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DANFS - USS Saratoga
(Ship sloop: tonnage 150; length 68' (keel); beam 25'4"; depth of hold 12'; complement 86; armament 16 9-pounders, 2 4-pounders)


On 17 October 1777, American troops commanded by General Horatio Gates compelled a British Army led by General John Burgoyne to surrender at Saratoga, N.Y. This victory ended a prolonged British effort to cut the colonies in two and induced France to enter the war as America's ally.


The first Saratoga, a sloop built at Philadelphia by Warton and Humphries, was begun in December 1779 and launched on 10 April 1780.

Commanded by Capt. John Young, Saratoga departed Philadelphia on 13 August 1780 escorting packet, Mercury, which was sailing for Europe carrying Henry Laurens. The former President of the Continental Congress was planning to seek money on the European continent to finance the American government.

Two days later, Saratoga passed Trumbull and Deane in the upper Delaware Bay. However, the frigates, after communicating with Young and Laurens, continued on up the Delaware River to replenish at Philadelphia.

After waiting in vain for the frigates to return - to join Saratoga in a cruise as a squadron - Saratoga and Mercury passed through the Delaware capes to sea. Because of inadequate ballast, Saratoga was unstable under a heavy spread of canvas and was forced to proceed much more slowly than her fleet consort. Thus, Mercury was forced to heave to each night to allow Saratoga to catch up. This schedule continued until the23d when Laurens released the sloop with the suggestion that she "…make a short cruise and then return to Philadelphia…"

For more than a fortnight, Young operated east of the shipping lanes while he trained his crew in operating their ship and fighting her guns. On the afternoon of 9 September, a lookout spotted a sail to the northwest. By then, Young had managed to get Saratoga into fighting shape.

He headed his ship toward the unknown sail and set out in hot pursuit. By twilight, he was close enough to see that his quarry was a brig flying British colors. Some two hours later, Saratoga had closed within hailing distance and learned that the chase was the Royal Navy's brig, Keppel, and not about to surrender. Saratoga opened fire with a broadside and was quickly answered by the brig, opening an inclusive, three-hour battle. During the action, gale force seas coincided with her insufficient ballast to prevent Saratoga's guns from inflicting serious damage to her adversary. The British brig also evaded Young's repeated efforts to close to boarding distance. Finally, as midnight approached, Young ordered the helmsman to head for home.

Three days later, as Saratoga approached Cape Henlopen, she overtook the British ship, Sarah, bound for New York laden with rum from the West Indies. The merchantman surrendered without resisting, and the two ships proceeded into the Delaware and anchored off Chester, Pa., the following afternoon. The prize and her cargo were promptly condemned and sold, bringing the continental treasury funds desperately needed to refit frigate, Confederacy, for sea.

During her three days at Chester, Saratoga replenished her stores and took on additional iron ballast before heading back down the Delaware toward the open sea and another cruise. She cleared the Delaware Capes on 18 September and sailed northward along the New Jersey coast. A week later, off the Jersey highlands, she captured the 60-ton American brig, Elizabeth, which had been taken in Chesapeake Bay several weeks before by British privateer, Restoration. Young sent the brig to Philadelphia under a prize crew.

Saratoga remained in the vicinity of this score without encountering any further prey. Toward the end of the month, she turned south. The sloop cruised parallel to the coast. Far out to sea, Young constantly exercised her crew at her guns and in her rigging to sharpen their fighting capability. They proved their seamanship on 10 October by safely bringing their ship through a fearful storm with but superficial damage - a storm which decimated the British squadron which Admiral Rodney had sent out of New York to patrol the American coast.

That night, she turned north again; and, at dawn the next day, spotted two sails far off her port bow. The sloop was due east of Cape Henry when she began the chase. As Saratoga closed the distance between herself and her quarry, Young ordered his helmsman to head for the open water between the enemy ships which proved to be the large, 22-gun letter of marque ship, Charming Molly, and a small schooner, Two Brothers. When Saratoga was between the two English vessels, he ordered the letter of marque to surrender, but she refused to do so. After the Americans had fired a broadside into their hapless opponent, a boarding party, led by Lt. Joshua Barney, lept to the merchantman's deck and opened a fierce hand to hand fight which soon compelled the British captain to lower his colors.

An American prize crew under Barney promptly took the place of Charming Molly's British skipper, officers, and tars. Young then set out after the fleeing sloop which surrendered without resistance. The second prize, Two Brothers, promptly headed for the Delaware for libeling in Admiralty court in Philadelphia.

From the prisoners captured on Charming Molly, Young learned that she and Two Brothers had been part of a small merchant fleet which had sailed from Jamaica and which had been scattered by the recent storm. As a result, as soon as his crew had finished temporary repairs to Charming Molly's battle-damaged hull, Saratoga began to search for the remaining Jamaicamen, a ship and two brigs. About mid-day on the 10th, a lookout saw three sails slowly rise above the horizon dead ahead, and another chase began. As the sloop of war approached the strangers, the remainder of the Jamaica fleet, Young ordered her helmsman to head her between the ship and one of the brigs. As she passed between the enemy vessels, she fired both broadsides, her port guns at ship, Elizabeth, and her starboard muzzles belched fire and iron at the brig, Nancy. The enemy's fire passed above Saratoga, causing only minor damage to her rigging while the first American salvo knocked Nancy out of the action and did substantial damage to Elizabeth which surrendered after taking another volley. Meanwhile, the other brig raced away; and Young, busy with his first two new prizes, allowed her to escape free of pursuit.

Saratoga's crew labored repairing the battered hulls of the prizes before sending them toward the Delaware capes. About midnight, Saratoga herself got underway northward. At dawn, near Cape Henlopen, a blue jacket aloft reported seeing two unknown sails, one dead ahead and the other several miles off her port quarter. The first was later identified as American brig, Providence, then a British prize heading for New York; the second was the 74-gun British ship-of-line, Alcide. Despite the proximity of the British man-of-war, Young set out after the merchantman and recaptured her after about an hour's chase. Young quickly put a prize crew on board Providence and then Saratoga got underway for the Delaware. The sloop of war was anchored off Chester, Pa., at dawn on 14 October.

On 15 December, after being refitted at Philadelphia, Saratoga got underway for Hispaniola to load French military supplies there which were awaiting transportation to America. New Officers and men had come on board to replace those who had left the ship to man her prizes. A number of merchantmen awaited her just inside the capes hoping to be escorted to a safe offing. On the morning of the 20th, favorable weather enabled the sloop of war to put to sea escorting her 12 charges. The next afternoon, after one of the merchantmen signaled that an unknown sail had appeared, Saratoga set out to investigate. Within two hours, she reached within firing range and sent a warning 4-pounder shot across the stranger's bow. Instead of surrendering, the British privateer, Resolution, manuevered to attack. The ships fired at the same instant. Resolution's gunners fired high and so did superficial damage to the American warship while Saratoga's broadside damaged the privateer's hull and superstructure and forced her to surrender.

Young embarked the privateer's crew in Saratoga as prisoners; and placed an American crew on the prize. The two ships then headed toward Cape Henlopen which Saratoga reached on New Year's Day, 1781. Young turned his prisoners over to the Continental agent at Lewes, Del., and headed his sloop of war back toward the Caribbean the same day.

On the morning of 9 January 1781, in a fierce battle off the coast of England's loyal province of East Florida, Saratoga captured Tonyn, a 20-gun letter of marque which had recently sailed from St. Augustine laden with turpentine, indigo, hides, and deerskins intended for Liverpool. Young spent a day repairing the prize and his own ship rigging. Then the two ships got underway on the morning of the 11th for Hispaniola. On the 16th, Saratoga captured without resistance, armed brig, Douglas, carrying wine from Madeira to Charleston, S.C., that important Southern port which had fallen into British hands. Young sent this prize to Philadelphia. On the 27th, Saratoga and Tonyn reached Cap Francais where Young turned the prize over to the French Admiralty court and arranged to have Saratoga docked to have her hull scrapped and coated with pitch while awaiting the arrival of military cargo and French frigates to assist in convoying a fleet of Allied merchantmen. Meanwhile, the governor of the French colony of Saint Dominique suggested that Saratoga join her sister Continental frigates, Deane and Confederacy, American privateer, Fair American, and French naval brig, Cat, in a cruise through the windward passage to Jamaica. The little fleet departed Cap Francais on 20 February and returned eight days later with prize, Diamond, which they had captured as it approached Jamaica laden with plunder taken by the British during Admiral Rodney's conquest of the Dutch Island, St. Eustatues.

By mid-March, all was ready. The French warships were on hand; the Continental warships were loaded, and 29 heavily-laden merchant ships were in the harbor awaiting escorts. The convoy sortied from Cap Francais on the 15th, the ides of March. Three days later, a lookout high over Saratoga's deck reported two sails far off to westward, and the eager sloop of war left the convoy in pursuit of the strangers. About midafternoon, she caught up with one of the fleeing ships which surrendered without a fight. Young placed an American crew on board the prize and got underway after the second chase. Midshipman Penfield, commander of the prize crew, later reported that, as he was supervising his men's efforts to follow Saratoga, the wind suddenly rose to fearful velocity and almost capsized the prize. When he had managed to get the snow-rigged merchantman back under control, he looked up and was horrified to learn that Saratoga had vanished, and no further details of her fate have ever been discovered.


(Corvette: tonnage 734; length between perpendiculars 143'; beam 36'6"; depth of hold 12'6"; complement 212; armament 8 long 24-pounders, 6 42-pounder carronades, 12 32-pounder carronades)

The second Saratoga was laid down on 7 March 1814 and launched on 11 April 1814.

Christened on the day that Napoleon abdicated, Saratoga began her service on Lake Champlain as England was turning her attention and resources from the European continent to North America. British strategy envisaged a series of amphibious raids along the American coast as a diversion to cover a lethal thrust south from Canada down the strategic and already historic Lake Champlain-Hudson River corridor.

However, the completion of Saratoga put the United States ahead in the naval construction race on Lake Champlain; and Sir George Prevost, the Governor General of Canada and top British military commander in America, felt that supremacy afloat was a prerequisite to a successful invasion of the United States through the state of New York. He, therefore, delayed the start of his campaign until new naval construction had tipped the balance back in his favor.

Meanwhile, Master Commandant Thomas MacDonough, commander of American naval forces on the lake, took advantage of the edge which Saratoga had given him and sailed to the mouth of the Richelieu River which he blockaded during most of the following summer. Up that stream at Isle aux Noix, the little British fleet, protected by shore batteries and by the river's narrow and tricky channel, waited while English shipwrights worked feverishly to complete Confiance, a 36-gun frigate and the largest warship ever to sail on Lake Champlain. This man-of-war was launched on 25 August and hastily fitted out for battle.

During the construction race, crack British troops - veterans hardened in Wellington's bloody Penisular campaign - had been rushed from Spain to the St. Lawrence for the impending offensive. Before the end of August, the British Army had begun to march south along the western shore of Lake Champlain. Badly outnumbered, American ground forces withdrew before the English advance, crossed the Saranac River, and took prepared positions on the bluffs which overlook Plattsburg Bay.

Meanwhile, MacDonough, commanding officer of Saratoga as well as of the other American forces on the lake, had sailed back south; proceeded around Cumberland Head, N.Y.; and entered Plattsburg Bay. There, he deployed his ships across the mouth of the harbor in a strong defensive position where the British fleet could attack them only at a disadvantage, slowly and laboriously approaching the line of American broadsides against the wind and unable to bring most of their guns to bear.

As he awaited the arrival of the enemy, MacDonough dropped kedge anchors and arranged spring lines which afforded his ships maximum maneuverability. Then he had the crews practice turning their ships so that alternately starboard and port guns would face south.

On the morning of 11 September, when Commodore George Downie led the British squadron around Cumberland Head, MacDonough was ready. As British brig, Linnet, approached firing range, she opened the action with a salvo toward Saratoga. All but one of the projectiles fell short; and that solid shot was all but spent as it landed on the American corvette, bounced across her deck, and smashed a wooden poultry cage freeing a gamecock. The indignant rooster took to his wings and landed in the rigging. Facing the British warships, the cock defiantly called out challenge to battle.

MacDonough, himself, aimed a long 24-pounder at the bow of Confiance, pulled the lanyard firing Saratoga's first round, and gave the signal, "close action." The shot cut the British flagship's anchor cable, ripped up her deck, and smashed her helm. Then, all the American ships opened fire.

Confiance's first broadside struck Saratoga from point blank range, and the American flagship reeled from the blow. Half of her men were felled by the shock; but most of the sailors picked themselves up, carried their dead and wounded comrades below, and returned to the fray. Since Confiance's green gunners failed to reset the elevation of their barrels, each of her subsequent volleys tended to be higher than its predecessor and, while shredding Saratoga's rigging, did little structural damage to the ship.

After almost two hours' fighting, Saratoga's last serviceable starboard gun, a carronade, broke loose from its carriage and hurtled down the main hatch. MacDonough then dropped a stern anchor; cut his bow cable; and, with the help of tars hauling on lines to kedge anchors, swung the ship around bringing her fresh, port, broadside guns to bear on the enemy.

The badly battered British flagship, with Downie and her first lieutenant dead, also attempted to wind ship but was unable to do so. Helpless to do further harm to her adversary, Confiance struck her colors.

Then, by pulling on her starboard kedge line, Saratoga's sailors turned the corvette's guns toward Linnet and opened fire. The British brig, although severely damaged and unable to move, gallantly kept up the fight for about an hour before surrendering. At that time, Finch and Chub, the other two relatively large warships in the British squadron, were already in American hands; so the surviving English gunboats fled toward Canada.

MacDonough's victory in Plattsburg Bay left the United States unchallenged on Lake Champlain and forced Prevost to retreat to Canada. This weakened the British position in negotiations at Ghent and enabled American commissioners to secure a favorable rather than a humiliating peace. It also helped to restore American morale after the recent burning of Washington.

After the war, Saratoga was laid up until sold at Whitehall, N.Y., in 1825.


(Sloop-of-war: tonnage 882; length between perpendiculars 146'4"; beam 35'3"; depth of hold 16'3.5"; complement 210; armament 4 8" shell guns, 18 32-pounders)

The third Saratoga, a sloop of war laid down in the summer of 1841 by the Portsmouth Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N.H., was launched on 26 July 1842; and commissioned on 4 January 1843, Comdr. Josiah Tattnall in command.

The ship sailed from Portsmouth on 16 March 1843 but was dismasted in a gale the next day and forced to return to Portsmouth for repairs. She got underway again on 3 May and proceeded down the coast to New York Harbor to prepare for service on the west coast of Africa protecting American citizens and commerce and suppressing the slave trade. On the morning of 5 June, she was towed to Sandy Hook, N. J., where, at noon, Commodore Matthew C. Perry came on board and broke his broad pennant as Commander of the Africa Squadron. At mid-afternoon, the ship stood out to sea, proceeded via the Canary and the Cape Verde islands and reached Monrovia, Liberia, on 1 August. Saratoga operated along the coast of west Africa protecting American citizens and commerce and suppressing the slave trade. She occasionally returned to Cape Verdes for replenishment and rest for her crew. At Porto Grande, in the Cape Verdes, Saratoga rendezvoused with Decatur and Macedonian on 9 September, and Perry shifted his flag to the latter two days later.

Much of Saratoga's service in the Africa Squadron was performed in implementing Perry's policy of supporting Liberia which had been founded some two decades before on the African "Grain Coast" as a haven for freed negroes from the United States. The new colony was deeply resented by the local, coastal tribes which had acted as slave trade's middlemen, buying slaves from their bushmen captors and selling them to masters of slave ships. Missing their former profits from the now outlawed commerce in "black ivory," these natives gave vent to their anger by harassing, threatening, and sometimes attacking the black colonists from America. From time to time, they also preyed upon American merchant shipping.

Perry's problem was one of reconciling the conflicting demands of protecting American interests on the African coast, of remaining aloof from African internal affairs, and encouraging the colonists in Liberia. The Commodore's prudence, firmness, fairness, and tact in reconciling these conflicting objectives was illustrated by his handling of two incidents soon after the squadron returned to Liberia in the early autumn. Reports greeted him upon arrival that the hostile tribes had been making trouble for the colonists in the colony of Sinoe and had killed two sailors from American schooner, Edward Burley.

Saratoga sailed from Monrovia on 21 November, and Perry followed two days later with the rest of the squadron bringing along as a guest, Liberian Governor Joseph Jenkins Roberts. The American warships assembled at Sinoe on the 28th. The next day, a large force of sailors and marines accompanied the Commodore and governor ashore for a conference with an assembly of tribal kings. First on the agenda was the Edward Burley incident. Governor Robert's questioning of a number of witnesses divulged the following story: After the schooner's skipper, Captain Burke, had paid a Krooman in advance for serving in the ship's crew, the native deserted. Burke retaliated by recapturing two canoes and taking their crews prisoner. Then he despatched two of his own men after a third canoe, but these sailors were themselves captured. After cruelly torturing the two Americans, they killed them. Once he felt sure of the story, Perry held that, while the homicides were unjustified, the Americans had been the aggressors. Perry then stated that the United States government wished to remain friendly with all African tribes but had sent him to protect American lives and property and to prevent Americans from wronging natives. He then dropped the matter, but remained in the area while Liberian colonists aided by friendly tribes drove trouble-making natives back into the hinterland.

In mid-December, the squadron sailed to Little Berebee to investigate the plundering of trading schooner, Mary Carver, and murder of her entire crew. During the ensuing palaver, when Perry refused to accept the far-fetched explanation of King Ben Krako, a native fired a musket at the American party. The king and his interpreter, who was known to be one of the murderers, bolted in an attempt to escape. Comdr. Tattnall of Saratoga felled the treacherous interpreter with a rifle shot and the king was also killed in attempting to flee.

After demonstrating the determination and ability of the United States to maintain American honor along the coast of Africa, being generous with friend and firm but fair with enemies, the squadron got underway late in the year for Madeira where it arrived on 18 January 1844. She returned to the African coast via the Cape Verdes and reached Monrovia on 2 March. The late spring was devoted to a cruise eastward along the coast to the Bight of Biafra. Yellow fever plagued the crew during the summer. Then ship sailed for the Cape Verdes on 8 July and reached Porto Praia on the 21st. The ship returned to Liberia in September for a last visit before leaving the African coast in mid-October and heading home. She reached Norfolk on 22 November and Decommissioned there on 10 December 1844.

Recommissioned on 15 March 1845, Comdr. Irving Shubrich in command, Saratoga was assigned to a squadron commanded by Commodore Robert F. Stockton and originally intended for duty in European waters. However, on 22 April because of tension between the United States and Mexico over an impending annexation of Texas, this naval force was ordered to the Gulf of Mexico. Saratoga departed Norfolk on 27 April and proceeded to the Texas coast. She remained at Galveston with Stockton for the remainder of spring. The Commodore sailed for Washington on 23 June after ordering Saratoga and the rest of his squadron to Pensacola to replenish their stores.

On 3 July, Secretary of the Navy Bancroft transferred Saratoga to Commodore Conner's Home Squadron which was then operating "…in such a manner as will be most likely to discipline Mexico to acts of hostility…" Saratoga operated in the gulf attempting to help Conner carry out this mission until she sailed from Pensacola on 4 December for Rio de Janeiro to join the Brazil Squadron.

The sloop-of-war cruised along the South American coast until mid-summer. Then, under orders to the Pacific for service under Commodore Sloat on the California coast, she got underway on 24 August and headed south along the coast. However, after rounding Cape Horn, the sloop-of-war ran into a fierce storm which caused severe damage and forced her to turn back toward home. She reached Hampton Roads on 29 December and decommissioned on 9 January 1847.

Repaired at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Saratoga was recommissioned in 1847, Cmdr. David G. Farragut in command. Assigned to the Home Squadron, she rounded Cape Henry on 29 March, sailed south along the coast, entered the gulf, and joined Commodore Perry's Home Squadron off Vera Cruz on 26 April. Three days later, the sloop-of-war was ordered to proceed some 150 miles up the coast to blockade Tuxpan. She reached the station on the 30th and remained there until heading back toward Vera Cruz on 12 July. About a fortnight later, she got underway for Tabasco, carrying dispatches; remained at that river port but a day, and returned to Vera Cruz on 11 August. On 1 September, Saratoga relieved Decatur at Tuxpan and remained on station there, despite a serious outbreak of yellow fever on board, for about two months before heading back to Vera Cruz. After a month there, the ship got under way for the Florida coast to land her sick and replenish her stores. She arrived at Pensacola on 6 January 1848; and, after disembarking all the seriously sick patients at the base hospital, got underway north on the last day of the month. She made New York on 19 February and was decommissioned a week later.

On 17 April, a week after recommissioning, the sloop-of-war departed New York and proceeded via Norfolk to the West Indies for service in the Home Squadron. She returned to Hampton Roads on 27 November 1849 and decommissioned at the Norfolk Navy Yard on the 30th.

Recommissioned on 12 August 1850, Saratoga got underway on 15 September and proceeded to the western Pacific for service in the East India Squadron. The highlight of her service in the Far East was her participation in Commodore Perry's opening of Japan. After visiting Japan with Perry in July 1853, she sailed for the China coast and protected American interests at Shanghai while Japanese officials discussed Perry's proposals. She returned with Perry in February 1854, and, after the formal signing of a treaty between the United States and Japan on the last day of March, sailed for the Sandwich Islands carrying Comdr. H.A. Adams to whom Perry had entrusted the American copy of the treaty. After leaving Adams at Honolulu, Saratoga sailed south, rounded Cape Horn, reached Boston in September, and was decommissioned on 10 October 1854.

The sloop-of-war was recommissioned on 6 September 1855 and, but for a period out of commission in ordinary at Norfolk early in 1858, cruised in the Caribbean and the gulf until decommissioning at Philadelphia on 26 June 1860. Reactivated on 5 November 1860, she sailed from Philadelphia 10 days later to return to the scene of her first cruise, the west coast of Africa. On 21 April 1861, she captured slaver, Nightingale, off Kabenda, Africa, freeing a cargo of numerous slaves. After word of the outbreak of the Civil War reached Saratoga, she returned to the United States and decommissioned at Philadelphia on 25 August 1861.

Recommissioned on 24 June 1863, the ship was ordered to the Delaware capes for guard duty off Delaware breakwater protecting Union shipping approaching and departing Delaware Bay and performed this duty through the end of the year. On 13 January 1864, she was ordered to Carolina waters for duty in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. During her service off the lower Atlantic coast, landing parties from the ship made several raids in August and September which resulted in the capture of many prisoners and the taking or destruction of substantial quantities of ordnance, ammunition, and supplies. A number of buildings, bridges, and salt works were destroyed during the expedition.

As the Civil War was drawing to a close, Saratoga was detached on 4 April 1865, sailed north, and was decommissioned on 28 April. For the next decade, only two periods in commission for coastal operations (1 October 1867 to 7 July 1869 and 16 May to 14 October 1871) interrupted the veteran ship's rest in ordinary.

Saratoga was reactivated on 1 May 1875 for a year as a gunnery ship at Annapolis. Another year in ordinary beginning on 7 May 1876 preceded her final recommissioning on 19 May 1877 to start more than 11 years of service as a school ship training naval apprentices. This duty took her to various naval bases and yards along the Atlantic coast and occasionally called for cruises to Europe. She decommissioned on 8 October 1888. From 1890 to 1907, she served on loan at Philadelphia as a state marine school ship and was sold there on 14 August 1907 to Thomas Butler and Company of Boston.


On 16 February 1911, cruiser New York (q.v.) was renamed Saratoga.


(Aircraft carrier CV-3: displacement 33,000; length 888'0"; beam 106'0"; draft 24'1.5"; speed 33.91 knots; complement 2,111; armaments 8 8", 12 5", 4 6-pounders, 81 aircraft; class Lexington)

The fifth Saratoga (CV-3) was laid down on 25 September 1920 as Battle Cruiser #3 by the New York Shipbuilding Co., Camden, N.J.; ordered converted to an aircraft carrier and reclassified CV-3 on 1 July 1922 in accordance with the Washington Treaty limiting naval armaments; launched on 7 April 1925; sponsored by Mrs. Curtis D. Wilbur, wife of the Secretary of the Navy; and commissioned on 16 November 1927, Capt. Harry E. Yarnell in command.

Saratoga, the first fast carrier in the United States Navy, quickly proved the value of her type. She sailed from Philadelphia on 6 January 1928 for shakedown; and, on 11 January, her air officer, the future World Was II hero, Marc A. Mischer, landed the first aircraft on board. In an experiment on 27 January, the rigid airship Los Angeles (ZR-3) moored to Saratoga's stern and took on fuel and stores. The same day, Saratoga sailed for the Pacific via the Panama Canal. She was diverted briefly between 14 and 16 February to carry marines to Corinto, Nicaragua, and finally joined the Battle Fleet at San Pedro, California, on 21 February. The rest of the year was spent in training and final machinery shakedown.

On 15 January 1929, Saratoga sailed from San Diego with the Battle Fleet to participate in her first fleet exercise, Fleet Problem IX. In a daring move, Saratoga was detached from the fleet with only a single cruiser as escort to make a wide sweep to the south and "attack" the Panama Canal, which was defended by the Scouting Fleet and Saratoga's sister ship, Lexington. She successfully launched her strike on 26 January, and despite being "sunk" three times later in the day, proved the versatility of a fast task force centered around a carrier. The idea was incorporated into fleet doctrine and reused the following year in Fleet Problem X in the Caribbean. This time, however, Saratoga and carrier, Langley, were "disabled" by a surprise attack from Lexington, showing how quickly air power could swing the balance in a naval action. Following the fleet concentration in the Caribbean, Saratoga took part in the Presidential Review at Norfolk in May and returned to San Pedro on 21 June 1930.

During the remaining decade before World War II, Saratoga exercised in the San Diego-San Pedro area, except for the annual fleet problems and regular overhauls at the Bremerton Navy Yard. In the fleet problems, Saratoga continued to assist in the development of fast carrier tactics, and her importance was recognized by the fact that she was always a high priority target for the opposing forces. The fleet problem for 1932 was planned for Hawaii, and, by coincidence, occurred during the peak of the furor following the "Manchurian incident" in which Japan started on the road to World War II. Saratoga exercised in the Hawaii area from 31 January to 19 March and returned to Hawaii for fleet exercises the following year between 23 January and 28 February 1933. On the return trip to the west coast, she launched a successful air "attack" on the Long Beach area.

Exercises in 1934 took Saratoga to the Caribbean and the Atlantic for an extended period, from 9 April to 9 November, and were followed by equally extensive operations with the United States Fleet in the Pacific the following year. Between 27 April and 6 June 1936, she participated in a fleet problem in the Canal Zone, and she then returned with the fleet to Hawaii for exercises from 16 April to 28 May 1937. On 15 March 1938, Saratoga sailed from San Diego to Fleet Problem XIX, again conducted off Hawaii. During the second phase of the problem, Saratoga launched a surprise air attack on Pearl Harbor from a point 100 miles off Oahu, setting a pattern that the Japanese copied in December 1941. During the return to the west coast, Saratoga and Lexington followed this feat with "strikes" on Mare Island and Alameda. Saratoga was under overhaul during the 1939 fleet concentration; but, between 2 April and 21 June 1940, she participated in Fleet Problem XXI, the last to be held due to the deepening world crisis.

Between 14 and 29 October 1940, Saratoga transported a draft of military personnel from San Pedro to Hawaii; and, on 6 January 1941, she entered the Bremerton Navy Yard for a long deferred modernization, including widening her flight deck forward and fitting a blister on her starboard side and additional small antiaircraft guns. Departing Bremerton on 28 April 1941, the carrier participated in a landing force exercise in May and made two trips to Hawaii between June and October as the diplomatic crisis with Japan came to head.

When the Japanese struck at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Saratoga was just entering San Diego after an interim drydocking at Bremerton. She hurriedly got underway the following day as the nucleus of a third carrier force (Lexington and Enterprise were already at sea), carrying Marine aircraft intended to reinforce the vulnerable garrison on Wake Island. Presence of these aircraft on board made Saratoga the logical choice for the actual relief effort. She reached Pearl Harbor on 15 December and stopped only long enough to fuel. She then rendezvoused with Tangier (AV-8), which had relief troops and supplies on board, while Lexington and Enterprise provided distant cover for the operation. However, the Saratoga force was delayed by the low speed of its oiler and by a decision to refuel destroyers on 21 December. After receiving reports of Japanese carrier aircraft over the island and Japanese landings on it, the relief force was recalled on 22 December. Wake fell the next day.

Saratoga continued operations in the Hawaiian Island region; but, on 11 January 1942, when heading towards a rendezvous with Enterprise, 500 miles southwest of Oahu, she was hit without warning by a deep running torpedo fired by Japanese submarine, I-16. Although six men were killed and three firerooms were flooded, the carrier reached Oahu under her own power. There, her 8-inch guns, useless against aircraft, were removed for installation in shore defenses, and the carrier proceeded to the Bremerton Navy Yard for permanent repairs and installation of a modern antiaircraft battery.

Saratoga departed Puget Sound on 22 May for San Diego. She arrived there on 25 May and was training her air group when intelligence was received of an impending Japanese assault on Midway. Due to the need to load planes and stores and to collect escorts, the carrier was unable to sail until 1 June and arrived at Pearl Harbor on the 6th after the Battle of Midway had ended. She departed Pearl Harbor on 7 June after fueling; and, on 11 June, transferred 34 aircraft to Hornet and Enterprise to replenish their depleted air groups. The three carriers then turned north to counter Japanese activity reported in the Aleutians, but the operation was cancelled and Saratoga returned to Pearl Harbor on 13 June.

Between 22 and 29 June, Saratoga ferried Marine and Army aircraft to the garrison on Midway. On 7 July, she sailed for the southwest Pacific; and, from 28 to 30 July, she provided air cover for landing rehearsals in the Fiji Islands in preparation for landings on Guadalcanal. As flagship of Rear Admiral F. J. Fletcher, Saratoga opened the Guadalcanal assault early on 7 August when she turned into the wind to launch aircraft. She provided air cover for the landings for the next two days. On the first day, a Japanese air attack was repelled before it reached the carriers; but since further attacks were expected, the carrier force withdrew on the afternoon of 8 August towards a refueling rendezvous. As a result, it was too far away to retaliate after four Allied cruisers were sunk that night in the Battle of Savo Island. The carrier force continued to operate east of the Solomons, protecting the sealanes to the beachhead and awaiting a Japanese naval counterattack.

The counterattack began to materialize when a Japanese transport force was detected on 23 August, and Saratoga launched a strike against it. The aircraft were unable to find the enemy, however, and spent the night on Guadalcanal. As they were returning on board the next day, the first contact report on enemy carriers was received. Two hours later, Saratoga launched a strike which sent Japanese carrier Ryujo to the bottom. Later in the afternoon, as an enemy strike from other carriers was detected, Saratoga hastily launched the aircraft on her deck, and these found and damaged seaplane tender Chitose. Meanwhile, due to cloud cover, Saratoga escaped detection by the Japanese aircraft, which concentrated their attack on, and damaged, Enterprise. The American force fought back fiercely and weakened enemy air strength so severely that the Japanese recalled their transports before they reached Guadalcanal.

After landing her returning aircraft at night on 24 August, Saratoga refueled on the 25th and resumed her patrols east of the Solomons. A week later, a destroyer reported torpedo wakes heading toward the carrier, but the 888-foot flattop could not turn quickly enough. A minute later, a torpedo from I-26 slammed into the blister of her starboard side. The torpedo killed no one and only flooded one fireroom, but the impact caused short circuits which damaged Saratoga's turbo-electric propulsion system and left her dead in the water. Cruiser Minneapolis took the carrier under tow while she flew her aircraft off to shore bases. By early afternoon, Saratoga's engineers had improvised a circuit out of the burned wreckage of her main control board and had given her a speed of 10 knots. After repairs at Tongatabu from 6 to 12 September, Saratoga arrived at Pearl Harbor on 21 September for permanent repairs.

Saratoga sailed from Pearl Harbor on 10 November and proceeded, via Fiji, to Noumea which she reached on 5 December . She operated in the vicinity of Noumea for the next twelve months, providing air cover for minor operations and protecting American forces in the Eastern Solomons. Between 17 May and 31 July 1943, she was reinforced by the British carrier, Victorious; and, on 20 October, she was joined by Princeton (CVL-23). As troops stormed ashore on Bougainville on 1 November, Saratoga's aircraft neutralized nearby Japanese airfields on Baku. Then, on 5 November, in response to reports of Japanese cruisers concentrating at Rabaul to counterattack the Allied landing forces, Saratoga conducted perhaps her most brilliant strike of the war. Her aircraft penetrated the heavily defended port and disabled most of the Japanese cruisers, ending the surface threat to Bougainville. Saratoga, herself, escaped unscathed and returned to raid Rabaul again on 11 November.

Saratoga and Princeton were then designated the Relief Carrier Group for the offensive in the Gilberts; and, after striking Nauru on 19 November, they rendezvoused on 23 November while the transports carrying garrison troops to Makin and Tarawa. The carriers provide air cover until the transports reached their destinations, and then maintained air patrols over Tarawa. By this time, Saratoga had steamed over a year without repairs, and she was detached on 30 November to return to the United States. She underwent overhaul at San Francisco from 9 December 1943 to 3 January 1944, and her antiaircraft battery augmented for the last time, receiving 60 40-millimeter guns in place of 36 20-millimeter guns.

The carrier arrived at Pearl Harbor on 7 January, and, after a brief period of training, sailed from Pearl Harbor on 19 January with light carriers, Langley and Princeton, to support the drive in the Marshalls. Her aircraft struck Wotje and Taroa for three days, from 29 to 31 January, and then pounded Engebi, the main island at Eniwetok, the 3d to the 6th and from the 10th to the 12th of February. Her planes delivered final blows to Japanese defenses on the 16th, the day before landings, and provided close air support and CAP over the island until 28 February.

Saratoga then took leave of the main theaters of the Pacific war for almost a year, to carry out important but less spectacular assignments elsewhere. Her first task was to help the British initiate their carrier offensive in the Far East. On 4 March, Saratoga departed Majuro with an escort of three destroyers, and sailed via Espiritu Santo; Hobart, Tasmania; and Fremantle, Australia; to join the British Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean. She rendezvoused at sea on 27 March with the British force, composed of carrier Illustrious, and four battleships with escorts, and arrived with them at Trincomalee, Ceylon, on 31 March. On 12 April, the French battleship, Richelieu, arrived, adding to the international flavor of the force. During the next two days, the carriers conducted intensive training at sea during which Saratoga's fliers tried to impart some of their experience to the British pilots. On 16 April, the Eastern Fleet, with Saratoga, sailed from Trincomalee; and, on the 19th, the aircraft from the two carriers struck the port of Sabang, off the northwest tip of Sumatra. The Japanese were caught by surprise by the new offensive, and much damage was done to port facilities and oil reserves. The raid was so successful that Saratoga delayed her departure in order to carry out a second. Sailing again from Ceylon on 6 May, the force struck at Soerabaja, Java, on 17 May with equally successful results. Saratoga was detached the following day, and passed down the columns of the Eastern Fleet as the Allied ships rendered honors to and cheered each other.

Saratoga arrived at Bremerton, Washington, on 10 June 1944 and was under repair there through the summer. On 24 September, she arrived at Pearl Harbor and commenced her second special assignment, training night fighter squadrons. Saratoga had experimented with night flying as early as 1931, and many carriers had been forced to land returning aircraft at night during the war; but, only in August 1944, did a carrier, Independence, receive an air group specially equipped to operate at night. At the same time, Carrier Division 11, composed of Saratoga and Ranger (CV-4), was commissioned at Pearl Harbor to train night pilots and develop night flying doctrine. Saratoga continued this important training duty for almost four months, but as early as October, her division commander was warned that "while employed primarily for training, Saratoga is of great value for combat and is to be kept potentially available for combat duty." The call came in January 1945. Light carriers like Independence had proved too small for safe night operations, and Saratoga was rushed out of Pearl Harbor on 29 January 1945 to form a night fighter task group with Enterprise for the Iwo Jima operation.

Saratoga arrived at Ulithi on 7 February and sailed, three days later, with Enterprise and four other carrier task groups. After landing rehearsals with marines at Tinian on 12 February, the carrier force carried out diversionary strikes on the Japanese home islands on the night of 16 and 17 February before the landings on Iwo Jima. Saratoga was assigned to provide fighter cover while the remaining carriers launched the strikes on Japan; but, in the process, her fighters raided two Japanese airfields. The force fueled on 18 and 19 February; and, on 21 February, Saratoga was detached with an escort of three destroyers to join the amphibious forces and carry out night patrols over Iwo Jima and night heckler missions over nearby Chichi Jima. However, as she approached her operating area at 1700 on the 21st, an air attack developed; and, taking advantage of low cloud cover and Saratoga's insufficient escort, six Japanese planes scored five hits on the carrier in three minutes. Saratoga's flight deck forward was wrecked, her starboard side was holed twice and large fires were started in her hanger deck, while she lost 123 of her crew dead and missing. Another attack at 1900 scored an additional bomb hit. By 2015, the fires were under control and the carrier was able to recover aircraft, but she was ordered to Eniwetok and then to the west coast for repairs, and arrived at Bremerton on 16 March.

On 22 May, Saratoga departed Puget Sound fully repaired, and she resumed training pilots at Pearl Harbor on 3 June. She ceased training duty on 6 September, after the Japanese surrender, and sailed from Hawaii on 9 September transporting 3,712 returning naval veterans home to the United States under Operation "magic Carpet." By the end of her "Magic Carpet" service, Saratoga had brought home 29,204 Pacific war veterans, more than any other individual ship. At the time, she also held the record for the greatest number of aircraft landed on a carrier, with a lifetime total of 98,549 landings in 17 years.

With the arrival of large numbers of Essex-class carriers, Saratoga was surplus to postwar requirements, and she was assigned to Operation "Crossroads" at Bikini Atoll to test the effect of the atomic bomb on naval vessels. She survived the first blast, an air burst on 1 July, with only minor damage, but was mortally wounded by the second on 25 July, an underwater blast which was detonated under a landing craft 500 yards from the carrier. Salvage efforts were prevented by radioactivity, and seven and one-half hours after the blast, with her funnel collapsed across her deck, Saratoga slipped beneath the surface of the lagoon. She was struck from the Navy list on 15 August 1946.

Saratoga received seven battle stars for her World War II service.


(Aircraft carrier CV-60: displacement 56,000; length 1,063'; beam 130'; extreme width of flight deck 252'; draft 37'; speed 34 knots; complement 3,826; armament 4 5", aircraft 70-90; class Forrestal)

The sixth Saratoga (CV-60) was laid down on 16 December 1952 by the New York Naval Shipyard, New York City, N.Y.; launched on 8 October 1955; sponsored by Mrs. Charles S. Thomas; and commissioned on 14 April 1956, Capt. R. J. Stroh in command.

For the next several months, Saratoga conducted various engineering, flight, steering, structural, and gunnery tests. On 18 August, she sailed for Guantanamo and her shakedown cruise. On 19 December, she reentered the New York Naval Shipyard and remained there until 28 February 1957. Upon completion of yard work, she got underway on a refresher training cruise to the Caribbean before entering her home port, Mayport, Fla.

On 6 June, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and members of his cabinet boarded Saratoga to observe operations on board the giant carrier. For two days, she and eighteen other ships demonstrated air operations, antisubmarine warfare, guided missile operations, and the Navy's latest bombing and strafing techniques. Highlighting the President's visit was the nonstop flight of two F8U "crusaders," spanning the nation in three hours and twenty-eight minutes, from the Bon Homme Richard (CVB-31) on the west coast to the flight deck of the Saratoga in the Atlantic.

The carrier departed Mayport on 3 September 1957 for her maiden transatlantic voyage. Saratoga sailed into the Norwegian Sea and participated in operation "Strikeback," joint naval maneuvers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries. She returned briefly to Mayport before entering the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for repairs.

On 1 February 1958, Saratoga departed Mayport for the Mediterranean and her first deployment with the Sixth Fleet. From this date through 31 December 1967, she was top spend a part of each year in the Mediterranean on a total of eight cruises. The remainder of the time, she either operated off the coast of Florida or was in port undergoing restricted availability.

While deployed with the Sixth Fleet on 23 January 1961, a serious fire broke out in Saratoga's number two machinery space which took seven lives. The fire, believed caused by a ruptured fuel oil line, was brought under control by the crew, and the ship proceeded to Athens where a survey of the damage could be made.

On 2 January 1968, Saratoga sailed for Philadelphia and an overhaul and modernization program which was to last 11 months. On 31 January 1969, she departed Philadelphia for Guantanamo, via Hampton Roads and Mayport, and extensive refresher training of the crew and air detachments.

On 17 May, Armed Forces Day, she was the host ship for President Richard M. Nixon during the firepower demonstration conducted by Carrier Air Wing Three in the Virginia Capes area. On 9 July, she departed Mayport for her ninth Mediterranean deployment. Underway, a Soviet surface force and a "November" class submarine passed in close proximity, en route to Cuba. Off the Azores on 17 July, Saratoga was shadowed by Kipelovo-based Soviet aircraft. They were intercepted, photographed, and escorted while in the vicinity of the carrier. She operated with Task Group 60.2 of the Sixth Fleet in the eastern Mediterranean during September in a "show of force" in response to the large build-up of Soviet surface units there, the hijacking of a Trans World Airlines plane to Syria, and the political coup in Libya. Numerous surveillance and reconnaissance flights were conducted by Carrier Wing Three aircraft against Soviet surface units, including the carrier Moskva, operating southeast of Crete. Saratoga operated in this area again in October because of the crisis in Lebanon. She returned to Mayport and the Florida coast from 22 January until 11 June 1970 when she again sailed for duty with the Sixth Fleet.

On 28 September, President Richard M. Nixon and his party arrived on board. That night, word was received that Gamal Abdul Nasser, President of the United Arab Republic had died; an event that might plunge the entire Middle East into a crisis. The intelligence and communications personnel of the Saratoga were required to supply the President, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Secretaries of State and Defense with the essential intelligence information to keep them abreast of the deteriorating situation. The Presidential party departed the ship the next evening, and Saratoga continued on patrol in the eastern Mediterranean until she sailed for the United States on 2 November. From her arrival at Mayport until 10 March 1971, she was in a "cold iron" status. She then operated off the Florida coast until 7 June when she departed for her eleventh deployment with the Sixth Fleet, via Scotland and the North Sea where she participated in exercise "Magic Sword II." She returned to Mayport on 31 October for a period of restricted availability and local operations.

On 11 April 1972, Saratoga sailed from Mayport en route to Subic Bay, P. I., and her first deployment to the western Pacific. She arrived in Subic Bay on 8 May and departed for Vietnam the following week, arriving at "Yankee Station" on 18 May for her first period on the line. Before year's end, she was on station in the Tonkin Gulf a total of seven times: 18 May to 21 June; 1 to 16 July; 28 July to 22 August; 2 to 19 September; 29 September to 21 October; 5 November to 8 December; and 18 to 31 December.

During the first period, Saratoga lost four aircraft and three pilots. On the plus side, on 21 June, two of her "Phantoms" attacked three MiG 21's over North Vietnam. Dodging four surface to air missiles, they managed to down one of the MiG aircraft. Saratoga's planes attacked targets ranging from enemy troop concentrations in the lower panhandle to petroleum storage areas northeast of Hanoi. On her second line period, she lost an F-4 to enemy fire northeast of Hanoi with the pilot and radar intercept officer missing in action. During this period, her aircraft flew 708 missions against the enemy.

On 6 August, Lt. Jim Lloyd, flying an A-7 on a bombing mission near Vinh, had his plane shot out from under him by a SAM. He ejected into enemy territory at night. In a daring rescue by helicopters, supported by CVW-3 aircraft, he was lifted from the midst of enemy soldiers and returned to the Saratoga. On 10 August, one of the ship's CAP jet fighters splashed a MIG at night using "Sparrow" missiles.

During the period 2 to 19 September, Saratoga aircraft flew over 800 combat strike missions against targets in North Vietnam. On 20 October, her aircraft flew 83 close air support sorties in six hours in support of a force of 250 Territorials beleaguered by the North Vietnamese 48th Regiment. Air support saved the small force, enabled ARVN troops to advance, and killed 102 North Vietnamese soldiers. During her last period on station, Saratoga's aircraft battered targets in the heart of North Vietnam for over a week.

Saratoga departed "Yankee Station" for Subic Bay on 7 January 1973. From there she sailed for the United States, via Singapore, arrived at Mayport on 13 February 1973. As of 1 January 1974, Saratoga was on active duty with the Atlantic Fleet.

Saratoga received one battle star for service in the Vietnamese conflict.

22 January 2002