CVE-29 U.S.S. Santee - History

CVE-29 U.S.S. Santee - History


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Santee II
(CVE-29: dp. 6,534, 1. 559'; b. 75', dr. 33'9", s. 18 k.; cpl. 860; a 2 5"; cl. Cimarron; T3-S2-A1)

The second Santee was launched on 4 March 1939 as Esso Seakay under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 3) by the Sun Shipbuilding and DryDock Co., at Chester, Pa., sponsored by Mrs. Charles Kurz acquired by the Navy on 18 October 1940; and commissioned on 30 October 1940 as AO-29, Comdr. William G. B. Hatch in command.

Prior to her acquisition by the Navy, Esso Seakay had been operated by Standard Oil of New Jersey on the west coast. During her commercial service, she set several records for fast oil hauling.

After commissioning, Santee served in the Atlantic. When American neutrality ended on 7 December 1941, Santee was carrying oil for a secret airdrome at Argentia, Newfoundland. In the spring of 1942, Santee's conversion to an aircraft carrier was begun at the Norfolk Navy Yard.

On 24 August 1942, Santee was commissioned as an escort carrier, Comdr. William D. Sample in command. The ACV was fitted with such haste that workmen from Norfolk were still on board during her shakedown training and her decks were piled high with stores. After conversion, nominally completed on 8 September, Santee reported to Task Force 22 and the first plane landed on her flightdeck on the 24th.

After shakedown, Santee departed Bermuda on 25 October and headed for the coast of Africa. While the escort carrier u as en route on the 30th, an SBD-3 scout bomber being launched from a catapult dropped a 325-pound depth bomb onto the flight deck. It rolled off the deck and detonated close to the port bow shaking the entire ship, carrying away the range finder and a searchlight base, and damaging radar antennas.

Nevertheless, Santee continued steaming with Task Group 34.2. On 7 November, the escort carrier, with destroyers, Rodman and Emmons, and minelayer, Monadnock, left the formation and, the following morning, took positions off Safi, French Morocco. Santee launched planes and fueled ships until Friday, 13 November, when she rejoined TG 34.2 and returned to Bermuda. The group departed that island on the 22d and anchored in Hampton Roads two days later.

After voyage repairs and drydock, Santee got underway with destroyer, Eberle, on 26 December. On 1 January 1943, Santee anchored at Port of Spain, Trinidad. Two days later, with destroyers Eberle and Livermore, she headed for the coast of Brazil. After disembarking passengers at Recife, she sailed to join Task Unit 23.1.6 at sea in tightening the noose on enemy merchant shipping and naval activity in the south Atlantic.

For a month, her planes flew antisubmarine missions and regular patrols. On 15 February, the escort carrier put in at Recife, remaining until the 21st. Back conducting routine sorties in the same manner, Santee operated from 21 February through 2 March when she again put in to Recife.

Her next period at sea, which began on 4 March brought action. On 10 March, light cruiser, Savannah and Eberle were investigating a cargo liner which had been spotted by Santee's aircraft and which had been tentatively identified as the Karin, a Dutch merchantman It turned out to be the German blockade runner Rota Nopan (ex-Dutch Kota Pinang). As the Eberle boarding party drew alongside, explosives placed by the abandoning crew detonated, killing eight boarders. On 15 March, Santee set out for Norfolk and anchored at Hampton Roads on the 28th.

Underway again on 13 June, with four-stacked destroyers, Bainbridge, Overton, and MacLeish, Santee reached Casablanca on 3 July. Four days later, the escort carrier departed the harbor with a convoy of

homeward-bound empties. No submarines were sighted, but one of her Avengers made a forced landing in Spain, and its crew was interned. Santee's small task group left the convoy on 12 July with orders to operate independently against Nazi submarine concentrations south of the Azores. She remained at this antisubmarine work until 25 July and managed to attack seven surfaced U-boats, at the price of two Dauntless dive bombers

On the 25th, she joined a west-bound convoy, which reached the Virginia coast on 6 August. On 26 August Santee, with destroyers, Bainbridge and Greer, again headed into the Atlantic; and two days steaming brought them to Bermuda.

Santee made another convoy run from Bermuda to Casablanca and back to Hampton Roads from 29 August to 13 October. On 25 October, the escort carrier departed the east coast for Casablanca, reaching Basin Delpit on 13 November. Standing out of Casablanca the next day, she rendezvoused on the 17th with Iowa, carrying President Roosevelt. After providing air cover for the battleship and her escorts for several days, Santee was ordered to the Bay of Biscay, where she engaged in antisubmarine work until the end of November.

As TG 21.11, Santee and a trio of four-stackers patrolled the North Atlantic from 1 to 9 December. The group was dissolved upon arrival at the Norfolk Navy Yard on 10 December, and Santee, minus her aircraft stood out of Norfolk on 21 December, and headed for New York in company with battleship, Texas, and several destroyers. From 22 to 28 December, the escort carrier packed her hangar and flight decks with P-38 fighter planes at Staten Island. Getting underway in convoy on the 29th, she steamed unchallenged across the North Atlantic, reaching Glasgow on 9 January 1944.

Emptied of her P-38 cargo, Santee departed Glasgow in convoy on 13 January and returned to Norfolk on the 24th. She stood out of Norfolk on 13 February with destroyer escort, Tatum, transited the Panama Canal on 18 and 19 February and moored at San Diego on the 28th. There, Santee embarked 300 Navy and Marine Corps personnel and 31 aircraft for delivery to Pearl Harbor. She also took on 24 Wildcat fighters and Avenger dive bombers as her own instruments of war.

Standing out of San Diego Bay on 2 March, the CVE unloaded her ferried aircraft and personnel at Pearl Harbor upon her arrival on the 9th.

Escort carriers, Sangamon, Suwanee, Chenango, and Santee, all former oilers, swarmed out of Pearl Harbor with a flock of destroyers on 15 March, heading southwest. Designated Carrier Division (CarDiv) 22, they joined the fast carriers of the 5th Fleet on 27 March and sped west to the Palaus. There, their planes of CarDiv 22 flew patrols over vulnerable tankers before setting course for Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides on 4 April.

In this, the closing phase of the New Guinea campaign, Santee fueled and provisioned near Espiritu Santo from 7 to 10 April, then sailed to Purvis Bay Solomons, on the 13th. CarDiv 22 joined CarDiv 24 and a destroyer squadron on 16 April and set course for New Guinea.

Santee's air group aided in destroying 100 enemy aircraft and ripping up enemy airfields before the landings, prior to departing for Manus Island, Admiralties, on 24 April. Arriving at Seeadler Harbor the next day, Santee and her sister ships took on fuel and food; then sailed again on the 26th for Hollandia. From 12 May through 1 June, Santee traded in her own air arm for 66 Corsairs and 15 Hellcats and personnel of Marine Air Group 21. On 2 June Carrier Division 22 started north for Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshalls. On 4 August, the CVE reached newly-won Guam. The 81 aircraft of Air Group 21 became the first planes to operate from the reconquered island.

After training exercises and the re-embarkment of her own planes at Manus, Santee got underway on 10 September and rendezvoused with Task Force 77 near Mapia Island. At Morotai in the Moluccas, Santee Avengers bombed ground installations. One plane was lost to the enemy, but Santee herself had no contact with the Japanese. By 1 October, the CVE was back in Seeadler Harbor.

Sailing from Manus on 12 October Santee and accompanying combatants reached Philippine waters on the 20th. The escort carrier's gunners shot down an enemy plane during an air attack that morning, and her aircraft splashed two more.

At 0736 on 25 October, Santee launched five Avenger and eight Wildcat aircraft for an attack against Japanese surface units some 120 miles to the north. At 0740, a Japanese plane made a suicide dive on the Santee with an estimated 63 kilogram bomb, crashing through the flight deck and stopping on the hangar deck. At 0756, a torpedo struck the ship, causing flooding of several compartments and a six degree list. Emergency repairs were completed by 0935.

Between 18 and 27 October, Santee planes shot down 31 Japanese planes and sank one 5,000 ton ammunition ship, in addition to damage inflicted by strafing during their 377 sorties. On 31 October, the CVE anchored in Seeadler Harbor for temporary repairs to battle damage.

Underway again on 9 November, she moored at Pearl Harbor on the 19th. Following more repairs, the escort carrier embarked 98 marines for transportation to the United States and entered Los Angeles Harbor on 5 December. Santee completed the year undergoing repairs to battle damage and general overhaul.

After post repair trials at San Diego, the escort carrier headed toward Hawaii on 31 January 1945, and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 8 February. On 7 March, she got underway for Ulithi in the Western Carolines, altering her course en route to assist in the search for the B-24 which had disappeared while carrying Army Lt. Gen. Millard F. Harmon, before anchoring on 19 March. Two days later Santee steamed toward Leyte Gulf. '

()n 27 March, Santee departed the Philippines to provide air coverage for southern transport groups Dog and Easy en route to the objective area at Okinawa Gunto for the invasion of Okinawa Jima, the largest combined operation of the Pacific war.

On Easter Sunday, 1 April 1945, Santee provided direct support to the American ground forces landing on Okinawa and she continued this duty until 8 April, when she turned to aid British carriers in denying the use of Sakishima Gunto airfields to the enemy. For 42 consecutive dawns, Santee's aircraft winged over target sectors in the East China Sea, with daily returns to Okinawa itself for routine ground support. On 16 June, Santee launched a fighter bomber mission against specified targets on Kyushu, Japan.

Pulling out of the Okinawa area that day, Santee reached Leyte Gulf on the 19th, where minor repairs were made. Out again on 1 July, she operated west of Okinawa from the 5th to the 14th, covering minesweeping operations. On 7 July; a tail hook broke on a landing aircraft, allowing it to clear all barriers, crash among parked planes, and cause a fire. Four fighters and two torpedo bombers were jettisoned, six torpedo bombers were rendered non flyable duds, and one of the pilots of the parked aircraft was killed.

Santee was detached from the task unit on 15 July and proceeded to Guam, arriving at Apra Harbor four days later. Following flight deck repairs and general upkeep, the escort carrier got underway on 5 August for Saipan, engaging in carrier aircraft training for squadrons flown from that island en route. Anchoring in Saipan Harbor on the 9th, the CVE got underway for the Philippines on 13 August. Santee received word of the cessation of the hostilities against Japan on the 15th and anchored in San Pedro Bay, Leyte, two days later.

On 4 September, while en route to Korea to support occupation forces there, Santee was ordered to northern Formosa to evacuate ex-prisoners of war. On 5 September, the escort carrier received, from destroyer escort, Kretchmer, 155 officers and men of the British and Indian Armies. These soldiers had been captured by the Japanese in Malaya in 1942. They were given medical aid and berthed on the hangar deck. The next day, Santee picked up additional men from destroyer escorts, Finch and Brister, making a total of 322 officers and men. They included 30 American Army and Naval officers and men who had been taken on Bataan and Corregidor, and 10 officers and men from the Dutch Army and Merchant Marine, captured in Java. On 9 September, Santee disembarked the 477 evacuees at Manila Bay.

Five days later, Santee stood out of Manila Bay and steamed for Okinawa, anchoring at Buckner Bay on the 19th. Underway again the next day, Santee reached Wakanoura Wan, Honshu, Japan, on the 22d. From 24 to 26 September, Santee steamed along the coast, providing air coverage for occupation forces landing at Wakayama.

Santee departed Wakanoura Wan on 3 October, left her formation on the 6th to search for a missing PBM aircraft which had carried Rear Admiral William D. Sample, the ship's first commanding officer after her conversion to an escort carrier.

On 20 October, Santee got underway for Okinawa, arriving two days later at Buckner Bay. On 23 October, Santee got underway for Pearl Harbor, disembarking 375 passengers there on 4 November. The next day, Santee continued her role in operation "Magic Carpet" by embarking 18 marines bound for the west coast.

Anchoring at San Diego on 11 November, Santee remained there until the 26th, when she got underway for Guam on additional "Magic Carpet" duty.

On 27 February 1946, Santee departed San Diego and arrived at Boston Harbor on 25 March, via the Panama Canal. The CVE was placed in reserve on 21 October. Santee was reclassified on 12 June 1965 as an escort helicopter aircraft carrier, CVHE-29, and struck from the Navy list on 1 March 1959. On 5 December 1959, she was sold to the Master Metals Co. for scrapping.

Santee received nine battle stars for World War II service.


USS Santee (CVE-29)

USS Santee (CVE-29) (originally launched as AO-29, then ACV-29) was an American escort carrier. The second ship with this name, it was launched on 4 March 1939 as Esso Seakay under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 3) by the Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company at Chester, Pennsylvania, sponsored by Mrs. Charles Kurz. It was acquired by the United States Navy on 18 October 1940 and commissioned on 30 October 1940 as AO-29, with Commander William G. B. Hatch in command.

  • Sold, 5 December 1959
  • Scrapped in Hamburg in May 1960.
  • 75 ft (23 m)
  • 114 ft 3 in (34.82 m) (extreme width)
  • 2 × steam turbines
  • 2 × shafts

Prior to her acquisition by the Navy, Esso Seakay had been operated by Standard Oil of New Jersey (Esso) on the west coast. During her commercial service, she set several records for fast oil hauling. Her original model was a type T3-S2-A1 tanker.


Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

The second Santee was launched on 4 March 1939 as Esso Seakay under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 3) by the Sun Shipbuilding and DryDock Co., at Chester, Pa. sponsored by Mrs. Charles Kurz acquired by the Navy on 18 October 1940 and commissioned on 30 October 1940 as AO-29, Comdr. William G.B. Hatch in command.

Prior to her acquisition by the Navy, Esso Seakay had been operated by Standard Oil of New Jersey on the west coast. During her commercial service, she set several records for fast oil hauling.

After commissioning, Santee served in the Atlantic. When American neutrality ended on 7 December 1941, Santee was carrying oil for a secret airdrome at Argentia, Newfoundland. In the spring of 1942, Santee's conversion to an aircraft carrier was begun at the Norfolk Navy Yard.

On 24 August 1942, Santee was commissioned as an escort carrier, Comdr. William D. Sample in command. The ACV was fitted with such haste that workmen from Norfolk were still on board during her shakedown training and her decks were piled high with stores. After conversion, nominally completed on 8 September, Santee reported to Task Force 22 and the first plane landed on her flight deck on the 24th.

After shakedown, Santee departed Bermuda on 25 October and headed for the coast of Africa. While the escort carrier was en route on the 30th, an SBD-3 scout bomber being launched from a catapult dropped a 325-pound depth bomb onto the flight deck. It rolled off the deck and detonated close to the port bow shaking the entire ship, carrying away the range finder and a searchlight base, and damaging radar antennas.

Nevertheless, Santee continued steaming with Task Group 34.2. On 7 November, the escort carrier, with destroyers Rodman (DD-456) and Emmons (DD-457), and minelayer, Monadnock (CMc-4), left the formation and, the following morning, took positions off Safi, French Morocco. Santee launched planes and fueled ships until Friday, 13 November, when she rejoined TG 34.2 and returned to Bermuda. The group departed that island on the 22d and anchored in Hampton Roads two days later.

After voyage repairs and drydock, Santee got underway with destroyer Eberle (DD-430), on 26 December. On 1 January 1943, Santee anchored at Port of Spain, Trinidad. Two days later, with destroyers Eberle and Livermore (DD-429), she headed for the coast of Brazil. After disembarking passengers at Recife, she sailed to join Task Unit 23.1.6 at sea in tightening the noose on enemy merchant shipping and naval activity in the south Atlantic.

For a month, her planes flew antisubmarine missions and regular patrols. On 15 February, the escort carrier put in at Recife, remaining until the 21st. Back conducting routine sorties in the same manner, Santee operated from 21 February through 2 March when she again put in to Recife.

Her next period at sea, which began on 4 March, brought action. On 10 March, light cruiser Savannah (CL-42) and Eberle were investigating a cargo liner which had been spotted by Santee's aircraft and which had been tentatively identified as the Karin, a Dutch merchantman. It turned out to be the German blockade runner Kota Nopan (ex-Dutch Kota Pinang). As the Eberle boarding party drew alongside, explosives placed by the abandoning crew detonated, killing eight boarders. On 15 March, Santee set out for Norfolk and anchored at Hampton Roads on the 28th.

Underway again on 13 June, with four-stacked destroyers, Bainbridge (DD-246), Overton (DD-239), and MacLeish (DD-220), Santee reached Casablanca on 3 July. Four days later, the escort carrier departed the harbor with a convoy of homeward-bound empties. No submarines were sighted, but one of her Avengers made a forced landing in Spain, and its crew was interned. Santee's small task group left the convoy on 12 July with orders to operate independently against Nazi submarine concentrations south of the Azores. She remained at this antisubmarine work until 25 July and managed to attack seven surfaced U-boats, at the price of two Dauntless dive bombers.

On the 25th, she joined a west-bound convoy, which reached the Virginia coast on 6 August. On 26 August, Santee, with destroyers Bainbridge and Greer (DD-145), again headed into the Atlantic and two days steaming brought them to Bermuda.

Santee made another convoy run from Bermuda to Casablanca and back to Hampton Roads from 29 August to 13 October. On 25 October, the escort carrier departed the east coast for Casablanca, reaching Basin Delpit on 13 November. Standing out of Casablanca the next day, she rendezvoused on the 17th with Iowa (BB-61), carrying President Roosevelt. After providing air cover for the battleship and her escorts for several days, Santee was ordered to the Bay of Biscay, where she engaged in antisubmarine work until the end of November.

As TG 21.11, Santee and a trio of four-stackers patrolled the North Atlantic from 1 to 9 December. The group was dissolved upon arrival at the Norfolk Navy Yard on 10 December, and Santee, minus her aircraft, stood out of Norfolk on 21 December, and headed for New York in company with battleship Texas (BB-35), and several destroyers. From 22 to 28 December, the escort carrier packed her hangar and flight decks with P-38 fighter planes at Staten Island. Getting underway in convoy on the 29th, she steamed unchallenged across the North Atlantic, reaching Glasgow on 9 January 1944.

Emptied of her P-38 cargo, Santee departed Glasgow in convoy on 13 January and returned to Norfolk on the 24th. She stood out of Norfolk on 13 February with destroyer escort Tatum (DE-789), transited the Panama Canal on 18 and 19 February and moored at San Diego on the 28th. There, Santee embarked 300 Navy and Marine Corps personnel and 31 aircraft for delivery to Pearl Harbor. She also took on 24 Wildcat fighters and Avenger dive bombers as her own instruments of war.

Standing out of San Diego Bay on 2 March, the CVE unloaded her ferried aircraft and personnel at Pearl Harbor upon her arrival on the 9th.

Escort carriers Sangamon (CVE-26), Suwanee (CVE-27), Chenango (CVE-28) and Santee, all former oilers, swarmed out of Pearl Harbor with a flock of destroyers on 15 March, heading southwest. Designated Carrier Division (CarDiv) 22, they joined the fast carriers of the 5th Fleet on 27 March and sped west to the Palaus. There, their planes of CarDiv 22 flew patrols over vulnerable tankers before setting course for Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides on 4 April.

In this, the closing phase of the New Guinea campaign, Santee fueled and provisioned near Espiritu Santo from 7 to 10 April then sailed to Purvis Bay, Solomons, on the 13th. CarDiv 22 joined CarDiv 24 and a destroyer squadron on 16 April and set course for New Guinea.

Santee's air group aircraft aided in destroying 100 enemy aircraft and ripping up enemy airfields before the landings, prior to departing for Manus Island, Admiralties, on 24 April. Arriving at Seeadler Harbor the next day, Santee and her sister ships took on fuel and food then sailed again on the 26th for Hollandia. From 12 May through 1 June, Santee traded in her own air arm for 66 Corsairs and 15 Hellcats and personnel of Marine Air Group 21. On 2 June, Carrier Division 22 started north for Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshalls. On 4 August, the CVE reached newly-won Guam. The 81 aircraft of Air Group 21 became the first planes to operate from the reconquered island.

After training exercises and the re-embarkment of her own planes at Manus, Santee got underway on 10 September and rendezvoused with Task Force 77 near Mapia Island. At Morotai in the Moluccas, Santee Avengers bombed ground installations. One plane was lost to the enemy, but Santee herself had no contact with the Japanese. By 1 October, the CVE was back in Seeadler Harbor.

Sailing from Manus on 12 October, Santee and accompanying combatants reached Philippine waters on the 20th. The escort carrier's gunners shot down an enemy plane during an air attack that morning, and her aircraft splashed two more.

At 0736 on 25 October, Santee launched five Avenger and eight Wildcat aircraft for an attack against Japanese surface units some 120 miles to the north. At 0740, a Japanese plane made a suicide dive on Santee with an estimated 63 kilogram bomb, crashing through the flight deck and stopping on the hangar deck. At 0756, a torpedo struck the ship, causing flooding of several compartments and a six degree list. Emergency repairs were completed by 0935.

Between 18 and 27 October, Santee planes shot down 31 Japanese planes and sank one 5,000 ton ammunition ship, in addition to damage inflicted by strafing during their 377 sorties. On 31 October, the CVE anchored in Seeadler Harbor for temporary repairs to battle damage.

Underway again on 9 November, she moored at Pearl Harbor on the 19th. Following more repairs, the escort carrier embarked 98 marines for transportation to the United States and entered Los Angeles Harbor on 5 December. Santee completed the year undergoing repairs to battle damage and general overhaul.

After post repair trials at San Diego, the escort carrier headed toward Hawaii on 31 January 1945, and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 8 February. On 7 March, she got underway for Ulithi in the Western Carolines, altering her course en route to assist in the search for the B-24 which had disappeared while carrying Army Lt. Gen. Millard F. Harmon, before anchoring on 19 March. Two days later Santee steamed toward Leyte Gulf. '

On 27 March, Santee departed the Philippines to provide air coverage for southern transport groups Dog and Easy en route to the objective area at Okinawa Gunto for the invasion of Okinawa Jima, the largest combined operation of the Pacific war.

On Easter Sunday, 1 April 1945, Santee provided direct support to the American ground forces landing on Okinawa and she continued this duty until 8 April, when she turned to aid British carriers in denying the use of Sakishima Gunto airfields to the enemy. For 42 consecutive dawns, Santee's aircraft winged over target sectors in the East China Sea, with daily returns to Okinawa itself for routine ground support. On 16 June, Santee launched a fighter bomber mission against specified targets on Kyushu, Japan.

Pulling out of the Okinawa area that day, Santee reached Leyte Gulf on the 19th, where minor repairs were made. Out again on 1 July, she operated west of Okinawa from the 5th to the 14th, covering minesweeping operations. On 7 July, a tail hook broke on a landing aircraft, allowing it to clear all barriers, crash among parked planes, and cause a fire. Four fighters and two torpedo bombers were jettisoned, six torpedo bombers were rendered non-flyable duds, and one of the pilots of the parked aircraft was killed.

Santee was detached from the task unit on 15 July and proceeded to Guam, arriving at Apra Harbor four days later. Following flight deck repairs and general upkeep, the escort carrier got underway on 5 August for Saipan, engaging in carrier aircraft training for squadrons flown from that island en route. Anchoring in Saipan Harbor on the 9th, the CVE got underway for the Philippines on 13 August. Santee received word of the cessation of the hostilities against Japan on the 15th and anchored in San Pedro Bay, Leyte, two days later.

On 4 September, while en route to Korea to support occupation forces there, Santee was ordered to northern Formosa to evacuate ex-prisoners of war. On 5 September, the escort carrier received, from destroyer escort Kretchmer (DE-329), 155 officers and men of the British and Indian Armies. These soldiers had been captured by the Japanese in Malaya in 1942. They were given medical aid and berthed on the hangar deck. The next day, Santee picked up additional men from destroyer escorts Finch (DE-328) and Brister (DE-327), making a total of 322 officers and men. They included 30 American Army and Naval officers and men who had been taken on Bataan and Corregidor, and 10 officers and men from the Dutch Army and Merchant Marine, captured in Java. On 9 September, Santee disembarked the 477 evacuees at Manila Bay.

Five days later, Santee stood out of Manila Bay and steamed for Okinawa, anchoring at Buckner Bay on the 19th. Underway again the next day, Santee reached Wakanoura Wan, Honshu, Japan, on the 22d. From 24 to 26 September, Santee steamed along the coast, providing air coverage for occupation forces landing at Wakayama.

Santee departed Wakanoura Wan on 3 October, left her formation on the 6th to search for a missing PBM aircraft which had carried Rear Admiral William D. Sample, the ship's first commanding officer after her conversion to an escort carrier.

On 20 October, Santee got underway for Okinawa, arriving two days later at Buckner Bay. On 23 October, Santee got underway for Pearl Harbor, disembarking 375 passengers there on 4 November. The next day, Santee continued her role in operation "Magic Carpet" by embarking 18 marines bound for the west coast.

Anchoring at San Diego on 11 November, Santee remained there until the 26th, when she got underway for Guam on additional "Magic Carpet" duty.

On 27 February 1946, Santee departed San Diego and arrived at Boston Harbor on 25 March, via the Panama Canal. The CVE was placed in reserve on 21 October. Santee was reclassified on 12 June 1955 as an escort helicopter aircraft carrier, CVHE-29, and struck from the Navy list on 1 March 1959. On 5 December 1959, she was sold to the Master Metals Co. for scrapping.


SANTEE CVHE 29

This section lists the names and designations that the ship had during its lifetime. The list is in chronological order.

    Sangamon Class Escort Carrier
    Keel Laid May 31 1938 as Civilian Tanker ESSO SEAKAY
    Launched March 4 1939
    Acquired by U.S. Navy October 18 1940
    Classified Fleet Oiler (AO) and renamed

Naval Covers

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Since a ship may have many covers, they may be split among many pages so it doesn't take forever for the pages to load. Each page link should be accompanied by a date range for covers on that page.

Postmarks

This section lists examples of the postmarks used by the ship. There should be a separate set of postmarks for each incarnation of the ship (ie, for each entry in the "Ship Name and Designation History" section). Within each set, the postmarks should be listed in order of their classification type. If more than one postmark has the same classification, then they should be further sorted by date of earliest known usage.

A postmark should not be included unless accompanied by a close-up image and/or an image of a cover showing that postmark. Date ranges MUST be based ONLY ON COVERS IN THE MUSEUM and are expected to change as more covers are added.
 
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CVE-29 U.S.S. Santee - History

Sangamon class escort aircraft carriers
Displacement: 23,875 tons full load
Dimensions: 525 x 75 x 30.5 feet/160 x 22.8 x 9.3 meters
Extreme Dimensions: 553 x 114.5 x 30.5 feet/168.5 x 35 x 9.3 meters
Propulsion: Steam turbines, 4 450 psi boilers, 2 shafts, 13,500 hp, 18 knots
Crew: 830
Armor: none
Armament: 2 single 5/51 DP, 4 dual 40 mm AA, 12 single 20 mm AA
Aircraft: 36

Concept/Program: This group of ships was converted early in the CVE program, when the need for carriers was greatest and the number of available hulls was small. Following the conversion of the first 6 C3 freighter hulls there was an immediate need for additional hulls suitable for conversion, so these ships joined the CVE program. They had been built as merchant tankers but had been taken over as fleet oilers.

Design/Conversion: These ships underwent a more extensive conversion than other early CVEs. They had long hangars and flight decks, small island, and a single catapult. They were much larger and faster than the C4 and S4 types, allowing them to function more effectively in combat roles. Following conversion they retained facilities to carry oil cargo and to operate as oilers. These were by far the best of the converted CVEs.

Variations: No significant variations.

Modifications: By the end of WWII the gun battery was 2 quad and 12 dual 40 mm AA, and 13 dual 20 mm AA. A second catapult was added in 1944. Other modifications were minor in nature.

Classification: Classified as AOs when first taken over for naval service. Reclassed as AVGs when they joined the escort carrier program designations changed to ACV and later CVE as with other ships of the type. Survivors became CVHE in 1955 while in reserve.

Operational: Found to be very good aircraft operating platforms, better than any of the other CVEs (except the later T3-types), and much steadier than the CVLs. These ships operated together during much of the war. During the 1942 they supported Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. From late 1942 on three ships operated in the Pacific, serving as fleet carriers during the 1942-43 carrier shortage. They saw far more combat than most CVEs, although they also filled the typical transport and training roles. Santee remained in the Atlantic until early 1944 when she joined her sisters in the Pacific. At times these ships operated as oilers.

Departure from Service/Disposal: One ship discarded at the end of WWII due to damage sustained in combat others laid up during immediate postwar fleet reductions. Postwar they were seen as possible helicopter carriers or aircraft transports. Remained in reserve until discarded in 1959.

DANFS History

Built by Federal (Kearny). Laid down 13 March 1939, launched 4 Nov 1939, completed as merchant tanker (date?). Acquired by USN 22 Oct 1940 as oiler, redesignated AO 28 and renamed 12 April 1941. Redesignated AVG 26 14 Feb 1942 converted at to carrier Newport News, commissioned 25 Aug 1942. Designation changed from AVG to ACV 20 August 1942 prior to commissioning.

Designation changed from ACV to CVE 15 July 1943. Bombed 19 Oct 1944, kamikaze 25 Oct 1944 at Leyte, kamikaze 4 May 1945. In repair and overhaul for the remainder of the war. Repairs incomplete at the end of the war decommissioned and stricken for disposal 24 Oct 1945. Sold and scrapped in 1948.

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Suwannee
ex merchant Markay
AO 33 - AVG 27 - ACV 27 - CVE 27 - CVHE 27
Photos: [During WWII],

DANFS History

Built by Federal (Kearny). Laid down 3 June 1939, launched 4 March 1940, completed as a merchant tanker (date?). Acquired by USN 26 June 1941 as oiler, redesignated AO 33 and renamed commissioned as oiler 9 July 1941. Redesignated AVG 27 14 Feb 1942 converted to carrier at Newport News, commissioned 24 Sept 1942. Designation changed from AVG to ACV 20 August 1942 prior to commissioning.

Designation changed from ACV to CVE 15 July 1943. Bombed 25 and 26 Oct 1944, damaged by internal explosion 24 May 1945. Decommissioned to reserve 28 Oct 1946. Redesignated as a helicopter escort carrier (CVHE 27) 12 June 1955 while in reserve. Stricken for disposal 1 March 1959. Sold and scrapped in 1962.

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Chenango
ex merchant Esso New Orleans
AO 31 - AVG 28 - ACV 28 - CVE 28 - CVHE 28
Photos: [As tanker Esso New Orleans ], [During WWII]

DANFS History

Built by Sun Shipbuilding. Laid down 10 July 1938, launched 4 Jan 1939, completed as merchant tanker (date?). Acquired by USN 31 May 1941 as oiler, redesignated AO 31 and renamed commissioned as oiler 20 June 1941. Redesignated AVG 28 and decomissioned for conversion 16 Mar 1942, converted at Bethlehem Staten Island, commissioned 19 Sept 1942. Designation changed from AVG to ACV 20 August 1942 prior to commissioning.

Designation changed from ACV to CVE 15 July 1943. Damaged by aircraft crash 9 April 1945. Decommissioned to reserve 14 Aug 1946, Redesignated as a helicopter escort carrier (CVHE 28) 12 June 1955 while in reserve. Stricken for disposal 1 March 1959. Sold and scrapped in 1962.

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Santee
ex merchant Seakay
AO 29 - AVG 29 - ACV 29 - CVE 29 - CVHE 29
Photos: [During WWII]

DANFS History

Built by Sun Shipbuilding. Laid down 31 May 1938, launched 4 March 1939, completed as merchant tanker (date?). Acquired by USN 30 Oct 1940 as oiler redesignated AO 29 and renamed. Redesignated AVG 29 9 Jan 1942 converted to carrier at Norfolk Navy, commissioned 24 Aug 1942. Designation changed from AVG to ACV 20 August 1942 prior to commissioning.

Designation changed from ACV to CVE 15 July 1943. Torpedoed 25 Oct 1944, damaged by aircraft accident 7/45. Decommissioned to reserve 21 Oct 1946. Redesignated as a helicopter escort carrier (CVHE 29) 12 June 1955 while in reserve. Stricken for disposal 1 March 1959. Sold and scrapped in 1960.

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Commencement Bay class escort aircraft carriers
Displacement: 21,397 tons full load
Dimensions: 525 x 75 x 30.5 feet/150 x 22.9 x 9.3 meters
Extreme Dimensions: 557 x 105 x 30.5 feet/169.8 x 32 x 9.3 meters
Propulsion: Steam turbines, 4 450 psi boilers, 2 shafts, 16,000 hp, 19 knots
Crew: 1054
Armor: none
Armament: 2 single 5/38 DP, 3 quad, 12 dual 40 mm AA, 20 single 20 mm AA
Aircraft: 33

Concept/Program: The ultimate escort carriers. These ships were based on the successful T3 tanker hull all were built as carriers from the keel up. They entered service late in the war and postwar many saw little or no operational service. Many were cancelled prior to completion. Postwar they were seen as potential helicopter, fixed-wing ASW, or transport carriers.

Design: Similar to Sangamon class, but with improvements in engine and boiler layout. Two catapults were fitted.

Modifications: Gun armament was reduced after the war all 20 mm guns were removed. Several were upgraded for service as ASW carriers postwar they received strengthened and enlarged islands and gun armament was further reduced.

Modernization: No major modernizations. Extensive reconstruction plans were drawn up but not carried out.

Classification: Reclassified as CVHE or AKV while in reserve depending on the mission they would have undertaken if reactivated.

Operational: Many vessels commissioned only briefly before going into reserve. Postwar a several ships remained in service, or were reactivated, as ASW carriers these were replaced by Essex class ships and relegated to reserve.

Departure from Service/Disposal: Many ships were in and out of service during the 1940's and 1950's all ended up in reserve by the late 1950's and remained laid up until discarded around 1970.

Other Notes: Two ships were reactivated from reserve to serve as aircraft transports for Vietnam service they were stripped of all armament. They had civilian crews and operated under the Military Sea Transport Service (MSTS), not under naval control they were "in service" rather than "in commission" and their designations were preceded by "T-". One ship was converted to a major communications relay ship (AGMR).

Commencement Bay
ex St. Joseph Bay
CVE 105 - CVHE 105 - AKV 37
Photos: [During WWII]

DANFS History

Built by Todd-Pacific. Laid down 23 Sept 1943, launched 4 May 1944, renamed 5 July 1944, commissioned 27 Nov 1944.

Served mostly as a training carrier in the Pacific. Decommissioned to reserve 30 Nov 1946. Redesignated as a helicopter escort carrier (CVHE 105) 12 June 1955 redesignated as an aviation transport (AKV 37) 7 May 1959, both while in reserve. Stricken for disposal 1 April 1971. Subsequently sold and scrapped.

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Block Island
ex Sunset Bay
CVE 106 - LPH 1 - CVE 106 - AKV 38
Photos: [During WWII], [During 1950's reactivation].

DANFS History

Built by Todd-Pacific. Laid down 25 Oct 1943, launched 10 June 1944, commissioned 30 Dec 1944.

Served in the Pacific in 1945. Decommissioned to reserve 28 May 1946 used as a school ship at Annapolis while in reserve. Recommissioned as an ASW carrier 28 April 1951. Decommissioned to reserve 27 Aug 1954

Redesignated LPH 1 22 Dec 1957 while in reserve, but conversion to LPH was cancelled 6/1958 prior to start of conversion work. Returned to original designation 17 Feb 1959. Redesignated as an aviation transport (AKV 38) 7 May 1959 while in reserve. Stricken for disposal 1 July 1959. Sold and scrapped in Japan in 1960.

DANFS History

Built by Todd-Pacific. Laid down 29 Nov 1943, renamed 26 April 1944, launched 20 July 1944, commissioned 5 Feb 1945.

Served in the Pacific late in the war. Decommissioned to reserve 21 May 1946. Recommissioned 7 Sept 1951 for Korean War service served mainly as a transport. Decommissioned to reserve 15 January 1955. Redesignated as an aviation transport (AKV 39) 7 May 1959 while in reserve. Stricken for disposal 1 June 1961

Reinstated on Naval Vessels Register 1 November 1961 for conversion to a communications relay ship for service off Vietnam. Converted at New York Navy Yard 1962-1964. Redesignated AGMR 1, 1 June 1963, renamed Annapolis 22 June 1963. completed and recommissioned 7 March 1964. Conversion included removal of all old guns entire flight deck was converted to an "antenna farm", the island was rebuilt, forward flight deck modified and enclosed bow fitted 4 dual 3/50 AA added.

Decommissioned to reserve 20 December 1969. Stricken for disposal 15 Oct 1976. Subsequently sold and scrapped.

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Kula Gulf
ex Vermillion Bay
CVE 108 - AKV 8 - T-AKV 8
Photos: [As completed] [During 1950's reactivation]

DANFS History

Built by Todd-Pacific, completed at Willamette. Renamed 6 Nov 1943. Laid down 29 Nov 1943, launched 20 July 1944, commissioned 12 May 1945.

Briefly operated in the Pacific. Decommissioned to reserve 3 July 1946. Recommissioned for Korean War service 15 Feb 1951 served mostly as a transport and training carrier. Decommissioned to reserve 15 Dec 1955. Redesignated as an aviation transport (AKV 8) 7 May 1959 while in reserve.

Reactivated as aircraft transport 30 June 1965 operated with civilian crew under MSTS control as T-AKV 8. Placed out of service 6 Oct 1969. Stricken for disposal 15 Sept 1970. Subsequently sold and scrapped.

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Cape Gloucester
ex Willapa Bay
CVE 109 - CVHE 109 - AKV 9
Photos: [As completed]

DANFS History

Built by Todd-Pacific. Laid down 10 Jan 1944, renamed 26 April 1944, launched 12 Sept 1944, commissioned 5 March 1945.

Served in the Pacific late in the war. Decommissioned to reserve 5 Nov 1946. Stricken for disposal 1 June 1960 but reinstated on the Naval Vessels Register 1 July 1960. Stricken for disposal 1 April 1971. Subsequently sold and scrapped.

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Salerno Bay
ex Winjah Bay
CVE 110 - AKV 10
Photos: [As completed]

DANFS History

Built by Todd-Pacific, completed at Commercial Iron Works. Laid down 7 Feb 1944, launched 29 Sept 1944, commissioned 19 May 1945.

Served as a training carrier. Decommissioned to reserve 4 Oct 1947. Recommissioned as an ASW carrier 20 June 1951. Decommissioned to reserve 16 February 1954. Redesignated as an aviation transport (AKV 10) 7 May 1959 while in reserve. Stricken for disposal 1 June 1961. Sold and scrapped at Bilbao in 1962.

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Vella Gulf
ex Totem Bay
CVE 111 - CVHE 111 - AKV 11
Photos: [As completed]

DANFS History

Built by Todd-Pacific. Laid down 7 March 1944, renamed 26 April 1944, launched 19 Oct 1944, commissioned 9 April 1945.

Served as a training carrier Decommissioned to reserve 9 Aug 1946. Redesignated as a helicopter escort carrier (CVHE 111) 12 June 1955 redesignated as an aviation transport (AKV 11) 7 May 1959, both while in reserve. Planned conversion to AGMR 2 cancelled 1960's. Stricken for disposal 1 Dec 1970. Sold and scrapped in 1971.

DANFS History

Built by Todd-Pacific. Laid down 1 April 1944, launched 9 Nov 1944, commissioned 14 May 1945.

Laid up in reserve 11/1949 but not decommissioned. Returned to service as a transport 3/1948. Decommissioned to reserve 1/1949. Recommissioned as an ASW carrier 22 Jan 1950. Decommissioned to reserve 3 June 1956. Redesignated as an aviation transport (AKV 12) 7 May 1959 while in reserve. Stricken for disposal 1 June 1970. Sold and scrapped in 1971.

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Puget Sound
ex Hobart Bay
CVE 113 - CVHE 113 - AKV 13
Photos: [As completed]

DANFS History

Built by Todd-Pacific. Laid down 12 May 1944, launched 30 Nov 1944, renamed 5 June 1944, commissioned 18 June 1945.

Decommissioned to reserve 18 Oct 1946. Redesignated as a helicopter escort carrier (CVHE 113) 12 June 1955 redesignated as an aviation transport (AKV 13) 7 May 1959, both while in reserve. Stricken for disposal 1 June 1960. Sold and scrapped at Hong Kong in 1962.

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Rendova
ex Mosser Bay
CVE 114 - AKV 14
Photos: [During 1950's reactivation]

DANFS History

Built by Todd-Pacific, completed at Willamette. Laid down 15 June 1944, launched 28 Dec 1944, commissioned 22 Oct 1945.

Decommissioned to reserve 27 Jan 1950. Recommissioned 3 Jan 1951. During her two commissions she served at various times as an ASW, support, training and transport carrier, including Korea service. Decommissioned to reserve 30 June 1955. Redesignated as an aviation transport (AKV 14) 7 May 1959 while in reserve. Stricken for disposal 1 April 1971. Sold and scrapped in 1971.

DANFS History

Built by Todd-Pacific. Laid down 25 July 1944, launched 25 Jan 1944, commissioned 16 July 1945.

Decommissioned to reserve 14 April 1950 but recommissioned 12 Sept 1950. Saw service off Korea damaged by explosion 9 May 1951. Decommissioned to reserve 18 Feb 1955. Redesignated as an aviation transport (AKV 15) 7 May 1959 while in reserve. Stricken for disposal 1 April 1960. Sold and scrapped at Hong Kong 1/61.

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Badoeng Strait
ex San Alberto Bay
CVE 116 - AKV 16
Photos: [As completed], [1950's].

DANFS History

Built by Todd-Pacific, completed at Commercial Iron Works. Laid down 18 Aug 1944, launched 15 Feb 1945, commissioned 14 Nov 1945.

Decommissioned to reserve 20 April 1946 but recommissioned 6 Jan 1947. Saw extensive service as ASW trials and tactics development ship, and as an ASW carrier during the Korean war. Decommissioned to reserve 17 May 1957. Redesignated as an aviation transport (AKV 16) 7 May 1959 while in reserve. stricken for disposal 1 Dec 1970. Sold and scrapped in 1972.

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Saidor
ex Saltery Bay
CVE 117 - CVHE 117 - AKV 17
Photos: [As completed]

DANFS History

Built by Todd-Pacific. Laid down 30 Sept 1944, launched 17 March 1945, commissioned 4 Sept 1945.

Decommissioned to reserve 12 Sept 1947. Redesignated as a helicopter escort carrier (CVHE 117) 12 June 1955 redesignated as an aviation transport (AKV 17) 7 May 1959, both while in reserve. Stricken for disposal 1 Dec 1970. Sold and scrapped in 1971.

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Sicily
ex Sandy Bay
CVE 118 - AKV 18
Photos: [ Sicily in the 1950's].

DANFS History

Built by Todd-Pacific, completed at Willamette. Laid down 23 Oct 1944, launched 14 April 1945, commissioned 27 Feb 1946.

Employed as an ASW carrier off Korea. Decommissioned to reserve 5 July 1954. Redesignated as an aviation transport (AKV 18) 7 May 1959 while in reserve. stricken for disposal 1 July 1960. Sold and scrapped at Hong Kong 1/61.

DANFS History

Built by Todd-Pacific. Laid down 4 Dec 1944, launched 18 May 1945, commissioned 16 Oct 1945.

Served as training carrier after WWII. Decommissioned to reserve 30 June 1947. Recommissioned as ASW carrier 26 July 1951. Temporarily used for helicopter ASW trials. Decommissioned to reserve 31 Aug 1956. Redesignated as an aviation transport (AKV 19) 7 May 1959 while in reserve.

Reactivated as aircraft transport 23 August 1965 operated with civilian crew under MSTS control as T-AKV 19. Placed out of service 16 Oct 1969. Stricken for disposal 15 Sept 1970. Sold and scrapped in 1971.

DANFS History

Built by Todd-Pacific. Laid down 2 Jan 1945, launched 27 June 1945, commissioned 4 Dec 1945.

First served as a training carrier, then as ASW carrier. Operated with Marine Corps assault helicopters in 1953. Decommissioned to reserve 4 Aug 1955. Redesignated as an aviation transport (AKV 20) 7 May 1959 while in reserve. Stricken for disposal 1 Dec 1959. Sold and scrapped Hong Kong 9/60.

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Rabaul
CVE 121 - CVHE 121 - AKV 21
Photos: [No photo available]

DANFS History

Built by Todd-Pacific, completed at Commercial Iron Works. Laid down 2 Jan 1945, launched 14 July 1945. Accepted by USN 30 Aug 1946 but not commissioned immediately laid up in reserve. Redesignated as a helicopter escort carrier (CVHE 121) 12 June 1955 redesignated as an aviation transport (AKV 12) 7 May 1959, both while in reserve. Stricken for disposal 1 Sept 1971. Sold and scrapped in 1972.

DANFS History

Built by Todd-Pacific. Laid down 19 Feb 1945, launched 6 Aug 1945, commissioned 15 Jan 1946.

Used in various roles, including ASW and transport conducted trials of assault carrier (LPH) concept. Decommissioned to reserve 15 June 1954. Redesignated as an aviation transport (AKV 22) 7 May 1959 while in reserve. Stricken for disposal 1 April 1960. Sold and scrapped at Bilbao in 1960.

DANFS History

Built by Todd-Pacific. Laid down 20 March 1945, launched 5 Sept 1945. Accepted by USN 30 July 1946 but not commissioned immediately laid up in reserve.

Redesignated as a helicopter escort carrier (CVHE 123) 12 June 1955 redesignated as an aviation transport (AKV 23) 7 May 1959, both while in reserve. Stricken for disposal 1 June 1970. Sold and scrapped in 1971.

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Bastogne
CVE 124

Laid down at Todd-Pacific 2 April 1945 suspended 12 August 1945 and scrapped on the building slip.

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Eniwetok
CVE 125

Laid down at Todd-Pacific 20 April 1945 suspended 12 August 1945 and scrapped on the building slip.

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Lingayen
CVE 126

Laid down at Todd-Pacific 1 May 1945 suspended 12 August 1945 and scrapped on the building slip.

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Okinawa
CVE 127

Laid down at Todd-Pacific 22 May 1945 suspended 12 August 1945 and scrapped on the building slip.

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CVE 128 class escort aircraft carriers
Specifications not available

Concept/Program: An improved version of the Commencement Bay class, continuing the evolution of the CVE type. The entire class was cancelled at the end of the war.

Cancelled ships, no names assigned
CVE 128 through CVE 139

All cancelled 11 August 1945. None had been laid down.

CVE 128 Would have been built by Todd-Pacific.
CVE 129 Would have been built by Todd-Pacific.
CVE 130 Would have been built by Todd-Pacific.
CVE 131 Would have been built by Todd-Pacific.
CVE 132 Would have been built by Kaiser.
CVE 133 Would have been built by Kaiser.
CVE 134 Would have been built by Kaiser.
CVE 135 Would have been built by Kaiser.
CVE 136 Would have been built by Kaiser.
CVE 137 Would have been built by Kaiser.
CVE 138 Would have been built by Kaiser.
CVE 139 Would have been built by Kaiser.


CVE-29 U.S.S. Santee - History

The idea to use an auxiliary ship for aircraft transport and protection of convoys rose in early 1939, but lingered on until president F.D. Roosevelt himself intervened in 1941. The "Mormacmail", a standard C-3 fright ship was converted into the AGV-1 "Long Island" by removing the superstructure to place a flight deck upon the hull. Though rather primitive the prospects were quickly seen. For the new class "CVE" (Carrier Vessel Escort) 43 hulls of C-3-S-A1 freighters were fitted with flight decks and a small control tower ("island") on the starboard side armament for self protection against aircraft attacks was placed in tubs along the flight deck. 10 ships of the so called "Bogue class" (named after the first ship) were commissioned for the US Navy, the rest went to Great Britain for convoy protection use.

The concept seen proven four T3-S2-A1 tankers were converted 1942 to "Sangamon"-class carrier vessels (CVE-26-CVE-29). In the same year the "Kaiser" wharf in Vancouver was contracted to build 50 CVE from the start, creating the most numerous "Casablanca"-class. The final batch contracted in 1943 were to be 22 ships of the "Commencement Bay"-class (CVE-105-CVE 127) also new ships, but due to war's end only a few were actually commissioned (the last four were broken down at the wharf).

Of all these ships the "Bogues" proved to be the sturdiest, many being "civilised" after the war. In the contrary "Kaiser's coffins" (one of some less flattering names due to their flimsy construction) were all scrapped. Carriers of the "Sangamon"-class were "mothballed" after the war, reactivated in the 1950s as helicopter carriers, but hardly found actual use. Carriers of the "Commencement Bay"-class were "mothballed" too, but only some being reactivated in the 1950s.

The idea to use an auxiliary ship for aircraft transport and protection of convoys rose in early 1939, but lingered on until president F.D. Roosevelt himself intervened in 1941. The "Mormacmail", a standard C-3 fright ship was converted into the AGV-1 "Long Island" by removing the superstructure to place a flight deck upon the hull. Though rather primitive the prospects were quickly seen. For the new class "CVE" (Carrier Vessel Escort) 43 hulls of C-3-S-A1 freighters were fitted with flight decks and a small control tower ("island") on the starboard side armament for self protection against aircraft attacks was placed in tubs along the flight deck. 10 ships of the so called "Bogue class" (named after the first ship) were commissioned for the US Navy, the rest went to Great Britain for convoy protection use. The concept seen proven four T3-S2-A1 tankers were converted 1942 to "Sangamon"-class carrier vessels (CVE-26-CVE-29). In the same year the "Kaiser" wharf in Vancouver was contracted to build 50 CVE from the start, creating the most numerous "Casablanca"-class. The final batch contracted in 1943 were to be 22 ships of the "Commencement Bay"-class (CVE-105-CVE 127) also new ships, but due to war's end only a few were actually commissioned (the last four were broken down at the wharf).

Escort carriers were small, slow, unarmored and weakly armed. It was not their task to intervene in naval battles with large-caliber guns. Their main weapon was their aircraft. Characteristic of all CVE's was that the exhaust pipes were built along the rear, not integrated into the island as on the large fleet carriers.

Of all these ships the "Bogues" proved to be the sturdiest, many being "civilised" after the war. In the contrary "Kaiser's coffins" (one of some less flattering names due to their flimsy construction) were all scrapped. Carriers of the "Sangamon"-class were "mothballed" after the war, reactivated in the 1950s as helicopter carriers, but hardly found actual use. Carriers of the "Commencement Bay"-class were "mothballed" too, but only some being reactivated in the 1950s.

Having a small aircraft carrier is fine, but it needs aircraft, and this proved to be a problem. Though F6F Hellcats and F4U Corsairs could be used after some training to get used to the confined space, these aircraft were in great need by the big fleet carriers. As SBD Dauntlesses were less suited because of their non folding wings, and the later SB2C Helldivers were too heavy, this left the well proved but rather outdated F4F-4 Wildcat and the sturdy TBF/TBM Avenger ("TBM" when built by General Motors). When General Motors lightened the Wildcat by removing two guns , the FM-1 Wildcat was born, soon to be replaced by the FM-2, a quite different and most efficient breed, easily distinguised by it's higher tail and exhaust ports on the fuselage sides. The Pratt&Whitney motor of the -4 was replaced by a more powerful from Wright (necessitating a slightly more bulged cowling), as well as some other refinements. The four gun armament was retained and - most unusual for 1944, the landing gear still had to be hand cranked to get in or out. For carriers of the "Bogue"- and "Casablanca"-class this combination was standard, while the sturdier "Sangamons" usually carried F6F Hellcats (TBF/TBM Avengers only if required by the particular mission).

Unlike fleet carriers which carried different squadrons (fighter, bomber, torpedo) escort carriers had so called "Composite Squadrons" (VC), a squadron composed of fighter- and bomber-/torpedo aircraft alike. Strenghth usually about 30 aircraft, 2/3 fighters, 1/3 bombers.

As a flight deck had to fulfill the duty of a start-/landing area and parking lot alike it was rather crowded. Wing folding was mandatory. In the start sequence time was at it's premium as minutes lost in getting off were minutes missing i n the return alternatively less range. Usually fighters took off by their own while the bombers were catapulted off. In both cases the carrier had to steam against the wind to get it's aircraft off. In the landing sequence steaming against the wind was mandatory again to get an acceptable low landing speed. The pilot faced the problem of having about 50 yards to get a successful "trap", the forward part of the flight deck being needed to store the previously landed aircraft. To make things worse the carrier reflected the motions of the sea, rolling and heaving up and down. So even in a textbook approach the result could be a "crunch." In the outcome CVE's lost more aircraft to "operational accidents" than to enemy action.

Concerning the tasks US escort carriers were assigend to there's one simple answer: They did everything!

Transport: Not glorious, but very important for all carriers when in need of replacement aircraft (constantly). On the way back transport of war weary or damaged aircraft.
Training: Also not glorious, but indispensable to get carrier qualified personnel.
Convoy protection: Protection of tankers, ammunition ships and other freighters against enemy attacks from above or below.
Sub hunting: Search and destroy enemy submarines.
CAP (combat air patrol): Guarding the own task unit or others against attacks from enemy aircraft.
Air to air combat: Decimating the enemy air force.
Artillery spotting: Pinpointing enemy gun installations, bunkers and other targets of importance for shelling by ship guns.
Ground attack: Destruction of enemy installations and aircraft on the ground (most later combat missions).

Employment of escort carriers in example (attack of Iwo Jima, Feb. 16 - March 16, 1945):

TG 50.7 (Hunter-Killer Group): CVE-57 Anzio with VC 82 supplemented by TU 50.8.15 (Escort Unit), CVE-91 Makassar Strait with VC-97
TG 60.8.16 ("Baker Train") Transporter: CVE-82 Windham Bay, CVE-99 Admirality Islands, CVE-102 Attu
TU 50.8.23 (Escort Unit): CVE-84 Shamrock Bay with VC-94
TG 52 (Amphibious Support Force)
TU 52.2.1 (Support Unit One): CVE-62 Natoma Bay with VC-81 CVE-65 Wake Island with VOC-1 CVE-80 Petrof Bay with VC-76 CVE-83 Sargent Bay with VC-79 CVE-87 Steamer Bay with VC-90
TU 52.2.21 (Support Unit Two): CVE-57 Anzio with VC-82 CVE-92 Makin Island with VC-84 CVE-94 Lunga Point with VC-85 CVE-86 Bismarck Sea with VC-86 (sunk Feb. 21.45)
TU 52.2.31 (Support Unit Three): CVE-81 Rudyerd Bay with VC-77 CVE-82 Saginaw Bay with VC-78
TU 52.3.41 (Support Unit Four): CV-3 Saratoga with CVG(N)-53 night fighters

Assignment of duties for escort carriers varied considerably. Though some CVE were entirely occupied with transport or training duties (the "Anzio" hunting subs most of the time) in most other cases assignments changed, depending on availability. So you could find a certain CVE doing transport at first, then changing to CAP, then to artillery spotting or another duty in need.

After discarding the pre war marking system early 1942 US Navy operational airplanes were distinguished by numbers only (these to the discretion of the task force commander). When in 1944 carrier task units units grew in number confusion could result when aircraft joined the wrong squadron, even landing on the wrong carrier. So without any official approvement squadrons began to apply some recognition aid . Usually on the vertical tail, due to the their geometric form (an oblique line, square, disc and so on) commonly referred to as "G-symbols" (see Markings II, III). Escort carrier units followed shortly afterwards. In 1945 such markings were quite common. But please notice:

"G-symbols" were markings of the air unit, not the carrier, and not of an idividual pilot!

As change of assignment was the rule and not the exception as there was also a change of squadrons aboard carriers. In most cases for a new mission an entirely new squadron was embarked. But in certain cases a squadron was kept operational changing its carrier embarkment. Therefore a variety of aircraft markings could be seen on one carrier while in another case one could get the impression two, three or more carriers had aircraft with identical markings. This seemingly chaos makes research a time consuming affair, especially because in all publications the tail marking of the aircraft is erronously described as logo of the carrier.

In stark contrast to the Pacific war campaign where CVE's were grouped together CVE's in the Atlantic sailed alone (with a screen of destroyers of course). In search for German U-boats each aircraft was assigned a certain sector. As it flew alone plain black numbers on the white background were quite sufficient.

An Order of ComAirPac dating June 2nd 1945 ended squadron invented tail markings. Pacific escort carriers were assigned to carrier divisions 22 - 29, each with a clearly defined marking in white colour. Additional stripes in white or a different colour (invariably interpreted as orange yellow) identified the individual carrier within a division. These markings were to be shown on the vertical tail, the upper side of the left and the underside of the right wing.

These now official markings weren't applied applied throughout. Some of the carriers were damaged and in repair, others in replenishment. and in some cases the order wasn't considered urgent. Four carriers of the new Commencement Bay class (CVE-106 - 111) deserve special mention, as they were Marine Corps. But unlike USN carriers which got brand new aircraft the Marines had to get along with whatever they had. So a conglomerate of Hellcats, Corsairs and Avengers was to be seen, all sporting the marking of their former land base (a letter-number combination). Though this was changed to official markings later on one peculiarity stayed: Nose art on personally assigned aircraft. Maybe because to make clear USMC isn't USN.

"Nose Art" and personal decorations:

Pilots and audience like to see personalized aircraft. Though it's very simple and easily understood - not so in the US Navy! - "US Navy is not US Air Force"

An aircraft was considered government property and not of the individual pilot, the plane captain (chief mechanic) just lending it to the pilot of the day.

As each squadron had more pilots than aircraft it wasn't possible to assign an aircraft to a certain pilot. Furthermore operational necessities made it impossible to place aircraft in the order of pilots assigned to a certain mission.

Officially all personal decorations were frowned upon (excluding some rare publicity heroes).

The average pilot had to be content with any aircraft he temporarily got to fly. Publicity photos in example of David MacCampbell and his "Minsi III" were purely for morale boosting at home. The average pilot was not authorised to decorate an aircraft (which one?) to his like.

The same goes for "kill" markings. As there was no "personal aircraft" on which aircraft should such a decoration be placed? - Nevertheless, "Kill flags" were liked either a small Japanese flag was painted on the aircraft in which the kill was achieved (regardless of the pilot) or - more commonly - the "kill marking" was placed on "scoreboard" of the carrier island.

Everywhere there are exceptions. Exceptions, not general rule! - Marine Corps aircraft whose duty was to secure the "hinterland" sometimes did show personal markings, Especially when getting carriers late in the war. Well, one wasn't Navy.

Parked aircraft have their wings folded, spread wings only immediately before takeoff or after touchdown, naturally with a pilot/crew in the cockpit.

A Squadron assigned to a carrier stayed there all the time. Taking aside the battle of Leyte gulf (Oct. 25th 1944) when aircraft of sunk or damaged carriers had to divert to Tacloban, never, (never!) were aircraft with carrier type tail markings seen on land. No, not even in case of an emergency landing, as such airfields were either still in Japanese hands or too far off.

A carrier in action is very busy, loud and dangerous. As aircraft are placed tightly together (wings folded) it's loud and very windy (being blown off one's feet could easily result in chopped meat). So nobody in sane mind would be there without having a task at hand. Pilots had been instructed in the ready room below the flight deck, so it's not necessary to gather again in front of the aircraft for further instructions. Especially not from an Army Air Force officer.

Repairs are made in the repair shop in the hangar bay. On the flight deck loose panels decoratively placed around the aircraft would be blown into the sea (the carrier moves!).

As assignments were of comparatively short duration there was no "ageing" or "weathering". US paints were of good quality so no paint chipping was to be seen. If, it would have been repaired (oversprayed) at once as corrosion prevention was mandatory on sea going aircraft.


Mileski’s File

Name: Michael M. Mileski
D.O.B: 4 May 1926
Hometown: Kent, Ohio
Currently: Englewood, Fla.
Entered Service: June 1943
Discharged: Feb. 1945
Rank: Seaman 1st Class
Unit: USS Santee CVE-29
Commendations: WWII Victory Medal
Battles/Campaigns: Battle of Leyte Gulf, Philippines, Battle of Okinawa

This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Monday, Sept. 19, 2016 and is republished with permission.

Click here to view Mileski’s collection in alphabetical order in the Library of Congress.

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Click here to search Veterans Records and to obtain information on retrieving lost commendations.

All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be republished without permission. Links are encouraged.


USS Santee

It was a sunny day, as I recall, there was no storm in sight, and the seas were relatively calm. We had just finished furnishing air cover for mine sweeping operations in the East China Sea. Rumors were that we were now heading for the Japanese mainland to furnish air support for the big invasion. Many things were happening and there is a period of no exact recollections of time for me. The new rumor was that Japan was going to surrender now after suffering the atomic bombs.

Now the USS SANTEE, CVE-29 and the USS BLOCK ISLAND, both Aircraft Carriers, with supporting ships, were in the vicinity of Northern Formosa. We were ordered to the North coast of Formosa to evacuate POWs. So the latest rumor proved to be true and the surrender was slated to take place the next day.

As we neared land, the two ships launched every plane that was fit to fly as a show of force. Technically, we were still at war and some Japanese units may not have received the word that hostilities had ceased. For that reason, I, for one was somewhat apprehensive, later, when we dropped anchor. It would be like shooting fish in a barrel for a Japanese submarine! We organized a landing party. Our pilots reported seeing Japanese pilots in their craft, engines warmed up, and poised to take off. Our pilots made mock strafing runs on the air field and elsewhere but not a shot was fired. By the time we had recovered our first wave, the crew had cut open some new auxiliary gas tanks and stuffed them with some clothing, cigarettes and other goodies. These were dropped at or near the prison compound at Taihoku, some miles inland from the harbor.

The POWs were not informed as to what was actually going on but most of them suspected something as the guards’ attitudes had changed. Some of them ransacked the guards’ quarters, I was told, and at least one of the men carried with him a brand new pair of hob nailed boots. They were put on a train to Kiirun, also called Keelung.

Our landing party was now ashore and the POWs had reached the harbor town. Now a Japanese Harbor Pilot came out to guide the Destroyers and Destroyer Escorts past the submarine nets and the transfer began. Several trips were made between the docks and the bigger ships. It lasted until after dark. Now was the first time we had lights on that could be seen by other ships.

A platform was rigged on the starboard side of our ship where the men’s hair was all cut off. Their clothing was bundled and tagged. It was thoroughly fumigated and returned to them later. Each man was given a good disinfecting wash down and shower, then given a big towel, sandals and clothing. They were directed to the hangar deck where we had set up hundreds of cots. All aircraft were now secured on the flight deck. This was an extremely emotional time for these men and I’m sure they held this moment dear to their hearts forever. I don’t recall seeing a single man put on his dungarees. Beri beri had caused their legs to swell more than twice their normal size and all looked very emaciated. I might add here that navy dungarees are very full cut. Several of the evacuees came aboard on stretchers and the worst cases were left in camp. Medics were flown in to stabilize them so they could be moved, later.

Somewhere between 11:00 P. M. and midnight the cooks prepared chicken soup for all. We then weighed anchor and got underway for Manila. What a jubilant bunch of fellows these were. In the morning the evacuee’s chow line went right into the galley where each man chose the style of fried eggs he wanted right off the griddle! I didn’t see what took place but I wonder how many went back for seconds and thirds!

When ever I found time, I would chit chat with the guys as they told of their experiences. Many of them worked in a copper mine, carrying ore out in baskets. When one of them died, after fashioning a coffin out of bamboo, maybe, their guards would put a half an orange on the coffin before burial. It was some sort of superstition or religion that the Japanese had. This was the source of a tiny bit of vitamins for the prisoners. They usually didn’t refer to their captors as soldiers, guards, or even Japs. Their favorite words for them were "those bloody bah-stads." They talked of some guards, to show their superiority, would smash the arch of ones foot with his rifle butt. One man had an instrument which must have once been a guitar. The guards had smashed it but he had managed to salvage all but the sounding board. He had fashioned one from some thin pieces of wood similar to that of a cigar box. He strummed it and got a tune out of it. He sang some of their old songs that he knew from the time before his capture. Others joined him in song. Their favorite entertainer was Gracie Fields.

As I sat chatting with one of the fellows, he said he liked the American cigarettes alright, but he missed the "English Ovals." Some time earlier we had met with units of the Royal Navy and I had occasion to buy some "English Ovals." I had intended to bring them home as an oddity but I quickly changed my mind. I told him to stay right there and I would be right back. I went down to my locker and returned with a pack of "English Ovals!" I can’t describe his joyfulness and laughter.

On the first or second day out we put on a "smoker." A piano was put on the forward elevator which was raised about a foot as a stage. Our orchestra entertained everyone and several of the evacuees joined in with the entertaining. A really good time was had by all.

While standing a watch on the bridge, I recall seeing an English officer, presumably Navy, dressed in an ill fitting blue uniform. He was the guest of the Officer Of The Deck and looked quite emaciated to me. I don’t know how far radar had evolved at the time of his capture but he seemed very interested in it. There was a radar repeater on the bridge. Our radar was quite primitive but it worked. He was amazed at what it showed and what we could do with it.


Tag Archives: USS Santee

Ever since I was a little boy, I have always wondered about kamikaze pilots. The whole idea just seemed so unnatural to me, even crazy. When I saw a copy of “Fire from the Sky” by Robert C Stern, therefore, I bought it straightaway. Lots of pages, lots of text and lots of pictures. What was there not to like? And besides, I really wanted to know what the explanation was for this strange phenomenon:

Apparently, what it all boils down to is that:

“Japan has a particular, and some might call peculiar, predilection for the tragic or failed hero. They are admired for their sincerity and loyalty even when their causes were met with failure and their goals could be considered traitorous. Above all else, those heroes adhered to their ideals, especially in the face of their own destruction.”

Japan’s tradition of the tragic hero goes right back to the fourth century and Prince Yamato Takeru. But after him come a whole series of legendary and historic failed heroes, stretching down the centuries. They included Yorozu, Arima no Miko, Sugawara no Michizane, Minamoto no Yoshitsune, Kusunoki Masashige, Amakusa Shiro, Oshio Heihachiro, and Saigo Takamori. Here’s Amakusa Shiro:

“The traditions of these men led in the modern age to the World War II kamikaze fighters—an unprecedented development in modern warfare which for most countries would have been unimaginable.”

As a boy, of course, I was tickled pink as we used to say then, that there were actually “ex-kamikaze pilots” who could be interviewed on our grainy black and white TV sets. Author Robert Stern, though, explains it all beautifully for us. So…….. how could you be on TV as an “ex-kamikaze pilot” ? For two reasons. No 1, you couldn’t find a suitable target and came back. No 2, mechanical failure of some kind.

The Japanese had in many ways already road tested the idea of kamikaze with their “banzai” charge. When soldiers were cornered and faced certain defeat, out they would come, heedless of their own safety and shouting “Tennoheika banzai!!” (Long live the Emperor”). The first banzai charge was on Attu on May 29 1943, with others on Saipan and Okinawa. In this way, their honourable death in battle was guaranteed.

Here’s a banzai charge before:

In 1944, the Americans were advancing into the Philippines, an act which would cut Japan off from the sources of its raw materials. What could be done? After “The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot”, only 35 aircraft had returned to Japan.

By confronting the Americans in the ordinary way, the Japanese were losing the war by some margin. Something radical needed to be done. Perhaps the banzai charge could be developed into the kamikaze attack. At a meeting of his officers, Vice Admiral Onishi Takijiro floated the idea of pilots flying their aircraft directly into enemy vessels at the cost of their own lives. Every single one of his 23 officers immediately agreed with the idea and volunteered for duty. It didn’t take long to organise:

Author Robert Stern, states that two possible kamikazes on October 24 1944 were not the first, but just a case of an already doomed aircraft being plunged into a ship, an act called “jibaku” by the Japanese. In this case, the ships were the Sonoma and the LCI(L) 1065. This abbreviation means “Landing Craft Infantry (Large)”. They were both struck by bombers, a Betty and a Sally respectively.

Japanese aircraft were given code names by the Allies. Here’s a Betty. This particular aircraft has the surrender markings of a green cross on a white background on it:

The following day, October 25th 1944 provided the first genuine kamikaze hit, which came on the USS Santee, CVE 29. CVE stands for “escort carrier or escort aircraft carrier”. It was hit by a “Zeke” or Mitsubishi Zero, probably piloted by PO1C Kato. Here’s a Zeke kamikaze-ing:

Kamikaze, incidentally, means “divine wind”. I’ve been troubled by that on occasion, too. Next time, “Getting the best out of your two 250lb bombs”.


Weis’ File

Name: Harry Weis
D.O.B: 4 Oct. 1924
Hometown: New York City
Currently: Punta Gorda, Fla.
Entered Service: July 1943
Discharged: March 1946
Rank: Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class
Unit: USS Santee
Commendations: Presidential Unit Citation
Battles/Campaigns: Battle of Leyte Gulf

This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Florida on Monday, Nov. 22, 2011 and is republished with permission.

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Comments:

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  6. Milan

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  7. Tejind

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