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USS Gambier Bay (AVG-73/ACV-73/CVE-73)

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS Gambier Bay (AVG-73/ACV-73/CVE-73)

USS Gambier Bay was classified as an aircraft escort vessel (AVG-73) on 20 August 1942; laid down as an auxiliary aircraft carrier (ACV-73) by Kaiser Shipbuilding Co., on 10 July 1943, at Vancouver, Wash.; reclassified to an escort aircraft carrier (CVE-73) on 15 July 1943; launched on 22 November 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Herbert C. Zitzewitz, wife of Lt. Cmdr. Herbert C. Zitzewitz, the senior naval liaison officer at the yard; and commissioned on 28 December 1943, at Astoria, Ore., Capt. Hugh H. Goodwin in command.

Following a shakedown cruise out of San Diego, Calif., USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73) sailed on 7 February 1944 with 400 troops embarked for Pearl Harbor, T.H. In the interim on 8 February, VC-10 counted three FM-2s, one TBF-1, six TBM-1s, and a pair of TBM-1Cs at NAAS Brown Field. While the squadron readied for war, USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73) set out from Hawaiian waters and turned further westward, escorted by destroyer USS Norman Scott (DD-690), for a rendezvous off the Marshall Islands, where she flew off 84 replacement planes to aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) and shore establishments.

Gambier Bay steamed in company with USS Coral Sea (CVE-57), USS Corregidor (CVE-58), USS Kitkun Bay (CVE-71), and their screen during the afternoon and first dog watches on 17 June 1944, when American radar detected Japanese planes as they repeatedly probed the U.S. defenses. USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73) continued to operate off Saipan, repulsing aerial raids and launching planes that strafed enemy troop concentrations, bombed gun emplacements, and supported marines and soldiers fighting ashore.

Japanese fire continued to rain down onto USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73), however, and a large caliber round tore into her at 0820, causing flooding in her forward engine room and dropping her speed by nearly half.  Many of the American survivors afterward surmised that Chikuma fired an 8-inch shell that fatally penetrated the ship, but the Japanese debated that either Yamato or Kongō hit the ship. USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73) soon lay dead in the water as three enemy cruisers closed to nearly point blank range. Fires raged through the riddled escort carrier, and USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73) capsized at 0907 and sank at 0911 on 25 October 1944. 

For a complete history of USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73) please see its DANFS page.