USS Matanikau (CVE-101)

USS Matanikau (CVE-101)

USS "Matanikau" (CVE-101) was a "Casablanca" class escort carrier of the United States Navy. She was laid down as "Dolomoi Bay" under Maritime Commission contract by Kaiser Co., Inc. Vancouver, Washington, 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, Oregon, the same day, Capt. W. L. Erdmann in command.

Following the training in Puget Sound, "Matanimaku" 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 Finschhafen; 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 Admiralties 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 on her flight deck. On 25 May alone, fighter and torpedo planes of Marine Air Groups CVS-454 and CVS-321 made 602 daylight landings, the greatest number on an aircraft carrier in one day [ [ Most Landings World Record (] ] .

"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 Roi 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, Honshū, 11 September. During the next 2 weeks, she supported operations along the northern coast of Honshū, 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 November 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 February 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.

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