After an extensive modernization at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, the U.S.S. Hancock, third ship to bear the name is about to join the fleet again. The HANCOCK contains most complete and modern fighting equipment that has been produced. It will operated the fastest and heaviest Navy type aircraft and is the first U.S. Navy carrier to have the steam catapult and Mark 7 arresting gear installed.
The first ship of the Navy to bear the name HANCOCK was one of the original thirteen frigates of the Continental Navy, authorized by the Continental Congress in 1775 and named after John Hancock, the first signer of the Declaration of Independence.
The second HANCOCK was taken over by the Navy from the War Department on 8 November 1902 and served notably as a transport until 10 September 1925 when she was placed out of commission.
The present HANCOCK was first commissioned on 15 April 1944 at the Boston Navy Yard. During her trials on 27 May 1944 the present Commanding Officer of the HANCOCK, Captain W. S. Butts, USN, became the first pilot to take off and land aboard when his TBF led Fighter Squadron 7 into the air for qualification landings.
After a brief shakedown cruise, the HANCOCK left the East Coast via the Panama Canal to join the Pacific Fleet. From 5 October until the end of World War II the HANCOCK was actively engaged as a fighting unit of the Pacific Fleet. During this time Air Groups Seven, Eighty and Six flew from her deck and accounted for the sinking of 17 enemy warships, 51 enemy merchant ships, wrecked 51 Japanese trains and shot down 725 Japanese aircraft. A record was established when in one afternoon over Tokyo, Air Group Eighty shot down 72 planes. The HANCOCK's own guns shot down 10 Japanese planes.
Twice the ship was hurt. Once when a live bomb exploded after it rolled out of a bomb bay of one of her own planes that had just landed, and again when a Japanese Kamikaze scored a hit. Both times, the HANCOCK got back into the fight in short order.
At the conclusion of the war, the ship spent a few weeks in the Tokyo area before returning to the United States with the Third Fleet for a brief visit. This was followed by two round trips to Pacific Islands, made to help return our victorious troops.
Once again her flight deck buzzed with activity, when in March 1946, the HANCOCK had a short operating period with Air Group Seven in the San Diego area. As a final assignment, the ship transported two Air Groups to Guam.
On 7 May 1945 after having steamed 190,881 miles during her colorful career, the U.S.S. HANCOCK reported to the Bremerton Group of the Nineteenth Fleet for inactivation. This was accomplished on 12 September 1946.
On 15 July 1946 the HANCOCK was officially awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for outstanding heroism in action.
The conversion of the HANCOCK started on 15 December 1951. She is the first of six carriers of her type to receive the 27C conversion which among other changes includes a starboard deck edge elevator.
Today, the U.S.S. HANCOCK becomes a major unit of the United States Fleet.
Edited by Ken "Jake" Jaccard, courtesy of Richard A. Kirsch
Web Yeoman, Jake's 'Yankee Station' - USS Hancock CV/CVA-19 Memorial
20 October 2001
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