December 31, 1942: USS Essex Commissioned
With the coming of World War II, design studies of probable Essex successors were curtailed and the construction of additional ships of the class greatly expanded. Ultimately, two civilian shipyards and three Navy yards built the 24 ships actually completed. Following an accelerated construction period, the Essex herself was commissioned 31 December 1942, and 16 more were commissioned by the end of the war. Arriving in the Pacific, starting in August 1943, these new ships created and perfected-in conjunction with the CVLs and new mobile logistic support forces-one of the most impressive weapon systems of all time, the fast carrier task force.
Starting with the 31 August 1943 strike by the Essex and Yorktown (CV-10) against Marcus Island, 14 of the class participated in the war against Japan. Ten were damaged, eight by kamikaze attacks. Only one, the Franklin (CV-13), was nearly lost. She made it back to the United States on her own power but never saw active duty again.