USS Norton Sound (AV-11) History
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Open Sea Rescue By Tender - Naval Aviation News - August 1945.." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1940s/1945/15aug45.pdf [10NOV2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Norton Sound (AV-11) anchored in Tanapag Harbor, Saipan, in April 1945. There are two PB2Ys moored in the left background and at least one PBM on the right. Photographed by Ens. Thomas Binford, USNR. Note ship's round SK-2 radar antenna..." WebSite: U. S. Naval Institute http://www.usni.org/hrp/images/thumbnails/WWII_Color/Norton%20Sound%20AV11%20at%20Tanapag.htm [04JAN2001]
A BIT OF HISTORY: USS Norton Sound "...Seaplane Tender USS Chandeleur (AV-10) 1942-1945 Cruisebook..." Contributed by Tom Suglio TSuglio@aol.com [24AUG2001]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...USS Norton Sound (AV-11).." http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/ships/dafs/AV/av11.html [03JAN2001]
USS Norton Sound (AV-11)
A large inlet about 200 miles long NE of the Bering Sea, in West Alaska, between Seward Peninsula and the mouths of the Yukon.
(AV-11: dp. 9,090; l. 540'5"; b. 69'3"; dr. 22'3"; s. 18 k.; cpl. 1,247; a. 4 5", 12 40mm.; cl. Currituck)
Norton Sound (AV-11) was laid down by the Los Angeles Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., San Pedro, Calif. 7 September 1942; launched 28 November 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Ernest L. Gunther, wife of Rear Admiral Ernest L. Gunther and commissioned 8 January 1945, Captain Ben Scott Custer in command.
After Pacific shakedown, the new seaplane tender stood out from San Diego 26 February and steamed for Pearl Harbor. She reported to Commander, Marshall-Gilbert Area for training in mid-March, and she arrived Saipan 1 April to provide seaplane tending services.
Norton Sound anchored 1 May at Aka Kaikyo, Kerama Retto, and by 21 June had assisted in splashing three hostile air raiders. Air alerts continued until midnight, 14 August. Word of the Japanese surrender arrived eight hours later, and into September the tender engaged in upkeep and air operations at Okinawa.
She steamed for Sasebo, Japan 21 September, returning to Okinawa one week later. Norton Sound called at Shanghai, China 1 October and by the 23d she was at Tsingtao where she tended seaplanes until 7 November. The next lay she anchored at Shanghai; and, from that time until April of 1946, she remained on duty with the occupation forces between China and Japan.
Norton Sound departed Tokyo Bay 7 April for Norfolk, Va. After overhaul there she joined the Atlantic Fleet. She operated off the east coast until October 1947, when she steamed for San Diego to rejoin the Pacific Fleet.
Shortly thereafter Norton Sound was selected for conversion to a mobile missile launching platform. She entered Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in February 1948 for seven months, while special equipment was installed for handling, stowing, launching, and controlling guided missiles.
Upon completion of her modifications in October 1948, Norton Sound steamed for her new homeport of Port Hueneme Calif. Enroute she conducted tests with Skyhook balloons and off southern California she underwent a very intensive missile training program. Late that fall Norton Sound successfully launched a training missile, thus marking the beginning of the Navy's shipborne family of guided missiles.
Following installation of launching equipment for Aerobee missiles at Long Beach Naval Shipyard in February 1949, the ship steamed to equatorial waters off the South American coast and successfully launched two Aerobees. These launchings provided fundamental scientific information on the, earth's radiation belt.
On 1 July 1949, Norton Sound headed for the geomagnetic equator, some 1500 miles south of Hawaii, and conducted extensive tests with seventeen huge Skyhook balloons and nine smaller balloon clusters, all of which carried aloft scientific instrumentation packages. All of these tests had scientific value and emphasized Norton Sound's value to the Navy as a floating proving ground for developing skills and procedures for future tactical guided missile installations in combatants.
After special modifications in February and March 1950 at San Francisco Naval Shipyard, Norton Sound launched a five ton Viking rocket 11 May in project "Reach". This rocket carried a 500 pound scientific instrumentation package to an altitude of 106.4 miles, and provided additional data on cosmic rays.
Project "Reach" concluded the first phase of Norton Sound's history as a mobile missile launching platform. This first phase was devoted to extending scientific research frontiers and gaining experience prerequisite to firing tactical weapons. The second phase required the application of the resultant knowledge. The newer missiles launched from the ship had a more direct bearing on the future of the Navy's combatant missile capability.
In the fall of 1950 Norton Sound underwent a four month overhaul at San Francisco Naval Shipyard. New handling, launching, stowage, and guidance systems were installed for operations involving the Terrier missile. She was reclassified AVM-1 on 8 August 1951. This was the first of three extensive alterations accomplished through 1955. Research, development and evaluation launchings of Terrier and Tartar missiles continued from this period through 1958.
In 1958 Norton Sound participated in project "Argus" From a position south of the Falkland Islands she launched three rockets which carried low-yield atomic warheads. Detonation occurred at an altitude of 300 miles, and the effects were monitored by the Explorer IV satellite and by other instrumented rockets. Analysis of data from Project "Argus" contributed materially to the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belt.
The ship returned to San Diego in June 1959 and resumed Terrier and Tartar test launchings. She continued these operations until June 1962, when she steamed for Norfolk, Va. She decommissioned there 10 August, and in November she was towed to Baltimore, Md. for installation of the Typhon Weapon Control System. The conversion was completed early in 1964, and Norton Sound recommissioned 20 June emerging in her present configuration to continue tasks in weapons research.
Baltimore was designated homeport for Norton Sound, and for several months she operated in Chesapeake Bay, evaluating the Typhon System. Assigned to Port Hueneme, Calif. in July 1965, she arrived there the last day of that month. Her mission was then increased to include evaluation of the Sea Sparrow missile, the first of which she launched 13 September.
During a three month stay at Long Beach Naval Shipyard commencing 15 July 1966, all Typhon equipment was removed following discontinuance of the system. For the next two years Norton Sound evaluated various countermeasures for missile threats to naval surface forces. She also tested hardware designed to enhance ECM capabilities, and equipment involving a new concept in gyro design.
Norton Sound entered Long Beach Naval Shipyard 13 June 1968 for regular overhaul. The yard also installed a new, light-weight 5"/54 gun mount with associated gunfire control components for operational evaluation tests. Into 1969 she continues active in test and evaluation work with the Pacific Fleet.
Norton Sound received two battle stars for World War II service..
Can you identify the Month and or Year?
A BIT OF HISTORY: "... USS Norton Sound (AV-11)..." USS Norton Sound WebSite: http://www.ussnortonsound.com/html/history1.htm [Link Updated 27JUN2005 | 03NOV2001]
Originally built to tend seaplanes, USS Norton Sound (AV-11) carried out this duty during the closing months of World War II by operating in support of her "Flying Boat" squadron at Kerama Retto, Okinawa, Japan.
During this time USS Norton Sound (AV-11) and her sister ships fought off attacking enemy aircraft (Including Kamikaze suicide planes) during 150 air raids. While all of this was going on, Patrol Bombing Squadron 26 (VPB-26), assigned to USS Norton Sound (AV-11) was conducting some 412 missions consisting of: anti ship and submarine, and long range reconnaissance patrols; mounting attacks against enemy shipping and shore facilities; and conducting air/sea rescue missions. The final combined tally for USS Norton Sound (AV-11) and VPB-26 was: 16 ships sunk and 31 ships damaged; 1 aircraft destroyed and 2 damaged; 2 docks and facilities destroyed; and 3 radio stations damaged.
For much of her time at Okinawa, USS Norton Sound (AV-11) served as flagship for Commander, Fleet Air Wing 1 (FAW-1), who had the responsibility for supporting and operating 17 squadrons of land based and seaplanes from various air stations and up to 15 seaplane tenders, which were assigned to FAW-1 for operational control. FAW-1's area of responsibility extended over millions of square miles of the pacific theater of operations. In time, her activity stretched from Pearl Harbor (where her units were badly mauled during the attack) through final victory (VJ Day).
Units of FAW-1 sunk or damaged over 1009 enemy ships and craft, destroyed or damaged well over 213 enemy aircraft, and inflicted incalculable damage on enemy shore installations during 39,179 patrol and combat miginally built to seaplane tenders, USS Norton Sound (AV-11) carried out this duty during the closing months of World War II by operating in support of her "Flying Boat" squadron at Kerama Retto, Okinawa, Japan. During this time USS Norton Sound (AV-11) and her sister ships fought off attacking enemy aircraft (Including Kamikaze suicide planes) during 150 air raids. While all of this was going on, Patrol Bombing Squadron 26 (VPB-26), assigned to USS Norton Sound (AV-11) was conducting some 412 missions consisting of: anti ship and submarine, and long range reconnaissance patrols; mounting attacks against enemy shipping and shore facilities; and conducting air/sea rescue missions. The final combined tally for USS Norton Sound (AV-11) and VPB-26 was: 16 ships sunk and 31 ships damaged; 1 aircraft destroyed and 2 damaged; 2 docks and facilities destroyed; and 3 radio stations damaged. For much of her time at Okinawa, USS Norton Sound (AV-11) served as flagship for Commander, Fleet Air Wing 1 (FAW-1), who had the responsibility for supporting and operating 17 squadrons of land based and seaplanes from various air stations and up to 15 seaplane tender, which were assigned to FAW-1 for operational control. FAW-1's area of responsibility extended over millions of square miles of the pacific theater of operations. In time, her activity stretched from Pearl Harbor (where her units were badly mauled during the attack) through final victory (VJ Day). Units of FAW-1 sunk or damaged over 1009 enemy ships and craft, destroyed or damaged well over 213 enemy aircraft, and inflicted incalculable damage on enemy shore installations during 39,179 patrol and combat missions.
Norton Sound participated in the liberation of Japanese occupied cities and areas and in the occupation of Japan for several months, before being rotated back to the United States for peace time duty on 9 April 1946. She arrived at Norfolk, Virginia on 22 May 1946.
Following WW II, Norton Sound was selected to support the Navy's infant guided missile and rocket development program. She was modified for these duties at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Provisions were made for handling, storing, fueling (liquid fuel), servicing, launching, and operational monitoring of rockets and guided missiles. Conversion work resulted in a major change in her external appearance. This was the first of many times throughout her career in scientific and weapons research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) that her internal and external configuration would be radically altered to suit new mission and program requirements. She was designated AVM-1 on 8 August, 1951.
In her new mission, she served as a floating laboratory and launching platform for an incredible number of high priority projects and programs; including many of prime historical significance. To name the most important of these: Operation Nanook (Arctic exploration and research); Projects SKYHOOK (Free balloon); AEROBEE (Rocket); REACH (VIKING Rocket); ARGUS (X17A three stage Rockets fitted with low yield nuclear devices and POGO sounding Rockets); NIKE-HYDAK; HYDRA-IRIS and HYDRA-SANDHAWK (Cosmic ray and upper atmosphere research); Operations REDWING, DOMINIC and others (Atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons); LOON, LARK, REGULUS 1, TERRIER, TARTAR, TALOS, SEA SPARROW (BPDSMS), Navy REDEYE, STANDARD (MR), and TOMAHAWK surface launched guided missile development projects and entire programs; 5" 54 caliber gun mount MK 45 Mod 0; Rocket and Guided missile launchers (GML) and launching systems (GMLS) including TERRIER/TARTAR experimental GML X-5 and GML MK 5, SEA SPARROW Prototype launcher and GMLS Mk 25, prototype CHAFFROC Launcher, the mixed missile capability systems GMLS Mk 26 and the current Vertical Launching System GMLS EX-41; Weapon and Fire Control Systems and auxiliary equipment's associated with these and other weapons and systems up to today's AEGIS Combat System, which is light years ahead of the jury-rigged modification of the Gun Fire Control System Mk 37's Mk 25 Mod 2 Radar, used in the early days of the LARK/LOON Programs, and the SPQ-2 and -5 used in the TERRIER/TARTAR Programs. In Fact, she has had some level of participation in virtually every surface launched guided missile development program of the US Navy, from the first experiments and launches of guided missiles (which mow seem quite primitive, but were then on the leading edge of the state of the art). She logged the first launch of a tactical guided missile from the deck of any ship in the world on 26 January 1949, when an engineering model LTV-N-2 LOON Guided Missile was launched off the coast of Point Mugu, California. There has also been involvement in the RDT&E of any number of minor systems and equipment's development programs, which perhaps, if not spectacular in their contribution to fleet readiness, provide an essential contribution to the fundamental strength of the more glamorous systems.
Her RDT&E career in the late 40's and through the 50's and early 60's was primarily, but certainly not exclusively, involved with the development and refinement of the TERRIER, TARTAR and TALOS Guided Missile Systems, which resulted in the 3T Surface Missile Systems "Fleet". The ships comprising this "Fleet" have been a major component in the defensive shield which has increasingly guarded our fleet and helped to protect our Nation, starting with the introduction (re-commissioning) of USS Boston (CAG-1) on 1 November 1955 and USS Gyatt (DDG-1) on 31 December 1956; a period of 31 years.
Among the several scientific projects she engaged in the late 40's and 50's, probably the most important, if one project can be singled out, was Project ARGUS, which was actually the culmination of effort expended in Projects SKYHOOK (Free balloon capable of reaching 85,000 feet), AEROBEE (Rocket capable of reaching 71 miles of altitude), and REACH (VIKING Rocket No. 4 launched on 12 May 1950 from Norton Sound reached an altitude of 106.4 miles, a world record(. As part of the US Navy's contribution to the International Geophysical Year and as flagship for Task Force 88, Norton Sound led a group of US Navy ships to a point south of the Falkland Islands and on 27 and 30 August and 6 September 1958 she launched three X-17A Rockets bearing low yield explosive nuclear devices to an altitude of 300 miles. At altitude they were detonated. Among other things, these tests demonstrated that a belt of radiation, which had been theorized, actually existed; it was named after Dr. James A. Van Allen, who led the scientific party onboard Norton Sound as he had during previous experiments. It also created an impressive (man induced) aurora borealis (Northern Lights), and provided worldwide conditions which where monitored and measured all around the world by scientific participating in geophysical year activities. Project ARGUS was therefore a scientific achievement of a high order of magnitude. This cruise involved the circumnavigation of the South American Continent, which is not often accomplished by US Navy ships.
Having been home ported at Port Hueneme, California since 30 November 1948, Norton Sound stood out to sea in June of 1962 bound for Norfolk, Virginia and ultimately to Baltimore, Maryland. She arrived at Norfolk, Virginia and was decommissioned on 10 August 1962, and was later towed to Baltimore to enter the Maryland Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. shipyard for installation of major portions of the prototype TYPHON Weapons System, which consisted of the AN/SPG-59 Radar and its associated control system. TYPHON was a radical step in the evolution of naval surface weapons systems, being the first system capable of simultaneously taking multiple targets under fire and tracking many more. Unfortunately, the electronic state of the art at that time was not capable of providing the necessary components in the size required to build a system deployable in a destroyer. The TYPHON Programs was cancelled on 7 January 1964 by Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. Therefore, it was decided that the installation in Norton Sound would be used to gather data which would help advance the state of the art, and prepare the way for development of a serviceable small ship system at a later date. Completing the conversion, USS Norton Sound (AVM-1) was re-commissioned on 20 June 1964, and home ported in Baltimore to conduct tests of the system in and around the Chesapeake Bay. Her home port was again changed to Port Hueneme, California, she arrived there on 7 July 1965. Testing of the TYPHON System was continued out of Port Hueneme for a time and then most of the system was removed, including the 190 ton Radar tower, at Long Beach Naval Shipyard, with work being completed on 30 September 1966. Although TYPHON did not survive to serve in the fleet, many of the lessons learned were applied to the development of the AEGIS Weapon System, which would later make the grade - - - in a big way, with Norton Sound's help.
"USS Norton Sound (AV-11) Summary Page"