March 18, 2020 | Karl’s Korner

The Midway's Skeleton Crew - Revisited

Hello! Karl Zingheim, Midway’s Ship Historian, here! From the start, “Karl’s Korner” has been a place for me to share with you – our social media followers, our visitors, and our Midway family – slices of history from my screen to yours! Although, the USS Midway Museum is temporarily closed for the health and safety of our staff, volunteers, and guests at this time, my mission of sharing these stories with you does not stop. In fact, as Midway continues to operate behind the scenes and from the homes of our staff, we are quickly learning what we can accomplish operating under a skeleton crew. Today, we will take it back to 1955. Did you know that the current circumstances are not the first time the ship has accommodated reducing staff?

Summer, 1955

In the summer of 1955, the Midway completed an epic around the world cruise from Norfolk, Virginia, to Alameda near San Francisco. The voyage foreshadowed a lengthy overhaul and modernization to bring the World War II-era carrier into the supersonic age. In August 1955, the Midway arrived at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington. Since the repairs and modernizations were going to be so extensive, the ship was scheduled for decommissioning in October prior to handing her over to the yard personnel. This required an extensive, and hectic, process of removing all manner of stores, parts, fuel and lubricants, and other consumables a warship needs. Next, all equipment slated for replacement, or no longer required, were logged out and removed. Even the ship’s boats departed for storage or use with other ships. Eventually, the ship’s company accelerated its dispersal to other assignments. Presiding over this dwindling crew was Commander Richard S. Rogers, formerly the Midway’s Executive Officer, but now her transitional commander. In World War II, he flew Wildcat fighters. On 5 June 1943, Rogers so effectively strafed the surfaced German u-boat U-217, that an accompanying Avenger sank the submarine with well-placed depth charges. Now, on 14 October 1955, Rogers bade farewell to the last of the Midway’s old crew before moving to his next assignment. Over the ensuing 23 months, the Midway transformed into a carrier able to operate the latest shipboard aircraft, including the F-8 Crusader. Sporting an enclosed bow, and an angled flight deck extension, the Midway began to take on the appearance we all know today. In the second half of the 1960’s, the Midway saw another skeleton crew prepare for her next makeover. So, in a peculiar sense, the present circumstances are just another tour of minimal manning for a carrier always in transition, respectfully. In a time when many things are uncertain, it is encouraging to see the community come together in so many ways. We thank you all for your support as we navigate this time together. Midway and her shipmates has always found a way to come back stronger than before. This will be no different. Thank you for reading this installment of Karl's Korner. To learn more about Midway's modifications and angled flight deck click here to read one of my previous posts. Did you know about Midway's deck modifications? Leave me a comment and let me know! Launch em’… until next time, Karl

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