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Exploring the History of USS Wasp (CV-7) From Construction to Final Resting Place

Since its launch in 1940, the USS Wasp (CV-7) has played a significant role in American naval history. This aircraft carrier served during World War II, participating in various battles and campaigns before ultimately meeting its tragic fate in 1942. Despite its short lifespan, the USS Wasp (CV-7) left behind a lasting legacy and continues to be remembered by many.

Exploring the History of USS Wasp (CV-7) From Construction to Final Resting Place

History of USS Wasp (CV-7)

The USS Wasp (CV-7) was one of the eight Essex-class aircraft carriers built for the United States Navy during World War II. It was named after the previous Wasp (CV-7), which had sunk in September 1942 during the Guadalcanal campaign. The construction of the new USS Wasp (CV-7) began on April 1, 1936, at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts, and it was launched on April 4, 1939.

At the time of its launch, the USS Wasp (CV-7) was the largest and most advanced warship in the world. It measured 741 feet in length and had a beam of 109 feet. Its top speed was over 30 knots, and it could hold up to 72 aircraft. The carrier was powered by four Parsons steam turbines, generating 120,000 horsepower.

Exploring the History of USS Wasp (CV-7) From Construction to Final Resting Place

Construction and Design of USS Wasp (CV-7)

The USS Wasp (CV-7) was designed with a flush deck to accommodate more aircraft and reduce air resistance. It also had an island structure on the right side of the flight deck, which housed the bridge, radar, and other control systems. The island was an innovation in aircraft carrier design, as previous carriers had the island centrally located, obstructing the flight deck’s port side.

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The carrier had a hangar deck below the flight deck, which was used to store aircraft and also served as a repair and maintenance area. The USS Wasp (CV-7) was equipped with two elevators that could lift aircraft from the hangar deck to the flight deck. It also had a steam catapult system for launching aircraft and arresting wires to help them land.

Exploring the History of USS Wasp (CV-7) From Construction to Final Resting Place

USS Wasp (CV-7) in World War II

The USS Wasp (CV-7) joined the Pacific Fleet in April 1942, just in time to participate in the crucial battles of the war. On May 15, it departed from Norfolk, Virginia, for the western Pacific and conducted training exercises en route. The carrier reached its destination at Pearl Harbor on June 26 and joined the Pacific Fleet’s Task Force 16.

From July to September 1942, the USS Wasp (CV-7) took part in several campaigns, including the invasion of Guadalcanal, Battle of Guadalcanal, and the Solomon Islands campaign. During these battles, the carrier launched airstrikes against Japanese forces, providing critical support to the American troops on the ground.

Battles and Campaigns of USS Wasp (CV-7)

Invasion of Guadalcanal

On August 7, 1942, the USS Wasp (CV-7) played a vital role in the invasion of Guadalcanal, known as Operation Watchtower. It provided air cover for the landing forces and launched airstrikes on Japanese positions while avoiding enemy fire. The carriers’ aircraft also sank or damaged several Japanese ships, including a battleship, cruiser, and destroyer.

Exploring the History of USS Wasp (CV-7) From Construction to Final Resting Place

Battle of Guadalcanal

Two months later, on September 15, 1942, the USS Wasp (CV-7) was again involved in a significant battle, this time called the Battle of Guadalcanal. The carrier was one of the six American carriers that engaged in combat with a fleet of Japanese carriers. In this battle, the USS Wasp (CV-7) and its aircraft were instrumental in sinking the Japanese carrier Ryujo and damaging two others.

Solomon Islands Campaign

After the Battle of Guadalcanal, the USS Wasp (CV-7) continued to support the Solomon Islands campaign by launching airstrikes on Japanese bases and ships. On September 15, 1942, the carrier was hit by a torpedo from the Japanese submarine I-19, causing severe damage and fires on board. Despite the efforts of the crew to contain the damage, the carrier had to be abandoned, and it sank the next morning.

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USS Wasp (CV-7) Crew and Personnel

The USS Wasp (CV-7) had a crew of around 2,200 officers and enlisted men. They were responsible for operating and maintaining the carrier, as well as launching and recovering aircraft during missions. The crew consisted of various roles, including pilots, mechanics, navigators, and gunners.

One notable member of the USS Wasp (CV-7) crew was Lieutenant Commander Forrest P. Sherman, who served as the carrier’s executive officer. He later became the youngest admiral in the history of the U.S. Navy and went on to play a significant role in the Korean War.

Exploring the History of USS Wasp (CV-7) From Construction to Final Resting Place

Aircraft Carried by USS Wasp (CV-7)

The USS Wasp (CV-7) could carry up to 72 aircraft, including fighters, dive bombers, and torpedo planes. Some of the aircraft that operated from the carrier included Grumman F4F Wildcats, Douglas SBD Dauntlesses, and Grumman TBF Avengers. These aircraft played crucial roles in the battles and campaigns the USS Wasp (CV-7) participated in.

USS Wasp (CV-7) After World War II

After its sinking, the USS Wasp (CV-7) remained at the bottom of the ocean for over 70 years. In 2019, a team of deep-sea explorers discovered the wreck of the carrier resting 14,000 feet below the surface of the Coral Sea. The sunken ship was found to be remarkably well-preserved, with many elements still intact, including the island structure and aircraft.

The discovery of the USS Wasp (CV-7) wreck provided valuable insights into the design and construction of World War II-era aircraft carriers. It also allowed for a better understanding of the final moments of the carrier and its crew.

Exploring the History of USS Wasp (CV-7) From Construction to Final Resting Place

Legacy of USS Wasp (CV-7)

Despite its short lifespan, the USS Wasp (CV-7) left behind a significant legacy in American naval history. The carrier played a crucial role in several key battles and campaigns during World War II, earning four battle stars for its service. Its innovative design and advanced technology also served as a foundation for future aircraft carriers.

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USS Wasp (CV-7) Memorials and Commemorations

To honor the crew and their sacrifices, the USS Wasp (CV-7) has been commemorated in various ways. In 1943, the U.S. Navy commissioned the USS Wasp (CV-18), which was named in memory of the original Wasp (CV-7). This new carrier went on to serve in the Korean War and Vietnam War before being decommissioned in 1972.

In 1989, the U.S. Navy also launched the USS Wasp (LHD-1), an amphibious assault ship that is currently in active service. The ship’s name was chosen to honor both the original Wasp (CV-7) and the Wasp-class amphibious assault ships that served in World War II.

Exploring the History of USS Wasp (CV-7) From Construction to Final Resting Place

USS Wasp (CV-7) in Popular Culture

The story of the USS Wasp (CV-7) has also been portrayed in various forms of media, including books, documentaries, and films. Some notable examples include the book “Winged Victory: The Story of the USS Wasp CV-7” by Geoffrey Marcus and the film “The Fighting Lady,” which features footage of the carrier in action during World War II.

In recent years, the discovery of the USS Wasp (CV-7) wreck has also sparked interest in its story, resulting in several documentaries and articles about the carrier’s history and significance.


The USS Wasp (CV-7) may have had a short lifespan, but its impact on American naval history is undeniable. From its groundbreaking design to its crucial role in battles and campaigns during World War II, this carrier has earned its place in the annals of military history. And though it may now rest at the bottom of the ocean, its legacy lives on through its namesake ships and the memories of those who served onboard.

Exploring the History of USS Wasp (CV-7) From Construction to Final Resting Place

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