About the USS Franklin

The USS Franklin (CV-13)

Before dawn on 19 March 1945 the U.S.S. Franklin, who had maneuvered closer to the Japanese mainland than had any other U.S. carrier during the war, launched a fighter sweep against Honshu and later a strike against shipping in Kobe Harbor. Suddenly, a single enemy plane pierced the cloud cover and made a low level run on the gallant ship to drop two semi-armor piercing bombs. One struck the flight deck centerline, penetrating to the hangar deck, effecting destruction and igniting fires through the second and third decks, and knocking out the combat information center and airplot. The second hit aft, tearing through two decks and fanning fires, which triggered ammunition, bombs and rockets. The Franklin, within 50 miles of the Japanese mainland, lay dead in the water, took a 13° starboard list, lost all radio communications, and broiled under the heat from enveloping fires. Many of the crew were blown overboard, driven off by fire, killed or wounded, but the 106 officers and 604 enlisted who voluntarily remained saved their ship through sheer valor and tenacity. The casualties totaled 724 killed and 265 wounded, and would have far exceeded this number except for the heroic work of many survivors. Among these were Medal of Honor winners, Lieutenant Commander Joseph T. O’Callahan, S. J., USNR, the ship’s chaplain, who administered the last rites, organized and directed firefighting and rescue parties, and led men below to wet down magazines that threatened to explode, and Lieutenant (junior grade) Donald Gary who discovered 300 men trapped in a blackened mess compartment, and finding an exit, returned repeatedly to lead groups to safety. The U.S.S. Santa Fe (CL-60) similarly rendered vital assistance in rescuing crewmen from the sea and closing the Franklin to take off the numerous wounded.

The Franklin was taken in tow by the U.S.S. Pittsburgh until she managed to churn up speed to 14 knots and proceed to Pearl Harbor where a cleanup job permitted her to sail under her own power to Brooklyn, N.Y., arriving on 28 April. Following the end of the war, the Franklin was opened to the public, for Navy Day celebrations, and on 17 February 1947 was placed out of commission at Bayonne, N.J. On 15 May 1959 she was reclassified AVT 8.

The U.S.S. Franklin received four battle stars for World War II service.

From: Dictionary Of American Naval Fighting Ships, Vol. II, 1977, pp. 443-444

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This web site is devoted to all of those that so gallantly served on the U.S.S. Franklin during this most courageous time. Many lost their lives that day, many have passed on since then, and for those that remain with us, and all that served, we salute you!

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Note from Phil Gentry who compiled the bulk of the content on this website:

My father, Robert E. Gentry, Sgt, USMC, (Jun 8, 1924 – Dec 26, 1967) served on the Franklin that day. He was with many of his Marine buddies, Kenneth (KK) Thompson, Mike Sansone, John Norman, Joe Titus, Patrick Sculley, all members of the infamous group, Black Sheep Squadron. Half of the squadron assigned to the Franklin perished; lost, but not forgotten.

  • Essex class (short-hull) Fleet Carrier
  • Displacement: 34,800 tons
  • Length: 872′
  • Beam: 147′
  • Draft: 28’7″
  • Speed: 33 knots
  • Armament: 12 5″/38, 18×4 40mm, 60 20mm; 103 planes (37 F6F, 36 #B2C, 18 TBM)
  • Complement: 3,448 personnel
  • Geared turbine engines, 4 screws, 150,000 shaft hp.
  • Built at Newport News, and commissioned 31 January 1944

The USS Franklin, fifth of her name in the United States Navy, bears an eminent name in the history of our country and our Navy.FRANKLIN I was an armed schooner fitted out, by order of General Washington, by the Massachusetts Colony at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War.  In 1776, the Franklin, under Captain James Mugford, captured the “Hope” loaded with military supplies and powder, intrenching tools, and gun carriages, and delivered these supplies to the Continental Army.

FRANKLIN II was an eight gun brig which took part in the first war with the Barbary Pirates.

FRANKLIN II was a 74-gun ship of the line laid down in 1815.  After serving in the Tripolitan War, she rendered important service in the protection of American shipping in the Eastern Pacific in 1822.

FRANKLIN IV was a 39-gun steam frigate launched at the close of the Civil War.  Pride of the Navy, she was designated as Admiral Farragut’s flagship on his triumphant cruise to Europe in 1867.  She also was for many years, the Receiving Ship at the old St. Helena Training Station across the Elizabeth River from the Norfolk Navy Yard. 

War Cruise of USS Franklin (CV-13)

Keel laid NNSB/&DD Co., Newport News, Virginia

Launched, Captain Mildred H. McAfee, W-V(S) USNR, sponsor

Commissioned, Captain J. M. Shoemaker, Commanding

Started Shakedown Cruise to Trinidad, Gulf of Paria, S.A.

7 Dec 1942

14 Oct 1943

31 Jan 1944

20 Mar 1944

Departed Norfolk, Virginia for West Coast

First Canal Transit

Arrived San Diego, California

Departed San Diego, California

Departed Pearl Harbor for War Zone

5 May 1944

11 May 1944

19 May 1944

1 Jun 1944

23 Jun 1944

Participated in Marianas Operation

Strikes against Iwo Jima, Haha Jima, and Chichi Jima in the Bonin & Volcano Islands

Strikes against Rota and Guam, and Invasion of Guam, Marianas Islands 

Strikes against Palau Islands, Yap and Ulithi

Strikes against Bonin and Volcano Islands

1 STAR

3-4 Jul 1944

6-22 Jul 1944

25-27 Jul 1944

4-5 Aug 1944

Western Caroline Islands Operation

Strikes against Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima

Strikes against Yap and Ulithi Islands

Invasion support of Peleliu and Angaur Islands, Palau Islands

Crossed Equator

1 STAR

31 Aug – 2 Sep 1944

6-8 Sep 1944

10-16 Sep 1944

20 Sep 1944

Leyte Operation

Strikes against Okinawa Jima, Nansei Shoto

Strikes against Aparri, Luzon, Philippine Islands

Strikes against Tainan, Island of Formosa

1 STAR

10 Oct 1944

11 Oct 1944

12-13 Oct 1944

The Franklin sustained negligible damage from a strafing suicide plane off Formosa on 13 October 1944.  The plane crashed just aft the island structure, slid across the flight deck and burst into flames upon striking the water on the starboard side.
Strikes against Aparri, Manila and Legaspi, Philippine Islands 14-19 Oct 1944
Three Japanese bombs caused minor damage to the Franklin on 15 October 1944, East of Luzon Island.  One small bomb penetrated the corner of the deck edge elevator and detonated just below the flight deck level, causing minor fragment damage and a small gasoline fire.  The second bomb detonated upon striking the water, close aboard to port.  The third bomb detonated on water impact close aboard to starboard.
Invasion Support of Leyte, Philippine Islands

Strikes against manila Bay Area

Battle of Leyte Gulf

Support of Ground Troops, Leyte, Philippine Islands

20 Oct 1944

22-23 Oct 1944

24-26 Oct 1944

27-30 Oct 1944

On 30 October 1944, the Franklin was damaged extensively by a Japanese suicide plane east of Samar Island.  The plane with a bomb load aboard crashed through the flight deck, igniting planes parked at the after end of the flight deck.  The bombs carried forward, detonating among the gassed planes in the hanger and causing fires in the after portion of the flight deck and hangar.  The fire spread to the second and third deck spaces.  In addition, gas explosions occurred in the hangar, but all fires were extinguished in two and one half hours.  Structural damage was extensive to the flight and gallery decks as well as to structures within the hangar.
Arrived Ulithi

Captain L. E. Gehres relieved Captain J. M. Shoemaker as Commanding Officer

Departed Ulithi

Arrived Pearl Harbor

At Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington for repairs

Arrived San Francisco, California

Departed San Francisco, California

Departed Pearl Harbor for War Zone

Crossed International Date Line

Arrived Ulithi

2 Nov 1944

7 Nov 1944

11 Nov 1944

21 Nov 1944

27 Nov-2 Feb 1945

4 Feb 1945

7 Feb 1945

3 Mar 1945

6 Mar 1945

13 Mar 1945

Okinawa Gunto Operation

Strikes against Kyushu, Shikoku, Islands of Japanese Empire

1 STAR

18-19 Mar 1945

On 19 March 1945, off Shikoku, the Franklin was struck by two bombs which passed through the flight deck and detonated in the hangar.  A terrific conflagration fed by gasoline in aircraft fuel tanks, together with detonations of a large number of heavy bombs and rockets loaded on aircraft, demolished a major part of the flight deck and wrecked the hangar and gallery deck spaces.  Flooding from fire-fighting water caused a heavy list.  All machinery spaces were evacuated because of smoke and heat and all power failed.  This is the worst damage which any United States warship has survived.
Arrived Ulithi

Crossed International Date Line on Easter Sunday

Arrived Pearl Harbor

Second Passage through Panama Canal

Arrived New York

Arrived New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York for repairs

Commander H.H. Hale relieved Captain L. E. Gehres as Commanding Officer

24 Mar 1945

1 Apr 1945

3 Apr 1945

20 Apr 1945

26 Apr 1945

28 Apr 1945

30 Jun 1945

Traveled approximately 102,000 miles

SCORE BOARD

SHIP

AIR GROUP 13

AIR GROUP 5
Period of Service 1/31/44 – 3/19/45 1/31/44 – 11/21/44 2/7/45 – 3/19/45
Jap planes shot down 6 88 plus 29 probables 18
Jap planes destroyed on ground 145 8
Jap planes damaged 138 12
Warships sunk 12 for 56,000 tons None
Warships damaged 19 for 254,000 tons 1 CVE, 3 small ships, 1 CV Hull
Merchant ships sunk 52 for 121,000 tons None
Merchant ships damaged 66 for 158,000 tons 1 large, 7 small
(lower section of this page, from ship drawing down, US Navy papers)

/signed/  

T.J. Greene

Lieut. Comdr., US Navy

Executive Officer

One thought on “About the USS Franklin

  1. I hope to find information about a childhood hero, C. K. “Buddy” Faught who survived the 19MAR45 bombing of The Franklin. He was one of 12 VMF-214 pilots in ReadyRoom#51 and, apparently, the sole survivor. The blast broke an arm and both legs, one of which had to be amputated. After the war Faught did much for the advancement of aviation. Any information and/or photos would be appreciated.

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