USS Makassar Strait
She was originally classified AVG-91, reclassified ACV-91 on 20 August 1942, and reclassified CVE-91 on 15 July 1943; originally named Ulitaka Bay and renamed Makassar Strait 6 November 1943; laid down by Kaiser Co., Inc., Vancouver, Washington, under Maritime Commission contract 29 December 1943; launched 22 March 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Truman J. Hedding; and commissioned at Astoria, Oregon, 27 April 1944, Captain Warren K. Berner in command.
After shakedown along the United States West Coast, Makassar Strait departed San Diego, California, on 6 June 1944 and steamed via Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to the Marshall Islands carrying replacement aircraft and passengers; from there, she transported military casualties to Pearl Harbor and San Diego, where she arrived on 13 July 1944. During much of the next two months she trained aircraft carrier pilots off Southern California. Between 25 September and 15 October 1944, she ferried 129 planes to Hawaii and to Manus Island in the Admiralty Islands. After returning to Pearl Harbor on 26 October 1944 with 70 damaged Grumman F4F Wildcats on board, she resumed pilot training operations out of Pearl Harbor.
During the next three months, Makassar Strait rendered valuable service in the training of naval and marine aviators. Pilots from a dozen air groups and squadrons made more than 6,700 landings, as she participated in combat air patrol and hunter-killer training exercises and night carrier operations, as well as defensive training against simulated bomb and torpedo attacks.
With Composite Squadron 97 (VC-97) embarked, Makassar Strait departed Pearl Harbor on 29 January 1945 and steamed via Eniwetok for combat duty in the Western Pacific. Assigned to Task Group 50.8, between 9 February and 8 April 1945 she protected logistics ships operating in support of the Fast Carrier Task Force during devastating airstrikes against Japanese targets from the Bonin Islands to the Ryukyus.
Assigned to a support carrier group on 8 April 1945, Makassar Strait began air operations in the intense fighting of the Battle of Okinawa. During the next four weeks she launched scores of sorties against targets in the Ryukyus. Her planes provided close air support for American ground troops and struck effectively against Japanese gun emplacements, ground installations, and airfields as the Americans drove to capture Okinawa. In addition, Makassar Strait’s planes destroyed four Japanese aircraft.
Makassar Strait transferred her air squadron to the escort carrier Shipley Bay at Kerama Retto on 7 May 1945 and departed later that day for Guam, where she arrived on 11 May. She then operated in the Marianas between Guam and Saipan, providing refresher training for carrier pilots, until departing for Hawaii on 19 July 1945. Steaming via Kwajalein, where she loaded 50 planes, she reached Pearl Harbor on 29 July 1945. There she embarked 387 military passengers and departed on 14 August 1945 for San Diego. World War II ended that day (which was 15 August 1945 on the other side of the International Date Line in the Western Pacific.
Arriving at San Diego on 21 August 1945, Makassar Strait, had steamed more than 91,000 nautical miles (169,000 km) in support of the Allied victory in the Pacific. She continued to train carrier pilots during the next two months; by the end of October 1945, the total number of landings on her flight deck since her commissioning had surpassed 15,500.
Makassar Strait departed San Diego in 4 November 1945 for Operation Magic Carpet duty. Steaming via Pearl Harbor, she transported replacement troops to the Marshalls, and, after embarking 1,092 U.S. military personnel at Kwajalein, returned to San Diego on 29 November 1945. Between 4 December 1945 and 3 January 1946, she made a similar cruise to Guam and back, transporting 1,123 officers and enlisted personnel to the United States.
Departing San Diego on 5 January 1946, Makassar Strait steamed via San Francisco, California, to Tacoma, Washington, where she arrived on 12 January 1945. She underwent deactivation and was decommissioned on 9 August 1946.
Makssar Strait entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet at Tacoma and, while berthed there, was reclassified as a utility aircraft carrier, CVU-91, on 12 June 1955. On 28 August 1958 the United States Secretary of the Navy authorized her to be used as a target. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 1 September 1958.
In April 1961 while under tow to San Clemente Island off California, she ran aground on San Nicholas Island in the Channel Islands, and was then sold for breaking up in situ on 2 May 1961. As late as the fall of 1965, she had not been broken up and was being used as a target.
Makassar Strait received two battle stars for World War II service.
- Photo gallery at navsource.org