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Lunga Point

 

Lunga Point, a promontory on the northern coast of Guadalcanal; the site of a World War II battle.

 

(CVE‑94 : dp. 7,800; l. 512'3"; b. 65'2"; ew. 108'1"; dr. 22'6"; s. 19 k.; cpl. 860; a. 1 5", 16 40mm., ac. 27; cl. Casablanca)

 

Lunga Point (CVE‑94), originally Alazon Bay, was laid down by Kaiser Shipbuilding Co., Vancouver, Wash., 19 January 1944; launched 11 April 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Mary Elizabeth McKay; and commissioned 14 May 1944, Capt. G. A. T. Washburn in command.

 

After brief training during the early summer of 1944, Lunga Point sailed for the Pacific to deliver Army bombers to New Guinea and bring war‑worn P‑47s back home. Upon return she became a unit of CarDiv 29 and departed San Diego 16 October 1944 to participate in the Leyte Gulf operations, touching Pearl Harbor, Eniwetok, and Kossol Roads en route. From 13 to 22 November she provided air cover for transports and surface units engaged in the campaign. Relieved the 23d, she sailed to Manus, Admiralty Islands, to prepare for the Luzon campaign.

 

The escort carrier sailed 27 December from Manus to supply air support for 6th Army landing operations at Lingayen Gulf. On 4 January 1945 she splashed one enemy aircraft and witnessed the sinking of Ommaney Bay which had been hit by Japanese planes. Fighting her way through 14 enemy attacks, she arrived off Lingayen Gulf 6 January and commenced 11 days of intensive air support during which time her aircraft flew an average of 41 sorties a day. On 17 January the support carriers were withdrawn and returned to Ulithi.

 

From 23 January to 10 February Lunga Point prepared for the invasion of Iwo Jima, and stood off the beaches with the advanced amphibious forces 16 February. Enemy airstrikes developed in strength by 21 February when some 16 planes attacked carriers in the vicinity. Saratoga was damaged and Bismarck Sea was sunk, but Lunga Point splashed three “Jills” while suffering only minor damage. By 8 March land‑based planes were present in sufficient strength to allow the ship to return to Ulithi to get ready for the Okinawa campaign.

 

Ihe ship reprovisioned and on 21 March sortled from Ulithi with other advanced form of Rear Adm. C. A. F. Sprague’s Task Unit. From 24 March to 27 June Lunga Point remained In support of the operation providing air cover, pounding enemy ground targets in the Ryukyu Islands, and fighting off constant suicide attacks. She completed this duty. without mishap and returned to Leyte 27 June.

 

This was followed by a minesweeping operation west of Okinawa In early July, and an antishipping sweep along the China coast from Shanghai northward in August. This duty terminated the 7th, and she sailed to Buckner Bay, Okinawa, where she received news of the Japanese peace offerings.

 

In late August the ship, attached to 5th Fleet, aided in evacuating Allied prisoners of war from the ports of Wakayama and Nagasaki; 19 September she transported 760 men of various nationalities to Okinawa. She was ordered to Tokyo Harbor in early October and en route took part in the unsuccessful search for Rear Adm. W. D. Sample missing in a PBM on a patrol flight. Lunga Point stood out of Tokyo Bay 28 October and arrived Pearl Harbor 7 November. She sailed to San Diego arriving 15 November, and made voyages to the Pacific before returning to the west coast early in 1946.

 

She decommissioned 24 October 1946 and became part of the Tacoma Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet. She was reclassified CVU‑94 on 12 June 1955 and AKV‑32 on 7 May 1959. She was struck from the Navy list 1 April 1960, and sold at San Diego to Hyman Michaels Co., 3 August 1960.

 

Lunga Point received five battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation for World War II service.