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Lost in Light is a videoblog about small gauge filmmaking featuring weekly posts of home movies, work by artists, articles by preservationists and film scholars, video tutorials and other film gems.




Carrier 1959

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This week’s home movie features incredible footage of an US aircraft carrier and US Navy destroyers under rough seas in the 1950s. Submitted by Diane Dobronte in California, this film is quite an exhilarating watch. Diane gives us a little backstory:

My Dad, Capt. Frank Dobronte, was stationed aboard the USS Tarawa in the Atlantic out of Rhode Island during the late 50’s. The ship has been decommissioned but it was quite an incredible experience to be on board. – Dad was one of the dentists aboard this aircraft carrier and we were guests in the Officers dining room and film room sometimes.

The first USS Tarawa (CV-40) was one of the Navy’s potent new 27,000 ton aircraft carriers and sister of the Essex, Shangri-La, and Princeton. The first Navy ship so named, Tarawa was built at the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia, and launched in the Elizabeth River on May 12, 1945. [ed. note: this information comes from the official Navy website of the USS Tarawa; see more fascinating history of this ship and its successors at]

My Dad loved to take film of the planes taking off and landing but this clip is of destroyers coming along side during some rough seas. These are Buckley Class destroyers: DE-702 USS Earl V. Johnson and DE-669 USS Pavlic (APD 70) ALLEN M SUMNER Class destroyers DD 696 USS ENGLISH and DD 702 USS HANK.

They practiced various maneuvers on a regular basis and in this one they actually transfer someone along a rip cord from destroyer to carrier. Quite amazing considering how rough it is and even more amazing that my Dad caught it on film because the joke was that my Dad suffered from terrible sea sickness.

For more information about the USS Tarawa (CV-40), see the Wikipedia entry, Navy photographs, and the USS Tarawa Veterans’ Association website.

See our File Directory for a link to the full resolution film, which can be downloaded from the Internet Archive.


Comment from jay dedman
Time: September 4, 2007, -5

its so amazing to see the movies you keep posting. Incredible breadth of topics. empty your closets!

Comment from jb
Time: September 19, 2007, -5

It’s a really wonderful video which show how being a soldier can be borring. The music is also well adapted to the movie.

Comment from éric
Time: September 19, 2007, -5

The other face of being a soldier. In the first hand, the war and in the other hand : how it can be boring to wait for nothing

Pingback from Lost in Light » Spaghetti Western
Time: September 25, 2007, -5

[…] Light from the French publication Télérama, with an especially nice discussion of the Carrier 1959 film, go here (in […]

Comment from Rhonda Florez
Time: September 15, 2009, -5

My dad served on the USS Tarawa from 9/57 – 2/60 he saw this on my cousins computer and told me about it… He would like a copy of this on DVD if it is possible please e-mail me so I can get the copy for him…

Thank you

Comment from Eugene L Morse
Time: November 16, 2009, -5

The video of the destroyers refueling is really great. I served on the USS Tarawa from 12/1954 thru 5/1958 and was on the cruise in the North Atlantic when these pictures were probably taken. I would like to buy a copy on DVD. Please reply. Thank you. Gene