USS Solomons (CVE-67)
|Career (United States)|
|Laid down:||19 March 1943|
|Launched:||6 October 1943|
|Commissioned:||21 November 1943|
|Decommissioned:||15 May 1946|
|Struck:||5 June 1946|
|Fate:||Sold for scrap on 22 December 1946|
|Class & type:||Casablanca-class escort carrier|
|Length:||512 ft 3 in (156.13 m) overall|
|Beam:||65 ft 2 in (19.86 m), 108 ft (33 m) maximum width|
|Draft:||22 ft 6 in (6.86 m)|
|Speed:||19.3 knots (35.7 km/h)|
|Range:||10,240 nmi (18,960 km) @ 15 kn (28 km/h)|
|Armament:||1 × 5 in (127 mm)/38 cal dual purpose gun, 16 × Bofors 40 mm guns (8x2), 12 × Oerlikon 20 mm cannons (20x1)|
|Part of:||United States Fourth Fleet (1944-1946)|
She was converted from a Maritime Commission hull (MC hull 1104) built by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Company of Vancouver, Washington. Her keel was laid on 19 March 1943. Soon thereafter, she was assigned the first of her three names, Emperor. After being designated an auxiliary aircraft carrier, ACV-67, she was renamed Nassuk Bay on 28 June 1943. On 15 July, she was redesignated an escort carrier, CVE-67. She was launched on 6 October 1943 by Mrs. F. J. McKenna while still bearing the name Nassuk Bay. One month later, she received her third and final name, Solomons, and as such was commissioned on 21 November 1943, Captain M. E. Crist in command.
Solomons spent the next four weeks in the Astoria, Oregon-Puget Sound area undergoing post-trial shakedown, tests, and exercises. Departing Astoria on 20 December 1943, she stopped at Alameda, California, three days later and arrived at San Diego on 25 December. Following operations out of San Diego, she sailed for Pearl Harbor on 30 December. On 6 January 1944, Solomons loaded aircraft and supplies there, embarked passengers, and departed on the 9th for the U.S. west coast.
Arriving at San Diego on 14 January, Solomons conducted battle practice off the coast of southern California until the end of the month. She departed San Diego on 30 January bound for Norfolk, Virginia. During her approach to the Panama Canal, Solomons' planes participated in a simulated aerial attack on the canal. The carrier arrived at Balboa, Panama, on 9 February, embarked passengers, and departed for Norfolk two days later, arriving on 16 February.
Loaded with planes, supplies, and aviation stores, Solomons got underway on 21 March bound for Brazil, arrived at Recife on 13 April, and reported for duty with the 4th Fleet. On the next day, she got underway for her first antisubmarine patrol. This cruise, which lasted until 30 March, and the next, from 4–20 May, proved uneventful.
Departing Recife in June 1944, Solomons was soon involved in her sole U-boat engagement of the war. On 15 June, one of Solomons' pilots reported contact with an enemy submarine some 50 miles from the carrier. Straub and Herzog were immediately directed to the position of the contact. The pilot who had made the initial contact on the submarine was shot down by enemy anti-aircraft fire, but at 1654, another Solomons aircraft regained visual contact. Five other Solomons aircraft soon joined up with it, and the group commenced a series of rocket and depth charge attacks, which resulted in sinking the submarine, although with the loss of another pilot. Straub succeeded in rescuing 20 survivors, including the commanding officer. Solomons continued anti-submarine air operations until 23 June, when she returned to Recife to refuel and disembark the captured German sailors. According to one crewman from the Solomons (Oct. 2006), based upon dialog with a pilot that witnessed the event, the sub came up firing, and took out at least two of the planes attacking it. According to that pilot, the one that took out the sub, flew his plane directly down the conning tower of the sub, to stop his fellow pilots from getting shot down. The crewman said it was the loudest noise he had ever heard in his life, when the resulting explosion occurred.
After one more anti-submarine patrol and a visit to Rio de Janeiro, Solomons returned to Norfolk, arriving on 24 August. She remained at that port for a month before leaving for Staten Island, New York. She docked there on 25 September. She embarked 150 Army airmen together with their P-47 Thunderbolts and departed on 6 October, bound for Casablanca, French Morocco. By 7 November, she was back in the United States, this time at Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island.
Solomons spent the rest of her active service engaged in qualifying Navy and Marine pilots in carrier landings, initially off Quonset Point RI. In January 1945, she moved to Port Everglades, Florida, and continued her carrier landing qualification assignment throughout 1945. For a week in December, she participated in an unsuccessful search for the 14 airmen of Flight 19, and the 13 from the ill-fated rescue mission. On 15 May 1946, Solomons was decommissioned at Boston Naval Shipyard and struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 5 June. Sold for scrap to the Patapsco Scrap Corp., Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, she was delivered to its agent on 22 December at Newport, RI.