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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Kitty Hawk

 

A small village in North Carolina where the Wright brothers made the world's first airplane flight 17 December 1903.

 

I

 

(APV-1: dp. 14,000; l. 478'; b. 63'6" ; dr. 22'10" ; s. 17 k.; cpl. 245; a. 4 3", 1 5" ; cl. Kitty Hawk)

 

Kitty Hawk (APV-1), formerly SS Seatrain New York, was built in 1932 by Sun Ship Building & Dry Dock Co., Chester, Pa.; acquired by the Navy 25 June 1941; renamed Kitty Hawk 8 July; converted to an aircraft transport by Tietjin & Land Dry Dock Co., Hoboken, N.J.; and commissioned 26 November 1941, at New York Navy Yard, Comdr. E. C. Rogers in command.

 

After shakedown Kitty Hawk departed New York 16 December 1941, for Hawaii via the Panama Canal with aircraft to replace America's losses in the Japanese attack and arrived Pearl Harbor 8 February 1942. She unloaded her planes at Hickani Field and returned to the mainland 25 February. Kitty Hawk returned to Pearl Harbor 17 May. Intelligence reports arrived indicating that a Japanese fleet was approaching the Hawaiian Islands. Immediately Kitty Hawk loaded the men, armament, and equipment of the 3d Marine Defense Battalion and planes of Marine Air Groups 21 and 45 and sailed at top speed to reinforce Midway, escorted by Owyn. En route a PBY reported a submarine in the area which Gwyn drove off with a heavy barrage of depth charges, enabling Kitty Hawk to deliver her vital fighting men and aircraft to Midway 26 May 1942.

 

Escorted by destroyers GHvyn and Sicard, Kitty Hawk departed Midway 29 May and arrived Honolulu 1 June 1942. On 5 June at Pearl Harbor she learned of the great American victory in the Battle of Midway, which turned back a giant Japanese offensive with disastrous results to the Japanese carrier attack force. That same day the proud aircraft transport sailed for the West Coast, arriving San Diego 13 June.

 

Kitty Hawk returned to Pearl Harbor 31 July 1942; loaded men, equipment and airplanes of the 2d Echelon of the 23d Marine Air Group; and set course for Port Vila, Efate, New Hebrides, arriving 28 August. She moored alongside escort carrier Long Island (CVE-1) transferring 40 aircraft which were immediately catapulted by Long Island and flown directly into combat on bitterly-contested Guadalcanal.

 

She sailed 4 October for San Francisco, discharged and loaded cargo, then headed for Pearl Harbor, arriving 20 October. Loading badly-needed airplanes for the Army, she steamed to Palmyra, arriving 30 October. There, under hazardous conditions, she embarked more planes, cargo and passengers. Sailing on 2 November, she arrived Dumbea Bay, Noumea, 10 November where she picked up men from Hornet's air group after that valiant carrier had gone down in battle. Arriving at Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, 13 November, she discharged army aviators and planes. Kitty Hawk sailed from Espiritu Santo 22 November for home with 359 passengers, arriving San Diego 7 December. Carrying men and equipment of Marine Air Group 12, she got underway 4 January 1943, for the New Hebrides, arriving at Espiritu Santo 22 January; but, as enemy air raids prevented unloading, she sailed on to Pallikulo Bay, a safer place; then departed for Undine Bay, Efate, where she finished unloading men, munitions and aircraft of Marine Air Group 12. Kitty Hawk returned to San Diego 20 February.

 

Between 20 February 1943 and 25 June 1944, Kitty Hawk made seven voyages to Hawaii and seven to the Southwest Pacific carrying vital aircraft, fighting men and munitions to be used in pressing forward toward Japan and victory. The ship was reclassified AKV-1 on 15 September 1943. She returned to the West Coast and arrived at San Francisco for overhaul 5 August 1944.

 

Kitty Hawk loaded passengers, planes, and cargo at San Diego and sailed 29 August for Finschhafen, New Guinea; Seeadler Harbor, Manus, Admiralty Islands; Guadalcanal; and Espiritu Santo, returning San Diego 12 October 1944.

 

Kitty Hawk sailed directly from San Francisco to Manus, arriving 12 November. From Manus she steamed to the Solomons to pick up men of a radio control drone unit: called at Guadalcanal 26 November, Espiritu Santo 30 November: then sailed for Pearl Harbor, arriving 9 December. Two days later she sailed to Maui Island, where she debarked the radar control unit.

 

After minor repairs at San Diego, Kitty Hawk sailed 7 January 1945, to various ports in the South Pacific; returned to San Francisco 17 February; made a quick turn about; and steamed bark to the forward area, returning to the West Coast 12 June.

 

Kitty Hawk received news of the end of hostilities 13 August 1945, while at Pearl Harbor. Basing from Pearl Harbor, she carried military cargo to the Marshalls. the Marianas, and the Philippines. She departed Pearl Harbor 24 November for the East Coast. Kitty Hawk arrived Bayonne, N.J., 15 December 1945; visited Norfolk: then decommissioned at New York 24 January 1946; and was returned to her owner, Seatrain Lines, Inc., the same day.