Steamer Bay held sea
trials in Puget Sound and sailed for San Diego on 2 May. On the
14th, she headed for the New Hebrides, carrying the men and aircraft
of Marine Air Group (MAG) 61. She arrived at Espiritu Santo on the
30th, unloaded, and began her return voyage to San Diego on 2 June.
The carrier was on the west coast from 20 June to 19 July when she
again steamed west, with 298 marines and 72 aircraft, bound for the
Steamer Bay arrived at Majuro on 1 August to discharge her cargo and
passengers. She was routed back to Pearl Harbor and attached to the
3d Fleet as a carrier of replacement aircraft. Seventy-two planes
were loaded on board; and the ship steamed for Seeadler Harbor,
Manus Island, on 21 August. During the next two and one-half months,
the carrier supplied replacement aircraft and pilots to Task Force
(TF) 38 which was supporting the operations in the Palau and
Philippine Islands. She spent the period from 15 November to 5
December at Pearl Harbor undergoing repairs and training. The ship
returned to Seeadler Harbor on 17 December 1944 and was assigned to
Task Group (TG) 77.4, the San Fabian Carrier Group, which sortied on
1 January 1945.
The group (Taffy 2), consisting of six escort carriers under the
command of Rear Admiral Felix Stump, supported the Lingayen landings.
While steaming through the Sulu and South China seas toward the
Lingayen beaches, during the first week of January 1945, the group
was the target of numerous enemy air attacks. Of the six carriers,
Ommaney Bay (CVE-79) was sunk on 4 January by a kamikaze plane; and
Manila Bay (CVE-61) and Savo Island (CVE-78) were damaged the next
day. During the landings, the CVE's launched over 1,400 aircraft
sorties in support of ground forces. Steamer Bay remained in the
Philippine Islands with the 7th Fleet until she got underway on 31
January for Ulithi.
Steamer Bay anchored there from 5 February to 10 February, when she
departed with units of the 5th Fleet for the invasion of Iwo Jima.
She was with four other escort carriers which arrived at their
assigned area of operations, 50 miles west of Iwo Jima, on 16
February. Their mission was to neutralize Japanese bases in the
Nanpō Islands until 19 February (D-Day) and then provide air cover
and direct support for the marines during the landings and the
struggle for the strategic island.
Steamer Bay was relieved on 7 March and arrived at San Pedro Bay,
Leyte, on the 12th. She sailed for the Ryukyus on 27 March and
arrived in the operating area south of Okinawa on the morning of 1
April. She remained off Okinawa until 26 May when she sailed to Apra
Harbor, Guam, for repairs. On 10 June, the carrier was ordered to
join the 3d Fleet east of Miyako Jima and assist in neutralizing
Japanese airfields in Sakishima Gunto. She conducted air strikes
against the fields from 14 June to 22 June, when she sailed for
Steamer Bay stood out of Ulithi, on 3 July, with the Logistics
Support Group resupplying the fast carrier forces during operations
against the Japanese mainland. On the 20th, she was detached and
sailed, via Guam and Pearl Harbor, for the west coast, arriving at
San Diego on 10 August.
Steamer Bay was in drydock when hostilities with Japan ended, and
she was given additional bunks to accommodate veterans returning
from overseas. She sailed for Pearl Harbor, on 28 September, on her
first “Magic Carpet” assignment.
Steamer Bay was assigned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet on 4 February
1946 and berthed at Tacoma, Washington. In January 1947, she was
placed in reserve, out of commission. Her designation was changed
from CVE-87 to CVHE-87 on 12 June 1955. The carrier was struck from
the Navy list on 1 March 1959 and sold to Hyman-Michaels Co.,
Chicago, Illinois, on 29 August 1959 for scrap.