A port on the northeast coast of New Britain which was used by the Japanese as a naval and air base during World War II. Frequently bombed by Allied air forces, its military value was neutralized by Allied landings at Arawe, Cape Gloucester, and Talasea, December 1943 to March 1944.
(CVE-121: displacement 11,373; length 557'1"; beam 75'; extreme width 105'2"; draft 32'; speed 19 knots; complement 1,066; armament 2 5-inch, 36 40 millimeter; class Commencement Bay)
Rabaul (CVE-121) was laid down on 2 January 1945at Tacoma, Wash., by Todd Pacific Shipyards, Inc.; launched on 14 June 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Alice H. Schade, wife of Capt. Henry A. Schade, officer in charge of CVE design at the Bureau of Ships; completed by the Commercial Iron Works, Portland, Oreg.; and delivered to the Navy on 30 August 1946.
Accepted by Commander, 19th Fleet (Pacific Reserve Fleet), Rabaul lay berthed at Tacoma without seeing any active service. The warship was "mothballed" there during the early years of the Cold War and served as a mobilization reserve in case of war. Reclassified as a helicopter escort carrier (CVHE) in June 1955, she was transferred to the San Diego Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet, in June 1958.
Reclassified again, to an aircraft ferry (AKV), in May 1959, she remained in reserve at San Diego until 1 September 1971 when she was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register. Rabaul was sold to the Nicholai Joffe Corp. of Beverly Hills, Calif., for scrapping on 25 August 1972.
07 September 2004