USS Makin Island
|Ship Class||Casablanca-class Escort Carrier|
|Builder||Kaiser Shipbuilding, Vancouver, Washington, United States|
|Laid Down||12 Jan 1944|
|Launched||5 Apr 1944|
|Commissioned||9 May 1944|
|Decommissioned||19 Apr 1946|
|Displacement||7800 tons standard; 10400 tons full|
|Machinery||Two Skinner, Uniflow engines with two screws|
|Power Output||9000 SHP|
|Armament||1x5in anti-aircraft gun, 16x40mm guns|
|Aircraft||17 FM-2 Wildcat fighters, 8 TBM-3 Avenger torpedo bombers|
Contributor: David Stubblebine
The United States Navy's naming convention for escort carriers was to use names of sounds and bays of the United States, although many Casablanca-class escort carriers followed the convention for fleet carriers and were named for significant US naval engagements. USS Makin Island sort of had a foot in both camps; during her planning stages, the intention was that she would be named USS Woodcliff Bay (CVE-93) but she was renamed Makin Island on 17†December 1943 to commemorate "Carlson's Raiders" daring first ever submarine launched USMC commando style raid on Makin Island in the Gilbert Islands a year earlier.
USS Makin Island was the 39th Casablanca-class escort carrier and was commissioned 9 May 1944 at Astoria, Oregon with Commander William B. Whaley in command. A short time later, Commander Whaley's promotion to Captain became effective.
Following an abbreviated west coast shakedown cruise and one trip to and from the Marshall Islands ferrying aircraft, Makin Island returned to San Diego, California, United States. On 10 October 1944, Rear Admiral Calvin T. Durgin broke his Flag aboard Makin Island and began building an Escort Carrier Task Unit that included Makin Island, Lunga Point, Bismarck Sea, Salamaua, and escorts. The Task Unit made training sorties out of San Diego before sailing for Ulithi via Pearl Harbor and Eniwetok, arriving 5†November 1944.
Makin Island and Rear Admiral Durgin's Task Unit spent November protecting convoys in transit to the Leyte invasion beachhead, encountering no enemy resistance. They then sailed to Manus in the Admiralty Islands to prepare for the forthcoming invasion of the Philippine island of Luzon. Makin Island crossed the equator on 26 November 1944 and the ensuing Crossing the Line ceremonies initiated over 800 pollywog officers and crew. Even Rear Admiral Durgin, Captain Whaley, and Composite Squadron 84's commanding officer, Commander Rogers, submitted themselves to the Mystic Rites of the Deep and emerged as Worthy Shellbacks.
Makin Island left Manus 27 December 1944 to join the invasion force sailing for Lingayen Gulf on western Luzon. The Battle Group was subjected to fierce, almost continuous enemy air attack during the passage to the assault beaches but Makin Island suffered no damage. She spent eleven days off the beachhead flying air support for the amphibious operation and then sailed for Ulithi.
Rear Admiral Durgin flew his flag off Makin Island once more, this time in command of a thirty-six ship Carrier Task Group for the invasion of Iwo Jima. During her three weeks off Iwo Jima, her planes made almost continuous combat sorties, primarily in the close ground support role. Air operations included recovering planes from other carriers that had been damaged while the aircraft were aloft. This included landing five F6F Hellcat fighters from Saratoga after she had been hit by five kamikaze planes within three minutes.
After replenishing at Ulithi, Makin Island sailed for the Okinawa campaign, again as flagship. After just over a month of air sorties in support of the landings on Okinawa, Makin Islandís air squadron, Composite Squadron 84, was replaced with Composite Squadron 91.
All together, Makin Island remained on station off Okinawa for 77 days, flying constant fire support, supply, and reconnaissance missions for the ground forces. Relieved 1 June 1945, the carrier sailed for Guam in the Mariana Islands.
The layover in Guam allowed for many needed repairs and some wholesale personnel changes. Captain Whaley was relieved and Captain Ira E. Hobbs assumed command. The pilots of Composite Squadron 91 were also relieved and Composite Squadron 41 reported aboard.
Makin Island sailed again to provide air cover for ships conducting minesweeping and raiding operations in the East China Sea. With war's end, she proceeded to Wakanoura Wan, in southern Honshu, Japan for occupation duty where her planes flew air cover for the evacuation of Allied prisoners of war. She sailed for San Francisco 18 October 1945, returning to Shanghai in November 1945 to return troops to the United States as part of Operation Magic Carpet.
Makin Island was decommissioned 19 April 1946 at Puget Sound, stricken from the Navy list 11 July 1946, and sold on 1 January 1947.
Makin Island received five battle stars and a Navy Unit Commendation for her service in World War II.
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
War History of USS Makin Island
Naval Historical Society
USS Makin Island Operational Timeline
|7 Dec 1943||The planned escort carrier Woodcliff Bay was renamed Makin Island.|
|12 Jan 1944||The keel of escort carrier Makin Island was laid down.|
|5 Apr 1944||Escort carrier Makin Island was launched.|
|9 May 1944||USS Makin Island was commissioned into service at Astoria, Oregon, United States with Commander William B. Whaley in command.|
|10 Oct 1944||USS Makin Island became the flagship of Rear Admiral Calvin T. Durgin of an escort carrier task unit.|
|5 Nov 1944||USS Makin Island arrived at Eniwetok, Marshall Islands.|
|26 Nov 1944||USS Making crossed the Equator. In the line cross ceremony, 800 pollywogs, including Rear Admiral Calvin Durgin and Captain William Whaley, were hazed and initiated by shellbacks who had previously crossed the line.|
|27 Dec 1944||USS Makin Island departed Manus, Admiralty Islands.|
|1 Jun 1945||USS Makin Island departed Okinawa, Japan area for Guam, Mariana Islands.|
|18 Oct 1945||USS Makin Island departed Japan for San Francisco, California, United States.|
|19 Apr 1946||USS Makin Island was decommissioned from service at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington, United States.|
|11 Jul 1946||Escort carrier Makin Island was stricken from the US Naval Register.|
|1 Jan 1947||Escort carrier Makin Island was sold for scrap.|
» Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign
» Philippines Campaign, Phase 2
» Battle of Iwo Jima
» Okinawa Campaign
» Preparations for Invasion of Japan
» Japan's Surrender
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