The Maintenance of Bases
A GREAT deal has been said, thus far, about the Base Maintenance Division but very little about the maintenance of bases. So far as its history until 1944 is concerned, the Division might more appropriately have been named the Base Establishment Division. Its preoccupation with establishment was natural. In the first place, bases had to be created before they could be maintained. Secondly, during the months when the efficacious techniques which have been discussed in the preceding chapters were being worked out by a necessarily inexperienced and an insufficient staff, there was a firm belief in Op-30 that maintenance was properly a bureau function. Indeed even as late as February 1944, Captain Thompson categorically declared that the Bureaus were responsible for maintenance.1 Still later, the creation of the Electronics Division of Operations stimulated a study in Op-30 of pertinent directives, General Orders, and Navy Regulations which disclosed that cognizance over base maintenance had been explicitly allocated to no agency whatever.
This vacuum had been filled by the Bureaus for the task appeared to be little more than an extension of peace time operations with which, in contrast to establishment, they were entirely familiar
while CNO was not. In fact, such was the nature of the Navy's supply system that the major portion of maintenance was accomplished by field activities without any reference to Washington. The standard procedure had two principal elements. Certain classes of consumables, such as foods, were forwarded under a system of automatic supply based upon well-established usage factors. Other materials were provided in compliance with requisitions submitted to the supply depot which was nearest the requisitioning activity or which seemed most likely to possess a stock of the desired items. It was only when the size of maintenance activity became so great that it was inextricably enmeshed in broader logistic problems or when non-Naval military agencies were involved that CNO entered directly into the maintenance picture.
Two examples will serve to illustrate the action of CNO. One was the plan worked out in June and July 1942 by Op-12, in conjunction with the Army, for the supply of the bases newly established along the line of communication with Australia. Here there were two main consideration. One was the conservation of shipping. It was manifest a greater economy in the use of the limited available cargo capacity would result from the much shorter haul implicit in a maximum utilization of local and of Australian and New Zealand sources of supply. Such was the purpose underlying the creation in June of a Joint (Army-Navy-Marine Corps) Purchasing Board in New Zealand under the Commander, South Pacific Area.3 The second example was CNO's action in the
elaboration of a clear, simple and standard system for the supply of the various bases and their constituent units. In this case, the primary problem derived from the joint Army-Navy nature of the bases and from the fact the formal plans for the establishment of the several bases were mutually inconsistent. Part of the difficulty had its origin in the independent and very different systems of supply of the two services. Agencies as varied in nature, authority, and situation as the Service Force of the Pacific Fleet, the Naval Supply Depot, Oakland, the Hawaiian Department, and the San Francisco Port of Embarkation, to mention only the more important, were all involved in the logistic process. The plans for the several bases assigned responsibility for the same classes of supplies to different authorities. COnfusion was the inevitable result, particularly since the supply agencies in one service not only were not informed of the action of those in the other, but often did not even know what, if any, was their opposite member. After considerable study and negotiations with the Army, Op-12 formulated an overall plan for the supply of the bases in question which was promulgated on 15 July 1942 over the signature of the Vice Chief of Naval Operations and the Commanding General, Service of Supply.
This Joint Logistic Plan outlined the whole situation. It summarized the products which were available in New Zealand and Australia, announced the existence of the Joint Purchasing Board, assigned comprehensive responsibility, so far as the Navy was concerned, to the Service Force Subordinate Command, South Pacific Force, under the overall control of the Commander, South Pacific Area, and to the San
Francisco Port of Embarkation for the Army, under the supervision of the Commanding General, United States Army Forces in the South Pacific Area. It explained that the bulk of supplies would be dispatched from San Francisco and that the primary procurement and shipping authorities there were the commanding officers of the Port of Embarkation, the Service Fore Subordinate Command and the Twelfth Naval DIstrict. More detailed instructions for the performance of these general responsibilities followed, most useful of which was a table indicating for each base the channel of supply for each class of materials.4
This outline of the arrangements made for the logistic support of the bases in the South Pacific has been given in some detail because it supplements the discussion of the establishment of those bases in Chapter V and because it indicates the character of the role which CNO played in maintenance in the early part of the war. It should be noted that it was Op-12, not Op-30, which was concerned. Later most of this sort of planning was performed by area commanders. CNO again entered significantly into maintenance problems only after its own reorganization and the reconstitution of Op-12 as a logistics Plans Agency subsequently reenforced by the Logistics Plans Unit and the Overall Logistic Plan which are discussed in another section of this history. By that time, it was becoming manifest that maintenance was a part, indeed a very important part, of the Navy's logistics. In the earlier part of 1944, maintenance, as distinguished from establishment, matériel constituted four-fifths of the naval tonnage dispatched from Pacific Coast Ports. Nevertheless, it was only after the Under Secretary of the Navy
returned from an inspection trip of the Pacific Ocean Area with the verdict that bases were not being properly maintained that there was erected in CNO a unit of which base maintenance was a primary mission.
The creation within Op-30 in March 1944 of the 2-B subdivision has already been noted. It was itself divided into several sections, two having cognizance over Atlantic and Pacific bases and the others being charged with relations with the several Bureaus. This internal organization was modeled very largely on that which had already existed and which now continued as Op-30-2C.
Since the precept of the new subdivision was very general, the character and scope of its mission were matters which it largely determined for itself. Its rather more than general staff undertook such work as their varying abilities, energy, and imagination suggested.
A not very successful effort was made to send representatives on tours of inspection to discover at first hand just what were the conditions and the deficiencies at advance bases. Area commanders, busy with the problems of combat, showed a considerable disinclination toward entertaining a group of quasi-spies. Another means of securing information was also disappointing. Although an extensive questionnaire form was drawn up,5 it was found that the official and personal business of such officers who had just returned from advance bases as were available in Washington occupied all their time. Seldom, moreover, did they possess an adequately comprehensive knowledge of the full procedures and broad problems of base maintenance. Thus, Op-30-2B fell back upon
the development of significant information from data available in the Continental United States.
The most ambitious and the most fruitful effort was a project designed to uncover what were the proportions, the nature, and the channels of existing maintenance activity. Since maintenance was being handled almost exclusively by the Bureaus, each working independently of the others and using its own accounting procedures, only the most unreliable estimate could be made. The uncertainty was magnified by the fact at seaboard no systematic distinction was drawn between initial and maintenance shipments. It was recognized that much functional component matériel was being diverted, more or less surreptitiously, to maintenance ends. Such practice was inevitable since no firm link could be drawn between augmentation and maintenance. Moreover, a great deal of matériel, component and other, was sent to "FRAY", that is, to Pearl Harbor. Washington received almost no information with regard to its later history. Since components were integrated in the general base establishment after their arrival at destination and thus lost their identity, and since an appreciable roll-up of facilities at rearward bases was taking place, no agency in Washington knew with certainty just what equipment any base had. Only a continuing careful inventory, which was not taking place, would have disclosed what needed to be maintained at what bases. In short, maintenance was a hit or miss function.
In an effort to shed some light on the problem, the 2BP section initiated a series of studies. The first stop was an effort to discover in the broadest terms what would have to be maintained.
Considerations of security here imposed a serious obstacle. Resort was made to informal contacts with officers attached to Op-12 and CominCh. By this method, albeit highly unsatisfactory because of uncertain validity, an estimate was compiled in Op-30 of the number, location, and types of ships, planes, components, and personnel to be maintained in the Pacific in June 1945. These tables were then submitted to the Bureaus as enclosures to a letter which requested of them data with regard to maintenance requirements in that month. The Bureaus were instructed to use the enclose data and any other which they deemed appropriate. The types of items and the units of measurement were indicated for each Bureau. Certain general principles and assumptions were stated in order to establish a basis for th estimates and not as an indication of change of policy. The more significant principles were: to resolve doubts as to whether items were for maintenance in favor of maintenance, to include items which flowed through the bases to maintain the fleet as well as items destined to maintain the facilities at the bases, and to assume intense activity in the forward area and low activity elsewhere. It was requested that the estimates be broken down into the following categories: the flow to bases in the Hawaiian Islands, the flow to other existing (as of 1 April 1944) bases, the flow to bases expected to be established. Finally, an explanatory statement was desired of how the estimates were reached.6
The replies to this letter included copious statistics. They revealed that the several Bureaus used the most highly varied methods of estimating future requirements. Many different sorts of information,
derived from numerous sources, mostly Naval and frequently field activities with which the Bureau had special connections, were the foundation of their guesses. Such they must be called, since the data form which they were constructed were compiled for other purposes and reflected divergent underlying assumptions. In some cases, special studies and conferences had been stimulated by CNO's request. If one single fact emerged as most significant, it was probably that few even moderately satisfactory war usage factors or data had been worked out.
Nevertheless, the investigation appeared to be profitable. With it as a foundation, an agenda was derived for a conference at CinCPOA's headquarters, at which CNO was represented by Captain C. H. Sanders and Lt. F. M. Bradley, who had played the major role in the estimate of maintenance requirements. It was there agreed that the work already done represented a step in the right direction and the "long-range predictions of requirements subject to periodic review and revision, as necessary, are essential for procurement planning and can be made only on the basis of the strategic concept for future operations. Interchange of logistical information between CNO and CinCPOA is essential for good planning and long-range estimates of requirements will be prepared by CinCPOA and submitted to CNO...." It was further agreed that, upon receipt of the new Overall Logistics Plan, which would forecast by quarters form 1 October 1944 to 1 October 1946, the "Naval ships, planes, personnel and functional components to be wanted in all theaters," CinCPOA and CNO would each prepare studies of CinCPOA's maintenance requirements for those periods. The results would then be exchanged for
the purpose of comparison in order to resolve major differences.7
The next step was the preparation by CNO of the estimates for the next two years. This process was initiated by a letter addressed to all Bureaus and several Divisions of Operations which paralleled the letter of 4 July. The scope of the forecast was extended to include the Atlantic and the time enlarged form one month to each quarter from 1 October 1944 to 1 July 1946. This latter change was possible because the fundamental data were now, not the guesses of Op-30-2B, but the official Overall Logistics Plan. This latter document, which is discussed at length in another section of this history, served as a foundation for the estimates which was sadly lacking in July. There is no evidence that Op-30-2B's effort to compile such data was responsible for the creation of the Overall Logistics Plan Committee. The two coincided in time, however. In broad terms, the letter was like that of July. BuPers and Op-32 were requested to furnish certain supplementary basic data, to all the Bureaus and the Marine Corps. The general principles were the same, the chief differences being a division by theaters of operations, the inclusion of items furnished by and to the Army, a segregation of Marine Corps maintenance from Naval, the addition of items which, while not maintenance, were also not component material, and a special schedule for petroleum products. Again, an explanatory statement of the subsidiary data used and the methods of computation was desired.8
The carefully compiled replies to this letter were forwarded to CinCPOA in January and February.9 Further study in Washington resulted
in the translation of these statistics into graphic form. These latter were then distributed for the guidance of interested agencies.10
These materials were primarily guides, but they also represented first steps toward the development of reliable usage data. This latter desideratum was simultaneously sought in other quarters. All available sources were combed to determine the total actual Naval shipments, except petroleum products, from Continental Ports to the Pacific area between 1 January and 30 September 1944. The results were distributed to a wide list in both statistical and graphic form which showed the points of origin and destination.11 It was a handsome chart, but some elements represented merely the best guess of members of Op-30-2BP.
One of the decisions reached at the conference at Pearl Harbor was the necessity for usage data. Accordingly, Op-30 requested the Bureaus to furnish all usage data useful to estimating maintenance requirements, indicating the source, the experience period, the degree of reliability, and the method by which it should be applied. The answers were transmitted to CinCPOA in January. Six months later, Op-30 forwarded to the Bureaus and other interested agencies ComServPac's estimate of maintenance requirements for the period, 1 July 1945 to 31 December 1946, which showed the factors upon which they were based. In the process of establishing war usage factors, Op-30 did little more in the performance
of its liaison mission that act as a post office.12
Op-30-2B may also be credited with a number of somewhat less considerable accomplishments which ameliorated the problems of maintenance. It was recognized that the unsystematic flow of requisitions immeasurably complicated the supply of the Pacific Fleet. Not only were there many channels through which requisitions could flow, but frequently several requisitions for the same item were sent to different supply agencies in the hope of greater promptness. NSD Oakland along received more than a thousand each day. In short, retail techniques were employed for what was really wholesale business. It was clear that methods for the consolidation of maintenance demands must be elaborated.
Certain palliative procedures had already been put into operation. Early in the Pacific war, the USS Castor, and later other AKS's were loaded with cargoes of consumables, largely GSK items, to replenish directly the stocks of advance bases and of the fleet and thus to reduce the number of requisitions with their attendant delay and red tape. Later, similar cargoes, known as BBB, that is, Basic Boxed Base, loads were dispatched for total unloading at selected bases. Still other related techniques such as automatic supply were instituted by several Bureaus for their own commodities. With none of these developments was Op-30 directly concerned, since prior to 1944 it did not deal with maintenance. While they represented an improvement, within a limited field, over the system of individual requisitions, none of these
methods was wholly satisfactory or suitable for general use. They suffered from the hollow foundation of deficient and erroneous usage experience which exaggerated the accumulation of excess stocks, inherent in any wholesale method, because the varied circumstances of different areas and bases entailed seriously divergent rates for the consumption of the several classes of supplies. No system of block shipments could be wholly free from this weakness.13
Nevertheless, so greatly had the Catalogue of Functional Components simplified the complexities of initial movements that is adaptation to maintenance procedures was an inescapable notion, particularly since at least eighty percent of total Navy shipments were for maintenance purposes. This concept was explored by Op-30-2B and BuS&A in 1944. The preliminary work was then discussed in San Francisco and at Pearl Harbor with members of the staffs of ComWesSeaFron and CinCPOA. These conferences uncovered serious flaws in the broad concept and these two commands gave only a most qualified endorsement. Fundamentally, there were two types of criticisms. In the first place, it was felt that the Catalogue would inevitably run into the same difficulties outlined in the preceding paragraph. Second, it was believed that the same purpose could be achieved by the creation of control agencies, through which requisitions would be channeled and by means of which they could be consolidated. Nevertheless, the project was continued, partly because it was felt that the Catalogue would assist CinCPOA in estimating maintenance requirements, just as the first Catalogue aided establishment.14
The end of the war found the maintenance catalogue still in process of birth. It was the opinion of the officer who had immediate supervision at that time that it would have miscarried in any event. The requisition control agency had already been established in ComWesSeaFron.
The Requisition Control Unit grew out of problems which far exceeded the cognizance of Op-30, although the uses of such an organization had been suggested by members of the Scheduling Section as early as June 1944. Its merits have already been indicated. Its establishment was one consequence of the acute Pacific shipping crisis, caused by the end of the war in Europe and the redeployment of a major part of the Army. The extended negotiations which that intricate problem entailed are discussed in the sections of the present study which deal with the Naval Transportation Service and with the Control of Naval Logistics. Op-30 played a minor part, chiefly one of securing information with regard to the actual number of requisitions submitted. Nevertheless, since it, rather than Op-05, maintained liaison with the field, CNO's letter which approved and promulgated the plan drawn by ComWesSeaFron bore its serial in July 1945.15
In this same general connection, Op-30 also endeavored to ensure the rapid filling of requisitions. Thus it requested BuSandA to arrange for other Supply Depots to institute the sort of follow-up procedure already introduced at Bayonne. Bureaus were invited to survey and to reduce so far as possible the classes and number of requisitions
which required Bureau approval. SubordComdServPac had its complement increased in order to expedite action on the many requisitions which it handled. Similarly, Op-30 received from CinCPOA reports with regard to critical shortages and then instructed the cognizant Bureaus to make investigations and to report remedial action. in this fashion, it contributed to the correction of significant logistic failures. A system was established to make regular studies of action reports in order to detect deficiencies. Many other examples might be cited of this some sort of coordinating and liaison activity.16
Finally, Op-30-2B was the Navy's primary agency in connection with storage control within the United States and the disposition of surplus material at advance bases. These two complicated problems had only tangential connection with the establishment or maintenance of advance bases and do not warrant detailed analysis here. The first was accomplished by the creation of a special committee representing each of the Bureaus and offices of the Navy Department under the chairmanship of Op-30-2B. This committee initiated studies of available storage space and anticipated requirements. It then formulated and Op-30 promulgated instructions for the utilization of such warehousing.17
Much more complex as the disposition of surplus property. All phases of the total logistics process from the conservation of civilian manpower to the optimum use of combat shipping and military
personnel were involved. The elements of its solution were laid down in a series of comprehensive directives promulgated by Op-30 on the basis of instructions received from Op-12 and Op-05G.18 In this regard, as in so many others, Op-30 played its regular part as liaison agency between CNO and other naval commands.
Undoubtedly, the maintenance work of Op-30 was useful. Yet it does not appear that its activity fundamentally influenced the pattern of base maintenance.
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