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NavSource Online: Escort Carrier Photo Archive

(later CVE-21)

Flag Hoist/Radio Call Sign: November - Uniform - Yankee - Mike

Unit Awards, Campaign and Service Medals and Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row: American Campaign Medal / European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (1 star) [1] / World War II Victory Medal

[1] "In the case of the U.S.S. Block Island only one Star is to be worn for participation in T.G. 21.11 and 21.16." (Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual (NavPers 15,790, Rev 1953)

Bogue Class Escort Carrier
Ordered Laid down Launched Commissioned Decommissioned Stricken
(see below) 19 Jan 1942 6 Jun 1942 8 Mar 1943   28 Jun 1944
Builder: Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corp., Seattle, Wash.

Fate: Hit by two torpedoes from German submarine U-549 at 2013, May 29, 1944. A third torpedo struck the escort carrier 10' later, and FBI ("Fighting Block Island") finally sank at 2155.

During this same action USS Barr (DE-576) was hit and damaged by another torpedo, and U-549 was sunk by USS Eugene E. Elmore (DE-686) and USS Ahrens (DE-575).

Six USS Block Island crewmen died during or soon after the attack, and four out of six Wildcat pilots aloft at the time of the attack could not make it to the Canary Islands, where they had been vectored. They remain on active duty.

(As commissioned, 1943)
Displacement: 7,800 tons standard; 15,700 tons full load (design)
Dimensions (wl): 465' x 69.5' x 23.25'  /  141.7 x 21.2 x 7.1 meters
Dimensions (max.): 495' 8" x 111.5'  /  151.1 x 34 meters
Armor: None
Power plant: 2 boilers (285 psi); 1 steam turbine; 1 shaft; 8,500 shp
Speed: 16.5 knots
Armament: 2 single 5"/51 (later 5"/38) gun mounts; (1943) 8 twin 40-mm/56-cal gun mounts; (1943) 27 single 20-mm/70-cal gun mounts
Aircraft: 24
Aviation facilities: 2 elevators; 1 hydraulic catapult (H 2); Mk 4 mod 5A arresting gear
Crew: 890

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Block Island

AVG-21 was named Block Island for a sound that lies east of Long Island, N.Y., and south of Rhode Island. It takes its name from Block Island which it separates from the Rhode Island coast (NS0310620, courtesy of Google Maps).

World War II
CVE-21 Block Island

A nearly complete Block Island (ACV-21) at the Seattle-Tacoma Shipyard, 1943. She is painted in Measure 22 camouflage scheme, in preparation for duty in the Atlantic.

(U.S. Navy photo, courtesy of The Floating Drydock, from Naval Camouflage 1914–1945: A Complete Visual Reference, by David Williams.)

Robert Hurst
CVE-21 Block Island

Undated photo of USS Block Island (CVE-21).

Gerd Matthes, Germany
CVE-21 Block Island

USS Block Island (CVE-21), date and location unknown.

John Spivey
CVE-21 Block Island

USS Block Island (CVE-21) underway, 12 October 1943, wearing Ms.22 camouflage. Note that she is now fitted with SK air-search radar instead of the SC set. The smaller system at its top edge is IFF (Identification Friend or Foe), not a radar as such but an interrogator compatible with the beacons installed in aircraft. The pole mast forward of the island is topped with HF/DF (high-frequency direction-finder, or "huff-duff"), which enabled ASW to be effectively prosecuted since the carriers could pick up and establish the bearings of U-boat communications.

Robert Hurst
CVE-21 Block Island

Shortly after leaving Norfolk, October 15, 1943, on her first anti-submarine cruise, with aircraft from Composite Squadron 1 (VC-1) on deck—9 FM-1 Wildcats (forward) and 12 TBF-1C Avengers. Position 36-54' N, 75-22' W, course 090. Photographed from a blimp of squadron ZP-14.

U.S. National Archives photo #80-G-87149.

Courtesy of Tony Drury, Royal Navy Escort Carriers
CVE-21 Block Island

USS Block Island (CVE-21) camouflaged in Measure 32, Design 4A, circa 1944.

David Buell
CVE-21 Block Island

German submarine U-801 on the surface (directly above the aircraft wingtip), being pursued and fired on by USS Corry (DD-463), at right, on 17 March 1944. The submarine was sunk in position 16 41N, 29 58W.

Photographed from a TBM Avenger aircraft of squadron VC-6, based on USS Block Island (CVE-21).

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (# 80-G-222848).

Fred Weiss
CVE-21 Block Island

German submarine U-801 sinking with bow high, in position 16 41N, 29 58W on 17 March 1944. USS Corry (DD-463) is coming up at right. The submarine was sunk by aircraft and surface ships of the USS Block Island (CVE-21) group.

Photographed from a TBM Avenger aircraft of squadron VC-6, based on Block Island.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (# 80-G-222850).

Naval History & Heritage Command
CVE-21 Block Island
43k Sinking after being torpedoed by German submarine U-549, May 29, 1944 (port side view). Haze Gray & Underway
CVE-21 Block Island
285k USS Block Island (CVE-21) sinking after being torpedoed off the Canary Islands by U-549 on 29 May 1944. Image from Task Group 21.11 Serial 0027 Report, copied June 1978.

Official U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), # 80-G-49300.

Mike Green
Larger copy courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command (NH&HC)
CVE-21 Block Island

U.S.S. Block Island

Loss In Action

South Atlantic Ocean
29 May 1944

War Damage Report No. 49

Read the "Action Report on the Operations Concerning the Loss by Enemy Action of the U.S.S. BLOCK ISLAND on 29 May 1944." Courtesy of the U-Boat Archive.

Gerd Matthes, Germany
CVE-21 Block Island
CVE-21 Block Island

Newsletter article about the loss of USS Block Island (CVE-21).

Courtesy of Ned Marrow,
via Carol Edgemon Hipperson, author of Radioman: An Eyewitness Account of Pearl Harbor and World War II in the Pacific.

For more photos and information about this ship, see:

Read the USS Block Island (ACV-21 / CVE-21) DANFS History entry

Crew Contact and Reunion Information
Name: Bill MacInnes
Address: 6650 Richard Street — San Diego, CA 92115
Web site: USS Block Island Association

Related Links
Hazegray & Underway World Aircraft Carrier Pages By Andrew Toppan.
USS Block Island Association
World War II Damage Report located on the HyperWar website
Official U.S. Navy Carrier Website
Escort Carrier Sailors & Airmen Association

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This page was created by Paul Yarnall and is maintained by Fabio Peña
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Last update: 26 March 2019