Above: The PWA provided funding for two aircraft carriers, one of which was the U.S.S. Yorktown (CV-5). The photo above shows the Yorktown at Newport News, Virginia, 1937. The Yorktown participated in the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway, helping to damage or sink four Japanese aircraft carriers, and earning three battle stars. From June 4 to June 7, 1942, the Yorktown was hit hard by aircraft assaults and torpedoes and sank. In 1998 the ship was discovered under three miles of water, near Midway Island. It was reported that "The Yorktown, immortalized in the movie 'Midway,' helped the United States win the pivotal Battle of Midway in 1942, which devastated the Japanese fleet and ended the threat of an invasion of Hawaii." Photo courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command.
Above: The other PWA-funded carrier was the U.S.S. Enterprise (CV-6), shown here in Puget Sound, 1945. Earning 20 battle stars (and other awards), the Enterprise was the most decorated U.S. ship of World War II. She saw action all over the Pacific, for example, at the Marshall Islands, Wake Island, the Doolittle Raid, the Battle of Midway, Guadalcanal, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. The Enterprise survived many ferocious attacks but could not survive public and/or congressional apathy. As the Naval History and Heritage Command explains: "After the failure of efforts to make her into a memorial, USS Enterprise was sold for scrapping in July 1958." How amazing would it be to step onto the Enterprise today, knowing that she had participated in some of the most famous battles in history? What a shame we let her go. Photo courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command.
These two PWA-built carriers were described in the following way: "Fast, long-range ships, each are capable to stow and handle 100 aircraft. They cost $19,000,000 apiece without armament. The standard tonnage of the two ships is 19,900, and their overall length is 809 feet 6 inches. Each powered with turbines totaling 120,000 horsepower, with quadruple screws, they are capable of rated speeds of 34 knots. Their main batteries are composed of eight 5-inch guns, and sixteen 1.1 inch anti-aircraft guns. They carry crews of 1,788 men" (see note 1 below).
Sources of information: (1) Federal Works Agency, Millions for Defense, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940. (2) "Executive Order 6174 on Public Works Administration, June 16, 1933," American Presidency Project, University of California - Santa Barbara. (3) "Titanic explorer finds Yorktown," CNN, June 4, 1998. (4) Naval History and Heritage Command (http://www.history.navy.mil/).