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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND
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Fanshaw Bay

 

A bay in the coast of Alaska.

 

(CVE-70: dp. 7,800; l. 512'3"; b. 65'2"; ew. 108'1") dr. 22'6"; s. 20 k.; cpl. 860; a. 1 5"; cl. Casablanca)

 

Fanshaw Bay (CVE-70) was launched 1 November 1943 by Kaiser Shipbuilding Co., Vancouver, Wash, sponsored by Mrs. J. L. Kenworthy, Jr.; and commissioned 9 December 1943, Captain D. P. Johnson in command. She was reclassified CVHE-70 on 12 June 1955.

 

Fanshaw Bay sailed from San Diego 6 April 1944 with Rear Admiral G. F. Began, Commander Carrier Division 25, embarked, and reached Majuro 20 April. After 10 days of antisubmarine patrols and air searches out of Majuro, she returned to Pearl Harbor for replenishment and training. She sailed 29 May for Eniwetok and final preparations for the assault on Saipan, for which she sailed 11 June.

 

Operating about 30 miles east of Saipan, Fanshaw Bay launched antisubmarine patrols, combat air patrol, and photographic reconnaissance flights as well as raids on Japanese positions to pave the way for the invasion on 15 June. During an attack by five enemy aircraft on that day, Fanshaw Bay saved herself from a torpedo by prompt maneuvering, but 2 days later in a melee of raids from all sides which included about 70 Japanese planes, Fanshaw Bay was struck by a bomb, after her antiaircraft guns and fighter planes had splashed many of the attackers. The bomb penetrated the after elevator and exploded in midair above the hanger deck, killing 14 and wounding 23. Fires broke out, and the fire main was ruptured, flooding several compartments aft. In just under an hour the damage was brought under control, but Fanshaw Bay listed 3 to port and settled 6 feet by the stern. She transferred Rear Admiral Bogan to a destroyer, and sailed for Pearl Harbor and battle damage repairs.

 

Fanshaw Bay arrived at Manus 28 August 1944 for training in preparation for the invasion of Morotai, for which she sailed 10 September, with Rear Admiral C. A. F. Sprague, the new division commander, embarked. Her planes flew combat air patrol and support missions, and on 16 September provided air cover for one of the pilots, down just a few hundred feet off the enemy-held shore of Wasile Bay. Diving low, they provided protection until two daring motor torpedo boats dashed in to snatch him out from under enemy shore guns. The escort carrier replenished at Manus from 7 October to 12 October, then put out for the invasion of Leyte on 20 October.

 

Through the first 4 days of the invasion, Fanshaw Bay operated off Samar, launching combat air patrol, antisubmarine patrols, observation flights and drops of psychological warfare material, as well as raids and strikes in direct support of the troops ashore. Warned on 24 October that Japanese surface ships were on the move, she flew off early the next morning all her aircraft to attack the enemy while the escort carriers retired from the threat of the Japanese surface ships, far faster, and with far greater fire power. Just 6 minutes after her planes were ordered away, she came under fire from the Japanese cruisers, and although a heavy rain squall shielded the escort carriers briefly, she soon began receiving hits. By 0855, when she took the third hit, she was under fire from two cruisers and two destroyers, later joined by a third destroyer whose torpedo attack she avoided. All through this battle, the American destroyers fought gallantly to protect their vulnerable charges, and at 0924 the Japanese battle line at last broke formation to avoid an air attack. In the Japanese destroyers' last attack, Saint Lo (CVE-63) was torpedoed, and within the next hour, enemy suicide planes appeared over head, one of which crashed Saint Lo, sending her to the bottom. Fanshaw Bay fired effectively in this attack, splashing among others a plane just about to crash Kitkun Bay (CVE-71). With her screen detached to rescue Saint Lo's survivors, Fanshaw Bay shaped her course for Manus, unprotected, and throughout the day landed planes from her sunk or damaged sisters. In this Battle off Samar phase of the epic Battle for Leyte Gulf, Fanshaw Bay lost four men killed, and four wounded, but won enduring esteem and a Presidential Unit Citation for the distinguished role she played in this and other actions.

 

Fanshaw Bay replenished at Manus 1 November 1944 to 7 November, then returned by way of Pearl Harbor to San Diego for battle damage repairs. After refresher training and patrol duty in Hawaiian waters, Fanshaw Bay arrived at Ulithi 14 March 1945 to re-embark Admiral Sprague, now Commander Carrier Division 26. She sortied for the invasion of Okinawa 21 March, and 4 days later her planes began pre-invasion attacks -on the island. Fanshaw Bay flew cover for the landings 1 April, and continued daily operations in support of the advance of troops on the island until 28 May when she arrived at San Pedro Bay to replenish. Between 9 June and 27 June, she sailed off the Sakishima Gunto, between Okinawa and Taiwan, to launch air strikes, then provided air cover for minesweeping in the East China Sea through July.

 

After calling at Guam and Eniwetok to load aircraft and replenish, Fanshaw Bay sailed to Adak, and from there took part in the occupation of northern Japan until returning to Pearl Harbor 24 September 1945; here she landed Rear Admiral E. W. Litch, who had relieved Admiral Sprague during the Okinawa operation. She arrived on the west coast with Marine Corps passengers 3 November, and after a voyage to Tokyo Bay to return men of all military services to San Diego, was placed out of commission in reserve at Tacoma, Wash., 14 August 1946. She was sold 26 September 1959.

 

In addition to the Presidential Unit Citation, Fanshaw Bay received five battle stars for World War II service.