(CVE‑101: dp. 7,800; l. 512'3"; b. 651; ew. 108'1"; dr. 22'6"; s. 19 k.; cpl. 860; a. 1 5", 16 40mm., 20 20mm., 28 ac.; cl. Casablanca; T. S4‑S2‑BB3)
A river on the northwest coast of Guadalcanal, Solomons, between Point Cruz and Lunga Point. During the protracted ground war for control of Guadalcanal, U.S. Marines battled Japanese troops along its banks in September and October 1942 while tenaciously defending their defense perimeter around Henderson Field.
Matanikau (CVE-101) was laid down as Dolomi Bay under Maritime Commission contract by Kaiser Co., Inc., Vancouver, Wash., 10 March 1944: renamed Matanikau 26 April 1944; launched 22 May 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Robert A. Grant; delivered to the Navy 24 June 1944; and commissioned at Astoria, Oreg., the same day, Capt. W. L. Erdmann in command.
Following the training in Puget Sound, Matanikau steamed to San Diego 25 July. After embarking 191 military passengers and loading 56 planes, she departed 1 August on an extended shakedown and ferrying run to the South Pacific. She touched at Espiritu Santo and Finschafen; reached Manus, Admiralties, 23 August; and, after discharging men and planes, she carried 112 sailors and 41 damaged aircraft back to the west coast, arriving San Diego 19 September.
Matanikau's run to the Admiralities and back marked her closest advance to the sea war in the Pacific. On 14 October she embarked Composite Squadron 93 and began duty as qualification carrier for naval and Marine aviators. Operating along the west coast out of San Diego, she played an important, if unspectacular, role while training hundreds of pilots during the closing months of World War II. For more than 8 months she conducted flight training and qualification landings. Between January and June 1945 she qualified 1,332 aviators, and during these 6 months pilots completed 12,762 landings an her flight deck. On 25 May alone fighter and torpedo planes of Marine Air Groups CVS‑454 and CVS‑321 made 602 daylight landings.
Matanikau departed San Diego 28 July and carried 65, planes and 158 troops to the Marshalls. Operating under Carrier Transport Squadron, Pacific Fleet, she reached Rol Island, Kwajalein, 10 August, then returned to Pearl Harbor the 16th. On 31 August she sailed for the western Pacific to support occupation operations in Japan. As a unit of TF 4, she reached Ominato, Honshu, 11 September. During the next 2 weeks she supported operations along the northern coast of Honshu, including landings by the 8th Army at Aomori 25 September. After steaming to Yokosuka, she departed Tokyo Bay 30 September, touched at Guam and Pearl Harbor, and arrived San Francisco 23 October.
Assigned to "Magic Carpet" duty, Matanikau between 3 and 19 November steamed to Saipan where she embarked more than 1,000 returning veterans. Departing for the west coast the 21st, she reached San Pedro 5 December. Six days later she again sailed for the Marianas. She arrived Guam 27 December, embarked 795 troops of the 3d Marine Division, and departed the next day for China. Arriving Taku 3 January 1946. Matanikau debarked the Marines who were part of an American force supporting the Chinese Nationalists in their struggle against the Communists for control of China.
Matanikau sailed for the United States 9 January and entered San Diego harbor the 29th. Between 1 and 5 February she steamed to Tacoma, Wash., where she remained during the next 8 months in an inactive status. She decommissioned 11 October 1946 and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet. While berthed at Tacoma, Matanikau was reclassified CVHE‑101 on 15 June 1955, and again reclassified AKV‑36 on 7 May 1959. Ordered disposed of in March, 1960, Matanikau was struck from the Navy list 1 April 1960. She was sold to Jacq. Pierot, Jr. & Sons of New York 27 July 1960.