USS Chenango (CVE-28)
|Name:||SS Esso New Orleans|
|Owner:||Standard Oil Company|
|Builder:||Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Chester, Pennsylvania|
|Laid down:||10 July 1938|
|Launched:||1 April 1939|
|Sponsored by:||Mrs. Rathbone|
|Fate:||Purchased by the US Navy|
|Acquired:||31 May 1941|
|Commissioned:||20 June 1941, as AO-31|
|Decommissioned:||16 March 1942|
|Recommissioned:||19 September 1942, as ACV-28|
|Decommissioned:||14 August 1946|
|Struck:||1 March 1959|
|Fate:||Sold, 12 February 1960|
|General characteristics as escort carrier|
|Class and type:||Sangamon-class escort carrier|
|Displacement:||11,400 long tons (11,600 t)|
|Length:||553 ft (169 m)|
|Draft:||32 ft (9.8 m)|
|Speed:||18 kn (21 mph; 33 km/h)|
|Complement:||1,080 officers and men|
|Armament:||2 × 5 in (130 mm)/51 cal guns|
|Aviation facilities:||2 × elevators|
|Operations:||World War II|
The second USS Chenango (CVE-28) (originally designated as oiler AO-31, after redesignation as escort carrier, was first ACV-28) was launched on 1 April 1939 as Esso New Orleans by the Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, in Chester, Pennsylvania, sponsored by Mrs. Rathbone; acquired by the United States Navy on 31 May 1941; and commissioned on 20 June 1941 as AO-31, with Commander W. H. Mays in command.
Service as oiler
Assigned to the Naval Transportation Service, Chenango steamed in the Atlantic, the Caribbean, and the Pacific as far as Honolulu on tanker duty. Chenango was present at Aruba, N.W.I. on 16 February 1942 when a German submarine shelled one of the island's refineries. She was decommissioned at New York on 16 March for conversion to an escort carrier.
Conversion and combat service as escort carrier
Her conversion complete, she was recommissioned as ACV-28 on 19 September 1942. Carrying 77 P-40 Warhawks of the 33rd Fighter Group of the United States Army Air Forces, Chenango sailed on 23 October with the Torch assault force bound for North Africa, and on 10 November, flew off her aircraft to newly won Port Lyautey, French Morocco. She put into Casablanca on 13 November to refuel 21 destroyers before returning to Norfolk, Virginia, on 30 November, battling through a hurricane en route which caused extensive damage.
Quickly repaired, Chenango was underway for the Pacific by mid-December, possibly alongside USS Taylor (DD-468) as part of Task Force 13. Arriving at Nouméa on 18 January 1943, she joined the escort carrier group providing air cover for supply convoys supporting the invasion and occupation of the Solomon Islands. One of her air groups was sent to Henderson Field, Guadalcanal to give close support to U.S. Marine Corps forces ashore. One of Chenango's duties during this period was to stand sentry off the fiercely contested island. As part of her Solomons operations, Chenango's planes formed an air umbrella to escort to safety St. Louis and Honolulu after the cruisers were damaged in the Battle of Kolombangara on 13 July. Redesignated CVE-28 on 15 July, Chenango returned to Mare Island on 18 August for an overhaul, then acted as training carrier for new air groups until 19 October. She steamed from San Diego to join the Gilbert Islands invasion force at Espiritu Santo on 5 November. During the invasion of Tarawa from 20 November-8 December, her planes covered the advance of the attack force, bombed and strafed beaches ahead of the invading troops, and protected off-shore convoys. She returned to San Diego for another period of training duty.
Steaming from San Diego on 13 January 1944, Chenango supported the invasion landings on Roi, Kwajalein and Eniwetok in the Marshalls operation. After protecting the service group refueling fleet units engaged in the Palau strikes, Chenango arrived at Espiritu Santo on 7 April. She sortied for the landings at Aitape and Hollandia (currently known as Jayapura) (16 April–12 May), then joined Task Group 53.7 (TG 53.7) for the invasion of the Marianas. Her planes crippled airfield installations, sank enemy shipping, and hammered harbor facilities on Pagan Island, as well as conducting valuable photographic reconnaissance on Guam. From 8 July, she joined in daily poundings of Guam, preparing for the island's invasion. She returned to Manus on 13 August to replenish and conduct training.
From 10–29 September, Chenango joined in the neutralization of enemy airfields in the Halmaheras in support of the invasion of Morotai, stepping-stone to the Philippines. After preparations at Manus, Chenango cleared on 12 October to conduct softening up strikes on Leyte in preparation for the invasion landings on 20 October. Chenango, and her sister ship Sangamon, were attacked by three Japanese planes on the afternoon of D-Day, and shot down them all, capturing one of the pilots. Sailing to Morotai to load new aircraft, Chenango was not in action waters during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, but returned on 28 October to provide replacement aircraft to her victorious sister escort carriers, who had held the Japanese fleet off from Leyte. The next day, she sailed for overhaul at Seattle, Washington until 9 February 1945.
After the overhaul period, she again sailed west, arriving at Tulagi in the Solomons on 4 March. Chenango conducted training, then sortied from Ulithi on 27 March for the invasion of Okinawa. She gave air cover in the feint landings on the southern tip of the island, then was assigned to neutralize the kamikaze bases in Sakashima Gunto. On 9 April, a crash-landing fighter started a raging fire among the strike-loaded aircraft on Chenango's deck. Skillful work by her crew saved the ship from serious damage and she remained in action off Okinawa until 11 June. After escorting a tanker convoy to San Pedro Bay, Chenango sailed on 26 July to join the logistics force for the 3rd Fleet, then engaged in the final offensive against Japan.
Postwar service and scrapping
Following the cease-fire, Chenango supported the occupation forces and evacuated some 1,900 Allied prisoners of war and 1,500 civilians from slave labor camps. She cleared Tokyo Bay on 25 October, and after a brief overhaul at San Diego, returned to "Magic Carpet" duty, transporting veterans from Okinawa and Pearl Harbor to the West Coast. Chenango sailed from San Pedro, California on 5 February for Boston, and was placed out of commission in reserve there on 14 August 1946. She was reclassified CVHE-28 on 12 June 1955, struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 March 1959, sold and removed from naval custody on 12 February 1960.
- Friedman 1983 p. 407
- Craven & Cate 1948, p. 77.
- Craven, Wesley Frank; Cate, James Lea (1983). Europe, Torch to Pointblank, August 1942 to December 1943. The Army Air Forces In World War II. 2. Washington, D.C.: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 091279903X. LCCN 83017288.
- Friedman, Norman (1983). U.S. Aircraft Carriers. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-739-9.
- Howe, George F. (1993). The Mediterranean Theater of Operations — Northwest Africa: Seizing The Initiative In The West. United States Army In World War II. Washington, DC: Center Of Military History, United States Army. LCCN 57060021.
- Photo gallery at Navsource.org