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Admiralty Islands

 

A group of islands located within the Bismark Archipelago in the southwest Pacific Ocean, north of New Guinea. Its total land area is about 800 square miles. The islands were the scene of an amphibious landing and subsequently became a major fleet base during World War II.

 

(CVE-99; dp. 7,800; l. 512'3"; b. 65'; ew. 108'1"; dr. 22'6"; s. 19.3 k.; cpl. 860; a. 1 5", 16 40mm., 20 20mm., 28 ac.; cl. Casablanca; T. S4-S2-BB3)

 

Chaplin Bay (CVE-99) was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 1136) on 26 February 1944 by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Co., Vancouver, Wash.; renamed Admiralty Islands (CVE-99) on 26 April 1944; launched on 10 May 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Homer Norman Wallin; and commissioned at Astoria, Oreg., on 13 June 1944, Capt. J. D. Earner in temporary command. Later that day, command of the ship passed to Capt. M. E. A. Gouin.

 

The escort carrier departed Astoria on 2 July for shakedown training in Puget Sound and then sailed for San Francisco to take on fuel oil and aviation gas. She arrived at San Diego on 14 July for further training before becoming a unit of the Carrier Transport Squardron, Pacific Fleet, with the task of transporting aircraft, material, and personnel to support front line carrier operations.

 

After a brief pause at Pearl Harbor, Admiralty Islands got underway for the Marshall Islands. She disembarked her cargo at Majuro Atoll on 9 August and immediately returned to Pearl Harbor. The carrier then shuttled more planes and personnel back to San Francisco, arriving there on the 24th. She spent the month of September making a shuttle from the west coast to Finschha-fen, New Guinea, and back. Upon her arrival at San Diego on 7 October, the ship underwent alterations from the 8th through the 26th. On 29 October, Admiralty Islands sailed for the Naval Air Station, Alameda, Calif., to load Army aircraft and personnel for transportation to New Guinea. She reached Finschhafen on 21 November, unloaded, and continued on to Manus Island. After a brief pause at Seeadler Harbor on 23 November, she touched at Pearl Harbor on 6 and 7 December before reaching San Diego a week later to load aircraft and military personnel. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 24 December and on the day after Christmas got underway for Guam.

 

Admiralty Islands reached Guam on 6 January 1945. She conducted refresher aircraft landing operations off that island for two days, then sailed for Pearl Harbor on the 10th. The carrier reached Hawaii on the 20th and began repairs to her main engine. After the yard work was finished on 31 January, she took on 61 aircraft, slated to replace combat losses. Admiralty Islands left Pearl Harbor on 2 February to support carrier operations in the campaign to seize Iwo Jima. After short stops at Eniwetok and Ulithi, Admiralty Islands got underway on 16 February as part of Task Group (TG) 50.8, the logistics support group for Task Force (TF) 58. Throughout the rest of February, Admiralty Islands launched aircraft and provided replacement pilots to make good the carriers' losses. She returned to Guam on 2 March for provisioning and to make minor hull repairs. On 13 March, she again sailed with TG 50.8, this time to support action against Okinawa. The carrier interrupted her logistics supply role only for brief returns to Guam for replenishment. On 18 April, Admiralty Islands suffered her first operational casualty. A plane was lost over the side while attempting to land on her deck. Neither the pilot nor the plane was recovered. The carrier returned to Guam on 24 April to undergo repairs on her boilers, two of which had become inoperative by the time she arrived.

 

Her repairs completed, the escort carrier sailed on 14 May to rejoin TG 50.8 and operations off Okinawa. She delivered numerous aircraft to American forces before arriving, via Guam, at Saipan, on 15 June. She remained there for approximately two weeks before she received orders to join TG 30.8 and support air and bombardment strikes on the Japanese home islands. Admiralty Islands sustained another operational casualty on 20 July, when a plane crashed while attempting to land. One man died as a result of the ensuing fire. On 21 July, the ship was detached from the 3d Fleet and headed for Guam, where she unloaded her cargo while refueling for the trip back to the west coast. The carrier reached San Diego on 11 August; then sailed to San Pedro to undergo repairs and alterations. The majority of the alterations where cancelled because of Japan's surrender; and, following completion of essential repairs, Admiralty Islands sailed on 1 September to become a member of the "Magic-Carpet" fleet for assistance in the return of American troops to home. On 25 September, operational control of the carrier was transferred to the Carrier Transport Squadron, Pacific Fleet.

 

"Magic-Carpet" duties occupied Admiralty Islands until she was decommissioned on 24 April 1946. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 8 May 1946, and the ship was sold to the Zidell Machinery and Supply Co., Portland, Oreg., for scrapping.

 

Admiralty Islands won three battle stars for her World War II service.