USS Rudyerd Bay (CVE-81)
USS Severn (AO-61) (foreground) and USS Rudyerd Bay (CVE-81), (background) steaming together
|Name:||USS Rudyerd Bay|
|Laid down:||24 October 1943|
|Launched:||12 January 1944|
|Commissioned:||25 February 1944|
|Decommissioned:||11 June 1946|
|Struck:||1 August 1959|
|Fate:||Sold for scrapping January 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:||19.3 knots (35.7 km/h)|
|Range:||10,240 nmi (18,960 km) at 15 kn (28 km/h)|
|Awards:||5 Battle stars|
USS Rudyerd Bay (CVE-81) was a Casablanca-class escort carrier of the United States Navy. She was laid down under Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 1118) on 24 October 1943 by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Company, in Vancouver, Washington; launched on 12 January 1944, sponsored by Mrs. Scott E. Peck; acquired by the Navy on 25 February 1944, and commissioned the same day, with Captain C. S. Smiley in command.
Following shakedown off southern California, Rudyerd Bay ferried planes to Espiritu Santo in April and May; then she conducted qualification exercises off California into July. After this, she made another ferry run, this time to Majuro from 20 July to 26 July, escorted by O'Flaherty. On her return, she embarked Composite Squadron 77 (VC-77) and, on 8 August, she again headed west. At Eniwetok, she joined Task Group 30.8 (TG 30.8), the fast carrier forces' replenishment group, with which she arrived at Manus on 31 August.
During early September, she covered the replenishment group as the Third Fleet supported the Palau campaign. In October, she continued that cover as strikes against the Philippines began. On 18 October, she took on survivors of the Houston, transported them to Ulithi; whence in November, she resumed covering operations which continued into the new year.
On 29 December, Rudyerd Bay, with Nehenta Bay, tankers, and other ships, departed Ulithi. In the Philippine Sea until 10 January 1945, the replenishment group shifted to the South China Sea as the fast carriers continued support of the Lingayen assault and conducted strikes against enemy installations and shipping from Indochina to Formosa. On 22 January, they retired, via the Sulu and Mindanao Seas and Leyte Gulf, to Ulithi.
Rudyerd Bay remained at Ulithi until 10 February. She then proceeded to Saipan to prepare for the assault on Iwo Jima. Departing the Marianas in TG 51.17, she provided air cover for the troop transports en route to the Volcano Islands, from 16 February to 18 February. On the 18th, she joined TG 52.2 and from then until 8 March, operated to the east of Iwo Jima as VC-77 flew support missions over the contested island and antisubmarine patrols over the surrounding waters.
Anchored at Ulithi from 11 March to 20 March, Rudyerd Bay, with VC-96 now embarked, got underway for the Ryukyus in Task Unit 52.1.2 (TU 52.1.2) on 21 March. On 25 March, she arrived at her position 60 miles to the south of Okinawa and began launching strikes against enemy positions on Kerama Retto and on Okinawa. With the exceptions of 1 April and 8 April, VC-96 flew daily support missions until 17 April. On 13 April, 14 April, and 15 April, the squadron target was shifted from Okinawa Gunto to Sakishima Gunto. On 17 April, Rudyerd Bay rotated to TG 50.8. For the next 10 days, she provided air cover for that group, then returned to TG 52.1 and resumed support missions for the troops fighting ashore. On 8 May, she again joined TG 50.8, which she covered until retiring from the Ryukyus on 20 May. By that time, VC-96 had flown 1,257 missions in support of the Okinawa offensive.
Rudyerd Bay arrived at Guam on 23 May, detached VC-96, and embarked VC-85 as passengers for transport back to the United States.
By the end of July, the escort carrier had completed a shipyard overhaul and had been reassigned to plane ferry duty. On 1 August, she departed Alameda for the Marshalls. On 14 August, hostilities ceased. Rudyerd Bay continued on, discharged cargo and passengers at Eniwetok, then proceeded to Ulithi and the Philippines, whence she moved VC-33 to Okinawa. There, she embarked another squadron for the voyage back to California.
On 8 October, she arrived at San Francisco, underwent repairs and alterations to enable her to carry troops, then joined the "Magic-Carpet" fleet. Into the new year, she brought veterans of the Pacific war back to the United States. On 23 January 1946, she completed her last trans-Pacific run; and on 18 February, she departed California for the east coast. Transiting the Panama Canal on 28 February, she off-loaded aircraft at Jacksonville, Florida, in early March, and proceeded to Boston to begin inactivation.
Decommissioned on 11 June 1946, Rudyerd Bay, redesignated CVU-81 on 12 June 1955, and AKV-29 in 1959, remained in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, berthed at Boston, Massachusetts, until struck from the Navy List on 1 August 1959. In January 1960, she was sold to Cantieri Navali Santa Maria, Genoa, Italy, for scrapping.
Rudyerd Bay (CVE-81) earned five battle stars during World War II.
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