Service Squadron Ten Organizing at Pearl
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.
Relationship of the Service Force Administrative Squadron Eight
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, 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
Service Squadron Eight
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.
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
Special Type Ships Useful
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 r 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.
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