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USS Liscome Bay (ACV/CVE-56) was the second of fifty Casablanca-class escort carriers built to serve the United States Navy during World War II. Launched in April 1943 and commissioned the following August, she was named for Liscome Bay in Dall Island in the Alexander Archipelago of Alaska. On 24 November 1943, her munitions were catastrophically detonated by a torpedo attack by the Japanese submarine I-175 while she was acting as the flagship of Carrier Division 24, which was supporting operations on Makin. She quickly sank with the loss of 644 men. Her loss is the deadliest sinking of a carrier in the history of the United States Navy.[note 1]

USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56), ferrying aircraft to San Diego, 20 September 1943, with a load of SBD Dauntlesses, TBF Avengers and F4F Wildcats.
United States
NameLiscome Bay
NamesakeLiscome Bay, Alaska
Orderedas a Type S4-S2-BB3 hull
Awarded18 June 1942
BuilderKaiser Shipbuilding Company, Vancouver, Washington
Yard number302
Way number8[1]
Laid down12 December 1942
Launched19 April 1943
Sponsored byMrs. Ben Moreell
Commissioned7 August 1943
ReclassifiedCVE, 15 July 1943
  • Hull symbol: ACV-56
  • CVE-56
Honors and
1 Battle star
FateTorpedoed and sunk by I-175, 24 November 1943
General characteristics
Class and type Casablanca-class escort carrier
  • 8,188 long tons (8,319 t) (standard)
  • 10,902 long tons (11,077 t) (full load)
  • 512 ft 3 in (156.13 m) (oa)
  • 490 ft (150 m) (wl)
  • 65 ft 2 in (19.86 m)
  • 108 ft (33 m) (extreme width)
Draft20 ft 9 in (6.32 m) (max)
Installed power
  • 4 × Babcock & Wilcox boilers
  • 9,000 shp (6,700 kW)
  • 2 × Skinner Unaflow reciprocating steam engines
  • 2 × screws
Speed19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph)
Range10,240 nmi (18,960 km; 11,780 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
  • Total: 910–916 officers and men
    • Embarked Squadron: 50–56
    • Ship's Crew: 860
Aircraft carried27 aircraft
Aviation facilities
Service record
Part of: United States Pacific Fleet (1943)
Commanders: Captain I.D. Wiltsie[2]
  • Gilbert Islands operation
    • Makin Island (20–23 November 1943)

Design and description

A profile of the design of Takanis Bay, which was shared with all Casablanca-class escort carriers.
A profile of the design of Takanis Bay, which was shared with all Casablanca-class escort carriers.

Liscome Bay was a Casablanca-class escort carrier, the most numerous type of aircraft carriers ever built,[4] and designed specifically to be mass-produced using prefabricated sections, in order to replace heavy early war losses. Standardized with her sister ships, she was 512 ft 3 in (156.13 m) long overall, had a beam of 65 ft 2 in (19.86 m), and a draft of 20 ft 9 in (6.32 m). She displaced 8,188 long tons (8,319 t) standard, 10,902 long tons (11,077 t) with a full load. She had a 257 ft (78 m) long hangar deck and a 477 ft (145 m) long flight deck. She was powered by two Uniflow reciprocating steam engines which drove two shafts, providing 9,000 horsepower (6,700 kW) and enabling her to make 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph). The ship had a cruising range of 10,240 nautical miles (18,960 km; 11,780 mi) at a speed of 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph). Her compact size necessitated the installment of an aircraft catapult at her bow, and there were two aircraft elevators to facilitate movement of aircraft between the flight and hangar deck: one each fore and aft.[5][4][6]

One 5 in (127 mm)/38 caliber dual-purpose gun was mounted on the stern. Anti-aircraft defense was provided by eight Bofors 40 mm (1.6 in) anti-aircraft guns in single mounts, as well as 12 Oerlikon 20 mm (0.79 in) cannons, which were mounted around the perimeter of the deck.[6] Casablanca-class escort carriers were designed to carry 27 aircraft, but the hangar deck could accommodate more. For example, during her only combat deployment, Operation Kourbash, she carried 11 FM-1 and five F4F-4 fighters, as well as nine TBM-1 and three TBM-1C torpedo bombers, for a total of 28 aircraft.[2]


She was laid down on 12 December 1942, under a Maritime Commission contract, MCE hull 1137, by Kaiser Shipbuilding Company, Vancouver, Washington. She was launched on 19 April 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Clara Klinksick, wife of Rear Admiral Ben Moreell, the Chief of the Navy's Bureau of Yards and Docks. Originally, she was intended to be sent to the British Royal Navy under the name HMS Ameer. However, a change in plans resulted in the Bogue-class escort carrier USS Baffins being redesignated as Ameer in Liscome Bay's place. She was named Liscome Bay on 28 June 1943, as part of tradition which named escort carriers after bays or sounds in Alaska. The vessel was assigned the hull classification symbol CVE-56 on 15 July 1943,[7] and was commissioned on 7 August 1943. Captain Irving D. Wiltsie was the ship's first commander,[8] and her crew was derived from the Bogue-class escort carrier USS Glacier, which had been ordered in July 1942 but was sent to the Royal Navy as part of the Lend-Lease program.[9]

Service history

After being commissioned, Liscome Bay proceeded southwards towards San Diego, California, picking up and ferrying 60 aircraft from San Francisco on the way, arriving on 22 September 1943.[10] For the next month, she engaged in training operations off the Southern California coast. On 11 October, she was designated as the flagship of Carrier Division 24, under the command of Rear Admiral Henry M. Mullinnix.[11] On 14 October, she received her aircraft contingent, and on 21 October, she departed for Pearl Harbor, arriving a week later, on 27 October. She then conducted additional drills and training exercises off of Hawaii until early November, when she was assigned to the invasion fleet assembling for Operation Kourbash.[12] As a member of Carrier Division 24, she departed from Pearl Harbor on 10 November as part of Task Force 52 commanded by Rear Admiral Richmond K. Turner, bound for the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. It was to be her first and last mission.[8][13]

Liscome Bay was assigned to the naval forces supporting the invasion of Makin.[14] The invasion bombardment announcing the first major U.S. naval thrust into the central Pacific began on 20 November at 5 a.m. Just 76 hours later, Tarawa and Makin Islands were both captured. Liscome Bay's aircraft had played a vital role in the capture of Makin, providing close air support and bombing Japanese positions.[15] In total, 2,278 sorties were conducted by the carrier task group in support of Operation Galvanic, which neutralized enemy airbases, supported U.S. Army landings and ground operations with bombing and strafing missions, and intercepted enemy aircraft. With the islands secured, U.S. naval forces began retiring.[8] However, Liscome Bay stayed with the rest of her task force as Marines mopped up resistance on Butaritari Island.[16]


The invasion of the Gilbert Islands had caught the Japanese command by surprise. Admiral Mineichi Koga, in desperation, issued orders to recall four Japanese submarines southwest of Hawaii and five submarines near Truk and Rabaul to converge on the Gilberts.[17] Of the nine Japanese submarines sent to sortie against the U.S. forces in the Gilberts, six were lost.[18]

On 23 November, however, the submarine I-175, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Sunao Tabata, arrived off Makin.[19] The U.S. task group, built around Rear Admiral Henry M. Mullinnix's three escort carriers, was steaming 20 mi (32 km) southwest of Butaritari Island at 15 knots.[8] The task group was traveling in a circular formation, with seven destroyers, the cruiser Baltimore, the battleships Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Mississippi, and Liscome Bay's two sister ships, Corregidor and Coral Sea, surrounding her. Liscome Bay, as the guide for the group, was located dead center between the other ships. As collisions were deemed to be a greater risk to the ships than a potential submarine attack, the ships were not zig-zagging.[20]

At 04:30 on 24 November, reveille was sounded in Liscome Bay. On 04:34, the destroyer Franks left to investigate a signal beacon, likely dropped from a Japanese plane.[21] This resulted in a gap within Liscome Bay's screen. At 04:36, the radar operators on New Mexico spotted a short-lived blip, which may have represented I-175 diving into position.[21] Flight quarters was sounded at 04:50. The crew went to routine general quarters at 05:05, when flight crews prepared their planes for dawn launching. Thirteen planes, including one forward on the catapult, had been readied on the flight deck. These had all been fueled and armed. There were an additional seven planes in the hangar that were not fueled or armed. She had a large amount of munitions on board, stored below-decks.[22] Meanwhile, the task group executed a turn to the northeast, which brought Liscome Bay to a course presenting her side to I-175. The Japanese submarine fired a spread of at least three Type 95 torpedoes towards the task force.[23]

At about 05:10, a lookout on the starboard (right) side of Liscome Bay reported seeing a torpedo headed for the ship.[22] The torpedo struck behind the aft engine room,[8] as Liscome Bay was conducting its turn, and detonated the bomb magazine, causing a devastating explosion that engulfed the ship and sent shrapnel flying as far as 5,000 yards (4,600 m) away.[24] Considerable debris fell on the battleship New Mexico about 1,500 yards (1,400 m) off, while a sailor on board the escort carrier Coral Sea was reportedly hit by a fire extinguisher from Liscome Bay.[25] The entire task force was rocked by the explosion, but no other ships were significantly damaged. A mushroom cloud erupted, rising thousands of feet above the wreck of Liscome Bay.[26]

The detonation sheared off nearly the entire stern of the carrier, killing everyone behind the forward bulkhead of the aft engine room. Seawater quickly rushed into the gap, mixing with oil released from the hull.[27] Both the hangar and flight decks were heavily damaged. Parts of the superstructure, including the radar antenna, collapsed onto the deck. The forward part of the hangar was immediately engulfed in flames, igniting the few remaining planes on the flight deck. Planes fell off the carrier's deck. Steam, compressed air, and fire-main pressure were lost throughout the ship. Fires on the flight deck caused ammunition within the burning aircraft and anti-aircraft guns to detonate, further complicating matters.[28] The gasoline coated water surrounding Liscome Bay caught fire, hampering efforts by survivors to escape.[22][29]

It didn't look like a ship at all, we thought it was an ammunition dump... She just went whoom – an orange ball of flame.[24]

Lieutenant John Dix, communications officer on the destroyer Hoel

At 05:33, only 23 minutes after the explosion, Liscome Bay listed to starboard and sank; 53 officers and 591 enlisted men were killed, including Captain Irving Wiltsie, Rear Admiral Henry M. Mullinnix and Doris Miller.[8] 12 Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers, 7 Grumman FM-1 Wildcat fighters, and 4 Grumman F4F Wildcat fighters went down with Liscome Bay.[30]


When Liscome Bay detonated, the rest of the task group immediately conducted evasive maneuvers, scattering from her wreck.[31] At 05:40, the destroyers Morris, Hughes and Hull arrived at the oil slick to rescue survivors, but many of the men hauled up were dead or dying. At 06:10, the destroyer Maury spotted two torpedo wakes, one just 15 yards (14 m) from the destroyer's hull.[32] A radar operator on New Mexico detected an echo, and Hull was recalled to join Gridley in dropping depth charges. Macdonough took Hull's place in picking up survivors. At 08:00, the search operation was concluded.[33] Of the 916[note 2] crewmen aboard Liscome Bay, 644, including Wiltsie, Mullinnix, and Miller (Cook 3rd Class Doris Miller, see "Notable crew" below), went down with the ship, whilst 272 survived. Including those lost on Liscome Bay, U.S. casualties in the assault on Makin Island exceeded the strength of the entire Japanese garrison.


Burial at sea aboard troopship Leonard Wood of two Liscome Bay sailors, victims of the submarine attack by I-175. In the foreground facing the ceremony are survivors of Liscome Bay.
Burial at sea aboard troopship Leonard Wood of two Liscome Bay sailors, victims of the submarine attack by I-175. In the foreground facing the ceremony are survivors of Liscome Bay.

The survivors were transferred at Makin Lagoon from the destroyers onto the attack transports Leonard Wood and Neville.[34] On Thanksgiving night, two of the survivors died, and were buried at sea.[35] On 2 December, the navy announced that Liscome Bay had been sunk off Makin Island.[36]

Over two months later, on 4 February 1944, I-175 was detected and sunk by the destroyer Charrette and the destroyer escort Fair, using their Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar.[18]


In the Chapel of St. Cornelius, located within Valley Forge Military Academy and College, two stained-glass windows, installed in 1965, act as a memorial to Liscome Bay. On the museum ship Yorktown, a memorial plaque was installed in 1990 to the ship.[37]

Notable crew

See also


  1. The kamikaze strike on the fleet carrier Franklin was deadlier, with 807 killed, but she did not sink, and was later repaired.[3]
  2. The crew figures for Liscome Bay vary widely, owing to transferred crew and the ship's status as the flagship for Carrier Division 24. In the ship's official navy history, the crew count is listed as 911, whilst in Lieutenant Commander Oliver Ame's action report, the crew count is listed as 948. For the purposes of this article, the crew count is listed as 916, in correspondence with DANFS.


  1. MARCOM.
  2. Y'Blood 2014, p. 39
  3. Noles 2010, p. xxi
  4. Chesneau & Gardiner 1980, p. 109
  5. Y'Blood 2014, pp. 34–35
  6. Hazegray 1998.
  7. Noles 2010, pp. 10–11
  8. DANFS 2015.
  9. Noles 2010, p. 17
  10. Noles 2010, p. 37
  11. Noles 2010, p. 40
  12. Noles 2010, p. 58
  13. Noles 2010, p. 60
  14. Noles 2010, p. 62
  15. Noles 2010, p. 77
  16. Noles 2010, p. 83
  17. Noles 2010, p. 99
  18. Noles 2010, p. 210
  19. Noles 2010, p. 102
  20. Noles 2010, p. 104
  21. Noles 2010, p. 106
  22. War Damage Report No. 45 1944.
  23. Noles 2010, p. 113
  24. Hornfischer, p. 67.
  25. Noles 2010, p. 116
  26. Noles 2010, p. 115
  27. Noles 2010, p. 156
  28. Noles 2010, p. 163
  29. Noles 2010, pp. 115–116
  30. "USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List November 1943". www.aviationarchaeology.com. Retrieved 28 December 2021.
  31. Noles 2010, p. 181
  32. Noles 2010, p. 184
  33. Noles 2010, p. 189
  34. Noles 2010, p. 194
  35. Noles 2010, p. 197
  36. Noles 2010, p. 200
  37. Noles 2010, p. 213
  38. Noles 2010, p. 217
  39. Hevesi 2007.
  40. Noles 2010, p. 220
  41. LaGrone 2020.
  42. Noles 2010, p. 222

General sources

Online sources


Further reading

На других языках

[de] USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56)

Die USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56) war ein Geleitflugzeugträger der Casablanca-Klasse in Diensten der United States Navy während des Zweiten Weltkriegs im Pazifikraum. Der Träger wurde am 7. August 1943 in Dienst gestellt und unter das Kommando von Capt. I. D. Wiltsie gestellt. Ursprünglich sollte sie der britischen Royal Navy übergeben werden, aufgrund der großen eigenen Verluste musste sie jedoch in den Vereinigten Staaten verbleiben.
- [en] USS Liscome Bay

[fr] USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56)

L'USS Liscome Bay était un porte-avions d'escorte de la classe Casablanca, coulé par une attaque de sous-marin japonais (I-175) lors de l'opération Galvanic le 24 novembre 1943.

[it] USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56)

La USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56) era una portaerei di scorta della classe Casablanca. Impostata il 9 dicembre 1942 nei cantieri della Kaiser Shipyards, era originariamente destinata alla Royal Navy col nome di HMS Ameer nell'ambito del programma Lend-Lease, ma la United States Navy se ne riappropriò mentre era ancora in costruzione. Fu varata il 19 aprile 1943 da Ben Moreell, moglie del capo del Navy's Bureau of Yards & Docks, l'ufficio della Marina responsabile dei cantieri e dei porti. Il 28 giugno 1943 fu rinominata Liscome Bay, ed il 15 luglio le fu assegnata la sigla Hull CVE-56. Entrò in servizio nella United States Navy il 7 agosto, sotto il comando del capitano Irving D. Wiltsie. Fu l'unica nave a portare il nome dell'omonima baia di Dall Island, nell'Arcipelago Alexander in Alaska.

[ru] USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56)

USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56) — эскортный авианосец ВМС США типа «Касабланка», второй[2] построенный авианосец этого типа.

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