(CVE-68: dp. 7,800; 1. 512'3"; b. 65'; ew. 108'1", dr. 22'6"; s. 19 k.; cpl. 860; a. 1 5", 16 40mm., 20 20mm.;cl. Casablanca)
Kalinin Bay originally designated AVG was classivied ACV 68 on 20 August 1942 laid downd under a Maritime Commission contract 26 April 1943 by Kaiser Shipbuilding Co., Inc., Vaneouver, Wash.; reelassined CVE 68 on 15 July 1943; launched 15 October 1943, sponsored by Mrs. Anna Mary Updegraff; and commissioned 27 November at Astoria, Oregon, Captain C. R. Brown in command.
After shakedown along the Paeifie Coast, Kalinin Bay departed San Diego 3 January 1944 for replenishment duty in the Pacific. Laden with troops and a cargo of planes, she steamed via Pearl Harbor for the Gilbert Islands, arriving off Tarawa Atoll 24 January to supply 5th Fleet carriers then engaged in the conquest of the Marshalls. For more than 2 weeks she provided logistic support from Tarawa to Majuro Atoll before returning to Alameda, Calif., 24 February.
With Composite Squadron 3 embarked 9 April, Kalinin Bav reached Majuro, Marshalls, 23 April, conducted ASW air patrols off Mili Atoll, and proceeded to Pearl Harbor 1 May to prepare for the Marianas operation. She departed Pearl Harbor 30 May; and, while en route to Saipan, she successfully evaded a Japanese torpedo that crossed her bow close aboard. Touching at Eniwetok 9 June, Kalinin Bay reached the eastern coast of Saipan 15 June and eommeneed air operations in support of the invasion. After repelling an enemy air attack at dusk on the 17th, she sailed 19 June to ferry planes to and from Eniwetok. Returning to Saipan 24 June, she resumed effcetive air strikes against enemy positions on the embattled island until 9 July when she steamed via Eniwetok for similar duty at Guam. Arriving 20 July, she launched direct support and ASW sorties until 2 August, then returned to Eniwetok to prepare for operations in the Palau Islands.
Kalinin Bay cleared Eniwetok 18 August and proceeded via Tulagi, Florida Island, to the Southern Palaus where she arrived 14 September with units of the 3d Fleet. Ordered to furnish air support for the capture, ocoupation, and defense of Peleliu, Angaur, and Ngesebus, she launched air strikes to support landing operations. For 2 weeks her planes, flying almost 400 sorties, inflicted heavy damage on enemy ground installations and shipping. On 25 September, alone, they sank or destroyed three cargo transports and six landing barges.
She departed the Palaus 30 September; and, upon arriving Seeadler Harbor, Manus Island, 3 October, she re~ceived a new commanding offlcer, Captain T. B. Williamson. Kalinin Bay departed Manus 12 October en route to the Philippine Islands. Ordered to provide air coverage and close air support during the bombardment and amphihious landings on Leyte Island, she arrived off Leyte 17 October. After furnishing air support during landings by Ranger units on Dinagat and Homonhon Islands in the eastern approaches to Leyte Gulf, she launched air strikes in support of invasion operations at Taeloban on the northeast coast of Leyte. Operating with Rear Admiral C. A. F. Sprague's "Taffy 3" (TU-77.4.3), which consisted of ff escort carriers and a screen of 3 destroyers and 4 destroyer escorts, Kalinin Bay sailed to the east of Leyte and Samar as her planes, flying 244 sorties trom 18 to 24 October, struck and destroyed enemy installations and airflelds on Leyte, Samar, Cebu, Negros, and Panay Islands.
Steaming about 60 miles east of Samar before dawn 25 October, "Taffy 3" prepared to launch the day's initial air strikes. At 0ff47 Rear Admiral Sprague received word that a sizable Japanese fleet was approaching from the northwest. Comprised of 4 battleships, 8 cruisers, and 12 destroyers, Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita's Center Force steadily closed and at 0658 opened fire on "Taffy 3."
So began the Battle off Samarâ€”one of the most memorable engagements in U.S. naval history. Outnumbered and outgunned, the slower "Taffy 3" seemed fated for disaster; but the American ships defled the odds and gamely accepted the enemy's challenge.
Kalinin Bayaccelerated to flank speed; and, despite fire from three enemy cruisers, she launched her planes, ordering the pilots "to attack the Japanese task force and proceed to Taeloban airstrip, Leyte, to rearm and regas." As salvos fell "with disconcerting rapidity" in creasingly nearer Kalinin Bay, her planes, striking the enemy force with bombs, rockets, and gunfire, inflicted heavy damage on the closing ships.
As the trailing ship in the escort carrier van, Kalinin Bay came under intense enemy fire. Though partially protected by chemical smoke, by a timely rain squall, and by valiant counterattacks of screening destroyers and destroyer escorts, she took the flrst of 15 direct hits at o750. Fired from an enemy battleship. the large caliber shell (14-inch or 16-inch ) struck the starboard side of the hangar deck just abaft the forward elevator.
By 0800 the enemy cruisers, which were steaming off her port quarter, closed to within 18,000 yards. Kalinin Bay gamely responded to their straddling salvos with rapid fire from her single 5-inch gun, which only intensifled the enemy fire. Three 8-inch, armor-piercing projectiles struck her within minutes of each other. At 0825 the spirited carrier's barking 5-incher scored a direct hit from 16,000 yards on tho No. 2 turret of a Nachi-class heavy cruiser, and a second hit shortly thereafter forced the enemy ship to withdraw temporarily from formation.
At 0830 five enemy destroyers steamed over the horizo off her starboard quarter. The closing ships opened fire from about 14,500 yards; and, as screening ships engaged the cruisers and laid down concealing smoke, Kalinin Bay shifted her fire and for the next hour traded shots with the guns of Japan's Destroyer Squadron 10. Many salvos exploded close aboard or passed directly overhead
and, though no destroyer fire hit Kalinin Bay directly, she took ten more 8-inch hits from the now obscured cruisers. One shell passed through the flight deck and into the communications area, where it destroyed all radar and radio equipment.
Under heavy attack from the air and harassed by incessant fire from American destroyers and destroyer eseorts, the enemy cruisers broke off action and turned northward at 0920. At 0915 the enemy destroyers, which were kept at bay by the daring and almost singlehanded exploits of Johnston (DD-557), launched a premature torpedo attack from 10,500 yards. As the torpedoes approached the escort carriers, they slowed down. An Avenger torpedo-bomber from doomed St. Lo (CVE 63) strafed and exploded two torpedoes in Kalinin Bay's wake about 100 yards astern, and a shell from the latter's 5inch gun deflected a third from a collision course with her stern.
At about 0930, as the enemy ships fired parting salvos and reversed course northward, Kalinin Bay scored a direct hit amidships on a retreating destroyer. Five minutes later she ceased fire and retired southward with the surviving ships of "Taffy 3." At 1050 the task unit came under a concentrated air attack; and, and during the 40minute battle with enemy suicide planes, all escort carriers but Fanshau' Bay (CV~70) were damaged. One plane crashed through St. Lo's flight deck and exploded her torpedo and bomb magazine, mortally wounding the gallant earrier. Four diving planes attacked Kalinin Bay from astern and the starboard quarter. Intense fire splashed two close aboard; but a third plane crashed into the port side of the 'dight deck, damaging it badly. The fourth hit destroyed the aft port stack.
As one of the fearless ships of "Taffy 3," Kalinin Bay had prevented a Japanese penetration into Leyte Gulf and saved General MacArthur's beachhead in the Philippines. At a cost of five gallant ships and hundreds of brave men "Taffy 3," aided by her own planes and those of "Taffy 2," sank three enemy cruisers, seriously damaged several ,ther ships, and turned back the "most powerful surface fleet which Japan hud sent to sea since the Battle of Midway." Domination of the skies, superior seamanship, and prudent, timely maneuvers helped to nullify the overwhelming odds. In the highest tradition of naval service, the flnest qualities of the American sailor became commonplace during the heroic flght. Devotion to duty, daring courage, uncommon bravery, and an indomitable spirit were part and parcel of this victory.
Despite the battle damage, "Taffy 3" cleared the air of attacking planes; and at noon the escort carriers retired southeastward while their escort searched for survivors from St. Lo. Though Kalinin Bay suffered extensive structural damage during the morning's furious action, she counted only 5 dead among her 60 casualties. Weary and battle scarred, Kalinin Bay was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for heroic conduct as a unit of "Taffy 3". She steamed via Woendi, Schouten Islands, to Manus, arriving 1 November for emergency repairs. Getting under way for the United States 7 November, the escort earrier reached San Diego 27 November for permanent repairs and alterations.
Repairs completed 18 January 1945, the veteran escort carrier departed San Diego 20 January to ferry planes and men to Pearl Harbor and Guam. For more than 8 months she served as a replenishment carrier in the Pacific Carrier Transport Squadron; and, during six cruises between the West Coast and Pearl Harbor, Eniwetok, and Guam, she transported more than 600 planes. Departing San Diego 2 September, she steamed to the Philippines, arriving Samar 28 September for "MagicCarpet" duty. With 1,048 men embarked, she departed Samar 1 October and arrived San Francisco 19 October.
After conducting two more voyages between California and Pearl Harbor, Kalinin Bay departed San Diego 8 December for the Far East. On 25 December while she steamed to Yokosuka, Japan, an intense storm heavily damaged her flight deck. Arriving the 27th, she received emergency repairs, then sailed 3 January 1940 for the West Coast and arrived San Diego 17 January. On 13 February she proceeded to the eastern seaboard, reaching Boston 9 March. Kalinin Bay decommissioned 15 May, and she was sold for scrapping 8 December to Patapseo Steel Co., Baltimore, Md.
In addition to the Presidential Unit Citation, Kalinin Bay received five battle stars for World War II service.
USS Kalinin Bay took a battering but kept fighting at Battle of Leyte Gulf | Hill Goodspeed
The collection of the National Naval Aviation Museum contains thousands of mementos of war, from old uniforms and flight equipment to letters describing momentous events in military history. Among the items are some jagged pieces of metal, debris recovered from USS Kalinin Bay (CVE 68) after one of the most momentous battles of World War II.
Named for a body of water in Alaska, Kalinin Bay was a "baby flattop," the nickname for small deck escort carriers constructed during World War II. Their missions included providing close air support for amphibious invasions, notably in the Pacific. By October 1944, the Allied offensive had reached the Philippines as U.S. forces went ashore at Leyte, fulfilling Gen. Douglas MacArthur's famous promise to the Filipino people, "I shall return!" Supporting them were the ships of Taffy 3, which included Kalinin Bay and other baby flattops, screened by destroyers and destroyer escorts.
With their ships slow of speed and thinly armored, the sailors on the escort carriers of Taffy 3 never thought about the possibility of engaging a Japanese fleet, but that is what happened on the morning of Oct. 25, 1944. Lookouts spotted the silhouettes of enemy warships approaching and soon colorful splashes began straddling the U.S. ships, the Japanese having dyed their shells different colors to assist with spotting their naval gunfire.
Kalinin Bay and the other escort carriers launched their aircraft, the intrepid aviators making repeated runs against the enemy ships, staring through their cockpit canopies down the barrels of the main batteries of some of the mightiest surface ships afloat. Even after exhausting their ammunition, they continued to press home dummy attacks in a valiant effort to draw fire away from U.S. Navy ships. At the same time, destroyers and destroyer escorts sped toward the enemy, launching torpedoes and firing their guns. Three of these ships were destined to be lost along with USS Gambier Bay (CV 73).
View of damage to the flight deck of USS Kalinin Bayafter a kamikaze attack during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944. (Photo: Courtesy of National Naval Aviation Museum)
Kalinin Bay took a battering from the enemy, including one round that actually passed through numerous compartments and exploded just before penetrating the bottom of the ship. The crew fought valiantly to stem the Pacific waters flowing into the ship, which eventually reached a level of 4 feet.
Blunted by the determined resistance of the outgunned Taffy 3, the Japanese surface force unexpectedly retired. The commander of the American forces, Rear Adm. Clifton Sprague, recalled, "I heard one of the signalmen yell, 'They're getting away!' I could hardly believe my eyes, but it looked as if the whole Japanese fleet was indeed retiring. However, it took a whole series of reports from circling planes to convince me. And still I could not get the fact to soak into my battle-numbed brain. At best, I had expected to be swimming by this time."
Shrapnel from a kamikaze that struck USS Kalinin Bay during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944. (Photo: Courtesy of National Naval Aviation Museum)
Though the Japanese surface ships retired, kamikazes soon dove out of the skies, plunging into American warships in a preview of the deadly new weapon employed by a desperate enemy. USS St. Lo (CVE 63) went to the bottom, the first major warship lost to kamikaze attack. Two enemy aircraft struck Kalinin Bay, the crew again engaging in a desperate damage control effort to keep their ship afloat, which they did. At the end of the day, she survived those hits and 15 from the guns of the Japanese surface ships earlier in the day.
The Battle of Samar, which was part of the larger Battle of Leyte Gulf, marked Kalinin Bay's last combat. She spent the remainder of the war transporting aircraft, equipment and personnel across the Pacific to support the final campaigns of the war. By December 1946, she had been sold for scrap, the demobilization following the end of the war doing what the metal now preserved in the museum, parts of one of the kamikaze aircraft that hit her, could not on that fateful October day.
MEMORIES OF THE USS KALININ BAY (CVE 68)
There are two areas I would like to address in this document, one is my personal memories of October 25, 1944, the other is a set of facts about the engineering design of this class of ships. It must be realized that I am relying on memory and time has drawn its veil over those events, so that what I remember is imperfect at best.
Immediately after December 7, 1941, all of the vast resources of the construction and manufacturing industries of the United States rallied behind the war effort and brought all the ability, inventiveness and innovation that had been to a large degree dormant during the depression years to bear on producing a tremendous stream of supplies and material. One of the bottlenecks that developed was the production of reduction gears for Large ships. The accepted method of propelling large ships was with steam driven turbines, which run at about 5000 revolutions per minute. Since the propellers need to run at about 100 to 300 r.p.m., a train of reduction gears is interposed between the turbine and the propeller. The final gear in this train is very large (15 or 20 feet in diameter), and this gear was the bottleneck. There were only a few machines that could cut the teeth on these large gears, and the work had to be done in an air conditioned room to avoid any distortion in the gear. Several steps were taken to bypass this serious bottleneck. Some of the Destroyer Escort vessels were fitted with a "Turbo-Electric Drive" designed and built by Westinghouse Electric Co. In this system, the propellers were driven by an electric motor which was operated by an electric generator and the generator was driven by a steam turbine, thereby eliminating the need for gears.
In the class of ships to which the KALININ BAY belonged, consideration was given to the need for maneuverability, and what seemed to be a step backward was taken. Two steam driven reciprocating engines were installed in these ships direct connected to the propeller shafts. They could be stopped and reversed in a few seconds so fast in an emergency situation it seemed that the propeller shafts were going to tear themselves out of the ship! While these engines did not have the power we sometimes wished for, they made our class of ships as maneuverable as any ship of its size or larger. These engines were made by the Nordhoff Manufacturing Co. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
On the morning of October 25,1944 I was the Engineering Officer of the Watch in the Starboard or after engine room when at about 0700 word was passed on the intercom that a large group of enemy ships had been sighted at about 20,000 yards, and at this time we received the order "all engines flank speed" and the order to make smoke. General Quarters had already been sounded of course, and I was soon relieved of the watch and proceeded to my GQ station. I was the "A" division officer at this time and my GQ station was the officer in charge of of a large repair party below decks amidships. We made the Engineering Log Room our headquarters, and we had men in the mess hall and in the Machine Shop. The Engineering Log Room was on the starboard side below the CPO Mess. From there a passageway ran athwartships between a set of four fuel oil settling tanks and the fresh water tanks. At the end of this passageway were some compartments including the Small Arms Locker and a ladder leading down to the machine shop.
We had learned that the Japanese task group consisted of Battleships, several Cruisers and many destroyers, and we soon began to receive near misses and then hits from the Cruisers. I believe the first hit came through from the port side, struck a main beam of the foreword elevator, and burst in the radar room causing all the deaths that we sustained. Either the same shell or another severed a bundle of control cables in an upper passageway, thereby cutting off nearly all communication between the Bridge and other parts of the ship including loss of rudder control. Control of the rudder was taken over by an Electrician's Mate on watch in the Steering Engine Room. Since he had no experience as a helmsman, he had considerable trouble holding a course and answering orders. A helmsman from the bridge was sent down to relieve him, and even he had some problems because he had to face astern and everything was backwards to him! We, in Repair Party 2, knew we were receiving hits, but they were not in our part of the ship. Then we heard and felt a crash so severe it nearly knocked us off our feet. I must have stepped out of the log room, because I remember seeing Claude Funk coming through the passageway between the fuel oil settling tanks the tanks being bulged out so that he had to squeeze sideways between them, with the others in the engine room close behind.
Claude reported that a shell had entered the part side just above the machine shop, angled down through the machine shop overhead and burst in the fresh water tank and the fuel oil settling tanks. This was especially alarming, since our boilers were using from these tanks, and of course we would be dead in the water in a few minutes if the boilers could not get oil. The "Oil King", Wilkerson, and I immediately went up to the hangar deck where the sounding tubes far these tanks were. There were four settling tanks in a cluster, and they were filled from the other storage tanks on the ship. Each fire room used from two of these tank alternately. As Wilkerson and I were sounding the tanks we could hear a lot of crashes and other noises, but above all others we could hear men screaming. This was very unnerving and we completed the soundings in record time. We found two tanks empty and two full, and I reported this information to the control engine room. We learned that the fire rooms were both using from the full tanks. Of course if it had been otherwise we would have already been dead in the water. Our ship wasn't called the "Lucky K" for nothing!!
We went back below decks and found that the machine shop had a mixture of water and oil in it. It was sloshing back and fourth as the ship rolled coming up above the floor plates, but didn't seem to be rising any. We got a report about this time from the forward engine room that they needed timbers to shore the bulkhead between them and the machine shop. I knew that this was not necessary since there was not that much water in the machine shop, and decided to go on down there to assure them of this fact. Chief Machinist Vincent met me at the foot of the ladder in the engine room, and he was very hot and excited because he thought the after bulkhead was about to rupture and innundate them. I don't know where he got that misinformation. I explained that there was only a few feet of water and oil in the machine shop, and he calmed down some then. The forward engine room also had quite a bit of water and oil in the bilges almost up to the floor plates. I soon discovered Funk skin diving in the bilges, trying to clear the suction of the bilge pump. He finally came up with a pair of dungarees, and the pump began to carry the level of the liquid in the bilges on down. Claude is still looking for the bird that left those dungarees in the bilges!
The shelling seemed to have at least slacked off, and as Vincent was looking very tired, upset and hot I relieved him and told him to go out on the fantail and get some air. But I don't think he did. I was pretty tired myself and I sat down on a valve manifold. I thought the repair party was dealing with the water in the machine shop and a small fire in the small arms locker OK, and there didn't seem to be any more shelling, so I began to calm down some. Suddenly there was a terrific crash as through something had slammed into the starboard side of the ship, and I thought, "well, they are back to finish us off well never survive another bombardment like the one we just went through." The shock of this explosion tripped the electric generator, and the lights went out but the electrician kicked it back in in about one half a second. We didn't know it at the time, but this was the bombs of the second kamikaze exploding only a few feet from us. This was the last of the battle but I lived in terror for a long time before I was convinced that it was over. The one thing that impressed me most then and now was the way all the men that I had any contract with stood by their posts and did their jobs calmly and efficiently in the face of almost certain death. I salute them all.
Ninth Escort Carrier of the Casablanca class
- Length: 512 feet
- Beam: 65 feet
- Draft: 22 feet, 6 inches
- Flight Deck: 498 X 108 feet
- Speed: 18 Knots
- Engines: Skinner Uniflow 11,200 Horsepower, Twin Screws
- Loaded displacement: 10,200 tons
Following a shakedown cruise, the ship made two trips to Pearl Harbor and a trip to Brisbane, Australia, transporting planes. Upon returning to our home port of San Diego, Composite Squadron 65 (VC-65) which had been in training, was received aboard and continued training.
In June 1944, the Midway joined Carrier Support Group 1 for the invasion of the Marianas (Guam, Saipan and Tinian) and the “Marianas Turkey Shoot,” a huge Japanese air attack in which many enemy planes were shot down by ship anti-aircraft fire and fighter aircraft. During this campaign, through June and July, 1944, 9 pilots and crewmen were lost to enemy action, and the ship fought off many air attacks.
After repairs and resupply, the Midway was assigned to the 7th fleet, sailed to Seeadler harbor at Manus Island in the Southwest Pacific (off New Guinea), and was soon in action again providing air cover for the invasion of Morotai in the Moluccas island group. Morotai was the closest island to the Philippines and was needed to provide land-based air cover for the coming invasion of Leyte.
During this time, a Japanese submarine fired torpedoes at the Midway. Fortunately, they missed, but tragically continued on to strike and sink the Shelton (DE 407). Again a price was paid, as one pilot and 2 crewmen were lost. Upon returning to Manus, the news was received that on October 10, 1944, the name would be changed to St. Lo to free the name of Midway for a giant new aircraft carrier CV-41, and to commemorate the victory by American forces at St. Lo in France.
Preparations were then made for the invasion of the Philippines at Leyte on October 20, 1944, and Task Group 77.4 was formed and divided into three Task Units: 77.4.1, 77.4.2 and 77.4.3, respectively code named: “Taffy 1,” Taffy 2,” and “Taffy 3.”
Taffy 3, under Admiral C.A.F. “Ziggy” Sprague, consisted of CVEs St. Lo, White Plains, Kitkun Bay, Kalinin Bay, Fanshaw Bay and Gambier Bay, escorted by the Destroyers: Heermann, Hoel and Johnston and Destroyer Escorts: Dennis, Samuel B. Roberts, John C. Butler and Raymond.
The St. Lo burns after a kamikaze hits the flight deck on the morning of October 25, 1944.
The Taffies were assigned stations from the North off Samar and extending South off Mindanao, with Taffy 3 in the northernmost position. After providing air cover for the Army on Leyte for five days, on the morning of October 25, 1944, while steaming off the island of Samar, the crew awakened to a desperate situation. Admiral Kinkaid, in command of the Seventh fleet, assumed from dispatches, that Admiral Halsey who was in command of the powerful Third Fleet intended to leave his new, fast battleships with their escorting cruisers and destroyers to guard San Bernardino Strait North of Samar. This he failed to do.
Following the sinking, the four remaining escort ships, Heermann (DD 532), Dennis (DE 405), John C. Butler (DE 339) and Raymond (DE 341) were directed to pick up survivors. Heermann and Dennis were severely damaged and were ordered to Kossol Passage at Palau. Butler and Raymond had suffered no damage, but were directed to Leyte Gulf. From there we were scattered to the four corners of the world, rarely to see each other until the 1980s when we began gathering at annual reunions.
CVE-68 U.S.S. Kalinin Bay - History
The seventh Fletcher-class 2,100-tonner built at Bethlehem Steel Co., San Pedro, California, Callaghan was laid down on 27 November 1943. At her launch on 1 August, she was sponsored by Mrs. Daniel J. Callaghan, widow of Rear Admiral Callaghan. She was placed in commissioned on 27 November under Commander F. J. Johnson and attached to Destroyer Division 109 of Destroyer Squadron 55 in the Pacific Fleet.
On 5 February 1944, Callaghan sailed from the West Coast to join Destroyer Division 110, Laws, Longshaw, Morrison and Prichett, in the screen of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance&rsquos Fifth Fleet in strikes on the Palaus, Yap, Ulithi and Woleai from 30 March to 1 April.
In April, Callaghan and squadron flagship Porterfield operated from Manus as picket ships during air strikes and escorts for the fleet train in support of the General Douglas A. MacArthur&rsquos Hollandia operation on New Guinea&rsquos north coast.
Thereafter, Callaghan&rsquos career was similar to those of Porterfield and her other sisters in DesDiv 109, Cassin Young, Irwin and Preston, also from Bethlehem, San Pedro.
- During Operation &ldquoForager,&rdquo the Marianas operation from June to August 1944, the division less Preston plus Ross and Longshaw screened RAdm. Gerald F. Bogan&rsquos Task Group 53.14&mdashescort carriers Midway (CVE 63), White Plains (CVE 66), Kalinin Bay (CVE 68) and Fanshaw Bay (CVE 70)&mdashwhich provided air support for the invasions of Saipan, Tinian and Guam. On 17 June at Saipan, Callaghan helped splash three enemy planes during a heavy Japanese air attack and thereafter retired to Eniwetok screening Fanshaw Bay, which had been struck by a bomb.
- For the invasion of the Palau Islands in late August, Callaghan began operations as escort for air strikes on the Palaus, Mindanao, Luzon and the Central Philippines.
- Attached to Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr.&rsquos Third Fleet for General MacArthur&rsquos return to the Philippines in October, Callaghan and her squadron operated with DesDiv 99 in RAdm. Frederick C. Sherman&rsquos Task Group 38.3, screening Essex, Lexington, Princeton and Langley plus VAdm. Willis A. Lee&rsquos battleships Washington, Massachusetts, South Dakota and Alabama and cruisers Santa Fe, Mobile, Birmingham and Reno in a drive north to neutralize Japanese airfields at Formosa and Okinawa. During a heavy enemy air attack on the 14th, she joined in downing several planes.
- For the Battle for Leyte Gulf on 24&ndash25 October, Task Force 38 was stationed east of Luzon. Callaghan was not present for rescue operations with Cassin Young, Irwin, Morrison and cruiser Birmingham on the morning of the 24th when Princeton was hit by a kamikaze and sunk. Later in the day, however, aircraft from the other carriers in her task group participated in the attack on the Japanese Center Force in Sibuyan Sea. The following day, they attacked the Japanese Northern Force off Cape Engaño, after which Callaghan and her squadron were detached from their carriers to pursue remnants fleeing north.
- At the end of October, the task group returned to support Third Fleet air strikes on Luzon. When submarine I-41 torpedoed Reno on 3 November, Callaghan stood by until the cruiser could be taken under tow 1,500 miles back to Ulithi.
- In December, Callaghan&rsquos task group conducted more air strikes on the Central Philippines, which it extended in January 1945 to Formosa, Luzon, Indochina, Hong Kong and the Ryukyu Islands and in February to Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Tokyo area. Closing the Honshu coast on the morning of 18th, Porterfield and Callaghan sank a 100-ton picket boat with 40mm gunfire.
- On 3 March, Callaghan joined the bombardment of remote Parece Vela (Okinotori Island).
Shortly after midnight on 28 July, as her crew looked forward to an imminent return home after 18 months at sea, Callaghan drove off a biplane intent on suicide but, unseen, the plane circled back. At 0041, it struck her on the starboard side near the No. 3 upper handling room while a bomb penetrated the after engine room. Fires soon began to detonate antiaircraft ammunition, which prevented nearby ships from closing to assist before Callaghan flooded by the stern and sank at 0235. One officer and 46 men were lost two officers and 71 men were wounded.
聖羅號護航航空母艦（USS St. Lo CVE-63），下水時原名中途島號（USS Midway），是美國海軍在二次大戰期間的一艘卡薩布蘭加級（Casablanca-class）護航航空母艦，也是美國海軍唯一一艘使用法國城市聖羅（法語： Saint-Lô ）命名的軍艦。7,800噸排水量的該艦在正式服役短短一年後，就在雷伊泰灣海戰中遭遇日本帝國海軍零式戰鬥機的襲擊而重創沈沒，並因為成為神風特攻隊手下的首號犧牲者而廣為人知。
由 凱薩造船廠 （ 英语 ： Kaiser Shipyards ） （Kaiser Shipyards）承造的聖羅號是在1943年1月23日於華盛頓州溫哥華安放龍骨起造  ，新艦起造時原名沙賓灣號（Chapin Bay），並在4月3日時改名為中途島號（Midway）。同年8月17日，中途島號在霍兒·尼克森·庫特女士（Mrs. Howard Nixon Coulter）的 擲瓶 （ 英语 ： Ship naming and launching ） 後正式下水，並在10月23日就役。首任艦長為法蘭西斯·麥金納上校（Captain Francis J. McKenna）  。
在美國西岸完成 試航 （ 英语 ： Shakedown cruise ） 後，中途島號負責自美國本土載運隸屬於第65混合中隊（VC-65）的替換機隊至珍珠港（兩次）與澳洲（一次）。1944年6月時，該艦被編入 傑拉德·波根 （ 英语 ： Gerald F. Bogan ） 中將（Rear Admiral Gerald F. Bogan）的第1航空母艦支援群（Carrier Support Group 1），是美軍對馬里亞納群島發動作戰的部隊之一。它參與了6月15日對塞班島的登陸作戰，在作戰中替登陸艦隊的 運兵船 （ 英语 ： Troopship ） 提供空中支援，雖然曾數度遭遇空襲但都能在作戰中全身而退。除此之外艦上還在受訓中的VC-65飛行員也參與了被戲稱為「馬里亞納獵火雞大賽」的菲律賓海海戰。在戰役中，中途島號上隸屬於VC-65的FM-2野貓式戰鬥機則至少擊落了4架日軍軍機。 
7月13日，中途島號駛入美軍位於埃內韋塔克環礁（Eniwetok atoll）的軍港進行整補，以便參與下一場預計在7月23日對天寧島發動的作戰。在替登陸天寧島的地面部隊提供了空中支援，並進行了一次反潛巡邏任務之後，中途島號於7月28日返回埃內韋塔克環礁。8月9日，中途島號啟程前往位於阿得米拉提群島（Admiralty Islands）的 席亞德勒港 （ 英语 ： Seeadler Harbor ） （Seeadler Harbor），並在同月13日抵達。 
中途島號在9月10日加入第77任務艦隊（TF77），參與進攻莫羅泰島的 戰事 （ 英语 ： Battle of Morotai ） ，並於9月15日至22日之間持續地利用其艦載機對登陸部隊提供支援。在作戰結束後，中途島號於 密奧斯溫地島 （ 英语 ： Mios Woendi ） （Mios Woendi）的前線基地補給了燃料與彈藥，並繼續在莫羅泰島附近海域的巡邏任務  。10月3日，日方潛艇 呂號第四一潛水艦 （ 日语 ： 呂三五型潜水艦 ） 對中途島號發射了兩枚魚雷，但麥金納艦長成功地避開了其攻擊，反而是中途島號的護衛艦、護航驅逐艦 薛爾登號 （ 英语 ： USS Shelton (DE-407) ） （USS Shelton DE-407）遭魚雷擊中。薛爾登號雖然沒有立刻沈沒，但仍在拖回戰線後方的路途中因為進水過度而滅頂。
在結束巡邏任務後，中途島後於10月7日時再次返回席亞德勒港。10月10日，為了將「中途島」這個艦名釋出給正在建造中的大型航空母艦（也就是日後的CVB-41），中途島號改名為聖羅號（USS St. Lo），以紀念幾個月前盟軍在歐洲戰場所發動的諾曼地登陸作戰——位在諾曼地半島的法國城市聖羅原本是德軍重兵防守的要塞城市，美軍在歷經一番激戰後終於在7月18日時攻克該城。 
聖羅號在1944年10月12日離開席亞德勒港，加入美軍對雷伊泰島（Leyte）的作戰計畫，並在10月18日時抵達雷伊泰島附近的海域，以便提供兩棲登陸作戰的過程中所需之空中支援與轟炸火力。聖羅號被編組到由 克利夫頓·史普勒格 （ 英语 ： Clifton Sprague ） （RAdm Clifton Sprague）中將所指揮的第77.4.3任務小組（TU 77.4.3，又常簡稱為「Taffy 3」），這是一支由六艘護航航空母艦、三艘驅逐艦與四艘 護航驅逐艦 （ 英语 ： Destroyer escort ） 所組成的護航艦隊。在10月18日至24日這段期間，聖羅號上的戰機持續地出擊轟炸日軍位於雷伊泰島與薩馬島（Samar）上的設施與機場，以替之後的雷伊泰島戰役鋪路。 
10月25日破曉時份，Taffy 3正在薩馬島東方約97公里的海面上巡航，聖羅號派出了四架戰機組成的反潛巡邏隊替船團護航，而其他航艦上的地勤人員則是正在進行整補工作，替戰機掛上炸彈等對地攻擊用的武器，以便在天亮之後對計畫搶攻的灘頭進行第一波的攻擊。6點47分時，巡邏隊中一架TBM復仇者式魚雷轟炸機的飛行員比爾·布魯克斯少尉（Ensign Bill Brooks）回報他在海面上發現一個由4艘戰艦、6艘巡洋艦與10至12艘驅逐艦所組成的大型日軍艦隊正在向西北方行進  ，而在此同時聖羅號上的觀測手也確認海平面上已可看見日軍主力戰艦獨特的寶塔式艦橋上層結構。
Taffy 3遭遇到的是由栗田健男中將所率領的聯合艦隊第二戰隊（又常被稱為「中央艦隊」），這支以大和號為旗艦的艦隊，擁有當時日軍最強大的火砲武力與艦隻噸位。相比之下全部是由中小型船隻所組成的Taffy 3無論是火力還是航速都不可能是對手，因此史普勒格中將立刻下令船團開始以 全速 （ 英语 ： Flank speed ） （flank speed）航行朝向南方逃逸。6點58分時，栗田的艦隊發射了這場日後被稱為「 薩馬島海戰 （ 英语 ： Battle off Samar ） 」的戰役中第一發砲彈，後續的彈著立刻在Taffy 3所處的海面上掀起一陣由大口徑穿甲彈所佈成的彈雨。
由於Taffy 3所屬的所有船艦上口徑最大的武裝也僅是5吋的防空砲，不僅射程不足，其破壞力也太弱，就算擊中對方也無法對日軍船艦厚重的鋼甲造成傷害  。因此整隻艦隊中唯一具有實質破壞力的武裝，僅剩驅逐艦上配備的魚雷。為了掩護隊中的護航航空母艦安全撤退，以強斯頓號（USS Johnston DD-557）為首的驅逐艦開始朝著日軍艦隊迂迴衝鋒，以求縮短兩軍的距離到魚雷的有效攻擊範圍之內  。
在薩馬海戰中，美軍損失了強斯頓號、 霍爾號 （ 英语 ： USS Hoel (DD-533) ） （USS Hoel DD-533）與護航驅逐艦 山謬·B·羅伯茲號 （ 英语 ： USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) ） （USS Samuel B. Roberts DE-413），但成功地保住了大部分的航空母艦戰力，僅有 甘比爾灣號 （ 英语 ： USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73) ） （USS Gambier Bay CVE-73）成為唯一一艘戰損的航空母艦。但由於驅逐艦群的英勇犧牲美軍成功地擊傷以重巡熊野號為首的幾艘日軍軍艦。
Taffy 3原本一度被日軍艦隊逼近到離薩馬島海岸線不遠處，即將全軍覆沒，但或許由於天候不佳與艦隊中幾艘船艦相繼受創，再加上美軍驅逐艦的頑強抵抗，讓栗田誤判美軍後方可能還有大型艦隊在等待，也就是威廉·海爾賽（William Halsey, Jr.）上將的第34任務艦隊（TF34），但此時TF34實際上是受到小澤治三郎所率領的第三戰隊（北方艦隊）誘敵成功往北遠去。在9點左右日軍艦隊突然開始向北撤退，包括聖羅號在內的幾艘美軍航空母艦順利逃過一劫。
過程中一架原本意圖衝向僚艦 白原號 （ 英语 ： USS_White_Plains_(CVE-66) ） （USS White Plains CVE-66）的零戰，在該艦以防空砲驅逐來襲的敵機成功之後，轉飛向聖羅號，於10點51分時成功衝撞上聖羅號的飛行甲板  。這架零戰在衝撞之前的剎那間拋出的兩顆對地炸彈擊穿了聖羅號的甲板、命中下方的飛行機庫，在聖羅號左舷產生巨大爆炸。爆炸引發的大火產生連鎖反應，導致多達六次的連環爆炸，最後引燃艦上滿載著魚雷與炸彈的彈藥庫。
聖羅號在遭到零式戰機撞擊之後掙扎了約半個小時，最後在大火伴隨之下沈入太平洋，成為第一艘遭到神風特攻隊擊沈的軍艦  。在同一場空襲中白原號、 基昆灣號 （ 英语 ： USS_Kitkun_Bay_(CVE-71) ） （USS Kitkun Bay CVE-71）與 加里寧灣號 （ 英语 ： USS_Kalinin_Bay_(CVE-68) ） （USS Kalinin Bay CVE-68）也受到輕重不一的損傷，艦隊中僅有 範肖灣號 （ 英语 ： USS Fanshaw Bay (CVE-70) ） （USS Fanshaw Bay CVE-70）一艘航空母艦毫髮未傷  。由於此役的成效顯著，日本帝國海軍漸漸開始在之後的戰役中仰賴神風特攻隊的攻擊，直到大戰結束。
由於聖羅號、其艦上船員與全體Taffy 3的官兵在薩馬島海戰中的英勇表現，Taffy 3在事後獲頒 美國總統部隊嘉許獎 （ 英语 ： Presidential Unit Citation (United States) ） （Presidential Unit Citation）與四等二次大戰服役星章（Service Star）  。
Hat tip to “Milo” who served on carriers in the U.S. Navy for many years for helping research this series on the Escort carriers.
“Jeep” carrier U.S.S.Gambier Bay, CVE-73, built by Kaiser Shipyards, Vancouver, Washington
Last week’s “Steamship Sunday” post introduced us to the workhorse Escort carriers of World War II, the “Jeep” carriers or “baby flattops.” Today, we cover these often under-appreciated ships’ finest hour, the Battle of Samar, 25 October, 1944.
In 1944, a journalist traveling aboard the “Jeep” carrier U.S.S. White Plains wrote:
“A “Jeep” carrier bears the same relation to a normal naval vessel that is borne to a district of fine homes by a respectable, but struggling, working class suburb. There is a desperate effort to keep up appearances with somewhat inadequate materials and not wholly successful results.”
Thus the CVEs were looked upon as being the “poor cousins” to the larger, more prestigious CVs.
The CVEs, as the Escort Carriers were officially designated, were never intended to lead the way into combat as were their larger cousins, the CVs such as (for example) the Essex or the Hornet. In the Atlantic, the “Jeep” carriers provided air cover as they escorted merchant ship convoys carrying war materiel to the European theater. There they found their niche against the Nazi U-boats and were a major factor in driving German Admiral Dönitz’s subs from the Atlantic.
In the Pacific, Escort Carriers did yeoman’s work, ferrying aircraft to and from the war zone, replacing losses in the air groups of the Fast Carrier task forces, as well as providing extended close air support for the various Pacific island invasions from Tarawa on, also providing anti-submarine patrols and convoy escort as their Atlantic sisters did.
The “Jeeps” also provided haven for planes of the CVs during combat. The planes of the larger carriers could land on the CVEs, lessening congestion on the decks of the CVs during battle.
As they were never intended as combat ships the hulls of the CVEs were not armored. Compared to the CVs such as the Yorktown or Essex-class carriers, they were slow – 19 knots (23.75 miles per hour) top speed vs. 33 knots (41.25 miles per hour) for an Essex-class carrier. They were armed with only one 5″ gun.
In the Battle of Samar on 25 October 1944, three groups of Escort Carriers, Destroyers and Destroyer Escorts (“the Taffys” – the name of their radio call sign) fiercely fought and repelled a much larger and superior Japanese force. Goliath, meet David.
The Battle of Samar was part of the larger Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines. This epic battle spanned five days and was the largest sea battle in history.
The Battle of Leyte Gulf was part of the liberation of the Philippines, returning the U.S. Army and General Douglas MacArthur to the Philippines. Samar was the nearest the Japanese came to success during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The Japanese were turned back by the “Jeeps” of the three “Taffy” squadrons under Rear Admiral Clifton Sprague, with “Taffy 3” bearing the brunt of the battle.
Before the battle: some of the crew ofGambier Bay, CVE 73
As we saw last week, many of the “Jeep” carriers were built by Kaiser Shipyards in Vancouver, Washington. Participating in the grueling five-day battle were 18 Escort Carriers, 14 of them built in the Kaiser shipyards. Six CVEs were sunk, all of them Kaiser-built ships. Of the 13 U.S. aircraft carriers of all types lost during World War II, eight were Escort Carriers, seven of which were of the Kaiser-built Casablanca class.
U.S.S. SAINT LO (CVE 63) ║ U.S.S. WHITE PLAINS (CVE 66) ║U.S.S. KALININ BAY (CVE 68)
U.S.S. FANSHAW BAY (CVE 70) ║ U.S.S. KITKUN BAY (CVE 71) ║ U.S.S. GAMBIER BAY (CVE 73)
U.S.S. HEERMANN (DD 532) ║ U.S.S. HOEL (DD 533) ║U.S.S. JOHNSTON (DD 557)
U.S.S. JOHN C. BUTLER (DE 339) ║ U.S.S. RAYMOND (DE 341) ║ U.S.S. DENNIS (DE 405) ║ U.S.S. SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (DE 413)
Rear Admiral Clifton Sprague
The Japanese realized that an American invasion of the Philippines or Formosa would cut their Empire in half and prevent vital supplies reaching the Home Islands from the south part of the empire. They decided to fight the “decisive battle” of the war wherever the Americans attacked next. If the Americans attacked the Philippines then the Japanese hoped to use the scattered elements of their fleet in a coordinated attack that might allow them to get at the vulnerable invasion fleet. In the final version of the plan Admiral Ozawa’s carriers, coming from Japan, were to drag the U.S. 3rd Fleet away from the invasion beaches in Leyte Gulf, allowing three other Japanese fleets to advance through the central Philippines to attack the invasion fleets.
Admiral Takeo Kurita
The most important of these three fleets was Admiral Takeo Kurita’s I Striking Force. Admiral Kurita began the battle of Leyte Gulf with a powerful fleet, containing five battleships, twelve cruisers and fifteen destroyers. Among the battleships were the Musashi and her twin sister, Yamato, the largest and most heavily-armed battleships in the world. Kurita also had the older battleships Kongo, Haruna and Nagato, twelve cruisers and fifteen destroyers. This force suffered grievous losses before reaching Samar. In the two day battle of the Sibuyan Sea (23-24 October 1944), Musashi was sunk by American aircraft, two cruisers were sunk by two American subs and a third crippled. Kurita started the battle of Samar with four battleships, six cruisers and ten destroyers. Kurita and the Imperial Japanese Navy lost twelve ships in the Battle of Sibuyan Sea.
The Japanese Super-BattleshipYamato at Samar.Yamato and her sister Musashi were the largest battleships everconstructed. They were fitted with massive 18.1″ guns vs. the 16″ guns on the newest U.S. battleships. Musashi was sunk in the Battle of Sibuyan Sea two days before the Battle of Samar. Both Super-Battleships were sunk (Yamato six months later) and neither saw much action in the war. Despite their size – 72,800 tons – and heavy armament, they had an Achilles heel: they were grossly underpowered and slow. They could not keep up with the rest of the Japanese fleet in action and they burned copious quantities of fuel. Thus the Imperial Navy kept them tied up in harbor most of the time.
On the American side the bulk of the battle was fought by Admiral Sprague’s “Taffy 3,” with six Escort carriers, three Destroyers and four Destroyer Escorts. The Escort Carriers carried modern aircraft, but these were armed for ground attack with fragmentation bombs and so didn’t have many of the armour piercing bombs needed against battleships. Twelve more Escort Carriers in two groups were in the area, but the 7th Fleet’s six old battleships, the pre-war battleships salvaged from Pearl Harbor, were away to the south defending the Surigao Strait. The powerful modern carriers and fast battleships of the 3rd Fleet had been lured away with Admiral William “Bull” Halsey to the north to try and intercept Japanese Admiral Ozawa’s carriers (Battle of Cape Engano). Admiral Kinkaid, commander of the 7th Fleet, believed that Halsey had left a powerful task force (Task Force 34, Admiral Lee) to watch Kurita, but in fact this force had accompanied the 3rd Fleet north.
On the night of 24-25 October Kurita passed through the San Bernardino Straits, turned south and headed for Leyte Gulf. Soon after this, at about 5:30, he learned that Admiral Nishimura’s force had been destroyed and Admiral Shima was retreating (Battle of the Surigao Strait). He probably never received the messages Ozawa sent out announcing that the 3rd Fleet was chasing him. Kurita could justifiably believe that the main parts of both the US 3rd and 7th Fleets were somewhere in or close to Leyte Gulf.
At about dawn (6:30) Kurita found Admiral Sprague’s Taffy 3, a task force made up of six Escort Carriers, three Destroyers and four Destroyer Escorts. Kurita believed that he had found a ‘gigantic enemy task force’ containing large carriers, cruisers, destroyers and possibly battleships. He decided to abandon the charge into Leyte Gulf and turned to attack Sprague’s force. At 6:58 Yamato‘s main guns opened fire on a surface target for the first time. (This was because, as noted in the caption of the photo of Yamato above, the Super-Battleships were grossly underpowered and the Imperial Japanese Navy kept them tied up in harbor most of the time. Thus Yamato had yet to fire its guns in combat until now.)
Sprague realized that he was in trouble. At 7:01 he issued a call for help in the clear (rather than in code), ordered his aircraft into the air and headed for a nearby rain squall. Under cover of the rain he decided to try and reach the support of Taffy 2, thirty miles to the south. His Destroyers and Destroyer Escorts were ordered to attack the Japanese fleet while the carriers made their best speed south.
Sprague’s aircraft had a limited potential to do serious damage to the Japanese battleships. The Escort Carriers didn’t have enough storage space to carry both fragmentation bombs for ground support and a significant number of armour piercing bombs. The Japanese had no way to know that, and the American aircraft were able to force the Japanese heavy ships into frantic manoeuvres, slowing their pursuit of the carriers. The torpedo-firing destroyers were equally effective.
The U.S. ships in the Battle of Samar made smoke to help obscure them from the Japanese fleet. The smoke-making devices used by the U.S. Navy in World War II was made by a company in Emeryville, California that up until 1935 had built the Doble steam car. In this photo two screening ships of Taffy 3 take position ahead of U.S.S.Gambier Bay (CVE 73) and lay protective smoke. Increasing in volume, heavy black funnel smoke and FS smoke (white) from the Escort Carriers, Destroyers, and Destroyer Escorts obstructed the Japanese line of sight. As a result, the accuracy of the Japanese gunfire decreased significantly. The smoke screen was used to great effect by all ship’s of Taffy 3, albeit it was one of the few advantages they held. The Destroyers and Destroyer Escorts zig-zagged in and around the fleeing Escort Carriers the hot, humid Philippine climate aided to combine the mixture of black fuel smoke and white chemical smoke, making them mix most effectively. It greatly neutralized the Japanese gunfire accuracy and was a contributing factor to the escape of Taffy 3.
The three Destroyers and four Destroyer Escorts attacked against hopeless odds. At first, U.S.S. Johnston, under her Commanding Officer, Commander Earnest Evans, steamed alone toward the Japanese. After 30 minutes under fire, the Japanese found Johnston and hit her hard, knocking out the starboard engine room, halving her speed, and taking out the two after gun mounts. Evans continued his attack and launched ten torpedoes at the enemy before retiring. As Johnston retreated, she encountered Heerman and Hoel, heading in on their attack. Evans could have continued on and no one would have ever faulted him, but instead Johnston turned back toward the enemy, making smoke to help hide her compatriots. Bringing up the rear of this naval “Charge of the Light Brigade” was the “Sammy B” as little Destroyer Escort Samuel B. Roberts was known to her crew. The “Sammy B” became known as the Destroyer Escort that fought like a battleship.
Above : the “Little Sammy B.” – the Destroyer Escort that fought like a battleship.
Below : Painting of U.S.S. Johnston, DD-557 in action at the Battle of Samar
Just after 7:20 am the cruiser Kumano was hit by a torpedo from the Johnston (DD-557). Her speed was reduced, and at 9:45 she was detached from the main fleet and ordered back through the San Bernardino Strait. This brought her into range of aircraft from the US 3rd Fleet and at around 9:45 she was attacked by SB2C dive-bombers and TBM torpedo bombers from Task Force 38. They only managed to score one near miss. A second attack early on 26 October managed three bomb hits, but the cruiser could still make 10 knots. The Kumano managed to reach safety at Manila where she underwent repairs before leaving for Japan on 5 November. Her luck now turned – her convoy was attacked by four American submarines and the cruiser was hit twice. She remained afloat and reached Dasol Bay on the Luzon coast, but on 25 November she was sunk by American aircraft.
This first destroyer attack cost the Americans dearly. Johnston was hit by three 14 inch and three 6 inch shells and Hoel was hit by shells that disabled her main engine. Hoel remained in the fight until she was unable to move and at about 8:30 her crew abandoned ship.
Above : Escort Carrier U.S.S.Gambier Bay under attack during the Battle of Samar.
Below : The fatal hit onGambier Bay seen from U.S.S. White Plains: “This shell hit the forward engine room on the port side. It was not a direct hit into the engine room itself as no fragments entered the engine room. It was an impact explosion which opened a gap in the skin of the ship approximately 4 feet square between frames 96 and 98. The center of this hole was about 12 feet below the water line of the ship. Very rapid flooding occurred in the engine room and fire room and in about five minutes the water was up to the fire box in the boilers necessitating the securing of both boilers and No. 1 main engine at 0825.” U.S.S. Gambier Bay (CVE 73) Action Report
A little further south the Escort Carriers came under fire from the Japanese battleships. Kalinin Bay and Gambier Bay were both hit but managed to maintain their position until the Gambier Bay was hit in the forward engine room. The Destroyer Johnston attempted to distract attention from the stricken carrier but without success and Gambier Bay sank at around 8:45 am. Johnston then managed to break up a light cruiser attack on the carriers, but in the process she became their main target and was sunk. Only 141 of her 327 crewmen survived.
While Admiral Kurita’s ships shot down American planes, destroyed Johnston and Samuel B. Roberts, and severely damaged Hoel and Heerman, the Japanese Admiral was amazed by the audacity of the American attacks. Pilots of the American planes, when they ran out of ammunition and bombs, buzzed the bridges of the Japanese ships firing hand guns at Japanese sailors and officers on the bridge! Lt. Cdr. Robert Copeland, CO of Samuel B. Roberts, upon receiving Admiral Sprague’s orders to attack addressed his crew thusly:
“This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can.”
The fight taken to the Japanese by the Americans earned the awe of the Japanese. When “Sammy B.” sank, the commander of a nearby Japanese ship stepped outside of the bridge to salute the survivors in the water.
The Japanese cruiser Chikuma was hit by a torpedo at around 8:54. It was a sign that Sprague’s men were getting closer to help that this torpedo was probably launched by an aircraft from Admiral Felix B. Stump’s Task Group 77.4.2. The Japanese cruisers’ engine rooms flooded, and the ship came to a halt. She was unable to respond when Kurita decided to withdraw from battle, and was left alone. She sank during the day with the loss of most of her crew. Another 100 were rescued by the destroyer Nowaki, but that ship was lost on the night of 25-26 October with the loss of all hands.
Tone and Chikuma, followed by Chokai and Kumano, making 32 knots and followed closely by the battleships Yamato and Haruna, surged toward the retreating American carriers. Gambier Bay was the last carrier in line, nearest the advancing Japanese.
At 08:40, Tone found the range. As 8-inch shells plastered the ocean around Gambier Bay, her lone 5-inch weapon opened fire on the Japanese cruiser, to no effect. At 08:47, the first shell struck Gambier Bay in the starboard engine room. The second hit the fueled aircraft in the hangar deck. Battleship shells passed through her without exploding, since the thin steel she was made of wasn’t enough to stop them, a benefit had her other wounds not been so grievous. By 09:00 she was dead in the water as Tone, Chikuma and Chokai closed in. Her men fought the sea and the enemy fire to save their ship and died at their stations. At 09:07, Gambier Bay capsized and sank under the combined fire of the three heavy cruisers, leaving 800 survivors struggling in the water. She was the only American aircraft carrier ever sunk in a surface engagement. As she slipped beneath the waves, her surviving airplanes headed toward the newly-liberated field at Tacloban, to refuel and rearm and return to the battle.
As the Japanese cruisers moved closer, U.S.S. White Plains opened fire with her 5-inch “popgun,” and scored six hits on Chokai from 11,700 yards, maximum range, one of which exploded the cruiser’s starboard torpedoes and sank her. No other U.S. aircraft carrier ever sank an enemy combat vessel by gunfire.
By this time Kurita was rather losing his grip on the battle. The slow Yamato was some way behind his cruisers and visibility was poor. Kurita wasn’t aware of the damage to three of his cruisers, and had lost sight of the carriers. At 9:11, believing that he had won a major victory over a squadron of fleet carriers, Kurita ordered his surviving ships to withdraw from the battle.
At about 10:50 a near miss on the cruiser Suzuya detonated the torpedoes in the starboard forward torpedo tubes. This set off a fire made worse when more of her torpedoes exploded at around 11:00. Damage control measures failed and at about 12 noon a series of ammunition explosions began. The ship was abandoned at 1:00 pm and sank twenty minutes later.
Above : IJN heavy CruiserSuzuya at the Battle of Samar. Below : the miss that was as good as a hit. A near-miss from a U.S. bomb caused the torpedoes in Suzuya’s starboard forward torpedo tubes to explode, which in turn caused further torpedo explosions, followed by ammunition explosions, dooming the ship.
Taffy 2 and Taffy 1 launched their aircraft against the enemy fleet, to the same effect as the attacks by Taffy 3. The combination of the audacious destroyer attacks and the hounding of his fleet by aircraft convinced Admiral Kurita that he faced the main part of the American fleet. Never a believer in the possibility of success in this battle, Kurita decided that honor had been served, and American ships had been sunk. Incredibly, at 09:45, when he could have sailed on into Leyte Gulf completely unopposed by any force capable of stopping him and sunk the entire American invasion fleet, Kurita turned around and re-entered San Bernardino Strait. By 10:30, the Battle of Samar was over. When Admiral Sprague realized the Japanese were retiring, he turned to the Captain of Fanshaw Bay and said “I expected to be swimming by now, with any luck.”
Above : After being hit by a kamikaze, Escort CarrierSt. Lô burns. She was one of six Kaiser-built CVEs sunk in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Below : A kamikaze attack on a U.S. ship elsewhere during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, October, 1944.
Taffy 3’s ordeal wasn’t yet over. At 10:50, just as the Suzuya was being attacked, nine kamikaze aircraft attacked the task group, in one of the first organized suicide attacks of the war. Most of the kamikazes were destroyed or missed, but one hit the Escort Carrier St. Lô, triggering explosions that sank her. A second kamikaze attack twenty minutes later did more damage to other ships but failed to sink anything.
It took Kurita about two hours to regroup. He then turned south with his remaining fifteen ships in an attempt to reach Leyte Gulf, the original target of his operation. At 11:40 one of his lookouts reported sighting a battleship and destroyers. The fleet turned aside to chase this phantom before turning south again. At around 12:30, when only forty five miles from Leyte Gulf, Kurita decided that it wasn’t worth risking the destruction of his fleet just to sink empty transport ships. He had also received reports that an American carrier task force had been sighted 113 miles north of the gulf, and he now decided to turn north to deal with this.
U.S. Navy sailors beingrescued, Battle of Samar. These sailors were from one the “Tin Cans,” a Destroyer or Destroyer Escort that was sunk at Samar. The photo was taken by U.S. Army Private William Roof. The ship from which ship these men are from is not identified. The bravery of the crews on the “Tin Cans” in this battle was nothing less than astounding, and is a story in itself. The story is well covered in the book “Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors.”
In fact Halsey’s carriers were still far to the north. All morning Halsey had been receiving urgent calls for help, but had refused to turn back. In the resulting Battle of Cape Engano Halsey sank all four of Ozawa’s carriers. At around 11:00 he ordered one of his carrier groups to turn south, and his fourth carrier group, which was some way to the east, was also directed towards Kurita. This fourth task group was first to come into range and during the afternoon it launched two attacks on Kurita’s fleet. After spending all afternoon looking for the American carriers Kurita retired to the eastern end of the San Bernardino Strait at 6 pm. He was under orders to wait for dark and try and fight a night battle, but at 9:25, with fuel short, he decided to retreat west through the straits. He would suffer further air attack on 26 October, but the main fighting in Leyte Gulf was over.
Battle of Samar, 25 October 1944
The battle of Samar (25 October 1944) was the nearest the Japanese came to success during the battle of Leyte Gulf and saw a powerful Japanese battleship force come close to destroying a force of American escort carriers.
The Japanese realised that an American invasion of the Philippines or of Formosa would cut their Empire in half and prevent vital supplies reaching the Home Islands from the south part of the empire. They decided to try and fight the 'decisive battle' of the war wherever the Americans attacked next. If the Americans attacked the Philippines then the Japanese hoped to use the scattered elements of their fleet in a coordinated attack that might allow them to get at the vulnerable invasion fleet. In the final version of the plan Admiral Ozawa's carriers, coming from Japan, were to drag the US 3rd Fleet away from the invasion beaches in Leyte Gulf, allowing three other Japanese fleets to advance through the central Philippines to attack the invasion fleets.
The most important of these three fleets was Admiral Kurita's I Striking Force. Admiral Kurita began the battle of Leyte Gulf with a powerful fleet, containing five battleships, twelve cruisers and fifteen destroyers. Amongst the battleships were the Musashi and the Yamato, the biggest and most powerful battleships in the world. He also had the older battleships Kongo, Haruna and Nagato, twelve cruisers and fifteen destroyers. This force suffered grievous losses before reaching Samar. In the two day battle of the Sibuyan Sea (23-24 October 1944) the Musashi was sunk by American aircraft, two cruisers were sunk by two American subs and a third crippled. Kurita started the battle of Samar with four battleships, six cruisers and ten destroyers.
On the American side the bulk of the battle was fought by Admiral Sprague's Taffy Three, with six escort carriers, three destroyers and four destroyer escorts. The escort carriers carried modern aircraft, but these were armed for ground attack and so didn't have many of the armour piercing bombs needed against battleships. Twelve more escort carriers in two groups were in the area, but the 7th Fleet's six old battleships were away to the south defending the Surigao Strait. The powerful modern carriers and fast battleships of the 3rd Fleet had been lured away to the north to try and intercept Ozawa's carriers (Battle of Cape Engano). Admiral Kinkaid, commander of the 7th Fleet, believed that Halsey had left a powerful task force (Task Force 34, Admiral Lee) to watch Kurita, but in fact this force had accompanied the 3rd Fleet north.
On the night of 24-25 October Kurita passed through the San Bernardino Straits, turned south and headed for Leyte Gulf. Soon after this, at about 5.30, he learnt that Admiral Nishimura's force had been destroyed and Admiral Shima was retreating (battle of the Surigao Strait). He probably never received the messages Ozawa sent out announcing that the 3rd Fleet was chasing him. Kurita could justifiably believe that the main parts of both the US 3rd and 7th Fleets were somewhere in or close to Leyte Gulf.
At about dawn (6.30) Kurita found Admiral Sprague's Taffy 3, a task force made up of six escort carriers and seven escorts. Kurita believed that he had found a 'gigantic enemy task force' containing large carriers, cruisers, destroyers and possibly battleships. He decided to abandon the charge into Leyte Gulf and turned to attack Sprague's force. At 6.58 the Yamato's main guns opened fire on a surface target for the first time.
Sprague realised that he was in trouble. At 7.01 he issued a call for help in the clear, ordered his aircraft into the air and headed for a nearby rain squall. Under cover of the rain he decided to try and reach the support of Taffy 2, thirty miles to the south. His destroyers were ordered to attack the Japanese fleet while the carriers made their best speed south.
Sprague's aircraft had a limited potential to do serious damage to the Japanese battleships. The escort carriers didn't have enough storage space to carry both fragmentation bombs for ground support and a significant number of armour piercing bombs. The Japanese had no way to know that, and the American aircraft were able to force the Japanese heavy ships into frantic manoeuvres, slowing their pursuit of the carriers. The torpedo firing destroyers were equally effective.
Just after 7.20am the cruiser Kumano was hit by a torpedo from the US destroyer Johnston DD-557. Her speed was reduced, and at 9.45 she was detached from the main fleet and ordered back through the San Bernardino Strait. This brought her into range of aircraft from the US 3rd Fleet and at around 9.45 she was attacked by SB2C dive-bombers and TBM torpedo bombers from TF 38. They only managed to score one near miss. A second attack early on 26 October managed three bomb hits, but the cruiser could still make 10kts. The Kumano managed to reach safety at Manila where she underwent repairs before leaving for Japan on 5 November. Her luck now turned - her convoy was attacked by four American submarines and the cruiser was hit twice. She remained afloat and reached Dasol Bay on the Luzon coast, but on 25 November she was sunk by American aircraft.
This first destroyer attack cost the Americans dearly. The Johnston was hit by three 14in and three 6in shells and the Hoel by shells that disabled her main engine. The Hoel remained in the fight until she was unable to move and at about 8.30 her crew abandoned ship.
A little further south the escort carriers came under fire from the Japanese battleships. Kalinin Bay and Gambier Bay were both hit but managed to main their position until the Gambier Bay was hit in the forward engine room. The destroyer Johnston attempted to distract attention from the stricken carrier but without success and the Gambier Bay sank at around 8.45am. The Johnston then managed to break up a light cruiser attack on the carriers, but in the process she became their main target and was sunk. Only 141 of her 327 crewmen survived.
The cruiser Chikuma was hit by a torpedo at around 8.54. It was a sign that Sprague's men were getting closer to help that this torpedo was probably launched by an aircraft from Admiral Felix B. Stump's Task Group 77.4.2. The engine rooms flooded, and the ship came to a halt. She was unable to respond when Kurita decided to withdraw from battle, and was left alone. She sank during the day with the loss of most of her crew. Another 100 were rescued by the destroyer Nowaki, but that ship was lost on the night of 25-26 October with the loss of all hands.
The cruiser Chokai was hit by 500lb bombs at around 9.05am. The bombs caused heavy fires and damaged the forward engine room. The cruiser came to a halt, and couldn't be rescued. At around 10.30 the crippled cruiser was sunk by a spread of torpedoes from the destroyer Fujinami.
By this time Kurita was rather losing his grip on the battle. The Yamato was some way behind his cruisers and visibility was poor. He wasn't aware of the damage to three of his cruisers, and had lost sight of the carriers. At 9.11, believing that he had won a major victory over a squadron of fleet carriers, Kurita ordered his surviving ships to withdraw from the battle.
At about 10.50 the cruiser Suzuya suffered a near miss that detonated the torpedoes in the starboard forward torpedo tubes. This set off a fire made worse when more of her torpedoes exploded at around 11.00. Damage control measures failed and at about 12 noon a series of ammunition explosions began. The ship was abandoned at 1pm and sank twenty minutes later.
Taffy 3's ordeal wasn't yet over. At 10.50, just as the Suzuya was being attacked, nine kamikaze aircraft attacked the task group, in one of the first organised suicide attacks of the war. Most were destroyed or missed, but one hit the escort carrier St Lô, triggering explosions that sank her. A second kamikaze attack twenty minutes later did more damage but failed to sink anything.
It took Kurita about two hours to regroup. He then turned south with his remaining fifteen ships in an attempt to reach Leyte Gulf, the original target of his operation. At 11.40 one of his lookouts reported sighting a battleship and destroyers. The fleet turned aside to chase this phantom before turning south again. At around 12.30, when only forty five miles from Leyte Gulf, Kurita decided that it wasn't worth risking the destruction of his fleet just to sink empty transport ships. He had also received reports that an American carrier task force had been sighted 113 miles north of the gulf, and he now decided to turn north to deal with this
In fact Halsey's carriers were still far to the north. All morning he had been receiving urgent calls for help, but had refused to turn back. In the resulting battle of Cape Engano Halsey sank all four of Ozawa's carriers. At around 11 he ordered one of his carrier groups to turn south, and his fourth carrier group, which was some way to the east, was also directed towards Kurita. This fourth task group was first to come into range and during the afternoon it launched two attacks on Kurita's fleet. After spending all afternoon looking for the American carriers Kurita retired to the eastern end of the San Bernardino Strait at 6pm. He was under orders to wait for dark and try and fight a night battle, but at 9.25, with fuel short, he decided to retreat west through the straits. He would suffer further air attack on 26 October, but the main fighting in Leyte Gulf was over.
Kurita has since been blamed for his decisions to withdraw from combat at 9.11 and to turn back from Leyte Gulf at 12.30. Both can be defended using the information available to Kurita at the time, but he later believed the second decision to have been a mistake. If Kurita had advanced into Leyte Gulf then his fleet would almost certainly have been destroyed - if not by Kinkaid's escort carriers and old battleships then by the 3rd Fleet. All he could have achieved was the destruction of empty transport ships, and perhaps a damaging bombardment of the US troops on Leyte, but neither would have altered the eventual course of the fighting in the Philippines.
Robert E. Burgess Obituary
&ldquoHappy 93rd Birthday Bob. We all miss your big gentle, warm and giving heart that you tried so hatd to hide under that titanium plate beneath your. Read More » &rdquo
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Robert E . Burgess , 77, of Estes Park passed away July 3, 2004, at the Estes Park Medical Center after a three year battle with cancer. Bob was born November 12, 1926 in Dallas, Texas. His parents were William Ewell and Thelma (Porter) Burgess . His father died of pneumonia March 25, 1931 when Bob was five years old. His mother moved to Colorado to be closer to her parents, Mr. And Mrs. Curran Porter, who lived in Estes Park starting in the 1920s. She opened The Old Plantation restaurant in December 1931 and married C. Warren Chapman in December 1932. Bob began working at the restaurant at an early age pitting cherries for the homemade cherry pies. He worked as a bus boy and later as a host. In 1962, he assumed the position of chef. Bob and his brother Bill were co-owners of the restaurant for 22 years. Bob and his wife Janet owned the restaurant form 1979 until their retirement in October 1992. Bobs radio commercials were a popular morning feature. He talked live with announcer Chuck Benson about food specials at the restaurant and various topics. Mr. Burgess attended grade school in Greeley through the 4th grade. From 5th grade through high school he attended Estes Park schools. In May 1945, his mother received his high school diploma as Bob had entered the U. S. Navy in November 1944 as soon as he was eighteen years of age. The school board considered his boot training to be equivalent to his senior year of high school. He served proudly aboard the U. S. S. Kalinin Bay, a small carrier, as a radar man until the ship was decommissioned at the end of World War II. Mr. Burgess used the G. I. Bill to further his education. He graduated from Denver University in 1950 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration majoring Hotel/Restaurant Management. He was in the first graduating class of the H/R Management School at DU. Besides working summers at his parents restaurant in Estes Park, he worked winters at country clubs in Phoenix, was manager of the coffee shop at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Denver, which no longer exists, and was manager of the Greeley Country Club. On July 26, 1956, at 10:30 p.m. (after the Plantation closed), he married Janet Rae Bovee of Powell, Wyoming, in his mothers home. Janet had worked two summers at The Taffy Shop and owner Lowell Slack (deceased), had played cupid. Two daughters were born to this union: Elizabeth Diane and Nancy Jayne. Mr. Burgess was a workaholic. For many years he closed the doors of the Plantation at the end of the season one day and started working for the Graves Gas Company the next day. He was appreciative that Clarence Pop Graves gave him a job every winter. Bob loved Estes Park and never wanted to live anywhere else. He served as Treasurer for the Chamber of Commerce. He was a deputy sheriff for Larimer County, a volunteer job. He was elected to the Town Council three times and served 10 years as a trustee from 1972 to 1982. He was appointed to serve on the Draft Board (Selective Service System) Local Board No. 4, Colorado and fulfilled this duty for numerous years. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge for almost 50 years. He was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star serving as Worthy Patron from 1968-1969. He was a Grand Escort for his wife while she was Grand Chaplain for the Grand Chapter of Colorado, OES, 1969-1970. He was handy with tools, as well as being an excellent cook and baker, and was always available to give a friend a helping hand. He loved to read many subjects and acquired a sizeable library, including a large number of books on World War II. He had a life membership in the National Rifle Association of America. He belonged to the Classic Car Club of America for many years. His 1928 Stutz roadster remains un restored in the garage. He had an extensive collection of classical music and opera. He and Janet were charter members of Opera Colorado. They also went to operas in New York City, San Francisco, London, Sydney and Melbourne, Australia. Bob became fascinated with the artwork of early Colorado and New Mexico artists. Soon the walls of the Old Plantation were covered with the works of R. H. Tallant, Charles Partridge Adams, Oscar Jacobson, George Elbert Burr, J. Charles Berninghaus, Sheldon Parsons, Charles Craig, Peter Hurd, Charles H. Harmon, Allen True, Raphael Lillywhite, Howard Cook, Harvey Otis Young, Joseph Imhof, Leal Mack, William P. Henderson, Elizabeth Spaulding, Helen Chain, Dave Stirling and Lyman Byxbe. After retirement, traveling became a new hobby. Soon England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Mexico Canada, Alaska and Hawaii were visited. His favorite trip was to Egypt in 2001. Bob enjoyed attending his U. S. S. Kalinin Bay reunions. He attended nine reunions starting in 1991 in San Antonio and to the most recent one in Las Vegas in May 2004. Mr. Burgess was preceded in death by his parents and his stepfather. He is survived by his wife Janet of Estes Park his daughters, Elizabeth Eggert (Bill) of Centennial, CO and Nancy Burgess of West Hollywood, CA three grandchildren, Robert Burgess Normali (14) of West Hollywood, CA, Endsley Kells Eggert (12) and Andrew Chapman Eggert (10) of Centennial, CO. Also surviving is his brother William E . Burgess (Harriet) of Estes Park sister-in-law Dolores Bleekman (George) of Granite Bay, CA three nieces and three nephews: Deborah Burgess Richardson of Estes Park, Virginia L. Burgess of Casa Grande, AZ, Kirstin Bleekman Wallingford of Roseville, CA, William Burgess , III (Renee) of Durango, CO, Dell Bleekman (Susan) of New York, NY and nine great nieces and nephews. Memorial services will be held Thursday, July 8, 2004 at the Estes Valley Memorial Gardens at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may
be made to Cancer, Diabetes or Arthritis Foundations in care of Allnutt Funeral Service, 1302 Graves Avenue, Estes Park, CO 80517.
Watch the video: Birth of the CVE