Following brief sea
trials, Altamaha got underway for San Diego, California, on 27
October 1942 in company with Kendrick. While they were en route, Kendrick
spotted a submarine and claimed that members of her crew had seen
three torpedoes which had been fired at the escort carrier. However,
no one on Altamaha observed any of the torpedoes. The voyage
continued uneventfully, and the ships reached San Diego on 31
October 1942. The carrier then took on aircraft and passengers and sailed
in convoy on 3 November 1942 for the southwest Pacific.
Upon reaching Espiritu Santo on 24 November 1942, she delivered part of
her cargo and continued on to New Caledonia. She reached Nouméa on
28 November and commenced a period of flight operations and training
exercises. The vessel returned to Espiritu Santo on 30. December
continued on to the Fiji Islands and touched at Nadi on 13 January
1943 before beginning another period of operational training.
In early February, Altamaha paused off Funafuti, Ellice Islands;
loaded cargo and personnel on to barges and sent them ashore. The
carrier then proceeded to Hawaii and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 10
February 1943. There, the planes and personnel of Air Group 11 came on
board, and the ship set a course for the Fiji Islands on 19 February.
She reached Nadi on 28 February, discharged her cargo, and reversed
her course back toward the Hawaiian Islands.
After a short stay in port at Pearl Harbor, the escort carrier got
underway on 9. March 1943 with replacement aircraft for the flattops of
the Pacific Fleet. She paused at Palmyra Island on 15 March,
continued on to Johnston Island debarked marine aviation personnel
on 17 March, and touched at Midway Atoll three days later before
reversing course and returning to Hawaii. She remained at Pearl
Harbor for one day, 23 March, and then continued on to the West
Altamaha reached San Diego on 1 April and commenced three and
one-half months of flight operations off the California coast
alternated with upkeep in San Diego. On 13 July, she arrived at
Alameda, California, to take on planes from the naval air station
there. The escort carrier got underway for Australia three days
later and made Brisbane on 3 August. Following a 10-day visit to
Fremantle, Western Australia, she got underway on 16 August for
India and arrived at Karachi on 28 August and delivered 29 Army Air
On 2 September, the escort carrier reversed her course and steamed
back to Australia. She reached Melbourne on 18 September and, at the
end of three days there in a leave and upkeep status got underway
for the West Coast of the United States. On 8 October, the vessel
entered the Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, California, for overhaul.
The escort carrier got underway for sea trials on 8 November paused
briefly at Alameda to take on replacement aircraft, and sailed on 13
November for Brisbane. Altamaha reached her destination on 30
November and began discharging her cargo. The ship left there on 4
December to return home. Upon her arrival at San Diego on 21
December, she began a period of local operations carrier
qualifications, and repairs. During refueling operations off San
Diego, blimp K-29 of USN Airship Patrol Squadron 31 (ZP-31) made the
first carrier landing by a non-rigid airship on the deck of CVE
Altamaha on 4 February 1944.
The ship got underway for Pearl Harbor on 22 March 1944 arrived
there on 28 March, and began taking on Composite Squadron 6 for
transportation to an operating area 300 miles east of the Marshall
Islands. The carrier had been selected to be the nucleus of Task
Group 11.1 (TG 11.1), and left Hawaii in company with four destroyer
escorts on 30 March. The warships reached their assigned area on 3
April and began their first patrol. The group reported contacting
two submarines but did not receive credit for damaging or destroying
either. The task group put into Majuro Atoll on 8 April to allow the
destroyer escorts to refuel.
The ships sailed on 11 April to carry out a second anti-submarine
warfare mission. Altamaha was the target of a torpedo attack on 15
April but successfully evaded all four shots. The remainder of the
patrol passed uneventfully before TG 11.1 was relieved on 18 April
and shaped a course for Pearl Harbor. Following a short upkeep
period in Hawaiian waters, the carrier returned to Majuro in early
May and operated in an antisubmarine screen off the Marshall Islands
for several days before returning to Pearl Harbor on 11 May.
After a two-day layover in Hawaii, Altamaha pushed on toward the
West Coast. Reaching Alameda on 18 May, she entered the shipyard of
the United Engineering Company for repairs and alterations. She
resumed operations on the last day in May and headed for Hawaii,
laden with aircraft and spare parts.
Having delivered her cargo at Pearl Harbor, Altamaha returned to
Alameda. From there, she proceeded to San Diego which she reached on
19 June and spent two days loading men and equipment before
departing California on 21 June, bound for the New Hebrides. She
reached Espiritu Santo on 7 July, discharged cargo and, on 12 July,
headed for Morobe, New Guinea, where she arrived on 16 July. Having
made additional calls at Langemak, New Guinea, and Seeadler Harbor,
Manus Island, Altamaha arrived back at Espiritu Santo on the 25th.
She made one more cruise from this island, during which she visited
Seeadler Harbor and Guadalcanal. The carrier departed the New
Hebrides on 10 August bound for Hawaii.
Altamaha paused at Pearl Harbor for two days and then sailed on to
San Diego. She spent four days there before getting underway and
setting course for Pearl Harbor. She departed Hawaiian waters on 8
September, made port calls at Emirau Island and Seeadler Harbor, and
returned to San Diego, where she arrived on 6 October. The vessel
next spent three weeks in local operations before getting underway
on 26 October for another voyage west.
The escort carrier paused at Pearl Harbor for three days, then
sailed for Eniwetok with replacement aircraft and pilots. On 15
November, she reached Ulithi and then carried out flight operations
off Ulithi through 14 December, when she got underway for the 3rd
Fleet replenishment area. On 16 December, the ship joined TG 30.8 in
the Philippine Sea and, the next day, began transferring pilots to
Buchanan. However, heavy seas compelled her to break off that task.
By early morning on 18 December, the disturbance had grown into a
raging typhoon. By 0900, the escort carrier was laboring heavily and
rolling as much as 25-30 degrees to either side. An hour later,
visibility dropped to zero, and the vessel abandoned all effort to
keep station. Almost one-half of the aircraft on board Altamaha
broke loose and plunged overboard. The ship also experienced
problems with flooding in the forward elevator pit. By 1600, the
weather was improving and the ship rode better. Soon she made a
rendezvous with other members of TG 30.8.
While the carrier sustained considerable material damage, she
suffered no personnel casualties and was able to resume her resupply
operations on 19 December. Altamaha continued her operations with
the replenishment group through early February 1945. During this
time, she serviced 3rd Fleet units in Philippine waters and made
port calls at Guam, Manus and Ulithi. On 15 February, the ship
touched at Pearl Harbor.
Altamaha continued on to the West Coast, arriving at Alameda on 26
February. The ship began an availability at the Hunters Point Navy
Yard on 3 March during which she was dry-docked for routine work
below the waterline and repairs to a propeller damaged in the
typhoon. The carrier emerged from the yard on 14 March and began
loading planes, ammunition, and supplies for transportation to Pearl
During the remaining months of World War II, Altamaha provided
general transportation service from Alameda, San Diego, and Pearl
Harbor to various points in the Pacific. Among her stops were Guam,
Saipan, Eniwetok, Kossol Roads and Samar. Following the Japanese
capitulation in mid-August Altamaha returned to the West Coast for
repairs and an overhaul at the Hunters Point Navy Yard. She began
sea trials in mid-October and got underway for Pearl Harbor on the
22nd. The vessel was then assigned to the "Magic-Carpet" fleet and
transported armed forces personnel and equipment throughout the
Pacific back to the United States.
On 15 January 1946, Altamaha headed to Tacoma, Washington.
Deactivation preparations were begun there, and the carrier was
placed out of commission, in reserve, on 27 September 1946. The ship
was redesignated CVHE-18 on 12 June 1955. Her name was struck from
the Naval Vessel Register on 1 March 1959, and the vessel was sold
on 25 April 1961 to Eisenberg & Co., New York City, N.Y., and, later
that year, was scrapped in Japan.