USS Kalinin Bay (CVE-68)
Escort carriers like USS Kalinin Bay CVE-68 strengthened the United States Navy aircraft carrier inventory considerably during World War 2.
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Casablanca-class escort carriers of the United States Navy (USN) emerged during the fighting of World War 2 (1939-1945). The escort carrier proved its worth, able to haul modest collections of aircraft, supplies, and vehicles to wherever they were needed. Slower and smaller than their larger and faster counterparts, escort carriers had the advantage of be produced in short order and relatively cheaply under wartime conditions. USS Kalinin Bay (CVE-68) was just one of the 50-strong Casablanca-class, the warship built by Kaiser Shipyards and laid down on April 26th, 1943. She was launched on October 15th of that year and commissioned as soon as November 27th to take part in the fighting.
Displacement reached 7,800 tons and the vessel managed a running length of 512.2 feet with a beam of 65.1 feet and a draught of 22.5 feet. Power was from 4 x Boilers feeding 2 x Skinner Uniflow 5-cylinder reciprocating engines developing 9,000 horsepower to drive 2 x Shafts under stern. Maximum speed in ideal conditions reached 19 knots and range was out to 10,240 nautical miles.
Aboard was a crew of 860 and an additional 56 men made up the air arm. Armament was modest and strictly for self-defense, comprised of 1 x 5" /38 caliber Dual-Purpose (DP) gun, 16 x 40mm Bofors Anti-Aircraft (AA) guns set across eight twin-gunned mountings, and 20 x 20mm Oerlikon AA guns in single-gunned mountings.
The escort carrier carried a full complement of twenty-seven warplanes of various makes and models.
Her design was to the Casablanca-class standard: the island superstructure was offset to starboard and slightly forward of midships. The flat top flight deck was of a straight-through design with no obstructions present save for the island. The deck held a pair of elevators for moving aircraft above and below deck while a single catapult was used for launching. AA weapons were set in "tubs" along the edges of the flight deck, providing a web of defense against enemy aircaft.
USS Kalinin Bay completed its "shakedown" cruiser along the American Pacific Coast in December of 1943 and reached Tarawa later that month by way of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. From there she took part in major campaigns that included the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, Mariana and Palau, the Philippines, and the famous "Battle off Samar" - an American victory. At home for repairs in January of 1945, Kalinin Bay brought more men and machines to Guam via Pearl and served as a replenishment carrier during the final months of the War in the Pacific - 600 warplanes were transferred before the end of the war arrived in August 1945. After the war, she took part in bringing American soldiers home under "Operation Magic Carpet".
USS Kalinin Bay was decommissioned on May 15th, 1946 and sold for scrapping on December 8th of that year.
For her service in the Grand War, Kalinin bay was awarded five Battle Stars as well as the Presidential Unit Citation - such was her contribution to the Allied war effort during the period.