BAV Zulia (BB-1917(CV-1928-mod))
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Part of Wrangels Fleet, this is the ex Imperator Nikolai I. The ship had been towed behind the Evstafi for thousands of miles from where it had been fitting out at the Nikolayev Yard. All of the parts for completion were not available as some were to come from Soviet held territory. All the armament was available and had been installed with a complete outfit of shells and powder. A survey was carried out at Puerto Cabello when the ship arrived in Venezuela to see if it was possible for the Venezuelan Navy Yard to complete the ship. The amount and types of parts required were beyond their capabilities of producing. At this stage news was arriving of the Brazilian and Argentinian navies search for ships to be used for conversion to aircraft carriers. After being re-christened the Zulia the Venezuelan Navy had a meeting with several US yard representatives as to what would be required to convert the Zulia to an aircraft carrier. The parts removed from the ship could then be used to create a new capital ship.
Several designs were produced for the conversion of the Zulia by the US yards taking into account the US yards experience and overseas knowledge from the UK and other countries producing aircraft carriers.
The design by the Fore River Navy Yard (which was converting the Lexington at that time) was eventually chosen and the ship was towed by the two Evstafi class pre-dreadnoughts which were being used to produce a new ship. The three were escorted by the Nueva Esparta, arriving at New York in early 1924.
All guns and superstructure were removed and a new enclosed bow structure was built with a hangar deck extending nearly all the way to the stern of the ship with an extension projecting out over the stern of the ship. While the deck was open the old engines were removed and replaced with half of the installation that had been assembled for the USS Constellation (the other half was used in one of the new build ships). This gave the ship almost triple the power of the original instalation. The main armament of twelve 5" dual purpose guns in single mountings were mounted in groups of three in sponsons built off the side of the hangar. the original 1.1" quad AA were eventually replaced by 40mm while 20mm were added in various places as the guns became available during the later 1930's.
The aircraft complement used US Navy aircraft and Venezuela was conveyed a singular honour of participating in US fleet manouvers during the 1930's which increased the effectiveness of the Venezuelan Navy.
|Displacement||23,500 tons std 30,400 tons full load|
|Length||616 ft (Hull) 661.5 ft (FD)|
|Breadth||95 ft hull (107 over sponsons)|
|Machinery||4 shaft steam turbines, 90,000shp|
|Range||5000 miles at 16 knots|
|Armour||3.9" side, 2.6" deck,|
|Armament||12 x 5.1" (12x1)
32 x 40mm (8x4)
14 x 20mm (14x1)
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