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USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24)

Please seee below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24)

The first USS Belleau Wood, originally projected as the Cleveland-class light cruiser New Haven (CL-76), was laid down on 11 August 1941 at Camden, N.J., by the New York Shipbuilding Corp.; redesignated CV-24 on 16 February 1942; renamed USS Belleau Wood (CV-24) on 31 March 1942; launched on 6 December 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Thomas Holcomb, wife of the Commandant of the Marine Corps; and commissioned on 31 March 1943, Capt. Alfred M. Pride, in command.

After some preliminary training in Chesapeake Bay in late May and a week of availability at Norfolk, USS Belleau Wood (CV-24) sailed for the West Indies on 8 June to carry out her shakedown cruise. Returning to the United States at Philadelphia on 3 July, the aircraft carrier underwent a series of post-shakedown repairs, inspections, and alterations at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. During these modifications, USS Belleau Wood (CV-24) was redesignated as a small aircraft carrier, CVL-24, on 15 July 1943. On 27 November, the light carrier joined TG 50.3, built around Essex (CV-9) and Enterprise, for a fast carrier strike on the Marshall Islands. 

On 16 January 1944, USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24) departed Hawaii in company with Enterprise and Yorktown (CV-10) in TG 58.1 to participate in Operation "Flintlock" --the seizure of Majuro, Kwajalein, and Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands. After a week of upkeep at Majuro, USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24) stood out on 13 April with TG 58.1 for the Hollandia operation. Assigned to "Magic-Carpet" duty, USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24)'s crew first installed 600 bunks on the hangar deck and then embarked 1,248 Army troops and Navy casualties for transportation home. The warship got underway on 1 November and moored at San Pedro, Calif., on 6 November.

For the next year, USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24) remained moored at various locations in the San Francisco area undergoing conversion and inactivation until placed out of commission, in reserve, at the Alameda Naval Air Station on 13 January 1947. She remained in "mothballs" until transferred to France on 5 September 1953 under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program. After serving in the French Navy as Bois Belleau, USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24) was returned to Navy custody in early September 1960 at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Her name was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 October 1960. 

For a complete history of USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24) please see its DANFS page.