USS Matanikau (CVE-101) was a Casablanca class escort carrier of the United States Navy.
Matanikau was laid down as Dolomoi Bay under Maritime Commission contract by Kaiser Co., Inc. Vancouver, Washington on 10 March 1944; renamed Matanikau 26 April 1944; launched on 22 May 1944, sponsored by Mrs. Robert A. Grant, delivered to the Navy on 24 June 1944, and commissioned at Astoria, Oregon the same day, Captain W. L. Erdmann in command.
World War II
Following training in Puget Sound, Matanikau steamed to San Diego on 25 July. After embarking 191 military passengers and loading 56 planes, she departed on 1 August on an extended shakedown and ferrying run to the South Pacific.
She touched at Espiritu Santo and Finschhafen, reached Manus in the Admiralty Islands on 23 August, and after discharging men and planes, she carried 112 sailors and 41 damaged aircraft back to the west coast, arriving San Diego on 19 September.
Matanikau 's run to the Admiralties and back marked her closest advance to the sea war in the Pacific. On 14 October, she embarked Composite Squadron 93 (VC-93) and began duty as qualification carrier for naval and marine aviators. Operating along the west coast out of San Diego, she trained hundreds of pilots during the closing months of World War II. For more than 8 months, she conducted flight training and qualification landings. From January-June 1945, she qualified 1,332 aviators, and during these 6 months, pilots completed 12,762 landings on her flight deck. On 25 May alone, fighter and torpedo planes of Marine Air Groups CVS-454 and CVS-321 made 602 daylight landings, the greatest number on an aircraft carrier in one day.
Matanikau departed San Diego on 28 July and carried 65 planes and 158 troops to the Marshall Islands. Operating under Carrier Transport Squadron, Pacific Fleet, she reached Roi Island, Kwajalein on 10 August, then returned to Pearl Harbor on the 16th. On 31 August, she sailed for the western Pacific to support occupation operations in Japan. As a unit of Task Force 4 (TF 4), she reached Ominato, Honshū on 11 September. For the next 2 weeks, she supported operations along the northern coast of Honshū, including landings by the 8th Army at Aomori on 25 September. After steaming to Yokosuka, she departed Tokyo Bay 30 September, touched at Guam and Pearl Harbor, and arrived San Francisco 23 October.
Assigned to "Magic Carpet" duty from 3–19 November, Matanikau steamed to Saipan, where she embarked more than 1,000 returning veterans. Departing for the west coast on the 21st, she reached San Pedro, California on 5 December. Six days later, she again sailed for the Marianas. She arrived Guam on 27 December, embarked 795 troops of the 3rd Marine Division, and departed the next day for China. Arriving Taku Forts on 3 January 1946, Matanikau debarked the marines who were part of an American force supporting the Chinese Nationalists in their struggle against the Communists for control of China.
Matanikau sailed for the United States on 9 January and entered San Diego harbor on the 29th. From 1-5 February, she steamed to Tacoma, Washington, where she remained during the next 8 months in an inactive status. She decommissioned on 11 October and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet. While berthed at Tacoma, Matanikau was reclassified CVHE-101 on 15 June 1955, and again reclassified AKV-36 on 7 May 1959. Ordered disposed of in March 1960, Matanikau was struck from the Navy list on 1 April 1960. She was sold to Jacq. Pierot, Jr. & Sons of New York on 27 July 1960.