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14,700 Tons (Standard)
19,116 Tons (Full Load)
8 x 5"/38 cal guns
16 x 1.1"/75 cal AA guns
24 x 50 cal MG
During May 1940 remained in Boston for fitting out, before she got underway on June 5, 1940 for calibration tests on her radio direction finder gear. Anchored in Boston Harbor, then to Hampton Roads, Virginia arriving June 24, 1940. Four days later, departed for the Caribbean with destroyer USS Morris.
Wasp was operating 170 miles southeast of San Cristobal and was refueling and rearmed aircraft that returned at 10:00am. At 12:15, a F4F Wildcat from Wasp claimed a Japanese four engined flying boat shot down. At 2:20pm, launched eight F4F Wildcats and eighteen SBD Dauntless dive bombers and successfully recovered eight Wildcats and three SBD Dauntless.
Meanwhile, Japanese submarine I-19 fired a spread of six torpedoes at Wasp. At 2:44pm a lookout reported "three torpedoes ... three points forward of the starboard beam", each impacted around 2:45pm, one hit above the waterline, all in the vicinity of the carrier's gasoline tanks and magazines. The other three missed: one hit USS O'Brien DD-415 and one hit North Carolina. Escorting destroyers dropped 80 depth charges onto Japanese submarine I-19, which escaped safely.
Explosions erupted in the forward part of the carrier, causing aircraft to drop onto the flight deck and fall out of storage. Fires began in the hanger below deck and caused ammunition to explode and the 1.1" AA gun mount (No. 2) was blown overboard by the explosion. Water mains were inoperable and the fire and the carrier listed to 10° to 15° starboard and a fuel slick caught fire on the sea. The flames spread and caused additional explosions and all communication went dead. At 3:20pm Captain Sherman order the crew to abandon ship, the survivors exited the ship into life rafts. Aboard, 45 aircraft were lost with the carrier. In total, 193 men died and 366 were wounded during the attack.
After the crew abandoned ship, USS Lansdowne DD-486 was ordered sink Wasp, firing two torpedoes that hit but failed to explode. After firing three more that exploded Wasp remained afloat until 9:00pm before sinking at roughly Lat 12° 24′ 58″ S, Long 164° 8′ 0″ E. Japanese submarine I-15 observed and reported the sinking of the Wasp. In total, Wasp received two battle stars for her World War II service.
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