USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73)

Gambier Bay, date unknown. US Navy photo.

Laid Down

The Casablanca-class escort carrier USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73) was laid down in July, 1943, and launched that November. Commissioned 28 December, Gambier Bay shuttled aircraft and pilots between San Diego, CA, Pearl Harbor, and the fleet, until she joined the Marianas campaign, in June, 1944. She provided air cover for the landings, but while she did fight off several air attacks, did not participate in the Turkey Shoot. Gambier Bay joined the attack on Peleliu in September, before heading to the Philippines in late October as part of the task group Taffy 3, tasked with supporting the troops ashore. On the morning of 25 October, Gambier Bay and the rest of Taffy 3 were surprised by the Japanese battle line, while the main US fleet was chasing the decoy force of Japanese carriers. Fighting back fiercely, they managed to drive the Japanese battleships back, though Gambier Bay was sunk by gunfire from the battleship Yamato, less than ten months after her commissioning. 800 survivors were rescued from the sharks two days later.

Bonus Information

Fun Fact: Gambier Bay was nicknamed the Bonus Ship by her builders. The Navy had ordered sixteen escort carriers from Kaiser Shipyards for 1943, but requested two more by the end of 1943, if possible. Gambier Bay brought the total to nineteen, making her a bonus to the Navy's requirements.

Bonus Fact: Gambier Bay is the only US Navy carrier sunk by gunfire to date.