Croatan (CVE-14) was transferred to the United Kingdom 27 February 1943 under lend lease, served as HMS Fencer; returned to the United States 21 December 1942 and sold 30 December 1947.
(CVE-25: dp. 9,800; 1. 495'8"; b. 69'6"; ew. 111'6";dr. 26'; s. 17 k.; cpl. 890; a. Z 6"; cl. Bogue)
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 6 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) in 40°18' N., 62°22' W. On the night of 25-26 April her four escorts joined in sinking U-488 in 17°64' 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-19O and remained in constant contact with it, forcing it to surface the next day. Sixty survivors including the commanding officer rescued before the submarine sank from scuttling. charges in 42°47' N., 40°08' W. Aircraft and escorts Frost and Inch combined again to sink U-154 on 3 July in 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. 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 in 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 1946 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.