The USS Franklin was an aircraft carrier that served in the Pacific War during World War II. It was one of the most heavily damaged carriers to survive the war, but it also had a bizarre and embarrassing incident when it returned to Pearl Harbor for repairs.
The ship was attacked by two Japanese kamikaze planes on March 19, 1945, while it was launching airstrikes against the Japanese mainland. The first plane hit the flight deck, setting off bombs and ammunition. The second plane hit the hangar deck, causing more fires and explosions. The ship was engulfed in flames and smoke, and many crew members were killed or wounded.
The captain of the ship, Leslie E. Gehres, was a controversial and unpopular officer who had taken command of the Franklin in January 1945. He had a reputation for being abusive and tyrannical toward his crew, and he blamed them for the damage caused by the kamikaze attacks.
Despite the severe damage, the ship managed to survive and reach Pearl Harbor for repairs on April 2, 1945, with the help of the USS Pittsburgh and other escort ships. The ship received the Presidential Unit Citation for its actions.
He then made a series of errors that resulted in the Franklin crashing into the dock, scraping its side and smashing its anchor. The impact also damaged the dock and a nearby power station. The collision was witnessed by hundreds of sailors and civilians, who were stunned by the spectacle.
The USS Franklin was the most heavily damaged carrier to survive the war, but it also became a laughingstock for its clumsy and humiliating crash. The ship was eventually repaired and decommissioned in 1947. It was sold for scrap in 1966.
– TIL that as the USS Franklin was returning to Pearl Harbor for repairs after surviving multiple kamikaze hits, the captain refused to allow the harbor pilot to dock the aircraft carrier, wanting to do it himself. He proceeded to immediately crash the ship into the dock, Reddit, February 3, 2013
– Historical salvage platform attached to USS Arizona is collapsing into Pearl Harbor, Stars and Stripes, November 9, 2023
– Survival: The Story of the USS Franklin, Warfare History Network, November 8, 2023
– The USS Franklin was the Most Damaged Aircraft Carrier to Survive WWII, War History Online, November 7, 2023