After commissioning and
fitting out at Astoria, Oregon, and conducting shakedown in Puget
Sound, Ommaney Bay sailed 19 March from Oakland, California, with
passengers and a cargo of supplies and aircraft for Brisbane,
Australia. (While the ship is presumably named for Ommaney Bay in
Alaska, note that Brisbane has a landmark and suburb called Mount
Ommaney.) By 27 April she had completed her mission and was back in
San Diego, where she began a rigorous ten days of carrier
qualification landings, drills and tests. Then, after minor
alterations and repairs, the ship sailed 10 June for Pearl Harbor.
Until 12 August she trained air groups and squadrons there in the
art of operating from "baby flattops", then she sailed to Tulagi to
rehearse for the invasion of the Palau Islands. From 11 September
until the beginning of October Ommaney Bay stood off Peleliu and
Anguar Islands and provided air cover for the fleet and close
support strikes for the forces ashore.
Ommaney Bay sailed to Manus Island to renew her depleted stock of
fuel and ammunition, then joined Rear Admiral Felix Stump's "Taffy
2" (TU 77.4.2) for the invasion of Leyte. At the beginning of the
Battle off Samar on 25 October, the escort carriers began launching
air strikes in an effort to cripple as many of the approaching enemy
force as possible. In the ensuing battle aircraft from Ommaney Bay
contributed to the sinking of one Japanese cruiser and helped to
damage a number of other warships. Ommaney Bay launched some six
strikes that day, and helped to turn threatened defeat into victory.
The carrier spent the month of November at Manus and Kossol Passage
for availability and replenishment, then, from 12. December to 17. December, operated in the Mindanao and Sulu Seas in support of
operations on the Island of Mindoro. On the 15th, a day of heavy
enemy air attacks, she splashed an enemy bomber as it dived for the
ship from the port bow. On 19. December she returned to Kossol
Passage to prepare for the landings in Lingayen Gulf.
Ommaney Bay left on New Year's Day 1945 and transited Surigao Strait
two days later. The next afternoon, while in the Sulu Sea, a
twin-engine Japanese suicide plane penetrated the screen undetected
and made for Ommaney Bay. The plane nicked her island then crashed
into her starboard side. Two bombs were released; one of them
penetrated the flight deck and detonated below, setting off a series
of explosions among the fully gassed planes on the forward third of
the hangar deck. The second bomb passed through the hangar deck,
ruptured the fire main on the second deck, and exploded near the
Water pressure forward was lost immediately, along with power and
bridge communications. Men struggling with the terrific blazes on
the hangar deck soon had to abandon it because of the heavy black
smoke from the burning planes and exploding .50 caliber ammunition.
Escorts could not lend their power to the fight because of the
exploding ammunition and intense heat from the fires. By 17:50 the
entire topside area had become untenable, and the stored torpedo
warheads threatened to go off at any time. The order to abandon ship
At 19:45 the carrier was sunk by a torpedo from the destroyer Burns.
A total of 95 Navy men were lost, including two killed on an
assisting destroyer when torpedo warheads on the carrier's hangar
deck finally went off.