World War II
Departing San Diego 18 January 1943, Card arrived at Hampton Roads 1 February for training in Chesapeake Bay. She ferried aircraft and troops for the North African invasion from New York to Casablanca (14 May–1 June), returning to Norfolk 5 July. She was reclassified CVE-11 on 15 July 1943. Card steamed from Norfolk as flagship of TG 21.14, one of the hunter-killer groups formed for offensive operations against German submarines. Her first cruise from 27 July to 10 September 1943 was very successful. Her planes sank U-117 on 7 August in 39°32′N 38°21′W / 39°32′N 38°21′W / 39.533; -38.350.; U-664 on 9 August in 40°12′N 37°29′W / 40°12′N 37°29′W / 40.200; -37.483.; U-525 on 11 August in 41°29′N 38°55′W / 41°29′N 38°55′W / 41.483; -38.917.; and U-847 on 27 August in 28°19′N 37°58′W / 28°19′N 37°58′W / 28.317; -37.967.
Her second cruise from 25 September to 9 November provided even more lucrative hunting. Planes from Card spotted a nest of four submarines refueling 4 October and sank two of them, the U-460 in 43°13′N 28°58′W / 43°13′N 28°58′W / 43.217; -28.967., and U-422 in 43°18′N 28°58′W / 43.300°N 28.967°W. Nine days later in 48°56′N 29°41′W / 48°56′N 29°41′W / 48.933; -29.683., the U-402 fell victim to her aircraft. Her aircraft added another submarine to their score on 31 October when they sank the U-584, in 49°14′N 31°55′W / 49°14′N 31°55′W / 49.233; -31.917. The fifth and final kill of the cruise was made on 1 November by one of Card's escorts. After a violent, close-range surface action, Borie rammed and sank the U-405 in 50°12′N 30°48′W / 50°12′N 30°48′W / 50.200; -30.800. Too badly damaged to be saved, Borie had to be sunk by one of the other escorts. For her outstanding antisubmarine activities from 27 July to 25 October as part of TG21.14, Card and her task group were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. Card became the first escort carrier to receive such an award for combating German submarines.
Card began her third hunter-killer cruise 24 November heading for the North Atlantic. Late on 23 December the group ran into a wolf pack Borkum; Card had 12 contacts in 5 hours. Schenck sank U-645 in 45°20′N 21°40′W / 45°20′N 21°40′W / 45.333; -21.667., but one of the other escorts, Leary, was sunk by the combined efforts of three submarines in 45°00′N 22°00′W / 45°00′N 22°00′W / 45.000; -22.000. Card dodged submarines all night with only Decatur as screen, while Schenck rescued survivors from Leary. The task group returned to Norfolk base on 2 January 1944.
From 18 March to 17 May Card operated on transport duty between Norfolk and Casablanca, then underwent overhaul until 4 June when she steamed for Quonset Point to hold pilot qualification exercises. She returned to Norfolk 21 June to serve as the nucleus of TG 22.10. The hunter-killer unit departed Norfolk 25 June and on 5 July two of her escorts, Thomas and Baker, sank U-233 in 42°16′N 59°49′W / 42°16′N 59°49′W / 42.267; -59.817. Thirty survivors, including the mortally wounded commanding officer of the submarine, were taken on board Card and put ashore at Boston the next day.
Her next antisubmarine cruise was in the Caribbean and uneventful (10 July–23 August). She sortied 18 September as flagship of TG 22.2 for patrol off the Azores, during which she cooperated with British Escort Group 9 to attack a submarine on 12 October. After another patrol with TG 22.2 (1 December 1944 - 22 January 1945), Card entered Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for overhaul until 7 February, then transported Army aircraft and Army and Navy personnel to Liverpool, returning to Norfolk 12 March. From 21 March to 24 May, Card was based on Quonset Point, conducting carrier pilot qualifications. She ferried men and aircraft to Guantanamo Bay (21 June-24 June), then transited the Panama Canal to transport materiel to Pearl Harbor and Guam, returning to San Diego 14 August 1945. By the end of World War II, Card and her aircraft destroyed a total of 11 German submarines, which made it the second most successful ship of its class. Assigned to "Magic Carpet" duty, she made two voyages to Pearl Harbor and one to the western Pacific from 21 August to 16 December 1945, returning servicemen to the west coast. Card departed Alameda 7 January 1946 for the east coast where she was placed out of commission in reserve at Norfolk 13 May 1946.
She was reclassified as a helicopter escort carrier CVHE-11, 12 June 1955; a utility carrier CVU-11, 1 July 1958; and an aviation transport AKV-40, 7 May 1959.
In addition to her Presidential Unit Citation, Card received three battle stars for service in World War II.
The ship was reactivated on 16 May 1958 as USNS Card and operated with a civilian crew under Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) control as an aircraft transport. On December 15, 1961, Card left Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island, with a cargo of H-21 Shawnee helicopters and soldiers from Fort Devens, Massachusetts, bound for Vietnam. At Subic Bay in the Philippines, the cargo and troops were transferred to the helicopter carrier USS Princeton, which arrived and unloaded off the coast of Da Nang on January 25, 1962.
On 2 May 1964, while Card was moored dockside in Saigon, a Viet Cong frogman planted an explosive charge that blew a hole in the hull, killing five crewmen. Card settled in 20 feet (6.1 m) of water. She was patched and pumped out, and raised on 19 May, and towed to Subic Bay, and then Yokosuka for repairs. Card returned to service on 11 December.
During the latter part of 1967 and early part of 1968, Card brought US military helicopters to the Republic of South Vietnam. These helicopters were assembled on board the ship by members of the 388th Transportation Company, 765th Transportation Battalion, and then flown to the US Army airfield at Vũng Tàu. From there the helicopters were assigned to aviation units.