Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

USS Princeton (CVL-23, originally CV-23), 1943-44

Built at Camden, New Jersey, USS Princeton (CVL-23), an Independence class aircraft carrier, was commissioned in February 1943.  Originally built to be USS Tallahassee (CL-61), she was converted and designated CV-23 until July.   Ordered to the Pacific, Princeton supported landings at New Guinea, Saipan, and participated in the Battle of the Philippine Sea.  On October 24, 1944, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, one Japanese "Judy" dive bomber dropped a 250-kilogram bomb on her flight deck at 9:38 a.m., somewhat aft of her amidships and came to rest in the crew's galley.  Subsequent raging fires ignited six TBM aircraft bombers stored in the hangar above the galley during mid-afternoon.  As these explosions occurred, USS Birmingham (CL-62) and USS Morrison (DD-560) came alongside.  As the ships attempted to assist, the bombs from the TBM aircraft violently ignited, blowing off the carrier's stern and killing hundreds of men.  With no hope of the aircraft carrier to be saved, Princeton was abandoned and was scuttled by USS Reno (CL-96).  

Image:  80-G-287969:  USS Princeton (CVL-23), October 24, 1944.   Smoke rising from an explosion after she was hit by a Japanese aerial bomb at approximately 9:38 a.m.   Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.