The second USS Antietam (CV 36) was laid down on March 15, 1943 by the Philadelphia Navy Yard; launched on August 20, 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Millard E. Tydings, the wife of Senator Tydings of Maryland; and commissioned on January 28, 1945, Capt. James R. Tague in command.
The aircraft carrier completed fitting out at Philadelphia until March 2, 1945 when she got underway for her shakedown cruise. Antietam arrived in Hampton Roads on the 5th and conducted operations from Norfolk until March 22nd when she stood out of Chesapeake Bay bound for Trinidad in the British West Indies. At the conclusion of her shakedown cruise, USS Antietam returned to Philadelphia on April 28 to begin post-shakedown availability. She completed repairs on May 19 and departed Philadelphia that same day.
After a three-day stop at Norfolk, CV 36 resumed the voyage to the Panama Canal in company with USS Higbee (DD 806), USS George W. Ingram (APD 43), and USS Ira Jeffery (APD 44). She arrived at Cristobal on May 31, 1945, transited the canal the next day, and continued her voyage up the coast to San Diego. USS Antietam stopped at San Diego from June 10-13 before beginning the first leg of her transpacific voyage. Antietam arrived in Pearl Harbor on the 19th and remained in the Hawaiian Islands conducting training missions until August 12th. On that day, she shaped a course for the western Pacific.
Three days out of Oahu, she received word of the Japanese capitulation and the consequent cessation of hostilities. Thus, by the time of her arrival in Eniwetok Atoll on August 19, 1945, her mission changed from combat to occupation support duty. On the 21st she exited the lagoon in company with USS Cabot (CVL 28) and a screen of destroyers bound for Japan. En route, she suffered some internal damage which forced her into port at Apra Harbor Guam, for inspections. The inspection party deemed the damage minimal; and the carrier remained operational, resuming her course on the 27th. By that time, however, her destination had been changed to the coast of the Asian mainland. USS Antietam stopped at Okinawa between August 30 and September 1 and arrived in Chinese waters near Shanghai the following day.
The Antietam remained in the Far East for a little more than three years. The Yellow Sea constituted her primary theater of operations while her air group provided support for the Allied occupation of North China, Manchuria, and Korea. During the latter stages of that assignment, her airmen conducted surveillance missions in that area as a result of the civil war in China between communist and nationalist factions which later resulted in the expulsion of Chiang Kai-shek's forces from mainland China and the establishment of Mao Tse-Tung's communist People's Republic of China.