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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
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Hamlin

 

A sound on the coast of South Carolina north of Charleston.

 

(CVE-15: dp. 11,000; 1. 496'; b. 69'6" ; d. 23'"; s. 18 k.; cpl. 890; a. 34" cl. Bogue)

 

Hamlin (CVE-15) was one of a large group of escort carriers built on Maritime Commission C-3 hulls and transferred to the British under lend-lease during World War II. Launched by Western Pipe & Steel Co., San Francisco, Calif., 5 March 1942, as AVG15, aircraft escort vessel, she was sponsored by Mrs. William H. Shea. Her designation was changed to ACV-15, auxiliary aircraft carrier, 20 August 1942, and she was acquired and simultaneously transferred to the United Kingdom 21 December 1942. Hamlin's designation was changed to CVE-15, escort aircraft carrier, 15 July 1943.

 

Renamed HMS Stalker, the escort carrier played a vital part in allied operations in the Atlantic. She participated in the Salerno landings in September 1943, providing effective on the spot air support for assault forces. Stalker also took part in the important landings in southern France in August 1944. Returned to the United States 29 December 1945, she was struck from the Navy List 20 March 1946 and sold to Waterman Steamship Corp. of Mobile, Ala., 18 December 1946. Waterman in turn sold her to The Netherlands in August 1947 where she was converted to a merchant ship and now sails to the Far East as Riouw.

 

I

 

(AV-15: dp. 8,000 ; l. 492'; b. 69'6" ; dr. 23'9" ; s. 19 k,; cpl. 1,077; a. 2 5" ; cl. Kenneth Whiting)

 

Hamlin (AV-15) was launched by Todd-Paciflc Shipyards, Inc., Tacoma, Wash., 11 January 1944; sponsored by Miss Constance Tafflnder, daughter of Rear Admiral S. A. Tafflnder; and commissioned 26 June 1944, Captain G. A. McLean in command.

 

Hamlin conducted shakedown drills off California until 16 August 1944 when she departed San Pedro for the Pacific. Arrived Pearl Harbor 24 August, the ship loaded aviation gasoline and supplies and got underway 29 August for Eniwetok. She unloaded cargo and passengers there and continued to recently won Salpan, arriving 11 September to take up her plane-tending duties. During this period, seaplanes tended by Hamlin were making important contributions to the Pacific fighting by engaging in reconnaissance, hunter-killer operations against submarines, and air coverage of fleet cripples. She moved to Ulithl 11 October and back to Saipan anchorage 29 December 1944, all the time continuing her vital support of seaplane operations. Hamlin's aircraft protected the cruisers Houston and Reno, damaged 14 October off Luzon, and flew photographic missions and rescue flights as the Navy pressed home the ever-mounting attack on Japanese-held territory.

 

The operation next on her schedule was Iwo Jima, necessary to safeguard lines of communication and provide a base from which fighters could protect B-29's In bombing missions over Japan. Hamlin proceeded 15 February to Guam for fuel oil and two days later departed for Iwo Jima. She arrived 2 days after this historic and bitterly contested landing had begun, and with two other tenders established a floating seaplane base from which search and rescue missions were performed.

 

Debris and off-shore gunfire prevented the establishment of the seadrome until 24 February, and Hamlin worked under the handicap of large swells and congestion of the sea areas around Iwo Jima. The ship also experienced numerous air raids during this operation, but suffered no damage. She got underway for Saipan 8 March 1945, and after another voyage to Guam, she returned to prepare for the Okinawa operation and the largest seaplane tending job of the war.

 

Hamlin sailed 23 March from Saipan for Okinawa, the first step prior to the home islands in the long campaign across the Pacific. Her commander was designated Commander, Seaplane Base Group. The tenders arrived Kerama Retto, west of Okinawa, 28 March, the day after it had been secured and 4 days before the main landings on Okinawa. During the operation, Hamlin's planes provided long-range search, antisubmarine patrols, and air-sea rescue services, even providing aviation gasoline and luboil to battleships and cruisers. Her work was performed amid nearly constant air attack by Japanese suicide planes, and, though many ships in the anchorage were damaged by repeated attacks, HamUn fought off all attacks without injury.

 

The tender group shifted its base of operations to Chimu Wan, Okinawa, 11 July. After the surrender of Japan, Hamlin and other tenders got underway to assist in the occupation 16 August, anchoring in Yokosuka harbor 30 August. She began tending seaplanes on patrol over Japanese home waters 2 September, and was anchored in the harbor when the historic surrender was signed on board Missouri.

 

Hamlin returned to California following a short period in Japan and decommissioned at San Diego 15 January 1947. She went to reserve with the San Diego Group and remained there until September 1962 when she was transferred to the Maritime Administration, under Navy ownership, and placed in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, Suisun Bay, Calif. She was struck from the Navy List 1 July 1963.

 

Hamlin received three battle stars for service in World War II.