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NavSource Online: Escort Carrier Photo Archive

(later CVHE-111 and AKV-11)

Flag Hoist/Radio Call Sign: November - Kilo - Bravo - Echo

Unit Awards, Campaign and Service Medals and Ribbons


Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row: American Campaign Medal
2nd Row: Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (1 star) / World War II Victory Medal / Navy Occupation Service Medal ("Asia" clasp)

Displacement 21,397 Tons (full load), Dimensions, 557' 7" (oa) x 75' x 30' 8" (Max)
Armament 2 x 5"/38AA 36 x 40mm, 20 x 20mm, 33 Aircraft.
Machinery, 16,000 SHP; Allis-Chambers, Geared Turbines, 2 screw
Speed, 19 Knots, Crew 1066
Operational and Building Data

Laid down, 7 February 1944, as Totem Bay, after a bay on the southern shore of Kupreanof Island, in the Alexander Archipelago, in the southern panhandle of Alaska. Built by Todd-Pacific Shipyards, Inc., Tacoma, Wash.

Renamed Vella Gulf, 26 April 1944, after a naval engagement in the Solomons campaign of World War II.

Launched on 19 October 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Donald F. Smith. Commissioned on 9 April 1945. Decommissioned on 9 August 1946.

Reclassified as a helicopter carrier (CVHE-111) on 12 June 1955, while in reserve, Vella Gulf was later transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service and again reclassified, this time to (T-)AKV-11. However, she never returned to active service. Struck from the Navy list on 1 June 1960, she was reinstated on 1 November of the same year. Struck for the second and last time on 1 December 1970.

FATE: Sold to the American Ship Dismantlers, Inc., of Portland, Oreg., on 22 October 1971 and scrapped.

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Totem Bay

CVE-111 was initially named Totem Bay for a bay on the southern shore of Kupreanof Island, Alexander Archipelago, in the southern panhandle of Alaska (NS0311104). (The bay was named in 1886 by USC&GS [U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey] "on account of the detached pillars of rock on its western shore, which resemble the Indian totem poles.")

Renamed Vella Gulf, 26 April 1944, after a naval engagement in the Solomons campaign of World War II, fought in Vella Gulf between the islands Vella Lavella and Kolombangara (NS0311104a) on the night of 6–7 August 1943. Six American destroyers (Task Group 31.2, under Commander Frederick Moosbrugger: USS Craven (DD-382), USS Dunlap (DD-384), USS Lang (DD-399), USS Maury (DD-401), USS Stack (DD-406), and USS Sterett (DD-407) engaged a group of four enemy destroyers attempting to reinforce Japanese troops on Kolombangara. The American warships closed, undetected, and fired torpedoes which sank Hagikaze, Arashi, and Kawakaze; only Shigure survived.

NS0311104b: Chart, "Battle of Vella Gulf, 6–7 August 1943."

(Maps NS0311104 and NS0311104a courtesy of Google Maps. Chart NS0311104b courtesy of The Two-Ocean War, by Samuel Eliot Morison [Galahad Books, 1997].))

Vella Gulf
Battle of Vella Gulf

Overhead view of USS Vella Gulf (CVE-111) underway on 25 August 1945. The ship was heading to Japan where she would, along with USS Gilbert Islands (CVE-107), provide food, fuel and air cover for fleet units operating off the coast of Japan.

National Naval Aviation Museum, Robert L. Lawson Photograph Collection, # 1996.488.035.015.

Joe Radigan
Larger copy and updated caption submitted by Mike Green

The newly commissioned USS Vella Gulf (CVE-111) in Puget Sound, April 21, 1945. Commencement Bay-class escort carriers could operate more planes than their predecessors and embodied design improvements to increase endurance and resistance to damage. Photo # 19-N-81247.


As seen from SS Marine Raven, the escort carrier in the background appears to be USS Vella Gulf (CVE-111). Location and date unknown.

Tommy Trampp

The Voyages of USS Vella Gulf (CVE-111) and Marine Torpedo Bombing Squadron (VMTB) 234.

Rich Grace,
for his father Donald F. Grace

For more information about this ship, see:

Read the USS VELLA GULF (CVE-111 / CVHE-111 / AKV-11) DANFS History entry

Crew Contact And Reunion Information

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Related Links
Hazegray & Underway World Aircraft Carrier Pages By Andrew Toppan.
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: 4 December 2018