USS Bogue (CVE-9)
Escort Carrier / Aircraft Carrier Warship
USS Bogue CVE-9 was an escort carrier laid down for the United States Navy - its hull begining life as a mercantile ship.
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Despite its introduction during the fighting of World War 1 (1914-1918), the aircraft carrier did not achieve naval warfare supremacy in a considerable way until the great many naval battles of World War 2 (1939-1945). Such was the importance of the carrier in the conflict that the American carrier fleet was the prime target of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) when it attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. The carrier would cement itself as the primary instrument of many-a-navy thanks to the power showcased by such vessels - particularly those operating under the American and British flags - during the years-long conflict. The carrier ultimately wrestled the title of King of the Seas from the almighty battleship.
When the war broke out, the United States Navy (USN) service clamored for all warship types and the aircraft carrier was of primary concern to the branch. With the early attention given to the Allies against Germany and Italy in North Africa and Europe, the vital Atlantic shipping lanes would need to be protected from dangerous enemy submarine and surface warship attacks both day and night. This led the USN to select certain mercantile-minded vessels for conversion to what became known as "escort carriers".
Escort carriers were aircraft carriers through-and-through but not purpose-built warships as their larger brethren may have been. They were typically built to a design standard resulting in slower ocean-going speeds and were smaller in dimension, carrying only a limited amount of warplanes into battle. However, they were quick to manufacture in the numbers needed and the USN relied heavily on their type throughout the latter part of the conflict after early forms proved their worth in action.
An initial order for twenty-one such vessels was placed for US shipbuilding industry with eleven of the batch earmarked for delivery to the British Royal Navy (RN) under the "Attacker-class" designation. This left the remaining ten for the USN which adopted the group under the "Bogue-class" name.
USS Bogue (CVE-9) became the lead ship of the class that would ultimately number some forty-five vessels (completed in two groups). Bogue was named after Bogue Sound, North Carolina, and saw her keel laid down on October 1st, 1942. She was originally classified as "AVG-9" but, on August 20th of that year, this became "ACV-9". By the end of July 1943, she was, once again, reclassified - this time to the better-known "CVE-9" and she would carry that classification until June 1955 by which time she became "CVHP-9".
As it was, Bogue was laid down back on October 1st, 1941 and launched to sea on January 15th, 1942. She was formally commissioned on September 26th, 1942 and managed a service career into March 1st, 1959 - when she was struck from the Naval Register and formally retired (scrapped in 1960 by, rather ironically, Japanese industry).
As built, Bogue displaced 9,800 tons and held a running length of 495.7 feet, a beam measuring 111.5 feet, and a draught down to 26 feet. Her speed, in ideal conditions, could reach 18 knots which was serviceable. Her crew numbered 890 personnel that included a sizeable air wing contingent. Her aircraft-carrying capabilities was stretched to cover twenty-four total aircraft, typically a mix of navy fighters and torpedo bombers, namely Grumman F4F Wildcats or Hellcats in the former and the Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bomber in the latter. Radar became a standard fitting for the design which gave the vessel a tactical and strategic advantage in the wide open spaces of naval warfare.
Her flight deck was made of wood and of a straight-through, flat-top design. A small island superstructure was set over the forward starboard side of the vessel. Her hull clearly showcased its mercantile roots with the flat top deck simply added over the existing structural framework.
The vessels armament scheme was purely defensive in nature, centered around airspace denial / anti-aircraft work. She carried 2 x 5" (127mm) Anti-Aircraft (AA) guns along with 8 x 40mm Bofors AA guns in four twin-gunned mountings as well as 12 x 20mm Oerlikon AA guns.
USS Bogue was ordered to the Atlantic for February of 1943 and her crew managed to sink a German U-boat on her forth sortie. Her onboard storage allowed for her to undertake broader submarine-hunting missions than typical frigates and destroyers equipped for such work. On her fifth sortie out, she claimed another two U-boats and, in July of 1943, this being her seventh outing, USS Bogue claimed another enemy submarine.
During the early part of 1944, she was used to ferry combat aircraft to English shores to support the European war effort. Following that, she resumed her submarine-hunting sorties in March that led to her claiming U-575 and three more enemy submarines followed before the end of September. In all, USS Bogue was credited with sinking thirteen enemy submarines (eleven German and two Japanese) with the last one claimed during April of 1945 - this month also marking the last full month of combat in the European Theater (the German military collapsed shortly after Hitler's suicide).
With her European commitment complete, USS Bogue was relocated to the Pacific Theater where her specialty of transporting aircraft, goods, and supplies was put to the test across the vast expanses of the Pacific region. Once in-theater, she was used to deliver such valuable cargo to forward operating areas to help shore up defenses against Japanese counter attacks. With the Japanese Empire capitulating in August of 1945, USS Bogue completed her last war-related gestures when she ferried home veterans and POWs from the Far East to the states.
On November 30th, 1946, she was placed in reserve and berthed at Tacoma, Washington before being decommissioned and ultimately scrapped. For her service in World War 2, the warship was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and three Battle Stars. With her thirteen total enemy sinkings during the conflict, USS Bogue was fondly remembered as the most successful escort carrier to serve in the anti-submarine role - a dangerous but utterly valuable task.