A sound of the North Carolina coast.
(CVE-25: dp. 9,800; l. 495'8"; b. 69'6"; ew. 111'6"; dr. 26'; s. 17 k.; cpl. 890; a. 2 5"; cl. Bogue)
Croatan (AVG-25) was reclassified ACV-25 on 20 August 1942, and CVE-25 on 15 July 1943. She was again reclassified CVHE-25, 12 June 1955; CVU-25, 1 July 1958; and AKV-43, 7 May 1959. She was launched 1 August 1942 by Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Co., Seattle, Wash., under a Maritime Commission contract; sponsored by Mrs. J. S. Russell; and commissioned 28 April 1943, Captain J. B. Lyon in command.
Sailing from San Diego 2 July 1943, Croatan arrived at Norfolk 19 July. As the nucleus for a hunter-killer group, she sailed 5 August for antisubmarine operations in the Atlantic covering the movement of convoys. Her planes had two skirmishes with surfaced submarines and on 5 September initiated night flying operations from escort carriers. She returned to Norfolk 22 September.
From 17 October to 29 December 1943, Croatan made two voyages to Casablanca ferrying aircraft and plane crews for the North African operations. After another antisubmarine patrol from 14 January to 27 February 1944, she took part in tests with the Naval Research Laboratory at Annapolis. From 24 March to 11 May, Croatan made a most successful patrol. On 7 April, her planes marked out U-856, which was sunk by her escorts Champlin (DD-601) and Huse (DE-145) at 40°18' N., 62°22' W. On the night of 25-26 April, her four escorts joined in sinking U-488 at 17°54' N., 38°05' W. She was also successful in her patrol from 2 June to 22 July. On 10 June, Croatan's planes and escorts Frost (DE-144), Huse, and Inch (DE-146) attacked U-490 and remained in constant contact with it, forcing it to surface the next day. Sixty survivors, including the commanding officer, were rescued before the submarine sank from scuttling charges at 42°47' N., 40°08' W. Aircraft and escorts Frost and Inch combined again to sink U-154 on 3 July, at 34°00' N., 19°30' W.
Following a brief overhaul and radar tests with the Naval Research Laboratory, Croatan put to sea again 20 August 1944. On 15 September, she aided survivors from Warrington (DD-383) who had foundered in a hurricane. Returning to Norfolk 1 October, Croatan next sailed for antisubmarine training at Guantanamo Bay and Bermuda, then proceeded to provide air cover for a high-speed east bound task force, returning to New York 4 February 1945. For the next month, she qualified pilots in carrier operations, then sailed from Norfolk 25 March to join a barrier line to intercept German submarines. On 16 April, her escorts, Frost and Stanton (DE-247) sank U-880 and U-1235 at 47°53' N., 30° 26' W. Croatan returned by way of Argentia, Newfoundland, to New York 14 May for overhaul.
From 15 September to 3 November 1945, Croatan qualified aviators at Quonset Point, then cleared Norfolk 23 November on the first of two transatlantic voyages to bring troops home from Le Havre, France. Croatan was placed out of commission in reserve at Norfolk 20 May 1946. Reactivated, Croatan was assigned to MSTS in a noncommissioned status, manned by a civilian crew on 16 June 1958. She continued to operate with MSTS into 1961