The first Essex, which historical research indicates was named for Essex County, Massachusetts, was built by private subscription on the credit of the United States. Her keel was laid at Salem, Massachusetts on April 13, 1799, and she was launched on September 30th of the same year, being completed at a cost of $139,362. She was a frigate of 32 guns (actually carrying 44) and a burden of 850 tons. The first United States Man-of-War to double the Cape of Good Hope, she also was the first to capture a British war vessel in the War of 1812. She took part in the naval war with France, 1800-1806, and in the War of 1812, being captured in 1814.
The second Essex was a ferry boat which was converted into an ironclad center wheel steamer in 1856. She served in the Mississippi squadron during the Civil War, and was sold at public auction in 1865.
The USS Essex, third of that name, was a wooden screw steamer built in 1876 and, after service in both Atlantic and Pacific oceans, was finally stricken from the Navy list and sold in October, 1930.
The present Essex was launched July 31, 1942, first of the new big aircraft carriers commissioned after the declaration of war, pioneer of the famous Essex class, whose planes have caused such destruction to every Japanese stronghold from their furthest island outpost to the very heart of the Empire. She has covered over 210,000 miles during her life, and promises to add many, many more before she retires from active duty.
With her planes, she has accounted for 1087 enemy aircraft and over 1,000,000 tons of enemy shipping. She has made attacks on Marcus, Wake, Truk, Rabaul, Saipan, Formosa, the Philippines, the Bonins, the Ryukyus, the Pescadores, French Indo-China, China, and the main islands of Japan. In addition, she took part in both Philippines Sea engagements.
Fighting Squadron Four: The Red