Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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USS Langley (CV-1) 

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS Langley (CV-1) 

As the first Navy carrier, USS Langley (CV-1) was the scene of numerous momentous events. On 17 October 1922 Lt. Virgil C. Griffin piloted the first plane, a VE-7-SF, launched from her decks. Though this was not the first time an airplane had taken off from a ship, and though Langley was not the first ship with an installed flight deck, this one launching was of monumental importance to the modern U.S. Navy.

By 15 January 1923 USS Langley (CV-1) had began flight operations and tests in the Caribbean for carrier landings. In June she steamed to Washington, D.C., to give a demonstration at a flying exhibition before civil and military dignitaries. She arrived Norfolk 13 June and commenced training along the Atlantic coast and Caribbean which carried her through the end of the year. In 1924 USS Langley (CV-1) participated in more maneuvers and exhibitions, and spent the summer at Norfolk for repairs and alterations. For the next 12 years she operated off the California coast and Hawaii engaged in training fleet units, experimentation, pilot training, and tactical fleet problems.

On 25 October 1936 she put into Mare Island Navy Yard for overhaul and conversion to a seaplane tender. USS Langley (CV-1) completed conversion 26 February 1937 and was reclassified AV‑3 on 21 April. She was assigned to Aircraft Scouting Force and commenced her tending operations out of Seattle, Sitka, Pearl Harbor, and San Diego. At the outbreak of World War II, USS Langley (CV-1) lay off Cavite, Philippine Islands. She departed 8 December and proceeded to Balikpapan, Borneo, and Darwin, Australia, where she arrived 1 January 1942. Until 11 January USS Langley (CV-1) assisted the RAAF in running antisubmarine patrols out of Darwin.

Early in the morning 27 February, USS Langley (CV-1) rendezvoused with her antisubmarine screen, destroyers USS Whipple (DD‑217) and USS Edsall (DD‑219). At 1140 nine twin-engine enemy bombers attacked her. The first and second Japanese strikes were unsuccessful; but during the third USS Langley (CV-1) took five hits. Aircraft topside burst into flames, steering was impaired, and the ship took a 10° list to port. Unable to negotiate the narrow mouth of Tjilatjap Harbor, USS Langley (CV-1) went dead in the water as inrushing water flooded her main motors. At 1332 the order to abandon ship was passed. The escorting destroyers fired nine 4‑inch shells and two torpedoes into the old tender to insure her sinking. She went down about 75 miles south of Tjilatjap with a loss of 16.

For a complete history of USS Langley (CV-1) please see its DANFS page.