Rear Adm. Worrall Reed Carter
with a Foreword by
The Honorable Dan A. Kimball
The Secretary of the Navy
and an Introduction by
Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, USN (Retired)
who helped turn back the Japanese at Midway and later took from them the Gilberts, Marshalls, Marianas, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa
Admiral Raymond Ames Spruance, USN
List of Photographs
|Neosho fuels Yorktown in heavy sea
|Kitty Hawk supplying planes to the Long Island
|USS Kitty Hawk at Pallikulo Bay, New Hebrides, unloading torpedo plane to self-propelled 50-ton barge
|Minneapolis, bow blown off
|Minneapolis, bow repaired with coconut-palm tree trunks
|Honolulu at Tulagi with bow damaged by "dud" torpedo
|Ortolan raises two-man submarine
|PT boat fueling depot Base No. 8, Morobe, New Guinea
|Submarine undocking from ARD-6 Dutch Harbor
|Sweepers Cove, Adak, Aleutian Islands
|Finger Bay, Adak Island
|Torpedoes being hosted aboard Lexington
|Small floating drydock
|The concrete stores barge Quartz, one of the many of this type construction
|Ammunition ship Shasta loading 14-inch powder and shells onto the New Mexico
|New Mexico sending 14-inch H.C. shells to the magazines
|Ships in Eniwetok, Marshall Islands
|An LCT alongside the Yorktown
|Ships in Seeadler Harbor, Manus Island, in the Admiralty Islands
|Argonne damaged by the blowing up of the Mount Hood
|The Boston fueling a destroyer
|Fueling from both sides
|Gasoline lighter and an LCT alongside the carrier Intrepid
|Transferring bombs from LST to the carrier Hancock at sea
|Taking sugar on the carrier Lexington at night
|The Houston - what holds her up?
|The Reno hard hit and barely afloat
|The Mississinewa torpedoed by a midget
|One of the midgets
|Load of powder midway between the Shasta and the cruiser Vicksburg at sea
|Randolph damaged by suicide plane
|Franklin hit hard
|Closeup of the Franklin
|Pittsburgh in a drydock, Guam
|Bow of Pittsburgh, towed in, cut up, and restored to the ship
|Destroyer Newcomb damaged by suicide attacks
|Damage to the flight deck of Sangamon
|Damage to Kiland's flagship, Mount McKinley
|Damage to the destroyer Hazelwood
|Pennsylvania low in water after being torpedoed by plane
|Maryland taking turret-gun powder
|YMS-92, stern blown off
|The oiler Cahaba fueling the battleship Iowa and the carrier Shangri-La on a smooth day
|The Ocelot - "Spotted Cat" - Carter's flagship
|The Ponaganset loading fresh water at Balusoa Water Point, Samar
|Raising a Jap midget by net layers
|News of the surrender of Japan
|Celebrating the good news
List of Charts
|Southwest Pacific, Australia, New Guinea, Borneo
|New Guinea (and small part of Australia)
|Leyte Gulf - Surigao Strait - Samar - Leyte
|China, Japan, and the Philippines
Victory is won or lost in battle, but all military history shows that adequate logistic support is essential to the winning of battles.
In World War II, logistic support of the fleet in the Pacific became a problem of such magnitude and diversity, as well as vital necessity, that all operations against Japan hinged upon it. The advance against the enemy moved our fleet progressively farther and farther away from the west coast of the United States, from Pearl Harbor, and from other sources of supply. To support our fleet we constructed temporary bases for various uses, and we formed floating mobile service squadrons and other logistic support groups. These floating organizations remained near the fighting fleet, supplying food, ammunition, and other necessities while rendering repair services close to the combat areas. This support enabled the fleet to keep unrelenting pressure upon the enemy by obviating the return of the fleet to home bases.
Because of the knowledge gained during his South Pacific service and particularly from his experience as Commander of Service Squadron Ten, the largest of the mobile squadrons, Rear Admiral W.R. Carter was chosen to write this history of logistics afloat in the Pacific. The opinions expressed and the conclusions reached are those of the author.
Dan A. Kimball
Secretary of the Navy
6 February 1952
by Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, USN (Retired)
A sound logistic plan is the foundation upon which a war operation should be based. If the necessary minimum of logistic support cannot be given to the combatant forces involved, the operation may fail, or at best be only partially successful.
In a war, one operation normally follows another in a theater and each one is dependent upon what has preceded it and what is anticipated. The logistic planning has to fit into and accompany the operational planning. The two must be closely coordinated, and the planners for each must look as far into the future as they can in order to anticipate and prepare for what lies ahead.
A history of the sum total of American logistics during World War II would be forced to cover a tremendous field. The present volume deals only with naval logistics in the Pacific. As such, its scope is limited to a not-too-great portion of our entire national logistic effort. However, the area involved - the Pacific Ocean - is the one where our maximum naval effort was expended. Distances in that ocean were very great, and the resources available to us from friendly countries in the Western Pacific were comparatively minor, in both variety and quantity. Nearly everything our forces required had to come from or through the United States, with the exception of the large amounts of petroleum products originating in the Caribbean area and moving west through the Panama Canal.
The study of our naval logistic effort in the Pacific, as outlined in the present volume, brings out our dependence on both shore bases and mobile floating bases such as are exemplified by Service Squadron Ten. Each had its advantages, and neither alone could have done the job.
In the early days of the war, when the fighting was principally in the South and Southwest Pacific, we had around our bases good-sized land masses, which permitted the construction of shore facilities. Shipping then was scarce and at a premium, and large numbers of ships could not be spared for conversion to the special purposes of a mobile floating base. Furthermore, our advance against the enemy then was not so rapid
in its movement as it became later. Shore bases continued to be close enough to the fighting front to retain practically their full usefulness.
When we started planning in the summer of 1943 for operations in the Central Pacific, it was obvious that the geography of the area which we hoped to capture had characteristics very different from those of the South Pacific. We did not know how fast we would be able to move ahead, but we did know that in the Gilberts, Marshalls, and Carolines, many of the islands had splendid protected anchorages in their lagoons. However, the land areas surrounding the lagoons were very small. These islands were only large enough, as a rule, to enable us to construct the always necessary air strips and to take care of the requirements of the atoll garrison forces. Truk, which we bypassed, in the Carolines, was an exception geologically in that there were some fairly large but rugged islands in the middle of its magnificent lagoon. Exceptions also were Kusaie and Ponape, which were large rugged islands without any protected anchorages big enough to be of interest to us. The Marianas we knew had some good-sized islands in the group, but we also knew that not one of them had a protected anchorage large enough for fleet use.
This geography meant that the logistic support for our fleet during operations in the Central Pacific would have to be primarily afloat, in what developed into the mobile service squadron - first Service Squadron Four at Funafuti in the Ellice Islands and then Service Squadron Ten at Majuro in the Marshalls. The small beginnings of the idea in Service Squadron Four were absorbed into Service Squadron Ten soon after the latter came into being in February 1944 at Majuro.
The growth of Service Squadron Ten, its movement across the Pacific to successive bases at Eniwetok, then Ulithi and then Leyte, and its continuous and most efficient service to the fleet at these and numerous other bases where it stationed ships and representatives as our operations demanded, are achievements of which all Americans can be justly proud, but about which most of them have little or no knowledge.
The actual furnishing of logistic support to ships at sea is an essential part of this picture. At first it was confined to fuel, but as we pushed westward toward Japan and as the tempo of our operations increased, our fleet had to remain for longer and longer periods at sea. This reached its peak in the Okinawa operation, which lasted for over 3 months and during all of which it was necessary to keep strong fleet forces from the fast carrier force in a covering position. The fine work of Service Squadron Six under Rear Admiral D.B. Beary, USN, enabled this to be done.
The author of this book, Rear Admiral W.R. Carter, USN (Ret.), is well qualified by experience to write about naval logistics in the Pacific during World War II. At the outbreak of war and during its early months he was Chief of Staff to Commander Battleships Pacific Fleet, Rear Admiral Walter S. Anderson, USN. When that command changed, Captain Carter (as he was then) was most insistent that he remain at sea in the Pacific, and if possible that he be sent wherever there was fighting. His demands resulted in his being sent to the South Pacific in the fall of 1942, where he became Commander Naval Bases. Here he helped to build up the shore bases which supported our early operations in the Solomons. Later, after a South Pacific organizational change which originated in the Navy Department, he returned to Pearl Harbor and was then sent to the Aleutians. After returning to Pearl Harbor, he worked up on paper the organization of Service Squadron Ten.
At the time of the Marshalls operation Captain Carter secured a billet as a convoy commodore, which was consistent with his idea of getting closer to where the fighting was going on. When I found him in this capacity at Majuro shortly after we had taken Kwajalein, I told him to find a relief for his convoy billet and to start building up Service Squadron Ten at Majuro, which he did.
From February 1944 until July 1945, "Nick" Cater continued to run Service Squadron Ten and did a magnificent job, often under great difficulties. Just before the end of the war, Carter was ordered to Washington for a medical survey over the vehement protests of Admiral Nimitz and others in the Pacific. After being found physically fit he asked for reassignment to the Pacific, but the war ended before action could be taken on his request.
Commodore Carter was fortunate, as were all the rest of us, in having at all times the intelligent, generous, and wholehearted support of Vice Admiral W.L. Calhoun, USN, who as Commander Service Force in Pearl Harbor was Carter's immediate superior. Bill Calhoun's loyalty up to his boss, Admiral Nimitz, "down" to all his own command in the Service Force, and "sideways" to all the rest of us who needed his help and support, was something that could always be depended upon. Under the leadership of Admiral Nimitz, we had a combination that could - and did - go anywhere in the Pacific.
THIS IS NOT A STUDY in logistics. It is more a story of logistics. It is a story about the logistic services supplied to U.S. naval forces in the operating areas in the Pacific, 1941-45. It is largely an account of services rendered by means of floating facilities. It does not go into the magnificent production and supply by the industrial plants, shipyards, and naval bases of continental United States and Hawaii which made possible the floating bases of distribution and maintenance. This is a story of the support of the fleet into the far reaches of the Pacific in its campaign against the Japanese. It is the story of the distribution to the fleet of the sinews of war, at times, at places, and in quantities unsuspected by the enemy until it was too late for him to do much to oppose it. This book has little or nothing to say about the building, equipping, and fitting out of new vessels, or the manufacture and shipping of the thousands of tons of thousands of different items by continental sources, without which colossal accomplishment there could have been no drive across the Pacific. This account does not attempt to furnish complete statistical figures; such statistics are matters for the technical bureaus of the Navy. This is, rather, an attempt to spin a yarn of the logistics afloat in the Pacific Fleet, in order that those interested in naval history may realize that naval warfare is not all blazing combat.
I have been helped by several people, but most of all by Rear Admiral E.E. Duvall, USN (Ret.), my former Chief Staff Officer in Service Squadron Ten. Mere acknowledgment of the work he has done would be an injustice. He is practically the co-author and has furnished me with many useful suggestions. Just as he was every ready to tackle patiently any assignments during the war, so has he worked with me on this book. Duvall designed and made preliminary sketches for the sea-horse emblem, the spine, charts, and end-papers of the book.
My thanks go to Miss Loretta I. MacCrindle, Head of the World War II Classified Records Branch, Division of Naval Records and History, and her assistant, Miss Barbara A. Gilmore, for their help in digging up material from the acres of filing cabinets and for their tolerance of my disorderly use of it.
I am indebted to Miss Mary Baer, the Film Librarian at the Navy
Photographic Center, for helping me with the illustrations.
The student cartographers under the direction of Mr. Leo M. Samuels and Mr. Fulton G. Perkins of the Hydrographic Office helped me with the charts.
The early typing was done by Miss Shirley Zimmerman, who proved herself almost a cryptanalyst in reading my writing. Norman L. Clark and Maurice O'Connor helped. The rewrite typing was done by YN3 Johnnie J. Freeman. I thank them all.
Rear Admiral John B. Heffernan, USN (Ret.), the Director of Naval Records and History, who got me into this history writing but who is not to be held responsible for anything found amiss herein, has been my boss and my backer. Without the facilities and encouragement which he has furnished me this neophytic effort would have failed.
This work originated in a request from the President of the Naval War College, Newport, R.I., and the project was approved by the Chief of Naval Operations on the recommendation of Vice Admiral R.B. Carney, then Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Logistics. The project has continued to receive the support and encouragement of Vice Admiral F.S. Low, now Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Logistics.
The original manuscript on file with the Division of Naval Records and History, which is much larger, goes into greater detail, and has a larger appendix section, is retained for official use. Commander A.S. Riggs, USNR, read the manuscript and did much of the work of cutting down to a more popular version and size. For his work I am very thankful and appreciative. It was not easy. For the final editing I am much indebted to Mr. L.R. Potter.
The sources of this book are official naval records, such as war diaries, logs, operation plans, and action reports, and therefore it is thought unnecessary to give individual case authentications to which very few readers ever refer and which makes for a great deal more printing and crowding of pages. A glossary has been included to acquaint the reader with the meaning of certain abbreviations and terms.
Rear Admiral, USN (Ret.)
8 October 1951
Pre-World War II
From 7 December 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, until they admitted defeat in August 1945, our fleet continuously grew. During those stirring and difficult times, the accounts of ship actions, air strikes, and amphibious operations make up the thrilling combat history of the Pacific theater. Linked inseparably with combat is naval logistic support, the support which makes available to the fleet such essentials as ammunition, fuel, food, repair services - in short, all the necessities, at the proper time and place and in adequate amounts. This support, from advanced bases and from floating mobile service squadrons and groups, maintained the fleet and enabled it to take offensive action farther from home supply points than was ever before thought possible, and this is the story which will be told here. But before telling this story, let us examine some of the ideas and accomplishments of fleet logistics in the years before World War II.
The advantages of logistics afloat and near the fleet operating area had long been recognized by many naval commanders, and no doubt by others who gave the matter analytical thought. There was some selfish opposition to its development by local politicians, merchants, and shipyards because of the wish to keep the activities where the disbursements would benefit the local shore communities directly. Also, there was some opposition in naval bureaus, and there was some skepticism on the part of some officers within the naval service as to the feasibility of accomplishing many of these services afloat. For example, it took a long time to satisfy everyone of the practicality of fueling under way at sea. Also, there were those who were skeptical of the capabilities of tenders and repair ships. Such vessels were looked upon as able to accomplish a certain degree of minor repair and upkeep, but for support of any consequence a navy yard or shipyard was for years thought necessary.
During World War I, the astonishing repairs accomplished by our two destroyer tenders at Queenstown turned many doubters into enthusiasts. In fact, the whole afloat work of servicing the destroyers at
Queenstown, a place with a very small naval shore establishment, was a praiseworthy accomplishment along lines of progress which furnished new concepts for naval consideration.
So, with the retrenchment and curtailment of naval appropriations and the transfer of the principal part of the U.S. Fleet to the west coast after World War I, the Base Force was formed as part of the fleet. This was, in fact, the beginning of the Service Force and its duty was service to the fleet, although it continued to be called the Base Force until the United States entered World War II. In concept and principle it was sound, and its organization for the work then deemed practical was good. As a result, valuable and efficient services were rendered to the fleet, and some ideas of greater future accomplishments took root. The fuel-oil tankers, fresh and frozen-food ships, repair ships, fleet tugs, and target repair ships were administered and operated by the Commander Base Force. Ammunition ships were administered and usually operated by Naval Operations (OpNav). The navy-yard schedule for overhaul was arranged but the allotment of funds for the work was controlled by the type commanders.
The destroyer tenders and submarine tenders were not administered or operated by the Base Force, and only occasional servicing jobs, either of emergency nature or beyond the capacity of the tenders, were performed directly on destroyers and submarines by the Base Force ships. The term "directly" is used because the Base Force often supplied the tenders with fuel, food, and ammunition, with which they in turn served the destroyers and submarines.
The Base Force also made arrangements for water and for garbage disposal, and usually ran the shore patrol. The distribution of the enlisted personnel was, in varying degrees (depending upon the ideas of the Commander in Chief), handled by the Base Force.
The flagship of the Commander Base Force (Rear Admiral J.V. Chase1) was a temporary one, the old fleet flagship Connecticut. She was soon scrapped. A Hog Island cargo vessel, the Procyon, which for a short time after World War I had been used as a target repair ship, was assigned and designs for her alteration to meet the administrative-staff requirements were tentatively drawn and sent with the ship from Norfolk to Mare Island Navy Yard, where the work was to be done. There was little or no knowledge or experience to draw upon these requirements.
1. Admiral J.V. Chase had as his Chief of Staff, Captain W.T. Cluverius, who several years later became Commander of the Base Force. Admiral Chase was later the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Fleet.
Theory did not suffice, and practically new designs had to be drawn up with the assistance of Chase's staff after the arrival of the Procyon at Mare Island. When the work was well under way, the Board of Inspection and Survey chose that time to make its inspection of the ship, and considerable difficulty was encountered in convincing the Board that these alterations were necessary and should be completed. This further illustrates how little this logistic business of the Navy was understood.
The fleet air arm was a separate organization, with its own tenders and furnishing its own services, although while assigned for photographic, target, and some observation work the planes received temporary servicing from the Base Force. The aircraft tenders, like those of the destroyers and submarines, received some services from the Base Force which in turn were passed on to the planes. When the Langley, Lexington, and Saratoga joined the fleet, the Base Force took on the principal part of the responsibility for their fuel, food, and gun ammunition and made arrangements for regularly scheduled overhauls. All special equipment and planes, and many alterations due to experimental changes and improvements, were handled direct through the bureaus without reference to the Base Force.
Fueling under way at sea was instituted as part of the annual exercises, and fuel connections were designed and installed and "at sea" rigs were supplied in order to carry out this part of the schedule. Fueling under way at sea was then looked upon somewhat as an emergency stunt which might have to be resorted to in wartime, and therefore probably required occasional practice. Few ever thought it would become so routine a matter that it would be accomplished with ease in all kinds of weather except gales.
The era was one of rapid change and progress. In 1925 the operating force of the Navy consisted of 234 vessels, including 17 battleships, 15 cruisers of different types, a second-line carrier and 2 second-line mine layers, 6 destroyer-minelayers, 103 destroyers, 80 submarines, 1 fleet submarine in an experimental stage of development, and 9 patrol gunboats. To service these units afloat we had 75 other craft: Oilers, colliers, tenders, repair ships, store ships, 1 ammunition ship and 1 hospital ship, 25 mine sweepers, 2 transports, 8 fleet tugs, and miscellaneous small craft, a total of promising size. A good start had been made, the principal objections to formation of this element of the Navy had been overcome, and the Base Force had been established as a definite part of the United States forces afloat.
Unfortunately, just as we were ready to move to further accomplishment the depression years arrived, funds were severely restricted, and the Base Force came to a slowdown without opportunity for improvement and advancement in operating technique. This period was immediately followed by the Roosevelt years of emergency. The sudden expansion of all categories of naval personnel left little opportunity for anything but the fundamentals. In consequence, not great advance in Base Force technique or organizational coordination of fleet logistics was made until the war was in its second year.
The Navy Department knew that expansion of the fleet called for a proper balance in its auxiliaries; but, because of the lack of detailed knowledge, there was no sound formula for finding that balance. So it was estimate and guess, with the authorizations always a little on the light side because of the need for combat units whose construction alone would tax the capacity of the building plants. As a result, in 1940 the operating force consisted of 344 fighting ships, and to service them afloat 120 auxiliaries of various types. While in the 15 years from 1925 to 1940, destroyers, cruisers, and carriers had more than doubled in numbers, the auxiliaries had not. The most notable increase had been in seaplane tenders and oilers, but there were too few of the latter to permit their being kept with the operating units long enough to improve their at-sea oiling technique. Instead, they had to be kept busy ferrying oil.
During the first year of President Roosevelt's declared limited national emergency - 1940 - there were authorized 10 battleships, 2 carriers, 8 light cruisers, 41 destroyers, 28 submarines, a mine layer, 3 subchasers, and 32 motor torpedo boats - a total of 125 combat fleet units. Because of the lack of logistic knowledge and foresight, the auxiliaries ordered to service this formidable new fleet numbered only 12: 1 destroyer tender, 1 repair ship, 2 submarine tenders, and 2 large and 6 small seaplane tenders. The war plans, it is true, included the procurement and conversion of merchant ships for auxiliary and patrol purposes, but nothing came of this provision. Because of the shortage of merchant shipping, little could be done without causing injury elsewhere.
That same year - 1940 - the Oakland, Calif., Supply Depot was acquired, and the existing port storage depots at several points, notably San Diego, Calif., Bayonne, N.J., and Pearl Harbor, T.H., were expanded. Still no one seemed to give much consideration to the delivery and distribution of supplies to ships not at those bases to receive them. The Base Force war plans for an overseas movement visualized two somewhat vague schemes. One was that the fleet would fight at
once upon arrival in distant or advanced waters and gain a quick victory (or be completely defeated), and the base would be hardly more than a fueling rendezvous before the battle. Afterward (if victorious), with the enemy defeated there would be plenty of time to provide everything. The other idea was that the advanced location would be seized, the few available repair and supply vessels would be based there, and the remaining necessary facilities would be constructed ashore. The action there was no assurance that the base could be held with the fleet not present. On the other hand, the fleet if present could not be serviced without adequate floating facilities while necessary construction was being accomplished ashore. So the idea of fleet logistics afloat was becoming more and more firmly rooted; only time was needed to make it practical, as our knowledge and experience were still so meager that we had little detailed conception of our logistic needs. Even when someone with a vivid imagination hatched an idea, he frequently was unable to substantiate it to the planning experts and it was likely to be set down as wild exaggeration. How little we really knew in 1940 as compared with 1945 shows in a comparison of the service forces active at both times.
In 1940 the Base Force Train included a total of 51 craft of all types, among them 1 floating drydock of destroyer capacity. By 1945 the total was 315 vessels, every one of them needed. The 14 oilers which were all the Navy owned in 1940 had leaped to 62, in addition to merchant tankers which brought huge cargoes of oil, aviation gasoline, and Diesel fuel to bases where the Navy tankers took them on board for distribution to the fleet. No less than 21 repair ships of various sizes had supplanted the 2 the Navy had 5 years before. The battleships had 3 floating drydocks, the cruisers 2, and the destroyers 9, while small craft had 16. Hospital ships had risen from 1 to 6, and in addition there were 3 transport evacuation vessels, while the ammunition ships numbered 14, plus 28 cargo carriers and 8 LST's (Landing Ship, Tanks). The number of combatant ships had increased materially, and it is natural to ask if the auxiliaries should not have increased comparably. The answer is, of course, yes. But the increase of combatant ships had been visualized, and the building programs were undertaken before the war began. It flourished with increased momentum during the early part of the war, long before the minimum auxiliary requirements could be correctly estimated and the rush of procurement started. The original planers had done their best, but it was not until the urgency for auxiliaries developed as a vital
element of the war that we fully realized what was needed, and met the demand. Merchant ships were converted whenever possible, and this, with concentrated efforts to provide drydocks and other special construction, produced every required type in numbers that would have been considered preposterous only a short time before.
The Service Force
Laboring Giant of the Pacific Fleet
At the time of the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, Rear Admiral W.L. Calhoun commanded the Base Force there and had his flag in the U.S.S. Argonne. Overnight his duties increased enormously. Thousands of survivors of the attack had nothing but the clothes they wore, which in many cases consisted of underwear only. These naval personnel had to be clothed, fed, quartered, re-recorded, and put on new payrolls with the utmost expedition in order to make them available for assignment anywhere. There were hundreds of requests for repairs, ammunition, and supplies of all kinds.
Calhoun expanded his staff to three times its original size, and despite the excitement, confusion, diversity of opinion, uncertainty, and shortages of everything, he brilliantly mustered order from what could easily have been chaos. Calhoun, soon promoted to vice admiral, continued as Commander of the Service Force until 1945, and the remarkable cooperation, hustle, and assistance rendered by his command are unforgettable. This was especially true in the advanced areas. Any duty to which the term "service" could be applied was instantly undertaken on demand; this contributed enormously to the fleet efficiency, and, in consequence, to the progress of the campaign. No single command contributed so much in winning the war with Japan as did the Service Force of the Pacific Fleet. It served all commands, none of which could have survived alone. Neither could all of them combined have won without the help of the Service Force. It is deserving of much higher public praise than it ever received, and, most of all, its activities should be a matter of deepest concern and study by all who aspire to high fleet commands.
At the time of the Pearl Harbor attack the Base Force had a few more vessels than in 1940, but otherwise was substantially unchanged. Besides
the added vessels, it had a utility wing composed of three flight squadrons. In San Francisco it was represented by the Base Force Subordinate Command (Rear Admiral C.W. Crosse), which had been established in June of 1941 to give quicker and more direct service on the west coast and to aid in more efficient procurement and shipment for the mid-Pacific.
The early Service Force was organized around four squadrons: Two, Four, Six, and Eight. Squadron Two included hospital ships, fleet motion-picture exchange, repair ships, salvage ships, and tugs. Squadron Four had the transports and the responsibility for training. This was the tiny nucleus of what eventually became the great Amphibious Force, or Forces. Squadron Six took care of all target-practice firing and of the towing of targets, both surface and aerial. Six also controlled the Fleet Camera Party, Target Repair Base, Anti-Aircraft School, Fleet Machine Gun School, and Small Craft Disbursing. Squadron Eight had the responsibility for the supply and distribution to the fleet of all its fuels, food, and ammunition.
Growth and changes came. In March of 1942 the name was changed to Service Forces Pacific Fleet. Headquarters had already moved ashore from the U.S.S. Argonne to the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, and later moved again to the new administration building of the Commander in Chief Pacific, in the Makalapa area outside the navy yard. Two years later, in July of 1944, the Service Force moved into its own building, a huge three-story, 600-foot structure adjacent to the CinCPac Headquarters. The organizational and administrative changes were dictated by the increasing requirements of the war. Squadron Four was decommissioned and its transports given to the Amphibious Force, as already noted. By the summer of 1942 the rapidly changing conditions of the war caused a further reorganization, and Service Force was realigned into four major divisions: Service Squadrons Two, Six, and Eight, and Fleet Maintenance Office. Except for some additional duties, the functions of the three numbered squadrons remained unchanged. The Fleet Maintenance Office took over all hull, machinery, alteration, and improvement problems involving battleships, carriers, cruisers, and Service Force vessels, while the Service Force Pacific Subordinate Command at San Francisco continued its original functions and expanded as the tempo of the war mounted. It became the logistic agency for supplying all South Pacific bases. By August of 1942, operations there were of such critical nature, with the campaign against the enemy in the Solomons and Guadalcanal about to begin, that the Service Force South Pacific Force was authorized to deal direct with Commander in Chief, Commander Service Force Pacific,
or Commander Service Force Subordinate Command at San Francisco.
As the war went on, the number of vessels assigned to the Service Force went steadily upward. With each new campaign our needs increased, and so did the number of ships. By September of 1943 the Service Force had 324 vessels listed, and in March no less than 990 vessels had been assigned, 290 of them still under construction or undergoing organization and training. Much of this increase was in patrol craft for Squadron Two and barges for Squadron Eight.
Barges and lighters of all types were being completed rapidly, but moving them from the United States to the areas of use was a problem. Having no means of propulsion, they had to be towed out to Pearl Harbor, and thence still farther westward, in the slowest of convoys. The departure of merchant ships and tugs hauling ungainly looking lighters and barges was not so inspiring a sight as that of a sleek man-of-war gliding swiftly under the Golden Gate Bridge and standing out to sea. Yet these barges, ugly as they were proved invaluable in support of operations at advanced anchorages.
A new Squadron Four, entirely different from its predecessor, was commissioned in October 1943 and sent to Funafuti in the Ellice Islands to furnish logistic support to the fleet. In February of 1944, Squadron Ten of a similar nature went to Majuro in the Marshalls, soon absorbed the Service Force until the end of the war. Just a year later - February 1945 - Service Force had been assigned 1,432 vessels of all types, with 404 of them still to report; and by the end of July 1945, a few weeks before hostilities ended, it had no less than 2,930 ships, including those of Service Force Seventh Fleet, over which administrative control had been established in June.
By squadrons this astonishing total of ships was as follows: Squadron Two, 1,081 ships; Six (new), 107; Eight, 727; Ten, 609; Twelve, 39; Service Force Seventh Fleet, 367. There were 305 planes in the Utility Wing. The total of personnel was 30,369 officers and 425,945 enlisted men, or approximately one-sixth of the entire naval service at the peak of the war. Squadron Twelve, nicknamed "Harbor stretcher," had been commissioned in March 1944 for the primary purpose of increasing depths in channels and harbors where major fleet units would anchor, or where coral reefs and shallow water created serious navigational hazards. By far the largest operation Twelve undertook was at Guam.
Squadron Six, newly commissioned in January of 1945, bore no
relationship to the former Mine Squadron of the same numerical designation. Six was the third link in a chain of service squadrons with the duty of remaining constantly near the striking forces or close behind them as they moved nearer Japan. Eight hauled the supplies from the west coast and the Caribbean areas to bases, anchorages, and lagoons in the forward area. Ten then took hold, but even its fine services were not as close as desired to task forces and major combat units when they wished to remain at sea for indefinite periods, and take no time between strikes to return to newly established anchorages in what had been enemy territory a short time before. So Squadron Ten in such cases passed on its supply ships to Six as ammunition, fuel, and provisions were needed, and the transfers were all made at sea. After discharging into the combat groups, the empty supply ships were passed back by Six to Ten to be refilled, or still farther back to Eight, which resupplied them from the west coast, Hawaiian, or other areas.
By spring of 1945 the organization of Service Force consisted of 12 principal sections, with the officers in charge of Force Supply, Fleet Maintenance, Over-All Pacific Naval Personnel, and Area Petroleum having additional duty of a similar nature on the staff of CinCPac also. There was a fleet chaplain who had a similar two-hat set-up.
The operating squadrons, coordinated with each other and organized as self-sufficient commands for internal regulations, were separate from these sections. Each one had its own commander, chief of staff, and appropriate administrative, communications, operations, supply, and maintenance sections. Directly under the Commander Service Force came the Deputy Commander Service Force Pacific and Chief of Staff. He in turn was supported by an Assistant Chief, two Special Assistants, and an Administrative Assistant. This latter officer controlled the usual staff functions and several special ones: Postal Officer, Legal Officer, Public Relations (later Public Information), and so on.
This rearrangement into two types of organization within the Service Force had a sound reason behind it. The earlier squadron scheme tended to narrow the use of the vessels assigned to activities of that squadron only. With the section scheme, in which vessels were all under control of the operations office, the broadest possible use of the vessels to meet special problems of any section could be more readily made. At any rate, the section scheme was gaining favor over the squadron when hostilities ended, and the functions of the various squadrons were being absorbed by the sections. The actual change-over to the final section organization was not, however, made complete until the fighting was over.
Asiatic Fleet in Dutch East Indies - Logistics of Raiding Forces - Coral Sea - Midway
After the Japanese bombing of the fleet at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, the three battleships capable of steaming were ordered to the United States for repairs: The Maryland and Tennessee to Bremerton, the Pennsylvania to Hunters Point, San Francisco. The Colorado was already undergoing overhaul at Bremerton. When the work was finished, this group assembled on 31 March 1942 at San Francisco. There they were joined by the New Mexico, Mississippi, and Idaho, which had been rushed from the Atlantic. Together with a squadron of destroyers which had no tender, this seven-ship force based on San Francisco until late in May. The ships were serviced almost entirely from shore facilities. With the exception of targets, target-towing vessels, and planes they were given very little floating service.
On 14 April the force left port with the possibility of being used to assist in stopping the Japanese in their South Pacific drive toward Australia. No train (group of supply vessels) was available, so the ships were crammed with all the fuel, food, and ammunition they could hold. So heavily overloaded were they at the start that they were three to four feet deeper in the water than they were ever meant to be. The third or armored decks were all below the water line; none of the ships could have withstood much damage either above or below water. The Coral Sea action was fought before they could take part in it, the enemy backed off, and the force was not called upon. After staying at sea until their fuel was nearly gone and the fresh provisions exhausted, the ships returned to California at San Pedro.
No one concerned with it will ever forget the servicing of this force there. The San Pedro base had not been used by the fleet for 2 years, and
was practically without floating equipment. Upon notification of the prospective arrival, and the stores and fuel required, the base authorities called upon the citizens and local firms for action. The response was a magnificent demonstration of patriotic support by the entire community. Rich and poor, celebrities and unknowns, worked side by side on docks and vessels of all sorts, including yachts, operated in many instances by their owners. The job was completed in good time.
Of course, there was no problem of resupply of ammunition because the force had not been in action. If there had been, no doubt it could have been solved by the "incredible Yankee resourcefulness" of the Californians. However, the point to be observed in this maneuver is that the Navy was unprepared at this fleet base to do an efficient job of logistics for a small force of its ships, mainly because of its lack of floating equipment. In fact, the Navy was unprepared to do the job at all without the wholehearted community assistance. This battleship force continued to base on San Francisco until midsummer of 1942, when it moved to Pearl Harbor.
Asiatic Fleet in the Dutch East Indies
Our Asiatic Fleet had meanwhile moved south from the Philippines and into the Java area, joining with the British cruisers Exeter, Hobart, Perth, and Electra, which were accompanied by several destroyers, and the Dutch cruisers of the East Indies Force, DeRuyter, Java, and Tromp, also with a few destroyers. Many of these British and Dutch vessels were in use for convoying to and from Singapore, and real concentration in full strength was not attained until near the end. What joint action occurred was poorly coordinated, not only in tactics but in basing and servicing. The basing of our ships until 3 February on Dutch East Indies ports, particularly Soerabaja, was not too bad, except that there was a shortage of ammunition and torpedoes, and special equipment and spare parts for all types. Our submarines, however, based first at Darwin, later at Fremantle, West Australia.
The first part of our Asiatic Fleet, made up of the seaplane tender Langley, the oilers Pecos (Commander E. P. Abernethy) and Trinity (Commander Williams Hibbs), with the destroyers John D. Ford and Pope, left Manila 8 December and next day joined Admiral Glassford, whose flag was in the heavy cruiser Houston. With him were the light cruiser Boise and the destroyers Barker, Paul Jones, Parrott, and Stewart. The two forces
met to the south of Luzon and continued southward through the Sulu Sea. On 12 December the two cruisers left the formation and proceeded on special duty at greater speed.
The ships were in hostile waters, had no intelligence of the enemy's whereabouts, and everyone was keenly alert, every eye strained for possible danger. At 1115, the Langley suddenly opened fire on a suspicious object, range 6,000, first spot up 100. The dimly seen object turned out to be the planet Venus, which is sometimes visible during daylight in that particular atmosphere. No hits were made!
On 13 December the light cruiser Marblehead (Captain A.G. Robinson) joined, and the next day the whole detachment anchored in Balikpapan, Borneo, where the merchant liner President Madison, three Dutch tankers, and two British ships were already moored. Later submarine tenders Holland and Otus and cruisers Houston and Boise came in, together with the converted yacht Isabel, the auxiliary Gold Star, ocean tug Whippoorwill, the small seaplane tender Heron , the converted destroyer seaplane tender William B. Preston, and a few small craft. All the ships were fueled here, and the oilers Trinity and Pecos refilled with oil and gasoline.
Admiral Glassford divided his Task Force Five into two groups on the basis of speed. The fast group was headed by Captain S.B. Robinson in the Boise, the slower commanded by Captain A.G. Robinson in the Marblehead, and all, including the flagship Houston, sailed for Makassar in the Celebes, N.E.I., where the Houston left them for Soerabaja. There Admiral Glassford wished to hold preliminary conferences with the Dutch and British. The two groups remained at Makassar, holding drills and refueling, until 22 December, when they steamed out for their respective areas. The auxiliaries went to Darwin, which was soon found to be too far away, and too hazardous as well, to be any proper logistic base.
Patrol Wing Ten had had rough going from the start, both from operational hardships and from the enemy. Two days before Christmas, 1941, the surviving planes from Squadron 101 of "PatWing" Ten were sent to Ambon, in N.E.I. in Banda Sea S.W. of Ceram, where there were in the Celebes was our Patrol Squadron 22. The Heron, Childs, and William B. Preston did most of the servicing for these squadrons. The Australian command was cordial and the two organizations exchanged some operational and material support, but neither was strong enough to do what was called for in either reconnaissance or offensive strikes.
Map: Southwest Pacific, Australia, New Guinea, Borneo
On 15 January 1942, 26 Japanese bombers and 10 fighters attacked Ambon. We lost 3 patrol planes and had others damaged. The next day, Patrol Squadron 101, of which only 4 planes were left, was ordered to Soerabaja. Patrol Squadron 22 held on for a few days longer at Kendari. On the 24th the Childs barely escaped a Japanese task force there, and it was clear that the end was not far off. Given another month of attention at the hands of an enemy who held control of the air whenever he chose to exercise it, no amount of logistics could save the situation. What was needed desperately and did not have was air power - bombers, fighters, and patrol - in sufficient strength to fight it out with the oncoming Japanese.
Admiral Glassford sent orders on 23 December 1942 making the oiler Trinity (Commander William Hibbs) Task Unit 5.5.3 and ordering her to Woworada Bay, Soembawa. The other auxiliaries were designated as the Train and sent to Darwin, which by order of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington was made the logistic base. Since it was apparent that Darwin was too far away, the Trinity was used in some of the bays nearer the scene of operations. Later the oiler Pecos and the commercial tanker George D. Henry were taken from Darwin and put to more active use. Soerabaja was the main operating base until the final 3 weeks of the defense campaign in the Netherlands East Indies.
The Train consisted of the flagship submarine tender Holland (Captain J.W. Gregory), with Captain W.E. Doyle as Commander Base Force (Train) aboard; the submarine tender Otus (Commander Joel Newsom); the Gold Star, a general auxiliary (Commander J.U. Lademan); the seaplane tender Langley (Commander R.P. McConnell); the oiler Pecos (Commander E.P. Abernethy); the destroyer tender Blackhawk (Commander G.L. Harriss); the small seaplane tender Heron (Lieutenant W.L. Kabler); the converted destroyer seaplane tenders Childs (Commander J.L. Pratt) and William B. Preston (Lieutenant Commander E. Grant); and the converted patrol yacht Isabel (Lieutenant John W. Payne).
During January there was considerable moving about between Darwin, Woworada Bay, Keopang Bay, Timor, and Kebalas Bay, Alor Island, just north of Timor in the N.E.I. On 18 January the first refueling at sea in this campaign took place when the Trinity oiled the destroyer Alden at a speed of 10 knots. Again the tanker, on 7 and 8 February, refueled six escorting destroyers at 9.5 knots.
Four days previous - 3 February - the Japanese had bombed us out of Soerabaja, and on the 10th practically the entire Asiatic Fleet, with
Train, had gathered at Tjilatjap, Java. But there was not security anywhere. A week later, on 17 February, the Trinity had to go all the way to Abadan, Iran, for oil. The Japanese had shut off or captured every East Indian source except a very small supply from the interior of Java, so this dangerous voyage of more than 5,000 miles was necessary. The oiler Pecos was also scheduled to refill in the Persian Gulf, but was sunk - with the Langley survivors on board - by the enemy on 1 March, just after getting started for Colombo, Ceylon. The Train, in its short 10 days at Tjilatjap, put in some much-needed work on the worn, racked, and hard pressed ships of our striking force, and then most of its own vessels had to be sent off the Exmouth Gulf, West Australia, for the jig was nearly up in Dutch waters.
Usually ample fuel oil was available for this force, and some of the Dutch tankers were very efficient, but the method of distribution practiced by the Dutch bases was slow. Much of the oil was stored in the interior. The service from our tankers was faster, but in the circumstances these tankers could not be made available to all. Toward the last there was a shortage because of the dependency the naval ports had placed upon peacetime delivery from Borneo and Sumatra, rather than upon full development of interior Javanese oil sources. The Australian cruiser Hobart, for example, though undamaged, could not participate in the Java Sea battle on 27 February because she could not get fuel. Tjilitjap was the operating base for both Dutch and American striking forces after we were bombed out of Soerabaja. It was inadequate, but of course it was only a matter of days before it too became untenable.
Each successive raid by or encounter with Japanese planes left us with fewer ships. After her severe mauling on 4 February, the cruiser Marblehead was patched up, mainly by her own crew, so that she could start for home by way of Ceylon and the Cape of Good Hope. "Patched up" is a correct term, for we had no real facility for making what we ordinarily would have called temporary repairs according to Navy standards. It speaks well for the initiative and resourcefulness of the shot-up crew of the Marblehead - and the men of some other vessels - that the patchwork enabled the ship to function. The destroyer Stewart, however, had to be abandoned in a bombed and disabled condition in a bomb-wrecked Dutch drydock. The Japanese salvaged her and put her in service, only to lose her to our Navy in action. Grounding had damaged the Boise on 21 January so badly that she was beyond repair by available facilities. She was accordingly cannibalized - stripped, for the benefit of her sisters - of all ammunition and stores and sent limping off to Ceylon.
On 27 February the final attempt to slow the Japanese drive on the Netherlands East Indies was made by the Dutch Admiral Doorman. He had 5 cruisers and 10 destroyers left out of the combined Dutch, British, and American forces, not counting submarines and their tenders, and the old aircraft tender Langley, sunk a few days later. The after turret of the Houston was inoperative as a result of bombing on 4 February, and there was not facility for repairing it before going into action. Doorman failed, and the order was given to leave the Java Sea. Only 4 American destroyers could do so; all the other ships were sunk by the Japanese. Orders for the withdrawal to the Australian coast for some of the personnel on shore were accomplished only by extreme methods, as we did not have enough vessels. Not even the little shore material there for servicing could be moved. In this campaign there never was sufficient force available to stop or greatly delay the Japanese. No matter how adequate the logistics might have been, the outcome would not have been very different. This brief outline merely shows the relationship logistics bore to the situation.
Logistics of Raiding Forces
In January 1942 Vice Admiral Halsey with Task Force Eight and Rear Admiral F.J. Fletcher with Task Force Seventeen joined in raiding some of the Japanese-held islands of the Marshall and Gilbert groups. Task Force Eight consisted of the carrier Enterprise; cruisers Northampton, Salt Lake City, and Chester; the fleet oiler Platte; and seven destroyers. Task Force Seventeen consisted of the carrier Yorktown; cruisers Louisville and St. Louis; the fleet oiler Sabine; and five destroyers.
Task Force Eight had sailed from Pearl and Task Force Seventeen was just out from the United States. They were guarding the landing of Marines in Samoa when the raids were ordered.
While at sea the carriers and large vessels refueled on 17 January from the tankers Platte (Captain R.H. Henkle) and Sabine (Commander H.L. Maples), in two task groups, and the destroyers filled up from the larger ships of their own striking groups in latitude 09°30' S., longitude 169°00' W. This was repeated on 23 and 28 January. On the 28th the larger ships of the Enterprise group were topped off by the Platte in latitude 04°06' N., longitude 176°30'W. The strikes were made 1 and 2 February on Wotje, Maloelap, Kwajalein, Roi, Jaluit, Makin, Taroa, Lae, and Gugegive, and during the night of 2 February the destroyers again
refueled. After withdrawal the Yorktown group was fueled on the 4th from the Sabine, in latitude 11°00' N., longitude 163°00' W.
These raids seem to warrant a continuance, so on 14 February Halsey with the carrier Enterprise, two cruisers, seven destroyers, and the tanker Sabine sailed from Pearl Harbor for a raid on Wake Island. On the 22d he fueled his destroyers and took fuel from the tanker in latitude 25°30' N., longitude 167°00' E., approximately 300 miles north of Wake. He should have had another tanker in case he lost the Sabine, but unfortunately at that time tankers were almost as scarce as carriers. The strike was made on the 24th. Wake was bombed and shelled with excellent results and with the loss of only one plane. The Sabine meantime had retired to the northeast, and 2 days later she rejoined, refueling the destroyers once more. Again on 1 and 2 March in latitude 29°30' N., longitude 173°00' E., or thereabouts, the task group was refueled and started for a raid on Marcus Island, which was bombed by the Enterprise planes, again with the loss of but one plane. Meanwhile in the South Pacific Vice Admiral Wilson Brown with the carrier Lexington and support cruisers and destroyers started a raid on Rabaul. He was discovered, used up much of his fuel in high-speed maneuvers while beating off Japanese plane attacks, and canceled the raid.
Task Force Seventeen, the Yorktown group under Rear Admiral F.J. Fletcher, was on its way to the South Pacific. After fueling twice at sea from the Guadalupe (Commander H.R. Thurber) it joined the Lexington group under Brown in a raid on 10 March on Salamaua and Lae on the New Guinea coast in which considerable damage was done to enemy naval and transport vessels. On 12 March the destroyers fueled from the heavy cruisers Indianapolis and Pensacola. Two days later the force was joined by the tankers Neosho (Captain J.S. Phillips) and Kaskaskia (Commander W.L. Taylor), and refueled from them during the next 3 days.
Then came the very dramatic raid on Tokyo, the comparative value of which may never be fully decided. It kept carriers, tankers, other ships, and planes away from the South Pacific where they might well have been used to turn the balance from defensive to offensive weeks earlier. However, the heartening effect upon the nation may have been worth it. On 2 April, Task Force Eighteen, composed of the carrier Hornet (Captain Marc Mitscher), the heavy cruiser Vincennes, Destroyer Division Twenty-two, and the tanker Cimarron (Captain H.J. Redfield), sailed from San Francisco. On 8 April, Cimarron fueled destroyers Gwin
Neosho fuels Yorktown in heavy sea.
and Grayson. The next day which was set for fueling was too rough. On the 10th the Vincennes was fueled and on the 11th the remaining destroyers took some from the Hornet. On 12 April the Hornet supplied 400,000 gallons of fuel oil in latitude 38°30'N., longitude 175°00' W. On the next day Task Force Eighteen and Task Force Sixteen (Halsey) joined. The latter was composed of the Enterprise; cruisers Northampton, Nashville, and Salt Lake City; Destroyer Division Six; and the tanker Sabine. Three days later, 17 April (14 April was lost crossing the 180° Meridian), the Sabine fueled the Enterprise group, and the Cimarron did the same for the Hornet group, with some destroyers getting their fuel from the heavy ships. This was at latitude 35°'30' N., longitude 157°00' E., approximately. There the destroyers and tankers left the striking force and turned back on an easterly course. After dispatching the B-25's on their Tokyo mission the next day the whole force retired at high speed to the eastward and on 21 April were met and again fueled by the Cimarron and Sabine in latitude 35°45' N., longitude 176°00' E., approximately. Then all proceeded to Pearl, where it was hurry up all logistics and get off to the South Pacific where the Japs looked very threatening. The Hornet had to get new squadrons on board and some task-force and ship reorganization made. On 30 April, Task Force Sixteen (Hornet, Enterprise, and supporting vessels) sailed for the South Pacific.
Meanwhile, Brown of Task Force Eleven had been relieved by Rear Admiral A.W. Fitch, who, with his flag in the carrier Lexington, had sailed from Pearl 16 April to join Rear Admiral F.J. Fletcher, with flag in the Yorktown. Fletcher was now senior task-force commander in the South Pacific. The Yorktown had been at sea since 17 February 1942, and since the Salamaua raid had fueled from the Tippecanoe (Commander A. Macondray) in March, and twice in April from the Platte. On 20 April the group reached Tongatabu, where it found fuel, some mail, and limited amounts and types of provisions, and enjoyed a few days of relaxation after 62 days of tension.
When Fitch left Pearl for the South Pacific, available information indicated early concentration of some enemy force there. Later, at Tongatabu, the news definitely suggested a threat in force by the enemy against Port Moresby on the south coast of New Guinea, and perhaps against New Caledonia or Australia. Fitch's Task Force Eleven - the carrier Lexington; cruisers Minneapolis and San Francisco; the destroyers Worden, Dewey, Dale, Aylwin, Farragut, and Monaghan; and the tanker Kaskaskia - had refueled once, on 25 April, at latitude 11°30' S.,
longitude 178°30' W. Meantime, Fletcher at Tongatabu got everything he needed except rest, and sailed 27 April for the Coral Sea. Fitch was diverted to join him there. On 1 May Fletcher refueled from the tanker Neosho, and during the 2d-3d Fitch did likewise from the Tippecanoe, which then departed for Efate in the New Hebrides. On 5 and 6 May 1942, Task Force Seventeen again refueled in the Coral Sea from the Neosho, which immediately thereafter was sent off to the southeast escorted by the destroyer Sims. The retiring point was not far beyond the range of visibility.
The battle of the Coral Sea will not be dealt with here except to note that the Neosho and her escort, the Sims, were discovered and destroyed by the enemy 7 May, and the following day the Lexington was lost and the Yorktown damaged. Meantime our planes had sunk the small enemy carrier Shoho, and severely mauled and all but sunk one of the two larger Japanese carriers. This apparently was more than the Japanese had bargained for, so the operation was discontinued and the enemy's combat units withdrew. The action therefore became a victory for Fletcher at what was probably the most critical period of the war thus far.
Nevertheless, if the withdrawal had not taken place, how much longer could Fletcher have held his position without a source of fuel near his force? We need not answer the question, but as a lesson for the future let us not forget the inadequacy of logistic support during the most critical battle in the Pacific up to that time. Fletcher's base at Tongatabu was 1,300 miles away, and Efate, where the nearly empty Tippecanoe had been sent, was more than 400 miles away.
Hardly had the smoke cleared away from the Coral Sea when the enemy was detected in preparations for another move in great strength. This time the objective was diagnosed as Midway, and Task Force Sixteen started out belatedly for the South Pacific, was recalled to Pearl. Fletcher was also ordered to Pearl with his battered Yorktown. There she was hurriedly patched up for the fight to come.
Along with plans for the expected sea and air battle, preparations were being made at CinCPac headquarters for the defense of Midway Island itself. That island needed personnel, planes, antiaircraft guns, ammunition, and certain stores, and needed them in a hurry.
The U.S.S. Kitty Hawk (Commander E.C. Rogers) had arrived at Pearl on 17 May 1942, and indeed this was fortunate, as few ships at that time had the crane capacity for unloading planes and heavy cargo at the dock at Midway. After unloading her stateside cargo at Pearl, the
Kitty Hawk was reloaded with the following: 28 planes (11 SBD's; 17 F4F4's) and Marine Air Groups 21 and 45; eight 3-inch AA guns, a Marine crew and ammunition to serve them; and more personnel and cargo. She got underway on the 23d and made her highest speed (17.1 knots) for Midway, arriving at 1918 on the 26th. Just 12 minutes after mooring alongside the pier, the Marines started unloading the AA battery and by the next morning it was in place to protect the airfield on San Island. In addition to unloading her important deck cargo she gave the station fuel oil and got clear on the 29th, only a few days before the Battle of Midway commenced. The Kitty Hawk had rendered substantial logistic support to the defense of Midway. In a congratulatory message to Commander Rogers, CinCPac commented upon the "unusually expeditious unloading at Midway."
The task forces which sailed from Pearl on 28 and 30 May to meet the enemy had the tankers Cimarron, Platte, and Guadalupe at sea near them, and refueled on 31 May and 1 June. After the battle, on 8 June 1942, they again refueled a little more than a hundred miles north of Midway Island. The beaten enemy retired, after losing all four of his participating carriers. Lacking certain information, we did not pursue with all the vigor possible, which is unfortunate for we had air superiority and our fast tankers might well have gone farther west in support of our task force had pursuit been carried somewhat farther.
Here at Midway we lost the Yorktown. We had not yet learned thoroughly the use and value of fleet tugs and salvage action.
In the South Pacific
Taking the Offensive - Guadalcanal - Logistic Outlook
With the defeat of the Japanese at Midway a more nearly even balance of forces was accomplished, and it was time for us to attempt to take the initiative, to seize the offensive if possible. This was certain to be bitterly contested by the enemy, who might still hope to gain the upper hand if his South Pacific drive could be won. It was natural that this was where we must next stop and defeat him, so the Guadalcanal offensive was planned.
In April 1942, principal commands in the Pacific were:
- Pacific Ocean Area, Admiral C.W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief. This was further divided into two subordinate commands, the North and South Pacific.
- Southwest Pacific Area, General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander Allied Forces.
- Southeast Pacific Area, a region of patrol command principally for security.
Vice Admiral Robert L. Ghormley since May 1942 had been Commander South Pacific. As such, he was charged with the conduct of the Guadalcanal operation under the over-all direction of Admiral Nimitz. Late in July 1942, not counting attack transports, which are considered combatant vessels, we had 15 logistic vessels there. The repair ship Rigel was at Auckland, N.A. At Tongatabu were the destroyer tender Whitney, hospital ship Solace, stores ship Antares, the fresh and frozen food ships Aldebaran and Talamanca, the ammunition ship Rainier, and two district patrol craft, YP-284 and YP-290, both with provisions. Two more YP's, the 230 and 346, were at Efate in New Hebrides. The seaplane tender Curtiss and the two small plane tenders McFarland and Mackinac, the former a converted destroyer, based at Noumea, New
Caledonia, while the limited repair ship Argonne sailed 10 July from Pearl for Auckland.
Besides these, the fleet oilers Cimarron and Platte were to be at Tongatabu to supply oil for the amphibious force ships staging there late in July, and the fleet oiler Kaskaskia was scheduled to leave Pearl 20 July. At Noumea there were to be 225,000 barrels of fuel oil brought by chartered tankers, and the same amount about 2 August. Over at Tongatabu the old, slow Navy tanker Kanawha (Commander K.S. Reed), with a capacity of 75,000 barrels, was a station oiler.
The chartered tanker Mobilube arrived at Tongatabu 10 July, but after fuel had been pumped from her into Rear Admiral Noyes' Wasp group of Task Force Eighteen, Rear Admiral Kinkaid's Enterprise group of Task Force Sixteen, and two of the transports, the President Adams and President Hayes, she pumped the rest of her cargo into the Kanawha and left for San Pedro 27 July.
The vital importance of an adequate supply of fuel, and its timely and properly allocated delivery to the vessels of the South Pacific for the campaign about to begin, was clearly recognized by Admiral Ghormley. The distances involved, the scarcity of tankers, and the consumption of oil by task forces operating at high speeds made the solution of this logistic problem difficult enough if the normal operating consumption was used for estimates. But what would constitute "normal" when the offensive was under way? Even more difficult to resolve was the margin of safety to cover unforeseen losses, excesses, or changes in operations. Furthermore, though Ghormley foresaw the situation and tried to anticipate it, his logistic planners were too few and had too little experience. That he had his fuel requirements constantly in mind is shown by his dispatches to Admiral Nimitz. Another thing that worried him was the lack of destroyers for adequate escort and protection of his tankers even when he had the latter. This shortage of destroyers was felt by the task force commanders also, and had considerable influence on all the operations.
In a dispatch of 9 July 1942 Admiral Nimitz said to Ghormley that he, Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet, would supply the logistic support for the campaign. Arrangements, he stated, had been made to have the oilers Cimarron and Platte accompany Task Force Eleven leaving Pearl for the South Pacific, and that the Kaskaskia would leave soon after about 20 July. The Kanawha would fuel Task Force Eighteen and then go to Noumea. The chartered tankers already mentioned as bringing 450,000 barrels of fuel to the port would be followed by others with
about 225,000 barrels a month for the carrier task force. Nimitz also promised other requirements, such as aviation gasoline, Diesel fuel, and stores for the task force, would be supplied as Ghormley requested.
All this sounded like a comfortable amount of fuel oil, and based upon past experience, no doubt seemed liberal to the estimators. But past experience was not good enough. To begin with, the Cimarron and Platte had fueled Task Force Eleven on its run down from Pearl. On 21 July the Platte was ordered to pump her remaining oil into the Cimarron, proceed to Noumea, and refill there from the waiting chartered tankers. She took aboard 93,000 barrels of that oil and rejoined Task Force Eleven.
On 28 July Admiral Ghormley ordered the ammunition ship Rainier (Captain W.W. Meek) and the tanker Kanawha to leave Tongatabu and proceed to the west side of Koro Island in the Fiji group. The ships were to arrive, escorted by Turner's amphibious Task Force Sixty-two, at the earliest practical time during daylight. The fleet tanker Kaskaskia was also ordered there to supply the needs of the Task Force which was to rendezvous there before proceeding to Guadalcanal.
The next day Ghormley ordered the commanding general on Tongatabu to load the coal-burning Morinda with one hundred 1,000-pound bombs, four hundred 500-pounders, and one hundred 100-pounders from the stocks available on shore. The Morinda was then to return to Efate, New Hebrides, filing her departure report to include route and speed of advance. The reason for this was that she had to go to Suva for coal and water to complete her trip to Efate.
While this was occurring, Task Force Sixteen, the Anzac Squadron, and part of the Amphibious Force joined Task Force Eleven and took all the Cimarron's remaining fuel. As soon as the Platte rejoined, the former tanker was sent to Noumea to refill. She cleaned out the tankers there, and on 1 August Admiral Ghormley sent word to Commander Southwest Pacific: "Urgently need additional fuel oil New Caledonia area as Bishopsdale, now empty, being dispatched to Brisbane to refill. Request you dispatch one tanker loaded with 50 to 100 thousand barrels as replacement." Before the Bishopsdale could clear the harbor she ran into a mine and was out of service. The 225,000 barrels due at Noumea in the chartered tankers E.J. Henry and Esso Little Rock had already been diverted, one tanker to Efate, one to Suva, so Ghormley could hardly be blamed for feeling uncomfortable about the fuel-oil situation. For his 3 carriers, 1 fast battleship, 11 heavy cruisers, 3 light cruisers, 40 destroyer-type ships, 19 large transports, 1 large and 3 small aircraft tenders, 8
service-force vessels, and 499 airplanes of carrier- and land-based types, the only other fuel he had not already mentioned were some small quantities of black oil in shore storage for patrol craft, and considerable tank and barreled gasoline at Tongatabu and Efate and a smaller amount in New Caledonia. To remedy this acute shortage, Admiral Nimitz on 1 August, after reading of the Bishopsdale's mishap, ordered the 2 large, fast tankers then available at San Pedro to proceed at the earliest possible moment to Noumea with black oil for diversion by Ghormley. This was in addition to the 200,000 barrels ordered delivered every 15 days. The Gulfwax was also ordered to sail from Pearl to replenish the storage supply at Samoa. The next day the tanker Sabine left San Pedro for the South Pacific, but could not reach the Fijis before 2 weeks had elapsed.
The task force in the South Pacific was Sixty-one, under Rear Admiral Fletcher, which included Task Forces Eleven (Rear Admiral Fletcher), consisting of the Saratoga, two cruisers and five destroyers; Sixteen (Rear Admiral Kinkaid), of the Enterprise, battleship North Carolina, two cruisers, and five destroyers; Eighteen, under Rear Admiral Noyes, with the Wasp, two cruisers, and six destroyers; and Sixty-two (Rear Admiral Turner); the Amphibious Force and the supporting force of six cruisers and six destroyers; and Sixty-three (Rear Admiral McCain), which had the patrol aircraft and shore-based aviation.
With poor bases at Auckland, N.Z.; Fiji; Tongatabu, Tongo Islands; Noumea, New Caledonia; and Efate, New Hebrides, and the beginning of another one at Espiritu Santo also in the Hebrides, the Guadalcanal operation was begun. Not one of these bases was much more than a small airfield and a protected anchorage for ships while they took on fuel or supplies from service vessels. Auckland was the best because New Zealand could furnish food and some repair facilities, but it was too far from the scene of operations. Tongatabu was also too far, and had no facilities other than a little storage convenience established by ourselves. It was selected at a time when our caution was at its peak because it provided a submarine-protected anchorage behind reefs and was well beyond the range of Japanese land-based planes. Of them all, Noumea seemed the most suitable at this time. Its anchorage was large enough for all our ships, and was quite well protected against submarine attack by islands and mine fields. Efate Island had two harbors, Vila and Havannah. The former was too small for more than one or two combatant ships, and the latter, while large enough at that time, had no protection against submarines. Suva in Fiji was, like Vila, too small; the larger anchorage at Nandi was then unprotected.
So, with a far-from-desirable logistic situation, and with the expectation of strong Japanese resistance, perhaps even full naval strength, the audacity of the Guadalcanal operation was evidenced in bold seizing of the initiative. The principal credit for this probably should go to Rear Admiral R.K. Turner, who was ever in the forefront in planning, directing, and carrying out an operation with skill, persistence, drive, and great courage. He thoroughly understood the difficulty of the support problem and worked unceasingly with all concerned in logistics, as he did with troop- and combat-ship commands. He not only could and did think in the large, but he could also when necessary attend to small details such as procuring kegs of nails or bundles of steel landing mat. Reverses or confused action did not discourage him, but made him only the more persistent in having the action improved. His farseeing knowledge of the preparation in logistics in his campaigns throughout the war further served to mark him as the greatest of all amphibious commanders.
In the Guadalcanal operation the situation was for some time "touch and go" mainly because of the logistic factors. Right at the start Fletcher stated that he would not give carrier-plane support for more than 2 days. He felt that the positions of the carrier groups would become too hazardous, and we were not in any condition to lose more carriers. To this Admiral Ghormley emphasized the importance of fighter cover for the transports in the unloading area, and Turner entered a vigorous protest against withdrawal before his transports were unloaded. Nevertheless, on the night of 8 August (the second day), with much unloading of supplies and equipment still to be done, Fletcher felt that he had to withdraw because his carriers' fuel was running low, and his plane losses of 20 percent had not been replaced. Fletcher had previously refueled on 3 and 4 August. He withdrew to a point 500 miles south of the transport-unloading area where he refueled on 10 August. Why Fletcher could not have refueled on 4 and 5 August and held on a day longer is not clear. Twenty-percent loss in fighter planes could hardly have been considered desperate. A day longer would have meant much more supplies and equipment for the Marines and less touch-and-go during the following 2 weeks.
It was unfortunate because it was chiefly the defense by the carrier fighters that had kept the transports from withdrawing when attacked by Japanese planes. There had been some interruption of unloading because of getting underway for fast maneuvers when the enemy planes approached. The transports were not withdrawn, however, but returned
Kitty Hawk supplying planes to the Long Island.
to the unloading points as soon as each attack ended. With Fletcher's withdrawal Turner felt that by daylight of the 9th he must withdraw most of his transports until he could have air support, and he did so. Nevertheless, for the next 2 weeks he skillfully landed the absolutely necessary supplies by sending in only one or two ships at a time, and concentrating on speed in unloading. He also landed many drums of gasoline for the airfield. It was desperate work, with aerial bombing by day and bombardment by cruisers and destroyers at night. While most of the attacks were directed at the airfield and at the Marines' shore positions, the logistic ships had to go to defensive positions repeatedly, and many interruptions in unloading resulted.
Since the lack of proper logistic support for Fletcher was the cause of Turner's inability to land much desirable equipment and supplies, we see logistics depending upon logistics. In spite of this, Turner did manage to get ashore the absolutely essential materials to keep the operation from ending in disaster. The increasing demands born of action, the distances over which most of our supplies had to come in hourly danger of attack, and the necessity of keeping abreast of a highly involved situation made realistic thinking and practical application essential. At the same time the thinking had to be imaginative and intuitive enough to gauge how much of what would be needed in every area in every conceivable circumstance. The timing was also important. On 11 August Admiral Ghormley asked Admiral Nimitz for ammunition for his destroyer-transports and destroyer-minesweepers, adding that none was available in the 4-inch class and only 1,000 rounds of 3-inch.
Commander in Chief Pacific had been thinking ahead also. The following day he replied that the Cabrillo had left San Francisco independently on 3 August with 40 guns and 200,000 rounds of 20-mm. ammunition for Auckland, and should arrive there about 23 August. He also said he was sending an additional 50,000 rounds of 20-mm. from Oahu, 50,000 rounds of .50-caliber incendiary, 50,000 rounds of .30-caliber incendiary, 6,000 rounds of 3-inch, and 4,000 rounds of 4-inch in the Vestal and Kitty Hawk, which would sail 15 August.
Ammunition was by no means the only item needed. On the 12th Rear Admiral McCain, Commander Air South Pacific, at Espiritu Santo in the Curtiss, told Admiral Ghormley that the ships arriving at Espiritu Santo needed fuel oil, Diesel oil immediately, and 300,000 gallons of bulk aviation gasoline for tenders within 7 days. If the tanker then en route to Espiritu Santo could not provide all of this, he suggested that the Sabine be diverted to him. There was some Diesel oil in the South
U.S.S. Kitty Hawk at Pallikulo Bay, New Hebrides, unloading torpedo plane to self-propelled 50-ton barge.
Footnote. - This barge, one of the war famous type, made by assembling 21 steel pontoon sections, locked together with fittings known as jewelry. Certain assemblies were used as small docks, and non-self-propelled barges.
Pacific, but the nearest storage was at Suva and in the tankers busy supplying the carrier task groups. Espiritu Santo was becoming more and more suitable for use by the ships, and the Sabine was accordingly diverted there. She arrived from Suva on the 22d, remained 2 days, and went to sea to help fuel Fletcher's Task Force Sixty-one. After 2 days with it she started back 26 August 1942 to Espiritu, fueled 11 ships there, and on the 28th sailed for Noumea. There she filled up with the cargoes of the chartered J.W. Van Dyke and Pacific Sun, taking aboard 32,661 and 52,909 barrels from them on 30 and 31 August. The wherewithal was receiving more and more thought and action!
Meanwhile the Savo Island fight had left us with the crippled heavy cruiser Chicago, which had to be sent to Sydney, Australia, for repairs because we had no dock available nearer than that. This was a condition that we were on the way to remedy before the year was gone.
Admiral Ghormley's worries over the fuel situation continued. On 14 August he had notified Admiral King, Admiral Nimitz, and his own Service Force commander that Fletcher's carrier groups of Task Force Sixty-one after 1 week of normal cruising had completely emptied the oilers Platte and Kaskaskia. He also suggested that both ships be refilled and sent out to a rendezvous at a time to be named, he in the meantime holding the Cimarron to keep the force fueled. In reply next day Admiral Nimitz ordered the tanker Guadalupe to sail with Task Force Seventeen, the carrier Hornet group, on 16 August to reinforce the Southern Pacific.
Even that was not enough to allay Ghormley's anxieties. On 18 August he informed Nimitz that a study based on the actual issues of 23 days indicated that soon after 14 September there would be a fuel shortage. He said his total of on-hand and scheduled arrivals would be gone by that time, as his combatant vessels used an average of 25,000 barrels a day, and his auxiliaries 3,000 barrels, a daily total of 28,000 barrels. He therefore requested monthly shipments to supply that amount, with more to be supplied if additional vessels were sent to the area; said that he would soon send a similar analysis with respect to aviation gasoline, aviation lubricants, and Diesel fuel; and requested advance notification of tanker departures from the west coast so as to be able to plan more wisely. This detailed summary was most fortunate. The action which followed prevented any further serious shortage during the remainder of the South Pacific campaign.
Fighting results in something more than the mere necessity for replacing exhausted supplies. Battle damage, not only to ships but to men, was a major concern. On 15 August the hospital ship Solace had 362
wounded on board which she had to take to Auckland, where we had established a base hospital. Our medical logistics at this time were far from what we desired, and far from what we eventually developed. We had base hospitals started in New Zealand, another one at Efate, a field unit from Cub One - a Cub is an advanced unit with the necessary personnel and material for a medium-sized advanced fuel and supply base - at Espiritu Santo, and a base hospital on the way to being established at Noumea. Before the fight for the South Pacific was over, each of these was filled to capacity, and the three more added at Noumea, Espiritu Santo, and Guadalcanal were doing tremendous jobs. The sick and wounded were brought to them by ships and planes, kept until on the safe side, and then many were shipped home to the continental United States for further treatment and convalescence or, as sometimes occurred, taken to New Zealand or Australia for convalescence and an early return to duty. Many were sent to Pearl Harbor, where two new naval hospitals were set up. Still another was added later.
There was no end to the demands the action made. Now it was "discovered" that spare propellers for destroyers were needed and a call was sent out for them on 14 August. Nine days after the landing, the situation at Guadalcanal seemed to hinge mostly upon logistics.
On 16 August Admiral Ghormley told Admirals King and Nimitz that 11,000 Marines held the island to a depth of 5 miles from Koli Point to Point Cruz. Six thousand other Marines held Tulagi, Gavutu, Tanambogo, Mbangai, Makembo, and spots adjacent to Florida Island coast line. They had only 5 units of fire and 3 days' rations because of the enforced withdrawal of the transports and cargo ships. Enemy aircraft and submarine constantly threatened all shipping in the area. Four APD's (high-speed troop transports, the old flush-deck "four-pipers") had been sent in the night before with aviation gas, lubricating oil, spare parts, and some ground crews. There was no word of success or failure as yet. Two cargo carriers were to be sent in with rations and ammunition; they could be unloaded in 24 hours. Also, 3 carrier task forces were to sea to cover supplies into Guadalcanal and to attack enemy ships, which Admiral Nimitz said might appear between 19 and 21 August. On 16 August Admiral Turner told Admiral McCain, presumably with the idea that the latter could help materially by flying-in some of it, that essential needs at Guadalcanal were food, land-based aviation, ammunition, antiaircraft guns, barrage balloons, and radio-construction personnel. The Marines had captured, repaired, and were using a Japanese radio plant. They had also taken considerable rice and canned food,
without which their rations would have been even shorter. The four APD's unloaded successfully, and on the night of 21 August six more of them repeated the success. The two general cargo ships were also successful in unloading, but more than 24 hours were necessary because of boat shortage and inadequate beach handling of the cargoes. Not all the converted destroyers escaped damage. One of them put into Tulagi and there, with characteristic American inventiveness, made a jury steering rig out of coconut logs which helped her to reach Espiritu Santo.
Logistic Organization and Sources, South Pacific
Damages and Repairs
Two weeks after Guadalcanal, when the battle of the eastern Solomons was fought on 23-24 August 1942, logistics again came prominently into the picture. Had the Japanese realized the situation and followed through, the operation might have become a major setback for us.
Fletcher had returned to a supporting position when it was learned that the Japanese were moving south in greater strength than ever, with three carriers; battleships, cruisers, and destroyers. Some four or five transports in another group were coming down the "Slot," the famous passage running down through the Solomons from the northwest. Failing to secure proper information regarding this force, Fletcher had meanwhile sent his Wasp carrier group back to the base to refuel. The battle of the Eastern Solomons had therefore to be fought with only the Enterprise and Saratoga groups.
Luckily, we made the first kill, sinking the carrier Ryujo quickly. Our fighter pilots were in high gear that day, and destroyed many enemy planes. Our Marine land-based planes likewise did great work, while the antiaircraft fire of the North Carolina was far more effective than the Japanese had anticipated. So, with such heavy plane losses, they decided to retreat.
They could not have known how weak we were without the absent task group, or that some of our land-based planes could stay at the scene only a few minutes, or that the refueling of these planes was a time-consuming hand-to-hand job. The enemy seemed unaware, moreover, that 4 of the cruisers they had fought on the night of 8 August had
sunk, and that a fifth was even then limping slowly back to a repair yard. They had just damaged the Enterprise so badly that her planes could operate only at reduced frequency from her flight deck, and she was withdrawing at 24 knots with her steering-engine room flooded, and the suspicion of a bent propeller shaft. Would the Japanese have turned back had they known all this? It is true that something induced their transports to keep going, to attempt to land reinforcements, but at dawn the Marine planes, which had refueled during the night, caught them with but weak escort and drove them into retreat with heavy losses. Could our planes have turned them back if they had been accompanied by their 2 carriers; battleships, cruisers, and destroyers of the force which had retreated the night before? Could the Marine planes, together with Sara's air group plus 1 battleship, 8 cruisers, and 12 destroyers, have done it? Fortunately the question did not have to be answered that day, but if our logistic support had been good, the Wasp group would have been refueled within supporting distance.
After this, no large scale naval activities were undertaken by the enemy for about 6 weeks. He ran in small detachments of troop reinforcements to Guadalcanal by night, but his logistics were faulty so he was unable to put in any artillery, tanks, or heavy equipment. Meanwhile we were busied with our own supply to the Marines there.
On 1 August 1942, Admiral Ghormley had moved to Noumea with most of his staff and some of the Service Squadron. On the 30th he told the Commander Service Squadron South Pacific, who was still in New Zealand, that our supply set-up was not right under the prevailing conditions, since operations and logistics had to go hand in hand. He was convinced that we should have a good subordinate supply command at Noumea and told ComServRonSoPac to think it over, warning him that he would probably send a plane "in the near future to bring you, Nuber, and Fellows2 up for conference."
These were rough days. On 30 August the Saratoga was torpedoed and sustained a tremendous amount of structural damage in her firerooms, though not seriously hurt otherwise. She had to be sent to the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard for repair. Fortunately the Hornet group had arrived in Noumea 2 days earlier, so the carrier strength remained for the moment unchanged. This, however, was short-lived. On 8 September we suffered a serious loss in the sinking of the carrier Wasp by submarine torpedo and fire. We still lacked something in ship and damage control,
2. Captain H.D. Nuber (SC) and Lieutenant Colonel T.H. Fellows, USMC, were supply officers.
something that had always been routine in the submarine service. Later, as the war progressed, it became almost as routine for the surface ships as for the submarines, and the amount of damage our ships withstood because of its efficiency was a matter for wonderment. The Service Force developed a fire-fighting school at Pearl Harbor, using the best talent available from some of our finest municipal fire departments. Methods of extinguishing gasoline, oil, and other fires were brought to such a high state of effectiveness that only one ship was lost as the result of fire after that, although many were set on fire more severely than the Wasp. Another fire-fighting school was later established at Noumea. Meantime, with the loss of the Wasp, we had only two carrier task groups in the area with which to oppose the next strong Japanese naval move for the relief of Guadalcanal.
On 6 September 1942, Admiral Ghormley reminded Admiral Nimitz that all the logistic agencies for the South Pacific were concentrated in the Service Squadron South Pacific, fixed at Auckland. Most of the logistics of the current operations were handled at Noumea by Commander Cowdrey, staff engineer, and two supply officers from the survivors of the heavy cruiser Quincy. Due to the magnitude of the task, plus the necessity that logistics minutely follow operational planning, this set-up was faulty, and unless it was rectified promptly operations would be jeopardized. Ghormley's situation required a fixed base at Auckland under administrative control of Service Squadron South Pacific to service fixed bases in accordance with a joint logistic plan of 15 July. It also required a complete semi-mobile logistic agency with Ghormley for combat operations.
Captain M.C. Bowman, who had commander the Service Force Subordinate Command at Auckland since April 1942 and worked with the New Zealand Government in establishing logistic bases and aid for the South Pacific forces, was brought to Noumea with Fellows and Nuber for consultation. He recommended the immediate establishment there of an advanced supply depot, with a line captain and suitable staff. As no buildings were available, he proposed that they be constructed. He also recommended the transfer of himself as ComServRonPac to the destroyer tender Whitney, at Noumea or wherever Ghormley might be, but suggested that the repair ship Rigel remain at Auckland to furnish repair facilities augmenting those of the dockyard. He asked for one line captain, one supply corps captain, one line commander as operations and routing officer, and one experienced communications officer with four assistants for Auckland to carry on the duties previously performed by
his own staff, which he wished to keep with him at Noumea. Ghormley recommended this to Nimitz.
Ghormley's dissatisfaction with his logistics was clear. The magnitude of the job was too much for three officers. He wanted a semimobile logistic agency with him for combat operations, and it can hardly be doubted that he needed the Commander Service Squadron South Pacific nearer than Auckland. Why he had to ask Admiral Nimitz to transfer Bowman to Noumea is not clear, unless he doubted his own authority to do so. On 9 July Nimitz had said that he would supply logistic support. This may have left Ghormley unsure as to the extent of his responsibility and authority in these matters. The fact that he could see the weak points and did not like the arrangement was apparent before Guadalcanal.
Bowman had done an excellent job at Auckland, thus paving the way for Ghormley when the latter arrived the following month (May 1942) with his small staff. However, at that time no Guadalcanal was handed them with its increased tempo, its many ships, and its complex logistic problems. Until after Midway we were on the defensive, and it was perimeter defense which was in in mind when the South Pacific Command was established. With the taking of the offensive, however, Bowman found himself trying to operate naval bases, a foreign-purchase department, and a Service Force squadron with a handful of officers with little or no previous experience. The fact that he well understood that operations and logistics go hand in hand was shown by his proposal that he and his staff be brought to Noumea to be in close contact with Ghormley, who had gone there 1 August. The near failure of our supply system in early September resulted more from conditions beyond Bowman's control than from any fault of himself or his staff.
Those conditions were, briefly: a lack of knowledge and experience in the high command and subordinates, when planning operations, as to logistics requirements entailed; the service staff was too small; the bases were too far apart; port handling facilities and storage were insufficient; and the attack on Guadalcanal was necessarily early, with but little time to think out and prepare all details. To these was added the enemy action which made delivery of supplies by Turner to the Marines on Guadalcanal exceedingly difficult. The insufficiency of land-based planes put a heavy load on our all-too-few carriers. Their plane losses in turn put an overload upon our existing replacement system (logistics), and the damage to ships beyond our capacity to repair (again logistics) strained our resources beyond all plans and estimates.
The planning itself omitted few of any items which would be needed, but the quantities were in many instances not much more than guesses, so there were many cases of too little and too much. Most trying was the failure to realize fully that the distribution at the combat area end of the line was one of the big problems. The where, how, and when of unloading the supplies from arriving ships and distributing to our naval forces had not been given the necessary study. To begin with, the loading was very bad. Parts of the same unit were scattered in different holds and mixed up with similar things, often making identification difficult. Invoicing and marking of cases was bad. At times parts of the same unit were in different ships.
It is well to bear in mind that Commander in Chief Pacific had notified Ghormley on 9 July that he would provide logistic support for the Guadalcanal operations, specifically naming fuel oil, Diesel fuel, aviation gas, and stores. What was included under stores? Were the specifically mentioned items considered the only form of logistic support Admiral Nimitz had in mind when the message was sent, or did support take care of everything? We know from ComSoPac's messages that he was worrying about fuel and to a lesser degree about ammunition, and that he did not agree with the Commander in Chief about the needs in these items. It may be assumed therefore that he did not credit CinCPac's staff with any sixth sense or deep understanding of the South Pacific needs, and he was right. In the meantime, however, his own available staff and that of ComServSoPac were too overworked to attend to the whole matter of estimates of quantities then loading at port of departure, and the unloading, storage, and distribution in combat areas to the units under his command. So it was muddled through, with luck on our side when the enemy failed to follow up an opportunity; or perhaps it should be said, when he failed to see that we were short or could have been cut short.
When on 29 September Captain Bowman and his five staff officers - still far too few - took over from ComSoPac's staff those additional duties required by the situation, muddling did not entirely cease, but we began to see more clearly what was needed and to set about obtaining it in a more efficient way.
At Espiritu Santo in the Hebrides the large landing field was put into operation. More planes were put in and a tanker sent there to provide fuel for the ships of the naval task groups. It was small, but it was a beginning. About this time it was suggested to Admiral Ghormley that Espiritu Santo, instead of Noumea, be made the big naval base, and that
an all-out effort be made at once in developing it. But with Guadalcanal still in doubt he felt that it was too early a venture, and that if we lost the former we should probably lose Espiritu Santo soon afterward, thus furnishing the Japanese a better base for further drives toward Australia and New Zealand.
Fitch relieved McCain on 21 September 1942. With his flag in the Curtiss at Espiritu Santo, the readiness of the big field for certain types of planes, the protection of the harbor entrance by minefields, the building up of Army strength, and the many square miles of ground available and suitable for all kinds of activity, Santo was clearly the outstanding place for a base. Then Halsey relieved Ghormley on 19 October and soon afterward agreed that it was the best place we had. He approved bringing in a "Lion," - a large advanced base unit consisting of all the personnel and material necessary to the establishment of a major all-purpose naval base able to perform voyage repairs and minor battle damage in addition to its supply functions. Meanwhile he based the cruiser and some of the destroyers there, and for that purpose sent in the repair ship Rigel, which gave them meager service of fuel, dry provisions, and occasionally some fresh and frozen provisions. The cruisers had practically no repair facilities other than ship's force and what the overworked Rigel had. Some ammunition for light guns had been brought by Cub 13 and this had sufficed, as there had been no heavy gun engagements in which the vessels had needed much ammunition replacement. There soon might be, however, and the call had gone in, so the "ammo" for turret guns was already being shipped. Storage areas had been allocated in Efate, Espiritu, and Noumea, and it was not long before more ammunition was being dumped than could be properly cared for.
In the battle of Cape Esperance on 11 October the cruisers Salt Lake City and Boise and the destroyer Farenholt were seriously damaged. They reached Noumea and laid alongside tenders (Whitney and Argonne). The latter was Ghormley's flagship and could do very limited repair work, but all that could be accomplished was to patch over holes to make the cruisers seaworthy enough to reach a navy yard. There were no facilities for turret work. One turret on the Boise had been penetrated by an 8-inch shell, whose explosion wrecked it. The two other forward turrets were out of commission from minor casualties and flooded magazines and the ship had been twice hulled, with serious damage at each point.
From Noumea the Salt Lake City went to Espiritu Santo, where she made temporary repairs before going to Sydney for permanent work. The
Farenholt's damage was remarkably localized. One shell had penetrated her fireroom and exploded in a corner on a main steam-line expansion joint. As the effect of the blast was taken by the boiler, the crew of that compartment managed to escape. Another shell exploded in the control room upon impact with a switchboard which acted as a shield for the men behind it. Only 1 man was killed there. A third shell had burst against a torpedo tube, forcing it into the smokestack, which it wrecked. In all 3 cases the local material damage was so great the ship had to be patched up temporarily and sent to a navy yard. Both cruisers were cannibalized. The San Francisco replenished her ammunition from the Salt Lake City at Espiritu Santo, and the Helena from the Boise. But there was still need for about 2,000 rounds of 5-inch .38-caliber, and 5 torpedoes for destroyers. These needs had been foreseen and shipment made. The other vessels of Rear Admiral Norman Scott's group which had fought the night battle of Cape Esperance had returned to Espiritu Santo for servicing, such as it was.
During those trying weeks of September and October we had been getting needed supplies and equipment to General Vandegrift. Considerable improvement had been made to Henderson Airfield, and an additional strip for fighters had been put in by the Sixth Seabees. Meanwhile, however, the Japanese had succeeded in getting in almost an entire division of troops by their many night landings from destroyers and submarines. They had not been able to land many tanks or much artillery from such light vessels.
We had had some bad luck, too. The new battleship South Dakota arrived at Tongatabu 4 September, and 2 days later struck an uncharted coral pinnacle in the entrance passage, suffering such damage that she had to be sent back to Pearl for repair. Before she left she was cannibalized of 1,000 rounds of 5-inch ammunition and some of the fuel she had taken from the commercial tanker W.S. Rheem. On 16 October her repairs had been completed and she was on her way back with Admiral Kinkaid's Task Force Sixteen, the Enterprise group. In the meantime, on 15 September, the North Carolina got a "tin fish" in her bow from a Japanese submarine. She went to Tongatabu, where divers from the Vestal cut off the projecting pieces of hull metal, and she too had to go back to Pearl for permanent repairs. She arrived there 30 September and left 6 weeks later, 17 November, to return to the South Pacific. In the interim our forces had only 1 battleship, the Washington. More bad luck came when the Chester was hit, towed in, found to be beyond ServRonSoPa's capacity for repair, and sent to Australia.
The next major effort by the enemy to relieve or retake Guadalcanal came on 26 October 1942, in the fight off the Santa Cruz Islands, in which we again discouraged the Japanese from following through. We lost the carrier Hornet and the destroyer Porter, both of which might perhaps have been saved had 2 or more salvage tugs been available, but we had none. The Enterprise was damaged, but we could not let her go back to a navy yard, so about 70 picked Seabees were put aboard and made extensive repairs to the forepart of her flight deck and forward officers' quarters. The Seabees went to sea with her on her next operation, as some work was unfinished but could be done while under way. The Seabees were so justly proud of their accomplishment and their seagoing on a combat vessel that it was difficult to get them back into their less adventurous duties again. Of course they lorded it over their less seagoing companions unmercifully.
The battleship South Dakota had been in this fight, was bombed, and was repaired by the Service Squadron at Noumea. The San Juan, a light aircraft cruiser, received a bomb hit which went through her stern and exploded under her counter, doing considerable damage which could not be repaired by the Service Squadron. She went to the navy yard at Sydney.
One result of this battle was a new requirement of logistics. It was to quarter and clothe at Noumea about 3,000 nearly naked men and officer survivors from the Hornet and the Porter until they could be shipped home for reassignment. The Navy was not prepared for this, but by cooperation of the Army, tents and cots were obtained, a camp prepared, clothing gathered from all available naval vessels, and each man given some underwear, socks, shoes, and a suit of dungarees. Fortunately the transport West Point came in a few days later, and all were shipped back home. This requirement was a lesson that was borne in mind during the following years of the war, though not always implemented in a fully satisfactory way. Tents and extra clothing were carried (not always in proper quantities), and later on, with the formation of Service Squadron Ten, enough extra clothing was carried and barracks ships were eventually available. Transports were also frequently made available for handling considerable numbers of men when necessary.
The Japanese naval operation was planned to relieve their Guadalcanal situation and was timed to the expected capture of Henderson Airfield from the Marines. They failed to capture it, and though the naval action was about even, the Japanese again retired until they could reinforce their troops. We lost 1 carrier, 74 planes, a destroyer, and
sustained some damage to other vessels. Japanese losses were 2 carriers put out of action and about a hundred planes destroyed.
During the night of 2 November 1942, the enemy landed a beachhead battalion of more than a thousand at Koli Point, but our ships drove them into the woods. Our troops closed in on them and eventually wiped them out. A few days later, on the 6th, Admiral Turner landed 6,000 troops with tanks and artillery. Still others were put ashore on the 11th and 12th. We knew the enemy was also preparing for an attempt in strength to land reinforcements. Admiral Turner was therefore given a strong escorting group, and Kinkaid in further support was present with the Enterprise, the battleships Washington and South Dakota, and cruisers and destroyers. Again the Japanese were prevented from landing reinforcements and supplies, and this time they were really whipped, although we suffered too. The Japanese lost 2 battleships, 1 cruiser, 2 destroyers, 12 transports, and most of the troops and equipment. Our losses were 2 antiaircraft light cruisers and 7 destroyers. It was in the first phase of this battle that Admirals Callaghan in the San Francisco and Scott in the Atlanta were killed. The Atlanta, which was one of the antiaircraft cruisers lost, could have been saved had there been a salvage tug available.
Considerable damage had been done to the mast and superstructure of the South Dakota. Much of the damage was to electrical gear, and as it could be handled more advantageously by a navy yard, the ship was sent back. Repairs to the damaged San Francisco were made by Mare Island Navy Yard. The Portland was patched up in Tulagi after the tug Bobolink and the open lighter YC-239 assisted her in from off Kukum. Later, towed by the fleet tug Navajo from 22 to 30 November, she made Sydney for dockyard repairs.
After this our position in Guadalcanal was never critical. Our logistic build-up for both the forces there and our ships in the South Pacific was gaining daily, and the enemy realized it. The offensive had really been achieved, and, because of ability to give logistic support to our forces, was never lost, notwithstanding the damage the enemy inflicted upon us in the next 3 years of dogged, bloody fighting.
Two weeks later the enemy sent down eight destroyers to run in support for their Guadalcanal troops. Warned of this, Rear Admiral C.H. Wright was sent with the heavy cruisers Minneapolis, New Orleans, Pensacola, Honolulu, and Northampton, accompanied by four destroyers, to frustrate the attempt. It was intercepted and the reinforcement prevented, but at the terrific price of losing the Northampton and having the
Minneapolis, bow blown off.
Minneapolis, bow repaired with coconut palm tree trunks.
bows blown off both the Minneapolis and New Orleans, and the Pensacola torpedoed and put out of action. All three of the ships were saved, the Minneapolis with a temporary bulkhead of coconut logs, and restored to the fleet after a long period out of service. Two additional tugs had been instrumental in saving them, and the patching facilities at Espiritu Santo had been improved a little by the use of Seabees and a PT boat base, with the assistance of the repair ship Rigel. Temporary patchwork there enabled them to go to navy yards for real repair. The New Orleans had to turn back once for additional patching before she finally made it.
From the beginning of the South Pacific operations the various logistic organizations cooperated in solving supply and support problems. Some units arrived with shortages, but orders that all units consider themselves as part of the same team rather than Navy, Army, or Marine services in a separate and independent sense resulted in a considerable interchange of available supplies and facilities. In October 1942, Rear Admiral C.W. Crosse, commanding the Base Force Subordinate Command at San Francisco, was requested to have all chartered tankers which were sent to the South Pacific equipped with sufficient hose and facilities to supply two ships simultaneously at maximum rate. This would make a quicker fueling for task-force vessels refilling in port, and would make it somewhat easier on the naval oilers, which had been going at a killing pace. This was done on most commercial tankers, and some improvement was noted. Logistic and tactical conditions were improving so much all along the line that whenever there was noticeable falling off from the expected efficiency some complaints immediately followed.
About March 1943, complaints of the lack of fresh provisions began to come from the fleet. The Commander Service Squadron South Pacific made every effort to alleviate this. The condition was primarily due to lack of sufficient transportation for the desired quantities to the area. Additional refrigerator ships had already been requested, and efforts were being made to procure more fresh provisions from New Zealand. In the meantime, tinned and dry provisions had to make up the difference. The forces afloat were informed that they could not expect to be provisioned oftener than every 30 days until more refrigerator ships became available. But "growls" were a good sign. The offensive had been successful; we were no longer hanging on by our eyebrows; we were giving the Japanese tough handling; and, when sailors growl about things, it generally means they have time on their hands and the situation is no longer desperate.
Early in November of 1942, Rear Admiral C.H. Cobb was given command of the Service Squadron South Pacific, and until after the Bougainville campaign in November 1943, as our combatant forces gradually gained in strength, the logistics and servicing under Cobb gained likewise. The enemy meanwhile had been steadily losing.
In October 1942, Admiral Halsey had taken the shore base development administration from the Service Squadron and placed it under Captain W.R. Carter, with the title of Commander Naval Bases South Pacific. This administration included the assignment of construction battalions, the locating of floating drydocks, the construction of supply storage facilities, base hospitals, ammunition depots, wharves, landing-craft bases, nets, mooring buoys, etc. Early in 1943 this command was made subordinate to Commander Service Squadron. In May it was completely absorbed, and the separate command disappeared, again amalgamated with the Service Squadron South Pacific.
Building Up in the South Pacific
While fighting is at times the deciding factor in warfare, it is possible only when the logistic needs of the fighters have been anticipated and met. The flower of the German armies perished in the bitter Russian winter from lack of supplies, as had Napoleon's Grande Armée before them. History is full of such tragedies, and every operations planner should realize his utter dependence upon logistics.
In our own case we were faced not only with the vastly increased demands created by forces of unprecedented magnitude, but by the distances over which all supplies and services had to move before they could be effective, and by the need to charter, buy, and build enough ships to bring them where they were badly needed. Moreover, the technical advances made by modern science involved so many items - some of them mechanically intricate - of every imaginable sort, that the services of supply had to provide over a tremendously large and varied field. If a shortage developed, men might die uselessly. There was potential tragedy in every move made. So, dry as it may seem at first sight, what follows is nevertheless the highly significant record of what was done to support our combat units for their bloody work, and of the means by which battered ships and men were repaired.
By late fall of 1942, ammunition depots had been established at Noumea and Espiritu Santo, with a smaller one at Efate. All three handled aviation ammunition as well as larger material. There was more for the flyers at Guadalcanal. Fuel-oil supply storage had been erected on Ducos Peninsula at Noumea, with a capacity of 370,000 barrels of black and 30,000 barrels of Diesel fuel, together with a pier at which vessels could be unloaded and supplied. Our ships sailed on water but they moved on oil, and the demand never ceased. Over on Efate, at Vila, we had seven 1,000-barrel steel tanks for aviation gasoline, two 10,000-gallon Diesel tanks, and four buried 5,000-gallon aviation-gasoline tanks, while at Havannah eight other buried tanks held 5,000 gallons each. In
the Tulagi area we had ten 1,000-barrel tanks plus 12,000 barrels of aviation gasoline, a 60-000-barrel Diesel-oil storage, and a 280,000-barrel fuel-oil farm. Guadalcanal added storage for 1,300,000 gallons of aviation gasoline.
The storage, like the demands, mounted steadily. By July of 1943 we were erecting fifty 10,000-barrel fuel-oil storage tanks on Aore Island at Espiritu, as well as tanks holding 20,000 barrels of Diesel fuel, 17,000 barrels of motor gasoline, and twenty-three 1,000-barrel aviation-gasoline tanks. The fuel unit at Espiritu from November 1943 was one of the busiest of the many supply functions. Before that, fueling of the fleet had been by means of station tankers and incoming oilers. The tank farms and fifty 10,000-barrel storage tanks were connected with a pipeline system and pumps capable of handling 350 gallons a minute. While the amount of storage was not large or the pumping rate high, in the light of previous close escapes from fuel shortages it was a comforting reserve equivalent of about five tanker-loads. The fuel depot also issued 3,000 to 5,000 drums of lubricants a month at its peak early in 1944. In November 1944, the Noumea facilities were no longer necessary and dismantling was commenced.
The consumption of fuels and lubricants was tremendous. At Tulagi alone during the early part of 1943 the motor torpedo boats burned up 3,000 to 7,000 gallons a day and the airplanes about a thousand. By the end of that year the PT boats burned about 5,000 gallons a day and the planes 5,000 to 10,000 gallons. Petroleum products carried afloat averaged 219,830 tons, or approximately 1,300,000 barrels, a month for the first half of 1943, and were steadily increasing. By October, Commander Service Squadron South Pacific sent a dispatch to Commander Subordinate Command San Francisco saying that his estimate of 17 black-oil tankers was not considered sufficient to fill the future requirements. It must be remembered that in this was included both fleet and shore supply, ServRonSoPac being responsible for both. This proved before 6 months had elapsed, not only that Ghormley's estimate of the previous August for the area had not been too large, but on the contrary, too small.
The mere technical definition of a Lion as a large advanced base unit consisting of all the personnel and material necessary for the establishment of a major all-purpose naval base conveys little to anyone but
those who have had the experience with such an undertaking. In the South Pacific, Lion I under the able command of Captain J.M. Boak, later a commodore, by July of 1943 was rapidly making Espiritu Santo our principal base in the area. In detail it consisted of facilities as varied as our needs. Its torpedo overhaul unit could handle five or six torpedoes a day. An aviation engine overhaul had a huge shop of many buildings, full of machinery and staffed with expert personnel capable of reconditioning 200 engines a month - no small activity in itself. The ship repair unit was completely housed by this time. Some heavy machinery had not yet been installed, but the general equipment and facilities were expected to be complete within a month and be capable of executing repairs as well as could be done by a regular repair ship.
The administration unit consisted of seven departments: Operations, ordnance, captain of yard, supply, disbursing, receiving station, and executive. These covered in separate detail not only the activities ashore, but also boat pool and water transport system, the operation of the port director's service, inshore and harbor patrols, and so on. The supply department had 36 buildings, each 40 by 1000 feet, for general stores. The actual business done by its clothing and small stores section during May 1943 amounted to $175,000. On 28 June, needing more help, it received 244 Negro seamen to supplement the 200 storekeepers and strikers already assigned. Under the executive department came the 6 sections devoted to clerical, fleet post office, welfare and recreation, Chaplain Corps, communications, and intelligence. The Lion, moreover, included activities for issuing pay checks, for camp maintenance, 8 dispensaries completely equipped and staffed, and a 600-bed hospital. War involves not only tremendous effort and expenditure, but the systematic care of men.
The first ammunition supply set up at Espiritu Santo was established by Cub I, the smaller brother of Lion I. It was soon apparent that this was not sufficient, and a much larger depot would be required. The first wave of munitions landed in December 1942, and from that time the stock continued to increase until September 1944, when it reached its peak. On the latter date 38,000 tons of ammunition were stored in 175 regularly designed magazines, and in Quonset huts, Stransteel warehouses, tents, thatched huts in several instances, and much in dumps in the open air.
The depot overhauled and reconditioned a considerable amount of material, including more than 40,000 rounds of 5-inch .38 caliber, with the replacement of the projectile fuses. Until the middle of 1944, issues were made largely direct to the ships concerned. As the war moved westward, this grew steadily less and ammunition ships were loaded at the depot to go forward with the supply. At peak activity in March 1944 the depot serviced 120 vessels, large and small. These included 8 carriers, 7 heavy and light cruisers, 37 destroyers and destroyer-escort types, besides landing craft and the "splinter" fleet, of the submarine-chaser and patrol-boat types. Not all of these were completely reammunitioned, as this would have required more than four times as much as the total in storage. It was a great record nevertheless, and it shows the importance of the part played by the naval base at Espiritu Santo in fleet ammunition logistics.
In the torpedo overhaul shop at Espiritu between May 1943 and May 1945, both fleet and aircraft torpedoes gave the 2 officers and 11 men more than they could do. Of the 2,660 torpedoes received, 2,500 were overhauled and 2,100 reissued. As far as quantity goes this was a very satisfactory performance. Unfortunately the quality of the work was not so high. This was due partly to the hurried and slap-dash training given the personnel, partly to the conditions under which they worked and lived, and partly to the overload under which they started. A mine depot at Espiritu Santo assembled and supplied the mines for any project. An earlier mine assembly had been set up at Noumea, and by the time the Espiritu depot was in full working order much of the mine laying and supplying for the South Pacific was completed. There was also at Noumea an ammunition depot with about 100 small magazines, 40 or 50 warehouses for ordnance materials, all of them steel, and a large area of open storage, including mines and torpedoes.
Provisions and Stores
By the end of 1943 the Naval Supply Depot at Espiritu was operating on a 24-hour bases. Earlier, in August, it had serviced its first large task force as a unit, though there had been individual vessels taken care of from time to time before that. Following the initial landings on Bougainville three large cruisers were rushed down from there to Espiritu, a distance of more than 900 miles, for badly needed supplies. In short order they were loaded with 150 tons of provisions and general
stores by means of barges securing alongside them in the stream.
At this time, late in 1943, the supply storage unit, besides its sixty 40-by-100-foot warehouses, had extensive outdoor storage space approximating 400,000 square feet filled with supplies of all kinds. The fleet provision unit, with 24 large "reefers" (refrigerator boxes or rooms), and 5 warehouses had been receiving and issuing quantities of both fresh and dry provisions. Storage capacity was 2,500 tons of dry and 1,500 tons of fresh and frozen provisions. The incoming stores section had the job of cargo segregation, and both this section and the outgoing stores unit were kept exceedingly busy. The supply depot had been constructed partly by plan, partly by trial and error. It had handled and issued large quantities of war materials, worked its men overtime many a weary day, been cursed roundly any number of times, but had come through. At the depot, pier 4 extended some 200 yards into Segond Channel, and was capable of loading 2 large ships at once. Often it was impossible for the numerous vessels requiring supplies to secure alongside No. 4. In such cases, ships' working parties were brought ashore, trucks were loaded with the necessary material and driven to another pier, unloaded into boats, and the supplies delivered by boats and barges alongside the waiting ships.
Another supply depot had been established earlier at Noumea. It was eventually a very good one, though short-lived, after getting off to a slow start. There were some 80 steel warehouses for covered storage and cargo areas for open field storage. Also there were steel warehouses and a few old buildings for an aviation supply depot which soon found itself too far from the operations front.
Welfare and Fleet Recreation
Of importance among the many advantages officers and men alike of our forces enjoyed to a far greater degree than was possible for those of either the enemy or our allies, was our provision for relaxation and recreation, afloat as well as ashore. As far as was possible in the circumstances, our men were given under war conditions the same types of recreational facilities they had enjoyed before the war at home. The effect upon general morale was admirable, the uplift healthful in every activity. The damning that was heard - and there was plenty of it, for sailors are notorious growlers - was mostly conversation, and did not result from the work or the overtime and mental strain.
Aore Island, for example, had a fleet recreation area which consisted, in addition to the swimming beach, soda fountain, and beer "parlor," of nine softball diamonds, one hardball diamond, three tennis courts, four volleyball courts, three basketball courts, one football and soccer field, three boxing rings, horseshoe courts, eight handball courts, and a theater district. Barbecue pits and picnic facilities rounded out this with something for nearly everyone.
Mafia Island also had a fairly large area for the Pallikulo Bay crowd, and many other recreation facilities were scattered about the Espiritu Santo base. Many of these were for individual shore-based units and were not available to the men of the fleet except by special invitation. Moving pictures also played an important part of the relaxation program. The endeavor was made to circulate films through the ships and show them in rotation whenever possible. The motion-picture exchange and its distributing features contributed to morale importantly. More will be seen of this later as the war developed.
At Havannah Harbor, Efate, there was a recreation area of less pretension, and it was while R.C. "Ike" Giffen's force was at anchor that some 8,000 cases of area beer were "lost" in shipment. It was suggested that it had been mistaken for landing-boat fuel as some of "Ike's" liberty boats handled poorly for a time. The laughter was as good a tonic as the missing beverage.
Maintenance and Repair
Naval battles mean hurt ships. The damage may be light relatively, or it may be serious. Whatever it is, the nearer the repair facilities the better. Only in the most serious cases of major injuries beyond the ability of local facilities to repair, should a combatant vessel be sent back to a navy yard or shipyard. Such action takes the ship out of the active fleet for a considerable period, weakens our forces proportionately, may delay pending moves, and further exposes the cripple to attack en route while not in proper condition to fight off her enemy.
During early operations our repair ships and advanced bases did everything they could, and the ship's forces themselves often accomplished wonders in patchwork and repair. These, however, were not sufficient, and floating drydocks of various types and sizes were urgently needed. Ships had their bows blown off, their sterns blasted away, huge holes torn in their hulls by torpedoes whose explosions created a chaos that
had to be seen at the time to be fully realized. Japanese shelling, bombing, and bombing planes wrecked enginerooms, put turrets out of action, and touched off tremendous fires and magazine explosions that made the survival of the battered vessel almost a miracle. By getting the victim into a dock where she could be given full attention while still in the supporting area, priceless time and effort were saved repeatedly and the enemy could not know just how hard he had hit us at times.
By late fall of 1942 we had installed a ship-repair unit and a floating drydock, ARD-2, at Noumea. The floating docks of this type were 485 feet long and had a lifting capacity of 3,500 tons, which made them able to accommodate destroyers, submarines, and "landing ships, tank" (LST's). But such facilities were small compared to the huge ABSD types. Much has been said and written about the great ABSD-1 which was assembled and put into operation near Aessi Island in Pallikulo Bay. It was a remarkable design, and getting it into operation was a fine job of towing and assembling. There was some delay in the assembling because 1 of its 10 sections was lost in the bay. However, in December 1943 the remaining 9 sections were fastened together and the first docking was accomplished 31 December. "ABSD" means Advanced Base Sectional Dock. This one, originally designed in 10 sections, would have been 927 feet long with a lifting capacity of 90,000 tons. Put together as a 9-section dock it was 844 feet long and could lift 81,000 tons. In addition to this one at Aessi we later had others at Manus and Guam. The Aessi dock was a great potential asset as there were a number of large, heavy ships operating in the South Pacific which could if damaged be accommodated only by this dock. We should have had it in the fall of 1942 when our damage was greatest. It turned out, however, that the ABSD-1 actually docked only 3 ships which could not have been accommodated by the smaller floating docks. The remainder of its 71 dockings were for medium and smaller vessels. In April of 1945 it was disassembled and towed to Samar.
The ship-repair unit was in operation by the summer of 1943 at Espiritu Santo, but it was never commensurate in size or capacity with some of the other activities there. Most of its effort was spent on necessary routine and emergency repairs to patrol craft, auxiliaries, landing craft, merchantmen, and vessels of the United Kingdom. It did, however, do some battle-damage repair work for our ships of all types, including fleet destroyers. Much of this was minor, thanks to later good fortune of war, and it was done well and willingly. In addition to the large dock in Pallikulo Bay we also had a cruiser-capacity floating dock,
Honolulu at Tulagi with bow damaged by "dud" torpedo.
YFD-21, and were soon to have two smaller ones, ARD-14 and AFD-14, with respective lifting capacities of 3,500 tons and 1,000 tons. The two latter types were single-piece steel craft.
In the Solomons at Florida Island - where as a starter we had only a motor torpedo boat base at Sasapi, Tulagi, with the tender Jamestown concealed across the harbor against the mangrove jungle - in the spring of 1944 we had at Purvis Bay the AFD-13, destroyer tender Whitney, the repair ships Medusa (en route to southwest Pacific) and Prometheus, the battle-damage repair ship Aristaeus, and the repair barge YR-46. Valuable services were rendered. In addition to these floating services there were landing-craft repair units at Carter City on Florida Island near Purvis Bay and in the Russell Islands. Large boat-repair stations were at Turner City and at Gavutu Harbor on Florida.
The high point of service in the Florida area was during March 1944, when 261 vessels were repaired, including 1 battleship, 3 light cruisers, 16 destroyers, 18 destroyer escorts, 72 attack transports, 51 LST's, and 31 submarine chasers. During this same period the floating drydocks ARD-14 (now in Purvis Bay) and AFD-13, with 2 pontoon drydocks, made repairs to 110 vessels, including 5 destroyers and 41 landing craft, infantry (LCI's).
During the early part of the war practically all the work on small ships was done in New Zealand to take advantage of the docking facilities there. In January and March of 1943 the Portland and New Orleans went to Sydney, Australia, because major cases of battle damage could be handled only there. It became a fairly common practice also to send cruisers, destroyers, and similar ships there for drydocking and rehabilitation.
At Auckland, N.Z., repair facilities were such that 4 vessels of the attack-transport type could receive overhaul concurrently with smaller craft. The major part of the work was assigned to His Majesty's New Zealand Dockyard at Bevenport. When the jobs were greater than its capacity, they were farmed out to 112 independent firms, coordinated by the liaison officer in Auckland. In Wellington a cargo ship could be completely overhauled while routine repairs and material work were being carried forward on 3 other similar vessels. Dunedin could give a cargo ship a complete overhaul but could not do simultaneous repair work.
All this repair work in New Zealand was under the direction of the Material Department of the Force Maintenance Office, and included repairs to material under the cognizance of armed guard officers on all
War Shipping Administration vessels. Besides Auckland, several other bases in New Zealand supplied minor repair facilities. Auckland was the most important, however, and in 1943 in 11 months (February excluded) it repaired 282 vessels of all types. The monthly cost of repairs and alterations in this one port ran to about $100,000.
Havannah Harbor in Efate was a deep-water torpedo-protected port nearer our activities than Noumea, and here for some months a number of combatant ships were based and serviced. On 15 January 1943 the repair ship Rigel, which had been doing great work at Espiritu Santo since 20 November 1942, had arrived and rendered splendid tender and repair service under the able command of Captain Roy Dudley. She remained until relieved by the Medusa 24 April 1943. Four days later the Rigel sailed to join the Seventh Fleet. At Pearl the Medusa had been busy with repair and salvage jobs and here at Efate she tackled with a will many kinds of maintenance and repair work, not only on board in her own shops but by sending working parties to many different ships. Her log, for example, shows that on 30 April 1943 she had 60 men in 9 working parties doing everything from star-gaging 6-inch guns to mending equipment in the recreation center. During that week she completed 258 separate jobs. She was commanded at this time by Commander J.F.P. Miller, who had grown gray in the naval service getting done things many men would not undertake. The service was indeed fortunate in having him where production counted for so much.
The Medusa stayed in Havannah except for the period 24 July-4 August 1943, when she was at Espiritu to ease a heavy workload there. Vessels of the British Fleet were there besides many of our own. On 27 March 1944, she finally sailed to join the Seventh Fleet, with which she remained until the end. If the campaign had gone less successfully, more use might well have been made of Efate, and it was not doubt the part of wisdom to have had it available. Excepting for a very good base hospital, which was kept at full activity and capacity most of the time, the return on the amount of effort put into Efate was small, but this should be charged against the waste of war rather than against inefficient planning.
The duty of the service forces was not merely to keep abreast of the combatant fleet activities, but as far as possible to go ahead of them by
Ortolan raises two-man submarine.
being prepared in all respects before assistance was demanded. The difficulties of such an ambitious yet vital task were so great and depended upon so many elements beyond our control, that no account of the work can be wholly objective. The combat forces acted with greater confidence and dash as they became more aware that behind them awaited more of the things they might need in either defeat or victory. The wounded were cared for immediately in the well-staffed and well-equipped hospital ships and base hospitals. The latter were established at Espiritu Santo, where a 600-bed hospital proper was reinforced by no less than 8 dispensaries; there were 2 at Noumea - Fleet Hospitals Nos. 5 and 7, the former with about 1,000 beds, the second with about 2,000 - backed up by a huge convalescent camp; one in Guadalcanal of 2,000 beds, one of 1,300 beds at Banika Island in the Russells completed in March 1944; still another at Efate.
The important supply of fresh and frozen foods was furnished by the fleet provision unit with 24 large reefers and 5 warehouses and Espiritu Santo already mentioned, and 10 ships working out of Auckland to carry their vital freight wherever it was needed. Even this was not enough as our effort grew. In September 1943 the Commanding Officer of Service Squadron South Pacific estimated that he had exactly half enough ships to carry the provisions contracted for in New Zealand for 1944.
The activities there began in April 1942 under the direction of Commander H.D. Nuber of the Supply Corps, whose office was in Auckland. For some months that port was the main supply base and was able to fill the requisitions made on it. But by the time we landed on Guadalcanal it was apparent that New Zealand was too far in the rear to be an operating base for directly supplying the forces afloat. From that time onward the principal supply to the fleet was made by United States provisions ships and the supply depots on advanced bases at Noumea and Espiritu. Beef, mutton, and other foods were, however, supplied to these sources from Auckland for some time thereafter. New Zealand also continued to supply large quantities of food to the shore forces.
More of everything was being called for day by day. In May 1943 it was reported that 17 more tugs, in addition to the 8 on hand, were needed. Two more fuel-oil barges were demanded to supplement the 4 on hand, and 5 gasoline barges were required. A month later the call for more again went out - 9 Diesel-engine repair ships, 3 aviation stores (bulk) ships, 2 destroyer tenders, 6 LST's as aviation stores issue ships, 4 landing craft-repair ships, 1 landing-craft tender, 10 tugs, 60 LCVP's (landing craft, vehicles, personnel; 36-foot single-screw Diesel, built of
plywood and very useful in handling stores up to about 5 tons or limited personnel) per month for 6 months, 3 big salvage tugs (ARS's), and 2 motor-torpedo-boat tenders (AGP's). This was a time when the advantages of floating services were manifesting themselves strongly.
Many other facilities of smaller and less spectacular sorts were located at Noumea and Espiritu. Among them were the fleet post offices, with their eagerly perused letters from home, an antiaircraft gunnery school, fire-fighting school with advisory instructors already mentioned, the motion-picture exchanges, gas plants, sections for the purchase of war bonds, and so on. All these went to make great bases which after a very short period of activity found themselves so far in the rear as to raise the question of whether the amount of shipping required to build them might not have supplied the necessary fleet support afloat, and been mobile and ready to go forward at short notice.
The Southwest Pacific Command
The logistics of the Southwest Pacific Force, later the Seventh Fleet, will be treated rather briefly in this book because they follow somewhat the same pattern as service activities elsewhere. When from time to time the subject is taken up, it is because of its tie-in with other forces or to show the general logistic activity in progress.
In the Southwest Pacific, 1942-43, a service force was developed under the over-all command of Vice Admiral A.S. Carpender, under the immediate over-all command of several successive officers. At first, for a short time, Captain H.E. Paddock headed it; then Rear Admiral D.E. Barbey, whose principal job was to organize an amphibious force but who was temporarily assigned the service force as well.
Next came Commodore R.G. Coman, under whom the initial development assumed important proportions. While there were not many floating auxiliaries at first, the destroyer tender Dobbin was at Sydney, where she did some great work of battle-damage repair as well as routine service which was by no means confined to destroyers. She took on submarines for repair and routine tender services, besides working on the cruisers New Orleans, San Juan, Chester, Portland, Phoenix, and others. In addition there were a U.S. repair barge YR, a sort of floating machine ship, the naval dockyard, and the large graving dock at Wooloomooloo. The Australian facilities were being expanded, and the United States shore activities, together with storage depots, were being developed.
A submarine base at Brisbane, which consisted always of one tender (often complemented by another), and a number of shop and shore activities, was constantly expanding and improving. Three small ferryboats fitted up as machine ships made repairs to patrol and mine craft. There were also a degaussing range, a very important radio repair unit,
and a marine railway which was constantly busy. The motor-torpedo-boat repair unit at Brisbane at first contributed to the upkeep and maintenance of other vessels as well as its own craft. A receiving barracks was established to handle the distribution and staging of personnel. The administrative headquarters of the Commander Southwest Pacific Naval Force was located here in the spring of 1943.
Farther up the east coast at Townsville, and still farther north at Cairns, landing-craft bases and amphibious training centers were being located. A base construction depot, ammunition depot, and staging center were also being established.
In the southwest corner of western Australia the submarine base at Fremantle had been somewhat improved, and another established farther north in Exmouth Gulf. There was always one tender available at Fremantle, occasionally two of them, with the Australian local facilities cooperating to capacity. There were a marine railway and fair food supply there, but oil, ammunition, and torpedoes of course had to be brought in by sea to keep the submarines and other vessels supplied. By June of 1945 the oil storage developed at Fremantle, between naval and commercial facilities, amounted to more than 700,000 barrels, a considerable portion of which came from the Persian oil fields. In addition to this bunker fuel there was storage in the area for about 206,000 barrels of Diesel fuel.
In the beginning there was not drydock large enough to take our submarines; only a marine railway able to lift 850 tons. On occasion it was necessary to do repair work with only a part of the submarine hauled out of the water. Later, in 1943, the floating dock ARD-10 was sent there and remedied the deficiency. A ship-repair unit, Navy 137, with special qualities for work on submarines, was also installed. Ammunition storage grew to a capacity of about 4,000 tons.
By 30 July 1943 there were half a dozen district patrol vessels in the food supply duty for General MacArthur's bases and forces at advanced points. More often than not they were used to supply these advanced points, as a base, both air and naval. Thus the Southwest Pacific facilities started and grew along lines somewhat similar to those already mentioned for the South Pacific, with floating drydocks of various sizes at several small bases, and continually advancing. Milne Bay and Finschhafen, both in Papua, New Guinea, began respectively in May 1943 and November 1943. Later on came the great Manus base, Morotai, and other smaller
PT boat fueling depot Base No. 8, Morobe, New Guinea.
ones for PT boats, small craft, and seaplanes, and finally the Philippine bases. Tenders and repair ships increased. Ammunition and store ships also increased in numbers, and though South and Southwest Pacific service to the fleet were partly from ships and floating sources, it was the gain in the latter that permitted the increasing tempo of the offensive. The floating facilities could be moved forward on short notice; the shore establishments could not be moved quickly, and sometimes could not be moved at all.
About 300 miles north of Lae, New Guinea, and about 2 degrees south of the Equator are the Admiralty islands, among which are Manus and Los Negros. Saipan, Guam, and Tinian are about 1,000 miles almost due north; Truk lies to the northeast and Palau and Yap northwest. On a chart, lines joining these islands form the shape of a kite, with Manus at the southern tip or tail of the kite. To the east of Manus, and almost joining it, is the smaller island of Los Negros, which sweeps in a curve to the north and northwest, forming with some smaller islets as a northern enclosure one of the best anchorages in the Southwest Pacific: Seeadler Harbor.
A surprise amphibious attack had been executed here on 29 February by Task Group 76.1 of nine destroyers and a transport unit of three destroyers, all under Rear Admiral W.M. Fechteler. Task Force 74, of the cruisers Phoenix and Nashville, with four destroyers, acted as a covering force and bombarded positions on Los Negros and Manus before the landings. The landings on Los Negros were the first step to obtain control of the entire Admiralty group, not only for the establishment of strategically located airfields but also for the development of Seeadler Harbor as a major fleet anchorage with shore base. Our forces here and at Emirau Island, captured later, not only had an advanced base from which to strike but which effectively cut off Kavieng and Rabaul from their supply lines. Emirau, in the St. Mathias group, is 75 miles northwest of Kavieng. Since no enemy activity had been detected there, Rear Admiral T.S. Wilkinson, commanding Task Force 31, was able to land two battalions of the Fourth Marines easily, though cruisers and destroyers were in position for gunfire support if necessary and planes from the Enterprise and Belleau Wood were on hand for air support. No special fleet logistics were involved.
On Manus Island, Commodore J.E. Boak, after having done a splendid job completing a Lion base at Espiritu Santo, established another, a modified Lion, and in April 1944 assumed command of it by order of the Commander Seventh Fleet. At this time the Army estimated
that four or five hundred enemy effectives might still be at large on the island, though all organized resistance had ceased. This was just after Admiral Spruance had delivered an air attack on Truk, and after a preliminary carrier-task-force attack had been made in the Marianas. Later in September of that year Seeadler Harbor became the locus operandi of a number of units of Service Squadron Ten, helping that base by supporting the Third Fleet and some units of the Seventh from mobile equipment. The developments of a major naval base, such as the building of airfields, seaplane bases, hospital, tank farm, and supply depot, took place. One activity upon which Service Squadron Ten was later to depend was the water-supply system, capable of producing 4,000,000 gallons daily. Compared to Guam and Leyte-Samar, the base at Manus was the third largest, judged by the amount of money finally spent on it.
In the Aleutians
Early in 1942, fortifying the strategically important Aleutian Islands seemed vital necessity, but with the main Japanese force soon to be dealt with in the Coral Sea and at Midway only a scanty force could be diverted to the whole Aleutian-Alaskan theater. Rear Admiral Robert A. Theobald had been designated to command all Army, Navy, and Canadian forces in the area. From the outset he was faced with the problem of an inadequate number of ships and personnel, plus the ever-present natural enemy - the weather.
Our first encounter with the Japanese in the North Pacific occurred 3 June 1942, when their bombers, escorted by Zeros, made a surprise attack on Dutch Harbor. Several days later we discovered that they had followed this with landings on the islands of Kiska and Attu, at the farther end of the Aleutian chain. After that the best that Theobald's task force could do was to prevent the landing of enemy reinforcements and to attempt to check further advances until our forces could take the offensive. Yet in October 1942 his already meager force was diminished by the withdrawal of a number of troops needed to aid in the Solomons campaign.
Meanwhile on 30 August our troops occupied Adak Island, and on 2 January 1943, Amchitka Island, to establish airfields on both, each time drawing closer to Japanese-held Attu and Kiska. Adak later developed into more than a mere airfield when Kuluk Bay on the east coast proved to be a good anchorage for our naval forces. In November of 1942 Rear Admiral T.C. Kinkaid was relieved in the South Pacific by Rear Admiral T.C. F.C. Sherman and assigned as Commander Task Force Eight, North Pacific, relieving Theobald. He assumed his new duties 4 January 1943. His achievements in them and his subsequent assignments form a brilliant record reflecting glory on his country, the Navy, and himself.
The bases and services available at this time were being expanded in order to take the offensive, recapture Kiska and Attu, and, if successful there, perhaps to strike down along the Kuriles as one prong of our
Submarine undocking from ARD-6, Dutch Harbor.
Sweepers Cove, Adak Island.
Finger Bay, Adak, Aleutian Islands.
offensive against the enemy homeland. Rear Admiral J.W. Reeves, Jr., was charged with the naval-base development for the whole North Pacific area, and his command had been making great headway despite adverse weather and the distances involved.
Kodiak was rapidly being turned into a first-class air base. Dutch Harbor was already a submarine operating base, and improvement was being attempted on the airstrip alongside Ballyhoo Mountain, while facilities for additional oil storage and an anchorage for heavy shi9ps were being developed in Iliuliuk Bay. The floating drydock YFD-22 was in operation at Dutch Harbor, and in June 1943 drydock ARD-6 was added. At Adak, a combined military and naval base was being pushed ahead under the efforts of both Army and Navy, and one large airfield was already operating. A seaplane base in Andrew Lagoon was in use and a steel-plated (Marston mat) airfield in this latter area was contemplated.
The main fleet anchorage at Adak in Kuluk Bay was well protected by the natural physical formations, supplemented by a net and sonar buoys. The inside harbor, Sweeper Cove, had three unloading wharves and was entirely closed against submarine attack. All the facilities on Adak had been built by our forces. Before the war there was nothing on the island but a single fox farm. At Finger Bay, Adak, a base for PT boats was well under way, and a floating ARD drydock was operating.
During April and May 1943 the destroyer tenders Markab and Black Hawk moved forward from Dutch Harbor and did fine around-the-block maintenance and repair work for destroyers, besides special jobs for other vessels. At Sand Bay, Great Sitkin Island, across from Adak, a fueling dock and fuel-oil storage tanks were being built, and in the valley right under the crater of a smoking volcano a naval ammunition storage was being constructed. Facilities for warehousing provisions and other stores were built during the spring of 1943 and were virtually complete by the middle of May when the Attu operation was undertaken.
Few people realize the distances involved in this cold and barren part of the world. Not only is it a long way from west coast ports, but the distances between harbors within the area itself are considerable. For example, Anchorage, lying to the northwest 1,242 nautical miles by air from Seattle, is 220 miles from Kodiak; 85 miles separate Cold Bay from Attu. It and Adak are 378 miles apart, and from Adak to Paramushiro in the northern Kuriles it is 1,019 miles.
On 26 March 1943, between Attu and the Komandorski Islands, Rear Admiral C.H. McMorris in the Salt Lake City, accompanied by the
Richmond and the destroyers Bailey, Coghlan, Dale, and Monaghan, encountered a heavily protected convoy headed to reinforce the Japanese garrisons on Attu and Kiska. Our ships had a running gun fight with the heavier Japanese force, with resulting damage to the Salt Lake City, Bailey, Coghlan, and Monaghan. This necessitated sending the first two, after temporary repairs by the Black Hawk and Markab at Dutch Harbor, more than 2,000 miles to the Mare Island Navy Yard. Thus it was evident that if a naval or an amphibious campaign were to be carried on in this area some logistic resources would be required in certain localities within the region. If adequate shore facilities were not possible, floating equipment must be obtained, which demanded that proper harbor requirements be met. At this time in the Atlantic, German submarines still had the edge on us. In the South and Southwest Pacific we had just gained superiority enough to hold the offensive, and could spare few floating units from those areas. So in the beginning only a meager combination of floating equipment and new shore-based facilities would be available in Aleutian waters.
As a result of agreement between the Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet, and Lieutenant General J.L. DeWitt, Commander of the Western Defense Command, Rear Admiral F.W. Rockwell, commanding the Amphibious Force of the Pacific Fleet, was directed in December 1942 to devise plans to retake Kiska. Requirements in ships and services were large. The venture appeared especially formidable since we were not quite sure early in 1943 of the outcome in the South Pacific, and therefore could not expect much help from that area. A joint staff of officers from the Alaskan Defense Command and the Amphibious Force was organized in San Diego to formulate the plans.
After Kinkaid relieved Theobald in January 1943, Theobald reported to Nimitz in Pearl Harbor for a few days. One of his recommendations was that consideration be given to capturing Attu prior to Kiska. This was because the weather came from Attu toward Kiska. With Attu in our hands we would be in a better position to take Kiska, the tougher of the two objectives.
When Kinkaid had had time to estimate the Alaskan situation, he too recommended that Attu, not Kiska, be the first objective. He was evidently influenced by the inability to get adequate shipping (in particular, attack transports and attack cargo carriers), and by intelligence reports which showed that Attu could be taken more easily with a smaller force. Work on Kiska planning was abandoned for the time being, and the joint staff was directed to begin a study of Attu.
Besides those forces already assigned to the Alaskan theater, Nimitz made available Battleship Division Two (Idaho, Nevada, and Pennsylvania), Cruiser Division One (less the Randolph and Salt Lake City), Destroyer Squadrons One and Fourteen, of 16 destroyers and 4 attack transports. The only attack cargo carriers available would have to be withdrawn from the South Pacific, and this was disapproved. Later, to alleviate the small-boat situation, a number of landing craft were delivered to the Army in San Francisco. The Perida, the only Army ship to accompany the assault force, carried 1 LCM and 10 LCV's.
The secrecy surrounding the early planning of the Attu operation (LANDCRAB) proved detrimental in loading the transports on the west coast. Commanding officers were called to conferences on loading plans without being acquainted with the mission. Only a few knew that Alaska was the destination. Winter clothing was secreted aboard ships; as a diversion, medical officers were directed to give lectures on diseases and sanitation in the tropics.
In loading the attack transports too much emphasis was placed on supplies for occupation forces and not enough on combat supplies. Admiral Rockwell remarked in his action report on the Attu landings: "The time has come for combat troop organizations to realize that landing on territory occupied by the enemy means a campaign and not an occupation, and that the first days following such a landing will see them involved in action in which the fighting tools of war have first priority."
A large amount of cargo in addition to that originally agreed upon was sent to the docks at San Diego and San Francisco and every effort made to cram it aboard without regard to consequences. This naturally resulted in confusion and delay in unloading at the objective. In some cases high explosives were loaded in the same portion of the ship as gasoline. This could have been disastrous had any of the ships been hit.
The task organization as finally constituted was made up of Task Forces Sixteen and Fifty-one, of more than 60 vessels of all types, including 2 Canadian destroyer escorts. The aircraft also included 28 RCAF fighter planes. Some changes were made after the Attu landings, notably the addition of the battleships New Mexico, Mississippi, and Tennessee; the heavy cruisers Indianapolis, Salt Lake City, and Portland; several destroyers; and the tankers Neosho, Pecos, and later the Schuylkill. With the exception of the assault contingent (Task Force Fifty-one), all vessels had been either operating in the Alaskan area or had been diverted to it prior to 1 May. Task Force Fifty-one left the west coast late in April and
reached Cold Bay, Alaska, on the 30th. Here final arrangements for the operation and logistics were completed, and the force sailed to the point of attack 4 May.
Because of bad weather, D-day for Attu, scheduled for 7 May, was postponed until the 11th. A dense fog on the 10th caused considerable difficulty in lining up ships for the approach. The destroyer Macdonough and the light minelayer Sicard collided. Their loss to the operation was a severe handicap, as the Sicard was to have been used as a boat-control ship and the Macdonough personnel had been trained for fire support. Sicard took Macdonough in tow and proceeded to Adak. Tatnuck, an old ocean tug, was dispatched from Adak to meet the two vessels and take Macdonough in tow. On arrival at Adak both ships went alongside the Black Hawk for repairs to enable them to make the journey to a west coast navy yard. The oiler Tippecanoe towed Macdonough back to the United States, while Sicard was able to proceed under her own power.
Foul weather conditions prevented the fleet tug Ute - the only tug to accompany the assault force - from assisting during the early phases of the landings on D-day, as she was unable to take station for the final approach because of lack of suitable radar equipment. The following day she went to the assistance of the Army transport Perida, which hit a pinnacle in shifting anchorage. The Perida was beached, and salvage and unloading operations proceeded simultaneously.
A shortage of landing craft was soon evident. In the Massacre Bay area it was necessary to shift to one transport landing craft assigned to another, to augment the boats available for landing a complete combat team. The dense fog made it extremely difficult for the boats to locate the designated transports, and many of them became lost for long periods before they finally reached their destinations. The landing craft proved too fragile to withstand the rugged conditions, and the equipment was not substantial enough, despite the fact that a few LST's and LCT(5)'s had been sent to Alaska previously to test their ability in that theater. In addition to the immense amount of labor required to keep their hulls in proper condition, there was a shortage of spare parts, particularly engineheads, cylinder liners, pistons, and starters. On 23 May General Landrum, the landing-force commander, urgently requested Admiral Kinkaid to send tugs and barges to Attu to replace the small boats, which were "deteriorating rapidly."
At the outset both the fuel situation and the bombardment ammunition supply gave Admiral Kinkaid some concern. However, no critically serious shortage developed in either case.
Because of the weather, air spot could not be depended upon. In consequence an enormous amount of ammunition from our bombardment ships failed to knock out the Japanese artillery and antiaircraft emplacements. On the morning of 14 May Admiral Rockwell informed Colonel Culin, commanding the northern troops, that there was naval ammunition for one more attack and that time was vital. By afternoon the battleships Idaho and Nevada had expended all their high-capacity 14-inch ammunition, and in view of the threat from enemy submarines they were ordered to proceed northward, refuel certain destroyers, and await orders. By evening of 15 May the Pennsylvania reported her H.C. ammunition exhausted, and she too moved seaward. The destroyer Phelps then took over in the Holtz Bay area and the Abner Read in the Massacre Bay area. Provision was made to replenish the Phelps' ammunition from other destroyers, from which she was able to obtain 1,120 rounds of 5-inch .38-caliber. The destroyers Meade, Farragut, Edwards, and Hull were prepared to give additional fire support if necessary. On the 17th the Pennsylvania gave the Abner Read 875 rounds of 5-inch .38-caliber before withdrawing. The destroyers Ammen and Aylwin were also instructed to deliver gunfire if ordered. Meanwhile, the ammunition ship Shasta had arrived at Adak 8 May with replacement.
Ashore on 18 May the landing-force commander asked that replacement ammunition be sent from Adak, as the 105 millimeter was running low. At the same time he reported that considerable Japanese had been captured. Kinkaid answered this by stating that half the reserve ammunition at Adak was being forwarded, and that 5,000 additional rounds of 105 millimeter were available in the transport Fillmore.
As for fuel, Admiral Kinkaid notified Commander Northwest Sea Frontier and Commander Alaskan Sector on 13 May of the necessity of a quick turn-around of all available tankers. He further inquired whether a fuel shortage in the Seattle area required that tankers proceed to San Francisco or San Pedro. Once again that old bugaboo of the uncertainty of the fuel-oil situation raised its ugly head. The reply on 14 May confirmed the shortage and stated that the Tippecanoe, returning for reloading, was being diverted to San Francisco instead of putting in to Puget Sound. On the 19th Kinkaid requested that the oiler Guadalupe at San Pedro make a quick turn-around as "the logistic situation in this area does not make any delay feasible."
Fueling of Task Force Fifty-one, which had left San Pedro and San Francisco on 23 and 25 April, respectively, was done at Cold Bay by the Neches which had accompanied the group. On 3 May she was damaged
by grounding on leaving Cold Bay and, after pumping out her remaining fuel at Kodiak, had to be withdrawn to Puget Sound for repairs.
The fueling of the supporting task groups - Task Group 16.6 (Admiral McMorris), with four cruisers and five destroyers; and Task Group 51.1 (Admiral Kingman), three battleships, one escort carrier, and seven destroyers--was done at sea on 2, 3, and 9 May and subsequently on the 15th, 16th, and 17th by the Neosho. The Pecos (she and the Neosho were new vessels named in memory of the Neosho sunk in the Coral Sea and the Pecos sunk south of Java) fueled Task Group 16.6 at sea on the 21st, and the following day effected rendezvous with Task Group 16.7 for fueling. She was relieved by the Neosho, and after servicing the destroyers Phelps and Meade and the transport St. Mihiel at Adak, pumped her remaining fuel into the Platte, which had arrived from San Pedro on the 20th. She sailed on the 26th for San Pedro to reload.
Neither the Neosho nor Pecos is listed in the Operation Plan LANDCRAB, but this is probably because they were not assigned to the task force until 22 April, before which date the plan was probably printed and ready for distribution. It is perhaps because of this omission that the task-force commander likewise overlooked them, and when the Neches had to be withdrawn for repairs felt the fuel situation to be more serious than it proved to be. From 5 May until September, Neosho and Pecos serviced the task forces at sea and at anchor, often in thick weather.
During that period the Pecos made 4 trips and the Neosho 3 trips to San Pedro (Adak to San Pedro, 2,704 miles), bringing on each trip 95,000 barrels of fuel, 80 drums of lubricating oils, 150 cylinders of bottled gases, about 95 tons of provisions, and about 300,000 gallons of aviation gasoline, besides any additional deck cargo they could handle, such as airplanes or boats. About 8 SBD-5 Douglas scout bombers could be carried by the big tankers. These two ships alone in a total of 7 trips from May to September carried nearly 700,000 barrels of fuel to the Aleutians, nearly 700 tons of provisions, about 2,100,000 gallons of aviation gasoline, more than 500 barrels of lubricants, and numerous smaller items. That is a brief summary for 2 tankers, but a number of others were making regular trips during the period. The Tippecanoe, Platte, Guadalupe, Neches, Cuyama, Ramapo, Brazos, Schuylkill, Neshanic, Saranac, and the commercial tanker Fort Moultrie jointly made about 27 trips, adding a total of about 2,545,000 barrels of fuel to the 665,000 delivered by Pecos and Neosho, making in round figures well over 3 million barrels for the May to September supply. While this was
inconsequential in comparison to what the carrier striking forces in the Pacific were using, and a mere drop in the bucket to what was later used in the Central Pacific, it was at that time, considering the long haul and the shortage of tankers, a matter of some logistic magnitude.
The storage in shore tanks was small, and most of it not yet in operation. At Kodiak there were two 10,000-barrel tanks; at Dutch Harbor, more; but not all of this was available during May-September 1943. Four storage tanks there had been knocked out during the Japanese raids in June 1942. There was also a small storage at Akutan, an old whaling station converted for fueling use, with a capacity of about 32,000 barrels. At Adak it was planned to have tanks at both Andrew Lagoon and at Sand Bay on Great Sitkin Island, 20 miles to the east, but at this time neither was completed. The oilers not only brought fuel to the task forces but furnished many provisions, all bottled gases, most of the Diesel oil, gave the small ships their depth charges at sea, delivered nearly half the mail, gave canteen stores and ice cream to the small ships, and took off many of the sick and emergency cases.
The record of the Neosho illustrates such activities. She reached Kuluk Bay, Adak, 8 May 1943, and unloaded a considerable quantity of stores, drum oils, and aviation gasoline to the air station. A number of small craft were fueled and provisioned in the anchorage. On the 13th she sailed to make rendezvous at sea with Admiral Giffen's Task Group 16.7. On the 15th she supplied the heavy cruisers Wichita, San Francisco, and Louisville, and the destroyers Balch, Mustin, Hughes, and Morris with 22,166 barrels of fuel, 19,423 pounds of provisions, 74,488 candy bars, and 7,500 packs of cigarettes. The next day she fueled Task Group 16.6 (Admiral McMorris), giving the light cruisers Santa Fe, Detroit, Richmond, and Raleigh, and the destroyers Bancroft, Frazier, Caldwell, and Gansevoort 24,205 barrels of fuel, 63,485 pounds of provisions, acetylene and oxygen cylinders (not counted), 9,360 candy bars, and 11,500 packs of cigarettes.
Meeting Admiral Kingman's Task Group 51.1 the next day, she gave the Nevada, Idaho, and Hull 35,061 barrels of fuel, 52,511 pounds of provisions, 12,000 candy bars, 16,000 packages of cigarettes, and miscellaneous items, including lubricating oils. Returning to Adak net day, 18 May, she went alongside the commercial tanker Fort Moultrie for cargo; remained at Kuluk Bay 4 days fueling vessels; topped off cargo from the Cuyama; and sailed 26 May to meet Task Group 16.6, which she gave 21,949 barrels of fuel, 32,650 pounds of provisions, acetylene, oxygen, lubricating oil, cigarettes, and candy. The next day, 28 May, she met Admiral R.M. Griffen's Task Group 16.12 and gave the Mississippi
12,993 barrels of fuel and 500 gallons of aviation gasoline. To the New Mexico she brought 9,033 barrels of fuel and 1,000 gallons of aviation gasoline. The destroyers Dale, Monaghan, and Farragut received, respectively, 810 barrels of oil and 4,750 pounds of food; 886 barrels of fuel, 100 pounds of food, and 1 cylinder of Freon gas, and 1,226 pounds of food and 1 cylinder of oxygen.
On returning to Adak on the 29th she put into the oiler Platte 34,452 barrels of fuel oil, 67 drums of lubricants, 30 cylinders of CO2 gas, 9 cylinders of Freon gas, 45 cylinders of oxygen, miscellaneous depth charges, pistols, boosters, and detonators. On the 30th she sailed for San Pedro, reloaded, and returned to Kuluk Bay 20 June to begin servicing all over again. This was only a little more than a month's activity for one oiler, and by no means represents an unusual case. These ships made service their mission, and they gave unsparingly and efficiently. The services they rendered at sea clearly showed that much more than oil could be transferred from ship to ship. They showed the way in the technique of supplying at sea which led to the formation of Service Squadron Six in the winter of 1945. Its establishment was merely a question of awaiting the availability of suitable ships to carry sufficient "other than oil" types of supplies.
The bulk of the provisions for the Alaskan-Aleutian sector was supplied by three provisions ships, Bridge, Antigua, and the merchant ship Platano formerly operated by the United Fruit Company. Some foodstuffs were supplied to the ships of the task forces by direct contact while in port, others by storage barges which had been stocked from the provisions ships. So far as having enough to eat was concerned, provisions were never any considerable problem; but to obtain the amount of fresh and frozen foods the ships wanted was entirely out of the question. Throughout the war there were never enough to keep them stocked to their liking. The days of dry stores, bully beef, and canned foods were not relished by our crews. So at a great deal of effort and expense, ships with refrigeration plants were sent with fresh and frozen foods at every opportunity. Since there were insufficient "reefers" to meet the demands, the tankers supplemented them as much as possible by carrying what they could in excess of their own needs.
At first, Commander North Pacific had had a few task groups made up of battleships, cruisers, destroyers, and some submarines, for bombardment and patrol activities from the summer of 1942 on, and these received such maintenance services as Kodiak, Dutch Harbor, and Adak could afford. For any major repair or overhaul, or for underwater work,
it was necessary to send ships back to Seattle, San Francisco, or San Pedro. In the spring of 1943, when plans were under way to retake Attu and Kiska, the destroyer tenders Black Hawk and Markab were sent to Dutch Harbor. They soon moved forward to Adak, Black Hawk in mid-April, Markab at the end of May. Vessels of all types were serviced by these two, with temporary repairs also for those which had to go back home for major repairs or drydocking.
In July 1943 the repair barge YR-38 was towed from Dutch Harbor to Adak, and in early August went on to Attu as plans shaped up for the Kiska operation. During July, Commandant Thirteenth Naval District recommended to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations that the drydock YFD-22 be transferred from Kodiak to Adak, and that ARD-6, which had reached Dutch Harbor 15 June, remain there for the time being. YFD-22 could provide much needed docking for LST's at Adak, besides taking some of the burden from the Black Hawk and Markab. YFD-22, towed by the tugs Oriole and Tatnuck reached Adak 25 July.
Probably the busiest service vessels in the Aleutians were the tugs Ute, Tatnuck, Oriole and Cree. The latter did not arrive until after the Attu landings, but the other three were constantly on the move and when not hauling equipment or landing craft from one base to another were assisting some stranded vessel. Such a scarcity of tugs existed at this time that Admiral Kinkaid ordered that none leave the area. The transport Arthur Middleton, badly damaged by grounding in the January 1943 landings on Amchitka, was directed to wait at Dutch Harbor until the Cree and James Griffith, bringing the ARD-6 from the United States, arrived on 15 June, when she would be taken in tow by these two on their return trip. After delivering the Arthur Middleton the tugs reported back to Dutch Harbor for Aleutian operation by mid-July.
The main part of Task Force Fifty-one returned to the west coast as soon as the troops were ashore at Attu with their supplies and equipment. Admiral Rockwell and staff returned to San Diego in the transport Zeilin, and immediately began to initiate plans for operations against Kiska. Many lessons were to be learned from Attu, and plans proceeded with that in mind. The Pennsylvania, flagship of Admiral Rockwell at Attu, was undergoing conversion at Puget Sound to fit her as headquarters ship for the coming operation. Consequently, after making preliminary plans, Admiral Rockwell boarded the transport U.S. Grant 22 July for passage to Adak. The Pennsylvania was directed to proceed to Adak early in August on completion of her overhaul. Here final plans for Kiska were coordinated.
Meanwhile, from the seizure of Attu until the middle of August the ships of ComNorPac guarded and supplied Attu while continuing the softening up of Kiska. An airfield was immediately begun in the Massacre Bay area on Attu, and another, previously started by the Japanese on Alexei Point, was rapidly put into operation. Nearby, on the small flat island of Shemya, a medium-bomber field was completed 18 July. This was needed because of the many losses due to fog when the mountain-obstructed fields on other islands were used.
Kiska was known to be more strongly defended, and therefore was bombed by air and bombarded by ships to much greater extent than was Attu. Ammunition dumps of fairly large size had been established at Adak, but there was still a limited quantity of high-capacity projectiles. The Shasta, as before, remained at Adak to replenish ammunition for the Kiska forces. A considerable number of aerial bombs were stored at Amchitka. The battleships Tennessee, New Mexico, and Idaho, with cruisers and destroyers based at Adak, conducted preliminary sweeps and bombarded the Japanese positions on Kiska during July and August. These vessels were serviced by oiling from tankers, at sea or in port, and with ammunition at Adak.
One such bombardment of Kiska occurred 2 August, when Task Groups 16.6 (Richmond, Raleigh, Detroit, Salt Lake City, Indianapolis, Gansevoort, Frazier, Edwards, and Meade) and 16.7 (Tennessee, Idaho, Phelps, Dale, and Anderson) shelled the island in two places. The estimated ammunition expended in less than an hour's firing was 120 rounds of 14-inch, 200 of 8-inch, 600 of 6-inch, and 1,400 of 5-inch. Ten such dual bombardments were executed between 2 and 15 August. The task groups, again under the supreme command of Kinkaid, now a vice admiral, were much the same as for Attu. Captain Buchanan's transport group was considerably enlarged, and a large landing-craft group under command of Captain Robert Bolton was added.
The rearrangements required very little change in the servicing group, now designated as Task Group 16.13. Most of the oilers which had supplied the Attu forces continued through the summer to deliver their cargo in anticipation of the final drive on Kiska. Ships which made one or more trips during this period were the Platte, Ramapo, Fort Moultrie (merchant ship), Cuyama, Brazos, Neosho, Neches, Pecos, Saranac, Guadalupe, Tippecanoe, Schuylkill, and Neshanic. Some discharged their cargoes immediately and returned to San Pedro. Others, coming from the west coast, operated in the Alaskan area, fueling ships at sea and discharging oil to port storage tanks before returning for reloading.
D-day for the seizure of Kiska was set as 15 August. Landings proceeded on schedule, with accompanying naval gunfire and air coverage. As at Attu, low visibility proved a handicap to operations ashore and afloat. Though our forces failed to establish contact with the Japanese on D-day, it was generally thought that they had well-entrenched positions in the hills, and considering their failure to defend the beaches at Attu, which resulted in severe fighting on high ground, plans for landings on D-plus-1 went ahead as scheduled. However, ammunition for fire-support ships was reduced about 50 percent.
Though more than 34,000 troops participated, the seizure of Kiska could not be considered a combat operation, but the planning, raining, and landing phases were conducted with full expectation of strong enemy resistance. The operation medical plan had been worked out on the basis of an estimated 9,000 casualties, which was later believed justifiable had the island been defended.
Despite the absence of the Japanese, some few casualties to our forces did occur. In the early morning hours of 18 August the Abner Read hit a mine while on antisubmarine patrol. Her stern was blown off from frame 170 aft. She was towed by the Ute to Adak and placed alongside the destroyer tender Markab for temporary repairs prior to heading for the west coast. Her casualties were 1 dead, 70 missing, and 34 wounded and hospitalized.
This Kiska operation (COTTAGE) was of some value in the practice it gave. Some lessons of what to do and what not to do were learned. Admiral Kinkaid commented: "The fact that the Japanese chose to evacuate rather than stay and fight, must in itself stand as the reward for the officers and men of the United States and Canadian forces involved." Admiral Nimitz commented similarly: "The disappointment of our forces at the enemy's escape without engagement is fully appreciated. It should be realized, however, that the effort of preparation for this operation and the diversion of forces to it were by no means wasted, since our experience and proficiency were improved thereby; and the evacuation without resistance which was forced upon the enemy not only saved us inevitable heavy losses, but released ships, men, and
equipment for other theaters much earlier than would otherwise have been the case."
With the reoccupation of Kiska the Aleutian campaign ended. Thenceforward to the end of the war, operations there were principally a matter of routine building up of shore facilities, with a raid now and then on the Kuriles. The scene henceforth shifted to the Central Pacific.
Soon afterward Vice Admiral F.J. Fletcher relieved Vice Admiral Kinkaid, who was ordered to the Southwest Pacific to assume command of General MacArthur's naval force, the Seventh Fleet.
Operation GALVANIC (the Gilbert Islands)
Mobile Service Squadrons Begin Growing - Service Squadron Four at Funafuti
By fall of 1943, carriers were sufficiently numerous in the Pacific to begin attacks all along the enemy's eastern defense perimeter. (Until then our submarines had been carrying most of the war to the enemy in the Central Pacific.) For a start, plans were made to seize bases in the Gilbert Islands. The operation was known as GALVANIC. The assumption was that we needed airfields to contribute to future operations against the enemy. Vice Admiral Spruance's Central Pacific Force was therefore assigned the following mission: This force will seize, occupy, and develop Makin, Tarawa, and Abemama, and will vigorously deny Nauru to the enemy, in order to gain control of the Gilbert Islands and to prepare for operations against the Marshalls.
Admiral Spruance's force was divided into three major groups. The total number of ships involved was 179, not including support vessels such as oilers and other naval auxiliaries operating at Funafuti, Espiritu, Nandi, and at sea, and commercial tankers, etc., all of which contributed to the success of this operation. The main divisions were the Assault Force of Rear Admiral R.K. Turner; Carrier Force, Rear Admiral C.A. Pownall; Defense Force and Shore Based Air, Rear Admiral J.H. Hoover. The Assault Force itself was divided into Northern Attack, under Turner, and Southern, under Rear Admiral H.W. Hill. Each consisted of a transport group, a fire-support group, air-support or carrier group, mine-sweeper group, landing force, and LST and garrison groups.
Admiral Pownall's main Carrier Force was in four groups" Interceptor, Northern Carrier, Southern Carrier, and Relief Carrier, commanded
respectively by Rear Admirals Pownall, A.W. Radford, A.E. Montgomery, and F.C. Sherman. The assaults began on 20 November 1943, and Makin, Tarawa, and Abemama atolls were occupied. This move involved the largest force of ships yet assembled in the Pacific and required somewhat more logistic consideration than previous operations.
Admiral Nimitz, in his "Operations in the Pacific Ocean Area for November 1943," stated that the GALVANIC operation involved 116 combatant vessels and 75 auxiliaries, a total of 191. During September the Gilberts operation was largely in a stage of planning, organization, and assembling of men and supplies. Early in October specific training began. The vessels of the Assault Force were widely dispersed, but were brought together in two main groups, the Northern in the Hawaiian Area, the Southern in the New Hebrides. The former left Pearl Harbor 9 November, the Southern sailing form Efate 12 November. Each received its initial supplies and services at the point of departure.
These initial loads consisted, for both combat and auxiliary ships, of 120 days' supply of dry provisions for ship's company and 45 days' supply for embarked troops; fresh provisions to capacity; clothing for 90 days; ship's store, 90 days; general stores, 120 days; fuel and ammunition to authorized capacity. Generally speaking, each group refueled at sea while en route to the bombardment and landing rendezvous in each one's area, and each was accompanied by its own tankers. The Northern Attack Force was oiled by the Suamico, Commander R.E. Butterfield, and the Schuylkill, Commander F.E. Hardesty; the Southern by the Neches, Lieutenant Commander H.N. Hansen, and the Tallulah, Commander J.B. Goode. With the carrier groups, the Lackawanna, Commander A.L. Toney, and the Neosho, Commander D.G. McMillan, fueled the Northern force; the Neshanic, Commander A.C. Allen, oiled the Southern, and Admiral Sherman's Relief Carrier Group was cared for by the Tallulah.
Battleships and destroyers of the Carrier Interceptor and Northern Carrier Groups had been at Nandi, Tomba Ko, and Viti Levu, all in the Fijis, prior to 7 November. The oiler Guadalupe came to Nandi 4 November, replenished her cargo from the commercial tanker Fort Dearborn, and then fueled the Washington and Fletcher. The Neches fueled the Maryland, the Portland, Mobile, and 4 others, went to Nandi, and filled up from the commercial oiler Pennsylvania Sun. The fueling anchorage was Lautoka, on the west coast of Viti Levu. The Platte, Commander C.H. Sigel, fueled the Indiana and 2 destroyers. Not all the oiler operations are mentioned, but enough to show something of this phase of
logistic support. During the GALVANIC operation the 15 fleet oilers operated under a Task Group 16 designation (ComServPac) in task units of 3 each at designated areas for fueling at sea.
In preparation for GALVANIC, the Boreas, Commander E.E. Burgess, made issues of her fresh and frozen provisions at Havannah Harbor in the New Hebrides from 27 October to 10 November, and from 11 to 18 November in Segond Channel at Espiritu Santo. She then returned to Oakland, California, to replenish her cargo of fresh, frozen, and dry provisions.
During the preparatory period for GALVANIC, the idea of giving logistic support from floating mobile bases had been approved, but it was not until November 1943 that the first unit, Squadron Four, under Captain Scull, came into active operation. It reached Funafuti in the Ellice Islands 21 November for services subsequent to D-day. Makin LST Groups One and Two and Tarawa LST Groups One and Two proceeded to Funafuti for servicing. The operation plan required that battle-damage-repair facilities be available there.
Ammunition replacement was directed to be made from ships in the Samoa-Ellice area, but no names were given and no places designated in the logistic annex of the operation order.
The Mobile Service Squadrons
Early in the fall of 1943 Admiral Nimitz ordered Commander Service Force to organize two mobile service squadrons. The idea was that as it advanced across the Pacific the fleet would base on one, capture its next objective, and thereupon bring up the second. It would base on the second until still another forward area had been gained, whereupon the first service squadron would leapfrog over the second, and so on alternately. As will be seen later, this scheme was not used; but two service squadrons were nevertheless organized.
As the plans were developing for the Gilbert Islands campaign it was thought that Funafuti atoll, 8 degrees south of the Equator, would offer a submarine-protected anchorage nearer the area of attack than either Pearl Harbor or Espiritu Santo, and would be desirable or perhaps even badly needed. It was to be a fueling anchorage and a place for holding in readiness such naval forces as might be required if the Japanese sent out any great naval strength in defense. It was also to be a place of retirement for damaged or crippled ships until temporary repairs enabled
them either to return to service or to proceed to a navy yard or base for complete restoration.
Vice Admiral Calhoun designated his chief of staff, Captain H.M. Scull, as commander of the first service squadron to be formed, Squadron Four, to be based at Funafuti. It was commissioned 1 November 1943 and consisted of the destroyer tender Cascade, Captain Samuel Ogden, flagship, and 23 other vessels ranging from the repair ships Phaon and Vestal down through tugs and patrol craft to fuel-oil barges and 500-ton lighters. Captain Ogden was chief staff officer in addition to his duties in commanding his ship. Rear Admiral Hoover had been ordered as Commander Aircraft Central Pacific to take station at Funafuti in the large seaplane tender Curtiss, which served the planes of Patrol Squadrons Fifty-three and Seventy-two. He was also senior officer present afloat, which actually made Scull's squadron a part of his command.
The organizational scheme accorded with Admiral Spruance's operation campaign order. This required that Commander Service Squadron Four establish and maintain an mobile supply base at Funafuti to supply the forces engaged; also that Four's assigned ships and others placed under its operational control should conform to the directives, plans, and needs of Commander Central Pacific Force (Spruance). Operational control of harbor facilities in Funafuti was delegated to Scull by Admiral Hoover. The same command relationships were in force for the Marshalls campaign and the seizure of Kwajalein and Majuro; but in addition to Service Squadron Four, mention was made in Spruance's operation order that Squadron Ten was being assembled, and that both Four and Ten were under the operational control of Commander Defense Force and Land Based Air, Admiral Hoover, who later became Commander Forward Area, Central Pacific.
Funafuti, Ellice Islands
On 12 November 1943 the Curtiss, and on the 21st the Cascade, reached Funafuti. The former remained until 31 December, when she went on to Tarawa, the Cascade staying until February 1944. During the November-February period the Cascade, assisted by a rather limited assortment of yard craft, serviced 10 destroyers, 8 destroyer escorts, 6 landing ships (tank), 6 landing craft (tank), and various smaller types. The repair ship Ajax, Captain J.L. Brown, was present under temporary
control of Service Squadron Four, and made repairs to LST, LCT, and PC types. The Diesel-driven repair ship Luzon, Commander E.R. Runquist, repaired landing craft, and the Ranier, Commander R.B. Miller, issued ammunition to the heavy cruisers Chester and Pensacola. On 22 November the Vestal, Commander W.T. Singer, after a year's service at Espiritu Santo where she did great work on war-damage repairs, came to Funafuti. Three days later she was alongside the small carrier Independence to make emergency repairs - the first war-damage repair undertaken by Squadron Four.
The Independence, torpedoed 20 November (D-day), her after engine room flooded, had a ruptured fire main, which left the after part of the ship without water pressure. Her No. 1 shaft vibrated and broke and had to be secured. Submersible pumps kept the after fireroom under control, though flooded. A magazine was also flooded. After the transfer of aircraft and spare parts, and the removal of ammunition and gasoline from the cripple, the Vestal removed damaged protruding plating, dewatered and made tight the third deck, installed pipe jumpers to provide firemain pressure in the after part of the ship, and removed some blister plating. Her divers removed No. 1 propeller, and secured Nos. 2 and 3 propellers together by a cable to prevent them from turning when the ship was under way. On 7 December the Independence sailed for Pearl, and thence to the United States for permanent repairs.
The Vestal remained at Funafuti doing various repair jobs, large and small, of every description, including boiler repairs on the Massachusetts, gunsights on the South Dakota, radar work for the Washington, watertight doors for the Alabama, and putting back into operation a coding machine on the North Carolina. The propellers of the carrier Bunker Hill were inspected by divers. The Vestal repaired the air pumps of the heavy cruiser Chester. These and dozens of trifling jobs, none significant in themselves but all going toward making the difference between efficient operation and high morale and inefficient operation and lowered morale, kept the Vestal busy until she sailed for Majuro on 30 January 1944 to tackle the damage resulting from a collision of the battleships Washington and Indiana and to become a valuable unit of Service Squadron Ten until the end of the war. These activities, of course, were only a part of the varied services rendered by Squadron Four at Funafuti. Maintenance and repair operations there did not involve many large jobs, nor were they so extensive as had been anticipated, and as later proved to be the case in other parts of the Pacific.
Funafuti was not a good place because of the very rough water, which
made boating and servicing difficult for ships and seaplanes. Furthermore, it lacked sufficient land area to make it much more than a very indifferent airplane base. There were no fleet recreation facilities, and while this may not seem important as a logistic item, it was.
As soon as Tarawa was captured, most of the services except those for deep draft battleships and carriers were moved up to the Gilberts. It was soon clear that the enemy was not going to bring his navy out to contend for the Gilberts, and thereafter our heavy ships did not use Funafuti much but backed away to the better bases at Efate, Espiritu, Nandi, and Pearl.
Service Squadron Ten Organizing at Pearl
Relationship of the Service Force Administrative Squadron Eight
While the events just related were going on, Captain W.R. Carter was organizing the second of the mobile service squadrons - Service Squadron Ten - at Pearl Harbor. It was realized from the beginning that the demands of such a group would exceed anything ever before experienced. The requirements would become steadily greater as the drive toward Japan drew farther away from Pearl while enemy resistance stiffened, and as the number of our vessels increased.
The proposed duties of Ten as seen at the time of its organization were:
Service Squadron Ten, a mobile base, will furnish logistic support, including general stores, provisions, fuel, ammunition, maintenance, repair, salvage, and such other services as necessity may dictate in the support of an advanced major fleet anchorage in the Central Pacific Area. It will furnish similar logistic support to Navy and Marine shore-based units not otherwise provided for in the area, as well as Army units which may be prescribed from time to time by the Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas. When Service Squadron Ten or units of it are at an advanced base, it will furnish such services and supplies as any of our armed forces thereat may require and the existing circumstances and capabilities permit.
The Commander Service Squadron Ten is responsible to Commander Service Force, Pacific Fleet, for the accomplishment of the tasks which may be assigned Service Force in advanced areas where the operations of Central Pacific Forces are being conducted. The operations of the squadron will conform to the directives, plans, and needs of Commander Central Pacific Force, with administrative and general direction by Commander Service Force. Vessels will be assigned to Squadron Ten in accordance with need, availability, policy, and directives of higher command. It is anticipated that Commander Central Pacific will designate this unit or certain vessels of it as a task group or groups to function as, when, and where it may be ordered.
The composition of vessels, surface craft, and auxiliary equipment making up or under the operational administration of the Service Squadron will include provisions stores ships or barges, barracks ships, oil tankers, hospital ships, destroyer tenders, hydrographic survey ships, net cargo ships, net tenders, repair ships, pontoon assembly ships, submarine chasers, motor torpedo boats, picket boats, rearming boats, buoy boats, harbor tugs, salvage tugs, self-propelled lighters, ammunition barges, salvage barges, garbage barges, repair barges, floating drydocks, degaussing vessels, floating cranes, salvage vessels, net gate barges, and any other types considered necessary and ordered to the Squadron.
Fleet combatant vessels which Squadron Ten will service will include battleships, cruisers, light, heavy, and antiaircraft, carriers of the fleet, cruiser and escort types, destroyers, destroyer escorts, mine sweepers, LST's, LCI's, and miscellaneous smaller craft. Attack transports, attack cargo, and similar vessels of the assault forces are considered to fall in this classification.
To estimate the vessels, equipment, and personnel closely to meet such requirements there seemed to be no formula; certainly there was not sufficient experience for guidance. It seemed best therefore to make the estimates, and considered guesses, generous. The vessels, the administrative staff of officers, and the enlisted personnel needed were estimated and submitted to various offices for discussion, opinion, advice, and approval. It was fully recognized that this was a new sort of organization which must be flexible and therefore subject to considerable change. However, no one estimated by what could be called even a close guess the amounts the changes would eventually be to handle fleet logistics. For example, in discussing the matter with Commander Destroyers Pacific, his staff estimated that 4 destroyer tenders were needed, but CinCPac staff could only see a maximum of 3, with 2 as a starter. The squadron was not in service a month before it had 3, a month later a fourth, and in May 1945, 9. Three repair ships were estimated as needed, but only 2 were at first assigned, though the third, a new one, was promised if, when commissioned, there seemed to be no more important assignment. That was not much of an estimate when we find that the squadron in May 1945 had 17 of all types, not counting repair barges and salvage and rescue vessels.
Service Squadron Eight
Service Squadron Eight, already mentioned as one of the administrative subdivisions of the Service Force, with its headquarters at Pearl, was of vital importance. Notwithstanding all that has been or still may be said
of the work of Service Squadron Ten, that squadron was to a considerable degree an outpost of Eight. Without the efficient backing of Eight, Ten could never have served the fleet as it did. In the reorganization of August 1942 the duties of Eight were set forth by CinCPac.
(a) The general functions of Service Squadron Eight are the supply, transportation, and distribution of fuel oil, Diesel oil, lubricating oils, gasoline, provisions, general stores, and ammunition to the fleet and bases.
(b) All Service Force oilers, provision ships, stores issue ships, and ammunition ships are assigned to Service Squadron Eight. Chartered tankers and chartered provision ships are also assigned to this squadron, and, at Pearl Harbor, self-propelled barges and small craft are included for the delivery to ships of fuels, provisions, and stores.
(c) Commander Service Squadron Eight is directly responsible for the administration and operation of the Squadron to best meet the logistic requirements of the fleet and bases and to comply with directives of the Commander Service Force.
(d) Requests by ships at Pearl Harbor for fuels, provisions, stores, and water will be made direct to Commander Service Squadron Eight, except where otherwise directed by current instructions.
At the end of March 1943, when Captain (later Commodore) A.H. Gray became Commander Service Squadron Eight, the unit had 44 vessels, with the promise that 18 fuel-oil and gasoline tankers were to report within the near future. Of the 44 commissioned and in service, 4 were ammunition ships, 6 carried provisions, 3 were small general-cargo vessels, 1 was a general stores issue, 3 were hospital transports of the evacuation type, and the remaining 27 fleet tankers. A year later, shortly after Ten had started operations at Majuro, Squadron Eight had a total of no less than 430 vessels assigned to it, though of that number 121 were operated by SoPac and other commands. These ships included everything from ammunition carriers and oilers to small craft, water and garbage barges, and lighters.
Squadron Eight was organized and functioned on the basis of the old-time squadron. At the top was Commander Service Squadron Eight, supported by a chief staff officer who had various sections to carry out all normal squadron functions: Operations, communications, material (maintenance), and supply. This latter was divided further into four divisions to handle fuel, provisions, general stores, and freight. The flag secretary also acted as personnel officer who had mail and files under him. The operations and communications sections were not wholly self-sufficient as they relied on Service Force operations and communications for such basic functions as writing operation orders and handling incoming and outgoing radio traffic. Routine and surprise inspections of
Eight's vessels were carried out under the operations officer, whenever the locations and missions of the ships made this practical.
The first time in the Central Pacific that large numbers of fleet units remained away from permanent bases for long periods was during the Gilberts campaign. Up to this time oilers had fueled units at sea to increase their steaming radius on strikes by task forces or groups. But now, with this operation, the time at sea was to be until the assignment or mission was completed, which of course was for an indeterminable period.
Fuel was still the major item transferred at sea. To assist in this, the Chief of Staff of ComServRon 8, Captain E. E. Paré, went forward as a task-unit commander. Ships were spotted in groups of 3 at prescribed points, and 28 fleet oilers shuttled back and forth between these points and Pearl Harbor. In addition to petroleum products they carried a limited amount of provisions and other stores which were transferred to the ships being oiled, both being in motion. Such transfers met with enthusiastic support, especially from the smaller ships, and this success again showed the potentialities of transfers at sea on a much larger scale. Discussions arose as to the advisability of making tankers general-issue ships to a greater extent; but it was concluded that while they should continue to make issues of provisions and general and other stores to as great an extent as possible, their primary mission of fueling should not be sacrificed or delayed in any way.
During the Gilberts operation, fueling at sea was done at predetermined fueling rendezvous which changed daily to avoid confusion and unnecessary radio traffic and to minimize the possibility of submarine attack. For the Marshalls operation, however, the areas around Kwajalein were too small to make this procedure seem practical because of other atolls and enemy-held bases. On the other hand, areas to the eastward of the Marshalls (which could have been used as we used those to the eastward, and later to the westward of the Gilberts) were too far away from Kwajalein. At the insistent recommendation of Admiral Spruance the atoll of Majuro was taken at the commencement of the operation. This was due first to the necessity of getting a base secure from submarine attack for fueling, repairs, etc., and second to the desirability of building additional airfields to protect shipping moving to and from Kwajalein, since the Joint Chiefs of Staff had directed Admiral Nimitz to send the fleet south after the capture of Kwajalein to support Admiral Halsey's operations. As originally planned this would have left Kwajalein ringed with Japanese bases which had their air pipeline back to
Japan intact, and that without the necessity of their fleet support. The change in plans to take Eniwetok cut the pipeline and eliminated a possible build-up of Japanese air strength in the Marshalls. In addition, the orders for our fleet to go south were canceled after a few small units had left for their destination.
The result was that after fueling en route at certain rendezvous as had been done throughout the Gilberts operation those vessels did their subsequent fueling at Majuro, and to a limited extent within the atoll of Kwajalein.
Prior to 1944 much of the fuel had been transported from the west coast to Pearl Harbor, other bases, and to the fleet, in Navy oilers. Even though tankers of large capacity were reporting every month, the demands on them increased so rapidly that from the Marshall campaign onward the fleet oilers were confined to acting primarily as distribution vessels direct to the fleet ships. The long haul from southern California, and the longer one from the Caribbean through the Panama Canal, was made almost entirely by an endless chain of large commercial tankers, which discharged to the fleet oilers in such anchorages as Majuro, Eniwetok, and Ulithi.
While ammunition ships were assigned to Squadron Eight for administrative control and maintenance, as a practical matter their operation and schedules were under CinCPac gunnery officer who arranged for their loading at west coast depots and coordinated their movements to meet the combatant ships between strikes or at strategic points in the Western Pacific. The need for ammunition of all types became so great that AE-class (cargo capacity 6,000 to 7,000 tons) ships were not available in sufficient numbers, so ten 17-knot Victory ships were commissioned in the Navy and assigned as additional ammunition carriers. As the war drew toward a close, several AK-class cargo ships, with capacity of 4,000 to 5,000 tons in general, were being especially fitted for transferring ammunition at sea. They were intended to serve chiefly with Squadron Six close to the Third or the Fifth Fleet, though they were assigned to the administrative and maintenance control of Squadron Eight.
Special Type Ships Useful
Some of the vessels controlled by Squadron Ten for operations but assigned to Eight for administrative control were types entirely new in design and purpose. Outstanding for the work they performed were 13
large concrete barges, not self-propelled but having substantial Diesel-electric power aboard for refrigeration (some had 3 holds so equipped), cooking, lighting, and minor power requirements; 366 feet long, they crews of about 55 men and 3 officers. These barges permitted the stowage and issue of large quantities of dry provisions, general stores, clothing, small stores, ship's service items, and a substantial amount of medical requisites. On several of the barges there were large bakeries and butcher shops as well as refrigerated storage designed especially to permit small craft and patrol vessels to receive as good a diet and as many so-called luxuries as were furnished on the larger self-contained combat ships. More than 7,000 items were carried. Many of the barges served an average of 600 ships in a typical month. One barge was lost in a typhoon off Saipan, but the remaining 12 served ably until the end of the war, giving Squadron Ten much needed storage space afloat, and releasing a number of self-propelled cargo ships that would either have had to be assigned as station ships or have been materially delayed on each trip by making issues to the fleet.
Not only did the concrete issue barges receive many cargoes packed and sent direct to them, but they were able to take remnants from ships leaving the forward area. The remnants might otherwise have been returned to the west coast for lack of space or facilities to put them on the beach at some new or remote base. The disadvantage of the barges was their need of powerful towing vessels when a major move was undertaken; but in a critical period of the war they furnished facilities and services which otherwise could not have been provided. In addition to the 13 for provisions and supplies, there were others of similar hull design for the bulk storage of fuel oil and gasoline, each holding up to 60,000 barrels.
Another especially designed type was the distilling ship. Water became a major problem in the middle of the largest of all oceans. There was little or no fresh water on many atolls while the demands for it on island with some supply were too great for the local sources. Another major factor in water requirement was the fact that hundreds of small vessels were not equipped with their own distilling apparatus or found their tank capacity insufficient when at sea for extended periods. To supply water, several new tankers of the oiler and gasoline tanker types were employed for more than a year solely in transporting pure water from supply points at Oahu, Guam, and Manus to anchorages where the fleet was temporarily based, such as Eniwetok or Ulithi. In the comparatively short Iwo Jima operation 22,000,000 gallons of water were
supplied to the participating vessels. Toward the end of hostilities special distilling ships were operating. The first two were converted Liberty ships, with distilling capacity of 120,000 gallons a day and storage for 5,040,000 gallons. Larger ships were completed just as the war ended.
A third type of more or less special equipment was a barge which sometimes was unmanned, sometimes carried six to 12 men. These barges varied from 125-ton and 250-ton open lighters to 2,000-ton steel craft, of which there were approximately 70, with large superstructure and a deep hold. This barge fleet developed from a small number of lighters, scows, and barges used by the Navy in 1941 and employed for garbage, scrap, local supplies, and minor repairs at various navy yards and stateside bases. With the outbreak of war the building program was stepped up drastically, and many old barges were purchased from commercial companies. The first ones were towed to the South Pacific by tankers and merchant ships for the most part, as seagoing tugs were needed for more urgent work. The tows stopped en route at Bora Bora in the Society Islands, at Tongatabu in the Tonga group, Tutuila and Upolu in Samoa. Some were lost in storms or as a result of broken tow-lines. Later in the war many pontoon barges were assembled from standardized units or cells held together by prefitted steel beams, angles, rods, etc., nicknamed "jewelry." Some were linked together to form piers. Some barges had "seamule" power units attached and became self-propelled for harbor work. Useful lighters and barges for shipside discharge were made by linking up units of 10 cells long by 4 wide, or larger. Where deep water and good harbors existed, larger and more substantial barges were needed, and the pontoon units were mostly an expedient makeshift. The largest groups were of 500-ton capacity steel barges, 110 feet long; 40 wooden barges, commercially designed and built, 194 feet long, of ship hull model, with a capacity of 1,300 tons in 6 deep holds; and the previously mentioned 2,000-ton steel units. These were excellent for storage, but came to the Pacific with no cranes, booms, or handling gear. Traveling caterpillar cranes on the reinforced top deck, or swing booms, were improvised and installed, but valuable time was lost in making such installations and the best of them were never quite satisfactory. Barges in the forward area without efficient handling gear were of only limited value.
Supplies moved across the broad reaches of the Pacific largely in Squadron Eight ships and barges, or in ships under its control. Then they passed to operational control of Squadron Ten in the forward area anchorages recently set up or taken from the enemy. In spite of the
broad functions originally assigned to Squadron Eight and the manner in which the squadron had expanded in number of ship, logistic planning and the complexity of the war increased even faster. The first change in Squadron Eight's internal organization came in July 1944 when, at the request of the Army-Navy Petroleum Board in Washington, a separate Area Petroleum Office was established within Eight, its supply officer, Captain C.F. House, also becoming area petroleum officer for the Pacific Ocean Areas as well as remaining fleet fuel officer. By December the magnitude of this office was such as to warrant its separation from Squadron Eight because much of its work concerned high-octane gasoline used primarily by the Army, and it was desirable to have the Army Air Force represented in the Area Petroleum Office. Ultimately, Army staffed about one third of it. This change in oil logistics removed from Squadron Eight the responsibility for several hundred merchant tankers and much of the future planning, but all fleet oilers remained within Eight, as did local fuel distribution at Pearl Harbor and throughout the Hawaiian and so-called "Line Islands."
Next to fuel, and probably parallel with it in importance, was the responsibility for provisioning the fleet. For the first 2 years of the war all ships carrying fresh, frozen, and dry provisions were ships within Eight. Early in 1944, when the logistic requirements grew faster than the squadron, War Shipping Administration vessels were allocated to carry provisions, being placed under the operational control of Eight. This was essential for coordination of their schedules with those of the squadron refrigerator and issue ships. Before the war and until the campaign in the Central Pacific was stepped up late in 1943 and early in 1944, provision ships had carried mixed cargoes or refrigerated and dry provisions for a balanced issue to ships needing foodstuffs. As the fleet demands increased there was a scarcity of refrigerated ships, so it was necessary for each to carry the absolute maximum of frozen and chilled items. This cut down their space for dry provisions. The only solution was to employ additional cargo ships, with little or no refrigerated space, to carry dry provisions, planning their schedules so that they would be at the same anchorage or bases as the refrigerated ships in order to make balanced issues to large numbers of combat vessels. Each dry-provision Liberty ship carried approximately 5,300 tons or 420,000 cubic feet of bulk provisions, clothing, ship's service supplies, and medical items.
With the establishment of the Force Supply Office, the heads of which was also fleet supply officer, more and more of the earlier duties of Squadron Eight were being absorbed by it. The magnitude of the war
carried the supply problem beyond the scope of any one squadron. Coordination of supplies among many activities, not only within the Navy but with the Army and Marine Corps, was essential. The fleet supply officer serving on the staff of CinCPac as well as ComServPac was the logical person in whom such authority for coordination should rest. He was concerned only with supply. The scheduling, planning, and operating of many ships, and their administration, remained in Squadron Eight. There was some duplication and overlapping, but on the whole, through close contact and mutual understanding of the over-all objective, efficient joint schedules were worked out.
As the fleet remained indefinitely away from port (meaning Pearl, principally) following the Marshalls campaign, a great need for special freight deliveries grew up. Ships needed spare parts and specialized equipment not available in the general stores but required by individual ships and specifically ordered by them. At the outset this freight was handled by sending materials to forward bases for future delivery to consignee vessels, via Squadron Eight ships, but meetings and schedules did not always work out as planned. Frequently consignee and carrying vessels neither met nor found a third agency available to make delivery.
The magnitude of the freight handling and the failure of combat ships to return to ports where freight awaited them developed a most unsatisfactory situation. This led to the institution of a special freight service and the eventual assignment in January 1945 of eight medium-size cargo vessels to Squadron Eight to move fleet freight from points of origin to the forward area, and also to move it within the forward area to destinations where final delivery could be made. When congestion at such major bases as Guam and Samar made it unwise or impossible to set freight on the beach, a system of floating storage barges under Squadron Ten was established. This had the advantage of keeping fleet freight mobile and avoiding the danger of setting it on the beach to be forgotten or mixed with base freight, besides lessening requirements for construction of facilities ashore to be later abandoned. In the closing months of the war the transportation section of the Fleet Supply Office took over the responsibility of controlling fleet freight at Pearl Harbor and form the west coast, retaining this and the broader aspects of the supply problem as part of its logistic function.
When the war suddenly ended, Squadron Eight was of a size never contemplated when it was created and commissioned 4 years before. In July 1945 the commissioned ships under its administrative command, and often partially or wholly under its operational control, numbered
365, ranging through every type from big troop-carrying cargo ships down to barges. Besides the 365, 36 of which were still to report, there were 388 barges (92 still to report), noncommissioned but all of them "in service" craft. The growth of the squadron also is indicated by its personnel: 5,000 men in March 1943; more than 65,000 in August 1945. To all these ships and men must be added the merchant vessels, allocated by the War Shipping Administration for transportation of dry provisions, whose schedules had to be coordinated carefully with those of Navy ships in Eight in loading at such ports as San Francisco, Oakland, San Pedro, and Seattle, and in arriving at half a dozen major bases and anchorages in the Western Pacific. On many of these vessels there were Squadron Eight storekeepers and an issuing supply officer.
It is stating only the obvious to say that naval ships cannot fight properly without adequate ammunition, and that speed cannot be made without fuel. For these necessities ships are entirely dependent upon the supply lines. The function of Squadron Eight in the Service Force was to schedule, load, and transport logistic support vital to the forward areas, where it could be distributed to the fleet by the mobile Service Squadron or by the shore bases concerned. In performing this function Squadron Eight was perhaps the most important factor in the whole supply line. It carried out its duties unfailingly, under many difficulties and shortages of all sorts, including shortages of vessels and men. There never was a raid, attack, or full-scale operation which was delayed or handicapped by any failure of Service Squadron Eight, probably the only supply train in the history of warfare with such a record. Thus it can be seen why Service Squadron Ten was so dependent upon Service Squadron Eight, why it was in a sense a distributing outpost of Eight.
Early Composition and Organization of Service Squadron Ten
Ordnance Logistics - Administration of Ordnance Spare Parts and Fleet Ammunition
How many vessels of different types would be required in Squadron Ten to perform outpost duties was a difficult question. It was known, let us say, how much fuel a ship held. It could be figured how much she would burn under given conditions - but no one could tell what those conditions would be. So a high estimate - or what was then considered very high - was made of all conditions governing fuel, ammunition, stores, and maintenance. This included estimated possible losses due to enemy action, an appropriate added factor for safety since the basic estimates were little better than intelligent guesswork. The first assumed requirements of Service Squadron Ten were 20,000 tons of dry storage, 3,500 tons of ammunition storage in 7 covered barges, 495,000 barrels of black fuel oil, 55,000 gallons of aviation gasoline, and 10,000 barrels of Diesel oil. Estimated floating equipment was:
||barracks vessel (to quarter 60 officers and 1,000 men)
||AH hospital ship
||AR large repair ships
||AT ocean-going tugs
||YR repair barges
||YT harbor tugs
||AFD small floating drydock (1,000-ton lift)
||ATR rescue tugs
||ARD medium floating drydock (3,000-ton lift)
||ARS salvage ships
||ABSD large floating drydock (80,000-ton lift)
||salvage barge (to be stocked with beaching gear, pumps, diving gear, underwater cutting gear, etc.)
||AD large destroyer tenders
||AK pontoon assembling ship, with unit set up on board to turn out pontoon lighters (one per day)
||AGS survey ship
||AKN net cargo ship
||YN net tenders
||twenty-ton lifting capacity crane
||AN net layers
||YW water barges
||ten-ton crane on pontoon barge
||SC patrol ships
||YNG pontoon barge gate vessel
||one-hundred-ton self-propelled pontoon barges (all pontoon craft to be made by AK above)
||YG pontoon garbage barges
||LCP and LCM boats
||YSD degaussing barge
||YMS mine sweepers
Distillation of fresh water was already seen as a problem, a problem which lasted until the end of the war, 19 months later. It was desired to have enough oil and ammunition stowage space in old, slow tankers and barges so that the fast oilers and ammunition carriers would not be delayed in their turn-around runs for new supplies. Underwater repairs could not be attempted until floating drydocks arrived, but the repair ships and destroyer tenders would meantime attempt all possible repairs above the water line and divers would do what they could below.
The requirements of personnel and daily creature comforts were not overlooked. From the first it was intended to operate a disbursing office for small craft, boats, and barges; to carry and issue clothing and small stores, with all types of general stores; to develop and supervise recreational and swimming areas on beaches as near as possible to fleet anchorages; to have one or more hospital ships in the area as circumstances required; and to give attention to the sick and wounded at all times. Knowing that local harbor conditions would vary considerably from place to place, the squadron assumed responsibility for laying out and marking definite anchorages and moorings; setting out nets, even to the point of individual ship protection if warranted; for patrolling harbors and entrances, and sweeping for mines if necessary. To provide the fleet with local intership transportation and lighter service was a job in itself when all facilities were afloat. No ships other than transports any longer carried boats, and there were no wharves or piers for supplies, repairs, and other desiderata. It meant water transportation for official business, freight, stores, ammunition, recreation - everything.
When the number of boats listed as needed was noted, there were anguish, doubt, denial, and incredulity. Even when it was shown that in peacetime, boats carried by the carriers, battleships, heavy cruisers, and destroyers of the Fifth Fleet totaled 592, and the total of all types asked for by Squadron Ten was less than 100, there was still reluctance to concede them. Even after the figures were admitted to be correct it was never possible to get all the boats there should have been.
Service Squadron Ten was commissioned at Pearl Harbor 15 January
1944, at which time there were formally assigned to it one destroyer tender, one large repair ship, one survey ship, two ocean tugs, one harbor tug, and seven YF freight or ammunition barges of 500 tons each. It was not much, but it could be expanded by ordering vessels to it for operational control, which was done. The organization was a simple, straight-line one which easily permitted expansion and flexibility.
For the first 21/2 years of the war the Fleet Gunnery Officer of CinCPac staff was the controlling agent for ammunition and ordnance material. With the increasing tempo of 1944 these duties left him insufficient time for the practical matters of gunnery officer and combat readiness, so in June 1944 an ordnance section was formed in the logistic division of CinCPoa. Thenceforward most of Squadron Ten's ammunition and ordnance materials were obtained through this section, whose activity, cooperation, and efficiency made for great improvement and more ease of distribution of Ten. Captain T.B. Hill, chief of section; Captain E.M. Eller, executive assistant; and Commanders M.A. Peterson and S.M. Archer were vigilant and active, did not confine themselves to the office, and were all over the Pacific helping, coordinating, listening to troubles, and furnishing great assistance in personnel, vessels, and materials and with improvement in loading and stowage at continental points of shipment. The principal function of this ordnance section was to supply (1) naval ordnance spare parts, (2) ammunition for naval ships and aircraft, (3) aircraft ammunition for the B-29's, and (4) ground ammunition. Fleet logistics are directly concerned only with the first and second of these.
Theoretically the ordnance section was a policy organization for all ordnance logistics in the Pacific. Sometimes, however, it did more than develop policy - it implemented it. Where an adequate subordinate organization existed, such as the ordnance section of Commander Service Force Staff, much of the work was delegated. Usually its policy organization did not provide detailed plans. For naval ammunition, however, it did. Its responsibility was to have sufficient ammunition at the right place at the right time. The development of outlying dumps, the increase of the auxiliary fleet, the floating storage in advanced anchorages, and the under-way resupply were all factors contributing to the operations of the fleet, away from naval bases for indefinite periods.
The preceding page is a general discussion of ordnance logistics. Let us examine in some detail (1) Ordnance Spare Parts, and (2) Fleet Ammunition.
Ordnance Spare Parts
During the early stages of the war, distribution of ordnance spare parts was accomplished by established fleet bases and through distribution to forces afloat by requisition from continental depots. Stocking spare parts in advanced areas and in the fleet afloat had not been general practice. As war in the Pacific progressed farther and farther from established bases it became apparent that a better, speedier method of distribution was essential.
The first step was to increase the spare parts on repair ships and tenders of all classes. Commander Service Force Pacific shouldered most of the responsibility for making this a workable scheme. As the South Pacific campaign increased in intensity, and the ships assigned to that area - with insufficient tenders - extended their time away from Pearl Harbor, the need for more land-based stocks of critical ordnance spares at advanced bases became apparent. The base at Espiritu Santo was stocked by its naval supply depot. The inventory was in accordance with allowance lists compiled by the Bureau of Ordnance. At the same time, its naval supply depot tried to anticipate critical and fast-used items.
Difficulties were encountered. Development had been so rapid that the continental agencies had no definite experience of the quantities of items constituting a balanced inventory. Consequently many sets of parts arrived with excesses, or infrequently used parts and shortages of commonly used ones. Peacetime experience was of little help in determining what parts would be in demand under war conditions. There was also, during the early part of the war, an actual shortage. The manufacture of spares was generally in completion with the procurement of complete assemblies for new vessels being rushed toward completion. Gradually improvement came, and while not the perfect answer, the ordnance-spare-parts facilities at Espiritu were a great help.
Prior to the Central Pacific campaign the functional components of advanced bases as established by the Chief of Naval Operations proved very good. Each component afforded a previously estimated number of men and amount of equipment for a given quantity of ordnance material. It was not perfect, but its wastes and shortcoming were more than offset by the faster planning it permitted, the uniform understanding of its size, quantities, and requirements for shipping space and land
facilities at destinations. With the beginning of the Central Pacific campaign, however, the limited land areas of the atolls did not permit establishment of large shore facilities. Moreover, our planners began to realize that any activity which could function afloat had the advantage of quick advance by reason of its mobility, something no shore-fixed facility could give.
Accordingly, the CinCPoa ordnance section decided that the major source of ordnance spare parts should be the stocking of ships under Commander Service Squadron Ten, with responsibility for its success upon that officer under Commander Service Force Pacific. Fleet units were to be replenished and repaired while in advanced anchorages. By spring of 1944 it became evident that a larger supply of heavy ordnance spares was needed in the forward area. Recommendations for the stocking of the unclassified concrete vessel Corundum were made and approval obtained. The craft was toward forward to Service Squadron Ten at Eniwetok in the summer of 1944. She carried complete mount assemblies as well as sets of spare parts similar to those stocked by repair ships and the various tenders. She could supply ships up to and including light cruisers. The scheme was new, but it worked time and again, avoiding the sending of a ship thousands of miles to a navy yard, or doing without the replacement.
In January 1945 an ordnance parts depot was established as an annex to the Naval Supply Depot at Guam. Its responsibility was to stock all parts for guns that could be installed from tenders or by the Guam facilities. This Guam depot profited by all the earlier mistakes of its prototype at Espiritu and by the experience gained in the interval between the two. It was consequently better as well as bigger.
All key points in the Pacific from which the fleet operated were covered by facilities for ordnance-spare-parts distribution before the war ended. Fleet anchorages such as Ulithi and Leyte had the floating storage of Service Squadron Ten with the small critical items which could be installed by tenders. The base at Guam was well stocked with all items, not only to supply its land-based facilities but the needs of the tenders and other floating units, whenever time did not permit the latter to await delivery from the United States. "A large amount of credit was due to Service Force and its subordinate Service Squadron Ten for providing complete and efficient organization for distribution of all ordnance spare parts whether they came from afloat or ashore. The work of Service Squadron Ten in installing these spares was of the highest quality." (From a historical report of CinCPoa ordnance section.)
The need for fleet ammunition in large quantities during the early stages of the war did not develop and never became a matter of large-scale expenditure, with a corresponding quick replenishment on a gigantic scale, until after we started the Central Pacific drive. The ammunition depots at Noumea and Espiritu have already been indicated. These, with the large Naval Ammunition Depot at Oahu, supplied most of the fleet needs until this drive began. These depots were supply by shipments from the west coast, mostly made in naval ammunition ships which at first did very little direct supplying to the ships of the fleet.
With the Central Pacific drive came unusually heavy shore bombardments by ships' guns and unusually heavy bombing by carrier planes. It was soon apparent that shore-based ammunition storage was inadequate. A supply flexible enough to meet the changing requirements of the fleet had to be developed. Therefore, to keep pace with the operations, most of it had to come from ammunition ships at the fleet anchorages. To Commander Service Squadron Ten was given responsibility for the forward area operation of the vessels and the distribution of the ammunition.
All fleet ammunition was shipped by specific request. Ordering was usually by dispatch from the ordnance section of logistic division of CinCPoa through CinCPac to Bureau of Ordnance and Commander Western Sea Frontier for action, with information copies to Commander Service Squadron Ten and type commanders. The Bureau of Ordnance provided the ammunition to be embarked, the sailing date, and destination. Commander Western Sea Frontier provided loading lists showing actual departure loading. The ships went to Commander Service Squadron Ten, who made issues and reloaded vessels as required. Weekly inventories were submitted to CinCPac by him for each ship under his operational control, showing the changes which had taken place in the original departure loading, thus giving a current inventory for all ammunition ships.
As the war progressed the need for floating supply increased. Ten Victory ships were converted, refitted for ammunition handling, and given a capacity of 7,000 tons each. These 10 and the Navy AE's were all Navy-manned and they formed the backbone of the ammunition fleet. Many War Shipping Administration (WSA) vessels were later employed for ammunition shipping; so, too, were LST's, the latter particularly for assault supplies. At the end of the war more than 50 percent
of the ammunition was being carried by WSA ships. Some type loading was developed, and whenever conditions of time, availability, etc., permitted it was found to have advantages. Two of these were the bombardment loading and the fast-carrier-group loading. The former provided a supply chiefly for the old battleships, cruisers, destroyers, and vessels engaged principally in bombardment of enemy shore positions. The fast-carrier-type loading provided ammunition for fast carriers, new battleships, cruisers, and destroyers making up the fast carrier task force, and consisted of bombs and antiaircraft and aircraft ammunition. A carrier-escort-support-ship-type load was also tried, but not to any extent.
The principal source of distribution for combatant ships was Service Squadron Ten, a movable and flexible supply. As our forces progressed across the Pacific, Ten moved, and with it moved the ammunition carriers. Many of them constantly underwent stowage rearrangement to meet current expenditures more readily. Stock levels were determined on the basis of rounds per gun. All action reports were received by CinCPac and analyzed by his ordnance section. Expenditures were tabulated and formed the basis for determining requirements for future operations. Allowances were made for changes in ships to be employed.
The fleet could always be supplied at sizable anchorages. Long experiments with transfer of ammunition under way at sea were conducted, and with certain structural and rigging changes encouraging results were obtained. This led to the assignment in Service Squadron Six of certain fleet ammunition ships especially rigged for such transfers.
With the successful completion of the Marianas campaign, the Naval Ammunition Depot on Guam and the Naval Magazine at Saipan were developed. They were to be of 30,000 tons and 10,000 tons capacity, respectively. Their secondary function was to make fleet issues. While shipping was available, Squadron Ten was the chief source of fleet supply, the shore storage to provide a reserve for the possibility that Squadron Ten might be unable to meet the demand. It was also a reserve upon which Ten could draw to fill temporary shortages caused by unusual consumption, losses, or spoiling. The stock to be maintained at each naval shore establishment was determined by the ordnance section of CinCPac, so there was a complete tie-in with the stock afloat.
Some over-all understanding of the scope of the ammunition supply may be grasped if one understands that the average shipload contained about 75 items, weighted about 6,500 tons, and cost about 6 million dollars to produce. A replenishment for the fleet at the May 1945 size
would have meant 180,000 tons. When the Japanese surrendered there were 50 ammunition ships under Service Squadron Ten control. The total ammunition on hand in Ten was 230,000 tons. Ashore in Guam and Saipan there were 50,000 tons more, and in the Naval Ammunition Depot at Oahu another 80,000 tons. War is expensive.
Torpedoes being hoisted aboard Lexington.
The Marshall Islands Campaign
The Truk Strike
For the "FLINTLOCK," or Marshall Islands campaign the ships involved were those of the amphibious force with the attack, support, and garrison groups; those of the fast carrier striking groups, and a few assigned to the defense forces, a total of some 359 vessels of all types for combat work, except submarines. The principal part of the forces involved based at Pearl. About half the amphibious-force vessels came from San Diego and were replenished in the Hawaiian islands en route to the Marshalls. The large transports were at Lahaina roads, Maui, and the tractor groups (landing ships (tank) and landing craft (infantry), etc.) at Nawiliwili, Kauai. For the smaller craft (submarine chasers, mine sweepers, landing craft, tank, and mine layers) a 12-hour period was allowed for taking fuel from landing ships (tank) at sea while en route. At Lahaina Roads, fuel was supplied by the fleet oilers Tallulah, Millicoma, Caliente, Chikaskia, Kaskaskia, and Neosho, some of which had sailed from San Diego with the Northern Attack Force. At Nawiliwili, fueling of small craft was done from the landing ships (tank), which had such an enormous fuel supply, that it involved them in no shortage. Again while en route the transports and others needing it were fueled between the Hawaiian Islands and the Marshalls, the transports and larger ships taking fuel from the accompanying fleet oilers and the smaller Diesel-engine craft from the landing ships (tank). Food, ammunition, and stores, with such repairs as were necessary, were attended to at the last point of departure.
The battleships, the large carrier Bunker Hill, and the smaller carrier Monterey, Cruiser Division Five, and a few smaller vessels were at Funafuti. The rest of the carrier force based at Pearl, whence it sortied with service completed in all departments.
Pearl was 2,500 miles from Kwajalein Atoll, the main point of attack.
The resistance expected might delay capture for a longer period than was anticipated, and there was also no telling but that the Japanese main fleet might give battle. Therefore, "fill with everything," was the order; and, on top of that, replenishing of fuel en route, adequate supply of fuel, ammunition, and provisions in the area for further replenishment subsequent to D-day. These services were stated in Spruance's logistic annex. Seventeen fleet oilers were used, before and after D-day. Of that number, three task groups of three each - Caliente, Pecos, and Tallulah; Ashtabula, Lackawanna, and Saugatuck; Cimarron, Kaskaskia, and Platte - were at sea in designated areas to care for the oiling after D-day, with eight extra tankers shuttling back and forth between Funafuti and these areas. The eight were the Millicoma, Neosho, Suamico, Neshanic, Chikaskia, Neches, Tappahannock, and Sabine. In addition there was a Liberty tanker at each of the two objectives, each with 50,000 barrels of fuel; and at Tarawa one slow tanker and a supply of Diesel oil in gasoline barges. At Funafuti 300,000 barrels in commercial tankers was available for reloading fleet oilers on 26 January, 200,000 in commercial tankers at the same place on 2 February, and 300,000 on 5 February. Each of the fleet oilers carried approximately 15,000 barrels of Diesel oil and 200,000 gallons of aviation gasoline. On the basis of estimated consumption it was planned to have from two to three loaded commercial tankers available until the operation was concluded.
What the operation might produce in fuel requirements was unknown, and the amounts scheduled were at best only estimates. The fuel paragraph of the operations plan begins with the words "Conserve fuel. The success of Flintlock requires large fuel supplies. The availability of fleet oilers is limited. In establishing the speed to maintain the required advance, and in prescribing the engineering condition to be employed, the conservation of fuel as well as the military situation will be considered." Only with fuel was there real concern at this stage of the war. It was finally clear that our fuel consumption was and would continue to be in excess of all earlier ideas, and that we were not yet quite fully geared to handle it under too continuous full-power steaming. Therefore the word of caution.
The other logistics concerned food. This would be distributed from one provision supply ship, fleet-issue loaded, available at Funafuti on 10 February, and a commercial solid load of refrigerated and frozen items in the United Fruit Company's Antigua on 25 February. These two were ordered to Majuro when it was decided early in February to use that atoll for the fleet anchorage.
Ammunition was available in barges at Tarawa and Funafuti for 5-inch and smaller guns. The ammunition ships Rainier, Mauna Loa, and Lassen had the supply for all other types of guns, large and small, and generally in sufficient quantities. The Sangay carried aircraft ammunition and bombs. All these ships were scheduled to be in Tarawa 1 February, and were diverted or ordered to Majuro.
The replacement of pilots and planes for the combat carriers would be from CVE's. There were also about 45 fighter planes available in the Ellice Islands.
Emergency repair facilities in Funafuti consisted of some of Captain Scull's squadron: Two destroyer tenders, two repair ships, one battle-damage-repair ship, one internal-combustion-engine repair ship, one floating drydock of 3,000 tons capacity, and one repair barge. These were 1,200 miles from Kwajalein, near which the damage was most likely to be inflicted. Pearl was 2,500 miles away, so the repair picture was not very bright. The answer was quickly found by the task-force commander himself: Use Majuro for the main fleet, with Service Squadron Ten to furnish service there, and Kwajalein with Service Squadron Four at that point to service cargo vessels, escorts, and small groups operating in that area. When the time came, the orders were issued accordingly.
Service Squadron Ten at Majuro
With the securing of Kwajalein and Majuro, Admiral Spruance took the Fast Carrier Force into the latter place on 4 February 1944, after giving Kwajalein a trial of a few days. Service Squadron Ten was ordered there with instructions to service the fleet immediately. Fortunately the squadron commander was in Majuro with the garrison group of transports he had temporarily commanded during the illness of the assigned commander, so he was able to get into immediate personal touch with Admiral Spruance and get preliminary and makeshift operations under way pending arrival of the squadron staff and the supporting vessels.
The battleship Washington, damaged in a night collision with the Indiana, was used as a temporary administrative center for the squadron while the protruding metal of her bow was being removed and bulkheads shored preparatory to her return to a navy yard. A number of officers were temporarily assigned to help with communications and operations, and the servicing of the fleet started. It was pretty ragged and hectic. There were not boats enough, nor tugs enough. When boats
or tugs were available, there was often delay because of lack of knowledge of the anchorage and berths. Even when the position of a ship was given, as in such and such a berth, there was often no chart available by which the servicing craft could locate it. At night it was even worse.
All the boats of the transports present were commandeered, and these formed the beginning of Squadron Ten's fleet boat pool. This at its beginning included 50 boats - always a few were broken down - with an organization of 3 officers and 150 men. Commander Service Force at Pearl was urged to send boats by every possible vessel. This was done throughout the war by using tankers, cargo vessels, and any other craft which could carry them. Boats were available in the rear areas, but the problem was to find transportation means to get them to the squadron in sufficient numbers to make up for losses, and for the growing requirements of the constantly increasing fleet.
In this first servicing the ammunition was replenished by the ammunition carriers previously mentioned as diverted from Tarawa. There was shortage in a few items, some of which was made up by cannibalizing ships returning to Pearl for repair. The senior captain of the ammunition ships present was made temporary head of the "ammo" department, and the job was done, though not without confusion. Moving such ships about a crowded anchorage, especially in wartime, can be hazardous. Nevertheless, it was done. About the time the captain in charge got the hand of things and had some definite ideas of the berthing, his ship would sail, and the next senior captain would take over and have to start from scratch learning what had to be done, what was needed, and which came next.
The repairs made, except those by ship's company, were very meager as only the repair ship Vestal and the battle-damage-repair ship Phaon were available. They were fully occupied getting the Washington and Indiana ready to leave.
Food and fueling went better. While there was not enough fresh and frozen food available to meet the demand, and the cargo of the provision supply ship Bridge was quickly exhausted, no one went hungry. More fresh and frozen foods were due on 10 and 25 February. There was sufficient fuel in a sufficient number of oilers so it could be handled in the time available, though oiler crews got very little of their badly needed rest.
Meanwhile the Washington sailed, and the administration of Squadron Ten had to move to a temporary set-up on a tanker, with a landing ship (tank) alongside to furnish the quarters. This was for 4 days only.
Harbor communication facilities on these were poor, and this was a setback for a few days. However, most of the heaviest servicing had been accomplished, and with the arrival of Ten's flagship, the destroyer tender Prairie, on 13 February with the members of the staff from Pearl, a real start was made. Spruance was off for the first Truk strike, and Commander Service Squadron Ten had promised him that when he returned he would get logistic services with more system, order, and greater dispatch. The promise was fulfilled.
On 12 February Spruance sortied for Truk, which was a part of Operation CATCHPOLE, the capture of Eniwetok, taking with him Admiral Mitscher's entire carrier force, consisting of 6 battleships, 5 large and 4 small carriers, 5 heavy cruisers, 4 cruisers, and 28 destroyers. To fuel this force a task unit of 5 fleet oilers, the Cimmarron, Kaskaskia, Guadalupe, Platte, and Sabine, escorted by 2 cruisers, 1 destroyer and 2 destroyer escorts, was sent from Majuro on 11 February. The first fueling, for the run-in, took place 14 February approximately 640 miles northeast of Truk. After this the oilers put into Kwajalein and refilled from commercial tankers there. After the raid the next fueling rendezvous was about 500 miles northeast of Truk on 19 February. Then the whole oiler group left for Majuro.
After the fueling on 19 February Admiral Mitscher with reorganized task groups made the raid and photographic reconnaissance of 21-22 February on the Marianas, topping off his destroyers from heavy ships before the run-in, at a point about 430 miles north of the previous fueling from the fleet oilers on the 19th. After the raid, retiring eastward he again fueled his destroyers from heavy ships on 24 February and proceeded to Majuro.
The only battle damage received in these raids was to the carrier Intrepid at Truk, caused by an aerial torpedo. She was able to proceed under her own power, steering by propellers only, to Kwajalein, and thence to a navy yard. Truk, as naval men knew, was the pivotal base for the Japanese mandated islands, and the enemy's principal Central Pacific base for operations as well as a key supply point and staging base for units bound to the South and Central Pacific. It was generally thought to be a Gibraltar, though Admiral F.C. Sherman, in his book "Combat Command," considered it overrated. When the news was broadcast that our task force was striking it, sinking ships and shooting down planes, not only the Navy Department and others at home were thrilled, but also Service Squadron Ten, waiting at Majuro. Thrilled and relieved was the squadron commander who alone knew where the strike was to be
and had thought of many disagreeable things which could happen during the attack.
Meanwhile the Service Squadron Ten flagship Prairie, Captain O.A. Kneeland, had reached Majuro with the staff. It consisted of only 16 officers at that time and of those the supply officer was in San Diego fitting out and loading the first six of the 3,000-ton capacity concrete barges which later proved so useful. The starting organization of Ten immediately had the duties of port director thrust upon its operations department. The survey ship Bowditch, Captain J.H. Seyfried, made a complete survey of the anchorage, producing charts with numbered berths and establishing better navigational aids. A splendid job was done very rapidly and charts were turned out by the hundred so that all ships, tugs, barges, and boats could have them.
As fast as he could, Vice Admiral Calhoun, Commander Service Force, sent forward the service craft to Squadron Ten. The floating drydock ARD-13, Lieutenant Commander W.L. Travis, the high-speed transport APD-16, the repair ship Ajax, Captain J.L. Brown, 2 tugs, 2 yard oilers, a YP refrigerator, and six 500-ton ammunition barges were the early arrivals. Then came the destroyer tender Markab, Captain L.B. Farrel, repair ship Hector, Captain J.W. Long, and the Argonne, Captain H.A. Houser, with others following later.
The staff was called together, the work pointed out, the methods just used to replenish the fleet, with their good and bad features, and the tasks to come discussed in detail. Finally came the adoption of a motto by the squadron: "If we've got it, you can have it." This was meant to be literally true. It did not mean "if we have it to spare." More than once the squadron gave of its own in living up to its motto. Several guns were dismounted from Squadron Ten ships to be remounted as replacements of battle-damaged pieces on the combatant vessels of the striking groups. During the Marianas campaign every pair of socks in the storerooms of Ten's ships was sent to the fighting units. For some 3 weeks or more the messes of Ten, including the squadron commander's own, ate some sort of "colored putty" for butter. All the real butter had gone to the fast carrier groups. The staff was instructed that if something unheard of was requested, the answer was to be" We'll get it for you as soon as possible." With the full realization that its work was just beginning, and would grow in degree and broaden in scope to points beyond anything visualized at the moment, the staff began preparing for Spruance's return from Truk.
The cargo ship Vega arrived with a load of pontoons and fittings so
stowed that, as they were unloaded, pontoon barges could be constructed by the ship, with her special detail of Seabees trained for this purpose. Twenty barges were completed and put into service by Squadron Ten in 21 consecutive days--before the shore-based barge-construction unit had completed a single one. Most of the barges were propelled by large outboard engines. These twelve 100-ton cargo, six 50-ton cargo, and two 10-ton crane barges were all put to very hard service. Not only did they carry ammunition and stores of all kinds, but they were used as drydocks for boats, as camels (buffers) between ships, to ferry planes and liberty parties, and one even as a light-ship. The crews of these barges built cabins of dunnage lumber and pieces of tarpaulin or scraps of canvas on the sterns and practically lived in them, scrounging their meals wherever they could during those early days when everyone was overworked, underfed, and underslept, and often miles away from the regular berthing place when there was any time for a shore relaxation.
While the fleet was on the Truk strike, the staff of Squadron Ten prepared an information bulletin giving a schedule of fueling, provisioning, and ammunitioning. It gave destroyer assignments alongside tenders, anchorage berths, and special berths for ships firing antiaircraft target practice at sleeves or drones. It told where and how to make contact with any of the departments of Ten when it was necessary to deal with something not mentioned in the bulletin; and it named the recreation beaches and the forbidden islands. Thereafter on entering the anchorage, ships were met by patrol vessels and supplied with bulletins and anchorage charts, the latter continuously revised and kept up to date.
A floating fleet post office was established on LST-119 until one could be established by the Island Commander, Captain Vernon Grant. Two coastal transports were used for distribution of mail and for ferrying of personnel among the ships.
Arrivals of ARD-13 the first floating drydock to be sent into the Central Pacific drive, and the smaller AFD-16 were events of considerable importance at Majuro. The ARD had an 85-percent green crew which had never operated the dock and had never been to sea, so a period of intensified training in phraseology, station duties, and some seamanship was carried out. Eight days after her arrival the first vessel, a destroyer, was efficiently docked. AFD-16, which had lost its commanding officer by illness, was put under the same command as ARD-13 (Lieutenant Commander Travis) for operation and was located beside ARD-13. This proved fortunate, for by operating them as a team the
efficiency of both docks increased. The record of ARD-13 from this time to the end of the war was splendid and illustrated one of the many phases of winning.
High-speed mine sweepers, for towing, and sea-sled targets were procured from Pearl, and target practice arrangements were made for the ships of the fleet. Planes for towing sleeves were obtained and three firing positions established for that practice.
A fleet motion-picture exchange was established on board the Prairie. While this does not sound very important compared to the serious matters of sinking ships, killing, destroying enemy installations, and the vexing problems of fuel, food, ammunition, etc., that had to be solved, it was nevertheless a vital factor in keeping up morale. The men were spending long periods aboard ship, with very infrequent mail and very limited opportunities for diversion and recreation. Though the situation did not always permit of showing movies, even an infrequent display contributed materially.
With the return of the fleet from the Truk-Marianas strikes, Squadron Ten went to work servicing it. It was far from perfection, but there was some system and a general knowledge, on the part of those both giving and receiving the services, of the when and how of it. Admiral Spruance was pleased, and while he saw the work was imperfect he realized it would improve as more experience, study, and equipment were applied. He was so well satisfied that he said he saw no reason for the Fast Carriers Force going to Pearl any more. It never again returned there during the war. Individual vessels were sent back for repairs from time to time, but the force as such remained in the advanced areas and received its servicing from Squadron Ten as it repeatedly struck and advanced, to the consternation and confounding of the enemy.
The first 3 weeks of March were spent in consolidating gains. This gave the fleet opportunity for considerable overhaul and target practice, and time to harass Squadron Ten for things wanted but not yet available. In many ways this was advantageous because it revealed shortcomings at a period when there was time to start something remedial. Several vessels were added to the squadron about this time, including old merchant-marine tankers. The Gargoyle was commissioned by the squadron commander as the Arethusa, the Osmond and the Quiros, the Standard Arrow and the Signal, and the Polonaise as the Manileno. Several others came later.
Late in February the food situation did not seem quite so good as it should have been. The squadron commander indicated this in a letter
to Commander Service Force dated 28 February 1944, giving his estimate of minimum space requirements for 10 days' provisions for 150,000 men as:
|Type of provisions
||Ratio of issue
At the time, the Prairie was the only storage at Majuro. Her capacity was 67,934 cubic feet, or only about one-fourth of the total. However, some refrigerator barges, steel and concrete, had been promised. These would make up the total required, and it was mainly to hasten their arrival that the letter was sent. The figure of 150,000 men used as a basis for the estimate was exceeded in a very short time by the rapid growth of the fleet in the advanced areas. More space was, of course, necessary, and was forthcoming.
Late spring of 1944 saw the first of the "crockery" ships come into Majuro. They were the Trefoil and the Quartz, large concrete barges with power plants for refrigeration, lighting, and windlass, but not for motive power. They had a capacity of 3,000 tons of general naval stores, including food, clothing, canteen, tools, material (not including heavy metal), and boatswain's stores. Later barges included ordnance items, electronics parts, and Diesel-engine spares. These barges were extremely useful, since they came at a time when there was a shortage of hulls, but they were so fragile that a bump by a good-sized boat would crack a side. One was lost on a reef in a storm. A steel hull would have been salvaged.
Service Squadron Four, Funafuti to Kwajalein
On 23-24 February 1944, after the capture of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls, tows were dispatched from Funafuti to Kwajalein using the Diesel-engine repair ship Luzon, two fleet tugs, a rescue tug, three ocean tugs of old type, two commercial tugs, and the Navy oiler Sepulga. These vessels hauled an assortment of 500-ton barges, yard oil craft, pontoon cranes, pontoon barges, and small harbor-type tugs. In the excitement and fascination of strikes and other actual combat operations the importance of such an uninspiring movement as this might easily be overlooked. These were not merely barges as such. These were
The concrete stores barge Quartz, one of the many of this type construction.
some of the storehouses, yard cranes, workshops, and facilities which rendered the services that enabled the combat ships to make the strikes. The distance to Kwajalein was more than 1,200 miles and the speed of advance was slow - about 4 knots - but this vital equipment had to get through to be used against the enemy. It did.
After the tows reached Kwajalein, Squadron Four was short-lived. On 17 March 1944 it was absorbed into the new Squadron Ten. Captain Scull became Chief of Staff to Rear Admiral Hoover, Commander Forward Area, Central Pacific, and Captain S.B. Ogden in the Cascade became representative "A" of Commander Service Squadron Ten in command of the Kwajalein and Roi detachment. Squadron Four had been very much worthwhile. Commander Service Force Pacific stated: "Compared to the size and accomplishments of Squadron Ten and its various detachments as the war progressed to the Western Pacific, the scope of Squadron Four's operations was small, and its assigned equipment seemed limited indeed, but many capable officers received practical experience while serving therein and went on to responsible duties in Squadron Ten and other commands."
Though only a few large vessels and not many destroyers, smaller ships, and aircraft were serviced at Funafuti, that location was the scene of logistic support of naval forces from floating equipment only. No shoreside facilities such as cranes, workshops, and storehouses, generally associated with navy yards or bases, were present there. Scull relied solely upon his mobile units, and later this type of servicing was rendered to all classes of naval vessels, with more appropriate supporting equipment and in locations as yet not visualized.
The Palau and Hollandia Strikes - Marcus and Wake Raids - Submarines Base at Majuro - Growth of Service Squadron Ten at Majuro
DESECRATE ONE: Carrier Task Force Attacks on the Western Carolines, 30 March - 1 April 1944
After our Truk strike the enemy withdrew ships from that base, and units of his fleet began to use Palau as a base of operations. It was therefore decided to neutralize the enemy positions because they threatened our Hollandia and New Guinea operations, planned for April, and menaced our newly acquired bases in the Admiralties and at Emirau Island. The attack on Palau and the smaller raids on nearby Yap, Ulithi, and Woleai, were intended primarily to destroy naval and merchant shipping and air forces concentrated at those points, and to mine entrance channels to prevent their further use.
In this operation Admiral Spruance employed Carrier Task Force 58 and a Support Group (50.15). The carrier force included 6 battleships, 5 large and 6 small carriers, 10 heavy and 5 light cruisers, and 48 destroyers. In support were 3 heavy cruisers, 4 escort carriers, 12 destroyers, and 4 oilers, the Platte, Sabine, Kaskaskia, and Guadalupe. Before the sortie the major portion of the striking force based at Majuro, where logistic support was furnished by Squadron Ten. On departure, 22 March, Task Group 58.9 was added. It consisted of units which were to join other task groups of the force upon rendezvous. (These latter groups had sailed from Majuro earlier in the month to the South Pacific, and had been operating as part of Task Force 36 in support of the occupation of Emirau Island.) Rendezvous was effected 26 March with those
vessels and 2 accompanying oiler groups which had left Espiritu 22 March. The oilers were the Tappahannock, Neches, Suamico, Ashtabula, Kankakee, Escambia, and Atascosa. The Cacapon and Chikaskia joined at the rendezvous. The 4-oiler support group did not fuel any of the battleships or carriers at this time. Instead oil was taken from the 9-oiler group. After fueling, the large group of oilers sailed to Espiritu. At this time, 4 escort carriers, which had been sent from Pearl, joined the support group.
Two days later, 28 March, after fueling from the support group, the task force, divided into three task groups, proceeded toward the points for launching the initial air attacks against Palau. Admiral Spruance directed the fuel be conserved to the extent permitted by military necessity. Cruisers and destroyers whose fuel ran low because of unforeseen events were to proceed to Seeadler Harbor, Manus; damaged ships were to go there also. However, as fuel was adequate and damage to our ships was negligible, no diversion was necessary.
Six additional fleet oilers composing Task Unit 50.17.1 left Majuro 29 March to make rendezvous with Task Force 58. These were the Saranac, Neosho, Lackawana, Neshanic, Caliente, and Tallulah. They returned to port 5 April without supplying any oil because the four destroyers by the larger vessels of the Task Force provided enough.
By 6:30 a.m. 30 March, Task Force 58 had reached a point 90 miles south of the Palau Islands and was ready to launch the first strike. Operations against Palau continued on the 30th and 31st. On the 31st, Task Group 58.1 conducted air strikes on Yap and Ulithi. On the next day the entire force assembled and attacked Wolei by air. These strikes completed, the three groups fueled from the support group on the 2d, returned to Majuro 6 April, and prepared for the Hollandia operation, called DESECRATE TWO, which was scheduled for the 22d. Meanwhile four escort carriers and destroyer screen were detached 4 April from the support group to proceed to Espiritu Santo. The others of the group returned to Majuro.
DESECRATE TWO: Capture and Occupation of Hollandia 21-24 April 1944
The seizure of the coast of New Guinea, near Aitape and Hollandia, was undertaken by Task Force 77 of the Southwest Pacific forces under Rear
Admiral D.E. Barbey, with 215 ships of all types except submarines, covered by more than 104 vessels of Rear Admiral Mitscher's Fast Carrier Task Force 58. Logistics for Task Force 77 consisted chiefly in making supplies available for the ground occupation force. Service Force, Seventh Fleet, provided the necessary supplies for vessels and landing craft in the forward areas. All ships were supplied to capacity with fresh, frozen, and dry provisions. Service force supply ships stationed at 3 different points furnished replenishment, and in addition the tenders Rigel and Amycus at Buna, and the Dobbin at Oro Bay, carried dry foods.
All ships carried an authorized allowance of ammunition. Resupply was to be had from ammunition ships at Cape Cretin, Sudest, and Oro Bay, and at the Naval Supply Depot, Milne Bay. Fuel was available at designated-spots, including Seeadler Harbor, Admiralty Islands, and from Seventh Fleet Service Force tankers at Goodenough Island. Fresh water was furnished at five points, but ships were warned that they must be prepared to issue potable water to troops and small landing craft. Ship repairs were available through repair vessels at Seeadler and Dreger Harbors, Oro Bay, and Buna.
Three separate landings were made at Tanahmerah and Humboldt Bays and Aitape. Salvage tugs accompanied each echelon to the three beaches, and remained until D-plus-2 day. One stayed at Humboldt Bay afterwards; the other two returned to Cape Cretin. Every precaution was taken for complete medical services, with surgical teams and equipment on designated ships of the attacking force. In addition, naval casualties could be evacuated to a hospital ship at Cape Cretin or to shore facilities there. Medical supplies were available at Milne Bay.
After receiving logistic services from Squadron Ten, Task Force 58, divided into 3 groups for tactical purposes and accompanied by a support group of 12 oilers and 5 destroyers, sailed from Majuro 3 April to cover the landing operations in the Hollandia area. The support group sailed the day previous and fueled the force on the 19th and 20th in latitude 1°00' N., longitude 146°00' E., afterwards going to Seeadler Harbor, where it was joined by 3 fleet oilers, the Saranac, Tallulah, and Saugatuck, which had gone there direct from Majuro. On the 21st and the task force arrived at the launching point, some 100 miles north of Hollandia.
On 22 April three empty oilers, the Guadalupe, Platte, and Sabine, with three destroyer escorts, sailed for Pearl Harbor. The oilers Caliente, Cahaba, Neosho, Monongahela, Neshanic, and Lackawanna left the support group, with five escorts, completed their refilling and adjusting of cargoes at Seeadler on the 22d, and rejoined the task force on the 23d in
latitude 00°25' S., longitude 146°00' E. In the interim, during the absence of the support group at Seeadler, carriers and battleships of the carrier task groups topped off their own destroyers. Only 1 hour was allowed for each destroyer. Further refueling was accomplished after the return of the support group: heavy and light cruisers and destroyers to 95-percent capacity, carriers and battleships to 80-percent. Ammunition was available in the ammunition ship Lassen, at Seeadler, and several tugs were available for towing damaged ships. Replacement planes and pilots were ready on the escort carriers Barnes and Petroff Bay at Seeadler on 25 April, east longitude date.
The carrier strikes were made, and met surprisingly little opposition. Not one of our ships suffered damage. There was very little beachhead resistance, and Barbey's amphibious vessels suffered practically no enemy damage. Operations were virtually complete on the 27th, with landings at three points and with several important air strips in Allied hands. On this date, vessels of the support group returned to Seeadler and thence dispersed to Majuro and Pearl. Task Force 58 continued to Truk, where an air attack on shore installations was carried out on 29-30 April.
Carrier Air Attack on Marcus and Wake Islands 19-23 May 1944
This operation, carried out by only Task Group 58.6 under Rear Admiral A.E. Montgomery, had the dual purpose of destroying aircraft, shore installations, and surface craft at Marcus and Wake, and the training of new air groups on the carriers. The group fueling unit sortied from Majuro 14 May with 2 oilers and 3 destroyer escorts. The task group left on the 15th, composed of 2 large carriers, 1 small carrier, 3 heavy and 2 light cruisers, and 12 destroyers. The group and the oilers met 17 May in latitude 18°35' N., longitude 158° E., about 420 miles SSE of Marcus Island, for fueling. Next afternoon the fueling unit left the task group to await the next fueling operation. Originally the plan had called for the retirement of the oilers to Eniwetok, but the task-unit commander, Commander F.A. Hardesty, decided that this was impracticable, since it would mean entry at daylight on 20 May and departure about noon of the same day to be certain of effecting the second fueling as scheduled. Therefore the unit headed for a point somewhat east of Eniwetok. After the first fueling, a task unit (58.6.5) consisting of a small carrier, a light cruiser, and 4 destroyers proceeded to the north and west of Marcus in search of enemy picket boats.
Strikes on Marcus were begun 19 May, and the operations report states that because of unfavorable weather and excessive use of fuel, some of the strikes set for 20 May had to be canceled. (The reference to fuel shortage is not clear, for the tankers had more than two-thirds of their cargoes left after fueling the group. The large carriers and heavy cruisers had sufficient; if the destroyers were short, they could have been supplied by the large ships.) Sixty-nine of our planes were damaged by antiaircraft fire. On the 21st, Task Unit 58.6.4 rejoined the group and reported sinking one sampan and exploding a mine.
At daylight on 22 May the fueling unit met the task group to refuel the destroyers. Commander Hardesty in the oiler Schuylkill reported in his war diary of that date that "jitters" resulted when two destroyers refused to take the towline. He did not explain who had the jitters. Though in this instance he recommended using a towline, generally in fueling it was usual to employ only a distance line, the ship or ships keeping position on the guide. The fueling completed, the unit returned to Majuro while the task group proceeded with its attack on Wake on the 23d. Both reached Majuro 5 May.
Submarines Base at Majuro
On 15 March 1944, the submarine tender Sperry, flagship of Submarine Squadron Ten, arrived at Majuro to begin operations from that base. Myrna (code name for one islet), was assigned to a recreation area and development work started at once. The Sperry remained until September, when she was relieved by the tender Howard W. Gilmore, and after a brief overhaul at Pearl proceeded to Guam, which became the next advance control Pacific base for submarines. On 3 May 1944, the tender Bushnell, flagship of Submarine Squadron 14, arrived and took berth off Myrna Island. This doubled the submarine activity basing at Majuro. During the summer, after the main body of Service Squadron Ten had gone forward, these two tenders rendered assistance and services to the small craft doing patrol and escort duty out of Majuro. These two, and a floating drydock, left when Ten moved to Eniwetok in June 1944 and remained at Majuro until late in January 1945, when the Myrna Island establishment was closed and turned over to the atoll commander. The tenders went to Pearl, and the Bushnell, soon after, to Midway.
While at Majuro the submarine squadrons were supplied with fuel, provisions, and other smaller services through Squadron Ten, which also
supplied some torpedo stowage. The atoll commander furnished Seabees to set up the camp on Myrna Island, though a great deal of work was done by working parties from the tenders. Later a permanent camp unit for maintenance and operation was sent out from Pearl.
Supplying of the fuel - mostly Diesel oil - was not difficult, as all tankers had Diesel tanks, and during this period their supply exceeded the demand. Food, however, was somewhat more of a problem, particularly fresh and frozen. The latter was not insufficient quantity to meet the desires of the surface units, yet the submarines claimed the right to a higher percentage than did any of the other services, basing the claim on the arduousness of their duty. It posed a difficult problem for Commander Service Squadron Ten. As a former submariner himself, he was inclined to favor the claim. Yet to do so would bring a storm of protest, especially from the carriers, who were prone to claim theirs was the most arduous service. The general result was that for a time the carriers and submariners got the lion's share of available fresh and frozen foods while other units went short, making it up with canned and dry provisions.
On the basis of 2,760 men the minimum food requirement for every 10 days was about 2,760 x 5.75 x 10, or 158,700 pounds. However, the logistic requirements for a single squadron of 12 submarines and 1 tender, as given by Commander Submarine Force Pacific Fleet, at that time were: (a) Diesel fuel oil, 16,000 barrels; (b) gasoline, 4,500 gallons; (c) lubricating oils, 300 barrels each of Nos. 9250 and 9370; (d) spare parts, miscellaneous, 21/4 tons by air, 21/4 tons by surface; (e) torpedoes, complete, 150; (f) ammunition, 130 rounds total of 3-inch, 4-inch, and 5-inch, with small amounts of 20- and 40-mm. and .50-caliber; (g) food, 137 tons for tender, 59 tons special for submarines, of boned meats, frozen vegetables, etc.; (h) sulphuric acid, 8 carboys.
It is not clear how the figures for item (g) were reached. The 59 tons for submarines, each with an average of 80 men and their officers, works out at about 4.57 pounds per man; the tender is figured at about 7.5 pounds per man. One or the other figure must be wrong. There seem to be no data available now to show what the actual issues were; suffice to say that all were fed, and not badly, either.
Growth of Service Squadron Ten at Majuro
During its 4 months at Majuro, Service Squadron Ten, or ServRon Ten, as it was called in shortened form, was the principal - and fast becoming
the only - source of supply to the ships in the Central Pacific. Their number increased daily, as did that of ServRon Ten. Floating craft of every nature depended on Ten for maintenance, repair, ammunition, food, fuel, stores, mail, recreation facilities, pilots, harbor control, port director, target practice, personnel, medical supplies, and the disposition of disciplinary cases too troublesome for the combatant ships to handle.
To make the administration of both ServRon Ten and its representative at Kwajalein truly effective, more yeomen, signalmen, and messengers were badly needed. Men were flowing in by the hundreds for assignment, and the clerical personnel necessary for their proper distribution was inadequate. Moreover, it was realized that the activities of the squadron would constantly increase as the forward area, Central Pacific, expanded; so in compiling the requested complement, effort was made to anticipate increased demands for at least a few weeks in advance.
More gunner's mates were needed, not only to supervise the handling, loading, and unloading of ammunition, but also to maintain a security watch over ammunition stowed on covered lighters (YF's). It was therefore believed that 2 gunner's mates and 1 gunner's mate striker should be assigned to each ammunition lighter, plus one chief gunner's mate for every 3 lighters. Under operational control of ServRon Ten were 13 ammunition lighters, which had come without any personnel whatever. Besides these men, more coxswains, seamen, motor machinist's mates, and firemen were asked for to provide crews, plus relief crews, for 25 self-propelled pontoon barges operated by ServRon Ten at Majuro and Kwajalein anchorages, and 20 LCV's and LCM's at Kwajalein. Relief crews were necessary because during fleet provisioning operations, barges and boats worked right around the o'clock.
The storekeepers requested allowed for the provisioning of a large number of fleet units simultaneously in a short period, as had been required in the past; the handling of large amounts of small cargo for fleet units in forward areas where neither stowage nor handling facilities existed; a pay office expected to handle more than 5,000 accounts; and the compliance with current directives requiring that all ships returning to Pearl or the United States from combat areas should transfer all stores prior to departure except those required for the return trip.
It was the additional men wanted for the boat pool, however, that staggered some at headquarters, though when analyzed there was nothing astonishing about the figures. The minimum at the time to man the boats would have been 269 men. That did not include anyone for pool administration, repair work, or relief crews, of which latter there should
have been a complete shift to meet military requirements of working the whole 24 hours, which was often the case. Besides, there was the expected doubling of the boats in the pool which would have to have crews. Actually, the boats more than tripled in number during the next year.
At this time - June 1944 - only 4 months since the first puny detachment made its start, ServRon Ten had 4 destroyer tenders; 6 repair ships; 3 repair-shop barges; 6 drydocks; 13 ammunition barges; 15 storage barges for freight, spare parts, ground tackle, radio, medical, torpedo, marine stores, etc.; 23 oil and gasoline storage barges; 15 old, or Liberty ship tankers for storage and local services; 6 large concrete supply barges; 11 water barges; 5 YP cold storage vessels; and 15 tugs (7 seagoing, 8 local use), besides a number of special craft such as degaussing, net-laying, sludge removal, fuse removal, sea mules, target-practice equipment, and crane barges. More of every type were being sent as they became available.
Everything a navy yard or naval base usually did was requested at one time or another, and relatively unimportant things were demanded often at times of extreme activity when the squadron's facilities were hard put to supply the necessary and the important. Nevertheless the squadron accepted the duty of meeting all demands if possible without passing judgment. In fact, one officer of the supply department said he thought everything had been asked for but silk hats and evening dress. The squadron commander replied that if more than one request for silk hats should be received, it would be his duty to get something started along that line. So it was, with such a condition of material, such an attitude of mind, that ServRon Ten undertook the Eniwetok phase of fleet logistics.
Operation FORAGER, the Marianas Campaign
Floating Logistic Facilities - Servicing the Staging Amphibious Forces - Replenishment of Fast Carriers
On 12 May 1944, Admiral R.A. Spruance, commanding the Fifth Fleet, as Commander Central Pacific Task Forces, issued his operation plan for the capture, occupation, and defense of Saipan, Tinian, and Guam; the development of airfields on these islands; and the gaining of control of the remaining Marianas in order to operate long-range aircraft against Japan, secure control of the Central Pacific, and isolate and neutralize the central Carolines. This operation was named FORAGER. D-day, 15 June, was when initial landings were made on Saipan; W-day was the date for the Guam landings, and J-day for Tinian.
With 14 battleships, old and new, 25 carriers and carrier escorts, 26 cruisers, and 144 destroyers, the major task forces and groups were commanded by Vice Admirals Turner and Mitscher, Rear Admirals Hill, Conolly, Blandy, Clark, Montgomery, Reeves, Harrill, and Hoover, the expeditionary troops by Lieutenant General H.M. Smith, USMC, and the shore-based air force for the forward area by Major General Hale of the Army. Every type ship except submarine was represented in the huge fleet, which numbered 634 vessels, but did not include those vessels assigned to Commodore W.R. Carter, Commanding Service Squadron Ten; to Captain Leon Fiske, Commander Service Squadron Twelve; and the ships allocated to Rear Admiral Hoover as Commander Forward Area. In general it may be said that more than 600 vessels, 2,000 aircraft and an estimated 300,000 Navy, Marine, and Army personnel participated.
The Logistic Support
Fleet anchorages with facilities provided by repair ships, tenders and other auxiliaries existed at Eniwetok, Kwajalein, and Majuro atolls, and at Seeadler Harbor in the Admiralties. Admiral Spruance based his Marianas operations on the general operation plan of Admiral Nimitz as Commander in Chief Pacific, and ordered that logistic services for all forces in the Marshalls be rendered under the direction of Commander Forward Area, employing the facilities of ServRon Ten, and that the commander of that squadron, or his representative, would administer the services provided at Eniwetok, Roi anchorage, Kwajalein, and Majuro.
Some of the basic requirements of Admiral Nimitz's plan were that logistic support of fleet units be provided by himself through Commander Service Force Pacific, Commander Aircraft Pacific, and Commander South Pacific. Fleet tankers as a rule were to load to half capacity cargoes of Diesel oil and aviation gasoline, fuel oil to maximum draft, and with standard stock of drummed lubricants and compressed gases.
Before the operation, all combatant and auxiliary ships were to procure stores of ammunition, fuel, and lubricants to authorized capacity dry provisions for 120 days for ship's company and for 60 days for embarked troops; maximum capacity of fresh provisions, general stores, clothing, and ship's stores stock and medical stores, each for 120 days. Fresh and dry provisions were available in provisions stores ships, cargo vessels, and barges at Majuro, Eniwetok, Roi, and Kwajalein for forces basing on and staging through those ports. Provisions stores ships were scheduled to supply forces staging through the Marshalls area during the 10-day period just prior to D-day, 15 June. After D-day the stores ships would be found at Eniwetok, with limited supplies available also at Majuro and Kwajalein.
South Pacific Area Support. Forces and units of Fifth Fleet assembling in South Pacific areas for from 35 to 10 days before D-day in the Marianas were to be supplied provisions by Commander South Pacific in the quantities prescribed above. Ships withdrawing from the Marianas to the South Pacific were to be resupplied by Commander South Pacific 30 to 60 days after D-day. Approximately 147 vessels of different types were thus supplied. Large ships were ordered to give provisions to smaller ones as opportunity permitted. The fleet commander cautioned that rationing of provisions, particularly fresh and frozen, would probably be necessary and small vessels would be given preference in the
issues. Ships returning to supply points such as Pearl and Espiritu, were to transfer provisions, in excess of their needs for the return voyage, to other ships and shore activities, as might be practicable.
Ammunition. The ammunition carriers Mauna Loa, Lassen, Rainier, Sangay, Shasta, and Mazama supplied ammunition at Eniwetok after 15 June. Loaded barges were also available there, and 8-inch and smaller sizes and depth charges in assault shipping at the objectives as ordered by Vice Admiral Turner, Commander Joint Expeditionary Force.
Fuel (General). Vice Admiral Calhoun, Commander Service Force Pacific, was required to divert allocated commercial tankers as might be necessary to deliver approximately 1,400,000 barrels of fuel oil during each 2-week period commencing 1 June 1944. Delivery was to be distributed among such advanced bases in Central or South Pacific as the commander of the Fifth Fleet prescribed. Commodore A.H. Gray, Commander Service Squadron Eight, handled the details of the Pearl and west-coast end of this fuel business, and did a fine job with barely sufficient ships.
Fueling at Sea. For fueling at sea, fleet oiler task units composed of fleet oilers and escorts, and aircraft replacement task units composed of an escort carrier and an escort, were organized by Commander Service Force, who also assigned an officer with staff to direct and coordinate the operations of oiler and replacement task units while at sea. He was designated Commander Task Group 50.17, and embarked in a destroyer from which he directed operations to meet the fueling requirements of Mitscher's Fast Carrier Task Force 58 at sea. The oiler task group commander, Captain E.E. Paré, in addition to exercising tactical command from his flagship, the destroyer John D. Henley, took care of the consolidation of the cargoes of fleet oilers, sending back to Eniwetok for reloading such oilers as had been emptied or had been reduced to less than 20,000 barrels of black cargo oil. He also sent the group escort carrier units to Eniwetok for replacement aircraft, which had been placed there for that purpose.
Fueling Areas. Fueling areas were large rectangles 75 miles long and 25 miles wide. Eleven were prescribed for the Marianas operation, each designated the abbreviated name of some well-known oil company. Areas and dates were assigned to Vice Admiral Mitscher's Task Force 58 through D-plus-6 day, after which Mitscher informed Commander Fifth Fleet and Commander Task Group 50.17 of his further requirements. To Turner's Northern Attack Force, Task Force 52, and Conolly's Southern Attack Force, Task Force 53, areas and dates were assigned. In addition,
the large ships of Task Forces 52 and 53 fueled small ships as necessary en route to assembly points in the Marshalls, and again en route to their objectives. Facilities for port fueling in the Marshalls were furnished by Commander ServRon Ten.
Eight task units, 16.7.1 to 16.7.8, inclusive (the number 16 was a service-force designation), each composed of three oilers, with at least 2 DE's as escorts, and sometimes one destroyer and two destroyer escorts, were organized to fuel the fleet in the areas assigned.
Fuel at Bases. With minor exceptions, the forces of Vice Admiral Turner, Commander Task Force 52, and Rear Admiral Blandy, Commander Task Group 51.1, Joint Expeditionary Force Reserve, conducted their rehearsal exercises in the Hawaiian area, leaving there the last of May. The Southern Attack Force under Rear Admiral Conolly, also with minor exceptions, conducted its rehearsals in the South Pacific 22-31 May and sailed for the Marshalls. All ships had been required to fuel to capacity before departure, but more fuel was needed at staging points Eniwetok, Kwajalein, and Roi, where all three forces assembled and refueled before departing 9-12 June for their objectives. The Fast Carrier Groups 58.1-2-3 and -4 had been at Majuro early in June and left fully serviced for their strikes. The general plan of operations for these groups after D-day was to maintain three task groups in the Marianas area while one was withdrawn to Eniwetok for replenishment of fuel, provisions, aircraft, ammunition, and bombs.
Commander Service Squadron Ten (Carter) or his representative provided fueling facilities for forces staging through the Marshalls. Until 15 June commercial tankers were routed to Majuro, whence they were further diverted. After that date such tankers arriving in the Marshalls were routed to Eniwetok. Two Liberty tankers were available there, and three or more slow station tankers were to be there by 20 June. Admiral Spruance had stressed in his operation plan the importance of fuel, since our forces were destined to penetrate far into enemy territory, at greater distance from our bases than ever before.
General Stores. These were available from ServRon Ten in cargo ships, and in the concrete barge Trefoil at Majuro. After 20 June, cargo ships had them at Eniwetok.
Aircraft Replacement. Replacement aircraft were available in escort carriers, and in the vicinity of the objectives already described in fueling at sea. The unclassified ship Fortune carried aeronautical spare parts and was scheduled to be at Majuro until about 15 June, and aviation spares in limited quantities were in the South Pacific for emergency issue.
Salvage. Six fleet ocean tugs with fire-fighting personnel and equipment were on hand for towing and fire fighting, and two salvage vessels accompanied the Joint Expeditionary Force to the objectives, while two more were assigned to Service Squadron Twelve for salvage and for clearing wrecks from harbors.
Emergency Repairs. One repair ship for landing craft, the Egeria, accompanied Defense Group One; another, the Agenor, accompanied Tractor Group Three, which was so-called because it landed troops in amphibious boats equipped with tractor treads enabling them to trundle over reefs, as well as water, to dry ground. Repair ships and destroyer tenders were also in the Marshalls for emergency and battle-damage repairs by ServRon Ten.
Medical. Four hospital ships, the Relief, Solace, Bountiful, and Samaritan, were on hand for the campaign. One transport for the wounded the Rixey, was attached to TransDiv 24 (temporary) and another, the Tryon, reported to Commander Task Force 51 of the Joint Expeditionary Force about D-plus 30 day. Medical supplies were carried in general stores issue ships, and a limited number of seaplanes of Rescue Squadron One were on call for evacuation of casualties to the Marshalls.
Service Squadron Ten Facilities
To support the fleet at the inception of the Marianas campaign, Commodore W.R. Carter, Commander Service Squadron Ten, had a varied and considerable amount of equipment, with more promised. He had in his main body 3 destroyer tenders (one his flagship), 3 repair ships, 1 internal-combustion-engine repair ship, 5 movable floating drydocks (3 of 1,000 tons capacity, 2 of 3,000 tons), 4 ocean tugs, 3 rescue tugs, 1 limited-repair-facilities ship, 1 survey vessel, 1 barracks personnel ship, 1 high-speed minesweeper, and 1 degaussing vessel. Other floating resources included 15 oil-storage tankers, 21 fuel-oil and gasoline barges, 11 water barges, 1 salvage vessel, 3 repair, 3 freight, and 13 ammunition barges. The hotel barge Sea Hag; 2 dry provisions and Army stores issue ships; 6 concrete storage barges; 6 general barges for boat pool, mooring gear, and miscellaneous freight; 8 harbor tugs, big and little; 1 sludge-removal barge; and 6 sea-sled targets made up the contingent of 120 units afloat. This logistic force reveals the development of the war, the magnitude of the current operation, and the meticulous detailed planning essential for its success.
At Kwajalein, ServRon Ten's representative was Captain S.B. Ogden, who had been designated as such 17 March. He and his staff had had some experience at Funafuti, and some with small units at Kwajalein since March, but nothing comparable to the size of the job in prospect. The time allowed for services was short, so some concern was felt. There need not have been. Captain Ogden fulfilled every obligation completely, as he also did on every subsequent job.
Commodore Carter, commanding ServRon Ten, was at Majuro for administration of logistics until 3 June, when he and most of his staff left for Eniwetok in the Prairie. Before this, as fast as they could be spared from the logistic work for the fast carrier force, convoys of service units had been sent to Eniwetok, Roi, and Kwajalein to serve the Joint Expeditionary Force staging through to the Marianas. The safety of these convoys, except for the fast group comprising the Prairie and some of the faster tenders, was a matter of deep concern. If losses were suffered they would have to be borne, as no types in excess were available in the Central Pacific to furnish replacements. Even if these had been available at Pearl there would not have been time enough to bring them forward. However, each group got through safely without the loss of a single unit.
Thereafter, logistic services continued through August for such of the forces as departed from Eniwetok for the objectives. At Majuro, Kwajalein, and Eniwetok, with facilities still quite limited. ServRon Ten serviced the vessels of all the Central Pacific Forces in this campaign, both before and after D-day. This support included emergency battle-damage damage repairs as well as routine minor repairing; maintenance, and replacements for all types of vessels; handling of all types of ammunition and ordnance requirements; furnishing provisions, material, and other necessary supplies; storage and distribution of fuel and fresh water; and rendering services in connection with personnel. Commander Service Squadron Ten acted in the capacity of Senior Officer Present Afloat (Administrative) while based at Majuro, and continued as such on arrival at Eniwetok. Until the establishment of a port director ashore, at Majuro on 29 May 1944, ServRon Ten rendered all the services of the office, which included organizing and routing convoys, arranging escorts, pilotage, and assignment of anchorages.
Besides services for naval forces, Commander Service Squadron Ten was also required to maintain at specified levels supplies for land-based forces, of types B+C rations; maintenance supplies for Army, Navy, and Marine personnel; fuel and lubricants in 10-day supply for all
vehicles, power plants, distillers, and army kitchen ranges; medical supplies and motor and small-boat maintenance; ammunition, bombs, and pyrotechnics for aircraft; ammunition for antiaircraft weapons and ammunition for all other. While the foregoing is not fleet logistics, it has a bearing since it constituted an extra burden on the squadron already overburdened with work for the fleet.
Some Service Units and the Part They Played With the Fleet in the Marianas
Choosing the oiler Guadalupe, Captain H.A. Anderson, as an example, the support she gave Admiral Spruance's forces between 17 May and 13 July was noteworthy. Arriving at Majuro 17 May, she reported to ServRon Ten for duty in Task Group 50.17, under Captain E.E. Paré in the John D. Henley. The fuel section of Ten, under Lieutenant Commander C.T. Munson, coordinated the fueling operations of tankers while in the harbor. On 20 May the Guadalupe fueled the four cruisers Santa Fe (2,910 bbls.), Mobile (3,700 bbls.), San Juan (2,460 bbls.), and Oakland (2,390 bbls.). On the 27th she gave the Alabama 6,450 barrels of fuel and 4,091 gallons of aviation gasoline. Later that day she gave the New Jersey 7,72 barrels of fuel oil and 2,454 gallons of aviation gasoline. On the 31st she pumped 8,292 barrels of fuel oil and 819 gallons of gasoline into the North Carolina, and 7,918 barrels of fuel into the Washington.
In preparation for fueling-at-sea operations it now became necessary for the Guadalupe to go alongside the commercial tanker Berote to refill. The record 1 June shows that she took aboard 51,691 barrels from the Berote, and gave another fleet tanker, the Marias, 5,832 barrels of Diesel oil. On 4 June the Guadalupe took 7,812 barrels of Diesel oil from the merchant tanker Saconnet. The former ship, with the Platte and Caliente, formed Task Unit 16.7.4 for at-sea operations in support of the Fifth Fleet. The group was ready for sea 6 June, with the Guadalupe carrying 90,139 barrels of fuel oil, 7,840 barrels of Diesel fuel, and 391,202 gallons of aviation gasoline.
Three days later in a fueling area she issued oil to the light carriers Monterey and Cabot and the destroyers Hickok, Hunt, Owen, Patterson, and Bagley. The first of these ships came alongside at 6:25 a.m. By 12:45 p.m. all had cleared, a total of 12,883 barrels of fuel and 14,729 gallons of gasoline having been issued. The next day she fueled three ships of
the screen, and on the 11th the heavy cruisers Boston, Baltimore, and Canberra, the antiaircraft cruisers San Juan and Oakland, and the destroyer Conner with a total of 36,168 barrels of black oil. All ships were clear that afternoon by 3:25.
On D-plus-1 day, 16 June, the Guadalupe fueled the battleships Washington and New Jersey and the destroyers Stephen Potter and Miller with a total of 39,444 barrels of fuel, 743 barrels of Diesel oil, and 818 gallons of aviation gasoline. The tanker now had to replenish her cargo, and in company with other empties, the Cimarron and Neshanic, withdrew from the fueling area, reaching Eniwetok 19 June. Between the 20th and 21st the Elk and Gemsbok, station tankers under operational control of ServRon Ten at Eniwetok, gave her a total of 102,453 barrels, and 22 June the Signal delivered 3,937 barrels, part of which the Guadalupe needed for her own bunkers. She was again ready for sea with 92,879 barrels of fuel, 5,230 barrels of Diesel oil, and 375,657 gallons of aviation gas for issue.
On 25 June the Guadalupe arrived in a fueling area west of Saipan in the Marianas where, 3 days later, she helped fuel Cruiser Division Six and Destroyer Squadron Forty-five. From 29 June to 10 July she operated in assigned fueling areas with her task unit, 16.7.4, one of the oiler units of Task Group 50.17 under Captain Paré. Leaving the areas on the 10th, she reached Eniwetok 13 July. That is the record of one oiler backing up the fleet before and after the assault on Saipan. The Guadalupe was one of the 24 oilers in the 8 fueling-at-sea groups in this operation and shares with the other oilers involved the approbation of the writer and others who know of the splendid service rendered in delivering oil and gasoline - the life blood of any operation - besides carrying personnel, mail, movies, aviation spare parts, some ammunition, some food, and other items. This service was in areas close to the target but far enough back to miss the glamour and excitement of the actual combat phases. Some, but not this writer, might overlook or take for granted the substantial contribution made by these ships to the success of the different campaigns.
The Escort Carrier: Aircraft Replacement
The escort carrier played an important role in the preliminary stages of many operations by delivering aircraft, engines, and aviation gear to the fleet at anchorages and to atoll commands. Also, during the progress of
the operations themselves, the CVE, cruising with fueling units in assigned areas, catapulted replacement planes to the "flat tops" of the fast carrier forces. An example of the aircraft replacement phase of logistic support is shown in the work of the Copahee, Captain D. Harris.
On 17 April, 2 months before D-day for the Marianas, the Copahee left Pearl with 86 aircraft, 390 passengers, and 196 cases of equipment. On the 23d she unloaded her planes at the Majuro air station for further transfer to the fleet, or for use as combat air patrols. Reloading, she took aboard 23 damaged planes, 2 aircraft engines, and 312 passengers, leaving on the 26th for Pearl. Back at Majuro again 12 May, she unloaded 58 planes, 20 of which she catapulted, and 7 cases of airplane parts. The next day she was underway once more for Pearl, where she loaded 61 planes: 25 fighters, 15 torpedo, 20 bombers (SB2C), and 1 SBD bomber.
On 3 June she left Pearl to operate as Task Unit 16.7.10, as part of Task Group 50.17, the oiler group previously mentioned. On the eve of D-day, 14 June, she launched planes to carriers as follows: 4 fighters and 1 torpedo to the Cowpens; 1 fighter, 1 torpedo, 3 SB2C bombers to the Hornet; 4 fighters to the light carrier Bataan; 5 fighters, 5 torpedo, and 7 SB2C bombers to the Yorktown; 4 fighters, 2 torpedo, and 2 Avenger pilots to the light carrier Belleau Wood. From units of the fast carrier groups the Copahee received "flyable duds," aircraft not usable in combat operations. On 16 June she reported to Commander Task Group 58.2, Rear Admiral Montgomery, and launched planes; for the Wasp, 3 torpedo bombers and 1 SB2C; for the Lexington, 1 torpedo bomber; for the Bunker Hill, 4 dive bombers and 2 Avenger pilots; for the Enterprise, 1 torpedo bomber and 1 TBM pilot.
On 17 June the busy Copahee was en route from the Marianas to Eniwetok, where she replenished her supply of aircraft by loading 63 planes, leaving 22 June for operations near the Marianas again. On 26 June she reported to Task Group 58.4 and launched aircraft for the Langley, Cowpens, and Essex. On 6 July she dispatched 3 torpedo planes to Isley Field on Saipan, and the same day launched 26 fighters, 7 torpedo, and 10 SB2C bombers, distributed among the Wasp, Cabot, Bataan, Monterey, Yorktown, and Hornet. Anchoring in Garapan Harbor, Saipan, on 7 July, she loaded Japanese aircraft, engines, and aviation gear before leaving for the United States by way of Eniwetok and Pearl.
These details illustrate a new type of logistic support: Replenishment of carrier aircraft at sea. While fueling at sea was practiced by our Navy before the war, and during the war skillfully improved until it became
almost routine, the carrier replacement by the CVE idea was entirely new and peculiar to operations in the Pacific. Combat or operational losses of pilots and aircraft did not necessarily require the fighting carrier to retire from the combat zone. The carrier captain need only call upon the replenishment carrier to supply his needs on the spot. This procedure, among others, accounted in part for our ability to keep the Japanese off balance.
The Stores Ship: Dry Provisions and Canteen Stores
During the preparatory period for the Marianas campaign, the Navy cargo ship Azimech, Lieutenant Commander E.P. Gaither, arrived at Majuro Atoll 18 May and during the last 5 days of that month discharged 192 tons of canteen stores to 51 ships. After discharging 35 more tons, this time to 21 ships, she left for Eniwetok, arrived there 6 June, and operating under orders from Commander Service Squadron Ten remained there until 9 July. During June she issued 2,223 tons of dry provisions to 142 ships and 174 tons of canteen stores to 171 ships and units. The Azimech had four 50-foot mechanized landing boats and two 36-footers of her own, and these handled 70 percent of the above tonnage to the various large ships served. Submarine chasers, motor mine sweepers, and other small craft came alongside. The Azimech set stores on their own decks. At her first anchorage at Eniwetok Atoll she experienced considerable difficulty with boats alongside because of rough water.
None of the Pacific atolls had sufficient land mass to break the full force of the wind, though they afforded some protection from the long ocean swells. As anchorages they were large enough to accommodate hundreds of ships, but were often very rough for small-boat work and for mooring one ship to another. Because of this condition the Azimech had to move to another berth in the northern part of the lagoon where more favorable unloading conditions prevailed. During the period 1 to 9 July she issued 3,055 tons of dry provisions to 117 ships, and 311 tons of canteen stores to 54.
On the eve of her departure for Pearl for another cargo of provisions, she was ordered to transfer her 4 LCM's and 2 LCVP's, complete with boat crews, for duty in Squadron Ten's boat pool. Four LCVP's, beyond economical transfers were typical of cannibalizing, born of necessity. Boats were
among the scarcest items in the Central Pacific. The LCM and LCVP types especially were never quite plentiful enough for the best support of Operation FORAGER. As the growing fleet, with consequent logistic support, moved westward, the need of more and more boats mounted. The combat ships had none - too hazardous to carry, and the boats had to be provided by the service-squadron pools. The demand was great, persistent, and seldom fully met. In short, the boat situation was one of the most trying problems that plagued the service squadron commander; it continued to do so all the way across the Pacific. The problem was never fully solved.
The Bridge, Commander R.E. Stevens, brought refrigerated provisions to Majuro 27 April 1944. At noon of 4 May she began provisioning Task Force 58, Mitscher's Fast Carrier Force, and kept at it until 10:10 a.m., 7 May. The same day she left for Pearl for replenishment, and after about 3 days there loading was back at Majuro 31 May.
Commander Service Squadron Ten ordered her to Eniwetok, where she was busy 7-9 June - 1 week before D-day - giving her cargo of fresh and frozen provisions to units of Admiral Turner's force. She then left Eniwetok for Pearl. There Lieutenant Commander T.M. Saul relieved Commander Stevens, and on 14-15 July the ship was again busy discharging at Eniwetok.
Besides the Bridge and vessels of her type, the tenders Prairie, Markab, and Cascade, the concrete barge Quartz, the refrigerator barge YF-412, the YP 239, and YP's 282-287 provided fresh and frozen provisions to some extent during the Marianas campaign, though they had to load their stocks from provisions stores ships before they could supply other vessels.
The Repair Ship: Repairs During Marianas Operation
For an idea of the extent of repairs necessary for units of the fleet just before and after the initial assault on the Marianas, the activities of the repair ship Ajax, Commander J.L. Brown, may be taken as typical. On
5 March 1944, she reported to the logistic support group of Squadron Ten at Majuro. During the rest of the month she repaired 74 different fleet units ranging from big carriers and fast battleships down through LST's and YMS's including some work on merchant ships and jobs for two shore activities on Majuro Island.
Nearing the time for the assault, with more ships assembling, the work load increased. In April the Ajax serviced 96 ships and in May 103, of various types. In June she cared for 157 ships, among them 7 fast battleships and 3 old ones, 1 large and 1 small carrier, 3 heavy cruisers, 10 light cruisers, 45 destroyers, 19 destroyer escorts, 2 ammunition ships, 4 oilers, 2 stores ships, 2 merchant vessels, minecraft, fleet tugs, YMS's, SC's, and station and yard craft. She also did some work for the Naval Air Base, Majuro.
Part of the ship repair work in June was done at Eniwetok, where the Ajax arrived on the 19th with the ammunition ship Shasta. During July the Eniwetok load increased to 173 fleet units. As that month marked the completion of the Saipan conquest, and the landings on Guam and Tinian, repairs by the Ajax during August fell off to 120 units, and further in September. During the latter month the ship was quarantined and moved to Kwajalein because of an epidemic of dysentery on board.
Three other repair ships and three repair barges were likewise busy with fleet work during the same period.
FORAGER Logistics in General and Ammunition in Particular
Service Squadron Ten at Eniwetok
One of the ammunition ships supporting the fleet in the Marianas was the Rainier, Commander F.S. Conner. She loaded her ammunition at the Naval Ammunition Depot, Port Chicago, California, early in May 1944, and on the 17th sailed for Majuro. She carried 6,224 tons, in holds, for issue, but no deck cargo. Reaching Majuro 31 May she reported to Squadron Ten for instructions and prepared all holds to issue cargo. From 1 to 5 June, 10 days before the Saipan assault, she made issues to seven fast battleships, five large carriers and four small carriers, two heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, antiaircraft cruisers and certain destroyers, all of Admiral Mitscher's fast carrier striking force, Task Force 58. They took approximately 1,600 tons, about one-fourth of her cargo. She received 6 tons of rejected ammunition from the same force.
On 6 June these fast carriers put to sea to make strikes on Saipan, Tinian, Guam, Rota, and Pagan, to maintain sea and air control in the Marianas area on D-day, and to make such other strikes as opportunity presented. After they left, the Rainier received more rejected ammunition, some ammunition for further transfer, 12 tons of empty containers, made issues to Service Squadron Ten, and secured for sea. On the 11th, in company with two other ammunition carriers, the Mazama and the Mauna Loa, she left Majuro for Eniwetok, arriving there 2 days later. There she made issues to various ships, and 13 July she got under way for Saipan. From the 16th until the end of the month she transferred ammunition at Garapan anchorage there to battleships and cruisers of Task Force 52, the Northern Attack Force of Vice Admiral Turner, and to some carriers of Task Force 58, the Wasp, Franklin, Yorktown, and Hornet. By 2 August she was under way for Pearl, stopping at Eniwetok
to transfer some ammunition to the Lassen. In the 2 months of June and July the Rainier had handled a total of 9,410 tons of ammunition and empty containers: 3,564 tons in June, 5,846 in July.
The Lassen reached Majuro 6 April 1944, and that date Lieutenant Commander F.B. McCall, head of the ammunition department of Service Squadron Ten, went on board and established the administrative office of Commander Service Squadron Ten for ammunition affairs. Lieutenant Commander McCall coordinated the activities of ammunition ships with a staff of only two lieutenants (junior grade). The ammunition department of Squadron Ten later grew to be a much larger section handled by a captain, but in the early days at Majuro and Eniwetok the burden fell upon McCall's shoulders. After the sortie of task groups or some large force he would return to the squadron flagship almost, but not quite, exhausted by his duties of send, hurry, load, unload details, and almost never-ending questions of where, how, and when. He was practically indestructible, and the success of the rearming operations was due principally to his energy and devotion to duty.
Ammunition Expenditure and Resupply
The original plan called for a limited replenishment at the objective from assault shipping, i.e., transports, cargo vessels, landing ships (tank), and landing ships (dock). It consisted of one bombardment allowance of 5-inch antiaircraft common for all fire-support destroyers, a similar bombardment allowance of 8-inch and 6-inch high-capacity for all cruisers, and a limited resupply of depth charges, rockets, and 40mm. The rest of the ammunition replenishment was planned for Eniwetok, and reserves were assembled there in ammunition ships, barges, and cargo ships. Admiral Turner stated that it was his intention to return fire-support ships to Eniwetok in relays as ammunition became necessary.
Shortly after D-day it became apparent that certain types, particularly 6-inch HC, 5-inch AAC, and star shells would soon be exhausted. Neither time nor the number of ships available permitted of keeping up with the expenditure by sending fighting craft to Eniwetok. Since the Mazama, Commander P.V.R. Harris, was heavily loaded with the types most needed, she was ordered to Saipan, thereby easing a very critical situation. Thereafter ammunition ships were ordered to forward areas as needed.
The ship's war diary for 21-22 June, while she was in support of fleet
units still heavily attacking Saipan, supplied the following information:
"The island (Saipan) could be seen silhouetted against the light of flares. - The weather was clear and as daylight approached various phases of the fighting on the island were clearly apparent. . . .(our) planes were seen be bombing and, at certain points, were subjected to enemy antiaircraft fire. The MAZAMA entered the transport area, reported for duty to Commander Task Force 51 (VADM Turner) and was assigned a berth (#40) in Garapan Anchorage. This berth had a depth of from 50-65 fathoms with a rock bottom. The contour of the bottom was a narrow ledge shelving steeply on each side. Immediately upon arrival, the USS LOUISVILLE (CA-20) came alongside and as soon as practicable ammunition issues commenced. Heavy swells from eastward caused dangerous rolling and unstable conditions for cargo operations. The destroyer MELVIN (DD-680) came alongside. She rolled 10 or 15 degrees, bent the splinter shield on the midships 40-mm. mount and shoved off without taking ammunition. Various LCT's came alongside, and with better luck took ammunition. By 2125 the LOUISVILLE cleared the MAZAMA. All booms and holds were secured for the night. In spite of difficulties, 107 tons of ammunition were issued (21 June) by the MAZAMA. A little after midnight upon receipt of flash "red" warning the MAZAMA prepared to get under way and hove short. An hour later flash "white." At sunrise cargo operation was resumed with LCT's alongside. The MAZAMA had dragged her anchor and had to shift berth. Intermittent bombardment of Saipan by naval ships and aircraft continued. Issue to heavy ships was not feasible due to heavy swells; transfer of ammunition now was confined to LCT's and LCVP's. Just before midnight another flash "red" and preparations again made for getting under way. All vessels were ordered by CTF 51 to make smoke. For the 22d of June, 185 tons of ammunition were issued."
From 21 June to 7 July, when she sailed for Eniwetok, the Mazama's diary shows almost daily red alarms, preparations for and actually getting under way in darkness, and damage sustained from vessels alongside. (There were a few good days.) Alarms were generally accompanied by orders for all ships to make smoke. On the night of 27 June between 8 and 10:15 o'clock the ship got under way twice and reanchored each time. These are the conditions under which she worked, the hindrances, the interruptions to loading during the day and the alerts at night, all during periods of naval bombardment and the threats of enemy air attacks. During the 15 days the Mazama was engaged in unloading, she discharged 3,448 tons of ammunition, approximately 230 tons a day, the largest issue being 400 tons.
At Eniwetok the ship replenished her cargo from the Rutland Victory and returned 27 July to Saipan, where the rest of the month she issued through landing craft (mechanized), lighters, and barges to large carriers anchored nearby, using working parties from the receiving vessels to do so. Carrier bomb replenishment was the vital work at this time, and deliveries to the carriers Lexington, Bunker Hill, and San
Jacinto were completed 1 August when the work had to stop as the weather had become progressively worse. On 2 August both the Hornet and the Mazama shifted anchorages twice to find a better location for loading. Finally the Hornet got under way to make a lee for the LCM's, and the Mazama steamed across the wind to unload bombs to the landing craft while in motion. Some success resulted, and two LCM loads of 50 bombs each were given the Hornet. In spite of set-backs by weather and sea, the ship received Admiral Spruance's compliments in the visual message: "CTF 58 appreciates the excellent rebombing work by Mazama, your boats and crews. Thanks." Great credit is due the officers and men of all ammunition ships in handling their dangerous cargoes under difficulties in support of fleet operations. Those were the boys who "passed the ammunition."
Rebombing of the carriers presented an unusual problem. On one occasion every ship in the roadstead was stripped of bombs for the carriers of Task Force 58. Emergency shipments ordered from Eniwetok (those ships which returned to Eniwetok were resupplied there) enabled the carriers to remain effective, though the bombs supplied were not always those desired. Replenishment at the objective reached unexpected magnitude. The total ammunition transferred at the objective from ammunition or cargo ships was:
a. 16-, 14-, 8-, 6-inch, and various calibers of 5-inch, besides rockets, 14,629 tons;
b. Bombs of various sizes from 2,000 pounds to 100 pounds, plus .50-caliber ammunition, 2,523 tons.
(A grand total of 17,152 tons, of which 10,960 were fired against Saipan.)
Several practical problems incidental to the replenishment program were solved with the ways and means at hand. Empty shell casings and containers were loaded into discharged vessels, partially unloaded ammunition craft, and temporarily even into harbor craft. Working parties, such as Commodore Carter's Seabees, specialist stevedores at Eniwetok, and others obtained from headquarters ships and transports, helped greatly. Supervision of inexperienced merchant-ship ammunition carriers was solved by temporary assignment of staff officers to duty aboard. Shortage of equipment such as fenders, camels, and lines was partly met by borrowing, though the scarcity of manila rope made substitutions necessary, while in the case of fenders, damaged aircraft and vehicle tires were frequently used, and other types of wooden fenders improvised.
Ammunition ship Shasta loading 14-inch powder and shells onto the New Mexico.
New Mexico sending 14-inch H.C. shells to the magazines.
Those officers and men who labored at the task of supervising or actually handling ammunition cargoes may take pride on their contribution to the combined effort. No better proof could be asked than an extract from a captured Japanese message sent from enemy headquarters on Saipan: "The practical experience of the defense forces on Saipan in this battle lasting over half a month lay in the power of the enemy naval bombardment. If there were just no naval gunfire, we feel we could fight it out with the enemy in a decisive battle."
Admiral Conolly, commanding Task Force 53, reported the effect of naval gunfire in the capture of Guam in these words: "The assault troops of both the Third Division and the First Brigade landed with very little interference or opposition from enemy troops, and with sporadic mortar fire as the only enemy gunfire to hinder them. This fact was due in large part to the intense naval gunfire placed upon the landing beaches and adjacent areas just before the Marines first set foot on the beach. Coastal defense guns, heavy and light AA guns, dual-purpose guns, and all types of defensive installations were rendered impotent prior to the landing of the troops. Most of the houses and other structures on the west coast of the island were completely razed by deliberate destructive fire, which prevented their use by enemy troops. It is believed that not one fixed gun was left in commission on the west coast that was of greater size than a machine gun." Those who had "passed the ammunition" had not labored in vain.
Fog oil and smoke pots are associated logistic items in connection with ammunition. Admiral Turner stated that smoke operations in the transport areas were the major factor in effective defense against air attack which, though repeated and often, was obviously blind bombing. Unsuccessful attempts were also made to drop torpedoes. The screen (fog) produced was not always perfect, but was sufficient to prevent the enemy from selecting specific targets, even in very bright moonlight, and pressing home the attack. The only damage suffered in the transport area during smoke coverage was incurred when the cargo vessel Mercury, Lieutenant Commander N.D. Salmon, was hit by a torpedo before it struck the water. The torpedo did some damage as a missile, but did not explode. The enemy pilot was so confused by the smoke screen that, after releasing the torpedo, he crashed his plane into one of the Mercury's cargo booms and was destroyed. It is doubtful that he saw the ship.
About 24 June, 9 days after D-day, it became apparent that additional smoke mixture would be required at Saipan if air attacks continued. Shipments, including some by air, were requested from Squadron Ten
at Eniwetok, and recommendations made that a supply of 30,000 gallons of fog oil, 3,000 pots, and 3,000 floats be established there. Later these amounts were doubled. Fortunately shipments arrived during critical moments. Eniwetok sent altogether 65,000 gallons of fog oil and 4,100 pots and floats.
From 5 to 15 minutes was required, depending upon the wind speed, to develop a good screen over the anchorage. From 15 June, D-day, to 7 July smoke was used on 12 occasions, in periods ranging from 29 minutes to 234, and a total length of 18 hours and 27 minutes. Based on an average of 30 ships using smoke generators (Besler type) and 30 others using pots or floats in small boats, the estimated average expenditure each hour of smoking was 3,000 gallons of fog oil and 600 pots or floats. On the foregoing basis the estimated total expenditure at Saipan was 57,000 gallons of fog oil and 11,400 pots or floats.
Hospital Ships in the Marianas Assault
On 15 June, D-day, the Solace, Commander E.B. Peterson, left Eniwetok and arrived in Charan Kanoa anchorage, Saipan, 18 June, while the shore and adjacent hill were under heavy bombardment by dive bombers, naval shellfire, and field artillery fire from a captured beachhead. Twenty-five minutes after she anchored, the Solace began embarking patients from ships and shore units, and casualties from front-line operations, a total for the day, all battle casualties, of 442. Next day, the bombardment continuing, she received 259 more. On 20 June, the following day, the senior medical officer reported to the captain that all beds were filled, that patients were overflowing into the crew's quarters, and that with 584 cases on board full capacity for caring for the wounded had been reached. Men who died of their wounds had been transferred to the medical officer of the shore party for interment. The Solace put to sea and on the 26th moored alongside Point Cruz dock, Guadalcanal Island. Here she transferred her patients to U.S. Army ambulances, 505 naval casualties for Fleet Hospital 108, 73 Army cases to the Evacuation Officer, Surgeon's Office, Service Command, for further treatment and disposition.
On the way from Saipan to Guadalcanal the Solace crossed the equator on 24 June, and Captain Peterson thoughtfully held a Neptune party for the patients. The "royal" party visited each ward and issued a "Crossing the Line" certificate to each patient, a merry touch indicative of a happy ship that lightened the suffering of the wounded men. Three days later,
the 27th, she turned about, and on arrival at Garapan, anchorage commenced taking aboard wounded from the front lines. Although on 3 July heavy swells and bad weather made handling of patients difficult, she nevertheless took 264 aboard and by afternoon of the 5th had received 562. Again she sailed for the Solomons, anchoring this time in Sunlight Channel, Russell Islands, on the 11th. There 376 patients went to Fleet Hospital 110, 182 to the Army 222d Station Hospital. Sailing for Eniwetok, she fueled and went to Guam, arriving 24 July. Lying to in Agana Bay, she began taking casualties aboard while the shore was under bombardment by surface forces supported by air bombing and strafing. One day several small-caliber shells, believed to be from enemy mortars on shore, fell close aboard, so she moved about 500 yards farther to seaward. During her 3-day stay she did not anchor but lay to the entire time. By the 26th she had reached her capacity with 585 cases aboard. She sailed immediately, and 30 July began discharging her patients at Kwajalein.
Other hospital ships also were doing splendid work, among them the Samaritan, Commander J.C. Sever, and the Bountiful, Commander G.L. Burns. The latter arrived D-plus-3 day and evacuated 515 casualties. On D-plus-8 day the Relief and the Samaritan evacuated 1,355 men and returned to the objective for more.
On her second call at Saipan the Relief on 15 July evacuated 685 casualties, of which 284 were wounded Japanese. The ship's working plan required that Marines and soldiers wounded in battle be embarked first. When such loading was completed, remaining available space was filled with Japanese prisoners, all of whom received the same professional treatment as men of our own forces. A prisoner who died was buried at sea, with an appropriate religious service.
In the Prairie's sick bay there were two Japanese patients, 7-year-old children, who had lived on Saipan. They had learned to trust and had become fond of one particular hospital corpsman. When the children had to be sent back to Saipan, the separation of these "friendly" enemies was a touching scene. On the destroyer tender Prairie, as well as on the hospital ships, the humanities prevailed.
Medical Report of Admiral Turner, Commander Task Force Fifty-one
On D-day, 15 June, 19 attack transports, 5 transports, 6 cargo vessels (attack), and 3 landing ships (tank) were available at Saipan for evacuation
of casualties. The three LST's, specially equipped, handled 1,540 casualties and 27 surgical operations were performed aboard. On D-day between 10:40 a.m. and 3 p.m. 711 casualties had been received aboard the transports. Two LST's, commencing at the same time, received 200 casualties in less than 2 hours, and the third LST was filled soon after, necessitating transfer of further casualties to the transports. The Solace and Bountiful, arriving on D-plus-3 day, evacuating 1,099 wounded, helped to relieve the overload on the medical facilities of the attack transports. Saipan had a total of 16,525 killed, wounded, and missing; Tinian 1,829; and Guam 7,266; the wounded being respectively 13,099, 1,515, and 5,722.
Air evacuation from Isely Air Field was established on D-plus-9 day, and 860 casualties were sent to the Marshalls by this means during the remainder of the operation. Experience showed, Admiral Turner stated, that a flight surgeon, with adequate medical attendants at the objective to supervise air evacuation, was necessary.
As a whole, medical supplies were adequate. The greatest shortage was that of litters, though there was a short interval early in the operation when penicillin was not available. The 100 ampules obtained by the flagship Rocky Mount from hospitals at the start of operations were used up prior to resupply by air. Then a fairly new drug, penicillin had not been made available to ships through routine channels before their departure for the objective. A shortage of tetanus antitoxin, due to faulty distribution, was felt by the landing forces early in the operation.
Report of Logistics by Vice Admiral Turner, Commander Task Force Fifty-one
Admiral Turner, in his report on the capture of the Marianas, brings out clearly the vital nature of the problem of supply. He wrote, in part: "At the outset of the operation it was apparent that one of the most serious problems to be solved was that of logistics. The operation called for a long trip to the objective, followed by an extended stay at points a thousand miles from the nearest resupply allocation. Furthermore, amphibious landing operations now require the employment of hundreds of small craft . . . almost all of which have limited endurance in matters of fuel, water, and provisions. Likewise, the arrival of non-self-sustaining merchant ships containing garrison units, increases the amount of supplies required."
Logistics at the Staging Areas. "In order to enable the many small craft in the task force to complete the long trip from the Hawaiian area to the necessary logistic items for the stay at the objective, all ships were fueled, watered, and provisioned at one of the three staging points, Eniwetok, Roi, and Kwajalein, in accordance with a schedule set up in the operation plan. The dates of arrival of various task units at the staging areas were staggered slightly to relive the congestion and expedite servicing.
"It was expected that all craft smaller than LST's would require fuel and that they, plus the LST's, would require water and provisions at the staging areas. In addition, it was considered advisable to top off the larger ships with whatever supplies and water remained at the staging points after the small craft were cared for, in an effort to lengthen the endurance of all vessels at the objective.
"The logistic schedule included in the operation plan divided the ships present at each staging point into logistic groups, whose requirements were to be handled by the senior officer of each," who "was to submit to Service Squadron Ten by air mail, prior to his departure from his group. This arrangement was not entirely satisfactory, however, for two reasons. First, due to the mixture of ships in each logistic group, there was considerable doubt as to which officer was the senior... Also, very few groups submitted their logistic schedules in advance to Service Squadron Ten. As a result it became necessary for the Senior Officer Present Afloat, together with the representatives of Service Squadron Ten, to set up an almost entirely new fueling and watering schedule... Despite this difficulty, and the large number of ships requiring services, all ships were refueled, watered, and provisioned expeditiously, due to the able assistance of Service Squadron Ten."
Logistics at the Objective: Provisions. It was evident from the beginning of the operation that because of the shortage of provision ships in the Central Pacific there would be no fresh and few frozen and dry provisions for resupply at the objective. Therefore the transports and merchant ships were called upon to give to the limit of their capacity. All ships leaving the area were stripped of all provisions in excess of the amount required to reach ultimate destinations, plus a small reserve. On D-plus-28 day the Giansar, Commander G.J. King, a dry-provisions ships, arrived and refilled all ships present with dry provisions. About D-plus-50 day a provisions stores lighter was brought forward with 400
tons of frozen stores, and each craft given a limited amount. Adequate dry stores were thus available, though fresh and frozen provisions and ship's service supplies were sorely missed.
Water Supply at the Objective. As it was realized that no outside sources of water would be available at the objective for many days after the initial landing, arrangements were made to service the smaller, non-self-sustaining craft from transports, LST's, and large combatant ships. Excess water in them was stored in LST's for future use. Despite these efforts, demand began to exceed supply after the larger ships left. Non-self-sustaining merchant ships arriving with troops also lacked water during a period of heavy weather which prevented daily collections of water from the remaining large ships. Admiral Turner stated: "Water ships must be moved to the assault area closely following the assault forces, prepared to supply large amounts of water until water barges can be brought into the area."
Report of Logistics by Rear Admiral Conolly, Commander Task Force Fifty-three (Southern Attack Force)
Logistics in the Staging Area. "Task Force 53 staged for the Marianas operation at Kwajalein and Roi in the Marshall Islands. Replenishment of fuel and provisions by all ships and fresh water for LST's, LCI's, and other small craft was accomplished at the staging points. Logistic services in the staging areas were completed satisfactory and were furnished by ComServRon Ten and his representatives at the ports concerned."
Logistics in the Restaging Area. "Due to the postponement of W-day (Guam) it was necessary that Task Force 53 restage at Eniwetok . . . Restaging involved topping off with fuel, water, provisions, and ammunition, and was accomplished during a period in which existing facilities for servicing the fleet were sorely overtaxed by demands of other task forces of the Fifth Fleet. In spite of the adverse conditions all ships of Task Force 53 departed from Eniwetok logistically prepared to carry out their tasks in the operation. The fullest cooperation during the restaging period was received from ComNavBases, Forward Area, Central Pacific, and ComServRon Ten."
Logistics at the Objective. "With assistance from departing ships, that part of the task force which remained at the objective was logistically self-sufficient except for fuel. Fuel was furnished from tankers which arrived on W-plus-5 day. These tankers located at the objective were
extremely helpful to the accomplishment of successful fire support and screening operations, in that destroyers and other ships could be fueled in the immediate vicinity of their operating areas and without the task force commander losing their services for 10 to 15 hours while they steamed to and from fueling rendezvous 100 or more miles from the objective."
July in Central Pacific. The principal operations in the Central Pacific were completion of the Saipan conquest, near-completion of the occupation of Tinian and Guam, operations of ships and aircraft supporting these actions, and the furnishing of logistic and air support through Marshall Islands bases. During July, Kwajalein, Majuro, and Eniwetok Atolls served for staging support, and for land-based air operations against enemy bases within range. Fleet units were serviced and reprovisioned at all three anchorages. All shipping for the Marianas was staged through Kwajalein and Eniwetok, particularly the latter. In view of this, it is pertinent to examine some of the activities of Squadron Ten at Eniwetok during July 1944 in meeting the needs of the fleet.
Principal Activities of Service Squadron Ten at Eniwetok During July 1944
Commander Service Squadron Ten (Commodore Carter), using the Prairie as his flagship and with part of his staff in her, had been at Eniwetok since 5 June. Lack of space in the flagship necessitated placing the disbursing section of the supply department in the repair ship Ajax and the fuel section in the oiler Sepulga. The following tenders and repair ships were also present: Repair ship Hector; destroyer tenders Piedmont, Cascade, and Markab; repair ship landing craft Egeria; floating drydocks ARD-13, ARD-15, mobile floating drydock AFD-15, and floating workshop YR-30.
During the first half of July there was a daily average of 488 ships at Eniwetok; during the second half, 283. The greatest number came between 7 and 12 July, when more than 520 ships were present. These assemblages were not as great as those which came later at Eniwetok, Ulithi, and in Leyte Gulf. However, the squadron was still fairly young, its organization feeling its way, its facilities still insufficient. The demands of the many ships present extended the squadron's capabilities to the limit. But by dint of long hours, improvisation, and teamwork the challenge was met and necessary services rendered at a critical time.
Ships in Eniwetok, Marshall Islands.
This strenuous period exacted its tolls, however, in the health of two staff officers, Commander R.P. Hazelhurst and Captain F.A. Packer, maintenance officer. In mid-May 1944 Commander Hazelhurst relieved Lieutenant Commander G.A. Kelly. Lieutenant Commander R.A. Harrison, Squadron Ten's original supply officer, was away when Commander Hazelhurst arrived, in San Francisco supervising the outfitting of concrete barges. Serving as supply officer at Majuro, Hazelhurst continued at Eniwetok until August, when he was relieved by Captain W.J. Nowinski. His health had become undermined by the arduous duties confronting him in connection with supply work for the fleet.
Captain Packer was the squadron's first maintenance officer, and through all those tough early days at Majuro and Eniwetok until September carried out his duties without a let-up. The variety and scope of the repair and service problems he faced, incident to large fleet concentrations at both anchorages, seemed unlimited. He did splendid work laboring long hours without thought of the drain upon his health and strength. In September Captain P.D. Gold replaced him as repair officer of Squadron Ten.
The variety and scope of Ten's multifarious duties at Eniwetok during July may be shown by some of the highlights of activities and conditions. Four towing planes were based there for antiaircraft services to the fleet, administered by the squadron gunnery officer. Oilers and water barges went to the northern part of the atoll to oil Tractor Group 53.16. Temporary repairs were made on the after strut of No. 4 main propeller shaft of the Pennsylvania. Smoke equipment was loaded on LST's and transports, and 105-mm. ammunition was loaded from Japtan Island and from the Kit Carson on LST-272. The sonar on the Porterfield was repaired and her port propeller changed in one of the floating drydocks, which performed much valuable service throughout the war. Five-inch, .38-caliber ammunition was unloaded from the steamer Robert C. Carey to lighters, and 8-inch, .38-caliber ammunition, high capacity, unloaded from the Narcissa Whitman to lighters. Two 5-inch, .38-caliber gun barrels were replaced in the battleship California. Commander Fifth Fleet called for one dry-provision barge to be sent to Saipan. In response to this the Giansar, with YC-1030 and YF-412 towed by the fleet tug Lipan, went there; also two gasoline barges and a tank barge. Ammunition was delivered to Task Group 58.3 (Rear Admiral Reeves) and Task Group 58.4 (Rear Admiral Harrill). Eight-inch ammunition was unloaded from Narcissa Whitman and 14-inch from Rutland Victory for transfer to Shasta.
An LCT alongside the Yorktown.
Here we had the merchant ship bringing out ammunition to forward areas, where naval ammunition carriers replenished their cargoes. Stevedores though insufficient for handling such cargoes, were berthed at Eniwetok on the "Sea Hag," a large personnel barge, the forerunner of the APL hotel barge or barracks ship. Squadron Ten also effected temporary underwater repairs to inboard port stern tube bearing on the North Carolina, loaded LST's with 5-inch, .38-caliber ammunition for Saipan, and during the first half of July provisioned Carrier Task Groups 58.3 and 58.4; ships of the Southern Attack Force (Task Force 53) and other amphibious vessels. During this period the Aldebaran arrived to relieve the storage of fresh and frozen foods. In all, more than 500 vessels were serviced. To accomplish this the cargo transports Cheleb and Azimech distributed 700 tons of dry provisions. The Bridge was able to supply only 925 tons of fresh foods, which were distributed as evenly as possible among the amphibious forces and the larger vessels in Task Groups 58.3 and 58.4. The tenders did yeoman service in providing for the needs of the destroyers in these groups. All this is only a part of the service rendered from 1 to 15 July 1944.
Sea Flyer Salvage. On 21 July at 2:30 a.m. the Sea Flyer grounded on the south side of the east channel entrance to Eniwetok. Salvage operation began at daybreak under Commodore Carter. Tugs took heavy strain on cables, but the ship did not move. Preparations for removing troops and cargo were initiated, and rigging of beaching gear started. Lieutenant R.K. Thurman, commanding the fleet tug Tawasa, was designated salvage officer, and continued as such until the ship was refloated 28 July, though Commander Lebbeus Curtis arrived to act as supervisor on the 24th. By this prompt salvage a valuable ship was saved with her cargo, 1,900 tons of which was unloaded before she could be hauled off. A very important lesson was learned by all who witnessed this work; i.e., when grounding on a lee shore, beaching-gear anchors must be put out and strain taken on all before lightening the vessel. The more beaching anchors available, the better. Tugs should take a strain on the towing lines only after their own anchors are down to a generous scope of chain.
Carrier Attack on the Western Carolines: 26-28 July 1944. With plans on foot for large-scale attacks on the Western Carolines in the early fall, Vice Admiral Mitscher executed Operation SNAPSHOT on them, to obtain photographic coverage of the group and make an antishipping sweep. With this was the necessity of destroying enemy aircraft there, to prevent attacks on our forces currently engaged in the large Marianas Operation FORAGER. Three fast carrier groups were released after covering
the Guam landing on 21 July for this mission: 58.1-2-3. The first and second were low on ammunition, and had to put into Saipan the morning of the 22nd. Bombs were loaded that day, and on the 23d the force fueled from oilers of Task Group 50.17 south of Guam in one of the fueling areas of the Marianas operation plan. Task Group 58.1 was directed to attack and photograph Yap, Ulithi, Fais, Ngulu, and Sorol, while the two other groups gave their attention to Palau. Both missions were successful, rendezvous was made on the 29th, refueling accomplished, and the entire force returned to the Marianas area.
Carrier Air Attack on Iwo Jima and the Bonins: 4-5 August 1944. This operation, known as SCAVENGER, an adjunct of the large scale Marianas campaign, was designed to attack aircraft, shipping, and shore installations in the Iwo Jima, Haha Jima, and Chichi Jima areas. Task Groups 58.1 and 58.3 participated under Rear Admirals J.J. Clark and A.E. Montgomery, with 4 large and 2 light carriers, 8 light cruisers, and 24 destroyers.
On 1 August the two groups anchored at Saipan, on returning from their Western Carolines raid. Bomb loading, scheduled for that night, was prevented by heavy swells. The following day, after proceeding to a point somewhat out of Saipan anchorage, the weather still prevented the loading of a single bomb. The two groups left Saipan that afternoon 2 August, fueled from Task Group 50.17, of 4 oilers and screen, to the west of Tinian and proceeded on a northerly course to the Bonin Islands. The next day three destroyers rejoined, with mail and personnel from Saipan. Several destroyers were topped off from the carriers, but weather conditions were still not favorable.
On the 4th, after receiving reports that a Japanese convoy was heading north from Chichi Jima, Task Unit 58.1.6 was formed, with four cruisers and seven destroyers, and ordered to attack the enemy and bombard Chichi Jima. The same day planes of Task Group 58.1 attacked Chichi Jima, while those of Task Group 58.3 launched their strike against Iwo Jima. Planes from both attacked Chichi and Haha on the 5th. Because of the difficulty at Saipan in loading bombs there was a shortage of the most desirable types for the targets available, as well as shortage of fuzes. The two groups retired the night of the 5th, reached Eniwetok the 9th, and were resupplied and serviced there by Squadron Ten.
The month of August 1944 saw the completion of the Marianas assault operations with the cessation of organized resistance on Tinian and Guam. Commodore Carter, with the main body of Service Squadron
Ten, was still giving principal support to the fleet at Eniwetok. This was due for a change when Halsey relieved Spruance at the beginning of the Western Carolines Operation (STALEMATE). It was planned to base the fast carrier force of the fleet, called the Third Fleet while under Halsey, at Seeadler Harbor, Manus Island, Carter sent his Kwajalein commander, Captain S.B. Ogden, to Manus on 21August. Captain H.A. Houser took over command of the remainder of the detachment left there.
At the end of the month, Carter and the squadron supply officer, Captain W.J. Nowinski, flew to Saipan to arrange establishing a service unit there. At this time the commanding officer of the submarine tender Holland, Commander C.Q. Wright, Jr., had been acting as squadron representative at Tanapag Harbor, Saipan. Organizational matters and supply were discussed. Carter at once detached his chief staff officer and operations officer, Captain A.F. Rhoades, ordering him to take charge of Squadron Ten's activities at Saipan, which de did 3 September. Captain E.E. Duvall reported for duty and became the new chief staff officer.
The same day Commodore Carter and Captain Nowinski flew back to Eniwetok, and the former left next day by plane for Pearl Harbor to attend a conference with Vice Admiral Calhoun, Commander Service Force Pacific, concerning the mobile logistic set-up at Seeadler Harbor, and the moving of Service Squadron Ten's facilities from Eniwetok to Ulithi in the Carolines. He returned to find that a stiff blow from the southwest, which lasted intermittently for several days, had done the squadron considerable damage at Eniwetok. The prevailing winds are from the northeast, and the service vessels were anchored in the lee of Runit Island in the northeast area of the lagoon, which is about 15 miles wide. With the shift of the wind to southwest there was no lee, and a fairly good sea was kicked up. Three ammunition barges broke adrift. Available tugs were sent after them, but meantime more craft - three gasoline barges and two high-speed target sleds - broke loose.
Two days later, after recovering the barges high winds in stiff gusts accompanied by choppy seas from the southwest played more havoc with moorings, of which at this time there was a severe shortage, both in anchoring gear and cordage. This time the damage was heavy: 6 YF's, 2 YO's, 3 small unmanned tugs, and 61 boats (LCVP, LCM, etc.) were blown ashore on Runit Island. Some of the small boats might have been prevented from beaching but for the fact that some of the crewmen were quarantined on the repair ship Ajax, which had an epidemic of bacillary
dysentery aboard. All the equipment stranded on the beach was urgently needed for servicing fleet units. A YF loaded with smoke bombs was in special demand, since bombs were wanted at Saipan. Though the wind continued from the wrong direction, salvage efforts finally resulted in recovery of the barge with the smoke bombs. The last barge was not hauled off the beach until 9 September, 3 days after the wind had shifted back to normal northeast. Small boats remained on the beach sometime after that. The damage to the LCVP's was particularly severe because of their plywood construction. The efforts of the boat-pool personnel, and of crews of tugs and other small craft, to salvage barges and boats were most praiseworthy. Nevertheless, the damage was considerable to equipment of high value to the squadron.
Certain lessons came from the blow. Among those outstanding were: (1) The importance of maximum shelter for small boats; (2) use of better methods and materials for securing barges and boats in open water, especially in view of the shortage of mooring gear in forward areas, without full equipment of which no barges should be sent forward; (3) regular inspection day and night: (4) indoctrination of crews and boat-pool personnel regarding security; (5) need of mother ships such as LST's (landing ships (tank)) and LSD's (landing ships (dock)); (6) adequate repair units. The first four of these can be summed up in one word, "seamanship," of which there was a shortage throughout the war.
STALEMATE II: The Western Carolines Operation
Preparations at Seeadler Harbor and Eniwetok
Immediately following the capture of the Marianas, the Western Carolines operation was planned to gain control of the last link dividing our Central from our Southwest Pacific Force, which had been operating independently since 1942. Control of the Western Carolines group would give the Allied forces a direct line of advance westward to the eastern approaches of the Philippines and the Formosa-China coasts. Every major command in the Pacific area participated in the operation, with an estimated force of 800 vessels, 1,600 aircraft, and 250,000 Navy, Marine, and Army personnel.
As early as 29 May 1944, Commander Third Fleet was directed to initiate planning and preparations for seizing the islands in the Palau group. Observers were sent to the Marianas to profit by any lessons that campaign might teach. Admiral Halsey, commanding the Third Fleet, was designated Commander Western Pacific Task Forces and given additional responsibility for emergency support of the Southwest Pacific Forces under Vice Admiral T.C. Kinkaid, employed in the capture of Morotai. Vice Admiral T.S. Wilkinson, commanding the Third Amphibious Force, was named Joint Expeditionary Force Commander (Task Force 31) to conduct landing operations. Major General J.C. Smith, USMC, Commander Third Amphibious Corps, was named Commanding General, Expeditionary Troops (Task Force 36). Vice Admiral Mark A. Mitscher provided air support with his Fast Carrier Task Force 38. Because the seizure of Saipan had proved more difficult and time consuming than had been estimated, and the consequent deployment of forces had been delayed, the original STALEMATE order of May 1944 was
canceled and a new plan known as STALEMATE II was issued on 7 July. By this plan, 15 September 1944 was designated as D-day, when initial landings would be made simultaneously on Peleliu Island in the Palau group by the Central Pacific Forces, and on Morotai Island, 480 miles to the southwest, by the Southwest Pacific Forces.
Seeadler Harbor, Manus. On 30 July 1944, representatives of Central Pacific Forces, headed by Commodore A.G. Quynn, met at Naval Base Manus, Admiralty Islands, with representatives of Commander Seventh Fleet, Commander Southwest Pacific Forces, and Naval Base Manus to discuss logistic support of Third Fleet units using Manus as a base in the Western Carolines operation. As a result, Captain S.B. Ogden was ordered to Manus as Commander Service Squadron Ten representative, bringing with him units necessary to service Third Fleet vessels. He left Kwajalein in the Marshalls on the Argonne, Commander T.H. Escott, on 21 August and reached Seeadler Harbor on the 27th to set up his mobile base, using the Argonne as his flagship.
Commander Third Fleet's logistic plan for Operation STALEMATE II, covering the capture of Peleliu,. Ngesebus, Anguar, and Ulithi required that there should be available in Seeadler Harbor one 90,000-ton floating drydock, one 1,000-ton floating drydock, one destroyer tender, one repair ship, two 3,000-ton floating drydocks, and four floating workshops - two for hulls, two for machinery repairs, Besides these, there were added from time to time two destroyer tenders, one repair ship for internal combustion engines, four station tankers, one repair ship, two covered lighters, one water and one fuel oil barge, and two pontoon cranes.
Captain Ogden's responsibility, as Representative "A" of Commander Service Squadron Ten in charge of his Seeadler detachment, was to administer its activities in rendering logistic support. An example was the requirement that 24 oilers be present there for the striking forces, and the further requirement that the Area Petroleum Office of ComServPac effect delivery of 4,150,000 barrels of fuel oil at Manus in equal amounts throughout September. On 20 August 12 oilers left Eniwetok for Seeadler, carrying approximately 1,200,000 barrels of naval special, 84,000 barrels of Diesel oil, and 4,500,000 gallons of aviation gasoline. Commander ServRon Ten at Eniwetok immediately began preparations to send the second contingent of oilers, which left on the 27th and reached Seeadler the 31st. Captain Ogden handled the assignment of the tankers and apportioned delivery of fuel and petroleum products. He similarly administered the supply of fresh and frozen foods, dry provisions, dry stores, ammunition, fresh water, medical
items, fleet freight, aviation supplies, and last but not least, repair facilities.
Following the Argonne to Seeadler on 27 August were the unclassified vessels Silver Cloud, Caribou, Arethusa, and Armadillo, the water barge YW-90, and the ocean tug Tern towing the concrete barge YO-186. The Caribou brought 65,000 barrels of fuel oil, the Silver Cloud 85,000 and the Arethusa 65,000; the Armadillo 24,000 barrels of Diesel oil and 1,770,000 gallons of aviation gasoline. YW-90 held 280,000 gallons of water, and the concrete YO-186 55,000 barrels. The fleet tug Tawasa towed in the floating drydock ARD-19, while the auxiliary ocean tug ATA-122 arrived towing the barges YF-681, filled with boatswain's stores of manila and wire line, blocks, tackle, mooring gear, etc., and YF-787 with general stores. Bringing in the drydock also meant bringing her in full, for while being towed from port to port her docking space furnished a wealth of cargo room for all sorts of equipment. On her trip from Eniwetok the ARD-19 carried the little harbor tug YTL-208, 2 pontoon crane barges, 20 LCM's, and 20 LCVP's. Except for the crane barges all these were self-propelled, but none could have made its way across the ocean under its own power. Most of Ogden's detachment was sent down from Kwajalein and Eniwetok. Crane barges, small tugs, and landing craft were vital necessities for supply services within a harbor, and had to go forward. We shall see later how the ARD's continued their usefulness as "moving vans" in the shifting of a service squadron westward.
The Forces. Some idea of the magnitude of STALEMATE II may be had by considering the tremendous forces involved, so far the greatest naval-military effort. Besides 14 battleships, new and old, 16 carriers, and 20 escort carriers, 22 cruisers, 136 destroyers, and 31 destroyer escorts, the attacking fleets included every manner and type of amphibious and supporting craft, large and small, to the grand total of 712 vessels. This without counting the various service ships as assigned, or the more than 400 units engaged in Operation INTERLUDE for the capture of Morotai simultaneously with the landings on Peleliu on 15 September.
The land-based forces, designated as Task Force 36, were composed of two parts - the Western Landing Force, or Third Amphibious Corps, and the Eastern Landing Force. The Western included the First Marine and 81st Infantry Divisions, the Eastern the 7th and 96th Infantry Divisions. The Floating Reserve was the 7th Infantry Division, and the General Reserve was the Fifth Marine Division.
The First Marine Division was loaded in the Guadalcanal-Russells
area, and was jointed for final rehearsals late in August by the 81st Infantry Division. The latter had been mounted in Hawaii and moved to Guadalcanal in two convoys, the LST's and slower escorts leaving first, the transports following. The entire assault force sailed to the objective in two convoys on 4 and 8 September. The Eastern Landing Force of XXIVth Corps left Hawaii 15 September for Eniwetok to participate in Phase II, but when that portion of the plan was canceled except for the seizure of Ulithi it was sent on to Manus to prepare for Operation KING TWO, the Philippines. One regimental combat team of the 81st Infantry Division proved sufficient to secure Ulithi.
In his Operation Plan 14-44, Admiral Halsey prescribed that "all combatant and auxiliary ships will avail themselves of every opportunity to procure stores in advance of this operation to insure departure for operating areas" with ammunition, fuel, and fresh provisions to maximum authorized capacity, dry provisions not to exceed 120 days for ship's company and 60 days for embarked troops, and general stores, clothing, ship's stores stock, and medical stores for 120 days each.
Operational control of support shipping for the operation passed to Commander Third Fleet on the arrival of the vessels at Manus and Eniwetok, and such ships were given Third Fleet Task Group designations. Provision stores ships, general stores issue ships, and cargo ships carrying dry provisions used in support of fleet units, were fleet issue loaded. All fleet tankers were directed to load with half capacity cargoes of Diesel oil and aviation gasoline but with fuel oil to the maximum draft. Large ships were expected to furnish provisions to small ones when necessary. Since it seemed probable that rationing of fresh and frozen provisions would be unavoidable, cruisers, battleships, and carriers were provisioned on the basis of serving at least one complete dry ration every sixth day. The units designated for logistic support of the Third Fleet were the Fleet Oiler and Transport Group (Task Group 30.8) under Captain J.T. Acuff, and the Service Group (Task Group 30.9) under Commodore W.R. Carter of Service Squadron Ten, based principally at Manus and Eniwetok.
August was a busy month at Eniwetok. The provisions stores ship Arctic had arrived 30 July and during the first part of August discharged her cargo of 1,600 tons of fresh and frozen provisions. She was the first ship to arrive whose cargo was made up in 5-ton issue units. She returned to Pearl for reloading and reached Manus 20 September, just in time to replenish vessels which had taken part in the initial phase of STALEMATE.
On 10 August the provision ship Aldebaran reached Eniwetok, discharged
1,670 tons of fresh and frozen provisions and 1,083 tons of dry provisions before sailing back to Pearl and the west coast on the 16th. By 25 September she was back at Manus. Also arriving at Eniwetok 10 August was the cargo ship Azimech with a load of 4,591 tons, of which 4,000 were dry provisions. Between 11 and 23 August she issued 3,978 tons of dry provisions. Between 11 and 23 August she issued 3,978 tons of dry provisions to 65 ships; 262 tons of canteen stores to 44 ships; 55 tons of clothing and small stores to 27 ships; and 26 tons of medical supplies to 93 vessels. On 25 August she sailed for San Francisco to reload.
During this same period the Antiqua reported issuing 1,770 tons of fresh and frozen foods to 55 ships, averaging 322 tons a day. The Bridge arrived at Eniwetok 19 August and by the 24th had issued 890 tons of fresh, frozen, and dry provisions, an average of 245 tons a day. She returned to Pearl for reloading and entered Eniwetok again, 21 September. The Boreas brought from Pearl 2,770 tons of fresh and frozen provisions, 460 tons of dry provisions, and 100 tons of ship's store stock, clothing, and small stores. Between her arrival 26 August and her departure for Pearl 2 September she unloaded a total of 555 tons of cargo every day. She was back again 10 October with fresh supplies. The Navy cargo ship Ascella received a general fleet issue of dry stores at the Naval Supply Depot Oakland and on 15 August anchored at Eniwetok to begin issuing to Task Force 38. She remained until 16 September, then went to Pearl for replenishment.
The administration and distribution of the food by Service Squadron Ten, particularly the fresh and frozen food, posed numerous problems, and called for the greatest mixture of diplomacy, humility, and tough firmness. There never was enough fresh and frozen food to satisfy anyone - not even those who got the most. Often there was a shortage of some item, bringing forth an immediate complaint which had to be dealt with, sometimes by substitution bribery. This was at a time when the squadron commander was having to disperse his staff, already small, to make up detachments at Saipan, Guam, and Seeadler faster than Calhoun could send him replacements.
Commander Service Squadron Ten at Eniwetok reported on 9 September that all fresh and frozen food had been exhausted late in August and no more was expected for general distribution until early October. On that date the commander of a Marine unit requested much-needed fresh vegetables and meat for his forces but had to be content with a supply of emergency B rations for them as they departed for Palau.
The concrete IX's Silica and Carmita at Eniwetok were used to issue
fresh, frozen, and dry provisions when activity was at its height. A resupply, however, did come into Eniwetok before Carter expected it. On 25 September when the amphibious forces of the XXIVth Corps, intended for Phase 2 of STALEMATE II, came in for replenishment, the Bridge, Antigua, and Cheleb were on hand. The Bridge issued 885 tons of fresh and frozen provisions and 570 tons of dry provisions to 121 ships in 2 days, the Antigua 994 tons of fresh and frozen provisions to 110 ships during the same period, and the Cheleb 450 tons of dry provisions to 96 ships of the Amphibious Task Force 31.
General Stores. Several general stores issue ships were available at Eniwetok during replenishment of the Third Fleet preceding STALEMATE. The Talita issued stores from 24 July to 15 August, when she left for reloading at Noumea and Espiritu Santo, returning to Eniwetok 24 September. The Luna brought in general stores 21 August, discharged, and sailed 6 September to reload at Noumea and Espiritu, whence she proceeded to Manus and later in October to Ulithi. The concrete IX's Trefoil and Quartz were used to issue general stores at Eniwetok, maintaining continuous supplies at the anchorage while one or more of the general issue ships retired to their source of supply for refilling.
The Castor reached Manus 18 September, remaining there until 17 October supplying general stores to ships returning for replenishment. Then she went to Ulithi. The Volans and Antares furnished general stores to Third Fleet ships staging through the South Pacific area in August. The former went to Manus 5 October and thence to Ulithi 24 October, but the Antares remained in the Guadalcanal-Tulagi area to resupply ships withdrawing from Palau after D-day. General stores for the Southwest Pacific operations were available from both shore points and several general stores ships. The Pollux was one such ship which, during August and September, put in at bases in the Southwest Pacific area.
Aviation Spare Parts. The Aviation Supply Depot at Manus Shore Base was one of the principal sources of aviation spare parts. The other was the Fortune, which arrived at Seeadler Harbor from Kwajalein 17 September and remained until 2 October to supply carriers and other vessels returning from combat. Spare parts were also to be had at the Aviation Supply Depots at Roi, Espiritu Santo, and Guadalcanal.
Repair and Maintenance
Our pace against the enemy was rapidly increasing. Ships which had participated in the Marianas had to be speedily overhauled and replenished.
A great number went to Eniwetok, where Service Squadron Ten was in readiness. Others proceeded to bases in the South Pacific - Tulagi, Guadalcanal, or Espiritu Santo - while additional ones were serviced at Manus, Saipan, Guam, Kwajalein, and Pearl. Still others, especially landing craft, needing some work, came from new construction at home.
The STALEMATE operation plan provided that all major bases in the South and Central Pacific areas would be used during and subsequent to the operation. At Espiritu Santo was the ABSD-1, the 90,000-ton floating drydock for repairing battleships and large carriers. After the collision between the Tennessee and California en route to Espiritu on 23 August, the latter entered the dock for repairs. The Tennessee, less seriously damaged, moored in Segond Channel with the repair ship Aristaeus alongside for assistance. As facilities were already taxed by a heavy repair schedule, workmen were brought in from other South Pacific bases, so that the Tennessee was made ready in a week, the California within 2 weeks. The 18,000-ton floating drydock YFD-21 was also at Espiritu for servicing cruisers and escort carriers. Other facilities included the 1,000-ton drydock AFD-14, the 3,500-ton ARD-5, and three floating workshops - YR-47, YRD(H)-1 for hulls, and YRD(M)-1 for machinery.
The Mindanao, a repair ship for internal combustion engines, was at Espiritu during August and until 13 September, when she proceeded to Manus for duty with ComServRon Ten. On 28 August the Briareus reached Espiritu Santo to assist the disabled California, after whose departure she went to Manus, arriving there 26 September. Besides all this, shore facilities were available in the form of a Ship Repair Unit and one for boat repairs. The latter reported intense activity during August, with 24 hours a day being worked on two 12-hour shifts.
In the Tulagi-Purvis Bay region as many as 255 ships were present at once, with ship movements averaging 122 daily during the last week of August. Here were the 3,500-ton floating drydock ARD-14, the 1,000-ton dock AFD-13, and the floating workshop YR-46, augmented later by the destroyer tender Dixie and the battle-damage repair ship Oceanus, both of which were at Purvis Bay until 10 September. The latter went to Manus 14 September and thence to Kossol, the Dixie eventually reaching Ulithi 30 September. The heavy-hull repair ship Jason stayed at Tulagi until 11 September and then reported to Squadron Ten at Manus. The repair ship Prometheus was anchored at Iron Bottom Bay, Florida Island, during August and early September giving steam, electricity, and dental services to naval and merchant vessels, leaving for
Manus 12 September, remaining there from the 16th to the 25th, when she proceeded to Kossol Passage.
The internal-combustion-engine repair ship Tutuila reached Purvis Bay from Eniwetok 8 August and remained there until after the Palau engagement. The Cebu was at Guadalcanal in late August, servicing vessels staging in that area, and on 10 September arrived at Manus, where she based for several months. The destroyer tender Whitney, after being at Espiritu Santo from 10 to 23 August, reached Guadalcanal on the 29th, repaired several vessels of Task Force 32, and left 10 September for Manus. She also furnished dental work for 346 men during August, September, and October.
Shore repair facilities in the Solomons area included a large boat maintenance unit (Turner City), and Landing Craft Repair Units 1 (Carter City) and 2, respectively, at Tulagi-Purvis Bay and Renard Sound. The Tulagi unit reported that in September it repaired 383 ships, including 4 battleships, 1 large carrier, 2 heavy cruisers, 9 destroyers, and 16 destroyer escorts. Turner City repaired literally hundreds of landing craft.
In the Central Pacific area, by far the greatest activity centered about Service Squadron Ten at Eniwetok. On 1 August the ships included four destroyer tenders, four repair ships of different types, one battle-damage repair ship, two 3,500-ton floating drydocks, two others of 1,000 tons each, and one floating workshop. Activity here reached its peak in the middle of the month. On 16 August 401 ships were in the port. This number gradually diminished as large fleet units, especially Task Force 38, were replenished and sent forward. On 1 September 249 ships were in port. During this period all the floating equipment was still at Eniwetok except for the Tutuila, which reported 8 August to the Service Force South Pacific at Purvis Bay. Meanwhile the floating dock ARD-23 had arrived at Eniwetok 7 August. During that month the Ajax reported services or repairs to 9 battleships; 1 large carrier, 1 light carrier, and 1 escort carrier; 15 light cruisers and 5 heavy cruisers; 3 destroyers; 26 destroyer escorts; 7 motor mine sweepers; 5 large mine sweepers; and 47 miscellaneous smaller craft. In the midst of this servicing of ships for STALEMATE an epidemic of dysentery broke out on board, grew steadily worse, and it was feared the whole anchorage might be infected. Consequently the Ajax was sent to Kwajalein to stay until her quarantine could be lifted. One hundred ninety-five of a crew of approximately 1,100 were affected and 2 deaths reported. The ship returned to Eniwetok 21 October and went back into full service at Ulithi in November.
The Prairie performed tender service for destroyers at Eniwetok, and
in addition overhauled the main engine and auxiliaries of the barracks ship Orvetta while moored alongside during the entire month of September.
Until 5 September the destroyer tender Piedmont was busy at Eniwetok, then sailed for Seeadler Harbor to become part of Task Group 30.9.
Limited repair facilities for STALEMATE forces were available at Kwajalein from Squadron Ten. Several 1,000-ton floating drydocks were used chiefly for repairs to small craft.
At Kwajalein, Captain H.A. Houser assumed Ogden's duties, using the Luzon, a gasoline - and Diesel-engine repair ship, as flagship. She stayed at Kwajalein until 2 September effecting repairs, assisting in the maintenance work done by the 1,000-ton floating drydock AFD-17, and delivering fuel, water, and stores. On the 4th she arrived at Eniwetok and thence proceeded to Guam, where Captain House became ComServRon Ten representative. Lieutenant J.B. Koeller, in the Gazelle, assumed Houser's duties at Kwajalein. Other repair services in the Central Pacific were available at Guam, Saipan, Tarawa, and Majuro, but were somewhat more limited than those described.
Southwest Pacific forces participating in the Morotai landings had access to the fleet anchorage at Seeadler Harbor, Manus, where a large ship-repair shore base capable of hull and engine work on all classes had recently been put into operation at the naval station. A mobile amphibious repair base for maintenance and repair of hulls and engines of landing ships and landing craft was set up in September 1944 as Floating Repair Unit 3. Drydocks, also shared by Third Fleet ships, included one of 90,000 tons, two of 3,500 tons each, one of 1,000 tons, one hull floating workshop, and one machinery floating workshop. On 4 September two more floating drydock-workshops were added to the Manus facilities. In addition, there were the repair services of the destroyer tender Whitney and the repair ship Medusa.
The port of Sydney, Australia, had facilities for major and minor repairs on all types of naval vessels, Brisbane commercial facilities for general ship repair and docking of medium-size craft, and Cairns equipment for handling ships of destroyer size and smaller, through destroyers could not be drydocked. The repair base at Milne Bay could also handle vessels up to and including destroyers, while Finschhafen had a mobile amphibious repair unit, a PT base, and a 1,000-ton capacity drydock under Army operational control.
Floating Repair Unit 1 based at Madang-Alexishafen, and was composed
Map: New Guinea (and small part of Australia).
of a 3,500-ton drydock, several AFD's of 1,000 tons, and hull and machinery workshops. Repair ships included the Rigel, Midas, Culebra Island, Achilles, and Remus. At Hollandia there were a destroyer-repair base and Floating Repair Unit 2, with a 3,500-ton drydock, 1,000-ton drydock, and several tenders and repair ships. Woendi had an advanced PT base, with floating equipment of several tenders and tugs. Boat-repair units were at Green Island, New Georgia, Torokina, and Treasury Island.
Before D-day the campaign opened with a diversionary strike against the Volcano and Bonin Islands from 31 August to 2 September by Task Group 38.4 under Rear Admiral R.E. Davison, afterward striking Yap on 6-8 September. Simultaneously Task Groups 38.1-2-3 conducted preliminary bombardment and air attacks against the principal Palau Islands, then turned their attention to Mindanao in the Philippines on 9 and 10 September. Air bases in this area were the closest which could be considered threats to the coming campaign. From Yap, Task Group 38.4 took over further neutralization of Palau targets 10 September, after the three task groups had launched the Mindanao raids. These three groups struck the Visayas - Leyte, Samar, and smaller islands - 12 to 14 September.
The Visayas strikes disclosed such Japanese weakness in this area that last-minute changes were made in the 7 July operation plans. Yap was to be bypassed, and Ulithi seized as soon as possible to provide a fleet anchorage. Seizure of the Leyte-Samar area, originally scheduled for 20 December, was moved up to 20 October.
On 13 September Task Group 38.1 was detached to cover the Morotai assault, with D-day only 2 days away. Landings were effected with little or no enemy resistance, so by the afternoon of the 16th the group retired to join the other two. All three rendezvoused on the 18th, proceeded to Luzon, and conducted diversionary strikes on the 21st and 22d. Returning, they struck the Visayas again on the 24th and retired to replenishment bases. Meantime Task Group 38.4 had been covering the Palau area.
Notwithstanding the last-minute changes in operation plans, all land-based forces for Palau got under way on schedule. The leader of the assault forces, the First Marine Division, landed on Peleliu Island 15 September. Despite stiff opposition, the airfield was captured by the second day. On the 17th, operations were initiated against Anguar Island. After it was in hand, landings were made at Ulithi 23 September. Though our naval and gunfire support groups were alerted, only one regimental combat team of the 81st Infantry Division was needed
because the Japanese had previously evacuated the atoll.
Logistic Support in STALEMATE II was the largest operation attempted thus far in the Pacific war. As already indicated, every effort had been made to avoid errors noted in the Marianas operation. Much preliminary planning had to be done, with last-minute changes inevitable, for logistic support of the fleet was becoming increasingly complex, since emphasis was being placed on the mobility of the striking and covering forces whose primary task was to exploit enemy weaknesses and to seek opportunities to engage a major portion of his fleet.
The general concept of the operation provided that combat forces of the Third Fleet should cover the movements of the Joint Expeditionary, or assault, Force. The logistics for these two had to be undertaken independently, though both used Manus and Eniwetok for resupply.
The three major commands which provided logistic support to STALEMATE II were Commander Service Force Pacific, Commander Air Force Pacific, and Commander South Pacific Force. General MacArthur, as Commander in Chief of Southwest Pacific, was to furnish limited support if necessary. Actually he had his own "show" to run with the Morotai landings, to which naval support was given by Admiral Kinkaid's Seventh Fleet.
No attempt will be made to describe in detail the amount and variety of supplies issued and services performed within busy Seeadler Harbor in support of the fleet, but examples of several units can be given, the parts they played related to give type pictures.
Logistic Support at Seeadler and at Sea
Service Unit at Seeadler - Oilers with the Fast Carrier Group - Ammunition, Smoke, Water, Provisions, Salvage
On 10 September 1944 the destroyer tender Piedmont, Commander M.D. MacGregor, from Eniwetok, and on the 14th the tender Sierra, Captain P.B. Koonce, from Espiritu, reported to Captain Ogden, commanding Task Unit 30.9.1, at Seeadler, issued supplies, and serviced ships alongside and at anchor. On the 15th the repair ship Prometheus, Captain C.C. Laws, arrived and did routine repairs for a week before moving onto Kossol Passage. She also furnished medical, surgical, and dental services to both naval and merchant vessels, as did other ships, for where large numbers of ships crowded with human beings are gathered, the occurrence of sickness and injuries was inescapable, and many vessels had no medical department other than a hospital corpsman and a medical kit. On 18 September the Castor, a stores issue ship, Captain F.C. Huntoon, arrived and for more than a month issued stores to 143 fleet units.
U.S.S. Jason. In the middle of September the Jason, Commander E.F. Beck, came from Purvis Bay, assumed her heavy-hull repair duties at Seeadler, and performed her first major job on the Millicoma, which had been in collision but somehow managed to creep into the harbor under her own power. This oiler had taken the blow on her starboard quarter at her steering-engine room and been opened for 40 feet. Her 5-inch and 3-inch gun platforms had been demolished. Torn and twisted metal had to be cut away and bulkheads and decks sealed. By working around the clock the energetic officers and crew of the Jason finished the job in 9
Ships in Seeadler Harbor, Manus Island, in the Admiralty Islands.
Argonne damaged by the blowing up of the Mt. Hood.
days, and with her steering-engine room in full commission again the Millicoma sailed for Terminal Island, California.
While still at Manus in October, the Jason had another collision repair job. This time it was the tanker Esso Balboa, of Panamanian registry. The bow of another vessel had penetrated the starboard bow of the tanker to a maximum depth of 30 feet and the shell plating was ripped to about 8 feet below the load water line, while a 40-mm. gun had been torn from its base and the degaussing, light, and power cables cut. Working on a 24-hour basis again, the Jason finished the job in 14 days. Fifteen thousand man-hours and 55,000 pounds of steel were put into this job. Such was the "on the spot" efficiency of emergency repairs from floating equipment.
U.S.S. Mindanao. The internal-combustion-engine repair ship, Mindanao, Captain G.B. Evans, arrived in Seeadler from Espiritu Santo 18 September, reported to Captain Ogden for duty, and made repairs on destroyers and destroyer escorts, ammunition ships, cargo vessels, mine sweepers, carrier escorts, operations headquarters ship, landing ships (tank), patrol craft, and landing craft (infantry) steadily until 10 November. That day the Mount Hood, an ammunition ship, anchored 1,100 yards from Captain Ogden's flagship, the Argonne, blew up. The Mindanao, only 350 yards away, was badly damaged, besides having 23 killed and 174 wounded. The Medusa donated 17 units of blood plasma, came alongside the riddled ship and made structural, electrical, and miscellaneous engineering, radar, and radio repairs. The Mindanao, having cared for so many vessels, now had to have treatment herself. It was like having the family doctor confined to the hospital. However, after about a month's "hospitalization" the Mindanao was back on duty and resumed her repair services to the fleet. During the last 10 days of December she serviced 20 ships of various types at Manus. Captain Ogden's flagship, the Argonne, also suffered from the disintegrating explosion, with personnel casualties, a 12-inch searchlight destroyed, 5 transmitting antennas broken away, and steam, fresh-water, and salt-water lines ruptured.
U.S.S. Lassen. The ammunition carrier Lassen, Commander J.E. Wade, reached Seeadler 10 September to make issues to ships needing them; 5-inch .38-caliber flashless and nonflashless, 20- and 40-mm. ammunition, 100-, 200-, 1,000-, and 2,00-pound aircraft bombs, tail vanes, safety clips, arming wires, and tail and nose fuzes were delivered. The Lassen's skillful crew, reinforced by 30 men Captain Ogden had sent while she was at Manus, worked expeditiously. At 9:40 a.m. 21
September the light cruiser Biloxi came alongside to starboard; at 10:50 a.m. the heavy cruiser New Orleans to port. By 2:35 p.m. the Biloxi had taken 717 6-inch .47-caliber projectiles, 350 detonating fuzes, and 10 catapult charges. At 4:35 p.m. the New Orleans cleared after receiving 1,202 5-inch .25-caliber charges, 100 8-inch .55-caliber projectiles, and 82 catapult charges. It need scarcely be said that the handling of projectiles, powder, and fuzes and detonators requires the utmost care at all times, and especially when the transfer is made between two vessels at anchor. Some of the unsung heroism of the war is to be found in the officers and men of ammunition ships. When working their deadly cargoes to service the fleet, sometimes close to enemy action, they went about their perilous duties without fanfare or boast, and more than once checked imminent disaster by quick and extremely courageous action.
U.S.S. Pamanset. As provided for in Admiral Halsey's operation plan the Pamanset, Commander D.J. Houle, was one of those assigned to Task Group 30.8 fleet oiler and transport carrier group under the command of Captain Acuff. She left Manus 1 September, fueled the light cruiser Reno, the small carrier Langley, and three destroyers at sea. Next day she serviced the light cruiser Birmingham, and two destroyers, dispensing 23,559 barrels of fuel oil and 15,00 gallons of gasoline. Returning to Seeadler Harbor, where the commercial tanker Fort Bridges was anchored, she took aboard 26,561 barrels of black oil and on the 12th was at sea again for her fueling rendezvous. on the 15th and 16th she fueled the cruiser Santa Fe and five destroyers at sea, delivering 23,386 barrels of oil and 380 barrels of Diesel fuel. Still at sea, she replenished her supply by taking 21,996 barrels of oil and 11,416 gallons of gasoline from the oiler Kaskaskia. Making rendezvous with Task Group 38.1 she fueled the carriers Wasp and Hornet, the cruiser Boston, and seven destroyers with 14,435 barrels of fuel and 34,860 gallons of gasoline. Before returning to Seeadler she replenished the fleet oiler Enoree with fuel oil, Diesel oil, and aviation gasoline.
Again at Seeadler 24 September she filled up from the commercial tanker Bull Run with 44,788 barrels of fuel. Captain Ogden's station oiler, the Armadillo, gave her 1,517 barrels of Diesel oil and 257,292 gallons of gasoline. On the 29th she went alongside the light carrier Monterey in the harbor and gave her 8.054 barrels of oil and 28,980 gallons of gasoline. On the 28th she pumped 6,789 barrels of fuel and 22,974 gallons of gasoline into the light carrier Cowpens. This gives in some detail the oil picture for one ship for one month, with commercial tanker bringing cargo out from the United States and station tanker at
the fleet anchorage operating under a service squadron unit, each ship carrying out separate functions to support current operations.
U.S.S. Arctic. At Manus from 20 to 30 September the Arctic, Lieutenant Commander C.R. Frasier, issued dry and small quantities of fresh and frozen foods to ships present, and in October provided officers, winchmen, hatch tenders, and supply personnel to make fleet issues of fresh and frozen provisions from the S.S. Bluejacket. The introduction of this large merchant reefer ship was of great significance for future logistic support of fleet operations, as she was the first of her type to be used for fleet issues. In 6 days she gave out 3,800 tons of fresh and frozen provisions.
Fueling Activities of Task Group 30.8
All fleet oilers under CinCPac, except those assigned to Northern Pacific forces or undergoing overhaul, were used in support of STALEMATE II. They were to operate with the Third Fleet, beginning 20 August, to fuel all ships during the operation. Intensive preparations had been going on at Eniwetok during August to get them ready, and on the 19th Commander Service Squadron Ten reported that the first contingent of 12 ships was being given last-minute services preparatory to sailing for Seeadler Harbor, which was to serve during STALEMATE as a principal resupply base. Squadron Ten's oilers had before that been designated as Fifth Fleet Task Group 50.17, but on departure for Seeadler assumed a new designation: Task Group 30.8. Its composition changed repeatedly during the operation through the necessity of returning empty oilers to advanced bases for refilling and return.
On 20 August the first oiler group of 4 units of 3 oilers each left Eniwetok with 1 escort carrier and 10 escort vessels. Captain Acuff was in command of the destroyer John D. Henley. On reaching Seeadler Harbor 26 August he reported the task group carried 1,149,000 barrels of fuel oil, 79,000 barrels of Diesel fuel, and 4,749,000 gallons of aviation gasoline.
The arrival of the Caliente at Eniwetok from Pearl on 24 August completed the second oiler group. Besides her standard load she brought hose for the fleet tankers. This second group formed Task Unit 30.8.14, further divided into smaller units numbered 30.8.5-6-7-8. Captain W.T. Rassieur had over-all command in the escort carrier Sargent Bay. After completing their loading, the 12 oilers left Eniwetok 26 August with 2
escort carriers, 2 destroyers, and 7 destroyer escorts as screen, reached Seeadler 31 August, and reported to Captain Acuff for further disposition.
On 1 September, Task Units 30.8.1, 30.8.2, and 30.8.4 left Seeadler for the first fueling operations of the current campaign upon rendezvous with Task Force 38. They delivered mail to various units, fueled them on the 2d and 3d, and on the 5th returned to Seeadler for reloading and orders, having delivered 85,000 barrels of Navy special fuel, 1,000 barrels of Diesel oil, and 132,000 gallons of aviation gasoline. Task Force 38 (less Task Unit 38.4) meanwhile proceeded to the vicinity of Palau, where preliminary strikes were conducted t6 to 8 September. Task Units 30.8.5 and 30.8.6, having left Seeadler 4 September, fueled Task Force 38 near Palau on the 8th, prior to the latter's departure for the Mindanao raids.
On the 6th, Task Units 30.8.3 and 30.8.12 (composed of two carrier escorts and two destroyer escorts) sortied from Seeadler for rendezvous with Task Group 38.4, returning from Yap. On 9 September the oilers issued 88,000 barrels of Navy special fuel and 258,000 gallons of aviation gasoline to the task group east of Yap, after which the latter took over further neutralization of Palau.
Task Unit 30.8.8, the Schuylkill, Millicoma, and Pecos, remained at Seeadler until the 8th, then left to fuel Admiral Wilkinson's Task Force 32. While under way to the forward area the Millicoma collided with the Schuylkill, but both ships conducted fueling operations as scheduled. The latter's war diary reported: "Part of Schuylkill fueling was done with only two fueling pumps and one boiler - auxiliary generator had broken valve stem and unable to supply power. Used steam on one fueling pump, and cut out one boiler to cut down load. No one apparently noticed any difference." Several days later the two ships received orders to return to Seeadler for repairs. They were complemented on the Schuylkill by 30 September by ComServRon Ten, but the Millicoma was later returned to the west coast.
Between the 12th and 16th the four groups of Task Force 38 were fueled at sea with 247,000 barrels of Navy special fuel, 1,000 barrels of Diesel oil, and 712,000 gallons of aviation gasoline. Throughout the operations, oilers with remnant cargoes consolidated them with other oilers before returning for reloading. The operation plan provided that "empty oilers or those with less than 15,000 barrels of black oil" should be returned to Seeadler or Eniwetok for reloading. Consequently there was constant shifting in and out of the fueling areas. As Seeadler, Service Squadron Ten's representative, Captain S.B. Ogden, reloaded the
The Boston fueling a destroyer.
empties from commercial tankers or shore storage. To insure emergency reserves of fuel there and to expedite the turn-around of tankers to forward areas, he also had several unclassified storage tankers and barges sent from Eniwetok, among them the Arethusa, Silver Cloud, Caribou, and Armadillo. Upon reloading, Captain Ogden regrouped the oiler task units and directed them to scheduled fueling areas or to rendezvous with Commander Task Group 30.8, who remained in the destroyer John D. Henley at sea in the forward area.
Task Unit 30.8.7 was retained at Seeadler by Commander Task Group 30.8 in a stand-by status, and consisted now of Caliente, Tomahawk, and Kennebago. The two latter were sent out 11 September to take the places of Schuylkill and Millicoma. Caliente remained at Seeadler until the 18th, when she left for Kossol Passage, Palau Islands, fueling units of Task Force 32 on the way.
Task Unit 30.8.9 was designated as a stand-by of three oilers in the South Pacific to be available when needed by Captain Acuff. Two others, Task Units 30.8.10 and 30.8.11, composed of two and three oilers, respectively, were stand-bys in the Marshalls area, while 30.8.12 and 30.8.13, of two carrier escorts and two destroyer escorts each, operated with the oilers and furnished aircraft replacement for Task Force 38.
Vice Admiral McCain's action report on STALEMATE, in which his Task Group 38.1 participated in operations against Palau, Mindanao, the Visayas, Luzon, Celebes, and Morotai, gave an account of Task Group 30.8's activities in his support. From 29 August to 24 September, when the group returned to Manus for reprovisioning, his ships were fueled at sea 6 times: 2, 8, 11, 17, 19, and 23 September. In addition there was frequent topping off of 53 destroyers by the large ships between general tanker fuelings. He stated that all tanker fuelings went smoothly and efficiently. The maximum time taken for any was 7 hours 41 minutes, the minimum 6 hours 11 minutes, with general fuelings at speeds of 10 to 12 knots, while destroyers were topped off at speeds up to 17 knots. Because of her high fuel consumption, the Wichita, as compared with the Boston class of cruiser, presented a problem during the necessary high speed of operation. In 1 day the Wichita burned 15 percent of her total fuel capacity, the Boston 11.3 percent, and the Canberra only 9.1 percent. This high rate made the Wichita's use in topping off destroyers impractical.
Admiral Wilkinson's fueling plan for his Assault Task Force 31 provided that ships were to be initially fueled before departure for the forward area, with larger vessels fueling the smaller ones en route. Port
facilities for fueling him were also available in limited quantities by ServRon Ten at Eniwetok, Kwajalein, Majuro and Manus; at Tarawa; by ServRon Twelve at Guam; and by ServRonSoPac at Tulagi and Espiritu Santo.
To replenish fleet oilers, the Area Petroleum Office of ComServPac arranged for the delivery at Manus of approximately 1,000,000 barrels of fuel, and in September sent 1,250,000 barrels to Marshalls bases, 4,150,000 to Manus, 500,000 to South Pacific bases, and 1,000,000 to Pearl.
Fueling the ships of the Seventh Fleet for the Morotai landings did not involve the at-sea operations undertaken for the Third Fleet. Tankers were stationed at a number of bases in the area to which ships could return for replenishment - Manus, Hollandia, Woendi, Finschhafen, and Milne Bay. The South Pacific was mainly a staging area, hence most of the fueling by Service Force South Pacific occurred before D-day and consisted of making the various units ready to join the Third Fleet. During August the area received 906,000 barrels of fuel, 304,000 barrels of Diesel oil, 11,420,000 gallons of aviation gasoline, and 5,426,000 gallons of motor gasoline. In September the area dispensed 777,000 barrels of fuel oil, 242,000 barrels of Diesel oil, 4,899,000 gallons of aviation gasoline, and 7,987,000 gallons of motor gasoline.
Comments and Recommendations Concerning Oiler Groups
Captain Acuff's action reports as Commander Task Group 30.8 for this operation recommended that because of the vulnerability of the slow-moving oilers one escort vessel be provided for each one, and also for each escort carrier loaded with aircraft replenishments. He also stressed the need for additional carrier escorts because of the insufficiency of aircraft replacements.
Commander Third Fleet, in over-all charge of STALEMATE, listed the following lessons learned regarding oiler groups:
"(a) There has been too great a tendency to discount the need for adequate escorts for oiler and CVE groups. We have been extremely lucky; our oiler groups for Stalemate were pure submarine bait. A minimum of one escort per oiler and two per CVE should be provided. This will become important as we move closer to Empire waters. Also, for extensive long-range operations, one fleet tug and one salvage ship should be assigned with each group of three oilers which are kept at sea in advanced positions.
"(b) Operational control of replenishment and service elements through the establishment of such agencies as 30.8 and 30.9 have worked out well in practice and is recommended for consideration.
"(c) Proficiency in fueling at sea by all units should continue to be emphasized as a vital military necessity. The doctrine that all ships make approach on oilers is sound and should be standardized. In estimating oiler requirements for an operation as much emphasis should be placed on number of oiler sides available for simultaneous fueling as on total quantity of oil required. A little extravagance in number of oilers will pay big dividends when time is an essential factor. Two large ships may be fueled simultaneously from one oiler under favorable conditions with some sacrifice of pumping rate. In order to complete the fueling of a large force expeditiously, destroyers must be fueled by heavy ships waiting their turn to fuel from tankers . . . It is feasible with favorable wind and sea conditions to fuel two battleships simultaneously from one tanker. Due to the possibility of crushing the tanker, this practice should not be resorted to excepting in emergency when the possible loss of the tanker is a secondary consideration. Under unfavorable wind and sea conditions it is sometimes desirable for the heavy ship to maintain station on the tanker rather than vice versa, as prescribed in Fueling at Sea Instructions.
"(d)" While it is fully recognized that logistic responsibility for the Task Fleet devolves upon the Commander Service Force, nevertheless the Commander Service Force will be better enabled to give service if the Task Fleet Commander can clearly state his needs. Third Fleet experience indicates that the staff of a Task Fleet Commander must include a line officer widely versed in oiler matters and concerned with oiler operations, and also an officer of the supply corps familiar with the operations, capabilities, and limitations of the facilities of the Service Force."
Captain H.J. Martin, Commander Destroyer Squadron 51, whose ships were assigned to Fleet Oiler Task Unit 30.8.1, recommended in his action report on the seizure of Peleliu and Ulithi that in the future fleet oiler task units operate as part of the carrier task force so that they would have the maximum of air and submarine protection. Captain Acuff, commander of the oiler units, believed such a plan impractical because of the tactical inexperience of oiler officers, lack of speed, and the frequent change of task-force objectives. This is borne out in Commander Third Fleet's endorsement, in which he states that fast carrier task forces
"are highly trained teams whose maneuverability and mobility should not be
encumbered by units not contributing directly to the combat mission. Keeping in mind a reasonable risk of war, adequate protection for the service units operating in support of combatant groups can be provided by suitable air and surface escorts and by dispositions designed to keep the combatant groups between the service units and the most probable enemy threat. Operations may arise where it will be necessary to include service units in the combatant groups. These should be regarded as special cases only, and such inclusion should terminate as soon as the tactical situation will permit."
Operation Plan 14-44 for STALEMATE provided that all vessels would be armed to capacity before departure from mounting points. During the operation, ships would receive resupply from six ammunition ships and two or more cargo ships at Seeadler Harbor, or routed from there by Service Squadron Ten representative. Following completion of the operation, (a) replacement ammunition would be available at Pearl; (b) vessels remaining in Central Pacific areas would replenish from an AE withdrawn from Manus, and from shore supply points; (c) vessels retiring to South Pacific areas would replenish 6-inch ammunition and below from shore stocks in the South Pacific, and if larger sizes were required and not available, special shipments would be sent; (d) should vessels of the Third Fleet retire to Southwest Pacific bases, Third Fleet's AE's would provide ammunition.
For resupply in the combat area, the ammunition ships Mauna Loa and Shasta left Seeadler 15 September for Kossol Passage, Palau Islands, and upon arrival on the 18th immediately began rearming battleships and cruisers of the Naval Gunfire Support Group. On the 22d the Lassen also left Seeadler for Kossol, where she issued replacement ammunition to the support group and to Task Force 38.3. Most fire-support ships for STALEMATE were supplied in the Solomons, with the exception of the battleships Mississippi, which had been overhauled and loaded on the west coast, and the Maryland, loaded at Pearl after completion of battle-damage repairs. Naval Base Tulagi reported for August 1944 that the magazine issued 2,600 tons of ammunition to destroyers, cruisers, and battleships, and 500 tons to landing craft. The Tennessee, which collided on 23 August with the California, was able to join the fire-support group after repair, but the California did not leave Espiritu until 18 September.
Gasoline lighter and an LCT alongside the carrier Intrepid.
Transferring bombs from LST to the carrier Hancock at sea.
Rehearsal for Phase I of STALEMATE for fire-support ships was held in the Cape Esperance area, Guadalcanal, 27 to 29 August. The Sangay, with 2,936 tons of ammunition, arrived there from the west coast on 6 September, accompanied the group to the objective, and during the early hours of D-day, 15 September, lay off Peleliu Island ready to make issues. She remained in the vicinity until afternoon of the 21st, when she went to Kossol Passage, joining the Mauna Loa and Shasta. Next day the three were joined by the Lassen, and all four issued replacement ammunition to retiring vessels. By the 27th, 66 ships of various types were in Kossol Passage. Because of the total lack of anchorages in the vicinity of Anguar and Peleliu, Kossol proved a roadstead where ships could await call to unload at Peleliu, and also where replenishment of fuel, stores, and ammunition was accomplished. It was used extensively through October and November 1944 as a staging area en route from New Morotai (Operation INTERLUDE); ammunition was supplied at a number of bases in the area, and from 5 ammunition ships which visited Hollandia and Woendi during August and September.
In August, Task Force 38 replenished its fuel, provisions, and ammunition at Eniwetok. On 22 August, Service Squadron Ten reported issuing to 3 battleships, 6 large and 6 light carriers, 6 cruisers, and 38 destroyers. On the 26th, 4 battleships, 5 large and 3 light carriers, 2 destroyers, and 2 destroyer escorts got their issues. The Victory ships Plymouth Victory, Rutland Victory, Aberdeen Victory, Wilbur Wright, and Cape Trinity were among the commercial vessels bringing ammunition to Eniwetok at this time because of the lack of sufficient Navy AE's.
Commander Third Fleet's report on STALEMATE recommended that ammunition ships be loaded in two categories: Those intended to serve the fast carrier task forces, and those serving the fire-support ships. The first type should include in their cargoes stocks of miscellaneous items such as starter cartridges, etc., supplies by ComAirPac. Medium-caliber ammunition and bombs should be furnished at sea to combatant vessels by fleet oilers. Some small experiments had been made during STALEMATE in transferring ammunition at sea. Results were satisfactory and warranted development, but it was not until the Okinawa campaign in April 1945 that large amounts were passed from ship to ship at sea.
The report made one further comment on ammunition supply: "The practice of making routine reports of ammunition, adequate for planning operations, has fallen into disuse in Pacific Ocean areas. During STALEMATE the information received would have been adequate for defensive or limited offensive operations committed to a set pattern, but was not
adequate to meet rapid and radical changes of plans or extensions of offensive operations taking advantage of enemy weakness."
Smoke Equipment. After the Saipan-Tinian-Guam operations, Vice Admiral R.K. Turner, Commander Fifth Amphibious Force, recommended that smoke be made available in large quantities, so all ships could be supplied. However, the expected smoke pots and floats were drastically curtailed because of the Port Chicago ammunition depot fire, which destroyed the greater part of the smoke-making material intended for the Pearl Harbor area. It was therefore impossible to supply the Guadalcanal section of Phase I of STALEMATE prior to its departure from Pearl. At Guadalcanal substitutions were made, so eventually all ships had the prescribed allowance or its equivalent before going to the forward area.
Water. The problem of getting fresh water to the smaller ships which did not have distilling apparatus became increasingly acute as the fleet moved westward. Large combatant ships and auxiliaries were ordered to issue water to small craft needing it, but demands could not be met solely in this way. The newly commissioned fleet oilers Ocklawaha and Ponaganset were used to carry potable water to ships and bases in the forward area.
Water was available at a number of points in the South Pacific for the Third Fleet, and in the Southwest Pacific for the Morotai Interlude forces. It was likewise available on certain harbor craft in the Marshalls. At Manus, where 2,000,000 gallons a day, filtered and chlorinated, were available, it could be obtained after 1 September for both Third Fleet and Southwest Pacific forces. Besides the shore facilities at Manus, YO-186, with 55,000 barrels, and YW-90, with 280,000 gallons, were sent to Captain Ogden from Eniwetok late in August. They had been filled from the Ponaganset and from surplus in ships returning to Pearl.
In the South Pacific area where most of the amphibious forces were serviced, the naval base at Tulagi estimated that between 15 August and 1 September 20,917,000 gallons of water was supplied to LST's, LCI's, and small craft. No figures are available for Guadalcanal, but that base supplied water in tremendous quantities to the ships and troops which staged in that area.
The Ponaganset, with 90,000 barrels of water, reached Eniwetok 2 August, discharged cargo, and returned to Pearl to reload. With a fresh 90,000 barrels aboard, she was ordered to Guadalcanal to take part in the logistic preparations of the amphibious forces. From 27 August to 4 September she discharged fresh water to various harbor and patrol craft,
Taking sugar on the carrier Lexington at night.
LCI's, and to units of LST Flotilla 13. She replenished in part from YW-62 and 4 September left for Manus in company with Task Group 32.19. Here on the 10th she became part of Ogden's Task Unit 30.9.1, and after receiving an additional 30,798 barrels of water sortied with the fleet oiler units 30.8.1 and 30.8.3 on the 13th for the Palau area. From 19 September to 4 October she lay off the southern tip of Peleliu giving water to various landing craft. Then she went to anchor in Kossol Passage to continue operations, not returning to Manus for a fresh cargo until the 17th.
The Ocklawaha arrived in Eniwetok 27 August, discharged her 100,000 barrels of water cargo, and sailed for Pearl the 29th. She returned 22 September with the Severn in time to service the amphibious forces which put in for replenishment on the 25th. The Severn carried 4,033,218 gallons of fresh water on her first trip since commissioning, and after servicing ships at anchor and discharging into the Ocklawaha left Eniwetok the 28th with Task Group 33.1 for the next operation.
For land-based forces, enough water was carried ashore to allow 2 gallons per man per day for 5 days, plus distilling apparatus to provide 5 gallons per man per day for the garrison troops. Distillation continued until the local water could be purified to allow 5 gallons a day for each man. This was adequate but not excessive. Some 5-gallon containers could not be used for drinking purposes because they had not been sufficiently cleaned and gave an oily taste and smell to the water.
Fresh and Dry Provisions. Provisions stores ships were routed to the Marshalls area, particularly Eniwetok, during August of 1944, and to Manus during September. Those reaching Manus late in September were generally sent to Kossol Passage or to Ulithi to provision Third Fleet ships remaining in the area after the STALEMATE operation. Task forces of the Third Fleet assembling in the South Pacific were provisioned by Commander Service Squadrons South Pacific Force, and included battleships, cruisers, destroyers, escort vessels, mine sweepers, troop transports, attack cargo and transport ships, and escort carriers, 127 in all.
Figures for the naval base at Espiritu Santo for a 3-day period, 8-10 September, show 184 tons of fresh and dry provisions issued to 25 ships. This contrasts with Squadron Ten issue of 1,715 tons of fresh and frozen only at Eniwetok, 25-28 August, to the ships of Task Force 38.
Since fresh and frozen supplies were never available in the quantities desired, larger ships (light cruisers and above) were initially provisioned,
as already mentioned, on the basis of serving at least one complete dry ration every sixth day. Smaller ships were given preference in provision issues, and were also to given foodstuffs from larger vessels as needed. Supplies of dry provisions for all vessels were not to exceed 120 days for ship's company and 60 days for embarked troops. All types of provisions for ships in the Morotai Operation (INTERLUDE) were available, either from provision ships in harbor or ashore at supply depots in Milne Bay, Finschhafen, Madang, Manus, Hollandia, and Woendi.
The provisions stores ship Calamares, one of several reefers assigned to Service Force Seventh Fleet in support of Operation INTERLUDE, left the west coast 22 August with a fresh and frozen cargo, reached Manus 13 September, and discharged into the supply depot. Leaving there 15 September she touched at Hollandia, Mios, Woendi, Madang, Alexishafen, Langemake Bay, Milne Bay, and finally at Brisbane and Townsville, Australia.
Salvage. Salvage ships for fleet use were maintained in the Tulagi-Purvis Bay area. Three of them, the fleet tugs Pawnee, Menominee, and Munsee, participated in early staging operations with the amphibious forces, later accompanying them to Peleliu for D-day. They mainly assisted beached or disabled landing craft and remained in the Palau area until early October. Fleet tugs Yuma and Apache, rescue tug ATR-33, and auxiliary ocean tug ATA-123 assisted in salvage of the Army craft FP-147, which ran aground 6 September. Yuma was sent to aid the hospital ship Samaritan, which struck a reef 23 September while carrying more than 600 battle casualties from Peleliu, while Apache took charge of salvage and rescue work on the Elihu Thomson, which struck a mine field on the 26th, and towed her to Noumea.
The salvage vessel Grapple fueled and provisioned at Purvis Bay and sailed 4 September with Task Group 32.19 to the vicinity of Peleliu. On the 15th, as the initial landings were being made, her duty was to lay mooring buoys close in to the assault beaches. On the 17th she went to assist the destroyer Wadleigh, which struck a mine the previous day while sweeping the eastern entrance to Kossol Passage. After completing salvage work on the destroyer, the Grapple on 2 October continued her work in the vicinity of Peleliu and Anguar Islands.
The fleet tug Zuni, previously in the Marshalls-Marianas area, reached Kossol 20 September towing the 3,500-ton floating drydock ARD-17, and joined the Menominee, Pawnee, and Munsee in salvage work. Later the landing-craft repair ship Endymion also came to Kossol.
Salvage being a vital phase of logistics, numerous fleet tugs operated
in the Marshalls and Marianas, at Eniwetok, Kwajalein, Saipan, and Guam, available for the STALEMATE operation through ComServRon Ten. Among them were the Arapaho, Chowanoc, Sioux, Chickasaw, Potawatomi, Pakana, and Lipan. In the Morotai (INTERLUDE) engagement the fleet tugs Quapaw, Sonoma, and Hidatsa accompanied the assault forces to the objective and, shortly after the first wave of troops go ashore, assisted in hauling stranded landing craft from the beaches.
The STALEMATE operation plan provided that landing forces would salvage for overhaul all possible landing craft damaged in the assault, including amphibious tractors and trucks, before withdrawal from the beaches. After the assault forces left, the island commander was responsible for further salvage. Hulls which could not be repaired were stripped of all useful parts, and craft unrepairable locally were returned to Oahu for overhaul.
In addition to the fleet tugs and salvage vessels with the landing forces, several LCI's in each attack force were equipped with towlines and salvage and fire-fighting equipment for assisting damaged landing craft. All ships were directed to be ready to tow or be towed; damaged ships in danger of sinking were to be beached in territory under our control. Despite our preparations, however, the beaches were congested with damaged amphibious craft which to some extent impeded unloading. This emphasized the need of an organized salvage section to go ashore with the initial landing parties to undertake on-the-spot repairs. It further demonstrated that the two LST's assigned to repair more than 400 LVT's and DUKW's were inadequate. A recommendation was made by Commander Task Force 36 (land-based troops) that one LST for every hundred such craft be provided in similar operations.
Further STALEMATE Support
Medical Plans and Facilities - Mail - Service Unit at Seeadler - With the Fast Carriers - Squadron Ten Prepares to Move
Every great military operation means casualties, and STALEMATE was no exception, so surgical and medical equipment had to be adequate to such a tremendous effort. Four hospital ships - Bountiful, Relief, Samaritan, and Solace - went to the forward area to assist in evacuation of the wounded. In addition, the transports Pinkney and Tryon, after carrying troops to the objective, served as casualty evacuation ships to Manus. The Rixey, similarly adaptable, was to have been used for Phase II, but when that plan was canceled she was diverted to the Philippines campaign. Army and Navy hospitals in the South Pacific were at Noumea, Espiritu Santo, Tulagi, Guadalcanal, and the Russell Islands. Other casualties were sent to Oahu. Newly erected facilities at Manus provided 1,000 beds for staging casualties ultimately destined for South Pacific hospitals, and another 1,000 at Kwajalein took casualties going to Oahu. Wounded sent to either of these rear areas moved by air or surface vessel, depending upon the urgency and condition of the cases. For those evacuated by air, arrangements were made in the staging areas to move approximately 250 patients a week.
The remains of those who died ashore in the Palaus were left for identification and burial by the Graves Registration Service of the landing force. When death occurred aboard ship, burial was conducted at sea or in deep-water areas off shore. After combat operations had ceased, the dead were generally sent ashore to Graves Registration, or in cases where a number of deaths occurred on hospital ships bound for rear areas these too were buried at sea.
For evacuation purposes, patients were classified under a color scheme:
Red, all serious cases and those requiring more than 2 months' hospitalization; Blue, men requiring more than 2 weeks' but less than 2 months' hospitalization; White cases that could be returned to duty within 2 weeks and which, so far as practicable, were returned to their units before hospital ships left the combat area. One such ship reported that if greater care had been taken in classifying types of casualties on the beach, many would not have been sent aboard hospital ships, diverting attention from the more seriously wounded.
A detailed procedure for transfer of the wounded from the beach to evacuating hospital ships was worked out, but of course varied with combat conditions. In general, however, all vessels except those designated to receive prisoners of war were fitted to accommodate casualties as follows: APA (attack transports), 150 stretcher cases and 325 ambulatory; AKA (attack cargo ships), 15 stretcher, 50 ambulatory; AP (transports), 75 stretcher, 200 ambulatory; LSV (landing ships (vehicle)), 50 stretcher and 200 ambulatory cases. Evacuation from the beaches was directed by the beachmaster of the landing force. He was authorized to place wounded in any of these ships' boats leaving the beach, for transportation to hospital ships, or if necessary to send out DUKW's, the famous amphibious trucks, to meet these ships at the line of transfer.
The Relief experienced some difficulty in embarking casualties during heavy seas on 27, 28, and 29 September at Peleliu and Anguar. On the 29th, swells were so high at Anguar that evacuation had to be suspended temporarily. The Relief felt that LCT's or LCI's could have been used to advantage during this period, but none were available.
The transport Harris was one of many such ships which carried Army and Marine forces to the operation. As an APA she was also equipped to handle casualties during combat, and 23 September she participated in the occupation of Ulithi. Her utility did not end there, either. In addition to her medical facilities, which included an eye surgeon for serious cases, she furnished water and provisions to various smaller craft from 23 to 25 September, gave 21,000 gallons of fuel oil to the high-speed minelayer Montgomery, and transferred 8 LVCP's and 1 LCM to the Navy boat pool to remain at Ulithi.
The Bountiful and Samaritan sortied from Manus several days prior to D-day. Arriving off Peleliu 18 September, the latter immediately began embarking casualties, and left on the 19th for the Russells with 607 patients. On the 24th she went aground on Tauu Reef, with considerable damage to the ship but no personnel injuries. She was assisted to Renard Sound, Russell Islands, for disembarking patients and making
temporary repairs, and on 2 October docked in ABSD-1 at Espiritu for hull and engine work.
Solace and Relief went to Peleliu from Eniwetok. During August both had been at Pearl with casualties from the Marianas. On reaching Eniwetok the Relief helped to check the dysentery epidemic in the Ajax. The Solace embarked 542 wounded at Peleliu from 22 to 25 September and sailed for Noumea to discharge her casualties to Army and Navy hospitals. The Relief reached Peleliu 24 September, but did not begin loading until the Solace had reached capacity. On the 26th she received her first group from Peleliu and Anguar. Loading was dangerous on subsequent days because of weather conditions, but by the 30th she was under way with 690 cases which she discharged to hospitals in Noumea.
The transports Tryon and Pinkney, the former with 1,323 troops and the latter with men of the First Marine Regiment, left from Guadalcanal 8 September, unloading troops and cargo no D-day, 15 September, remaining a few thousand yards off shore. That morning the Pinkney received her first casualties. On the 16th she moved from 6,000 yards off shore to 5,000 to relieve the Tryon, and discharged badly needed blood plasma on the beach while continuing to embark wounded. Both ships got under way on the 20th, the Tryon with 797 casualties, the Pinkney with 690. After discharging them at Manus, the 2 vessels loaded with dry stores and mine-sweeping gear and sailed for the combat area. Hospital ships meanwhile had taken on board most of the remaining wounded, so, after reloading assault troops, Tryon proceeded to the Russells 4 October with 1,309 passengers and 87 patients, the Pinkney with 1,339 troops and 81 casualties. The two reached Renard Sound, Russell Islands, on the 10th for disembarking.
Medical supplies for land-based forces for STALEMATE were stocked for 60 days. Resupply after return from combat was available at Guadalcanal, Espiritu Santo, Noumea, Majuro, Eniwetok, Kwajalein, Manus, and Pearl. All ships receiving casualties were to exchange with medical groups ashore as many stretchers, bunk straps, blankets, and metal or plywood splints as they received from the beach. Each APA was to land 40 litters, one-third of its supply of splints, and 40 life jackets with the beach party. Each stretcher patient, so far as was possible, was to have a life jacket for the shore-to-ship movement.
Evacuation from the beaches moved smoothly during daylight, but at night some difficulty was encountered in locating medical boats at the reef. It was felt that in the future such boats should carry night lights and be prepared to give more accurate bearings of hospital ships. Facilities
for Operation INTERLUDE (Morotai) included the Comfort and three other hospital ships, besides naval and military hospitals at Manus, Mios, Woendi, Hollandia, Finschhafen, Milne Bay, and in Australia. All ships stocked medical supplies to capacity, with resupply available at Manus, Finschhafen, and Brisbane.
Mail Facilities. Until post offices could be established ashore, a landing ship (tank) was assigned to each anchorage to serve as a fleet post office. Postal personnel and equipment were transported in the first garrison echelon and transferred to the various LST's at different objectives. Following the capture of Peleliu and Ulithi, post offices were established there to serve all forces.
Mail from the staging areas in the Central and South Pacific for Peleliu-Ulithi was shipped fast as transportation was available. To avoid betraying a ship's destination by her mail cargo, numbers were used by Navy and Marine Corps, such as Navy 3253, Peleliu Island; Navy 3011, Ulithi Atoll; Navy 3257, Anguar Island.
Recognizing that good service was essential to high morale in any military operation, Admiral Halsey recommended in his report on STALEMATE that (a) "The mail base must be the same as the fuel base; (b) CinCPac postal officer must cooperate and move the mail base only on request of the Fleet; (c) officer messenger mail, registered, air, and first class matter can be expeditiously passed at sea by AO's (oilers); (d) second and third class mail should be held at the mail base and transported to anchorages when groups are definitely en route to the anchorage; (e) shore facilities must cooperate in separating mail by task groups, and not loading over 75 pounds per pouch, and if possible, using a distinctive color tag for each group."
The Service Unit at Seeadler
Rear Admiral T.S. Wilkinson, commanding Task Force Thirty-one, ordered the Western Garrison Group, under Commander MacGowan for the capture and defense of Peleliu, Anguar, and Ulithi, to assemble at Seeadler. The 12 vessels, mostly merchantmen, including the Cape Georgia, Cape Stevens, Sea Runner, and Sea Sturgeon, with the cargo ships Matar and Lesuth, arrived on the 7th and 14th, and on the 15th of September departed for the Palau operation. A few days later 2 fast carrier groups came in for quick replenishment. The required levels of supply as prescribed by the fleet logistic plan for STALEMATE had been furnished Fast Carrier Task Groups 38.1-2-3-4 in August by Service Squadron Ten
at Eniwetok. From the end of that month they had made strikes in the Bonins, Carolines, and Philippines and were low in everything but fuel, which was supplied to them at sea.
First to arrive was Rear Admiral Davidson's 38.4 - the carriers Franklin, Enterprise, Belleau Wood, and San Jacinto, cruisers New Orleans and Biloxi, and 2 destroyer groups, Squadron Six and Division Twenty-four, totaling 12 destroyers. On the 24th the force left Manus. Next to come was Task Group 38.1, Vice Admiral McCain, with the Wasp, Hornet, Cowpens, Monterey, Destroyer Squadron Forty-six and Destroyer Division Twenty-three - 12 destroyers in all. These left 2 October, each group visit lasting only 4 working days, which was typical of previous visits at Eniwetok and subsequent stops at Ulithi, thus maintaining the tempo of the strikes and keeping unrelenting pressure on the Japanese. To conform to this tight schedule Captain Ogden's forces had to accelerate their already very busy support activities. This meant around-the-clock handling of ammunition, food, stores, aviation supplies, fueling, and watering, with the ever-present demand for boats to carry out the servicing and furnish such transportation of shore parties as could be fitted into the lay-over time. Multiplicity of details always confronted the service unit at times like this.
Attack, escort-carrier, and fire-support forces steamed back to replenish ammunition and stores, beginning late in September. On 2 October, 42 ships of TransDiv 32 entered Seeadler. The greatest number returning from Palau entered next, when 87 ships anchored. Captain Ogden was caring for the 348 ships already in port on 1 October, and this addition considerably increased the responsibilities and duties of service personnel. The transport flagship Harris, Captain M.E. Murphy, for example, which came in on the 2d, took 12,913 barrels of fuel, provisioned ship, and loaded cargo, on 7 October embarking 95 officers and 1,543 men of the Twelfth Regiment, First Cavalry Brigade, and left on the 12th to attack and seize Leyte as part of Admiral Fechteler's Task Group 78.2. Most of the others were similarly serviced, but the burden of extra boat work was eased somewhat for the transports, which used their own boats instead of relying upon the pool. Despite the strain of all the extra boats instead of relying upon the pool. Despite the strain of all the extra work, Captain Ogden and his assistants proved equal to the occasion and acquitted themselves in a manner bespeaking his fine leadership, shown not only here at Manus but later at Kossol Passage and Leyte Gulf.
All the STALEMATE forces - land, sea, and air - accomplished their respective missions on schedule, though at the cost of heavy casualties in
the assault groups. With the exception of mopping up on Peleliu, STALEMATE was virtually completed after the seizure of Ulithi September 23. As was to be expected, the preparation and coordination of the plans proved the most important elements in success, with ships, planes and men brought from all Pacific areas, including the west coast, to be available at the crucial moment. The magnitude and complexity of the logistic problem was unparalleled, and made all the more intricate because of the delayed end of the Marianas engagement. With scarcely a breather after STALEMATE, FING II, the Philippines operation at Leyte, followed, with the fleet in furious activity.
With the Fast Carrier Groups
Vice Admiral Mitscher's Task Force 38, between 29 August and 27 September, conducted operations supporting the occupation of Peleliu and Anguar in the Palaus, Ulithi in the Carolines, and Morotai in the Moluccas. From Palau its Task Group 38.4 proceeded to Manus for bombs, fuel, and food. The rest of Task Force 38 steamed to the waters east of Luzon, then conducted the first carrier attack of the war on the island, including Manila. Afterward, all the task groups retired to replenishment bases - Task Group 38.1 to Manus on 29 September, 38.2 to Saipan 28 September, and 38.3 to Kossol 27 September. Before 38.1 reached Manus, 38.4 sortied operating in waters east of Palau until 5 October. At Saipan, logistics were handled by Squadron Ten Representative, Captain Forrest A. Rhoads.
Captain C.C. Laws, commanding the repair ship Prometheus, on 3 October became the Kossol Passage Representative of Service Squadron Ten. On 1 and 2 October, Task Groups 38.2 and 38.3 reached Ulithi, just after that atoll had been captured and before the arrival of logistic forces under Commodore W.R. Carter, Commander Service Squadron Ten. Besides the shortage of facilities, the difficulties of servicing the task groups at this time were aggravated by a typhoon. On the 5th, Task Force 38 began that phase of its operations preliminary to seizing Leyte, ending on the 20th. On the 7th the four task groups rendezvoused and next day took 290,000 barrels of fuel from Captain Acuff's oilers, and 367,000 gallons of aviation gasoline. Commander F.S. Gibson, commanding the oiler Platte, reported that fueling conditions were very hazardous, with moderate to heavy long and confused swells from the west and southwest. Three sections of hose were broken because it was
impossible to keep close positions in the heavy seas. Nevertheless the Platte persevered and despite adverse conditions and damage delivered 48,000 barrels of oil that day and met all requirements of ships coming alongside.
On 9 October, from a point about 600 miles southeast of their objective, all task groups commenced their high-speed run in toward Okinawa, and on the 10th launched aerial strikes against that stronghold. On the 11th, the fast carrier force (Task Force 38) made a dawn rendezvous with the fueling group (Task Group 30.8) and while steaming on a westerly course, took on 331,000 barrels of oil and 542,000 gallons of aviation gasoline. Planes lost in combat or operationally, were replaced from the escort carrier Nehenta Bay, attached to the oiler group.
After this fueling, all groups on the 12th and 13th launched strikes against Formosa, Japan's strongest and best-developed permanent base south of her islands proper. Formosa had never been hit before by carrier aircraft. Its antiaircraft batteries and defensive planes exceeded those of any areas struck thus far. With Japan only 700 miles away, stiff resistance was to be expected. On the 13th the heavy cruiser Canberra was torpedoed and taken in tow, and next day the Houston also was torpedoed. Commander Task Force 38 changed his operation plan to cover the retreat of the crippled cruisers, using them as a decoy to entice the enemy main fleet to come out.
Another refueling came on the 15th. This time Captain Acuff transferred by boatswain's chair and trolley from his flagship John D. Henley to the battleship New Jersey for conference with Admiral W.F. Halsey, commanding the Third Fleet, and returned 40 minutes later. In her war diary the Intrepid reported the day devoted chiefly to fueling and aircraft replacement. Alongside the Shuylkill for 3 hours 36 minutes, the Intrepid took aboard 9,543 barrels of fuel and 76,000 gallons of aviation gasoline, while from replacement carriers she took 5 fighter and 10 bombing planes. She also reported that "We are preparing to meet Japanese surface and carrier units who believe we are a fleeing crippled and disorganized fleet." During 15-16 October, Acuff's group issued 292,000 barrels of fuel and 726,000 gallons of aviation gasoline.
Squadron Ten Prepares to Move
With the landings of the Central Pacific forces in the Southern Palau group and of the Southwest Pacific forces on Morotai, the final barriers
to our assault on the Philippines had been pierced. Acquisition of the Palau Islands and of Morotai brought the Philippines within range of our land-based aircraft and pushed the Japanese back to their inner defenses. From them they had to hold the Philippines or be completely cut off from their captured territories in the East Indies and Southeastern Asia.
Expansion of air and naval facilities proceeded energetically at our recently acquired bases in the Marianas, but though this area provided small harbors, nothing could be used as a major fleet anchorage. For the berthing and servicing of the huge concentration of ships required for deeper thrusts into the Pacific, a large harbor farther west than Eniwetok was a necessity. The atoll of Ulithi in the Western Carolines, with its extensive anchorage area, was the choice as our next advanced base for mobile support of the fleet.
Before describing Ulithi and outlining the difficulties of moving the squadron's equipment forward we must consider briefly the logistic situation in the Marshalls at the time. Eniwetok was the farthest west of the atolls of that group, and the most useful because of its closeness to recent operations. Kwajalein, more than 300 miles to the eastward and somewhat south of Eniwetok, was a flight stop for transport planes to and from Pearl. It had been important as a replenishing point in previous campaigns but was now fast becoming a rear area.
In preparation for moving to Ulithi, Commander Service Squadron Ten wished to draw all but a few service units from Kwajalein. There was some slight objection, but a definite expression of policy soon came in a dispatch from Commander in Chief Pacific Ocean Areas. This ruled that Squadron Ten, with its responsibilities for supplying the needs of the fleet, could not afford to tie up much equipment to service local small craft, and the sub-area commander must support such "splinter fleet" locally. Though the incident in itself was not grave, it indicated to doubters that with the advance westward of fleet operations, mobile support units must advance also, rear bases being reduced to a minimum consistent with actual needs or allowed to dry up altogether. The mobile support idea was opposed to the fixed support idea of constructing and developing large shore naval bases at great expense in time and money. These could not be readily moved forward with the fleet, and once left behind, became only costly monuments to those who had failed to grasp the correct over-all strategy. For best results, fleet action and its support had to go forward together, and promptly.
Preparations for the Move. Shifting a floating logistic center from
Eniwetok in the Marshalls to Ulithi in the Western Carolines imposed a variety of problems. First of all, the service squadron was composed of many different types of support craft. It was not homogeneous like a destroyer squadron, for instance, and the ordinary plan to proceed at high speed to the destination did not fit the circumstances. A number of the support craft were not self-propelled but had to be towed, not at 10, 15, 20 or more knots, which with zigzagging offered fair immunity from torpedoing, but 6 knots or less. At that crawling speed zigzagging offered no protection and merely slowed down the group. Second, the trip to the new anchorage was across more than 1,300 miles of ocean and the tows would pass within 180 miles of the Japanese island of Truk. Previous raids on that stronghold had forced the withdrawal of the Japanese fleet closer to its home waters, and so there was not too much fear of enemy surface action, though there remained some possibility of an air attack. Third, as this was the typhoon season, the forces of nature might impose an even greater threat than that of the enemy. But, all in all, the movement was a fairly good calculated risk.
Some of the preparations involved hoisting LCVP's and LCM's. The former were of plywood construction and their light weight of 8 tons presented no hoisting problem. But for hoisting an LCM weighing about 22 tons the ordinary 10-ton cargo boom available on most ships, would not do. Ships with heavier booms were kept busy lifting LCM's. Every type of ship possible was used to transport boats forward. Concrete barges with their large deck space were fairly good carriers, but skids and shoring had to be provided upon which to rest the LCM's. As the crockery fleet had no booms of sufficient lifting capacity to hoist an LCM aboard, it was necessary to shift the concrete barges alongside a Liberty ship or put a ship alongside the barge. This involved considerable shifting of anchorages and men, and the use of tugs. Concrete barges, because of their fragile construction, could easily be damaged by the impact of heavier ships against their fenders when coming alongside. Another difficulty with them was that until the very last they were busy issuing provisions and stores. Also, all last-minute services required the use of boats; they had to stop work sometime in order to be hoisted.
Hooking up the tows presented its own problems. The fleet, rescue and salvage tugs, and some others, were equipped for towing with their own wire and towing engines, but the cargo and other ships, particularly the Liberty and older ones, did not always have towing equipment and perhaps had never towed before. In some instances there was a reluctance to tow because of the reduction in speed and consequent greater
danger of submarine attack. However, Boatswain C.F. Scully of the operations department did excellent missionary work, visiting the prospective towing vessels and convincing each commanding officer that his type of ship had towed previously and that his ship could be safely used. The general reaction was that "if another can do it, we can," and the operation was arranged.
Not counting boats, 110 craft had to be moved to Ulithi, ranging from the self-propelled types down through drydocks, lighters, barges, landing craft, and seaplane wrecking derricks. On 4, 5, and 12 October, 1944, the first convoys set out at the snaillike pace of 5 or 6 knots. Astern of the self-propelled units were towed the open and covered barges, concrete barges, floating docks, and other non-self-propelled craft. Where possible all types carried boats and little harbor tugs. The larger harbor tugs made the voyage on their own power, and, acting as retrievers, could assist tug convoys. Wire rope and manila hawsers were very scarce in the forward areas, and much hard work and ingenuity went into the "hooking up" of a tow. Destroyers, minesweepers, and submarine chasers as available were used as escort vessels. Steam was up for the toughest voyage.
Service Squadron Ten Main Body Moves to Ulithi
Reduction to Minimum at Eniwetok - Improvement in Salvaging
The first convoy to leave Eniwetok on 4 October was made up of repair ships, ungainly but valuable concrete stores ships, station tankers, oil and gas barges, and ammunition barges. The Vestal, repair ship, towed the concrete Chromite and an ammunition barge. Captain J.B. Good, commanding the Vestal, was task-unit commander. In his war diary he reported that the tugs had some difficulty in collecting and making up tows for delivery to the towing ships. Bad weather delayed the start, and though most vessels cleared the harbor, two station tankers, the tug Turkey, and two oil barges because of rain squalls and zero visibility remained in port overnight, joining next morning.
Captain Goode's worries about his assorted charges had only commenced, for next day a working party had to be sent to the covered lighter YF-254 to shift ammunition and put her on an even keel. Water, 2 feet deep, was found in her, so when the Turkey joined she was directed to pump out the bilges and repair some leaks in the barge. By 5 p.m. all the ships had taken their assigned positions in the convoy organization and things seemed pretty well under control, the least for the time being. Next day the towing bridle of the Liberty tanker Gazelle carried away. Captain Goode reduced convoy speed to 4 knots, while the retriever tugs YTB-372 and 384 helped the Gazelle reassemble her tow. The following day the fuel-oil barge YO-76 developed engine trouble. The old tanker Malvern, Lieutenant H.C. Pollock, had a steering casualty, dropped out of position astern, and did not regain her place until next day. The Vestal sent a repair party to the Malvern by tug. Another retriever brought patients over from the Chromite for medical attention.
Again the Malvern developed steering trouble, but this time regained position by steering by hand. On the 11th the flagship gave a subchaser water and provisions. After having ministered to the ailments of others, the Vestal herself encountered towing-engine difficulties, hoisted the breakdown signal, dropped out of formation, overcame her troubles, and later rejoined to assume the guide once more. Two days later, the 13th, the tug YTB-372 picked up a medical officer and chief pharmacist's mate from the Vestal to give medical aid to a patient on a fuel-oil barge. Later he was brought to the flagship. The breakdown of this same busy tug on the 13th was the last of the disquieting incidents to beset this heterogeneous group of 25 units. Captain Goode must have breathed a sigh of relief finally to sight Ulithi and anchor on the 15th inside the lagoon. In spite of all set-backs the voyage was made without loss, at a speed of about 5 knots.
The Second Convoy. Another towing group of miscellaneous types, all valuable to Squadron Ten, left Eniwetok 5 October, and included 2 floating drydocks. Commander W.L. Travis in the ARD-13 was convoy commander. On the 6th, pursuant to orders from high authority, the docks were ordered to return to Eniwetok. As they had been loaded with boats and hooked up with the usual difficulties, the order caused some disappointment. Nevertheless, back they went, the convoy proceeding with Commander J.E. Dow, commanding the cargo ship Megrez, as officer in tactical command of 23 units: 3 concrete ships, the Corundum with spare parts, Trefoil with general stores, Silica with fresh, frozen, and dry provisions, and medical items; an ammunition barge; maintenance barge; boat pool tender; sludge-removal barge; radio and radar equipment barge; floating workshop; 2 station tankers, the Giraffe and Quiros; water and gasoline barges; and the barracks ship Orvetta, Lieutenant Commander G.L. Armstrong. The Orvetta had been recompartmented to provide office space for activities the flagship could not accommodate. She was towed by the War Shipping Administration tug Watch Hill. Another fine tug of this type, the Mobile Point, towed the concrete Corundum and barge YC-1006. The two tugs had brought tows out to Eniwetok, and permission to use them was given by Rear Admiral Hoover, Commander Task Force 57. Another WSA tug, Cubits Gap, had brought out the floating dock ARD-25, Lieutenant Commander Otto Knudsen, and was routed forward to Guam for the use of Service Squadron Twelve, Commodore Fiske. The dock carried in her basin the suction dredge Point Loma and dredge Benson. The barracks barge Sea Hag, made fast to this tow, was for use at Guam.
Two medium size and two large harbor tugs were retrievers for this convoy. Two of them went into action when the barge YP-688 on the 9th broke loose from the Silica in the middle of the night. The war diary of the Megrez, flagship, recorded it: "At 2348 (11:48 p.m.) stopped engine; rest of convoy well clear and proceeding on course . . . Ship's force was aided by two retrievers in remaking tow. It was found the tow was parted because a shackle carried away. The shackle used was too light for the load placed on it, but the principal trouble was that the tow was hooked up improperly. The bridle was on the loaded (drag) end of the lighter, causing a constant yawing which certainly did not help the shackle. It is felt that if the tug which made up this part of the tow had used better judgement the incident would not have occurred."
Admirable restraint was displayed by the war diarist of the Megez in writing such a fine understatement. Here was the flagship of the convoy delayed by this happening, and her men required to work more than 31/2 hours at night in the middle of the ocean - sitting ducks for torpedo practice by an enemy submarine. The tow was not remade until 3:35 a.m. on the 10th, and the flagship could not overtake the convoy and resume guide position until 10 o'clock that morning. The present writer is sympathetic toward the author of the war diary and toward the men who made the repairs and by reading between the lines feels that at the time the tow was reshackled the salty seagoing language and paint-peeling invective probably used, somewhat compensated for the restraint necessary to compose the "official" language required by the diary.
The convoy reached Ulithi 14 October without further mishap, making a speed of advance of about 6 knots.
The Third Convoy. In the towing convoy of 12 October, affectionately known to Squadron Ten Staff as the "Third Fleet," Commander F.W. Parsons was convoy commander, and his flagship was his command, the battle-damage repair ship Nestor. The salvage vessel Extractor, Lieutenant (j.g.) L.C. Oaks, had retriever duty, and 3 destroyers were assigned as escorts. The little armada was made up of 14 tows which, with their towing ships, numbered 35 units; 3 floating drydocks; 2 ammunition barges; 1 energizing barge equipped to revitalize fuzes of antiaircraft ammunition; 1 lighter with boat pool gear; 1 gasoline barge; 4lighters with various types of freight; 1 hotel barracks barge; 5 LCI's each towing 1 high-speed target sled; 2 degaussing vessels, also each towing a sled. The precious floating docks, because of their size, importance, and poor maneuvering qualities, were entrusted only to fleet tugs. The ARD-13, Lieutenant Commander W.L. Travis, with 12 LCM's, 12
LCVP's, and 3 lighters in her capacious basin, was towed by the tug Hitchiti, Lieutenant H.A. Guthrie, and had the 1,500-ton covered lighter YF-788towing astern. The ARD-15, Lieutenant Commander W.E. Kellar, towing the YF-786, was towed by the tug Arapaho, Lieutenant A.H. Gunn. The dock carried 1 seaplane wrecking derrick, 2 pontoon barges, 1 50-foot motor launch, and 6 LCM's. The convoy arrived without serious mishap at Ulithi 21 October, having made an approximate speed of 6 knots.
Equipment for the new mobile base not brought by these three convoys came forward in smaller groups as tows could be arranged. The unforgettable feature of transferring Service Squadron Ten's activities was that no losses of personnel or equipment resulted. Admiral Nimitz was gratified by this accomplishment. Certain precautions had been taken to diversify the types of equipment in each convoy, to prevent endangering all of any one kind at the same time. In spite of all safeguards used, the amount of damage from typhoon and enemy could have been heavy. Exactly why the enemy allowed all that equipment to proceed nearly 1,400 miles at an average of less than 6 knots may never be known. Some of our naval aviators who viewed these ambling armadas from the air advanced the theory that any Japanese who observed one would suspect a trap, believing that the drydocks and other questionable looking pieces of equipment were in reality different forms of mystery ships or other secret offensive machines. Whatever the truth, all got through to safety.
Reducing at Eniwetok. On 8 October Commodore W.R. Carter, and his staff in the destroyer-tender flagship Prairie, Captain O.A. Kneeland, with the Cascade, Captain H.K. Gates, and the merchant ammunition ship Plymouth Victory sailed for Ulithi. The chief staff officer, Captain E.E. Duvall, with six officers remained at Eniwetok in the destroyer tender Markab to dispatch convoys and administer Squadron Ten affairs for a short period, then rejoin the main body at Ulithi. Officers of this staff represented the departments of small craft, maintenance, fuel, operations, and personnel, with one assistant for small craft, a boatswain. Many requests, problems, and duties beset this skeleton staff. The Markab's communications division was well nigh swamped with radio and visual traffic incident to servicing fleet units present; almost as much as that borne by the Prairie, recently gone forward. Near the end of the stay at Eniwetok a review was made of messages received from both naval and merchant ships. The following extracts show something of the daily routine of a service squadron representative:
Moments in the Life of a Service Squadron Ten Representative
HAVE OFFICERS FOR TRANSPORTATION X NO BOAT AVAILABLE X
WHERE CAN WE GET WATER X LUBE OIL X DIESEL FUEL X
REQUEST BOILER REPAIRS X
IMPERATIVE WE OBTAIN WATER X AUXILIARY CIRCULATOR BROKEN DOWN X
REQUEST ASSISTANCE OF REFRIGERATOR MAN X
REQUEST YOU DESIGNATE SOMEONE TO PAY US X
REPAIRS NEEDED BY RADIO RECEIVER AND TUBE TESTER X
WHERE CAN WE OBTAIN FIVE HUNDRED POUNDS GROUND COFFEE X BEACH ADVISES ALL THEIR SUPPLY IN BEANS X
REQUEST CRANE BARGE REMOVE BULWARKS X
OUR ENGINES ARE STOPPED X CAN'T MANEUVER X SEND TUG X
MSG JOSEPH LEATHERS CK3C X HELLO JOE X COME OVER IF POSSIBLE X SIGNED JOSHUA LEWIS
WHO ISSUES REGISTERED PUBLICATIONS X
ANCHOR WINDLASS NEEDS REPAIRS X
ALEXANDER HAMILTON TO MARKAB X HAVING TROUBLE WITH ICE BOX X REQUEST SERVICES REFRIGERATION TECHNICIAN X
TEMPERATURE MY REFRIGERATORS WITH FIVE MONTHS SUPPLY IS NOW THIRTY THREE DEGREES X
TO SQUADRON TEN REP MUST TRANSFER MY COLD STORAGE AT ONCE X
TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON YOUR MEAT CAN BE TRANSFERRED TO YF THREE EIGHT FIVE NOW ALONGSIDE ZEUS DISPATCH ONE LOVE CHARLIE MIKE (LCM) TO MARKAB TO PICK UP TARPAULIN X
GO TO MERCHANT WITH INITIALS ABLE HOW (ALEXANDER HAMILTON) LOAD FROZEN MEAT AND FISH FOR DELIVERY YF THREE EIGHT FIVE X HAVING WORKING PARTY THIRTY MEN READY DASH LOVE CHARLIE MIKE WILL PICK THEM UP X EMERGENCY TRANSFER OF FROZEN MEAT WHICH WILL SPOIL IF NOT MOVED X
MASTER VESSEL UNLOADING FROZEN MEAT ADVISED WORK WILL NOT BE COMPLETED BY MIDNIGHT X ARRANGE TO RELIEVE CREW MIDNIGHT TO TRANSFER MEAT BEFORE LOSS OCCURS X
MY COLD STORAGE IS GETTING ALONG FINE X SIGNED MASTER X
DID YOU PUT ALL MY MEAT IN YOUR REFRIGERATOR FOR RITZ CALRTON (A HOTEL BARGE) X
MEAT BEING TRANSFERRED INTO REFRIGERATOR BARGE YF THREE EIGHT FIVE X
WHEN CAN I GET MY MEAT BACK X
WE CAN LEND YOU A BOAT BUT CANNOT FURNISH WORKING PARTY X
DESIRE BOAT AT 0830 X SIGNED MASTER X
I AM NOW READY TO RECEIVE MY COLD STORAGE X THANK YOU X SIGNED MASTER X
YOU REQUESTED BOAT AT 0830 AND ONE WAS SENT AT THAT TIME X
(Q. TO CAPTAIN OF ZEUS) DID ALEXANDER HAMILTON EVER GET HER MEAT BACK X
A. YES SHE FINALLY DID X IT WAS GETTING TOO SOFT TO BE OF ANY USE TO ME (END OF MEAT SEQUENCE) X
DO YOU HAVE FACILITIES FOR STRAIGHTENING AND REPAIRING STEEL CARGO BOOM ON LIBERTY SHIP X
DUE BURST STEAM LINE TO DECK MACHINERY UNABLE TO GET UNDERWAY X
DESIGNATE SOURCE FRESH PROVISIONS X
HAVE MEDIUM SIZE BOY ALONGSIDE WHO WANTS TEN TO TWELVE THOUSANDS GALLONS OF FUEL X ONLY HAVE SEVEN THOUSAND ON BOARD X REQUEST GIVE HIM WHAT I GOT AND FILL UP AGAIN X REQUEST PROVISION ASSIGNMENT X
WE NEED PROVISIONS X WATER X FUEL X REPAIRS X
FUEL? - WATER? - PROVISIONS? - PAY? - WATER, AFFIRMATIVE - PROVISIONS, NEGATIVE - PROVISIONS! PROVISIONS! PROVISIONS! !*#%!!''
On October Captain Duvall and his staff left Eniwetok in the Markab, leaving Lieutenant Commander N.H. Geisenhoff, commanding the drydock ARD-23 and some officers to assist, in charge of service matters. The logistic equipment directed by Geisenhoff, and later by his relief, Commander C. Lovelace, commanding officer of the internal-combustion-engine repair ship Oahu, included the battle-damage repair ship Zeus; three floating drydocks; four covered ammunition lighters; one refrigerated stores lighter; three fuel-oil barges; one water, one large gasoline, and one sludge-removal barge; four small harbor tugs; and one seaplane wrecking derrick. On the 22d the Markab arrived at Ulithi,
and Captain Duvall and his temporary staff resumed their respective duties with Commodore Carter in the flagship Prairie.
Ulithi. Ulithi, largest atoll in the Western Carolines, lies slightly south of a line joining Guam and the Palau group, and approximately midway (360 miles) between them. The atoll consists of some 30 islands dotting a reef which surrounds a lagoon 19 miles long from north to south, 5 to 10 miles wide from east to west, capable of use as a fleet anchorage. The northern and southern ends offered the smoothest water, but neither was a storm shelter. The islands are low and offer slight protection from high winds.
Captured charts, substantially correct, indicated that the lagoon was heavily mined in certain areas. Mine sweeping began 21 September. Next day a reconnaissance platoon landed unopposed on three of the principal islands of the group. Friendly natives reported that the Japanese had left at least a month before. Unfortunately the fire support for the landing wounded four natives, who were given medical treatment but later died. Among them was "Princess" Marie, daughter of the chief, or "king," of Ulithi, who died on board the transport Harris. She was buried with her ancestors on Mogmog Island.
During the next 2 days mine sweeping continued, and the discharge of 5,600 tons of cargo from the transports and LST's was completed, the former withdrawing on the 25th. Occupation was now completed, giving the fleet possession of a new harbor which in the months to come proved its value as a logistic base for operations farther west.
The provisions stores ship Aldebaran, Captain E.E. Burgess, preceded Squadron Ten at this base, issuing fresh, frozen, and dry provisions, clothing, and ships stores to vessels of carrier groups until early morning of 3 October, when she ceased because of an impending typhoon. At 7:30 a.m. the Third Fleet stood out to sea to ride out the storm. Southwest and west winds blew from 35 to 55 knots, and large waves built up. At 8:35 p.m. the Aldebaran received an SOS distress signal, "We are sinking," from the LCT-1052, about 1,500 yards distant. With her engines drowned out, the LCT began to drift and the Aldebaran, which in the meanwhile had hoisted out a motor launch, maneuvered to go closer. The motor launch was first to reach the stricken craft but only just as the LCT went down. Fourteen of the crew were rescued, but her commanding officer, Ensign A.E. Smith, was lost.
Between 1 and 6 October because of the storm, the carrier Bunker Hill, unable to reprovision at Ulithi, was ordered to remain, and when the work was completed rejoin the task force at the next fueling rendezvous.
The uselessness of the port as a storm shelter was fully demonstrated by the typhoon which caused the loss of the LCT and many small craft from the boat pool, besides halting all service operations. The strategic position justified its acceptance with its shortcomings. Commander Service Squadron Ten had a complete program of typhoon procedures promulgated which required only a two-word signal to put into effect. This was done on two subsequent occasions.
Improvement in Salvaging. Anticipated enemy action manifested itself when on the evening of 13 October the cruiser Canberra was torpedoed while 85 mils off Formosa. She was taken in tow first by the Wichita, which was relieved by the fleet tug Munsee, commanded by Lieutenant Commander J.F. Pingley. The Munsee used 225 fathoms of 21/2-inch wire rope made fast to 60 fathoms of the cruiser's anchor chain. On the 14th the Houston was also torpedoed. She was under tow by the cruiser Boston on the 15th when the Munsee-Canberra tow joined up. Next day the group was attacked by Japanese torpedo planes which secured a second hit on the Houston. On the Canberra the salvage officer, Ensign P.S. Criblet, who had been placed on board by the Munsee, was drowned while diving in the forward engineroom to inspect repairs in preparation for pumping it out. Later, notwithstanding the anxious moments spent by the officers and crews of the damaged cruisers, apprehensive not only for the safety of ships at the moment but of possible future enemy attacks, time was taken out for the burial-at-sea services for Ensign Criblet. In devotion to his duty he had given his life.
On the 20th, the War Shipping Administration commercial leased tug Watch Hill, Captain De Puey, took a tow wire from the Munsee and the two tugs in tandem brought their charge safely to Ulithi on the 27th. The Houston also made it safely the same day. At once the repair ship Ajax moored alongside the Canberra to make repairs and insure her watertight integrity before she moved forward. Since her torpedoing, the cruiser had had only the barest minimum of water for cooking and drinking, part of which she received from the Boston while under way. By 10 November the repairs were completed and the Watch Hill towed her to Manus, where she entered the floating drydock ABSD-2.
As usual when a vessel left the theater of operations for home, the big cruiser was cannibalized - that is, equipment and articles scarce in the combat zone, and which she could spare, were removed. Sometimes gun mounts, more often food, ammunition, and spare parts, and always boats, if any, were taken. In this case, the main battery ammunition was left behind. Before the work of making a damaged ship ready for sea,
considerable time and effort had to be expended in clearing away wreckage, washing out oil, and in some cases removing bodies. Much cutting and welding was required. To assist the drydock's personnel, the repair ship Medusa supplied welders for temporary duty on the Canberra. She undocked on 6 January 1945, and on the 13th was under way from Manus to Pearl Harbor.
Towing the Houston
In the Houston's war diary for 14 October, Captain W.W. Behrens reported that to cover the withdrawal of the damaged Canberra, the scheduled movements of Task Force 38 were changed. Task Group 38.2 launched a dawn fighter sweep against Formosan airfields, and during the afternoon the Houston was sent to reinforce Task Group 38.1, which was giving close cover to the Canberra and the ships assisting her. That task group about 4:30 p.m. launched aircraft to intercept a large group of bogies (unidentified planes) coming in from the northwest, about 90 miles distant. When our fighter planes returned and landed on their carriers just before sunset they believed they had broken up the raid. Later, at 6:36 p.m. (sunset was at 6:22 p.m.), several low-flying aircraft were detected by radar, coming in from far ahead. Meantime several other planes were seen on both sides of the Houston. At 8:41 p.m. [sic - 6:41 p.m.?] she was struck by a torpedo on the starboard side near frame 74. All propulsive and steering power was lost, and the ship listed 16 degrees to starboard, her after engineroom flooded beyond control and abandoned.
At 8 o'clock the destroyer Cowell, Commander T.H. Copeman, in response to a request for a ship to remove excess personnel, with superb seamanship, came along the port side, but rough seas made the procedure too dangerous and she was ordered away. Excess personnel were put over the side in rafts and picked up by the Cowell, Boyd, and Grayson. At 8:30 p.m. the serious buckling in the waist of the ship threatened to break her in two, so the commanding officer gave the order to abandon ship, which was begun in cool and orderly fashion. Half an hour later further information indicated she might be saved, and all remaining personnel were ordered to stay aboard. In the meantime 743 men and 33 officers were picked up by 6 destroyers, 48 officers and 152 men remaining aboard. At 9:20 p.m. the cruiser Boston approached, made ready to tow, and by 11:50 p.m. was under way at 3 knots. On the morning of the 15th the Houston's draft was 34 feet forward and 30 feet 4 inches aft
The Houston - what holds her up?
instead of her normal maximum mean draft of 25 feet. At 8 p.m. of the 15th both the Houston and Canberra tows were only 220 miles from Formosa.
During the morning watch next day the Houston had an electrical fire in the after steering stations, which cut off power from her anchor engine. This delayed passing the tow to the tug Pawnee, Lieutenant H.C. Kramer, which had come up shortly after 6 a.m. However, by 10:36 a.m. the latter's wire was secured to the cruiser's port anchor chain, and by 11 a.m. the tug began slowly building up to towing speed. At 1:40 p.m. the task group commander warned of approaching enemy aircraft. The Houston brought all available men topside and manned as many 20-mm and 40-mm guns as possible, officers manning some of the guns. An enemy aircraft was sighted coming in from nearly dead astern, low to the water. The 3 supporting cruisers and 5 destroyers circled the tow at high speed and when they could bear, joined the Houston in opening fire on the oncoming Japanese plane. Though hit repeatedly by the cruiser's automatic weapons, the enemy succeeded in dropping his torpedo, which struck the already crippled cruiser near the stern on the starboard side, wrecking the whole after part of the hangar, which was opened to the sea, breaking the aviation gasoline tanks and starting a raging fire which took half an hour to extinguish. A second plane attacked the Santa Fe, and a third was shot down. It was learned later that our air support had destroyed all but these 3 of a very large raid, reported to have been made up of 60 to 90 planes of all types, which, had it broken through, would have finished off the 2 cruisers.
In the midst of these disturbing events, while Captain Behrens was struggling desperately with one-fourth a crew to keep his ship from sinking, the towing vessel Pawnee sent the Houston the encouraging message, "We'll hold on," and continued to make the usual 5 knots, in the right direction. This simple message might properly take its place among other immortal words uttered or signaled during the heat of a sea fight - "I have not yet begun to fight!" "Don't give up the ship!" - for here was a relatively small service unit, the fleet tug, giving heart to a crippled cruiser, the little Pawnee applauding the courage of the hard-hit big fellow with "We'll hold on!" as much as to say: "You'll make it. We're betting on you!"
Hold on the tug did, until 21 October, when she was detached to other duty. After this the tow consisted of the fleet tug Zuni, Lieutenant R.E. Chance, and the salvage vessel Current, Lieutenant J.B. Duffy, towing in tandem. On the 18th the oiler Pecos gave the Pawnee 875 barrels
The Reno hard hit and barely afloat.
of Diesel fuel, and the Munsee was fueled at the same time by the Kennebago, believed to be the first time fleet tugs had been fueled at sea while towing. On the 27th additional tugs nosed the Houston through Mugai Channel into relative safety of Ulithi lagoon, where Commander Service Squadron Ten assigned the repair ship Hector, Commander J.W. Long, to make the cruiser seaworthy for her voyage to Manus and then home. Thus ended a 1,250-mile trip on the end of a towline. The gallant Houston had been brought to safety from under the shadow of Formosa.
Admiral Halsey sent an enthusiastic "Well done!" to all concerned in the salvage. In another Halsey report are the words:" Just after the strikes on Formosa and Luzon, the torpedoing of Canberra on the 13th and the Houston on the 14th, there was a tremendous Japanese campaign of falsehood, claiming the destruction of virtually all the Third Fleet. This propaganda program may have been inspired by a feeling of necessity to reassure the Japanese people concerning the 'impregnability' of the Empire, or it may have had a seeming basis of truth in the minds of the authorities; erroneous conclusions probably stemmed from exaggerated claims of returning pilots." Whatever the basis of this propaganda, it was evident that our ability to recover quickly from most types of damage or at least to avoid total destruction, misled the Japanese in their estimates, and was particularly exemplified in the saving of the Canberra and Houston, as well as in that of the Reno on 4 November.
On 3 November the Reno, Captain R.C. Alexander, operating with Rear Admiral F.C. Sherman's Task Group 38.3 east of the Philippines, received a torpedo hit shortly before midnight on the port side, aft. Next day the fleet tug Zuni began towing her toward Ulithi. By only the most courageous determination on the part of the captains, officers, and crews of both the cruisers and towing vessels alike did the three tows somehow reach port notwithstanding sinking condition and attendant adversities. Two weeks after the arrival of the Canberra and Houston, the Zuni brought Reno in to Ulithi on 11 November. Squadron Ten's forces pumped all of them out, shored up bulkheads, restored some interior communications, water systems, etc., and made structural repairs enough to enable the three to be towed safely to Seeadler.
Temporary repairs were most extensive in the case of the Houston, which remained at Ulithi 48 days. The Canberra stayed 14 and the Reno 39 days. By 19 December all three had left Ulithi by separate tows, with extra tugs or large mine sweepers accompanying, and with PBM Mariners furnishing air cover. By mid-February all were under way for rear areas and eventually home ports, at a speed of 17 knots.
The work of making these cruisers seaworthy and operative, so they might proceed under their own power, testifies to the wisdom of having a large floating drydock available, and to the skill of the repair forces of the detachment at Seeadler, Captain Ogden coordinated all such activities until 11 December 1944, when he moved forward to Kossol Roads in Palau, being relieved as Commander Task Unit 30.9.1 by Captain Paul B. Koonce, commanding the destroyer tender Sierra, who remained at Manus until 15 February 1945.
The saving of these cruisers, not discounting the military protection afforded by their escorts, may be attributed to the effectiveness of the logistic support from floating bases. The advance of such bases as the action moved westward, and the presence, at the time, of units of Service Squadron Ten at Ulithi, relatively nearby, made it possible to operate fleet tugs and rescue vessels near the combat areas, in readiness to tow damaged ships away from further danger or complete loss, to that base for total repairs or for temporary work to enable onward routing to home yards. The Japanese were slow to recognize the effectiveness of this.
The Philippines Campaign
Forces and Vessels - Logistic Support of the Seventh Fleet - Battle of Leyte Gulf
By the end of September 1944 we had moved steadily across the Pacific to such effect that the former Japanese bases east of the Philippines which were not in our hands were so completely cut off from enemy main forces that they were no threat to our operations. By the middle of October the Third Fleet was based for logistic support on Ulithi, where the main body of Service Squadron Ten was anchored; and by 20 October naval and military forces under General MacArthur, covered by Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet, made the Leyte landings.
Vice Admiral Kinkaid's Seventh Fleet, constituting MacArthur's naval forces, was organized in 2 task forces and 3 task groups, numbering more than 180 combat vessels and more than 700 altogether. Rear Admiral D.E. Barbey commanded Task Force 78, Vice Admiral T.S. Wilkinson Task Force 79, Rear Admiral R.S. Berkey Task Group 77.3, Rear Admiral J.B. Oldendorf Task Group 77.2, and Rear Admiral T.L. Sprague Task Group 77.4. The combat vessels included 6 old battleships 5 heavy and 6 light cruisers, 18 escort carriers, 84 destroyers, 22 destroyer escorts, 34 submarine chasers, and 12 frigates. Among the amphibious types there were 5 combined operations-communications headquarters ships, 10 attack transports, 88 landing craft (infantry), 21 landing craft (tank), 10 landing ships (dock), and 151 landing ships (tank) - a total of 343. Mine sweepers and patrol and service types made up the remainder of the Seventh's forces. Submarines of Task Force 17 and of the Seventh Fleet supported the operation by furnishing early information of enemy movements, performing lifeguard service, and attacking enemy shipping.
Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet of fast battleships and carriers was organized
in 4 task groups - 1, 2, 3, 4 - all under Vice Admiral M.A. Mitscher as commander of Task Force 38. D-day was set for 20 October. Eleven days previous the groups were made up as follows, though subject to some changes from time to time: Task Group 38.1, Vice Admiral McCain, included 2 large carriers and 3 small ones, 3 heavy cruisers, and 11 destroyers. Rear Admiral Bogan's Task Group 38.2 had 3 carriers, 2 fast battleships, 2 small carriers, 3 light cruisers, 2 light antiaircraft cruisers, and 17 destroyers. Task Group 38.3, Rear Admiral Sherman, numbered 4 fast battleships, 2 large and 2 small carriers, 3 light cruisers and 1 light antiaircraft cruiser, and 17 destroyers. Rear Admiral R.E. Davidson, in Task Group 38.4, commanded 2 large and 2 small carriers, 1 heavy and 1 light cruiser, and 12 destroyers.
Carrier Task Force Missions Before Landings. With the nearest allied airfields nearly 500 miles from the landing beaches, the initial purpose of the Fast Carrier Task Force of the Third Fleet was to secure control of the air before D-day, 20 October. To establish such supremacy over Leyte and surrounding areas, large numbers of enemy aircraft in the Philippines had to be destroyed, and attacks made on bases through which aircraft from Japan had to pass. Destroying aircraft in the Philippines was second in importance only to destruction of the enemy fleet itself, and helpful toward that as well.
To attain these objectives the plan was to strike the strongly defended Japanese aircraft staging bases in the Nansei Islands, and Formosa, following with attacks in the Philippines in preparation for the assault there by Seventh Fleet forces. Okinawa was the first objective in the Nansei group. On 10-11 October its effectiveness as an aircraft staging base was interrupted and substantial damage inflicted on surface shipping. From the 11th to the 16th Formosa was subjected to air strikes from Task Force 38, and again enemy supporting facilities were substantially reduced by the destruction of 807 aircraft and 26 ships. From the 17th to the 23d the Fast Carrier Task Force gave more direct support to the Leyte landings by attacks on the Legaspi and Clark Field areas, and other Luzon airfields.
Staging for the Leyte Assault. In September the plan for the second phase of STALEMATE II, the capture of Yap and Ulithi, was canceled, and Leyte was ordered attacked on20 October, months earlier than had been contemplated. Ulithi, which was to have been seized after Yap, would be taken as soon as practicable. All shipping (except certain LST's and small craft left at the objective) employed in the assault on Peleliu and Anguar was sent, after unloading troops and stores, to Southwest
Pacific ports of Hollandia and Manus to be utilized for transportation of troops to the Leyte area.
Task Force 33, the Yap Attack Force, was assigned in its entirety of both assault shipping and troops to MacArthur for use in the Leyte operation. Task Force 33, or 79 as it soon became, reached Eniwetok 26 September and replenished its supplies there from Service Squadron Ten. Then, to permit consultation between commands, concentration of forces, and to avoid the possibility of typhoons in the belt between Eniwetok and Leyte, the LST and transport convoys left Eniwetok for Manus on 28 and 29 September.
Vice Admiral Kinkaid, commanding the Seventh Fleet, had two main amphibious attack forces: The Northern, Task Force 78, under Rear Admiral Barbey, commanding the Seventh Amphibious Force, and the Southern, Task Force 79, under the Commander Third Amphibious Force, Vice Admiral Wilkinson.
Northern Attack Force, Task Force 78. Troops of the four attack groups which comprised part of the Northern Attack Force were embarked at Finschhafen, Hollandia, and Manus. The force, without the San Ricardo attack group transports under Rear Admiral Fechteler, Commander Task Group 78.2, left Hollandia on A-minus-7 day, Friday, 13 October, an unlucky day for the Japanese. The San Ricardo transports left Manus and effected rendezvous with the force 2 days later.
Southern Attack Force, Task Force 79. Assault shipping and escorts hitherto designated Task Force 33, now Task Force 79, was originally assigned to capture Yap and Ulithi. The troops in it (XXIV Corps) reported to the general commanding the Sixth Army, but remained in the assault ships. The organization remained substantially the same as had been planned for the Yap operation, consisting of Attack Group Able, Task Group 79.1, Rear Admiral Conolly, carrying the 7th Infantry Division, and Attack Group Baker, Task Group 79.2, Rear Admiral Royal, carrying the 96th Infantry Division. Task Force 79 remained at Manus for its arrival,3-4 October, until its departure for Leyte in two detachments, the LST convoy on the 11th, the transports the 14th.
Landings at Leyte. Initial landing sites were around Leyte Gulf in the east central Philippines. Both Northern and Southern Attack Forces converged on Leyte in almost straight-line approaches. On 17 October troops landed on Dinagat and Suluan Islands, commanding the approaches to Leyte Gulf, and next day made amphibious landings on Homonhon Island. Thereafter mine sweepers and underwater demolition teams removed mines and investigated landing beaches. On the 18th
bombardment ships entered the gulf and began firing on shore installations. Simultaneously planes from the carriers of the Third and the carrier escorts of the Seventh Fleet attacked enemy positions and neutralized his nearby airfields. Admiral Barbey's Task Force 78 and Admiral Wilkinson's Task Force 79 entered the gulf during the night of the 19th-20th, and that day successful landings were made on schedule on the western side of the gulf. With the stepping ashore of our troops, the actual return to the Philippines had begun.
Logistic Support of Seventh Fleet. Admiral Kinkaid, in the logistic annex of his operation plan for the seizure of the Leyte area, specified the naval bases at Manus and Hollandia as the principal sources of initial supply, and further that Seventh Fleet supply agencies in New Guinea and the Admiralties, plus CinCPOA supplements at Manus, meaning Ogden's group of Service Squadron Ten, be utilized to accomplish the usual levels. These were ammunition, fuel, and lubricants to capacity; fresh and dry provisions to maximum capacity, but not to exceed 120 days for ship's company and 30 days for embarked troops; general stores, clothing, small stores, ship's stores stock, medical items - each to last 120 days.
Tasks of Commander Service Force, Seventh Fleet. The order required that Rear Admiral R.O. Glover, commanding Service Forth, Seventh Fleet, provide fuel, provisions, and water at Manus, and the same, with ammunition at Hollandia; replacement fuel from floating storage at Leyte on A-plus-4 day; resupply of provisions there by A-plus-30 day; tender and drydock facilities for all types of vessels at Manus, and tender for amphibious craft and destroyers at Hollandia; one repair ship (landing craft), the Achilles, Lieutenant C.O. Smith, to accompany the Northern Attack Force and be under Admiral Barbey's operational control. Admiral Glover was also ordered to appoint a service force representative for naval forces afloat in the Leyte area, to accompany Admiral Barbey to the objective.
Fueling schedules required that Task Unit 77.7.1, Captain J.D. Beard, of the service group, consisting of three fleet oilers, with escort, be on station A-minus-5 day to fuel Task Groups 77.5 and 78.4, respectively, the mine-sweeping-hydrographic and Dinagat attack groups. After that the APD's, the high-speed old destroyer transports of Task Group 77.6, the beach demolition group, were fueled, and then the destroyers, and heavy and light cruisers of Task Group 77.2, Admiral Oldendorf's bombardment and fire-support group.
That done, the oilers retired along the route of advance, joining the
LST's of the Southern Attack Force, Admiral Wilkinson's Task Force 79, and while proceeding in convoy refueled the LST's and escorts as Admiral Wilkinson specified. Returning, to be on station 2 days before the assault, the tankers fueled the transports and escorts of the Southern Attack Force as specified by the task-group commander. After this the oilers returned to Kossol Roads to refill, then went to fueling areas about a hundred miles east of the objective.
Bombardment Group Logistics. Admiral Oldendorf reported on the bombardment and capture of Leyte:
Prior to leaving Manus all ships of Task Group 77.2 had loaded to bombardment ammunition levels, had been fueled, and in the last few hours had received provisions. Provisioning was late because of the delayed arrival of the U.S.S. Bluejacket, and it appeared for some time that, in spite of the excellent provisioning organization set up by the Manus representative of ComServRon Ten, ships would have to sail without sufficient food to carry them through the operation. Apparently provision-ship operating schedules were not changed adequately to conform with the requirements of the newly planned operation. Some ships of the bombardment and fire-support group were reported as having only 6 days' supply of provisions on hand, and would hardly have been able to proceed on the operation had they not received provisions at the last minute.
Admiral Oldendorf's last statement is noteworthy, indicating the strong possibility of important, perhaps vital, ships being delayed for lack of food. In a very large and complicated plan such as that involved in capturing Leyte, the wisdom of having well-coordinated logistic support in ample quantity cannot be overemphasized.
The report continued:
...it was wisely decided to bring the oilers and ammunition ships into Leyte Gulf, which saved much time and did not reduce the combatant force.... It is appreciated that chances were taken in making this move as 'Flash Reds' (enemy aircraft in near vicinity) were frequent. Fueling of units was usually accomplished expeditiously, although the large number of ships to be fueled and the small number of oilers made the operation seem an endless one.
The taking of ammunition was, as usual, slow, difficult, and unsatisfactory. Two ammunition ships, the U.S.S. Mazama, Commander P.V.R. Harris, and the S.S. Durham Victory, were provided. The Mazama was well equipped, had its own winchmen, and helped in every way to expedite loading . . . The Durham Victory had a very small civilian crew, no winchmen, and no previous experience with ammunition handling. A representative from the Mazama was placed
aboard the Durham Victory and was of great help. However, throughout the landing period it was necessary to have the combatant ships supply winchmen to the Durham Victory. Trained winchmen are not usually available even on the larger ships, and require much experience before they are able to work holds with rapidity and safety. Since an ammunition ship is not a desirable neighbor in a harbor infested with enemy aircraft, and as it is of great importance that combatant ships be reloaded with ammunition as quickly as possible, it is strongly recommended that only naval ammunition ships be sent into assault areas, or if it be necessary to send civilian-manned ships, that the crews be augmented by trained winchmen, preferably by Special C.B. (Construction Battalion) personnel; otherwise by civilian longshoremen.
Both Admirals Wilkinson and Kinkaid concurred that sending merchant marine ammunition ships into assault areas was undesirable.
The Fueling Group. Story of the Ashtabula. The wary diary of the Navy oiler Ashtabula, Lieutenant Commander W. Barnett, reveals its part in the plan mentioned. On 11 Captain J.D. Beard, Commander Task Unit 77.7.1, and his staff came aboard at Humboldt Bay, Dutch New Guinea, for temporary duty. Next day the ship sailed in accordance with Admiral Kinkaid's operation plan for a fueling rendezvous with the Navy oilers Salamonie, Captain L.J. Johns; Saranac, Commander R.H. Parker; Chepachet, Lieutenant Commander H.K. Wallace; the merchant tanker Pueblo; and escorts. On the 15th, the Ashtabula fueled some vessels of the mine-sweeping and beach demolition groups, delivering 6,350 barrels of fuel and 1,072 barrels of Diesel oil. The following day she gave the cruisers of the fire-support group, Minneapolis, Louisville, and Honolulu, 23,728 barrels of fuel oil and 1,800 gallons of gasoline. After delivering 14,150 barrels of fuel on the 17th, she ceased fueling, went back to Kossol, and replenished her cargo from the Pueblo, taking 29,000 barrels.
On 20 October, in company with other oilers, she left Kossol, anchoring in Leyte Gulf on the 23d, A-plus-3 day, 7 miles east of the beachhead. She gave four destroyer types 7,000 barrels of fuel before going to a night anchorage in the lee of Homonhon Island. The next day enemy planes passed overhead, and she fired at them. Later she anchored 7 miles east of the beachhead and issued 3,000 barrels of fuel, 860 barrels of Diesel oil. While she was under way with a task unit seeking night anchorage, four enemy planes singled her out as a target. At 6:48 p.m. a torpedo struck her on