USS Admiralty Islands (CVE-99)

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CVE-99. Note Catalina PBY on stern
Career (United States)
Name: USS Admiralty Islands
Builder: Kaiser Shipyards
Laid down: 26 February 1944
Launched: 10 May 1944
Commissioned: 13 June 1944
Decommissioned: 24 April 1946
Struck: 8 May 1946
Fate: Sold for scrapping on 2 January 1947
General characteristics
Class & type: Casablanca-class escort carrier
Displacement: 7,800 tons (light), 10,400 tons (full load)
Length: 512 ft 3 in (156.13 m) overall
Beam: 65 ft 2 in (19.86 m), 108 ft 1 in (32.94 m) maximum width
Draft: 22 ft 6 in (6.86 m)
Propulsion:
  • 2 × 5-cylinder reciprocating Skinner Unaflow engines
  • 4 × 285 psi boilers
  • 2 shafts
  • 9,000 shp
Speed: 19 knots (35 km/h)
Range: 10,240 nmi (18,960 km) @ 15 kn (28 km/h)
Complement: 910–916 officers and men
  • Embarked Squadron:50–56
Ship's Crew:860
Armament: 1 × 5 in (127 mm)/38 cal dual purpose gun, 16 × Bofors 40 mm guns (8x2), 20 × Oerlikon 20 mm cannons (20x1)
Aircraft carried: 28
Service record
Part of: United States Pacific Fleet (1944–1946)
Operations: Invasion of Iwo Jima, Battle of Okinawa, Operation Magic Carpet
Awards: 3 battle stars

USS Admiralty Islands (CVE-99) was a United States Navy Casablanca-class escort aircraft carrier, named after the Admiralty Islands group north of New Guinea, scene of fighting early in 1944.

Laid down as USS Chaplin Bay, under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 1136) on 26 February 1944 by the Kaiser Shipyards, Vancouver, Washington, she was renamed Admiralty Islands on 26 April 1944, launched on 10 May 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Homer N. Wallin, and commissioned at Astoria, Oregon, on 13 June 1944, Captain J. D. Barner in temporary command. Later that day, command of the ship passed to Captain M. E. A. Gouin.

Service history[edit]

The escort carrier departed bayside on 2 July for shakedown training in Puget Sound and then sailed for San Francisco to take on fuel oil and aviation gas. She arrived at San Diego on 14 July for further training before becoming a unit of the Carrier Transport Squadron, Pacific Fleet, with the task of transporting aircraft, material, and personnel to support front line carrier operations.

After a brief pause at Pearl Harbor, Admiralty Islands got underway for the Marshall Islands. She disembarked her cargo at Majuro Atoll on 9 August and immediately returned to Pearl Harbor. The carrier then shuttled more planes and personnel back to San Francisco, arriving there on the 24th. She spent the month of September making a shuttle from the west coast to Finschhafen, New Guinea, and back. Upon her arrival at San Diego on 7 October, the ship underwent alterations from the 8th through the 26th. On 29 October, Admiralty Islands sailed for Naval Air Station Alameda, to load Army aircraft and personnel for transportation to New Guinea. She reached Finschhafen on 21 November, unloaded, and continued on to Manus Island. After a brief pause at Seeadler Harbor on 23 November, she touched at Pearl Harbor on 6–7 December before reaching San Diego a week later to load aircraft and military personnel. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 24 December and on the day after Christmas got underway for Guam.

Admiralty Islands reached Guam on 6 January 1945. She conducted refresher aircraft landing operations off that island for two days, then sailed for Pearl Harbor on the 10th. The carrier reached Hawaii on the 20th and began repairs to her main engine. After the yard work was finished on 31 January, she took on 61 aircraft, slated to replace combat losses. Admiralty Islands left Pearl Harbor on 2 February to support carrier operations in the campaign to seize Iwo Jima. After short stops at Eniwetok and Ulithi, Admiralty Islands got underway on 16 February as part of Task Group 50.8 (TG 50.8), the logistics support group for Task Force 58 (TF 58). Throughout the rest of February Admiralty Islands launched aircraft and provided replacement pilots to make good the carriers' losses. She returned to Guam on 2 March for provisioning and to make minor hull repairs. On 13 March, she again sailed with TG 50.8, this time to support action against Okinawa. The carrier interrupted her logistics supply role only for brief returns to Guam for replenishment.

Photos from the commissioning ceremony of Admiralty Islands

On 18 April 1945, Admiralty Islands suffered her first operational casualty near Okinawa. After sounding flight quarters at 1217, she began launching new replacement aircraft at 1352. The pilots delivered one F6F Hellcat, two TBM Avengers and two SB2C Helldivers to Essex. At 1406, Admiralty Islands began recovering the pilots and ten combat-fatigued Essex aircraft (commonly known as "Flyable Duds") for repair or disposal.

Ensign Roy Edward Jones USNR

Ensign Roy Edward Jones, piloting Grumman Hellcat F6F-5 #71332, was the first to return for landing. He was not able to respond well to "low" and "opposite slant" flag signals, received a late "wave off" from the Landing Signal Officer (LSO) and applied full throttle for another go-around. The aircraft continued to settle and the tailhook caught the No. 5 arresting wire. The accelerating Hellcat impacted the ship's gun mount with terrific force, breaking in two. The forward part of the plane went over the port side with the trapped pilot. The tail of the aircraft remained hooked to the No. 5 wire, resting on the ship's catwalk. The LSO was forced to jump into the safety net, breaking his leg.

Tail section of Ensign Jones's Hellcat. Crew look at sinking plane

Ensign Jones was lost at sea and his name is inscribed at the Courts of the Missing in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The Admiralty Islands returned to Guam on 24 April to undergo repairs on her boilers two of which had become inoperative by the time she arrived. Her repairs completed, the escort carrier sailed on 14 May to rejoin TG 50.8 and operations off Okinawa. She delivered numerous aircraft to American forces before arriving, via Guam, at Saipan, on 15 June. She remained there for approximately two weeks before she received orders to join TG 30.8 and support air and bombardment strikes on the Japanese home islands.

Admiralty Islands sustained another operational casualty on 20 July. An external fuel tank that would not release in flight detached on landing. The fuel tank exploded on the wooden flight deck. Three aircraft were burned, and one man died as a result of the ensuing fire.

Burning aircraft aboard CVE-99
Inspecting burned aircraft 21 July after previous nights fire

On 21 July, the ship was detached from the 3rd Fleet and headed for Guam, where she unloaded her cargo while refueling for the trip back to the west coast. The carrier reached San Diego on 11 August, then sailed to San Pedro, California to undergo repairs and alterations. The majority of the alterations were canceled because of Japan's surrender and, following completion of essential repairs, Admiralty Islands sailed on 1 September to become a member of the Operation Magic Carpet fleet for assistance in the return of American troops to home. On 25 September, operational control of the carrier was transferred to the Carrier Transport Squadron, Pacific Fleet.

"Magic Carpet" duties occupied Admiralty Islands until she was decommissioned on 24 April 1946. Her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 8 May 1946, and the ship was sold on 2 January 1947 to the Zidell Machinery and Supply Company, Portland, Oregon. Zidell scrapped her only miles from the Kaiser shipyards where she had been built only a few years before.

Awards[edit]

Admiralty Islands won three battle stars for her World War II service.

References[edit]

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.