On 10 October, Nassau
arrived at the Naval Air Station, Alameda, California, loaded
aircraft, and four days later steamed for Pearl Harbor, thence to
Palmyra Island, arriving 30 October. For the next four months, she
operated between Palmyra and Nouméa, New Caledonia and Espiritu
Santo, New Hebrides.
Nassau returned to Pearl Harbor 14 February 1943, embarked personnel
and aircraft, and sailed 21 February on a ferry mission to Espiritu
Santo. She returned to Pearl Harbor in mid-March and then continued
on to Alameda, California. In April, she moved to San Diego and
conducted flight training operations, after which she rendezvoused
with Task Group 51.1 and steamed for Cold Bay, Alaska with Composite
Squadron 21 (VC-21) embarked.
Nassau got underway on a search mission 4 May and conducted flight
operations with Task Force 51, providing air cover for the
occupation of Attu Island from 11 May through 20 May. She returned
to San Diego in late May, arrived at Alameda 8 June and onloaded 45
aircraft destined for Brisbane, Australia. She delivered the
aircraft 2 July and returned to San Diego via Nouméa, New Caledonia.
In August, she trained off San Diego before ferrying planes to
Samoa. Returning to San Diego from Samoa, 19 October, Nassau
embarked Marine Fighter Squadron 225 (VMF-225) for passage to Pearl
Harbor. Arriving 30 October, she conducted air operations off Pearl
Harbor during the early days of November and on 7 November, she
embarked Fighter Squadron 7 (VF-1) and steamed for the Gilbert
Islands for operations with Task Force 52.
Nassau's mission was to transport VF-1 to Tarawa and to send it
ashore as soon as facilities were available. The invasion of Tarawa
commenced 20 November but encountered bitter resistance. As a result,
VF-1 was assigned combat air patrol and flew bombing and strafing
runs from the carrier in support of the assault troops. The squadron
flew a total of 106 missions and spent 237 hours of flying time in
four days of operations without losing a single plane or pilot.
Nassau returned to Pearl Harbor on 5 December 1943 following flight
operations. She then sailed to the Marshall Islands with Task Group
51.2 and launched strikes 29 January 1944 against Taroa Field on
Maloelap Atoll. The next day, the Task Group centered its operations
around Kwajalein, Wotje, and Maloelap Atolls, with Nassau conducting
both anti-submarine and combat air patrols.
Nassau returned to Pearl Harbor 3 March 1944, disembarked VC-66, and took
on aircraft, cargo, and passengers for ferry to the Marshall
Islands. Throughout March, ferry missions were performed between
Kwajalein, Majuro, and Pearl Harbor. After repairs and alterations
at Mare Island Navy Yard, the carrier sailed with 51 aircraft for
Finschhafen, New Guinea 5 May. The next four months she performed
ferry missions from San Diego to Pearl Harbor, the Admiralties and
the New Hebrides Islands.
Upon arrival at Seeadler Harbor 1 September, Nassau reported to
Commander Task Group 30.8. Thus began her tour of duty with Admiral
Halsey's 3rd Fleet, which made unprecedented naval history in the
following months. Nassau's mission was to operate out of the
Admiralties with other escort carriers to provide replacement
aircraft and pilots for the attack carriers of Task Force 38.
Steaming in company with the oiler groups, which refueled the ships
of the Task Force at sea, Nassau made three cruises into the western
Pacific. She returned to the Admiralties with disabled aircraft
which were destined for shipment to Pearl Harbor or the United
States for reconditioning.
The first of these replacement trips was in support of the strikes
against Palau; the second in support of operations against the
southern and central Philippines. Then Task Force 38 shifted to more
northerly targets in the Philippines and Formosa. Nassau reached
Manus on 20 October. After offloading old aircraft and taking on new
ones, she departed on her last replacement trip. Steaming to Ulithi
Atoll in the Caroline Islands, she joined up with Task Groups 38.1
and 38.3 on 28 October and transferred 70 aircraft and 43 pilots to
the attack carriers.
Task Unit 12.6.1, composed of Nassau, Tennessee and four other ships
steamed for Pearl Harbor 5 November, arriving 16 November. Two days
later, Nassau was dispatched to San Diego. Among her passengers were
382 survivors of Princeton, which was sunk in the Battle of Leyte
Gulf, 24 October 1944. Another ferry mission to Pearl Harbor
followed in mid-November, with three more runs to Guam in December,
January 1945, and February. Nassau returned to Alameda, California,
23 March and through the remainder of the war, performed transport
and ferry missions between Alameda, Pearl Harbor, Guam, Manus, Samar
Nassau departed Alameda 13 May 1946 for Tacoma, Washington. On 28
October, she decommissioned and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet.
Designated for modification for aircraft transportation purposes,
her classification was changed to CVHE-16, 12 June 1955. Shortly
thereafter she transferred to the Bremerton Reserve Group, and was
struck from the Navy Register, 1 March 1959. In June 1961, she was
towed to Japan for scrapping.