The USS Cowpens is named after the Revolutionary War Battle fought on January 17, 1781, at an area called “Cowpens,” in South Carolina. On that field of battle, Brigadier General Daniel Morgan with a mix of experienced, yet untrained, militia and Colonial soldiers commanded by Lieutenant Colonel John Eager Howard met and defeated the superior force of British Army troops commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton. Both Morgan’s knowledge of the enemy and his use of the “double envelopment” maneuver provided victory in less than an hour of battle. The victory at Cowpens was a turning point in the re-conquest of South Carolina from the British and gave the American Army the courage to successfully pursue the British from South Carolina to Yorktown.
Current USS Cowpens
Also known as “The Thundering Herd”, the USS Cowpens is one of Seventh Fleet’s finest ships and the epitome of the best of the 21th century United States Navy. It is manned by the most highly trained and professional crew, and is preceded by its outstanding reputation as a highly proficient warfighter. Since commissioning in March 9, 1991 in Charleston, SC, USS Cowpens has set a multitude of records, including an unprecedented run of six consecutive Battle Efficiency awards.
The USS Cowpens is forward-deployed, with her homeport being in Yokosuka, Japan. The USS Cowpens also maintains an on-board active VBSS team to conduct anti-piracy, anti-smuggling, and anti-terrorist operations.
The USS Cowpens was one of several U.S. ships that participated in disaster relief efforts, dubbed Operation Tomadachi, after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
1st USS Cowpens
USS Cowpens (CV-25) was launched 17 January 1943 by New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J.; sponsored by Mrs. M. H. Spruance; daughter of Vice Admiral W. F. Halsey; and commissioned 28 May 1943 with Captain R. P. McConnell as the first commanding officer. She was reclassified CVL-25 on 15 July 1943.
Departing Philadelphia 29 August 1943 Cowpens arrived at Pearl Harbor 19 September to begin the active and distinguished war career which was to earn a Navy Unit Commendation. She sailed with TF 14 for the strike on Wake Island on 5 and 6 October and launched air strikes on Mille and Makin atolls between 19 and 24 November, Kwajalein and Wotje on 4 December before returning to base on 9 December.
Cowpens sailed from Pearl Harbor 16 January 1944 for the invasion of the Marshalls. Her planes pounded Kwajalein and Eniwetok the last 3 days of the month to prepare for the assault landing on the 31st. She struck at Truk on 16 and 17 February and the Marianas on 21 and 22 February before returning to Pearl Harbor 4 March. Soon back in action, Cowpens supplied air and antisubmarine patrols during the raids on Palau, Yap, Ulithi and Woleai from 30 March to 1 April. After operating off New Guinea during the invasion of Hollandia from 21 to 28 April, Cowpens took part in the strikes on Truk, Satawan and Ponape between 29 April and 1 May.
From 6 June to 10 July 1944 Cowpens operated in the Marianas operation. Her planes struck the island of Saipan to aid the assault troops, and made supporting raids on Iwo Jima, Pagan, Rota, and Guam. They also took part in the Battle of the Philippine Sea on 19 and 20 June, accounting for a number of the huge tally of enemy planes downed. After a brief overhaul at Pearl Harbor, Cowpens rejoined the fast carrier task force at Eniwetok on 17 August. On the 29th she participated in the invasion strikes on Palaus. From 13 to 17 September she was detached from the force to cover the landings on Morotai, then rejoined it for sweep, patrol, and attack missions against Luzon from 21 to 24 September. Cowpens, with her task group, flew strikes to neutralize Japanese bases on Okinawa and Formosa from 10 to 14 October and, when Canberra (CA-70) and Houston (CL-81) were hit by torpedoes, Cowpens provided air cover for their safe withdrawal, rejoining her task group 20 October. During the Surigao Strait phase of the decisive Battle for Leyte Gulf on 25 and 26 October USS Cowpens provided combat air patrol for U.S. ships pursuing the Japanese fleet. Cowpens' planes struck Luzon repeatedly during December.
Between 30 December 1944 and 26 January 1945 Cowpens was at sea for the Lingayen Gulf landings. Her planes struck targets on Formosa, Luzon, the Indo-Chinese coast and the Hong Kong-Canton area and Okinawa during January 1945. On 10 February Cowpens sortied from Ulithi for the Iwo Jima operation, striking the Tokyo area, supporting the initial landings from 19 to 22 February, and hitting Okinawa on 1 March. Cowpens planes hit Wake Island on 20 June. Rejoining TF 58, Cowpens joined in the final raids on the Japanese mainland in 1945. Her planes pounded Tokyo, Kure, and other cities of Hokkaido and Honshu until 15 August. Remaining off Tokyo Bay until the occupation landings began 30 August, Cowpens launched photographic reconnaissance missions to patrol airfields and shipping movements, and to locate and supply prisoner-of-war camps. Cowpens crew members were largely responsible for the emergency activation of Yokosuka airfield for Allied use.
Between 8 November 1945 and 28 January 1946 Cowpens made two voyages to Pearl Harbor, Guam, and Okinawa to return veterans. Placed in commission in reserve at Mare Island 3 December 1946, Cowpens was decommissioned 13 January 1947.
In addition to her Navy Unit Commendation, Cowpens received 12 battle stars for World War II service.
For more detailed history on the first USS Cowpens visit the Navy Archive page at http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/c15/cowpens.htm.