Built by Kaiser Company., Inc. (Kaiser Shipyards) in Vancouver, Washington. Laid down January 31, 1944 as Alikula Bay. Launched April 17, 1944 as "Alikula Bay" sponsored by Mrs. M. C. Wallgren. On May 16, 1944 renamed "Bismarck Sea" after the Bismarck Sea. Transfered to the US Navy and commissioned on May 20, 1944 with Captain J. L. Pratt in command.
During July and August 1944, Bismarck Sea escorted convoys between San Diego and the Marshall Islands. After repairs and training at San Diego, she departed for Ulithi and joined the 7th Fleet. During November 14–23, 1944, operated off Leyte and during January 9-18, 1945 supported the landings at Lingayen Gulf. Afterwards, on February 16, 1945, arrived off Iwo Jima to support the invasion.
On February 21, 1945 while on station off Iwo Jima, the carrier was hit by two kamikazes within two minutes of each other. The first kamikaze hit the starboard side below the first 40mm AA gun,continuing through the hanger deck and striking the ship's magazine causing a fire.
As the fire was nearly under control, the second kamikaze hit the
aft elevator shaft, exploding on impact and destroying the fire fighting salt water distribution system, preventing any further damage control and soon afterwards the crew was ordered to abandon ship. Aboard a total of 318 of her crew were lost.
Bismarck Sea was the last US Navy aircraft carrier sunk during World War II. She received three battle stars for her World War II operations.
Over the next twelve hours, 605 surviving crew were rescued by three destroyers and three destroyer escorts including USS Edmonds DE-406 (rescuing 378). These survivors were then transferred to Dickens and Highlands.
Navy Source - USS Bismarck Sea CVE-95 (photos)
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May 26, 2019