Her sister ships were USS Cyclops, which
disappeared without a trace (allegedly in the Bermuda Triangle) during
World War I, and USS Proteus, and USS Nereus, which
disappeared on the same route as Cyclops in World War II.
Jupiter was converted into the first U.S. aircraft
carrier at the Navy Yard, Norfolk, Virginia, for the purpose of
conducting experiments in the new idea of seaborne aviation. On 11
April 1920, her name was changed to Langley in honor of Samuel Pierpont
Langley, an American astronomer, physicist, aeronautics pioneer and
aircraft engineer, and she was given hull classification symbol CV-1.
She recommissioned 20 March 1922 with Commander Kenneth Whiting in
command. The naming of Langley was one of many shots in a long feud
between Orville Wright and the United States Government.
As the first American aircraft carrier, Langley was the
scene of numerous momentous events. On 17 October 1922 Lieutenant
Virgil C. Griffin piloted the first plane, a Vought VE-7, launched from
her decks. Though this was not the first time an airplane had taken off
from a ship, and though Langley was not the first ship with an
installed flight-deck, this one launching was of monumental importance
to the modern U.S. Navy. The era of the aircraft carrier was born
introducing into the Navy what was to become the vanguard of its forces
in the future. With Langley underway nine days later, Lieutenant
Commander Godfrey de Courcelles Chevalier made the first landing in an
Aeromarine 39B. On 18 November Commander Whiting, at the controls of a
PT, was the first aviator to be catapulted from a carrier's deck.
In the early hours of 27 February, Langley rendezvoused
with her antisubmarine screen, destroyers Whipple and Edsall. At 11:40,
about 75 miles south of Tjilatjap, nine twin-engine Mitsubishi G4M
"Betty" bombers of the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service's Takao
Kokutai, led by Lieutenant Jiro Adachi, attacked her. The first and
second Japanese strikes were unsuccessful, but during the third,
Langley took five hits and 16 crew members were killed. Aircraft
topside burst into flames, steering was impaired, and the ship
developed a ten-degree list to port. Unable to negotiate the narrow
mouth of Tjilatjap harbor, Langley went dead in the water, as her
engine room flooded. At 13:32, the order to abandon ship was passed.
The escorting destroyers fired nine four-inch shells and two torpedoes
into Langley, to ensure she didn't fall into enemy hands, and she sank.