Off Cape Esperance, Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands at midnight (11–12 October 1942), an American task force commanded by Rear Adm. Norman Scott defeated a Japanese force under Rear Adm. Gotō Aritomo, which was attemping to reinforce their troops on Guadalcanal.
(CVE-88: displacement 10,400; length 512'3"; beam 65'2"; extreme width 108'1"; draft 22'6"; speed 20 knots; complement 860; armament 1 5-inch, 8 40-millimeter, 12 20-millimeter; aircraft 27; class Casablanca, Type S4-S2-BB3 hull)
Tananek Bay (CVE-88) was laid down under an 18 June 1942 Maritime Commission contract (M.C. Hull 1125) on 11 December 1943, by Kaiser Co., Inc., Vancouver, Wash.; renamed Cape Esperance (CVE-88) on 6 November 1943); launched on 3 March 1944; sponsored by Mrs. W.M. McDade; transferred to the Navy on 9 April 1944; and commissioned the same day, Capt. R.W. Beckius in command.
Assigned to the Pacific Fleet, Cape Esperance made two voyages from the west coast to South Pacific bases (26 May–20 September 1944), carrying new aircraft out, and returning with planes needing repairs. Loaded with combat-ready aircraft, she sailed from San Francisco, Calif., on 5 October to join Task Group 30.8 on 2 November in its support of Third Fleet air strikes on Leyte and Luzon in the Philippines. From her flight deck replacement aircraft roared off to the operating carriers, ready to take their part in pounding the Japanese out of the Philippines. Continuing to operate from Ulithi and Guam through January, Cape Esperance carried fresh aircraft to the far-ranging Task Force 38 for its strikes on Japanese air bases on Formosa [Taiwan] and the China coast. In February the escort carrier returned to the west coast to load new aircraft which she carried to Guam. This was the first of a series of such voyages in which she brought to the western Pacific a large number of the aircraft which roared over Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and the Japanese home islands in the massive carrier raids of the war's last months.
At the close of the war, Cape Esperance sailed from San Diego, Calif., to Pearl Harbor, T.H., returning to San Francisco on 11 September 1945 with aircraft and passengers. She made similar voyages until decommissioned and placed in reserve at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash., on 22 August 1946.
Recommissioned on 5 August 1950, Cape Esperance reported to the Military Sea Transportation Service for duty as an aircraft transport. During the next nine years, she cruised widely in the Pacific, delivering aircraft to Japan for use in the Korean conflict, supporting atomic tests at Eniwetok, and making two voyages to bring aircraft to the Royal Thai Air Force at Bangkok. In 1952, she sailed to Hong Kong, to evacuate Chinese Nationalist aircraft in danger of seizure by the Chinese Communists. Reclassified to a utiliy aircraft carrier (CVU-88) on 12 June 1955, Cape Esperance made her first transatlantic crossing in 1956 to ferry aircraft to and from Italy, France, and Portugal. Returning to the Pacific under an operating schedule that found her almost constantly at sea, Cape Esperance carried aircraft to Pakistan later in 1956. She continued to make as many as eight transpacific voyages in a year, supporting forces of the United States and Southeast Asia Treaty Organization countries in protecting the free nations of the Far East. Cape Esperance was decommissioned on 15 January 1959, sold on 14 May 1959, and by January 1961, broken up in Japan.
Cape Esperance received two battle stars for her World War II service.