FORAGER Logistics in General and Ammunition in Particular
One of the ammunition ships supporting the fleet in the Marianas was the Rainier, Commander F.S. Conner. She loaded her ammunition at the Naval Ammunition Depot, Port Chicago, California, early in May 1944, and on the 17th sailed for Majuro. She carried 6,224 tons, in holds, for issue, but no deck cargo. Reaching Majuro 31 May she reported to Squadron Ten for instructions and prepared all holds to issue cargo. From 1 to 5 June, 10 days before the Saipan assault, she made issues to seven fast battleships, five large carriers and four small carriers, two heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, antiaircraft cruisers and certain destroyers, all of Admiral Mitscher's fast carrier striking force, Task Force 58. They took approximately 1,600 tons, about one-fourth of her cargo. She received 6 tons of rejected ammunition from the same force.
Service Squadron Ten at Eniwetok
On 6 June these fast carriers put to sea to make strikes on Saipan, Tinian, Guam, Rota, and Pagan, to maintain sea and air control in the Marianas area on D-day, and to make such other strikes as opportunity presented. After they left, the Rainier received more rejected ammunition, some ammunition for further transfer, 12 tons of empty containers, made issues to Service Squadron Ten, and secured for sea. On the 11th, in company with two other ammunition carriers, the Mazama and the Mauna Loa, she left Majuro for Eniwetok, arriving there 2 days later. There she made issues to various ships, and 13 July she got under way for Saipan. From the 16th until the end of the month she transferred ammunition at Garapan anchorage there to battleships and cruisers of Task Force 52, the Northern Attack Force of Vice Admiral Turner, and to some carriers of Task Force 58, the Wasp, Franklin, Yorktown, and Hornet. By 2 August she was under way for Pearl, stopping at Eniwetok
to transfer some ammunition to the Lassen. In the 2 months of June and July the Rainier had handled a total of 9.410 tons of ammunition and empty containers: 3,564 tons in June, 5,846 in July.
The Lassen reached Majuro 6 April 1944, and that date Lieutenant Commander F.B. McCall, head of the ammunition department of Service Squadron Ten, went on board and established the administrative office of Commander Service Squadron Ten for ammunition affairs. Lieutenant Commander McCall coordinated the activities of ammunition ships with a staff of only two lieutenants (junior grade). The ammunition department of Squadron Ten later grew to be a much larger section handled by a captain, but in the early days at Majuro and Eniwetok the burden fell upon McCall's shoulders. After the sortie of task groups or some large force he would return to the squadron flagship almost, but not quite, exhausted by his duties of send, hurry, load, unload details, and almost never-ending questions of where, how, and when. He was practically indestructible, and the success of the rearming operations was due principally to his energy and devotion to duty.
The original plan called for a limited replenishment at the objective from assault shipping, i.e., transports, cargo vessels, landing ships (tank), and landing ships (dock). It consisted of one bombardment allowance of 5-inch antiaircraft common for all fire-support destroyers, a similar bombardment allowance of 8-inch and 6-inch high-capacity for all cruisers, and a limited resupply of depth charges, rockets, and 40mm. The rest of the ammunition replenishment was planned for Eniwetok, and reserves were assembled there in ammunition ships, barges, and cargo ships. Admiral Turner stated that it was his intention to return fire-support ships to Eniwetok in relays as ammunition became necessary.
Ammunition Expenditure and Resupply
Shortly after D-day it became apparent that certain types, particularly 6-inch HC, 5-inch AAC, and star shells would soon be exhausted. Neither time nor the number of ships available permitted of keeping up with the expenditure by sending fighting craft to Eniwetok. Since the Mazama, Commander P.V.R. Harris, was heavily loaded with the types most needed, she was ordered to Saipan, thereby easing a very critical situation. Thereafter ammunition ships were ordered to forward areas as needed.
The ship's war diary for 21-22 June, while she was in support of fleet
units still heavily attacking Saipan, supplied the following information:
"The island (Saipan)l could be seen silhouetted against the light of flares.--The weather was clear and as daylight approached various phases of the fighting on the island were clearly apparent. . . .(our) planes were seen be bombing and, at certain points, were subjected to enemy antiaircraft fire. The MAZAMA entered the transport area, reported for duty to Commander Task Force 51 (VADM Turner) and was assigned a berth (#40) in Garapan Anchorage. This berth had a depth of from 50-65 fathoms with a rock bottom. The contour of the bottom was a narrow ledge shelving steeply on each side. Immediately upon arrival, the USS LOUISVILLE (CA-20) came alongside and as soon as practicable ammunition issues commenced. Heavy swells from eastward caused dangerous rolling and unstable conditions for cargo operations. The destroyer MELVIN (DD-680) came alongside. She rolled 10 or 15 degrees, bent the splinter shield on the midships 440-mm. mount and shoved off without taking ammunition. Various LCT's came alongside, and with better luck took ammunition. By 2125 the LOUISVILLE cleared the MAZAMA. All booms and holds were secured for the night. In spite of difficulties, 107 tons of ammunition were issued (21 June) by the MAZAMA. A little after midnight upon receipt of flash "red" warning the MAZAMA prepared to get under way and hove short. An hour later flash "white." At sunrise cargo operation was resumed with LCT's alongside. The MAZAMA had dragged her anchor and had to shift berth. Intermittent bombardment of Saipan by naval ships and aircraft continued. Issue to heavy ships was not feasible due to heavy swells; transfer of ammunition now was confined to LCT's and LCVP's. Just before midnight another flash "red" and preparations again made for getting under way. All vessels were ordered by CTF 51 to make smoke. For the 22d of June, 185 tons of ammunition were issued."
From 21 June to 7 July, when she sailed for Eniwetok, the Mazama's diary shows almost daily red alarms, preparations for and actually getting under way in darkness, and damage sustained from vessels alongside. (There were a few good days.) Alarms were generally accompanied by orders for all ships to make smoke. On the night of 27 June between 8 and 10:15 o'clock the ship got under way twice and reanchored each time. These are the conditions under which she worked, the hindrances, the interruptions to loading during the day and the alerts at night, all during periods of naval bombardment and the threats of enemy air attacks. During the 15 days the Mazama was engaged in unloading, she discharged 3,448 tons of ammunition, approximately 230 tons a day, the largest issue being 400 tons.
At Eniwetok the ship replenished her cargo from the Rutland Victory and returned 27 July to Saipan, where the rest of the month she issued through landing craft (mechanized), lighters, and barges to large carriers anchored nearby, using working parties from the receiving vessels to do so. Carrier bomb replenishment was the vital work at this time, and deliveries to the carriers Lexington, Bunker Hill, and San
Jacinto were completed 1 August when the work had to stop as the weather had become progressively worse. On 2 August both the Hornet and the Mazama shifted anchorages twice to find a better location for loading. Finally the Hornet got under way to make a lee for the LCM's, and the Mazama steamed across the wind to unload bombs to the landing craft while in motion. Some success resulted, and tow LCM loads of 50 bombs each were given the Hornet. In spite of set-backs by weather and sea, the ship received Admiral Spruance's compliments in the visual message: "CTF 58 appreciates the excellent rebombing work by Mazama, your boats and crews. Thanks." Great credit is due the officers and men of all ammunition ships in handling their dangerous cargoes under difficulties in support of fleet operations. Those were the boys who "passed the ammunition."
Rebombing of the carriers presented an unusual problem. On one occasion every ship in the roadstead was stripped of bombs for the carriers of Task Force 58. Emergency shipments ordered from Eniwetok (those ships which returned to Eniwetok were resupplied there) enabled the carriers to remain effective, though the bombs supplied were not always those desired. Replenishment at the objective reached unexpected magnitude. The total ammunition transferred at the objective from ammunition or cargo ships was:
- 16-, 14-, 8-, 6-inch, and various calibers of 5-inch, besides rockets, 14,629 tons;
- Bombs of various sizes from 2,000 pounds to 100 pounds, plus .50-caliber ammunition, 2,523 tons.
(A grand total of 17,152 tons, of which 10,960 were fired against Saipan.)
Several practical problems incidental to the replenishment program were solved with the ways and means at hand. Empty shell casings and containers were loaded into discharged vessels, partially unloaded ammunition craft, and temporarily even into harbor craft. Working parties, such as Commodore Carter's Seabees, specialist stevedores at Eniwetok, and others obtained from headquarters ships and transports, helped greatly. Supervision of inexperienced merchant-ship ammunition carriers was solved by temporary assignment of staff officers to duty aboard. Shortage of equipment such as fenders, camels, and lines was partly met by borrowing, though the scarcity of manila rope made substitutions necessary, while in the case of fenders, damaged aircraft and vehicle tires were frequently used, and other types of wooden fenders improvised.
Ammunition ship Shasta loading 14-inch powder and shells onto the New Mexico.
New Mexico sending 14-inch H.C. shells to the magazines.
Those officers and men who labored at the task of supervising or actually handling ammunition cargoes may take pride on their contribution to the combined effort. No better proof could be asked than an extract from a captured Japanese message sent from enemy headquarters on Saipan: "The practical experience of the defense forces on Saipan in this battle lasting over half a month lay in the power of the enemy naval bombardment. If there were just no naval gunfire, we feel we could fight it out with the enemy in a decisive battle."
Admiral Conolly, commanding Task Force 53, reported the effect of naval gunfire in the capture of Guam in these words: "The assault troops of both the Third Division and the First Brigade landed with very little interference or opposition from enemy troops, and with sporadic mortar fire as the only enemy gunfire to hinder them. This fact was due in large part to the intense naval gunfire placed upon the landing beaches and adjacent areas just before the Marines first set foot on the beach. Coastal defense guns, heavy and light AA guns, dual-purpose guns, and all types of defensive installations were rendered impotent prior to the landing of the troops. Most of the houses and other structures on the west coast of the island were completely razed by deliberate destructive fire, which prevented their use by enemy troops. It is believed that not one fixed gun was left in commission on the west coast that was of greater size than a machine gun." Those who had "passed the ammunition" had not labored in vain.
Fog oil and smoke pots are associated logistic items in connection with ammunition. Admiral Turner stated that smoke operations in the transport areas were the major factor in effective defense against air attack which, though repeated and often, was obviously blind bombing. Unsuccessful attempts were also made to drop torpedoes. The screen (fog) produced was not always perfect, but was sufficient to prevent the enemy from selecting specific targets, even in very bright moonlight, and pressing home the attack. The only damage suffered in the transport area during smoke coverage was incurred when the cargo vessel Mercury, Lieutenant Commander N.D. Salmon, was hit by a torpedo before it struck the water. The torpedo did some damage as a missile, but did not explode. The enemy pilot was so confused by the smoke screen that, after releasing the torpedo, he crashed his plane into one of the Mercury's cargo booms and was destroyed. It is doubtful that he saw the ship.
About 24 June, 9 days after D-day, it became apparent that additional smoke mixture would be required at Saipan if air attacks continued. Shipments, including some by air, were requested from Squadron Ten
at Eniwetok, and recommendations made that a supply of 30,000 gallons of fog oil, 3,000 pots, and 3,000 floats be established there. Later these amounts were doubled. Fortunately shipments arrived during critical moments. Eniwetok sent altogether 65,000 gallons of fog oil and 4,100 pots and floats.
From 5 to 15 minutes was required, depending upon the wind speed, to develop a good screen over the anchorage. From 15 June, D-day, to 7 July smoke was used on 12 occasions, in periods ranging from 29 minutes to 234, and a total length of 18 hours and 27 minutes. Based on an average of 30 ships using smoke generators (Besler type) and 30 others using pots or floats in small boats, the estimated average expenditure each hour of smoking was 3,000 gallons of fog oil and 600 pots or floats. On the foregoing basis the estimated total expenditure at Saipan was 57,000 gallons of fog oil and 11,400 pots or floats.
On 15 June, D-day, the Solace, Commander E.B. Peterson, left Eniwetok and arrived in Charan Kanoa anchorage, Saipan, 18 June, while the shore and adjacent hill were under heavy bombardment by dive bombers, naval shellfire, and field artillery fire from a captured beachhead. Twenty-five minutes after she anchored, the Solace began embarking patients from ships and shore units, and casualties from front-line operations, a total for the day, all battle casualties, of 442. Next day, the bombardment continuing, she received 259 more. On 20 June, the following day, the senior medical officer reported to the captain that all beds were filled, that patients were overflowing into the crew's quarters, and that with 584 cases on board full capacity for caring for the wounded had been reached. Men who died of their wounds had been transferred to the medical officer of the shore party for interment. The Solace put to sea and on the 26th moored alongside Point Cruz dock, Guadalcanal Island. Here she transferred her patients to U.S. Army ambulances, 505 naval casualties for Fleet Hospital 108, 73 Army cases to the Evacuation Officer, Surgeon's Office, Service Command, for further treatment and disposition.
Hospital Ships in the Marianas Assault
On the way from Saipan to Guadalcanal the Solace crossed the equator on 24 June, and Captain Peterson thoughtfully held a Neptune party for the patients. The "royal" party visited each ward and issued a "Crossing the Line" certificate to each patient, a merry touch indicative of a happy ship that lightened the suffering of the wounded men. Three days later,
the 27th, she turned about, and on arrival at Garapan, anchorage commenced taking aboard wounded from the front lines. Although on 3 July heavy swells and bad weather made handling of patients difficult, she nevertheless took 264 aboard and by afternoon of the 5th had received 562. Again she sailed for the Solomons, anchoring this time in Sunlight Channel, Russell Islands, on the 11th. There 376 patients went to Fleet Hospital 110, 182 to the Army 222d Station Hospital. Sailing for Eniwetok, she fueled and went to Guam, arriving 24 July. Lying to in Agana Bay, she began taking casualties aboard while the shore was under bombardment by surface forces supported by air bombing and strafing. One day several small-caliber shells, believed to be from enemy mortars on shore, fell close aboard, so she moved about 500 yards farther to seaward. During here 3-day stay she did not anchor but lay to the entire time. By the 26th she had reached her capacity with 585 cases aboard. She sailed immediately, and 30 July began discharging her patients at Kwajalein.
Other hospital ships also were doing splendid work, among them the Samaritan, Commander J.C. Sever, and the Bountiful, Commander G.L. Burns. The latter arrived D-plus-3 day and evacuated 515 casualties. On D-plus-8 day the Relief and the Samaritan evacuated 1,355 men and returned to the objective for more.
On her second call at Saipan the Relief on 15 July evacuated 685 casualties, of which 284 were wounded Japanese. The ship's working plan required that Marines and soldiers wounded in battle be embarked first. When such loading was completed, remaining available space was filled with Japanese prisoners, all of whom received the same professional treatment as men of our own forces. A prisoner who died was buried at sea, with an appropriate religious service.
In the Prairie's sick bay there were two Japanese patients, 7-year-old children, who had lived on Saipan. They had learned to trust and had become fond of one particular hospital corpsman. When the children had to be sent back to Saipan, the separation of these "friendly" enemies was a touching scene. On the destroyer tender Prairie, as well as on the hospital ships, the humanities prevailed.
On D-day, 15 June, 19 attack transports, 5 transports, 6 cargo vessels (attack), and 3 landing ships (tank) were available at Saipan for evacuation
Medical Report of Admiral Turner, Commander Task Force Fifty-one
of casualties. The three LST's, specially equipped, handled 1,540 casualties and 27 surgical operations were performed aboard. On D-day between 10:40 a.m. and 3 p.m. 711 casualties had been received aboard the transports. Two LST's, commencing at the same time, received 200 casualties in less than 2 hours, and the third LST was filled soon after, necessitating transfer of further casualties to the transports. The Solace and Bountiful, arriving on D-plus-3 day, evacuating 1,099 wounded, helped to relieve the overload on the medical facilities of the attack transports. Saipan had a total of 16,525 killed, wounded, and missing; Tinian 1,829; and Guam 7,266; the wounded being respectively 13,099, 1,515, and 5,722.
Air evacuation from Isely Air Field was established on D-plus-9 day, and 860 casualties were sent to the Marshalls by this means during the remainder of the operation. Experience showed, Admiral Turner stated, that a flight surgeon, with adequate medical attendants at the objective to supervise air evacuation, was necessary.
As a whole, medical supplies were adequate. The greatest shortage was that of litters, though there was a short interval early in the operation when penicillin was not available. The 100 ampules obtained by the flagship Rocky Mount from hospitals at the start of operations were used up prior to resupply by air. Then a fairly new drug, penicillin had not been made available to ships through routine channels before their departure for the objective. A shortage of tetanus antitoxin, due to faulty distribution, was felt by the landing forces early in the operation.
Admiral Turner, in his report on the capture of the Marianas, brings out clearly the vital nature of the problem of supply. He wrote, in part: "At the outset of the operation it was apparent that one of the most serious problems to be solved was that of logistics. The operation called for a long trip to the objective, followed by an extended stay at points a thousand miles from the nearest resupply allocation. Furthermore, amphibious landing operations now require the employment of hundreds of small craft . . . almost all of which have limited endurance in matters of fuel, water, and provisions. Likewise, the arrival of non-self-sustaining merchant ships containing garrison units, increases the amount of supplies required."
Report of Logistics by Vice Admiral Turner, Commander Task Force Fifty-one
Logistics at the Staging Areas. "In order to enable the many small craft in the task force to complete the long trip from the Hawaiian area to the necessary logistic items for the stay at the objective, all ships were fueled, watered, and provisioned at one of the three staging points, Eniwetok, Roi, and Kwajalein, in accordance with a schedule set up in the operation plan. The dates of arrival of various task units at the staging areas were staggered slightly to relive the congestion and expedite servicing.
"It was expected that all craft smaller than LST's would require fuel and that they, plus the LST's, would require water and provisions at the staging areas. In addition, it was considered advisable to top off the larger ships with whatever supplies and water remained at the staging points after the small craft were cared for, in an effort to lengthen the endurance of all vessels at the objective.
"The logistic schedule included in the operation plan divided the ships present at each staging point into logistic groups, whose requirements were to be handled by the senior officer of each," who "was to submit to Service Squadron Ten by air mail, prior to his departure from his group. This arrangement was not entirely satisfactory, however, for two reasons. First, due to the mixture of ships in each logistic group, there was considerable doubt as to which officer was the senior . . . Also, very few groups submitted their logistic schedules in advance to Service Squadron Ten. As a result it became necessary for the Senior Officer Present Afloat, together with the representatives of Service Squadron Ten, to set up an almost entirely new fueling and watering schedule . . . Despite this difficulty, and the large number of ships requiring services, all ships were refueled, watered, and provisioned expeditiously, due to the able assistance of Service Squadron Ten."
Logistics at the Objective: Provisions. It was evident from the beginning of the operation that because of the shortage of provision ships in the Central Pacific there would be no fresh and few frozen and dry provisions for resupply at the objective. Therefore the transports and merchant ships were called upon to give to the limit of their capacity. All ships leaving the area were stripped of all provisions in excess of the amount required to reach ultimate destinations, plus a small reserve. On D-plus-28 day the Giansar, Commander G.J. King, a dry-provisions ships, arrived and refilled all ships present with dry provisions. About D-plus-50 day a provisions stores lighter was brought forward with 400
tons of frozen stores, and each craft given a limited amount. Adequate dry stores were thus available, though fresh and frozen provisions and ship's service supplies were sorely missed.
Water Supply at the Objective. As it was realized that no outside sources of water would be available at the objective for many days after the initial landing, arrangements were made to service the smaller, non-self-sustaining craft from transports, LST's, and large combatant ships. Excess water in them was stored in LST's for future use. Despite these efforts, demand began to exceed supply after the larger ships left. Non-self-sustaining merchant ships arriving with troops also lacked water during a period of heavy weather which prevented daily collections of water from the remaining large ships. Admiral Turner stated: "Water ships must be moved to the assault area closely following the assault forces, prepared to supply large amounts of water until water barges can be brought into the area."
Logistics in the Staging Area. "Task Force 53 staged for the Marianas operation at Kwajalein and Roi in the Marshall Islands. Replenishment of fuel and provisions by all ships and fresh water for LST's, LCI's, and other small craft was accomplished at the staging points. Logistic services in the staging areas were completed satisfactory and were furnished by ComServRon Ten and his representatives at the ports concerned."
Report of Logistics by Rear Admiral Conolly, Commander Task Force Fifty-three (Southern Attack Force)
Logistics in the Restaging Area. "Due to the postponement of W-day (Guam) it was necessary that Task Force 53 restage at Eniwetok . . . Restaging involved topping off with fuel, water, provisions, and ammunition, and was accomplished during a period in which existing facilities for servicing the fleet were sorely overtaxed by demands of other task forces of the Fifth Fleet. In spite of the adverse conditions all ships of Task Force 53 departed from Eniwetok logistically prepared to carry out their tasks in the operation. The fullest cooperation during the restaging period was received from ComNavBases, Forward Area, Central Pacific, and ComServRon Ten."
Logistics at the Objective. "With assistance from departing ships, that part of the task force which remained at the objective was logistically self-sufficient except for fuel. Fuel was furnished from tankers which arrived on W-plus-5 day. These tankers located at the objective were
extremely helpful to the accomplishment of successful fire support and screening operations, in that destroyers and other ships could be fueled in the immediate vicinity of their operating areas and without the task force commander losing their services for 10 to 15 hours while they steamed to and from fueling rendezvous 100 or more miles from the objective."
July in Central Pacific. The principal operations in the Central Pacific were completion of the Saipan conquest, near-completion of the occupation of Tinian and Guam, operations of ships and aircraft supporting these actions, and the furnishing of logistic and air support through Marshall Islands bases. During July, Kwajalein, Majuro, and Eniwetok Atolls served for staging support, and for land-based air operations against enemy bases within range. Fleet units were serviced and reprovisioned at all three anchorages. All shipping for the Marianas was staged through Kwajalein and Eniwetok, particularly the latter. In view of this, it is pertinent to examine some of the activities of Squadron Ten at Eniwetok during July 1944 in meeting the needs of the fleet.
Commander Service Squadron Ten (Commodore Carter), using the Prairie as his flagship and with part of his staff in her, had been at Eniwetok since 5 June. Lack of space in the flagship necessitated placing the disbursing section of the supply department in the repair ship Ajax and the fuel section in the oiler Sepulga. The following tenders and repair ships were also present: Repair ship Hector; destroyer tenders Piedmont, Cascade, and Markab; repair ship landing craft Egeria; floating drydocks ARD-13, ARD-15, mobile floating drydock AFD-15, and floating workshop YR-30.
Principal Activities of Service Squadron Ten at Eniwetok During July 1944
During the first half of July there was a daily average of 488 ships at Eniwetok; during the second half, 283. The greatest number came between 7 and 12 July, when more than 520 ships were present. These assemblages were not as great as those which came later at Eniwetok, Ulithi, and in Leyte Gulf. However, the squadron was still fairly young, its organization feeling its way, its facilities still insufficient. The demands of the many ships present extended the squadron's capabilities to the limit. But by dint of long hours, improvisation, and teamwork the challenge was met and necessary services rendered at a critical time.
Ships in Eniwetok, Marshall Islands.
This strenuous period exacted its tolls, however, in the health of two staff officers, Commander R.P. Hazelhurst and Captain F.A. Packer, maintenance officer. In mid-May 1944 Commander Hazelhurst relieved Lieutenant Commander G.A. Kelly. Lieutenant Commander R.A. Harrison, Squadron Ten's original supply officer, was away when Commander Hazelhurst arrived, in San Francisco supervising the outfitting of concrete barges. Serving as supply officer at Majuro, Hazelhurst continued at Eniwetok until August, when he was relieved by Captain W.J. Nowinski. His health had become undermined by the arduous duties confronting him in connection with supply work for the fleet.
Captain Packer was the squadron's first maintenance officer, and through all those tough early days at Majuro and Eniwetok until September carried out his duties without a let-up. The variety and scope of the repair and service problems he faced, incident to large fleet concentrations at both anchorages, seemed unlimited. He did splendid work laboring long hours without thought of the drain upon his health and strength. In September Captain P.D. Gold replaced him as repair officer of Squadron Ten.
The variety and scope of Ten's multifarious duties at Eniwetok during July may be shown by some of the highlights of activities and conditions. Four towing planes were based there for antiaircraft services to the fleet, administered by the squadron gunnery officer. Oilers and water barges went to the northern part of the atoll to oil Tractor Group 53.16. Temporary repairs were made on the after strut of No. 4 main propeller shaft of the Pennsylvania. Smoke equipment was loaded on LST's and transports, and 105-mm. ammunition was loaded from Japtan Island and from the Kit Carson on LST-272. The sonar on the Porterfield was repaired and her port propeller changed in one of the floating drydocks, which performed much valuable service throughout the war. Five-inch, .38-caliber ammunition was unloaded from the steamer Robert C. Carey to lighters, and 8-inch, .38-caliber ammunition, high capacity, unloaded from the Narcissa Whitman to lighters. Two 5-inch, .38-caliber gun barrels were replaced in the battleship California. Commander Fifth Fleet called for one dry-provision barge to be sent to Saipan. In response to this the Giansar, with YC-1030 and YF-412 towed by the fleet tug Lipan, went there; also two gasoline barges and a tank barge. Ammunition was delivered to Task Group 58.3 (Rear Admiral Reeves) and Task Group 58.4 (Rear Admiral Hariill). Eight-inch ammunition was unloaded from Narcissa Whitman and 14-inch from Rutland Victory for transfer to Shasta.
An LCT alongside the Yorktown.
Here we had the merchant ship bringing out ammunition to forward areas, where naval ammunition carriers replenished their cargoes. Stevedores though insufficient for handling such cargoes, were berthed at Eniwetok on the "Sea Hag," a large personnel barge, the forerunner of the APL hotel barge or barracks ship. Squadron Ten also effected temporary underwater repairs to inboard port stern tube bearing on the North Carolina, loaded LST's with 5-inch, .38-caliber ammunition for Saipan, and during the first half of July provisioned Carrier Task Groups 58.3 and 58.4; ships of the Southern Attack Force (Task Force 53) and other amphibious vessels. During this period the Aldebaran arrived to relieve the storage of fresh and frozen foods. In all, more than 500 vessels were serviced. To accomplish this the cargo transports Cheleb and Azimech distributed 700 tons of dry provisions. The Bridge was able to supply only 925 tons of fresh foods, which were distributed as evenly as possible among the amphibious forces and the larger vessels in Task Groups 58.3 and 58.4. The tenders did yeoman service in providing for the needs of the destroyers in these groups. All this is only a part of the service rendered from 1 to 15 July 1944.
Sea Flyer Salvage. On 21 July at 2:30 a.m. the Sea Flyer grounded on the south side of the east channel entrance to Eniwetok. Salvage operation began at daybreak under Commodore Carter. Tugs took heavy strain on cables, but the ship did not move. Preparations for removing troops and cargo were initiated, and rigging of beaching gear started. Lieutenant R.K. Thurman, commanding the fleet tug Tawasa, was designated salvage officer, and continued as such until the ship was refloated 28 July, though Commander Lebbeus Curtis arrived to act as supervisor on the 24th. By this prompt salvage a valuable ship was saved with her cargo, 1,900 tons of which was unloaded before she could be hauled off. A very important lesson was learned by all who witnessed this work; i.e., when grounding on a lee shore, beaching-gear anchors must be put out and strain taken on all before lightening the vessel. The more beaching anchors available, the better. Tugs should take a strain on the towing lines only after their own anchors are down to a generous scope of chain.
Carrier Attack on the Western Carolines: 26-28 July 1944. With plans on foot for large-scale attacks on the Western Carolines in the early fall, Vice Admiral Mitscher executed Operation SNAPSHOT on them, to obtain photographic coverage of the group and make an antishipping sweep. With this was the necessity of destroying enemy aircraft there, to prevent attacks on our forces currently engaged in the large Marianas Operation FORAGER. Three fast carrier groups were released after covering
the Guam landing on 21 July for this mission: 58.1-2-3. The first and second were low on ammunition, and had to put into Saipan the morning of the 22nd. Bombs were loaded that day, and on the 23d the force fueled from oilers of Task Group 50.17 south of Guam in one of the fueling areas of the Marianas operation plan. Task Group 58.1 was directed to attack and photograph Yap, Ulithi, Fais, Ngulu, and Sorol, while the two other groups gave their attention to Palau. Both missions were successful, rendezvous was made on the 29th, refueling accomplished, and the entire force returned to the Marianas area.
Carrier Air Attack on Iwo Jima and the Bonins: 4-5 August 1944. This operation, known as SCAVENGER, an adjunct of the large scale Marianas campaign, was designed to attack aircraft, shipping, and shore installations in the Iwo Jima, Haha Jima, and Chichi Jima areas. Task Groups 58.1 and 58.3 participated under Rear Admirals J.J. Clark and A.E. Montgomery, with 4 large and 2 light carriers, 8 light cruisers, and 24 destroyers.
On 1 August the two groups anchored at Saipan, on returning from their Western Carolines raid. Bomb loading, scheduled for that night, was prevented by heavy swells. The following day, after proceeding to a point somewhat out of Saipan anchorage, the weather still prevented the loading of a single bomb. The two groups left Saipan that afternoon 2 August, fueled from Task Group 50.17, of 4 oilers and screen, to the west of Tinian and proceeded on a northerly course to the Bonin Islands. The next day three destroyers rejoined, with mail and personnel from Saipan. Several destroyers were topped off from the carriers, but weather conditions were still not favorable.
On the 4th, after receiving reports that a Japanese convoy was heading north from Chichi Jima, Task Unit 58.1.6 was formed, with four cruisers and seven destroyers, and ordered to attack the enemy and bombard Chichi Jima. The same day planes of Task Group 58.1 attacked Chichi Jima, while those of Task Group 58.3 launched their strike against Iwo Jima. Planes from both attacked Chichi and Haha on the 5th. Because of the difficulty at Saipan in loading bombs there was a shortage of the most desirable types for the targets available, as well as shortage of fuzes. The two groups retired the night of the 5th, reached Eniwetok the 9th, and were resupplied and serviced there by Squadron Ten.
The month of August 1944 saw the completion of the Marianas assault operations with the cessation of organized resistance on Tinian and Guam. Commodore Carter, with the main body of Service Squadron
Ten, was still giving principal support to the fleet at Eniwetok. This was due for a change when Halsey relieved Spruance at the beginning of the Western Carolines Operation (STALEMATE). It was planned to base the fast carrier force of the fleet, called the Third Fleet while under Halsey, at Seeadler Harbor, Manus Island, Carter sent his Kwajalein commander, Captain S.B. Ogden, to Manus on 21August. Captain H.A. Houser took over command of the remainder of the detachment left there.
At the end of the month, Carter and the squadron supply officer, Captain W.J. Nowinski, flew to Saipan to arrange establishing a service unit there. At this time the commanding officer of the submarine tender Holland, Commander C.Q. Wright, Jr., had been acting as squadron representative at Tanapag Harbor, Saipan. Organizational matters and supply were discussed. Carter at once detached his chief staff officer and operations officer, Captain A.F. Rhoades, ordering him to take charge of Squadron Ten's activities at Saipan, which de did 3 September. Captain E.E. Duvall reported for duty and became the new chief staff officer.
The same day Commodore Carter and Captain Nowinski flew back to Eniwetok, and the former left next day by plane for Pearl Harbor to attend a conference with Vice Admiral Calhoun, Commander Service Force Pacific, concerning the mobile logistic set-up at Seeadler Harbor, and the moving of Service Squadron Ten's facilities from Eniwetok to Ulithi in the Carolines. He returned to find that a stiff blow from the southwest, which lasted intermittently for several days, had done the squadron considerable damage at Eniwetok. The prevailing winds are from the northeast, and the service vessels were anchored in the lee of Runit Island in the northeast area of the lagoon, which is about 15 miles wide. With the shift of the wind to southwest there was no lee, and a fairly good sea was kicked up. Three ammunition barges broke adrift. Available tugs were sent after them, but meantime more craft--three gasoline barges and two high-speed target sleds--broke loose.
Two days later, after recovering the barges high winds in stiff gusts accompanied by choppy seas from the southwest played more havoc with moorings, of which at this time there was a severe shortage, both in anchoring gear and cordage. This time the damage was heavy: 6 YF's, 2 YO's, 3 small unmanned tugs, and 61 boats (LCVP, LCM, etc.) were blown ashore on Runit Island. Some of the small boats might have been prevented from beaching but for the fact that some of the crewmen were quarantined on the repair ship Ajax, which had an epidemic of bacillary
dysentery aboard. All the equipment stranded on the beach was urgently needed for servicing fleet units. A YF loaded with smoke bombs was in special demand, since bombs were wanted at Saipan. Though the wind continued from the wrong direction, salvage efforts finally resulted in recovery of the barge with the smoke bombs. The last barge was not hauled off the beach until 9 September, 3 days after the wind had shifted back to normal northeast. Small boats remained on the beach sometime after that. The damage to the LCVP's was particularly severe because of their plywood construction. The efforts of the boat-pool personnel, and of crews of tugs and other small craft, to salvage barges and boats were most praiseworthy. Nevertheless, the damage was considerable to equipment of high value to the squadron.
Certain lessons came from the blow. Among those outstanding were: (1) The importance of maximum shelter for small boats; (2) use of better methods and materials for securing barges and boats in open water, especially in view of the shortage of mooring gear in forward areas, without full equipment of which no barges should be sent forward; (3) regular inspection day and night: (4) indoctrination of crews and boat-pool personnel regarding security; (5) need of mother ships such as LST's (landing ships (tank)) and LSD's (landing ships (dock)); (6) adequate repair units. The first four of these can be summed up in one word, "seamanship," of which there was a shortage throughout the war.
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