USS Nehenta Bay (CVE-74)
|Name:||USS Nehenta Bay|
|Launched:||28 November 1943|
|Commissioned:||3 January 1944|
|Decommissioned:||15 May 1946|
|Fate:||Sold for scrap 29 June 1960|
|Class and type:||Casablanca-class escort carrier|
|Length:||512 ft 3 in (156.13 m) overall|
|Draft:||22 ft 6 in (6.86 m)|
|Speed:||19 knots (35 km/h)|
|Range:||10,240 nmi (18,960 km) at 15 kn (28 km/h)|
|Part of:||United States Pacific Fleet|
|Awards:||7 Battle stars|
She was launched by Kaiser Shipbuilding Co., Vancouver, Washington, 28 November 1943, under Maritime Commission contract: sponsored by Mrs. Robert H. Smith; acquired 3 January 1944: and commissioned at Astoria, Oregon, the same day, Captain Horace A. Butterfield in command.
Nehenta Bay made her shakedown cruise from San Francisco Bay to Pearl Harbor 6 to 12 February 1944, carrying replacement aircrews and planes. She put into San Diego 21 February with damaged planes returned from combat zones for repair. After further West Coast training, she sailed for Pearl Harbor 18 March, again with replacement aircraft and aviation materiel, added to her lading in Hawaii, and reached Majuro 7 April to deliver mail, men, and aircraft to fast carriers moored there. She returned to San Diego from Majuro and Pearl Harbor 27 April, bringing home wounded and other passengers, along with damaged aircraft.
After combat readiness training off California and in Hawaii, Nehenta Bay left Pearl Harbor 18 June for the Marianas assault, staging at Eniwetok late in the month. With TF 51, her planes flew antisubmarine and combat air patrols during operations against Tinian, which they strafed 5 July and 7 July, blasting gun emplacements and a sugar refinery. Returning to Eniwetok 16 July to refuel and replenish, Nehenta Bay next sailed, with Midway and 12 destroyers, for antisubmarine and combat air patrols off Guam and Saipan, striking targets on the latter.
Next assigned to escort fleet oilers during at-sea replenishment operations, Nehenta Bay played an essential part in the 3rd Fleet's victory-winning operations from August 1944 through January 1945. The ships she guarded made it possible for the fast carriers to remain at sea for extended periods, smashing at targets in the Carolines and Philippines, on Formosa, and on the Chinese coast. Such attacks in turn made possible the capture of the Palaus, and the return to the Philippines.
With Manus and Ulithi as her bases, Nehenta Bay faithfully and tirelessly protected her vulnerable charges, fighting through the December typhoon despite heavy damage and shooting down a Japanese attacker 12 January 1945. She returned to San Diego 19 February for overhaul, refreshed her training in Hawaiian waters, then qualified new aviators off Guam before arriving at Ulithi 9 May to prepare for strikes on Okinawa. Her planes flew patrols and made direct strikes on enemy positions to aid fighting men ashore, blasting the Japanese from eaves and ridges. Her formation came under kamikaze attack 7 June, when two of her sisters were crashed.
From the end of June through early August, Nehenta Bay again guarded oilers as they served the 3rd Fleet in its climactic raids against Japan itself. She was en route to operations in the Aleutians when hostilities ended, and her task force sailed 31 August for occupation duties around Japan, patrolling and dropping supplies to prisoners of war. She returned to Pearl Harbor 24 September to disembark her air squadron and all aviation equipment and gasoline, thus making room for passengers. She sailed 30 September to embark homeward-bound troops in the Marshalls, and with them reached San Francisco in mid-October. In November she sailed to the Philippines on similar duty, returning to the West Coast 27 November. Sailing via the Panama Canal, Nehenta Bay arrived Boston 31 January 1946 for inactivation. She decommissioned and entered reserve at Boston 15 May 1946. Reclassified CVU–74 on 12 June 1955 and AKV–24 on 7 May 1959, Nehenta Bay was sold to Coalmarket, Inc., 29 June 1960 and scrapped.
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