U.S.S. Card (CVE-11)
Card was a Bogue-class escort carrier. She served in WWII, and Vietnam.
Design and Construction
Card and her sisters were based on the Maritime Commission’s C3 freighter. Relatively slow, they mainly served in secondary roles, such as aircraft transport and amphibious support. In the Atlantic, however, the little carriers came into their own as effective sub chasers. The Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Co. at Tacoma, WA laid down Card on February 27, 1942. She commissioned on November 8, 1942.
She sailed for the east coast January 18, 1943, arriving at Hampton Roads, VA on February 1. There she trained her crew and air group before setting out for North Africa. She ferried men and aircraft to Casablanca until 5 July. On 27 July, she took command of the sub killer group TG 21.14 and commenced her first patrol in this new role. She quickly set an enviable record, sinking four U-Boats before her return on September 10. She quickly left on her next patrol, which gave her even more kills, five in total. The destroyer Borie made the last one. Demonstrating the hatred many held for Germany’s “devil boats”, the destroyer rammed U-405, gutting herself in the process. Borie was scuttled. The fervor and skill with which Card’s group attacked these subs earned them a Presidential Unit Citation.
On their next patrol, Card and her task group suffered another loss. The destroyer Leary found herself in the middle of a deadly “wolf pack” of U-boats on the night of December 24. Torpedoed twice, she managed to stay afloat until another sub fired, sinking her. Card pressed on and Leary’s sister Schnenck avenged her, sinking U-645. The ships then recovered Leary’s survivors.
After a brief reprieve transporting aircraft to Casablanca, Card returned to anti-sub duty on June 21, 1944. Her group bagged their last sub under her command on July 5. Card embarked on one last patrol on 1 December, but she saw no submarines. Afterwards, she underwent a brief refit in Philadelphia, then began transporting planes and personnel to Cuba. She completed this work in July 1945 and headed for the Pacific.
Card arrived at Pearl Harbor on August 14, one day before the Japanese surrender. With the end of WWII, she began “Magic Carpet” runs from Pacificc bases to the west coast, ferrying veteran sailors, soldiers, marines, and airmen home. On January 7, 1946, she sailed back to Norfolk, and was decommissioned there on May 13.
The decorated carrier sat in reserve throughout the 1950s as the postwar Navy tried to justify her reserve status with repeated classification changes. In 1958, she finally found a new purpose. Reclassified as an aviation transport and handed over to the Military Sea Transportation Service, Card began operating with a civilian crew in the service of the U.S. Navy as U.S.N.S. Card. She began her new career in 1959.
In early 1961, Card began carrying personnel and aircraft to Vietnam in support of mounting U.S. Military obligations in the war-torn country. She was small enough to serve in coastal and inland waters, and she frequently operated out of Saigon. She was docked at Saigon on May 2, 1964. Just after midnight, a pair of Viet Cong commandos strapped explosives to her hull and detonated them. Card sank in the shallow harbor, coming to rest in forty-eight feet of water. She lost five men in the attack and it took seventeen days to raise her. Towed to the Philippines, the veteran carrier was returned to service on December 11.
Card returned to the United States in 1970 and was decommissioned. Shortly thereafter, she was sold for scrapping.
Risk of Asbestos Exposure
Card, as a steam-powered ship built during WWII, would have had large quantities of asbestos aboard as insulation for her power plant. Asbestos products break down into tiny fibers when damaged or worn. The heavy damage she suffered in Vietnam would have caused millions of these fibers to break free and fly into the air inside of Card.
Inhalation of asbestos is a proven cause of mesothelioma, a malignant lung cancer. There is no cure for mesothelioma, but treatments such as chemotherapy can be used to fight the disease. If you or someone you know served aboard Card or worked on her in a shipyard and has contracted mesothelioma, please fill out the form at the bottom of this page to receive free information regarding your rights to compensation.
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