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NavSource Online: Aircraft Carrier Photo Archive


Contributed by Joe Radigan

USS FRANKLIN   (CV-13)


Air Attack, March 19, 1945

724 killed, 265 wounded

[...] Before dawn on 19 March 1945, Franklin, Captain Leslie E. Gehres, commanding, 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 air plot. The second hit aft, tearing through two decks and fanning fires that triggered ammunition, bombs, and rockets. 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 had been blown overboard, driven off by fire, or had been killed or wounded, but the 106 officers and 604 enlisted who voluntarily remained on board 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 [was] Lieutenant Commander Joseph T. O'Callahan, ChC (SJ) USNR, the ship's Roman Catholic chaplain, who emerged "as a soul-stirring sight. He seemed to be everywhere," an eyewitness recounted later [CDR Joe Taylor, XO], "giving Extreme Unction to the dead and dying, urging the men on and himself handling hoses, jettisoning ammunition and doing everything he could to help save our ship. He was so conspicuous not only because of the cross daubed with paint across his helmet but because of his seemingly detached air as he went from place to place with head slightly bowed as if in meditation or prayer." Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Donald A. Gary also emerged a hero, calming anxious men seemingly trapped in a smoke-filled compartment. After finding an exit after repeated attempts, he led some 300 of his shipmates to safety. He later organized and led fire-fighting parties to battle the blazing inferno on the hangar deck, and entered number three fireroom to raise steam in one boiler, braving extreme hazards in so doing. Both men subsequently received Medals of Honor for their bravery; ships were also named for them [see USS O'Callahan (DE-1051) and USS Gary (FFG-51)]. Light cruiser Santa Fe (CL-60) similarly rendered vital assistance in rescuing crewmen from the sea and closing Franklin to take off the numerous wounded.

Franklin was taken in tow by heavy cruiser Pittsburgh (CA-72) but she managed to work up to 14 knots and ultimately reach Pearl Harbor, where a cleanup job permitted her to proceed under her own power to the United States, ultimately reaching Brooklyn, New York, on 28 April. Following the end of the war, Franklin was opened to the public for Navy Day celebrations in October 1945 [...]

(From DANFS, "Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships," Naval Historical Center website.)

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CV-13 Franklin
NS021338
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A tremendous geyser of flame and smoke gushes skyward as one of the many explosions suffered by the ship detonates with shattering violence. Official US Navy photograph.

(If you have any specific details concerning this photo, please contact us.)

Robert M. Cieri
CV-13 Franklin
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USS Franklin (CV-13) is hit and set ablaze by a Japanese divebomber on March 19, 1945. Franklin was attacked by a single Japanese plane which dropped two armor-piercing bombs, devastating the hangar deck and setting off ammunition. Casualties totaled 724 killed and 265 wounded.

Gerd Matthes, Germany
CV-13 Franklin
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Franklin hard hit, 19 March 1945, off Kyushu. She had been returned to service in January, following a kamikaze attack on 30 October (see above).

USN photo, from the Naval War College.

Joe Radigan
CV-13 Franklin
NS021323
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Close up of the Franklin. BuShips described this fire as "the most severe survived by any U.S. warship during the course of World War II."

USN photo, from the Naval War College.

Joe Radigan
CV-13 Franklin
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Flames and smoke roll out of USS Franklin (CV-13) — with a river of burning gasoline spreading destruction as it streams out the side of the ship. Official US Navy photograph.

Robert M. Cieri
CV-13 Franklin
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Ship's after 5"/38 twin gun mount burning, as her crew tried to control fires on 19 March 1945. The carrier had been hit by a Japanese air attack while operating off the coast of Japan. Photographed from USS Santa Fe (CL-60), which extinguished the fire in this gun mount by playing streams of water through the mount's open door. Later, the other 5"/38 twin gun mount and the 40mm quad machine gun mount (at right) also burned. Note ammunition loaded in the feed racks of the 40mm guns.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-273903).

Scott Dyben
CV-13 Franklin
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Photo of Franklin taken from light cruiser USS Santa Fe (CL-60).

Pieter Bakels
CV-13 Franklin
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USS Franklin (CV-13) burning off the Japanese coast after she was hit by air attack, 19 March 1945. Photographed from USS Santa Fe (CL-60), a few moments before picture NS021331.

Pieter Bakels
CV-13 Franklin
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USS Franklin (CV-13) burning off the Japanese coast after she was hit by air attack, 19 March 1945. Photographed from USS Santa Fe (CL-60), which was alongside to help with firefighting and rescue work.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-273888).

Tracy White
CV-13 Franklin
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Seconds after an explosion hurls pieces of the flight deck and aircraft into the air, part of the crew runs for their lives.

Steve Whitby
CV-13 Franklin
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221k Tom Kermen
CV-13 Franklin
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Afire and listing after she was hit by a Japanese air attack while operating off the coast of Japan, 19 March 1945. Photographed from USS Santa Fe (CL-60), which was alongside assisting with firefighting and rescue work.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-273880).

Scott Dyben
CV-13 Franklin
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USS Franklin, photographed from light cruiser USS Santa Fe (CL-60).

Steve Whitby
Larger copy submitted by
Pieter Bakels
CV-13 Franklin
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As above.

Pieter Bakels
CV-13 Franklin
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Twisted and blackened, the debris aboard USS Franklin (CV-13) testifies to the force of the blasts and the heat of the flame that racked the carrier. Official U.S. Navy Photograph.

Robert M. Cieri
CV-13 Franklin
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Dead in the water with a 14 degree list to starboard, with USS Santa Fe (CL-60) alongside.

Steve Whitby
CV-13 Franklin
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USS Santa Fe (CL-60) maneuvers into position alongside USS Franklin (CV-13) disregarding all hazards in order to render aid needed. Official US Navy photograph.

Robert M. Cieri
CV-13 Franklin
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95k The burning USS Franklin (CV-13) with USS Santa Fe (CL-60) alongside, transferring 833 nonessential crew members to safety aboard the cruiser while at the same time assisting in fire fighting. USN
CV-13 Franklin
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116k Gerhard Mueller‑Debus
CV-13 Franklin
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USS Santa Fe (CL-60) assisting USS Franklin (CV-13) in fire fighting and rescue after the carrier was bombed and severely damaged off the island of Kyushu on 19 March 1945.

USN
CV-13 Franklin
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Preparations are made for transfer of personnel, wounded and otherwise from the flight deck to USS Santa Fe (CL-60). Official US Navy photograph.

Robert M. Cieri
CV-13 Franklin
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One of the casualties is transferred from USS Franklin (CV-13) to the cruiser USS Santa Fe (CL-60) after being given first aid treatment. Official US Navy photograph.

Robert M. Cieri
CV-13 Franklin
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108k Dead in the water on March 19, 1945, the Franklin as seen from USS Santa Fe (CL-60) as the cruiser pulls away from the still burning carrier. USN
CV-13 Franklin
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Listing badly, her flight deck a gaping ruin, USS Franklin (CV-13) says farewell to USS Santa Fe (CL-60) as the latter moves away; the skeleton crew left aboard Franklin soon started the tremendous task of repairing the boilers and engine rooms so that she could start the long trek home. Official US Navy photograph.

Robert M. Cieri
CV-13 Franklin
NS021344
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Exhausted by the shock of the explosions, and their efforts to quell the flames, survivors of USS Franklin (CV-13) rest on the deck of the cruiser USS Santa Fe (CL-60). Official US Navy photograph.

Robert M. Cieri
CV-13 Franklin
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Lieutenant Commander Joseph T. O'Callahan, USNR(ChC) gives "Last Rites" to an injured crewman aboard USS Franklin (CV-13), after the ship was set afire by a Japanese air attack, 19 March 1945. The crewman is reportedly Robert C. Blanchard, who survived his injuries.

Official U.S. Navy Photographs.

Note: For his heroism on board Franklin, Lieutenant Commander O'Callahan was awarded the Medal of Honor. The escort ship USS O'Callahan (DE-1051, later FF-1051) was named after him.

Robert M. Cieri
CV-13 Franklin
NS021314
79k Scott Dyben
LCDR O'Callahan
NS021336
48k NHC
LT(JG) Gary
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Photograph of LT Donald A. Gary, USN, taken circa 1945. Halftone reproduction, copied from the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1948, The Navy", page 191.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph (# NH 94631).

Note: For his heroism on board Franklin, then Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Gary was awarded the Medal of Honor. The guided missile frigate USS Gary (FFG-51) was named after him.

NHC
CV-13 Franklin
NS021305
85k One of the few portside views of the Franklin, as seen from USS Pittsburgh (CA-72), as the cruiser maneuvers to tow the carrier away from the Japanese mainland. USN
CV-13 Franklin
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Still smoking, USS Franklin (CV-13) is towed from the scene of the disaster by the cruiser USS Pittsburgh (CA-72) before the crewmen aboard the carrier effected emergency engine repairs. Official US Navy photograph.

Robert M. Cieri
CV-13 Franklin
NS021349
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USS Pittsburgh (CA-72) tows USS Franklin after a dangerous starboard list had been corrected; she now is listing slightly to port but shortly afterward was able to continue under her own power because the propulsion mechanism had been repaired. Official US Navy photograph.

Robert M. Cieri
   

Surviving crew members of USS Franklin (CV-13) bombing were placed aboard USS Taluga (AO-62) on her way back to Ulithi Atoll. See: taluga.usnavyoilers.com/History/March-45c.html#Franklin-Survivors.

Vern Bouwman
CV-13 Franklin
NS021306
82k Under her own power and steaming at 14 knots, the Franklin is seen heading for Pearl Harbor for temporary repairs. The damage to the ship is evident, with the missing forward elevator and the shredded flight deck aft of the island. For watertight integrity and hull safety concerns, the starboard outboard elevator has been removed and nearly all of her 40mm mounts are gone too. USN
CV-13 Franklin
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USS Franklin (CV-13) approaches New York City, while en route to the New York Navy Yard for repairs, 26 April 1945. Note the extensive damage to her after flight deck, received when she was hit by a Japanese air attack off the coast of Japan on 19 March 1945. Photographed by Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-274014).

Scott Dyben
CV-13 Franklin
NS021302
115k Starboard view of USS Franklin (CV-13) at anchor in New York's lower harbor before moving upriver to the Navy Yard. Plated over positions below the island are removed 40mm gun mounts to allow her passage through the Panama Canal. USN
CV-13 Franklin
NS021307
145k Rusty, battered and battle-scarred, but at home at last, USS Franklin drops anchor in New York harbor for permanent repairs, after a trip half way around the world. USN
CV-13 Franklin
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New York Harbor, April 28th, 1945.

Steve Whitby
CV-13 Franklin
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View on the flight deck, looking forward, while the carrier was in New York Harbor, circa 28 April 1945. She had just returned from the Pacific for repair of battle damage received off Japan on 19 March 1945. Note damage to her flight deck, large U.S. ensign flying from her island, and the Manhattan skyline in the background.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-K-4760).

Scott Dyben
CV-13 Franklin
NS021316
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USS Franklin (CV-13) anchored in New York Harbor, upon her arrival from the Pacific for repair of battle damage, circa 28 April 1945.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-K-4771).

Scott Dyben
CV-13 Franklin
NS0401212
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USS Franklin (CV-13) (at left) steams past USS Marblehead (CL-12), in New York Harbor, circa 28 April 1945, after her arrival from the Pacific for battle damage repairs.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-K-4777).

Tom Bateman
CV-13 Franklin
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"A Battle-Scarred Carrier Reaches Port for Repairs — Officers and men of the USS Franklin, Essex-class carrier, stand at attention on the flight deck as the ship reaches the Brooklyn Navy Yard on New York's East River front for repairs [note Williamsburg Bridge in the background.] Hit by two 500-pound bombs while participating in an attack against the Jap fleet in the Inland Sea, March 19, 1945, the Franklin, manned by a skeleton crew, sailed more than 12,000 miles to get home under her own power (AP)." (Released on Thursday, May 17.) Official US Navy photograph.

Robert M. Cieri
CV-13 Franklin
NS021321
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Official caption for photo NS021321 reads: "Church service on the ship's ruined hangar deck, taken upon her return to the U.S. from the Pacific for repair of battle damage received off Japan on 19 March 1945. Location is probably in, or near, New York Harbor, circa 28 April 1945." (Official U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives, #80-G-K-5056.)

However, the above information may be incorrect as far as location and date are concerned. According to "USS Franklin CV 13 WWII Cruise book," published in 1946 and written by LT Marvin K. Bowman, USN, advised and assisted by Mr. Paul Warrick of Atlanta, Ga.,

"Saddened but undaunted to fight again, the torn, fire-blackened flattop anchored in Ulithi Harbor, Sunday, March 25, 1945, mass of Thanksgiving on the flight deck was led by Father Joseph O'Callahan; Protestant service of Thanksgiving was conducted on the hangar deck by Chaplain G. [Grimes] Weldon Gatlin. Most of the men attended both services; some wept openly during the humble, sincere prayers."

"The services closed with the Navy Hymn, 'Eternal Father'. The Thanksgiving services were followed by Memorial Services for the dead. On the flight deck, the men of the Franklin, led by 'Father Joe', assembled to the mournful strains of a dirge softly played by surviving bandsmen. The priest recalled that their comrades had died on Saint Joseph's Day—Saint Joseph, the patron saint of a merciful death—that their death, though tragic, had been in merciful circumstances, with every man having a brief moment for a last prayer."

"And while their sad loss could never be forgotten, those who lived must never forget they had died proud deaths, in the service of their country, fighting for God's cause against bloody oppression."

"A Psalm was read and men bowed and prayed for the souls of their shipmates."

"The Marine squad of seven, fired three volleys and men stood in salute, honoring their fallen comrades."

Naval History & Heritage Center
CV-13 Franklin
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229k Photos and excerpt from Cruise Book courtesy of Robert M. Cieri
CV-13 Franklin
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CV-13 Franklin
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CV-13 Franklin
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CV-13 Franklin
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Grainy but interesting shot of USS Franklin (CV-13) in drydock, New York, 1945. The entire flight deck and supporting upper hull was removed and rebuilt because of the extensive damage caused by two Japanese bombs that penetrated the flight deck, exploding on the hangar deck, igniting fuel and ordinance from the aircraft below decks. The circular rings to the left are the two forward 5" DP gun mount supports with the island superstructure behind them. The lower ring would be the flight deck level. U.S. Navy, National Archives photo.

Steve Whitby

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