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  USS Ommaney Bay CVE-79
USN
Casablanca Class
Escort Carrier

7,800 Tons
512' x 65 x 22'
1 x 5"
16 x 40mm AA
20 x 20mm AA single
Aircraft: 28

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USN July 1944

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USN November 22, 1944

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USN December 15, 1944

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USN January 4, 1945
Ship History
Built by by Kaiser Company, Inc., Vancouver, Washington. Laid down October 6, 1943 as MC hull 1116, under a Maritime Commission contract. Launched December 29, 1943 sponsored by Mrs. P. K. Robottom. Painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 15A. Commissioned February 11, 1944 into the U. S. Navy (USN) as USS Ommaney Bay (CVE-79) with Captain Howard L. Young in command. Named after named after Ommaney Bay at the south end of Baranof Island in Alaska. Afterward, fitted out at Astoria in Oregon and conducted a shakedown cruise in Puget Sound and Ommaney Bay.

Wartime History
On March 19, 1944 departed Oakland, California transporting passengers, cargo and aircraft to Brisbane then returned to the west coast. On April 27, 1944 at San Diego began ten days of carrier qualification landings, drills and tests then underwent minor alterations and repairs. On June 10, 1944 departed San Diego for Pearl Harbor and continued carrier aircraft training until August 12, 1944.

Afterwards, departed across the Pacific to Tulagi Harbor and departed with the invasion force bound for Palau. Between September 11, 1944 until the start of October 1944 Ommaney Bay provided air cover for the fleet and close air support on Peleliu and Anguar.

Afterwards, departed for Seeadler Harbor and was resupplied with fuel and ammunition and was assigned to Task Unit 77.4.2 (TU 77.4.2) "Taffy 2" under the command of Rear Admiral Felix Stump for the invasion of Leyte. On October 25, 1944 the start of the Battle off Samar (Battle of Samar) her carrier aircraft attacked the Japanese "Central Force". During the day, Ommaney Bay launched six strikes and her carrier aircraft helped sink a cruiser and damaged other warships.

Afterwards, proceeded to Seeadler Harbor and in late November 1944 entered Floating Dry Dock 2 (ABSD-2) afterwards proceeded to Kossol Passage. In early December 1944 departed for the Philippines and during December 12-17, 1944 operated in the Mindanao Sea and Sulu Sea supporting operations against Mindoro. On December 15, 1944 attacked by enemy aircraft at 9:45am her anti-aircraft gunners shot down Kamikaze P1Y Frances Tail 783-29 causing it to catch fire before crashing into the sea nearby. Afterwards, Ommaney Bay departed for Kossol Passage.

On December 19, 1944 arrived Kossol Passage and resupplied. On January 1, 1945 departed Kossol Passage northward to support the landing force bound for Lingayen Gulf on Luzon. On January 3, 1945 transited the Surigao Strait and entered the Sulu Sea.

Kamikaze Attack
On January 4, 1945 at 5:00pm while the Task Group was in the Sulu Sea approximately fifteen Japanese aircraft were spotted on radar. Approaching from the west, the attackers split into two groups targeting the rear and center of the force. Defending carrier aircraft and USAAF P-47s Thunderbolts engaged the Japanese planes but false radar signals hampered the interception. Only the P-47 intercepted two and claimed one shot down with the others breaking off their attack. At least one P1Y Frances approached Ommaney Bay undetected by her lookouts due to sun glare. When spotted, none of the carrier's anti-aircraft guns opened fire and nearby USS New Mexico (BB-40) only managed inaccurate anti-aircraft fire in the direction of the attacker.

At 5:12pm a single P1Y Frances managed to penetrated the screen and made a kamikaze attack from the bow of Ommaney Bay and was undetected by her lookouts due to sun glare. On impact, the kamikaze's wing impacted the island then crashed into the flight deck on the forward starboard side. The kamikaze released two bombs. The first penetrated the flight deck and detonated below that setting off a series of explosions among the fully loaded aircraft in the forward third of the hangar deck. The second bomb passed through the hangar deck, ruptured a fire main on the second deck, and exploded near the starboard side.

The damage resulted in a loss of water pressure in the forward section, knocked out electrical power and communications from the bridge. Aboard, the crew fought fires in the hanger deck but heavy smoke and detonating ammunition force them to abandon the effort. Aboard, 95 men were lost plus two others killed on a nearby destroyer when torpedoes in the hangar deck exploded. By 5:50pm, the the fires were out of control and threatened to explode stored torpedoes and the crew was ordered to abandon ship.

Fate
At 7:45pm the burning carrier was scuttled in the Sulu Sea by a torpedo fired by USS Burns (DD-588). A total of 95 Navy men were lost, including two killed on an assisting destroyer when torpedo warheads on the carrier's hangar deck detonated. Survivors were rescued by other ships in the convoy.

Rescue
Afterwards, the surviving crew were rescued by other ships in the task group.

References
NARA "Report of operations enroute Lingayen Gulf, Luzon Island, Philippines, 1/1-4/45, including enemy suicide crash dive & loss of on 1/4/45"
Naval History and Heritage Command - Ommaney Bay (CVE-79)
NavSource - USS Ommaney Bay (CVE-79)
Interception off Negros December 14, 1944 by Edward Rogers

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Last Updated
January 1, 2020

 

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