clark and Angeles Airfields as well as enemy ground targets on Salvador Island. The next day her planes struck installations at Masinloc, San Fernando, and Cabatuan, while fighter patrols kept the Japanese airmen down. Her planes also attacked shipping in Manila Bay.

Hancock encountered a severe typhoon 17 December and rode out the storm in waves which broke over her flight deck, some 55 feet above her waterline. She put into Ulithi 24 December and got underway six days later to attack airfields and shipping around the South China Sea. Her planes struck hard blows at Luzon airfields 7 and 8 January 1945 and turned their attention back to Formosa 9 January hitting fiercely at airfields and the Tokyo Seaplane Station. An enemy convoy north of Camranh Bay, Indochina, was the next victim with two ships sunk and 11 damaged. That afternoon Hancock launched strikes against airfields at Saigon and shipping on the northeastern bulge of French Indochina. Strikes by the fast and mobile carrier force continued through 16 January, hitting Hainan Island in the Gulf of Tonkin, the Pescadores Islands, and shipping in the harbor of Hong Kong. Raids against Formosa were resumed 20 January 1945. The next afternoon one of her planes returning from a sortie made a normal landing, taxied to a point abreast of the island, and disintegrated in a blinding explosion which killed 50 men and injured 75 others. Again outstanding work quickly brought the fires under control in time to land other planes which were still aloft. She returned to formation and launched strikes against Okinawa the next morning.

Detail of this accident and explosion from the Deck Log by Jake: "She blazed under fires on her flight and hangar decks, the result of an accidental explosion of the bomb in a returning TBM on 21 January 1945.

Hancock reached Ulithi 25 January 1945 where Vice Adm. McCain left the ship and relinquished command of the 5th Fleet. She sortied with the ships of her task group 10 February and launched strikes against airfields in the vicinity of Tokyo 16 February. During that day her air group downed 71 enemy planes, and accounted for 12 more the next. Her planes hit the enemy naval bases at Chichi Jima and Haha Jima 19 February. These raids were conducted to isolate Iwo Jima from air and sea support when Marines hit the beaches of that island to begin one of the most bloody and fierce campaigns of the war. Hancock took station off this island to provide tactical support through 22 February, hitting enemy airfields and strafing Japanese troops ashore.

Returning to waters off the enemy home islands, Hancock launched her planes against targets on northern Honshu, making a diversionary raid on the Nansei-shoto islands 1 March before returning to Ulithi 4 March.

Back in Japanese waters Hancock joined other carriers in strikes against Kyushu airfields, southwestern Honshu and shipping in the Inland Sea of Japan, 18 March 1945. Hancock was refueling the destroyer USS Halsey Powell (DD 686) on 20 March when suicide planes attacked the task force. One plane dove for the two ships but was disintegrated by gunfire when about 700 feet overhead. Fragments of the plane hit Hancock's deck while its engine and bomb crashed the fantail of the destroyer. Hancock's gunners shot down another plane as it neared the release point of its bombing run on the carrier. Hancock was reassigned to Carrier Task Group 58.3 with which she struck the Nansei-shoto islands 23 through 27 March and Minami Daito Jima and Kyushu at the end of the month.

When the 10th Army landed on the western coast of Okinawa 1 April Hancock was on hand to provide close air support. A suicide plane cartwheeled across her flight deck 7 April and crashed into a group of planes while its bomb hit the port catapult to cause a tremendous explosion. Although 62 men were killed and 71 wounded, heroic efforts doused the fires within half an hour enabling her to be back in action before an hour had passed.

Jake additional note, taken from the Deck Log: "Twice now, Hancock experienced Flight and Hangar Deck Fires (21 January 1945 and 7 April 1945), yet in each instance her damage control parties controlled and extinguished the fires quickly enough to limit damage to make it unnecessary for the ship to return to the United States."

Hancock was detached from her task group 9 April 1945 and steamed to Pearl Harbor for repairs. She sailed back into action 13 June and left lethal calling cards at Wake Island 20 June en route to the Philippines. Hancock sailed from San Pedro Bay with the other carriers 1 July and attacked Tokyo airfields 10 July. She continued to operate in Japanese waters until she received confirmation of Japan's capitulation 15 August 1945 when she recalled her planes from their deadly missions before they reached their targets. However planes of her photo division were attacked by seven enemy aircraft over Sagami Wan. Three were shot down and a fourth escaped in a trail of smoke. Later that afternoon planes of Hancock's air patrol shot down a Japanese torpedo plane as it dived on a British task force. Her planes flew missions over Japan in search of prison camps, dropping supplies and medicine, 25 August. Information collected during these flights led to landings under command of Commodore R. W. Simpson which brought doctors and supplies to all Allied prisoner of war encampments.

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When the formal surrender of the Japanese Imperial Government was signed on board battleship USS Missouri, Hancock's planes flew overhead. The carrier entered Tokyo Bay 10 September 1945 and sailed 30 September embarking 1,500 passengers at Okinawa for transportation to San Pedro, Calif., where she arrived 21 October. Hancock was fitted out for "Magic Carpet" duty at San Pedro and sailed for Seeadler Harbor, Manus Admiralty Islands, 2 November. On her return voyage she carried 4,000 passengers who were debarked at San Diego 4 December. A week later Hancock departed for her second "Magic Carpet" voyage, embarking 3,773 passengers at Manila for return to Alameda, Calif., 20 January 1946. She embarked Air Group 7 at San Diego 18 February for air operations off the coast of California. She sailed from San Diego 11 March to embark men of two air groups and aircraft at Pearl Harbor for transportation to Saipan, arriving 1 April 1946. After receiving two other air groups on board at Saipan, she loaded a cargo of aircraft at Guam and steamed by way of Pearl Harbor to Alameda, Calif., arriving 23 April 1946. She then steamed to Seattle, Wash., 29 April to await inactivation. The proud ship decommissioned and entered the reserve fleet at Bremerton, Wash.

Hancock commenced conversion and modernization to an attack aircraft carrier in Puget Sound 15 December 1951 and was reclassified CVA-19, 1 October 1952. She recommissioned 15 February 1954, Captain W. S. Butts in command. She was the first carrier of the United States Fleet with steam catapults capable of launching high performance jets.

She was off San Diego 7 May 1954 for operations along the coast of California that included the launching 17 June of the first aircraft to take off from a United States carrier by means of a steam catapult. After a year of operations along the Pacific coast that included testing of Sparrow I and Regulus missiles and Cutlass jet aircraft, she sailed 10 August 1955 for 7th Fleet operations ranging from the shores of Japan to the Philippines and Okinawa. She returned to San Diego 15 March 1956 and decommissioned 13 April for conversion that included the installation of an angled flight deck.

Hancock recommissioned 15 November 1956 for training out of San Diego until 6 April 1957 when she again sailed for Hawaii and the Far East. She returned to San Diego 18 September 1957 and again departed for Japan 15 February 1958. She was a unit of powerful carrier task groups taking station off Taiwan when the Nationalist Chinese islands of Quemoy and Matsu were threatened with Communist invasion in August 1958. The carrier returned to San Diego 2 October 1958 for overhaul in the San Francisco Naval Shipyard, followed by rigorous at-sea training out of San Diego. On 1 August 1959, she sailed to reinforce the 7th Fleet as troubles in Laos demanded the watchful presence of powerful American forces in water off southeast Asia. She returned to San Francisco 18 January 1960 and put to sea early in February to participate in a new demonstration of communications by reflecting ultra-high-frequency waves off the moon. She again departed in August to steam with the 7th Fleet in waters off Laos until lessening of tension in that area permitted operations ranging from Japan to the Philippines.

Hancock returned to San Francisco in March 1961, then entered the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an overhaul that gave her new electronics gear and many other improvements. She again set sail for Far Eastern waters 2 February 1962, patrolling in the South China Sea as crisis and strife mounted both in Laos and in South Vietnam. She again appeared off Quemoy and Matsu in June 1962 to stem a threatened Communist invasion there, then trained along the coast of Japan and in waters reaching to Okinawa. She returned to San Francisco 20 August 1962; then made a brief cruise to the coast of Hawaii December 1962 while qualifying pilots then again sailed 7 June 1963 for the Far East.

Hancock joined in combined defense exercises called, "Operation Nightmare" along the coast of South Korea, then being called off R&R at Hong Kong on Emergency Orders and deployed off the coast of South Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin after the coup which resulted in the death of President Ngo Dinh Diem.

Returning to Home Port at Naval Air Station (NAS), Alameda, California 16 December 1963, she entered the Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard 16 January 1964 for modernization that included installation of a new ordnance system, hull repairs, and aluminum decking for her flight deck. She celebrated her 20th birthday 2 June 1964 while visiting San Diego. The carrier made a training cruise to Hawaii, then departed Alameda 21 October 1964 for another tour of duty with the 7th Fleet in the Far East.

Hancock reached Japan 19 November and soon was on patrol at Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin. She remained active in Vietnamese waters fighting to thwart Communist aggression until heading for home early in the spring of 1965.

November found the carrier steaming back to the war zone. She was on patrol off Vietnam 16 December 1965; and, but for brief respites at Hong Kong, the Philippines, or Japan, Hancock remained on station launching her planes for strikes at enemy positions ashore until returning to Alameda, Calif., 1 August 1966. Her outstanding record during this combat tour won her the Navy Unit Commendation.

Following operations off the west coast, Hancock returned to Vietnam early in 1967 and resumed her strikes against Communist positions. After fighting during most of the first half of 1967, she returned to Alameda 22 July and promptly began preparations for returning to battle.

Aircraft from Hancock, along with those from USS Ranger (CV 61) and USS Oriskany (CV 34), joined with other planes for air strikes against North Vietnamese missile and antiaircraft sites south of the 19th parallel in response to attacks on unarmed U.S. reconnaissance aircraft on 21-22 November 1970. Hancock alternated with Ranger and with USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) on Yankee station until 10 May 1971 when she was relieved by USS Midway (CV 41).

Hancock, along with USS Coral Sea (CV-43), was back on Yankee station by 30 March 1972 when North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam. In response to the invasion, Naval aircraft from Hancock and other carriers flew tactical sorties during Operation Freedom Train against military and logistics targets in the southern part of North Vietnam. By the end of April, the strikes covered more areas in North Vietnam throughout the area below 20° 25'N. Between 25 and 30 April, aircraft from Hancock's VA-55, VA-164, and VA-211 struck enemy-held territory around Kontum and Pleiku.

Hancock was again deployed to the waters off South Vietnam again in 1975. Departing Subic Bay, R.P., 23 March, she, along with the carriers Coral Sea, Midway, USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and the amphibious assault ship USS Okinawa (LPH 3 ), stood by for the possible evacuation of refugees after North Vietnam overran two-thirds of the south. Nearly 9,000 were evacuated: 1,373 U.S. personnel and 6,422 of other nationalities. On 12-14 May, she was alerted, although not utilized, for the recovery of SS Mayaguez, a U.S. merchantman with 39 crew, seized in international waters on 12 May by the Communist Khmer Rouge.

Hancock was decommissioned 30 January 1976. She was stricken from the Navy list the following day, and sold for scrap by the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS) 1 September 1976.

Hancock was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation and received four battle stars for service in World War II.