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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Kenneth Whiting

 

Kenneth Whiting, born at Stockbridge, Mass., 22 July 1881, was appointed Naval Cadet 7 September 1900. He was commissioned Ensign 25 February 1908 after attending the Naval Academy and serving the required sea duty. Whiting then became qualified in submarines, subsequently commanding Porpoise, Shark, Tarpon, and Seal. In 1914 his interest turned to aviation. After learning to fly under Orville Wright, he was designated Naval Aviator 16. As a true pioneer of naval aviation, he assumed command of the 1st Naval Air Unit in France following America's entry into World War I. Lt. Comdr. Whiting was then assigned to command Naval Air Stations 14 and 15 at Killingholme, England. For this service he was awarded the Navy Cross "for exceptionally meritorious service in a duty of great responsibility."

 

After the war his interest in and support of aviation was partially responsible for the conversion of collier Jupiter into the Navy's first aircraft carrier Langley. He continued active participation in naval aviation, commanding Langley and Saratoga, and various air squadrons prior to his retirement as Captain 30 June 1940. He was then retained on active duty as General Inspector of Naval Aircraft, Eastern Division until 1943. Captain Whiting was assigned command of the Naval Air Station, New York, 19 February; and held this post until his death 24 April 1943.

 

(AV-14: dp. 8,510; l. 492'; b. 69'6"; dr. 26'; s. 18.7 k.; cpl. 1,077; a. 2 5", 12 40mm., 16 20mm.; cl. Whiting; T. C3)

 

Kenneth Whiting (AV-14) was launched 15 December 1943 by Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Co., Seattle, Wash.; sponsored by Mrs. Kenneth Whiting, widow of Captain Whiting; and commissioned 8 May 1944, Comdr. R. R. Lyons in command.

 

After shakedown along the West Coast, Kenneth Whiting cleared San Diego 21 July 1944 and arrived Saipan 14 August for operations in the Marianas. Her PB2Y squadron made reconnaissance flights which provided valuable data necessary to the success of the Allied operations. At Tanapag Harbor, Saipan, Kenneth Whiting used a former Japanese seaplane ramp to augment the maintenance facilities and increase the availability of planes. She sailed for Kossol Passage 20 November, relieving ten der Pocomoke there 3 days later. She remained in the Palau Islands until 5 February 1945.

 

Arriving Ulithi 6 February, Kenneth Whiting resumed tending seaplanes. On 11 March while she was still off Ulithi, two enemy suicide planes attacked the base. One crashed into Sorlen Island; but the second dove into Randolph (CV-15). The seaplane tender cleared Ulithi 2 April; received provisions and supplies at Guam and Saipan; then steamed to Okinawa, arriving 25 April and immediately commencing combat and search operations. On 11 May her lookout sighted a group of 29 Koreans waving a white flag on the beach of Gerum Shima. An armed boat party from the tender took them into custody for transfer to the POW camp on Zamami Shima. While at Okinawa Kenneth Whiting operated as fleet post office and a housing center for aircraft survivors.

 

At 1830, 21 June, 5 hours after Major General Geiger had declared Okinawa secured, a small group of kamikazes penetrated Kerama Retto. Kenneth Whiting knocked down an "Oscar" but part of the plane hit her, causing minor damage and wounding five men. However, she continued operations out of Okinawa for the rest of the war. During July her planes flew armed reconnaissance along the coasts of Japan, Korea, and China locating targets for 3d Fleet raids.

 

Kenneth Whiting departed Okinawa 19 September and anchored at Sasebo 2 days later. The tender was then assigned to China duty, arriving Hong Kong 14 October. Her VPB squadron commenced patrol courier service, and continued this until she was relieved 28 November. She arrived San Francisco 22 December with 572 Navy officers scheduled for release. With the close of the war and the emergence of the Atomic Age, Kenneth Whiting cleared San Diego 6 May 1946 to operate with support forces during Atomic tests at Bikini. She returned to San Diego 30 August; transferred to San Pedro 30 October; and decommissioned there 29 May 1947.

 

Kenneth Whiting recommissioned at San Diego 24 October 1951, and sailed for Far Eastern duty 13 March 1952. She arrived Yokosuka, Japan, 29 March to assist U.S. naval forces in resisting Communist aggression in Korea. The seaplane tender operated out of Iwakuni until 16 October when she sailed for the United States.

 

Following overhaul at Bremerton, Wash., and coastal operations out of San Diego, Kenneth Whiting sailed 2 March 1953 for another Westpac deployment, supporting seaplane activities out of Japan in the final months of the Korean conflict.

 

After the war, Kenneth Whiting made annual deployments to the Far East in support of the 7th Fleet activities. During the summer of 1955, she operated in the Formosa-Pescadores area in the wake of repeated Communist harassment on Chinese Nationalist-held islands. On 29 March 1957 she arrived at her new home port Crescent Harbor, Wash., but sailed for another Far Eastern tour 12 August. She continued operations with the 7th Fleet until 31 January 1958 when she cleared Subic Bay, P.I., and returned Crescent Harbor, Wash., 10 March. Kenneth Whiting decommissioned at Puget Sound 30 September, and was struck from the Navy List 1 July 1961, and sold 21 February 1962 to Union Minerals & Alloy Corp.

 

Kenneth Whiting received two battle stars for World War II.