USS Block Island is named for a sound that lies between Long Island, New York and Rhode Island. She was an escort aircraft carrier commissioned on Dec. 30, 1944. After an initial run, the Block Island was sent to San Diego. She was the first carrier of a fully Marine Corps carrier group. She picked up 226 men and began conducting air exercises off of San Diego.
During this time, several aircraft were lost when foul weather arrived and flights were diverted to land. After the tragedy, the ship returned to San Diego and continued preparations. In late March, the ship began cruising towards the Hawaiian Islands. In April, the ship was sent to the Marshalls to muster for Okinawa.
May 10, Block Island entered combat with a mission against the town of Naha. The Marines made continued air strikes on roads, airfields and other targets in and around Okinawa for the next few weeks. After Okinawa was secured, Borneo was the next target. The ship’s aircraft were instrumental in securing Balikpapan. With the Japanese surrender in August 1945, the ship began a life as a training vessel. On Jan. 5, 1952, she returned to active duty as a training ship in Atlantic operations.
She was formally decommissioned Aug. 27 1954.
CVE-21 General Specifications
Class: Bogue-class escort carrier
Named for: Block Island Sound
Complement: 890 Officers and Enlisted
Displacement: 7800 tons
Length: 495.66 feet
Beam: 111.5 feet
Flank Speed: 18 kn
Final Disposition: Torpedoed by U-549 scuttled by escort screen; 29 May 1944