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Logbook Introduction & Part I—History

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Admiral Felix B. Stump, USN

History (from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships) History pp. 1-4

[History pp. 5-10 missing--can anyone tell me what goes here?]

U.S.S. Natoma Bay Decommisioning (May 20, 1946 Norfolk, VA)  History pp. 11-16  including article from The Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch and a piece entitled "War Glory A Memory"


To the members of the NATOMA BAY ASSOCIATION:

Ship's company personnel
Composite Squadron VC 63
Composite Squadron VC 81
Composite Squadron VC 9

Herewith is the first installment of the long-planned LOGBOOK. We plan to put together a complete record of the Big NB and her squadrons including history, pictures, reunions, and personals. The pages will be numbered as wellas marked by section to assist you in puttingthem together properly.

You are invited to submit any material that you think will be useful in this undertaking. We now have a Historian and you are urged to send your material to:

John J. Sassano
411 SW. 11th Avenue
Hallandale, Fla. 33009

The LOGBOOK was authorized by the membership at the 1974 Reunion in St. Louis. It has involved much planning, a great deal of expense, and alot of work. It is sincerely hoped that it will meet with your approval and, of course, all hands are invited make contributions to it.

Bob Wall, Editor.

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Natoma Bay at Sea

This LOGBOOK has been prepared to show the record of a great ship and the industry and dedication of her crew and the men of VC 63, VC 81, and VC 9



Built at Kaiser Co., Inc., Vancouver, Wash.

Authorized: June 17, 1943

Launched: June 20, 1943

Acquired by U. S. Navy: October 14, 1943

Commissioned: October 14, 1943

Decommissioned: May 20, 1946

Reclassified CVU: 62 June 12, 1955

Struck from Naval Register: September 1, 1958

Sold for scrap: July 30, 1959


Displacement: 7,800 tons

Length: 512' 3"

Beam: 65'

Extreme width: 108' 1"

Draft: 22' 6"

Speed: 17 knots

Complement: 860 officers and men


1—5" - 38

16—40 mm.

20—20 mm.


Commanding Officers:

Capt. Harold L. Meadow—October 14, 1943-August 7, 1944

Capt. Albert K. Morehouse—August 7, 1944-March 1, 1945

Capt. Bromfield B. Nichol—March 1, 1945-March 22, 1946

Capt. James M. Elliott—March 22, 1946-May 20, 1946

Squadron Commanding Officers: Dates aboard NB

VC 63 LCdr. Seth S. Searcy Jr.—January 1, 1944-July 16, 1944

VC 81 Lt. Robert C. Barnes—August 25, 1944-March 11, 1945

VC 9 Lt. Julian O. Kay—March 12, 1945-August 19, 1945

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Admiral Felix B. Stump, USN, Retired

A native of Parkersburg, W. Va., Felix Budwell Stump was appointed to the Naval Academy from that State in 1913. Graduated in March 1917, just prior to the United States entrance into World War I, he had service in the gunboat Yorktown and as navigator of the cruiser Cincinnati, operating on escort duty in the Atlantic.

After the war he served in the battleship Alabama, had flight training at NAS, Pensacola, and postgraduate instruction in aeronautical engineering at MIT. He subsequently served in Torpedo Squadron 2 of the experimental carrier Langley; as A & R Officer, NAS, Hampton Roads, Va.; and in command of the cruiser scouting wing and on the staff of Commander, Cruisers, Scouting Fleet. He then had two tours of duty in the Bureau of Aeronautics; and was Commanding Officer of the Saratoga's Scout-Bombing Squadron 2, and Navigator and Executive Officer, respectively, of the carriers Lexington and Enterprise.

In command of the Langley, in Manila Bay, at the outbreak of World War II, he was transferred in January 1 942 to the staff of CinC, Asiatic Fleet. For exceptionally meritorious service "as commander of the combined operation center of the Allied-American, British, Dutch, and Australian Air Command . . ." he was awarded the US Army's Distinguished Service Medal.

In 1943 he had eight months' duty as air officer for Commander, Western Sea Frontier, then commanded the hew carrier Lexington, which was awarded the PUC for heroism in Gilbert, and Marshall Islands operations in 1943. He was awarded the Silver Star for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against Japanese-held islands . . . " from September to December 1943. He later commanded CarDiv 24, and was awarded the Navy Cross twice, the Legion of Merit (three awards) and has the ribbon for the PUC to his flagship, the Natoma Bay.

He was Chief of NATTC from May 1945 to December 1948, after which he served successively as Commander Air Force, Atlantic Fleet, and Commander Second Fleet. He became Commander in Chief, Pacific and US Pacific Fleet, with headquarters at Pearl Harbor on July 10, 1953. In January 1958 when the command was divided, he was relieved of duty as Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, but continued to serve as CinCPac until his retirement August 1, 1958. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for "exceptionally meritorious service . . . as Commander in Chief, Pacific; Command-er in Chief, US Pacific Fleet; US Military Advisor to the Southeast Treaty Organization; and US Military Representative to the Australia, New Zealand, US Treaty Organization.

After his retirement, he was appointed to the position of Vice Chairman of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, Pa.

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[--from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]

A bay in the Graham Islands off the southwest coast of Alaska, approximately 45 miles south-southwest of Ketchikan.

(CVE-62: dp. 7,800 tons; l. 512’3”; b. 65’; ew. 108’1”; dr 22’6”;s. 17 k.; cpl. 860; a. 1 5”, 16 40mm., 20 20mm., 28 ac; cl. Casablanca; T. S4–S2–BB3.)

Natoma Bay (CVE–62) was laid down as Begum (MC hull 1099), 17 January 1943, by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Co., Inc., Vancouver, Washington, under Maritime Commission connamed Natoma Bay 22 January 1943; launched 20 July 1943; sponsored by Lady Halifax, wife of the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the United States; and commissioned 14 October 1943, Captain Harold L. Meadow in command.

After shakedown off the California coast, Natoma Bay performed aircraft and personnel ferrying duties between San Diego and Hawaii for Commander Fleet Air, West Coast, until 3 January 1944. Then, with VC–63 embarked, she departed San Diego for Pearl Harbor, reporting to ComCarDiv 24, 5th Amphibious Force, 10 January. On 23 January she sortied with TG–51.2 for the invasion of the Marshalls. Between 31 January and 7 February, as positions on Majuro Atoll were consolidated, CVE–62 furnished anti-submarine and combat air patrols and area searches for the attack force. On 8 February, she extended her operations to Wotje and Maloelap, alternating for the remainder of the month between those islands and Majuro.

Departing Majuro, 7 March, Natoma Bay reached Espiritu Santo on the 12th. Three days later she joined TF–37 for air strikes and surface bombardments against Kavieng, New Ireland, 19–20 March. She then cruised to the north of the Solomons and New Ireland, providing air cover for convoys to and from Emirau where an air base and a limited naval base were being established. During the next three weeks, she continued to cruise in the Solomons-Bismarck Archipelago area in support of the protracted offensive to neutralize the latter and seal off the Japanese fortress at Rabaul.

On 19 April she rendezvoused with TF–78 and then steamed toward New Guinea where her planes pounded enemy positions in support of a three pronged attack by Allied land and naval forces against Aitape, Hollandia, and Tanahmerah Bay, 22 April. During and after the landings, Natoma Bay launched protective air patrols and sent fighters and bombers to detroy Japanese installations in the Aitape area. Returning to Manus for engine repairs, 28 April, she sailed 7 May for Pearl Harbor, arriving 18 May.

After loading 37 Thunderbolt (P–47D) fighters of the 7th Air Force, Natoma Bay departed Pearl Harbor 5 June enroute to the Marianas. Steaming via Eniwetok, she arrived off Saipan 19 June and was ordered to retire eastward until the Battle of the Philippine Sea was decided. On the 22nd she steamed westward and commenced catapulting the Army planes toward their destination, Aslito Air Field, Saipan. She dispatched 25 on the 22nd and the remainder early on the 23rd, then retired to a refueling area 45 miles east of Saipan.

There the formation came under enemy air attack. Intensive anti-aircraft fire prevented damage to the main targets, Natoma Bay and Manila Bay. The latter ship, with Army fighters still on board, then catapulted those aircraft to provide protective CAP until the radar screens were clear of contacts.

Natoma Bay returned to Eniwetok, 27 June, embarked casualties, and sailed for San Diego, arriving 16 July for availability, logistics and ferry duty. Between 5 and 14 September she conducted qualification and training exercises for composite squadron 81 off Pearl Harbor, and on the 15th, got underway for Manus as a unit of the 3rd Fleet. On 3 October she reached Seeadler Harbor and began final preparations for the invasion of the Philippines.

Assigned to the Escort Carrier Group (TG–77.4), Natoma Bay departed the Admiralties, 12 October, for waters east of the Philippines. After weathering stormy seas, 14th–17th, she commenced offensive flight operations on the 18th. Prior to the invasion, her planes bombed Japanese positions and conducted strafing runs against enemy vehicles and small craft on and around Leyte and Negros. During the amphibious assault on the 20th, she launched ground support, spotting, and air cover strikes. Then, during the critical days following the landings, she sent bombers and fighters to support the ground forces.

On 25 October, as Natoma Bay, flagship of Rear Admiral Stump, CTU 77.4.2 (“Taffy 2”), cruised off the eastern entrance to Leyte Gulf, the Japanese launched a tri-force offensive to drive the Allies from Leyte, and from the Philippines. During the early morning hours, the enemy’s Southern Force was soundly defeated in Surigao Strait. Surviving Japanese ships retreated into the Mindanao Sea pursued by destroyers, PT boats, and after sunrise, by carrier based aircraft.

At 0658, “Taffy 3,” (6 CVEs, 3 DDs, and 4 DEs) cruising off Samar under Rear Admiral C. Sprague, was attacked by the vastly more powerful Japanese Center Force (4 BBs, 6 CAs, 2 CLs, 12 DDs) under Admiral Kurita. At 0701, having ordered all operational planes launched, Adm. Sprague requested any available assistance. Admiral Ozawa’s Northern Force, however, had already accomplished its mission—Admiral Halsey’s TF–38 had been drawn off to the north. The cruisers and battleships under Admiral Oldendorf were replenishing after their battle in Surigao Strait. Help could only come from the south. At 0702, “Taffy 2,” 20 miles to the southsouth east, responded and by 0708 all available planes were enroute. Those already dispatched on routine missions were recalled.

In the running battle which ensued, the determination of self-sacrificing destroyers and destroyer escorts of “Taffy 3” and fighters and bombers of the three Taffies resulted in an almost unbelievable, but necessary, victory in the Battle off Samar.

Ordered not to concentrate on any particular ship, but to cripple as many as possible, planes from Natoma Bay conducted two strikes against the enemy within an hour and a half. At 0926 a third strike, with 500 pound SAP bombs in lieu of torpedoes, was launched. At 1118, a fourth strike was sent off to push the maneuvering enemy away from Leyte Gulf but with neither torpedoes nor armor piercing bombs aboard, the planes took off carrying only general purpose bombs and depth charges. At noon, Natoma Bay’s fighters, launched previously for CAP, were landed, rearmed and sent up again. At 1256 and at 1508, the 5th and 6th strikes were launched to further pursue the enemy as it retreated toward San Bernadino Strait. Fighter planes, armed with 250 pound general purpose bombs, were among those dispatched with the last strike.

At the end of that fateful day’s operations, TG 77.4, with “Taffy 3” bearing the brunt of the damage, had turned back the Japanese Force. Praise for the escort carrier group was unbounded. They had accomplished a task that only a large carrier task force should be expected to undertake. Natoma Bay’s contribution to the earning of this praise included one heavy cruiser sunk, one torpedo plane shot down, and hits on one battleship, three heavy cruisers, two light cruisers and one destroyer.

The following morning, 26 October, Natoma Bay’s planes, continuing to pound the enemy, assisted in the sinking of a light cruiser and her accompanying destroyer in the Visayan Sea and then resumed support of ground forces on Leyte. On the 27th, her fighters strafed Japanese vessels in Ormoc Bay and then swung over Samar where they downed a “Tony”. A “Nell” was bagged on the 28th and on the 30th the CVE sailed for Seeadler Harbor, arriving 4 November.

Natoma Bay got underway for Kossol Roads 27 November and departed from there 10 December to provide air cover for the Mindoro invasion convoys as they transited the Mindanao and Sulu Seas. On the 13th, kamikazes from Negros attacked the formation. Eleven were shot down, but three pressed home the attack. Two were downed by anti-aircraft fire, but the third scored on the destroyer Haraden. Japanese aerial attacks continued on the 14th and Natoma Bay’s fighters added 7 “Zekes” to their total.

During and after the Mindoro landings, 15 December, Natoma Bay provided air cover and ground support, protecting screening vessels from kamikazes and strafing Japanese positions. After recovering her planes on the 16th, she retired to Kossol Roads, thence to Manus, returning to the Palaus at the end of the month.

On 1 January 1945, Natoma Bay, reassigned to CARDIV 25, sortied once again with ships of an attack force, the target this time, Luzon. There, after battling enemy nuisance and suicide raiders enroute, she, with 5 other CVEs, provided air cover for the Bombardment and Fire Support Group prior to the landings, and direct air support ahead of the amphibious troops after the assault in the San Fabian area. Between the 10th and the 17th her continuous direct air support missions resulted in the damage and destruction of bridges, fuel and ammunition dumps, barracks, roads and vehicles.

After replenishment at Mindoro, Natoma Bay cruised west of Mindoro until the 29th. She then moved into position to support amphibious landings on the west coast of Zambales Province and at Subic Bay, remaining there until 1 February. Her task group, 77.4, then retired, reaching Ulithi on the 5th.

She sortied 10 February with TU–52.2.1, to provide air cover enroute to and during the Iwo Jima assault. Between the 16th and the 19th, her planes flew 123 sorties to prepare the way for the assault marines. On D-day, the 19th, 36 sorties provided direct support, while another 16 provided CAP cover. After the 19th, Natoma Bay expanded her duties to include antisubmarine and air coordinator missions, and in March, to anti-shipping assignments.

Natoma Bay departed the Volcano-Bonin area 8 March, entering Ulithi Lagoon on the 11th. There squadron VC–9 replaced VC–81 and by the 21st, was ready for Natoma Bay’s next operation, Okinawa. With TU–52.1.1, the CVE provided air cover for the preinvasion bombardment and Occupation of Kerama Retto, 24 March–1 April. She then shifted her attention to Okinawa itself. For the next three months except for brief repair periods, her planes bombed and strafed strategic and tactical targets; flew observation and spotting, photographic and propaganda missions; dropped provisions and munitions in advance areas; and conducted combat air and anti-submarine patrols.

At 0635, 7 June, after having maneuvered through typhoon weather, Natoma Bay was closed by a “Zeke,” broad on the port quarter and low on the water. Changing course, it came in over the stern, fired incendiary ammunition at the bridge, and on reaching the island structure, nosed over and crashed the flight deck. The engine, propeller and a bomb tore a hole in the flight deck, 12 by 20 feet, while the explosion of the bomb damaged the deck of the foc’sle and the anchor windlass beyond repair and ignited a nearby fighter. Three of the CVE’s crew and one officer of VC–9 were wounded. One ship’s officer was killed. A second “Zeke” was splashed by the ship’s port batteries. The damage control party immediately extinguished the blaze and set about emergency repairs. The next strike was cancelled, but the following one, against Miayako Shima, took place as scheduled at 1030.

On 20 June the escort carrier headed for Guam for partial repairs, then continued on to the United States. By 19 August, when she arrived San Diego, the war was over. During September and October she underwent repairs, alterations and general overhaul, after which she reported for duty as a “MagicCarpet” transport. During November and early December she carried servicemen from the Philippines to California, then after detachment, 29 December, she was transferred to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. Reporting 20 February 1946, she decommissioned 20 May, berthing at Norfolk. In October 1949, she was reassigned to the Boston Reserve Group. Reclassified CVU–62 on 12 June 1955, she was declared unfit for further service in 1958 and her name was struck from the Naval Register on 1 September. She was sold 30 July 1959 for scrap.

Natoma Bay earned a Presidential Unit Citation and seven battle stars for her World War II service.

--Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

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MAY 20, 1946  NORFOLK, VA.

Reprinted from "The Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch."
May 20, 1946 Norfolk, VA.

After rolling up a record equalled by no other ship of her class, the U.S.S. Natoma Bay (CVE-62) was decommissioned this date.

The Natoma Bay commissioned on October 14, 1943, under the command of Capt. Harold L. Meadow USN, sortied on her first combat mission with her sister ship, the U.S.S. Manila Bay, on January 23, 1944. She supported the Marshall Island landings on Majuro, becoming the first CVE to enter Jap-mandated waters. She was the first escort carrier to "splash" a "Tony". She supported the bombardment of Kavieng and furnished air cover at Emirau. Other campaigns in which the little ship partipated included Aitape, Hollandia, Saipan, Leyte (sinking a heavy cruiser). Mindoro, Lingayen Gulf, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. At Saskashima Gunto on June 7, she was hit by a suicide plane which crashed on the flight deck near the island, plunging into the forecastle. Less than four hours later, however her crew had so patched the flight deck the next strike of planes scheduled was able to take off. When the war ended she served as part of the "Magic Carpet."

Comdr. J.M. Elliott, USN, of Grand Rapids, Mich, commanding officer of the Natoma Bay turned her over to Captain Murphy in ceremonies held on the flight deck at 10 A.M. Eight "plank owners." men who served on the ship when she was commissioned and who have since been transferred or separated. These plank owners in the accompanying picture are:

Lieut. Comdr. Hamilton Lokey, Atlanta, GA; Lieut Minton Braddy, Atlanta, GA.;  Lieut. Comdr. I.A. McCune, Medical Corps, Warren, PA.;  Lieut. Harris P. Jones, now navigator of the Presidential yacht Williamburg;  H.V. Burr, Ann Arbor, Mich.;  Lieut. Allen Von Hoffman, St. Louis,MO.;  James Owen, Baton Rouge, LA,;  and Chief Machinist Perkins.


Commander Lokey, speaking for the "Plank owners" said that the ship was "great in everything but speed, comfort and publicity, but she had a great ship's company," and made an enviable record in spite of her physical shortcomings.

Commander Elliott in turning the ship over to Captain Murphy, reviewed her history briefly and thanked the crew for "their loyal and painstaking work during the preservation period," when leave and liberty were curtailed, no medals were awarded, and shipboard life difficult. "In spite of all these things you have stuck to the job as you stuck to your guns during the war," he said.

Captain Murphy told the officers and crew that the NATOMA BAY is the "sixth ship of the group to complete her de-activation" ... and the only ship so far turned over to him without "deficiencies."

Reprinted from "The Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch."

May 20, 1946.


A flotilla of five American aircraft carriers, laden with battle honors in World WarII, began clearing East Coast ports yesterday for a final voyage to Japan. The ships are destined to become the first Navy fleet units since the war to be broken up for scrap to feed the furnaces of the Japanese steel industry. For three of the "baby flat-tops," the hammers and torches of of the Japanese shipbreakers will accomplish in peacetime what the might of the Imperial Japanese Navy was unable to do in war. These are the NATOMA BAY, MANILA BAY and WHITE PLAINS, which served with distinction in Pacific engagements from the Bismarck Archipelago to Okinawa. The other two "jeep carriers" the GUADALCANAL and MISSION BAY fought Nazi U-boats in the Atlantic, where the GUADALCANAL became the first ship of her type to win a Presidential Unit Citation. All five of the ships were members of the fifty-ship Casablanca class of 10,400-ton escort carriers, built by the Kaiser shipyard at Vancouver, Wash. Early today, in Boston harbor, the tug Clyde, will put lines aboard the NATOMA BAY and MISSION BAY and start for japan. Next Saturday the rear guard of the flotilla will be made up in Boston when the tug Oostzee takes the WHITE PLAINS in tow and join with the GUADALCANAL and the MISSION BAY. All will have their weapons removed and without commission pennants aboard their stripped dead hulks will be towed out past Ambrose light-ship, there after several hours of maneuvering, the huge Dutch ocean tug Elbe had them both at the ends of a long line to begin the ninety-day voyage to Japan.

The tow units will travel separately at six or seven knots, at least until they reach the Panama Canal. There the tows will be disassembled for transit and made up again on the Pacific side for the long ocean haul. Before the ships reach the canal and as the forward elements of the little fleet move through the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti, a final salute will be paid to the GUADALCANAL. For a last look around, Rear Admiral Danel V. Gallery, Commandant of the Tenth Naval District at San Jual, P.R. plans to land a helicopter on a white spot just painted on the carrier's weathered postage stamp flight deck. It was on June 4, 1944, with the then Captain Gallery in command, that GUADALCANAL captured the German Sub-U-505 off the Azores. This first capture of an enemy warship on the high seas by the Navy since 1815 brought the Presidential decoration. It appeared unlikely yesterday that any special ceremonies would mark the passing of the other ships, despite their own glory filled records. In the Battle of Leyte Gulf, for in-stance, the little NATOMA BAY—which like her sisters has only a 500 by 80 foot airstrip atop of what is little more than a freighter hull— dealt heavy losses to the Japanese battle fleet. Her planes sank a heavy cruiser and a destroyer, and severely damaged a battleship, two heavy cruisers and three light cruisers. A part of the NATOMA BAY'S official Navy history discloses:

"she carried four Admirals through five major Pacific combat operations and participated in ten separate actions for which eight battle stars have been authorized. Her planes dropped a total of 995 tons of bombs on the enemy, sent six torpedoes effectively into the Japanese fleet at Leyte, fired 4,175 rockets into Japanese installation, shot down twenty-four enemy planes, with two more shot down by the ship's guns, and assisted in several other "kills".

The ships cost seven (7) to eight (8) million each in 1943 and brought about $140,000 each when sold at auction to scrap dealers earlier this year. However when about 200 miles off the coast of Japan, the cable broke and before it could be replaced the NATOMA BAY turned on its side and sank. 

[Editor's Note: this last sentence may be incorrect.  In some versions of the logbook it has been crossed out and labeled "UNTRUE".]

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The logbook continues on the Biographies page.