training off the California coast, the escort carrier entered the
repair base at San Diego, California. There, on 4 January 1944,
gasoline was inadvertently dumped into the water around the forward
part of the ship, on the starboard side. Acetylene torch sparks
ignited the volatile mixture, and flames quickly spread from the bow
to frame 82, engulfing the forward galley walkway and the island
superstructure. Yardcraft and the ship's crew battled the flames and
soon had the fire under control, but not before two men had died.
Subsequently repaired, Tripoli departed San Diego on 31 January,
bound for the Panama Canal and duty with the Atlantic Fleet. She
arrived at her new home port, Norfolk, Virginia on 16 February.
Embarking Composite Squadron 13 (VC-13) - 13 FM-2 Wildcats and TBM
Avengers - the carrier put to sea on 15 March as the center ship in
Task Group 21.15 (TG 21.15). Supported by five destroyer escorts of
Escort Division 7 (CortDiv 7), Tripoli patrolled west of the Cape
Verde Islands to break up German U-boat refuelling activities in
After providing air cover for a convoy routed to the British West
Indies, Tripoli's Wildcats and Avengers searched the sea lanes
northwest, southwest, and west of the Cape Verdes before putting
into Recife, Brazil on 5 April to refuel and provision. Back at sea
again two days later, Tripoli continued the routine of daily
launchings and recoveries of her aircraft, guarding the Allied sea
lanes against the incursions of enemy U-boats.
About one hour before sunrise on 19 April, one of Tripoli's Avengers
made radar contact with a German U-boat as the submarine cruised on
the surface awaiting the arrival of her "Milch Cow" or refuelling
partner. U-513 put up a spirited anti-aircraft barrage while the
Avenger made three attacks. A pattern of rockets bracketed the
submarine on the first pass as the Germans prepared to dive for
comparative safety. On the second run, the aircraft's depth charges
failed to release, giving the enemy submersible the time she needed
to dive. The U-boat evaded the aircraft's last attack - a mine - but
also missed her fuelling rendezvous with U-488.
Returning to Norfolk on 29 April, Tripoli underwent voyage repairs
before embarking VC-6 - 12 Avengers and nine Wildcats. She then
formed up with CortDiv 7 and departed Hampton Roads on 24 May for
further searches in the vicinity of the Cape Verdes. Four days out,
she changed course to intercept a German submarine estimated to be
proceeding southwest from a position west of the Madeira Islands.
When no contact was made by 30 May, Tripoli and her consorts steamed
north to rendezvous with a convoy bound for Nova Scotia.
Following her return to Norfolk on 18 June, Tripoli spent two months
in carrier qualification training off Quonset Point, Rhode Island,
before making port again at Norfolk on 15 July. Embarking Composite
Squadron 6, she conducted two weeks of pilot qualifications in the
Chesapeake Bay area before departing Hampton Roads on 1. August 1944, bound for her new base of operations, Recife.
Screened by O'Toole and Edgar G. Chase, the escort carrier proceeded
south until 1 August, when O'Toole developed a sonar contact and
gave chase. Aircraft from Tripoli laid patterns of sonobuoys at the
initial contact point and dropped smoke floats and float lights on
an oil slick. Picking up the "scent", O'Toole straddled the floats
with her Hedgehog projectiles and depth charges and soon radioed
victoriously "We hit the rodent!" A brief visual examination of the
evidence - debris and a large quantity of diesel oil - satisfied the
hunter-killer group that they had indeed sunk an enemy submarine.
However, a post-war examination of German records did not confirm
the kill. As night fell, Tripoli vectored two aircraft to another
sonar contact by O'Toole, and four depth bombs were dropped -
keeping another U-boat down and running.
Tripoli and her group then returned to Recife on 13. August 1944 and reported for duty with Admiral Jonas H. Ingram's 4th Fleet.
Designated as the center of TG 47.7, the escort carrier put to sea
on 22 August with the four destroyer escorts of CortDiv 24 to
operate against a homeward-bound German submarine estimated to pass
at 25° south latitude and 5° west longitude.
After a fruitless search pursuing two fading sonar contacts in the
mid-South Atlantic narrows, Tripoli and her group returned to Recife
on 11 September for provisioning and fuelling. Underway again two
days later, TG 47.7 headed out to conduct another search - this time
along the estimated track of two U-boats slated to rendezvous for
refuelling. One of the target U-boats was U-1062, bound from Penang,
British Malaya with a cargo of valuable petroleum products for the
German war effort. Ordered to fuel U-219, outward-bound for the Far
East, U-1062 prepared to rendezvous with her smaller sister boat in
the South Atlantic narrows - directly in the path of the Tripoli
Passing to the westward of the Cape Verdes, TG 47.7 made rendezvous
with Mission Bay's escort group to conduct a joint hunter-killer
operation against the two enemy boats. Round-the-clock searches by
radar-equipped Avengers continued until 40 minutes after sunset on
28 September, when an Avenger piloted by Lieutenant William R.
Gillespie reported a definite contact with the surfaced U-219 only
11 miles from the enemy's estimated track.
Gillespie went in to conduct a low-level rocket attack, but was shot
down by heavy flak. Another Avenger, drawn to the battle, braved the
flak to conduct another rocket run and also dropped depth bombs,
while a Wildcat strafed the U-boat which struggled desperately to
dodge the harassing attacks by the American aircraft.
U-219 emerged from the firefight unscathed, but U-1062 did not enjoy
similar good fortune. Fessenden, one of Mission Bay's screen, homed
in on sonobuoy indications on 30 September and sank the "Milch Cow"
with a four-charge pattern. In the meantime, U-219 was not yet home
free - one of Tripoli's Avengers dropped depth bombs on the fleeing
boat on 2 October. American sonar-men felt that they had definitely
"killed" the U-boat, but post-war accounting showed that U-219 had
escaped to Batavia, Java.
When fuel supplies ran low, Tripoli returned to Recife on 12 October.
She conducted one further search of the narrows from 26 October-12
November before heading for a much-needed overhaul at Norfolk.
Subsequently, the escort carrier sailed for the Pacific and, after
transiting the Panama
Canal and touching at San Diego, arrived at
Pearl Harbor on 10 January 1945.
Tripoli transferred Composite Squadron 8 ashore to conduct
operations from Hilo, Hawaii, before she loaded a miscellaneous
cargo of fighters and bombers to be offloaded at Roi, in the
Marshall Islands, where she made port on 20 February 1945. Returning
to Pearl Harbor after this ferry run, the escort carrier commenced
training operations which would continue through the end of the war,
and into late 1945. With Japan's surrender and the end of
hostilities in the Pacific, Tripoli was assigned to the "Magic
Arriving at San Diego on 29 August with 500 Navy veterans, Tripoli
returned to Pearl Harbor on 8 September before resuming local
operations - including night carrier qualifications - through
November. She subsequently made one trip with Army passengers to San
Pedro, California, and a further "Magic Carpet" run to San Diego.
The carrier departed the west coast on 15 January 1946 for
deactivation overhaul at Norfolk. On 22 May 1946, the need for her
services required, Tripoli was decommissioned and laid up in reserve.
The outbreak of the Korean War in the summer of 1950 resulted in the
return of many of the Navy's reserve ships to active service to
support American operations in the Far East. Accordingly, Tripoli
was recommissioned at New York on 5 January 1952, Captain Raymond N.
Sharp in command. Assigned to the Military Sealift Command (MSC),
Atlantic Area, the former "hunter-killer" began her new career as an
aircraft transport and ferry.
Over the next six years, Tripoli conducted 44 transport voyages,
mostly to European and Mediterranean ports, but with one visit to
Hawaii and two to the Far East. Following the ship's third voyage to
Europe, Tripoli was berthed at the Port Newark Terminal on 5 August
1952, where she loaded 45 F-84 Thunderjets, 90 wingtip fuel tanks,
and related gear for transport to the Far East. After going to sea
on 7 August, bound for Japan, Tripoli steamed via the Panama Canal
and San Diego and made port at Yokosuka with her vital cargo on 5
September, where cranes lifted the reinforcements ashore - soon to
be in action in their ground-attack role in Korea. After loading
battle-damaged aircraft for repairs in the United States, the
carrier embarked 245 Navy and Marine Corps personnel for rotation
back to Alameda Naval Air Station, California. Making port on the
West Coast on 22 September, she then put to sea for the Far East a
second time, once again carrying jet aircraft to Yokosuka, as well
as transporting men of the Sea Echelon of Boat Unit 1. Loading a
cargo of helicopters and military passengers, Tripoli returned to
the west coast and arrived at Alameda on 11 November 1952.
Subsequently making her sole Hawaiian voyage with the MSC, Tripoli
then headed east to finish her career with transport voyages to
European and Mediterranean ports.
Receiving "smart ship" awards from in the intervening years, Tripoli
was reclassified a utility carrier and redesignated CVU-64 on 12
June 1955. Again redesignated T-CVU-64 on 1 July 1958, Tripoli was
decommissioned at New Orleans, La., on 25 November 1958 and
subsequently struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 February
1959. Her hulk was then scrapped by a Japanese firm in January 1960.