Chapter XII
Assembly VII

THE BOBCAT movement was analyzed in some detail in an earlier chapter, in order to demonstrate the conditions and the methods of the establishment of advance bases early in the war. Subsequent chapters have presented the development of revised techniques which transformed the process so far as CNO was concerned. From a comparable outline of a sample movement late in the war will emerge a clear picture of the mature working of the advance base machinery in CNO. No wholly characteristic operation can be selected for every one had its peculiar aspects. However what came to be known as Assembly VII serves the purpose well since it was the largest and almost the last major project. It was composed of the matériel and personnel which went to BIVE, the code name for Okinawa.

The component elements of Assembly VII may be traced back to the procurement plans for 1944 and 1945. In that guise its genesis is to be found the basic procurement authorization for the years 1843, 1844, and 1945, which was issued in the summer of 1942. Subject to such subsequent amendments as experience and the changing strategic situation dictated, this program constituted most of Schedule III of the Advance Base Schedule. There the elements of Assembly VII rested until May 1944. They were being procured for a destination as yet undetermined. As the month of their "Required 'Inland' Availability" approached, certain


informal indication may probably have been given to Op-30, through unofficial channels, of the likely climatic conditions under which the units would operate.

The formal birth of Assembly VII took place in a directive addressed to Op-30 by Op-05G on 24 May 1944, entitled "Summation of Advance Base Requirements, Remainder 1944". Therein, along with many other miscellaneous requirements, was a summary of the major units included in Assembly VII: one modified LION or built-up CUB, four CORNS, four GroPacs, four Communication Units, and a generous allotment of medical facilities.1 The directive cited no references, but, nevertheless, embodies the logistic plans conceived by Op-12 and the strategic plans formulated by CominCh, CinCPac-POA and other high echelons. Thus, the action of Op-05G was based upon information and instructions received from several sources.

Op-30 had already issued, on 13 May--although advance information was not infrequently available this action appears to have been a routine compliance with an established policy of maintaining at all times on the West Coast one LION in a ready condition--its first directive for the assembly of LION 8, which was the greatest single unit in the Assembly. Not later than 1 June, the personnel of echelon 1 were to be assembled at San bruno "for processing and tactical training, and if time (was) available, for additional component training." The prospective Commanding and Executive Officers were "to report to CNO at the earliest practicable date for temporary duty prior to proceeding to San Bruno."


The matériel of a complete standard LION was directed to be assembled at the Advanced Base Section, NSD, Clearfield, except for the BuDocks material, which would be handled at Hueneme, for the BuSandA consumables at Oakland, and for certain BuOrd items. The matériel was to be assembled complete not later than 15 June and prepared in all respects for shipment overseas. The Bureaus were instructed to give serial numbers to the components. There were a few further, minor provisions. All this was wholly routine.2

The skeletal information with regard to LION 8 was incorporated in the 1 June Advanced Base Schedule 1. Certain of the lesser units also appeared there and some had already indeed for several months in conformity with the established levels of reserves ready for shipment.

Two further directives were issued by Op-05G early in June. The first advanced from 15 December to 1 October the date of readiness for shipment. The second cancelled the provisions of 24 May and established a wholly new composition.

1 Headquarters, Commander, Forward Area
1 Joint Communications Center (350 Men)
3 Field Hospitals -- 600 beds
4 Special augmented G-6 -- 600 beds
4 Special Augment G-6 -- 200 beds
3 Mobile Hospitals -- 1500 beds
1 Malaria Control Unit
2 ACORNS (landplane) (less CB)
2 ACORNS (seaplane) (less CB)
1 GroPac
2 Standard PT Units
2 Material Recovery Units
3 Standard Landing Craft Units
8 Communications Units (approx. 180 men per unit)
1 CUB (less CB) with 1 P8
1 ACORN (less CB) with 1 P8


CB requirements were stated to be 28 CB's and 5 Special CB's, part of which would be provided in the area. It was added that additions and deletions were to be expected.3 These alterations were the consequence of the maturing of CinCPOA's plans.

Subsequent directives issued during June and July effected relatively minor modifications. One dealt with GroPacs and directed that material and personnel already assembled for GroPacs 12 and 13 be used to fill other demands and that the two units be reassembled, with 12 hold as a reserve. Two letters were concerned with hospital facilities, the second explaining the CinCPOA wanted 7500 hospital beds, 5600 of which would be supplied form the South Pacific. Another directive set the assembly date back to 1 November and added that the movement would be echeloned over a period of several months. Still another provided for the diversion of three E-10 components form Assembly VII to fill more immediate needs and their replacement by others on Schedule III. This more than exhausted the E-10's authorized for procurement in 1944 and four such components were set forward on Schedule III from 1945 into 1944. One memorandum forwarded to Op-30, not approved, the request of the Commanding Officer of LION 8 for an H-17B component and instructed that he be informed that requests for additional components must be sent via the area commander for approval. (Subsequently, an additional H-17B was ordered i compliance with ComServPac's request). Finally, in compliance with specifications laid down by CinCPOA, construction policy for


Assembly VII was promulgated. Initial housing was to be tents, replaced buy huts when shipping permitted at about D+60 days. Refrigeration was to be provided on the basis fo one cubic foot per man and ice machines supplied, as soon as shipping was available, to furnish ice at the rate of three quarters of a pound per man per day. Distillation facilities were to be capable of producing five gallons per man per day for the LION, three ACORNS, fifteen Construction Battalions, and half of the personnel of the CUB, with purification equipment for the balance of the total personnel. This provision was modified in August by reducing the required distillation to two and one half gallons per day plus ten per bed per day for all hospital components and increasing the purification capacity by adding ten gallons per bed per day for the hospitals, all equipment working on a twenty-hour day.4 The construction policy here set forth represented a significant change of established practices. Its details have been outlined because they illustrate the standard of advance base construction.

Meanwhile, Op-30 was taking appropriate action on these directives. In some cases, its task was the elaboration in the requisite detail for Bureau action of the broad instructions which were received. In other cases, such as construction policy, Op-30 did little more than promulgate under its own serial the language of Op-05. It also issued numerous directives dealing with the details of assembly. They were so


numerous that it became expedient to issue summarizing letters in mid-June and again in early September.5 Op-30 also directed several significant changes in the composition of the Assembly.

In mid-September, work began on the tremendous task of arranging for shipment from the assembly points. Based upon studies of LIONS IV and VI and the comments of two experienced officers, one formerly at Manus and the other in the Advance Base section of BuDocks, suggestions were submitted to CinCPOA with regard to echeloning. It was recommended that Echelon I consist primarily of boats and propelling units for barges, construction materials, equipment and spare parts used for combat operations, storage construction, galley, housekeeping, and housing construction, mobile dispensaries, and temporary communications. Together with this material should go chiefly construction and top administrative personnel. For Echelons II and III were recommended materials for shops and tank farms, the most urgently needed consumables (BBB loads) and housing for the next echelons. The remaining personnel and equipment was to follow in succeeding echelons. It was further suggested that components be broken down by ordering the BuDocks, etc., portion of a component for a particular echelon rather than be making assignment to echelon by detailed items within the component. It was stated that CNO would require advanced knowledge with regard to echeloning, since the size of the Assembly was such that, together with the material for an NSD in Asiatic waters simultaneously being shipped, it exceeded the


capacity of West Coast storage facilities. Echeloning would have to begin at inland points of assembly. Finally, DABOP was specifically authorized to make lesser modifications of echelon plans upon request from CinCPOA.6

Near the end of September, Op-30 forwarded to the Bureaus an authorized procurement of extensive additional construction materials and equipment requested by ComServPac.7 As the days and weeks went by, many further alterations, particularly additions, were directed by Op-30 on instructions received from CinCPOA or Op-05-G.

Simultaneously, shipping arrangements had become an immediate question. Some indication of echeloning was received from CinCPOA, which seemed to imply an acceleration. By dispatch on 8 September, Op-30 requested clarification which CinCPOA instructed ComServPac to supply direct not later than 20 September. In compliance, ComServPac on that day asked that certain personnel, numbering 530, be sent to Pearl Harbor during October for training and staging and requested the addition of several components to the assembly. Ten days later, after the detailed implications of this request had been studied, Op-30, in compliance with Op-05-G's instructions, requested the Bureaus to carry out its general terms.8 A week later, on 5 October ComServPac directed by dispatch that the shipment of this personnel be deferred until further


notice. Nevertheless, in a few days, a CinCPOA dispatch put some of these and other personnel from Assembly VII on the CominCh Joint Priority List for November shipment. Then on 15 November, again by dispatch, ComServPac reaffirmed to DABOP its instructions of 5 October. Subsequently, CinCPOA, by dispatch of 16 January 1945, finally requested shipment to FRAY not later than 1 February. Op-30 directed ComWesSeaFron to comply. And finally, ComServPac by dispatch requested the deletion of officer personnel for certain billets which would be filled form the area. Such were the complexities of the strategy and logistics of the war in the Pacific, which CNO's advance base machinery had to be equipped to handle. Since a great many Naval agencies were involved, the merits of the Advance Base Schedule, which included all pertinent references, and of the Interim Schedule, which gave the latest changes, are apparent.

The foregoing set of communications has been outlined to indicate how complicated were the details of advance base movements on some occasions. While it was going on, there was also parallel correspondence which resulted in significant alterations in the component elements of the Assembly. All this, and all that had gone before, was summarized early in February in a comprehensive letter ot the Bureaus and to ComWesSeaFron which was issued by Op-30. This directive began by approving the composition of the Naval Base Facilities at BIVE suggested by ComServPac on 19 December 1944, as amended by a number of subsequent letters


mostly from the same command. It was explained that, like any movement of equivalent size, there were many modifications of standard organizations. Hence, it was considered that "the units comprising Assembly VII (had) served their purpose as a medium for the assembly and training of personnel, and the assembly of material." They would not be used to fill the requirements of Assembly VII, including LION 8 and CUB 15, and would be supplemented as necessary. Anything not needed would be returned to availability status. Since the movement of Assembly VII was to be integrated with an Army movement, it had been decided to order it out in lettered sections, Section A of which would consist of six echelons as requested by ComServPac and CinCPOA in two letters in January. There followed certain detailed instructions and a lengthy enclosure which specified the exact composition of echelons three to six. One and two had already shipped out, in accordance with the arrangements discussed in the previous paragraph. Addressees were requested to have the components ready for loading at Hueneme, Tacoma, and Oakland on 25 February. ComWesSeaFron would then provide or arrange for sea transportation in accordance with the Joint Priority List and the plans made by CinCPOA and ComServPac. Thus were the basic arrangements for the shipment of Assembly VII finally made.10

Complementary to the foregoing basic directive was a letter signed on 2 February, which summarized the assignment and shipment of CB's. Like the main directive, it set forth the detailed arrangements within the United States which were necessary to fulfill CinCPOA's


wishes. The plan for CB's was carefully integrated with the general scheme.11

Subsequent directives, different only in detail, provided for the movement of Sections B to G. They appeared at intervals between 24 February and 3 August. Like all plans for Pacific movements, they did little more than implement CinCPac-POA's requests. Section B was scheduled to be ready for loading on 25 March, Section C on 25 April, Section D on 25 May, Section E on 25 June, Section F on 15 August, and Section G on 15 September. In this fashion provision was made for the movement of twenty-four echelons.12

During the ix months over which this vast aggregation of men and material was flowing through West Coast ports, with a new echelon departing approximately each week, Op-30 continued to provide for the modifications in personnel and matériel which field commanders desired. In general, these represented additions, frequently very considerable augmentations of earlier expectation. Seldom were such requests denied and then chiefly because the well of available Naval personnel was running dry. Perhaps the full proportions of the undertaking can best be shown by a few statistic. A total of 164 officers was allowed for the Industrial department alone at the nascent Naval Operating Base.13 The


personnel figures and measurement tons estimated in ComServPac's planning letter of 19 December were: officers, 2,663, enlisted, 16,413, measurement tons, 1,182,892.14

The general character of the whole logistic process as it took place in CNO, and particularly in Op-30, is well shown by the story of the ship repair unit. On 9 November, ComServPac's outline for planning purposes of the composition of Assembly VII was received by Op-30. It called for an E-1 component, augmented to approximately double size. This matter was immediately referred to Op-12. In mid-December, ComServPac confirmed its earlier letter, asking for an E-1 augmented to allow for 1,810 enlisted men. This request was approved by Op-05-G on 22 January, and the unit was incorporated by Op-30 in the basic directive of 6 February. Since the E-1 did not appear in ComServPac's plans for the first six echelons, its shipment was ordered only in the directive for Section C. Thus on 14 March, E-1 #4, augmented from E-1 #6 was directed to be ready for loading in part on 25 April. Another partial shipment was called for in Echelon 14 by a special directive dated 13 March, while the remainder was ordered for the 16th and 18th Echelons by the directive of 27 April. On 15 March, BuShips recommended a considerable increase in both equipment and personnel and on 21 March, a still further augmentation. Op-12 referred both these suggestions to ComServPac in a letter which was apparently lost. An approval on 31 May. Later endorsement was received for the substance of


the rest of the recommendations. Meanwhile, most of the men in the component were kept busy at West Coast ship repair yards, pending their assignment to Tactical Training at San Bruno. Since every effort continued to be made to meet the requirements which experience suggested, the history of the component was not yet complete when the surrender of Japan took place.15

Op-30's role was a central one. Over its desks passed most of the correspondence which dealt with Assembly VII. In large measure, its work was liaison in nature, the implementation of the plans of other agencies. This job little resembled the task which was performed on the South Pacific bases in the Spring of 1942. Yet so complex had the logistics process become that only by special tools could it have been controlled. The chief tools were the Catalogue of Functional Components and the Schedule. These Op-30 had devised and these it operated. They possessed little glamor and made no heroes. yet without then, there could hardly have been established a Naval Operating Base on Okinawa.


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