USS Steamer Bay (CVE-87)

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CVE-87 USS Steamer Bay.JPG
History
United States
Builder: Kaiser Shipbuilding Company
Laid down: 4 December 1943
Launched: 26 February 1944
Commissioned: 4 April 1944
Decommissioned: January 1947
Out of service: 4 February 1946
Struck: 1 March 1959
Fate: Sold for scrap 29 August 1959
General characteristics
Class and type: Casablanca class escort carrier
Displacement: 9,570 tons
Length: 512 ft 3 in (156.13 m)
Beam: 65 ft 2 in (19.86 m) Flight deck 108 ft 1 in (32.94 m)
Draft: 20 ft (6.1 m)
Speed: 19.3 knots
Complement: 860
Armament: 1 × 5-inch/38 caliber gun, 16 × 40 mm

USS Steamer Bay (CVE-87) was a Casablanca class escort carrier of the United States Navy. She was laid down on 4 December 1943 at Vancouver, Washington, by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Company; launched on 26 February 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Henry S. Kendall; and commissioned on 4 April 1944, Captain Steadman Teller in command.

Steamer Bay held sea trials in Puget Sound and sailed for San Diego on 2 May. On the 14th, she headed for the New Hebrides, carrying the men and aircraft of Marine Air Group (MAG) 61. She arrived at Espiritu Santo on the 30th, unloaded, and began her return voyage to San Diego on 2 June. The carrier was on the west coast from 20 June to 19 July when she again steamed west, with 298 marines and 72 aircraft, bound for the Marshall Islands.

Steamer Bay arrived at Majuro on 1 August to discharge her cargo and passengers. She was routed back to Pearl Harbor and attached to the 3d Fleet as a carrier of replacement aircraft. Seventy-two planes were loaded on board; and the ship steamed for Seeadler Harbor, Manus Island, on 21 August. During the next two and one-half months, the carrier supplied replacement aircraft and pilots to Task Force (TF) 38 which was supporting the operations in the Palau and Philippine Islands. She spent the period from 15 November to 5 December at Pearl Harbor undergoing repairs and training. The ship returned to Seeadler Harbor on 17 December 1944 and was assigned to Task Group (TG) 77.4, the San Fabian Carrier Group, which sortied on 1 January 1945.

The group (Taffy 2), consisting of six escort carriers under the command of Rear Admiral Felix Stump, supported the Lingayen landings. While steaming through the Sulu and South China seas toward the Lingayen beaches, during the first week of January 1945, the group was the target of numerous enemy air attacks. Of the six carriers, Ommaney Bay (CVE-79) was sunk on 4 January by a kamikaze plane; and Manila Bay (CVE-61) and Savo Island (CVE-78) were damaged the next day. During the landings, the CVE's launched over 1,400 aircraft sorties in support of ground forces. Steamer Bay remained in the Philippine Islands with the 7th Fleet until she got underway on 31 January for Ulithi.

Steamer Bay anchored there from 5 February to 10 February, when she departed with units of the 5th Fleet for the invasion of Iwo Jima. She was with four other escort carriers which arrived at their assigned area of operations, 50 miles west of Iwo Jima, on 16 February. Their mission was to neutralize Japanese bases in the Nanpō Islands until 19 February (D-Day) and then provide air cover and direct support for the marines during the landings and the struggle for the strategic island.

Steamer Bay was relieved on 7 March and arrived at San Pedro Bay, Leyte, on the 12th. She sailed for the Ryukyus on 27 March and arrived in the operating area south of Okinawa on the morning of 1 April. She remained off Okinawa until 26 May when she sailed to Apra Harbor, Guam, for repairs. On 10 June, the carrier was ordered to join the 3d Fleet east of Miyako Jima and assist in neutralizing Japanese airfields in Sakishima Gunto. She conducted air strikes against the fields from 14 June to 22 June, when she sailed for Ulithi.

Steamer Bay stood out of Ulithi, on 3 July, with the Logistics Support Group resupplying the fast carrier forces during operations against the Japanese mainland. On the 20th, she was detached and sailed, via Guam and Pearl Harbor, for the west coast, arriving at San Diego on 10 August.

Steamer Bay was in drydock when hostilities with Japan ended, and she was given additional bunks to accommodate veterans returning from overseas. She sailed for Pearl Harbor, on 28 September, on her first “Magic Carpet” assignment.

Steamer Bay was assigned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet on 4 February 1946 and berthed at Tacoma, Washington. In January 1947, she was placed in reserve, out of commission. Her designation was changed from CVE-87 to CVHE-87 on 12 June 1955. The carrier was struck from the Navy list on 1 March 1959 and sold to Hyman-Michaels Co., Chicago, Illinois, on 29 August 1959 for scrap.

Steamer Bay received six battle stars for World War II service.

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