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Liscome Bay (CVE-56)


A bay off the eastern coast of Dall Island in southeast Alaska.

(CVE-56: displacement 7,800; length 512'3"; beam 65'0"; extreme width (flight deck) 108'1"; draft 22'6"; speed 19 knots; complement 860; armament 1 5-inch, 16 40-millimeter., aircraft 28; class Casablanca)

Liscome Bay (CVE-56) was laid down 9 December 1942 at Vancouver, Wash., by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Co. under a Maritime Commission contract (M.C . Hull); launched on 19 April 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Ben Moreell; named Liscome Bay on 28 June 1943; redesignated CVE-56 on 15 July 1943; acquired by the Navy and commissioned on 7 August 1943, Capt. Irving D. Wiltsie in command.

After training operations along the west coast, Liscome Bay departed San Diego on 21 October 1943 and arrived at Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, one week later. Having completed additional drills and operational exercises, the escort carrier set forth upon what was to be her first battle mission. As a unit of CarDiv 24, she departed Pearl Harbor on 10 November attached to TF 52, Northern Attack Force, under Rear Adm. Richmond Kellyt. Turner, bound for the invasion of the Gilbert Islands.

The invasion bombardment announcing the United States' first major thrust into the central Pacific began 20 November at 0500, and 76 battle-filled hours later Tarawa and Makin Islands were captured. Liscome Bay's aircraft played their part well in the 2,278  sorties provided by carrier-based planes which neutralized enemy airbases, supported landings and ground operations in powerful bombing-straffing missions, and intercepted enemy raids. With the islands secured, the U.S. forces began a retirement.

On 23 November the Japanese submarine I-175 arrived off Makin. The temporary task group built around Rear Adm. Henry M. Mullinix's three escorts, Liscome Bay, Coral Sea (CVF-57) and Corregidor (CVF-58) commanded by Rear Adm. Robert M. Griffin in New Mexico (BB-40) was steaming 20 miles southwest of Butaritari Island at 15 knots. At 0430, 24 November, reveille was made in Liscome Bay.

The ship went to routine general quarters at 0505 as flight crews prepared their planes for dawn launchings. There was no warning of a submarine in the area until about 0510 when a lookout shouted: " comes a torpedo!" The missile struck abaft the after engineroom an instant later with a shattering roar. A second major detonation closely followed the first; the entire interior burst into flames. At 0533 Liscome Bay listed to starboard and sank carrying Rear Adm. Mullinix, Capt. Wiltsie, 53 other officers, and 591 enlisted men down with her; 272 of her crew were rescued.

Liscome Bay received one battle star for her World War II service.

Published: Thu Jun 30 20:12:44 EDT 2022