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Solomons

 

An island in the mouth of the Patuxent River in Maryland.

 

A group of islands in the southwestern Pacific, east of New Guinea, containing 15 major islands and numerous smaller ones. United States forces invaded the group at Guadalcanal on 7 August 1942. This was the first amphibious operation directed against Japanese-held territory in World War II. By February 1943, Guadalcanal had been secured, and landings were made on two other islands of the group, Bougainville and New Georgia. The development of the campaign in New Guinea, however, enabled the Americans to bypass the approximately 120,000 remaining Japanese who were scattered among the other islands of the Solomons group.

 

The first Solomons was named after the Maryland island; the second for the pivotal campaign in the South Pacific.

 

II

 

(CVE-67: dp. 10,400 (f.); l. 512'3"; b. 65'2"; ew. 108'1"; dr. 22'6"; s. 19.3 k. (tl.); cm. 860; a. 1 5", 16 40mm.; cl. Casablanca; T. S4-S2-BB3)

 

The second Solomons (CVE-67), an escort aircraft carrier, was converted from a Maritime Commission hull (MC hull 1104) built by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Company of Vancouver, Wash. Her keel was laid down on 19 March 1943. Soon thereafter, she was assigned the first of her three names, Emperor. After being designated an auxiliary aircraft carrier, ACV-67, she was renamed Nassuk Bay on 28 June. On 15 July, she was redesignated an escort carrier, CVE-67. She was launched on 6 October 1943 by Mrs. F. J. McKenna while still bearing the name Nassuk Bay. One month later, she received her third and final name, Solomons, and as such, was commissioned on 21 November, Capt. M. E. Crist in command.

 

Solomons spent the next four weeks in the Astoria-Puget Sound area undergoing post-trial shakedown, tests, and exercises. Departing Astoria on 20 December, she stopped at Alameda, Calif., three days later and arrived at San Diego on Christmas Day. Following operations out of San Diego, she sailed for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 30 December. On 6 January 1944, Solomons loaded aircraft and supplies there, embarked passengers, and departed on the 9th for the west coast.

 

Arriving at San Diego on 14 January, Solomons conducted battle practice off the coast of southern California until the end of the month. She departed San Diego on the 30th, bound for Norfolk, Va. During her approach to the Panama Canal, Solomons' planes participated in a simulated aerial attack on the canal. The carrier arrived at Balboa on 9 February, embarked passengers, and departed for Norfolk two days later, arriving on 16 February.

 

Loaded with planes, supplies, and aviation stores, Solomons got underway on 21 March bound for Brazil, and arrived at Recife on 13 April and reported for duty with the 4th Fleet. On the next day, she got underway for her first antisubmarine patrol. This cruise, which lasted until the 30th, and the next, 4 to 20 May, proved uneventful. Her third patrol, however, was to be more successful.

 

Departing Recife in June 1944, Solomons was soon involved in her sole U-boat engagement of the war. On 15 June, one of Solomons' pilots reported contact with an enemy submarine some 50 miles from the carrier. The escorts Straub and Herzog were immediately directed to the position of the contact. The pilot who had made the initial contact on the submarine was shot down by enemy antiaircraft fire, but at 1654, another Solomons aircraft regained visual contact. Five other Solomons aircraft soon joined up with it, and the group commenced a series of rocket and depth charge attacks which resulted in the sinking of the submarine, although with the loss of another pilot. Straub succeeded in rescuing 20 survivors, including the commanding officer. Solomons continued antisubmarine air operations until 23 June, when she returned to Recife to refuel and disembark the captured German sailors.

 

After one more antisubmarine patrol and a visit to Rio de Janeiro, Solomons returned to Norfolk, arriving on 24 August. She remained at that port for a month before leaving for Staten Island, N.Y. She docked there on 25 September. She embarked 150 Army airmen together with their P-47 aircraft and departed on 6 October, bound for Casablanca. French Morocco. By 7 November, she was back in the United States, this time at Narragansett Bay, R.I.

 

Solomons spent the rest of her active service engaged in qualifying Navy and Marine pilots in carrier landings, initially off Quonset Point, R.I. In January 1945, she moved to Port Everglades, Fla., and continued her carrier landing qualification assignment throughput 1945. On 15 May 1946, Solomons was decommissioned at Boston Naval Shipyard and struck from the Navy List on 5 June. Sold for scrap to the Patapsco Scrap Corp., Bethlehem, Pa., she was delivered to its agent on 22 December at Newport, R.I.