Chapter XI
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:

1 barracks vessel (to quarter 60 officers and 1,000 men)   1 AH hospital ship
2 AR large repair ships   4 AT ocean-going tugs
4 YR repair barges   4 YT harbor tugs
1 AFD small floating drydock (1,000-ton lift)   4 ATR rescue tugs
1 ARD medium floating drydock (3,000-ton lift)   2 ARS salvage ships
1 ABSD large floating drydock (80,000-ton lift)   1 salvage barge (to be stocked with beaching gear, pumps, diving gear, underwater cutting gear, etc.)
3 AD large destroyer tenders   1 AK pontoon assembling ship, with unit set up on board to turn out pontoon lighters (one per day)
1 AGS survey ship   1 AKN net cargo ship


2 YN net tenders   1 twenty-ton lifting capacity crane
2 AN net layers   2 YW water barges
1 ten-ton crane on pontoon barge   6 SC patrol ships
1 YNG pontoon barge gate vessel   12 PT
10 one-hundred-ton self-propelled pontoon barges (all pontoon craft to be made by AK above)   10 picket boats
4 YG pontoon garbage barges   50 LCP and LCM boats
      1 YSD degaussing barge
      6 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 bee 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.

Ordnance Logistics

For the first 21/2 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.)


Fleet Ammunition

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 7,00 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 hosted aboard Lexington
Torpedoes being hoisted aboard Lexington.


Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (10) * Next Chapter (12)


Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation