Operation Magic Carpet

This was a US post-war programme to repatriate overseas forces for demobilisation (1945/46).

The undertaking was effected by the US Navy, which brought back men from European and Pacific theatres using hundreds of ships. The dedicated transports available to the service were insufficient to complete anything like a timely return of US combat troops, and everything from aircraft carriers and battleships down to tenders and auxiliaries were outfitted with extra bunks to make multiple round trips.

The Pacific element of the operation started on 9 September 1945 with the creation of Rear Admiral R. S. Kendallís Task Group 16.12, which initially comprised eight escort carriers. The force available for the task was swiftly enlarged, by December 1945 reaching 369 warships including six battleships, 18 cruisers, 11 fleet carriers, 46 escort carriers and 12 hospital ships. In some cases these ships made several trips, and by March 1946 some 1.308 million personnel had been delivered back to the USA. The greatest single number was 29,204 carried by the fleet carrier Saratoga. In the same period transports delivered another 1.8155 million personnel back to the USA.