USS Liscome Bay

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USS Liscome Bay CVE56.jpg
USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56), underway, 20 September 1943, with a load of SBD Dauntlesses, TBF Avengers and F4F Wildcats.
History
United States
Name: Liscome Bay
Namesake: Liscome Bay, Alaska
Ordered: as a Type S4-S2-BB3 hull, MCE hull 1093[1]}
Awarded: 18 June 1942
Builder: Kaiser Shipbuilding Company, Vancouver, Washington
Cost: $6,033,429.05[2]
Yard number: 302[1]
Way number: 8[2]
Laid down: 9 December 1942
Launched: 19 April 1943
Sponsored by: Mrs. Ben Moreell
Commissioned: 7 August 1943
Reclassified: CVE, 15 July 1943
Identification:
Fate: Lost in action, 24 November 1943
General characteristics [3]
Class and type: Casablanca-class escort carrier
Displacement:
  • 7,800 long tons (7,900 t) (standard)
  • 10,902 long tons (11,077 t) (full load)
Length:
  • 498 feet (152 m) oa
  • 490 feet (150 m) wl
Beam:
  • 65 ft 2 in (19.86 m)
  • 108 ft (33 m) (extreme width)
Draft: 22 ft 4 in (6.81 m) (max)
Installed power:
Propulsion:
Speed: 19 kn (35 km/h; 22 mph)
Range: 10,240 nmi (18,960 km; 11,780 mi) at 15 kn (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement:
  • Total:910–916 officers and men
    • Embarked Squadron:50–56
    • Ship's Crew:860
Armament:
Aircraft carried: 27 aircraft
Aviation facilities:
Service record
Part of: United States Pacific Fleet (1943)
Commanders: Captain I.D. Wiltsie
Operations:

USS Liscome Bay (ACV/CVE-56), a Casablanca-class escort carrier during World War II, was the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for Liscome Bay in Dall Island in the Alexander Archipelago of Alaska. She was lost to a submarine attack by Japanese submarine I-175 during Operation Galvanic, with a catastrophic loss of life, on 24 November 1943.

Construction[edit]

Liscome Bay was laid down on 9 December 1942, under a Maritime Commission contract, MC hull 1093, by Kaiser Shipbuilding Company, Vancouver, Washington; she was launched on 19 April 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Ben Moreell, wife of the Chief of the Navy's Bureau of Yards & Docks; she was named Liscome Bay on 28 June 1943, and assigned the hull classification symbol CVE-56 on 15 July 1943: she was acquired by the Navy and commissioned on 7 August 1943, Captain Irving D. Wiltsie in command.[4]

Service history[edit]

After training operations along the West Coast, Liscome Bay departed from San Diego, California, on 21 October 1943, arriving at Pearl Harbor a week later. Once additional drills and operational exercises were completed, the escort carrier set off on what was to be her first and last battle mission. As a member of Carrier Division 24, she departed from Pearl Harbor on 10 November as part of Task Force 52 commanded by Rear Admiral Richmond K. Turner, bound for the invasion of the Gilbert Islands.[4]

The invasion bombardment announcing the first major U.S. naval thrust into the central Pacific began on 20 November at 5 a.m. Just 76 hours later, Tarawa and Makin Islands were both captured.[4] Liscome Bay's aircraft had not yet taken part in any of the 2,278 action sorties by carrier-based planes [5], which neutralized enemy airbases, supported U.S. Army landings and ground operations in bombing and strafing missions, and intercepted enemy aircraft. With the islands secured, U.S. naval forces began retiring.[4]

Sinking[edit]

On 23 November, the Japanese submarine I-175 arrived off Makin. The U.S. task group, built around Rear Admiral Henry M. Mullinnix's three escort carriers, Liscome Bay, Coral Sea and Corregidor, was steaming 20 mi (32 km) southwest of Butaritari Island at 15 kn (28 km/h; 17 mph).[4]

At 04:30 on 24 November, reveille was sounded in Liscome Bay. Flight quarters was sounded at 04:50. The crew went to routine general quarters at 05:05, when flight crews prepared their planes for dawn launching. Thirteen planes, including one forward on the catapult, had been readied on the flight deck. These had all been fueled and armed. There were an additional seven planes in the hangar that were not fueled or armed. Since this was to be the first operation for Liscome Bay since leaving Pearl Harbor she still had her complete allowance of bombs in the bomb magazine. This included nine 2,000-pound (910 kg) GP bombs, nine 1,600-pound (730 kg) AP bombs, 24 1,000-pound (450 kg) GP bombs, 96 500-pound (230 kg) GP bombs, 120 100-pound (45 kg) GP bombs, and 96 350-pound (160 kg) depth charges. In addition, she had 12 torpex-loaded aircraft torpedoes in the port side of the hangar aft.[5]

At about 05:10, a lookout on the starboard (right) side of the Liscome Bay reported seeing a torpedo headed for the ship.[5] The torpedo struck behind the after engine room[4] and detonated the bomb magazine, causing a devastating explosion that engulfed the ship and sent shrapnel flying as far as 5,000 yards (4,600 meters) away.[6] Considerable debris fell on the battleship New Mexico about 1,500 yards off.

The explosion killed everyone behind the forward bulkhead of the after engine room. Parts of the hangar deck flight deck were destroyed. The forward part of the hangar was immediately engulfed in flames, igniting the few remaining planes on the flight deck. Steam, compressed air, and fire-main pressure were lost throughout the ship. [5] "It didn't look like a ship at all", wrote Lieutenant John Dix, communications officer on the destroyer Hoel, "We thought it was an ammunition dump... She just went whoom – an orange ball of flame."[6]

Burial at sea aboard troopship Leonard Wood of two Liscome Bay sailors, victims of the submarine attack by I-175. In the foreground facing the ceremony are survivors of Liscome Bay.

At 05:33, only 23 minutes after the explosion, Liscome Bay listed to starboard and sank, carrying to their deaths 54 officers and 648 enlisted men,[5] including Admiral Mullinix, Captain Wiltsie,[4] and Pearl Harbor hero Ship's Cook Third Class Doris Miller. Of 916 crewmen, 272 were rescued, by destroyers Morris, Hughes and Hull.

Including the sailors lost on Liscome Bay, U.S. casualties in the assault on Makin Island exceeded the strength of the entire Japanese garrison. Future legal scholar Robert Keeton, then a Navy lieutenant, survived the attack.[7]

Awards[edit]

Liscome Bay received one battle star for her World War II service.[4]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • "Liscome Bay". Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  • "Liscome Bay". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval History and Heritage Command. 29 July 2015. Retrieved 2 August 2017. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  • "Kaiser Vancouver, Vancouver WA". www.ShipbuildingHistory.com. 27 November 2010. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  • "USS LISCOME BAY (CVE-56)". Navsource.org. 30 September 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  • Hornfischer, J.D. The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors. p. 67.
  • WAR DAMAGE REPORT No. 45. U.S. Hydrographic Office. 10 March 1944. Retrieved 2 August 2017. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  • Hevesi, Dennis (4 August 2007). ""Robert E. Keeton, 87, Author of Influential Law Treatises, Is Dead."". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 December 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Photo gallery of USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56) at NavSource Naval History

Coordinates: 2°34′N 172°30′E / 2.567°N 172.500°E / 2.567; 172.500