USS Block Island (CVE-21)

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USS Block Island
USS Block Island underway with a deckload of aircraft, 15 October 1943.
United States
Name: USS Block Island
Namesake: Block Island Sound
Builder: Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation
Laid down: 19 January 1942
Launched: 1 May 1942
Sponsored by: Mrs. H. B. Hutchinson
Commissioned: 8 March 1943
Honors and
2 Battle Stars
Fate: Torpedoed by U-549; scuttled by escort screen, 29 May 1944
General characteristics
Class and type: Bogue-class escort carrier
Displacement: 16,620 long tons (16,890 t)
Length: 495.66 ft (151.08 m)
Beam: 111 ft 6 in (33.99 m)
Draft: 26 ft (7.9 m)
Installed power: 8,500 shp (6,300 kW)
Speed: 18 kn (21 mph; 33 km/h)
Complement: 890 officers and men
Armament: 2 × 4"/50, 5"/38 or 5"/51/38 cal dual purpose guns
Aircraft carried: 24
Aviation facilities: 2 × elevators

USS Block Island (CVE-21/AVG-21/ACV-21) was a Bogue-class escort carrier for the United States Navy during World War II. She was the first of two escort carriers named after Block Island Sound off Rhode Island. Block Island was launched on 6 June 1942 by Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation in Tacoma, Washington, under a Maritime Commission contract; sponsored by Mrs. H. B. Hutchinson, wife of Commander Hutchinson; transferred to the United States Navy on 1 May 1942; and commissioned on 8 March 1943, Captain Logan C. Ramsey in command. Originally classified AVG-21, she became ACV-21 on 20 August 1942, and CVE-21 on 15 July 1943.[1] She was named after Block Island, an island in Rhode Island east of New York.[2]

Service history[edit]

Departing San Diego, California in May 1943, Block Island steamed to Norfolk, Virginia, to join the Atlantic Fleet. After two trips from New York City to Belfast, United Kingdom, during the summer of 1943 with cargoes of Army fighters, she operated as part of a hunter-killer group. During her four anti-submarine cruises, Block Island′s planes sank two submarines: U-220 in 48°53′N 33°30′W / 48.883°N 33.500°W / 48.883; -33.500 (German submarine U-220) on 28 October 1943 and U-1059 in 13°10′N 33°44′W / 13.167°N 33.733°W / 13.167; -33.733 (German submarine U-1059) on 19 March 1944. She shared credit with destroyer Corry and destroyer escort Bronstein for the sinking of U-801 at 16°42′N 30°20′W / 16.700°N 30.333°W / 16.700; -30.333 (German submarine U-801) on 17 March 1944 and with Buckley for U-66 sunk on 6 May 1944 in 17°17′N 32°29′W / 17.283°N 32.483°W / 17.283; -32.483 (German submarine U-66). Thomas, Bostwick, Borie and Bronstein sank U-709 on 1 March 1944 and the same day Bronstein sank U-603.[1]


Block Island was torpedoed off the Canary Islands at 20:13 on 29 May 1944. U-549 had slipped undetected through her screen. The submarine put three torpedoes into the carrier before being sunk herself by Eugene E. Elmore and Ahrens of the screen in 31°13′N 23°03′W / 31.217°N 23.050°W / 31.217; -23.050 (German submarine U-549).[1] After the Block Island was torpedoed, six Wildcats that were in the air at the time had no place to land, They headed for the Canary Islands, but all of them had to ditch at night after running out of fuel; only two of the six pilots were rescued.[3] The carrier lost 6 men in the attack; the remaining 951 were picked up by the escort screen.[1]

This was the only American carrier sunk in the Atlantic during the war.


Former crewmembers held several reunions, the final one in Fargo, North Dakota in 2019.[4]

The website commemorating the USS Block Island is available at


Block Island received two battle stars for her service.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "CVE21 History". Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  2. ^ "Escort Carrier Photo Index: USS BLOCK ISLAND (ACV-21)". Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  3. ^ "USS Block Island (CVE 21) (American Escort carrier) - Ships hit by German U-boats during WWII -". Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  4. ^ "Block Island Veterans To Enjoy Final Reunion in Fargo". KVRR Local News. 17 May 2019. Retrieved 20 May 2019.

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

Coordinates: 31°13′N 23°03′W / 31.217°N 23.050°W / 31.217; -23.050