USS Salamaua (CVE-96)
USS Salamaua off San Francisco, 1945
|Laid down:||4 February 1944|
|Launched:||22 April 1944|
|Commissioned:||26 May 1944|
|Decommissioned:||9 May 1946|
|Struck:||21 May 1946|
|Fate:||Sold for scrap on 18 November 1946|
|Class and type:||Casablanca-class escort carrier|
|Displacement:||7,800 tons (standard), 10,400 tons (full load)|
|Length:||512 ft 3 in (156.13 m) overall|
|Beam:||65 ft 2 in (19.86 m), 108 ft 1 in (32.94 m) maximum width|
|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 (1944–1946)|
|Operations:||Invasion of Lingayen Gulf, Battle of Okinawa, Operation Magic Carpet|
|Awards:||3 Battle stars|
USS Salamaua (CVE-96) was a Casablanca-class escort carrier of the United States Navy. She was originally named Anguilla Bay (ACV-96). The ship was reclassified CVE-96 on 15 July 1943 and renamed Salamaua on 6 November 1943. The escort carrier was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 1133) on 4 February 1944 by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Co., Vancouver, Washington and launched on 22 April 1944; sponsored by Mrs. W. J. Mullins. Salamaua was commissioned on 26 May 1944, Captain Joseph I. Taylor, Jr. in command.
Following shakedown off the west coast, Salamaua transported planes and cargo from San Diego to Pearl Harbor, then returned to California, whence she conducted a similar run to Finschhafen, New Guinea. On 1 September, she returned to Alameda, California, underwent overhaul; conducted training exercises, and on 16 October, again sailed west from San Diego. She arrived at Ulithi on 5 November, then continued on to the Palaus and the Philippines. From 14-23 November, she furnished air cover for convoys in the Leyte Gulf area, then proceeded to the Admiralties to stage for the invasion of Luzon.
She departed Seeadler Harbor on 27 December and moved north. On 6 January 1945, she arrived off the entrance to Lingayen Gulf. Her planes began blasting enemy positions ashore and providing air cover for the approaching Allied ships. On 9 January, they provided air cover for the troops landing on the assault beaches, then continued that support until 13 January.
Just before 0900 on that day, a kamikaze carrying two 551-pound (250 kg) bombs crashed into Salamaua's flight deck. 15 men were killed, and over 80 injured. Damage was extensive: the flight deck, the hangar deck, and spaces below were set ablaze; one of the bombs, failing to explode, punched through the starboard side at the waterline; power, communications, and steering failed; and one of her engine rooms flooded, preventing repairs to her starboard engine, which had quit. But by 0910, her gunners had splashed two more kamikazes.
Temporary repairs enabled the CVE to return to San Francisco. Arriving on 26 February, repairs were quickly completed; and, on 21 April, she moved west again. On 20 May, she arrived at Guam, where she continued on to the Ryukyu Islands where she joined other escort carriers on 26 May to support land operations on Okinawa. On 4 June, she joined a logistic support group, but the next day, she was damaged by a typhoon. Repairs were made at Guam and, toward the end of July, she assumed antisubmarine patrol duty in the Marianas-Okinawa convoy lanes. In August, she shifted to the Leyte-Okinawa lanes, where she remained until after the mid-month Japanese surrender.
On 25 August, Salamaua returned to Leyte, replenished, then escorted a troop convoy to Tokyo Bay. The convoy arrived on 2 September, and the escort carrier's planes photographed the landing of the occupation troops at Yokohama the same day. After guarding a second convoy into Tokyo Bay, she joined the "Magic Carpet" fleet, embarked veterans for transport to the United States, and disembarked them at Alameda on 3 October.
Before the end of the year, Salamaua completed two more "Magic Carpet" runs. In 1946, she prepared for inactivation. She was decommissioned on 9 May 1946, struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 21 May, and subsequently sold to the Zidell Ship Dismantling Co., Portland, Oregon, for scrapping on 18 November 1946.
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