(CVE-81: displacement 7,800; length 512-3-; beam 65-; extreme width 108-1-; draft 22-6-; speed 19 knots; complement 860; armament 1 5-, 16 40mm., 20 20mm., aircraft 28; class Casablanca; type S4-S2-BB3)
An Alaskan bay.
Rudyerd Bay (CVE-81) was laid down under Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 1118) on 24 October 1943 by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Co., Vancouver, Wash.; launched 12 January 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Scott E. Peck; acquired by the Navy on 25 February 1944; and commissioned the same day, Capt. C. S. Smiley in command.
Following shakedown off southern California, Rudyerd Bay ferried planes to Espiritu Santo in April and May; conducted qualification exercises off California into July; then made another ferry run, this time to Majuro. On her return, she embarked Composite Squadron 77 (VC-77) and, on 8 August, she again headed west. At Eniwetok, she joined TG 30.8, the fast carrier forces' replenishment group, with which she arrived at Manus on the 31st.
During early September, she covered the replenishment group as the 3d Fleet supported the Palau campaign. In October, she continued that cover as strikes against the Philippines began. On the 18th, she took on survivors of Houston (CL-81), transported them to Ulithi, whence, in November, she resumed covering operations which continued into the new year.
On 29 December, Rudyerd Bay, with Nehenta Bay (CVE-74), tankers, and other ships, departed Ulithi. In the Philippine Sea until 10 January 1945, the replenishment group shifted to the South China Sea as the fast carriers continued support of the Lingayen assault and conducted strikes against enemy installations and shipping from Indochina to Formosa. On the 22d, they retired, via the Sulu and Mindanao Seas and Leyte Gulf, to Ulithi.
Rudyerd Bay remained at Ulithi until 10 February. She then proceeded to Saipan to prepare for the assault on Iwo Jima. Departing the Marianas in TG 51.17, she provided air cover for the troop transports en route to the Volcano Islands, 16 to 18 February. On the 18th, she joined TG 52.2 and, from then until 8 March, operated to the east of Iwo Jima as VC-77 flew support missions over the contested island and antisubmarine patrols over the surrounding waters.
Anchored at Ulithi from 11 to 20 March, Rudyerd Bay, with VC-96 now embarked, got underway for the Ryukyus in TU 52.1.2 on the 21st. On the 25th, she arrived at her position 60 miles to the south of Okinawa and began launching strikes against enemy positions on Kerama Retto and on Okinawa. With the exceptions of 1 April and 8 April, VC-96 flew daily support missions until 17 April. On 13, 14, and 15 April, the squadron target was shifted from Okinawa Gunto to Sakishima Gunto. On 17 April, Rudyerd Bay rotated to TG 50.8. For the next 10 days, she provided air cover for that group, then returned to TG 52.1 and resumed support missions for the troops fighting ashore. On 8 May, she again joined TG 50.8, which she covered until retiring from the Ryukyus on the 20th. By that time, VC-96 had flown 1,257 missions in support of the Okinawa offensive.
Rudyerd Bay arrived at Guam on the 23d, detached VC-96, and embarked VC-85 as passengers for transport back to the United States.
By the end of July, the escort carrier had completed a shipyard overhaul and had been reassigned to plane ferry duty. On 1 August, she departed Alameda for the Marshalls. On the 14th, hostilities ceased. Rudyerd Bay continued on, discharged cargo and passengers at Eniwetok, then proceeded to Ulithi and the Philippines, whence she moved VC-33 to Okinawa. There, she embarked another squadron for the voyage back to California.
On 8 October, she arrived at San Francisco, underwent repairs and alterations to enable her to carry troops, then joined the "Magic Carpet" fleet. Into the new year, she brought veterans of the Pacific war back to the United States. On 23 January 1946, she completed her last transpacific run; and, on 18 February, she departed California for the east coast. Transiting the Panama Canal on the 28th, she offloaded aircraft at Jacksonville in early March, and proceeded to Boston to begin inactivation.
Decommissioned 11 June 1946, Rudyerd Bay, redesignated CVU-81 on 12 June 1955, and AKV-29 in 1959, remained in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, berthed at Boston, until struck from the Navy list on 1 August 1959. In January 1960, she was sold for scrap to Cantieri Navali Santa Maria, Genoa, Italy.
Rudyerd Bay (CVE-81) earned five battle stars during World War II.
21 October 2005