USS Yorktown, a 27,100-ton Essex class aircraft carrier built at Newport News, Virginia, was commissioned in April 1943. After shakedown, she passed throught the Panam Canal in July to join the war against Japan. Yorktown’s first combat operation was a strike against Marcus Island at the end of August. During the rest of 1943, she took part in a raid on Wake Island and in the Gilberts operation. From late January into May 1944, Yorktown was one of the carriers that covered landings in the Marshall Islands and western New Guinea and generally battered Japanese forces throughout the central Pacific. In June 1944, her planes attacked Saipan and Guam and hit the carrier Zuikaku during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. For the rest of that month and in July, Yorktown struck other targets in the Marianas, the Bonins and Volcano Islands.
Following a overhaul, Yorktown rejoined the fighting fleet in November 1944, participating in attacks on Japanese positions in the Philippines, Formosa, Indochina and on the China coast from then into January 1945. In February and March, she supported the landings on Iwo Jima and conducted air strikes against the Japanese Home Islands. Though damaged by an enemy bomb on 18 March, she was able to remain in action. From late March until June 1945, Yorktown took part in the Okinawa campaign. On 7 April, her planes helped sink the huge Japanese battleship Yamato and some of her consorts. The remaining months of the Pacific war were mainly spent on raids on the Japanese Home Islands. Following Japan’s capitulation in August, Yorktown helped cover occupation efforts and brought servicemen home from the western Pacific. Generally inactive from early 1946, the carrier was decommissioned in January 1947.
Yorktown began a major modernization in 1951. Now capable of operating heavier aircraft and redesignated CVA-10, she reentered active service in February 1953. In August, she departed for the Far East to begin the first of eleven Seventh Fleet cruises. In early 1955, during her second deployment, Yorktown supported the Tachin Islands evacuation. Later in that year, she was further modernized, receiving an angled flight deck and enclosed bow. After two more western Pacific tours as an attack carrier, in 1957-58 she became an antisubmarine warfare support aircraft carrier, with the new designation CVS-10.
The carrier’s regular schedule of Far Eastern deployments included periodic exercises with allied navies and, from the mid-1960s, support for Vietnam War activities. In 1968, Yorktown played a major role in the motion picture “Tora! Tora! Tora!” and was part of the Apollo 8 space flight recovery effort. Transferred to the Atlantic Fleet in early 1969, she visited Europe during the last part of the year. Decommissioned in June 1970, in 1975 Yorktownbecame a memorial at Charleston, South Carolina, a mission that continues to the present day.