U.S.S. Intrepid had the unhappy distinction of being one of the most frequently damaged ships in the U.S. Pacific Fleet. She was commisioned 16th August 1943, and was assigned to the Pacific Fleet immediately thereafter. She suffered torpedo damage during her first assignment, dealt to her by Betty torpedo bombers. Her sailors, after several accidents and the unusually severe damage dealt by the one torpedo, dubbed her the U.S.S Decrepid, the Unlucky I, and the Evil I.
In October 1944, following the landings on Leyte Fleet Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet covered U.S. ground operations on Leyte as heavy rains made the use of the captured airfields on Leyte difficult. Carrier commanders detested being tied to the beaches, even if such a large area was open to maneuver as the Philippine Sea. They had due reason to be worried. Since 25th October , 1944, the Japanese had employed a new tactic that was to be called the "Divine Wind" - Kamikaze. U.S. sailors, in an ironic twist, called it the "Devil Diver". These attack groups would dive their bomb-laden planes into their targets, preferably carriers. On 29th October, Intrepid had been given a first taste of these attacks, but suffered little damage.
In the next several weeks, the Carrier Task Force remained further off shore, supporting directly and indirectly the ground forces, and in the last week of November, operations were again begun against the main Philippine island of Luzon. Intrepid was part of Rear-Admiral Gerry Bogan's TG 38.2, as were Bunker Hill, Cabot, and Independence. Air attacks began on November 25th with what was left of the Carrier Force - Sherman's and Davison's forces having retired to Ulithi. It was left to Bogan's and Montgomery's forces to strike Luzon again and then, the Visayas.
It didn't come so far. Planes from the carriers sank the cruiser Nachi in Manila Bay, but this time, the Japanese struck back with great force. As the strike planes were well on their way, air raid alarm was sounded and the carriers prepared to receive the attackers.
At 1248, a Zero force was detected and five minutes later, one of their number crashed into Intrepid, starting a serious fire, while another one hit the carrier Cabot. Fires were under control again, however, when at 1300 a third strike (the first strike didn't hit anything, Intrepid was hit by the second) was encountered. It dove from low height into the twisting Intrepid's deck, blowing a hole into her flight-deck and setting afire the hangar from stern to stem. Though these fires were under control quickly, their heat helped other fires throughout the ship, and the badly damaged flight deck, including her arrestor gear, made flight operations impossible. Her strike planes and CAP were taken aboard by other carriers, and Intrepid made it back to Ulithi and hence, to Pearl Harbor. The attack cost her 69 men dead and 35 seriously wounded.
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