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NavSource Online: Escort Carrier Photo Archive

Can you identify...?

Below are a few "mystery images." We need your help to identify the ship(s), or the location, date or event. Can you shed some light on any of them? If so, please contact us by clicking on the appropriate button.

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Mystery Photo #1
NS03xxx01
105k

An unidentified U.S.-built escort carrier, background, in Royal Navy service. In the foreground is the U.S.-built Catherine-class fleet minesweeper HMS Foam (J405, ex-BAM 27) along with an Algerine-class fleet minesweeper, apparently HMS Bramble. Imperial War Museum photo, from "Allied Escort Ships of World War II," by Peter Elliott.

Tony Drury pointed out: "Assuming that the ID of HMS Bramble is correct (I can't read her number) this picture is in UK waters as Bramble only operated in UK waters and the western approaches. Bramble didn't begin operating until July 1945 so this gives us a starting point. The CVE Puncher made her maiden voyage (San Diego to New York) in company with HMS Foam but I can't trace the sweeper's whereabouts after she reached the UK in the summer of 1944."

Later, Tony Drury found additional information and wrote [the second minesweeper appears to be HMS Wave, rather than HMS Bramble]:

"Operation Shred and Groundsheet (21st to 23 February 1945)"


"The object of Shred was for the Tenth Minesweeping Flotilla to sweep a channel through QZX 1452, which was achieved. No mines were cut."

"Groundsheet was a minelaying operation by aircraft in Salhusstrommen and provide fighter cover for the Tenth Minesweeping Flotilla. 1 Do 24 was destroyed at its moorings and buildings on shore shot up. 2 Barracudas were lost."

"Forces taking part were: Dido (Vice Admiral Commanding, Tenth Cruiser Squadron), Puncher, Premier, Myngs (Captain (D) 23rd Destroyer Flotilla), Cavalier, Scorpion, Courier (Senior Officer, Tenth Minesweeping Flotilla), Hare, Jewel, Wave, Serene, Golden Fleece, R.M.L. 551, R.M.L. 545."

(Quoted from Naval-History.net.)

"This is the only instance of the ships operating together, unfortunately the image is not good enough to distinguish Puncher from Premier."

Robert Hurst
Mystery Photo #2
NS03xxx02
NS0311424
95k

An unknown CVE with a Sikorsky HO3S-1 helicopter on deck. My guess is USS Badoeng Strait (CVE-116), but there is nothing in the photo to identify the squadrons or the ship.

Can you identify the ship, date or location? (Larger image available on request.)

David Buell has identified this ship as USS Rendova (CVE-114) and writes:

  1. Using the larger photo you sent, I listed certain salient features of the island structure and equipment.
    These included the radars and their positions, configurations of bulwarks, and masts.
  2. I listed and eliminated any CVEs which did not carry the features seen in this photo. Primarily, this first item is SPS-6 radar, which this photo shows. This eliminates CVEs 105, 109, 111, 113 and 117. Added to this group are CVEs 121 and 123, which were completed but never operational. SPS-6 became operational about the time of the Korean War, which helps date this photo. The above noted CVEs went out of commission right after World War II and only carried SK-2 radar, never SPS-6.
  3. Another feature seen in various locations on all he CVE 105 class are the DBM radar domes which were typically mounted two on a bracket on the mainmast either low and just above the bridge itself or higher up near the SP radar. Using photos available on NavSource as well as my personal collection, I listed all 105-class CVEs and the positions of their DBM domes. As it turned out, a few had DBM mounted in a third configuration. More about this later. The book by Stephan Terzibaschitsch, "Escort Carriers and Aviation Support Ships of the US Navy" was a valuable resource as it contains dozens of CVE 105 class photos.
  4. Another identifying feature is a small bulwark on the roof of the island which is probably the secondary conn. All of the photos I have seen of the Commencement Bay-class as commissioned have either an open railing or a canvas "dodger" over the railing at this position. However, most if not all of the class active postwar received a steel bulwark around this position. There were three types seen in photos, but the type seen in the Mystery Photo is of interest here. Only four CVEs had this type bulwark, so used this as my second eliminator (after the SPS-6) for identification. These CVEs are Rendova, Bairoko, Badoeng Strait, and Point Cruz. This bulwark varies from the other two variations in that is slightly angular, has a wind baffle at the top, and smooth on front.
  5. DBM locations. The Mystery Photo has no low-mounted DBM bracket over the bridge, so that eliminates Bairoko and Badoeng Strait who had DBM twin mounted on the bracket low over the bridge. They would have shown in the Mystery Photo were they present. This leaves Rendova and Point Cruz. Point Cruz had her SPS-6 mounted forward on the mast, not aft as in the Mystery photo, and did not have the DBM domes bracketed singally as seen in the mystery photo towards the top of the frame, although hers were not on a double bracket either. Rendova is the only one with this configuration. The last photo of Rendova on the NavSource page that was submitted by Darryl Baker shows this to good effect. In the Mystery Photo, the DBM is dark but visable.
  6. Trump card: In the Mystery Photo, the starboard catapult runs toward the photographer and changes color as it runs into the ship's number painted on the flight deck. At the very bottom edge of the photo, one can see a lighter section with an angled tip to the right. This is the bottom of a "4" painted on the flight deck. Refer to the photo on the NavSource Rendova page submitted by Stanley Svec of a crew formation on the flight deck and you can see how the number "4" and the flight deck markings also match up those to those in the Mystery Photo.
    All other USN numbers have curves (except "1" & "7" but CVEs 111/117 were not active at the time of this photo).
    Also seen in the Mystery Photo is the stub of the number "1" on the flight deck further to the right of frame.
    The position of the catapult in relation to the deck edge determined the locations of the painted on numbers.
    Since no other CVE-105 class ship carried a number "4" on its flight deck, I am 100% certain that this is USS Rendova, CVE 114.

Bob Crawford also comments: "Am I the only one noticing the inverted '4' in the bottom left and the bottom of a '1' just forward of the Helo? If you look at photo NS0311423 on USS Rendova page, it seems to fit the format."

Robert M. Cieri
Mystery Photo #3
NS03xxx03
169k

"Here is a CVE, Bogue-class from the look of it, and the Measure 32 camouflage [...]"

"At any rate, the number on the bow is not too legible, but looks like a double number. With a full air group of TBM Avengers on deck, my guess would be USS Card (CVE-11), but I am not sure if she wore this exact design of Measure 32, and the number is too blurred to make out well."

Camo scheme appears to be a variant of Design 4A, with a dark patch on the bow. Other photos in the same collection are related to North Africa and South America operations, circa 1943–44.

Robert Tilley notes:

  1. The CVE in this photo appears to have a slight list to starboard.
  2. In the center of this photo and above the flight deck there appears to be light colored haze rising, reminiscent of white smoke from a recently extinguished fire.
  3. There are 12 CVE's listed with various degrees of repairable damage that made port for temporary repairs.
  4. The dark object in the lower right of this photo looks like the business end of a single 40mm barrel.

(Slightly larger copy available on request.)

David Buell
Mystery Photo #4
NS03xxx04
100k

"From my reckoning it is either Bogue, Card or Core, based on dates and camouflage. That is about as far as I can get. I believe they all carried SK radar at some time or another. Except for Block Island and Croatan which I think only wore Measure 22, the rest of the Bogues were Pacific-based only. This CVE shows the Atlantic direction-finder mast forward, and I do not believe this camoflage pattern was on any Pacific CVE that I have seen photos of. Finally, that leaves Prince William as an unlikely candidate, as she entered the Atlantic late in the game, but she did do one ferry run of aircraft to Casablanca in August 1944. Have not seen photos of her in pattern camoflage, so the jury is still out on her."

"This photo also shows the countershading paint under the starboard flight deck overhang."

(Larger copy available on request.)

David Buell
Mystery Photo #5
NS0614502
119k

USS Huse (DE-145) operating with an escort carrier (CVE) in the Atlantic area, 12 December 1944. Photographed by PhoM3. Joseph W. Lehan. Huse's port side is painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 3d(gx).

Official U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (# 80-G-350736).

The CVE is possibly USS Croatan (CVE-25). Can you conclusively identify her?

Lucas Aparicio comments:

"I can confirm that the carrier in the photo is the Croatan. The Huse and the Croatan were both a part of the same anti-sub group. Both of them were in port from October 1944 to February 1945. Though they were in different ports, Huse in Brooklyn and Croatan in Norfolk, it is reasonable to assume that in that time period they trained and ran exercises together due to the fact they were part of the same anti-sub group and their main training area was the Caribbean and the Atlantic. Since the Croatan deployed in February 1945 and the Huse deployed one month later in March 1945, them training and running exercises in December sounds about right. So that photo is the Croatan and Huse training together in the Atlantic right before they deployed."

Robert Hurst

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Last update: 23 April 2017