Chapter XIII
Multiple Missions

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.


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