WWII-era seaplane tenders were on their way out of the US Navy by the time of the Vietnam War. However one, USS Albemarle, would have a second life as a US Army floating repair base during that conflict.
(Launching of the WWII US Navy seaplane tender USS Albemarle.) (Associated Press photo)
(The ex-USS Albemarle being converted into USNS Corpus Christi Bay (T-ARVH-1) at Charleston Naval Shipyard.)
(USNS Corpus Christi Bay during the Vietnam War.) (photo by Bob Brandt)
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(A Kingfisher scout plane catapults off the cruiser USS Detroit (CL-8) during WWII.)
(Abandoned Kingfishers lay in a US Navy storage lot in 1946, a year after WWII ended)
Because most photos of battleships concentrate on the inter-war and WWII era, it’s generally assumed that catapults and seaplanes were always a fixture on them, but this isn’t accurate.
If one considers the “battleship era” starting with the Spanish-American War in 1898 and ending with the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 , it was only half a century that that this type of warship ruled the seas. Of that, seaplanes aboard battleships had an even shorter run, about 24 years. For context, there were US Navy sailors who enlisted before battleship catapults existed and retired after they were already gone.
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