Naval History and Heritage Command

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Littlehales I (PCS-1388)

(PCS-1388: displacement 245 tons; length 136 feet; beam 23 feet 4 inches; draft 8 feet 7 inches; speed 14 knots; complement 21; armament 1 3-inch gun, 2 20mm, 2 depth charge tracks, 4 depth charge projectors; class PCS-1376)

George Washington Littlehales, born in Pottsville, Pa., 14 October 1860, graduated from the Naval Academy 9 June 1883. He resigned from the Navy 2 years later to join the Hydrographic Office. An eminent mathematician, oceanographer, and civil engineer, Littlehales compiled many publications in navigation, terrestrial magnetism, and oceanography. He served as chairman of the Section of Physical Oceanography, American Geophysical Union, and as vice president of the Section of Oceanography, International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics. He was a member of the Washington Academy of Science, the Philosophical Society, and the American Society of Naval Engineers. From 1919 until retirement, Littlehales ably represented the United States at numerous hydrographic congresses and councils throughout the world.

Littlehales died 12 August 1943 at Washington, D.C.


The first Littlehales was laid down as PCS-1388 17 December 1942 by Robert Jacob Inc., City Island, N.Y.; launched 17 July 1943; sponsored by Miss Elaine B. Wolfe; and commissioned 11 December 1943, Lt(jg). Garrard C. M. Post, USNR, in command.

After shakedown in the Florida Keys during February 1944, and patrol duty off Trinidad, the new patrol craft transited the Panama Canal in June and arrived San Diego 7 July. The following month PCS-1388 sailed to Pearl Harbor for conversion to a hydrographic survey ship, reporting for duty 10 December 1944.

On 25 January she sailed via Pearl Harbor and Saipan, for the assault on Iwo Jima, arriving about dawn on D-Day, 17 February 1945. All that morning she stood off the beaches, while Marines stormed ashore through treacherous surf and deadly Japanese mortar fire. About 1400 a landing party departed the ship to erect a navigational light ashore and returned 4 hours later, mission accomplished. Meanwhile bad weather postponed a survey and sounding operation to chart safe anchorages for the inbound transports. Four days later, as the weather slackened, the ship started dropping sound buoys and plotting the crucial data. With the signal lights rigged ashore and anchorages well charted, the ship sailed for Saipan 28 February, en route to the Philippines. The ship arrived off Leyte 13 March and, after being redesignated AGS-7 and named Littlehales on 20 March, got underway for Okinawa on the 25th.

The ship operated off Okinawa for the next five months, locating navigable channels for the big transports, and making a complete hydrographic survey of the surrounding waters. Detached from Service Squadron 12 on 22 August, she steamed to Leyte for overhaul, arriving 1 September after surviving a large typhoon.

After overhaul the ship conducted far-flung hydrographic operations, charting harbors in Japan, the Ryukyus, and Saipan. Littlehales departed Saipan for the west coast 17 April 1946 and arrived 23 May at San Francisco.

During the next two years, Littlehales surveyed along the west coast and in Hawaiian waters, collecting oceanographic data. The ship left the west coast 11 July 1948, transited the Panama Canal, and arrived New York Naval Shipyard 10 August.

The surveying ship steamed for Gibraltar 9 September en route to Suez and extensive data gathering in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. With the temperature often climbing to well over 100°, Littlehales surveyed the harbors of Aden, Arabia, and Fahuhil, Kuwait, and sounded the depths of the Persian Gulf. She sailed from Kuwait 5 April 1949 en route the Suez Canal, Gibraltar, and New York, conducting oceanic soundings from the coast of Spain to the United States. She arrived 4 June at the New York Naval Shipyard. Littlehales decommissioned 12 October 1949 and was sold to Haylew Fisheries, Inc., Reedville, Va., 24 January 1950.


 26 November 2004

Published: Wed Jul 29 07:25:20 EDT 2015