Anglo-American troops of the U.S. VI Corps landed at Anzio and Nettuno in Italy to outflank German defensive positions across the Italian peninsula during Operation Shingle on 22 January 1944. The Allies failed to advance inland decisively, and their inaction enabled the German forces in the area to counterattack vigorously to deter further landings in Italy and France. Allied planes proved unable to prevent Luftwaffe (German Air Force) raids on the beachhead or on the ships offshore, but air power and naval gunfire support proved essential in holding the perimeter. The Allies broke out of the beachhead by May, linked-up with troops that pierced German defensive lines inland, and on 4 June liberated Rome.
(CVE-57: displacement 9,570 (trial); length 512'3"; beam 65'2"; extreme width 108'1"; draft 20'; speed 19.3 knots; complement 860; armament 1 5-inch, 16-40 millimeter, 20-20 millimeter; class Casablanca; type S4-S2-BB3)
Auxiliary aircraft carrier ACV-57 was laid down on 12 December 1942 by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Co., Vancouver, Wash., under a Maritime Commission contract (M.C. Hull 1094); named Alikula Bay on 22 January 1943; renamed Coral Sea on 3 April 1943; launched on 1 May 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Frank Jack Fletcher, wife of Vice Adm. Fletcher; redesignated CVE-57 on 15 July 1943; and commissioned at Astoria, Ore., on 27 August 1943, Capt. Herbert W. Taylor in command.
On 24 September 1943, Coral Sea got underway for shakedown in Puget Sound. She arrived at San Diego, Calif., on 8 October to load aircraft and hold flight operations off the California coast. The carrier sailed for Hawaii on 25 October and, upon arrival at Pearl Harbor, joined sister ship Liscome Bay (CVE-56) for exercises off Oahu. On 10 November, Coral Sea steamed southwest to join the American forces about to invade the Gilbert Islands. She launched strikes on Makin Island from 20 through 28 November. When Tarawa had been captured, Coral Sea headed for Pearl Harbor and arrived there on 5 December. She paused to embark passengers and load aircraft for transport to the United States and departed on 8 December. The carrier arrived at Alameda, Calif., on 14 December to take on new planes. She put to sea on 22 December and steamed back to Hawaii. On 28 December, Coral Sea anchored at Pearl Harbor and began preparations for the impending assault on Kwajalein.
The escort carrier was underway on 3 January 1944 for a series of exercises in Hawaiian waters. After final fitting out, she sailed on 22 January in Task Group (TG) 52.9 and arrived in the vicinity of Kwajalein on 31 January, two days after planes of the Fast Carrier Task Force began pounding airfields on the atoll. Coral Sea provided direct and indirect air support for the amphibious landings. On 24 February, the ship set course for Eniwetok, but was recalled to Hawaii and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 3 March.
After a brief respite, Coral Sea got underway again on 11 March and proceeded to the Solomon Islands. She anchored at Tulagi on 21 March, topped off with fuel, and loaded stores. Sailing again on 30 March, the escort carrier headed for Emirau Island. From 1 to 11 April, she launched planes in support of forces occupying Emirau and returned to Port Purvis on 15 April.
The next day, Coral Sea left Tulagi to assist in the reconquest of New Guinea. On the 19th, she joined TG 78.2, which was formed to support Allied footholds at Hollandia and Aitape. Her planes joined in strikes on the 22d of April; and, on 26 April, the escort carrier sailed to Seeadler Harbor for replenishment and, on 7 May, headed for Espiritu Santo for availability.
Her repair period completed, the ship got underway on 8 June for Kwajalein, the staging point for the invasion of the Marianas. The American forces sortied on 10 June, and Coral Sea helped to provide air support for landings by the 2d Marine Division on Saipan. She endured numerous Japanese air attacks during the next few days but received only minor damage. The carrier had moved south to Guam on 17 June to begin softening-up operations against that island but returned to Saipan the next day to assist the bogged-down American forces. Coral Sea and her escorts retired to Eniwetok on 28 June but returned to Saipan on 4 July. Her planes made further air strikes before she put intoEniwetok on 15 July for repairs to her engines. Ultimately, Coral Sea was ordered back to the United States for a much needed overhaul, and the carrier sailed on 23 July. Two days later, she paused at Kwajalein to unload most of her aircraft and ammunition and then continued via Pearl Harbor for the naval base at San Diego. Coral Sea arrived in California on 9 August and entered drydock at San Diego on 31 August. While she was still undergoing overhaul, Coral Sea received word that her name was being changed to Anzio as of 15 September.
Anzio held sea trials off the California coast and was ready to sail for the western Pacific on 16 September. She reached Hawaii on 23 September and entered the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard for a tender availability. On 8 October, the carrier began a series of training exercises; and, on the 16th, she set out for Eniwetok. There, Anzio joined a hunter/killer group and carried out an antisubmarine warfare (ASW) mission while she was en route to Ulithi. On 4 November, she was ordered to assist Reno (CL-96) which had been torpedoed in the Philippine Sea. When Anzio was relieved by Extractor (ARS-15), she resumed her ASW patrols and worked at that task through mid-February 1945, when she steamed to Iwo Jima.
Anzio resumed combat support operations on 16 February. Three days later, she launched a strike to the north on Chichi Jima in the Bonin Islands. From 19 February through 4 March, Anzio followed a schedule of launching her first flight just before sunset and recovering her last just after dawn. During these nocturnal operations, she completed 106 sorties without a single accident. Anzio departed the Iwo Jima area on 8 March and entered San Pedro Bay at Leyte on 12 March. After 10 days of upkeep, she sailed to join the invasion of Okinawa. After providing air cover for an Okinawa-bound amphibious group, the escort carrier joined other forces in the vicinity of Kerama Retto in seizing that island group to provide an advanced base for the Fleet. The Okinawa attack began on 1 April, and Anzio remained on line until she retired to Ulithi on 30 April for repairs to her rudder bearings. On 21 May, the carrier resumed ASW operations in the Okinawa area. This role ended on 17 June, when Anzio sailed to San Pedro Bay, Leyte, for upkeep.
Anzio left the Philippines on 6 July to begin what proved to be her last stint of combat duty. She joined TG 30.8 and positioned herself about 600 miles east of Tokyo. Anzio made ASW patrols in support of Admiral Halsey's attacks on the Japanese home islands. She received word of the Japanese capitulation on 15 August and sailed for Guam on 19 August. After refitting and training new flight crews, the escort carrier headed for Okinawa. From that point, she was to provide air cover and ASW patrol services for transports carrying occupation troops to Korea. On 8 September, Anzio anchored at Jinsen, Korea, whence she provided air support for the landings of the occupation force. The escort carrier left Korea on 13 September and returned to Okinawa. On 19 September, she broke her homeward-bound pennant, became a member of a "Magic Carpet" group, and reached San Francisco on 30 September.
While at San Francisco, Anzio was modified to provide maximum passenger accommodations. The carrier made two trips to the western Pacific and back, one to Pearl Harbor and one to Shanghai, China, to shuttle American troops home. Anzio arrived at Seattle, Wash., on 23 December and ended the year at that port.
On 18 January 1946, Anzio sailed for Norfolk, Va. She paused at San Francisco then continued southward to transit the Panama Canal before finally reaching the east coast. Anzio was placed out of commission on 5 August 1946 and as part of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet berthed at Norfolk. The ship was reclassified to a helicopter escort aircraft carrier (CVHE-57) on 15 June 1955. Anzio was stricken from the Navy List on 1 March 1959 and sold to the Master Metals Co. on 24 November 1959.
Anzio received six battle stars for her service in World War II.