Logistic Support of the Third Fleet
Vice Admiral Mitscher's Task Force 38, part of Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet, on 14 October numbered 9 heavy and 8 light carriers, 6 battleships, 3heavy and 6 light cruisers, 3 antiaircraft light cruisers, and J.S. McCain (38.1), Rear Admiral G.F. Bogan (38.2), Rear Admiral F.C. Sherman (38.3), and Rear Admiral R.E. Davison (38.4). All were at sea, Admiral Halsey with them, using the battleship New Jersey as his flagship.
Submarine Attacks at Ulithi
In an area about 400 miles east of northern Luzon, Captain Acuff's fueling group (30.8) gave 94,000 barrels of fuel and 83,000 gallons of aviation gasoline to Sherman's Task Group on the 18th, and 93,000 barrels of fuel plus 190,000 gallons of aviation gasoline to Bogan's group on the 19th. In Task Group 38.3 the carrier Essex took her fuel from the Lackawanna and her replacement aircraft from the carrier escort Barnes, which later was detached with an escort and sent back to Manus to reload more aircraft.
Captain Bolger of the Intrepid reported that the 19th was a day free from bogey troubles, and his diary records that 4 fighter and 2 torpedo bomber replacement aircraft were received aboard. She also took 8,778 barrels of fuel and 37,600 gallons of aviation gasoline from the Patuxent, besides the heartening delivery of 34 bags of mail. Captain Acuff reported on the 18th that 31 officers and 794 enlisted men from the torpedoed Houston, who were distributed aboard several of Sherman's ships, were transferred to Task Unit 30.8.2, the oilers Mississinewa, Tappahannock, and Pamanset, for transportation to Ulithi. Such transfers between ships at sea were common and so much a part of routine that they might be overlooked as almost commonplace, whereas they were a most important means of carrying on the business at hand. Such a large transfer
as this was unusual, but daily smaller numbers of persons and quantities of material were exchanged between ships. Transfers were accomplished by trolleys; breeches buoys serving for personnel, large cargo nets and canvas bags for materials. If too much slack got into the trolley line, the person in the boatswain's chair got a ducking, but as a rule careful station-keeping of ships kept such accidents to a minimum. Such at-sea transfers had developed to a very high degree since Aleutian days, and as the war progressed, tankers leaving Service Squadron Ten to service the fleet were loaded to capacity, not only with regular cargoes of petroleum products, but with items of other categories as well, such as ammunition, stores, provisions, movies, mail, empty brass cartridge cases, and gas cylinders. Once the task groups were operating at sea, tankers which replenished them were the principal, of not the only means of delivering officers, men, and material. The proficiency with which the tankers executed these special duties undoubtedly contributed to the concept, organization, and operation of the "at sea" support group, Service Squadron Six.
Between the fueling of Task Group 38.2 on the 19th and the next one on the 21st, Captain Acuff's group was kept busy. On the 20th he commenced transfer of fuel remnants from one unit of his group to another, fueled a replacement carrier, the Sargent Bay; his own flagship, the John D. Henley; and some destroyer escorts. Upon completion of his cargo consolidation, he detached one of his task units of three oilers and sent it to Ulithi, forming the remaining units into groups for disposition on line of bearing in anticipation of the fueling rendezvous with Task Groups 38.1 and 38.4 the next day, the 21st. In 3 days, 21-23 October, he issued a total of 338,000 barrels of fuel and692,000 gallons of aviation gasoline to the four task groups. Meantime the fueling section of Squadron Ten at Ulithi, with offices on the oiler Sepulga, was busy with administrative details for keeping Captain Acuff's group supplied with plenty of oil. On the 21st, for instance, the fleet oilers Natahala, Cahaba, and Atascosa, having replenished their cargoes, left Ulithi and on the 23d comprised Task Unit 30.8.11, on the line again for fueling the fleet. The same day the Tappahannock, Mississinewa, and Pamanset arrived at Ulithi to refill. On the 22d the Kern, from the Marianas and the Mission San Antonio came in from Balboa with 103,000 barrels, while next day the empty Caliente, Kaskaskia, and Lackawanna came in from sea. From Balboa the merchant tankers Flagship Sinco, Wagon Box, Mission Santa Barbara, Julesberg, and Gervais brought 625,000 barrels of fuel. The continuous entries and exits of filled and empty tankers made up
the principal order of the day for the fuel section, requiring no small planning and work to keep the fleet and its planes active against the enemy.
By 25 October, after nearly 2 weeks of intensive operations against Okinawa, Formosa and Luzon, all the Third Fleet carrier groups needed rearming except for torpedoes, AP, and SAP (semi-armor-piercing) bombs habitually reserved for use against combatant ships. Personnel, especially the pilots, badly needed rest, which, however, could not be given them. Task Groups 38.2-3-4 at noon of the 23d were in an area roughly 260 miles northeast of Samar, while 38.1 (Admiral McCain) was en route for Ulithi the same day. At 8"46 a.m. on the 24th it was ordered to change course, rendezvous with oilers, and proceed toward the Philippines. Hurriedly McCain's group took on 95,000 barrels of fuel and 24,000 gallons of aviation gasoline (regretting the loss opportunity for repair and replenishment, and some rest and relaxation at Ulithi) and was on its way back to meet the enemy again.
On the 26th, the day following the decisive battles of Surigao Strait, Samar, and Cape Engano, Task Groups 38.1 and 38.2 were off the east coast of Samar, while 38.3 and 38.4 fueled about 500 miles east by north from Manila. After their high speed runs on the 25th to intercept the enemy carriers from the north, these two groups drank deeply of precious oil from Acuff's ships, taking 162,000 barrels of fuel oil and 379,000 gallons of aviation gasoline.
After fueling Task Groups 38.3 and 38.4 at sea on the 26th, Captain Acuff's group formed cruising disposition and in accordance with instructions, started toward Ulithi. He had three groups of three oilers each, plus a replacement carrier and the destroyer screen. Entering Ulithi lagoon on the 29th, the group finished a very important phase of logistic operations in support of decisive fleet action against the enemy.
The Quantity of Oil Involved. During the period of these operations (September-October) the consumption of fuel oil was between four and five million barrels, with aviation gasoline for the Third and Seventh Fleets amounting to more than seven million gallons. The bulk of both was delivered at sea by Captain Acuff's Task Group 30.8, of 29 oilers, with escorts. It fed the Fast Carrier Force alone 3,567,000 barrels of fuel and other petroleum products despite typhoon weather and attacks by enemy aircraft on several occasions, suffering only minor casualties and losing no oil nor gasoline. As in previous operations, each oiler was loaded, with half its special tanks filled with Diesel oil, half with gasoline, the main tanks carrying a maximum capacity of fuel oil. Besides
Leyte Gulf-Surigao Strait--Samar--Leyte
the standard stock of drum lubricants and compressed gases, some canteen and small stores, mail, and personnel for transfer were carried. October saw the first shipment of black oil from the Persian gulf to the Central Pacific: 114,000 barrels.
After the great sea and air fights of October, all Third Fleet units were directed to retire to advanced bases at discretion. Later Commander Seventh Fleet requested the Third to maintain a strong combat air patrol over the objective area at Leyte and strike enemy air fields when practicable. Task Group 38.1, after the fleet action, reached Ulithi 28 October. Two days later Sherman's group came in for rearming and reprovisioning from Squadron Ten. On the 31st Task Group 38.4 having given close air support to the southwest forces at Leyte, operating in a covering position east of Samar, also came in for servicing--Task Group 38.2 meantime holding the fort, so to speak, off the east coast of central Luzon.
Besides the usual services furnished by Squadron Ten, the three groups at Ulithi needed that sorely urgent item--rest--for the Fast Carrier Task Force had been at sea operating continuously for almost 2 months. Because of the demands of the military situation, the need of rest and recreation, or physical overhaul of the personnel, is often slighted or actually overlooked. This may be due to the recuperative powers of a man and his natural reluctance to admit to his superiors that he is tiring, and therefore not performing at top efficiency. It may be stretching things a bit to consider this under the head of logistics, yet it has an association with periods of replenishment, general overhaul, and ship repair, especially when recreation is provided. The comments of Vice Admiral Mitscher, Commander Task Force 38, extracted from his action report for the period 29 August-30 October 1944, are pertinent.
"During the period covered by this report all units and personnel of TF 38 were called upon to exert themselves to the limit. No other period of the Pacific war has included as much intensive operating . . . Currently our carrier air groups are being debilitated by extended periods of combat duty under ship base condition. Serious consideration must be given immediately to relieving carrier air groups every four months . . . an immediate orderly program of interim navy yard availability in the States should not only be laid out but should be enforced . . . the ships of TF 58/38 have been under constant pressure in the tropics for over ten months. Probably ten thousand men have never put a foot ashore during this period. No other force in the world has been subjected to such a period of constant operation without rest or rehabilitation."
In each of the anchorages, swimming areas were designated. On shore, spaces were set aside for recreation purposes; some ball
fields laid out, and beer and soft-drink bars set up. At none was the layout or the means of transportation to it adequate, but it helped. Bars for officers met the requirements somewhat better, perhaps because there were fewer officers, perhaps because they realized the situation, more clearly and adapted themselves accordingly. Despite the shortcomings, it was some relaxation and recreation to get ashore. The best was set up on Mogmog Islet by Commodore Kessing, Atoll Commander at Ulithi.
For those who could take some ease for the moment this was a good time to read again some of the congratulatory messages coming through. One of them, from Admiral King, Chief of Naval Operations, addressed to the commanders of both Third and Seventh Fleets, read: "The recent actions in and near the Philippines have effectually disposed of the enemy navy, a large part forever and the remainder for some time to come. All officers and men of your fleets have the heartiest admiration of al hands for your valor, persistence, and success. Well done to each and all."
November Activities. With the necessity for replenishment, all task groups except 38.2 had retired to Ulithi at the end of October, but in view of enemy air strength developing at Leyte, Admiral Halsey determined that carrier strikes should be made on Luzon as soon as possible. Task Groups 38.1-2-3 rendezvoused at sea, 38.4 remaining at Ulithi. On 2 to 4 November Service Squadron Ten gave it 18 8-inch .55 caliber HC projectiles, 1,315 8-inch AP projectiles, 598 5-inch 38 AAC projectiles, 18,784 40-mm. AA, 83,160 20-mm. AA, 13 2,000-pound GP bombs, 14 1,000-lb GP bombs, 55 500-lb SAP bombs, 77 500-lb GP bombs, 449 100-lb incendiary bombs and 7 1,000-lb AP bombs. McCain had relieved Mitscher a few days before as Fast Carrier Force Commander.
Bringing in the Reno. Just before midnight of 3 November the light cruiser Reno of Task Group 38.3, as told briefly in chapter XIX, was torpedoed on the port side aft. She lost steering control and the after engine and firerooms became untenable. Continued electrical fires in the forward engine room, probably from shorted cables, necessitated stopping the starboard engine. On 4 November the tug Zuni took her in tow. At 2:50 a.m. next day the tug went alongside to assist in salvage operations, for the cruiser had developed a list to port which ultimately reached 16°, and she was down in the water 2 feet forward and 9 feet aft. At 3 p.m. the Zuni began towing again. Captain R.C. Alexander, the executive officer, heads of departments, and a part of the crew (19 other officers and 248 enlisted men), remained on board to see her through. Between 6 and 8 November high winds and heavy seas from a nearby
typhoon added to the difficulties and danger, but through the skillful seamanship and energetic efforts of the Reno, with the assistance of the gallant Zuni and others, the two reached Ulithi safely on the 11th. There the Vestal, Commander N.W. Grambling, moored beside the Reno and began battle-damage repairs. The Zuni also assisted with salvage from 11 to 24 November. The Vestal disassembled No. 4 turret of the Reno, inspected and pumped out flooded compartments, burned away debris, removed topside weights, and accomplished many other tasks to make the ship structurally safe for onward routing. The damage was too extensive to undertake locally without a large floating drydock, and on 19 December the cruiser, under two of the tug Menominee, proceeded to Manus.
The Reno was the third cruiser severely damaged and in a sinking condition to be brought into Ulithi lagoon; she from a point 700 miles distant, the Canberra and Houston from still closer to the enemy's claws. All were saved. The lesson to be learned from these three splendid salvage jobs centers around close logistic support and readiness of well-handled fleet tugs standing by to bring cripples to nearby floating bases.
Hitting Enemy Targets in the Philippines. The tree task groups were assigned definite targets: 38.1, Northern Luzon, including Clark Field; 38.2, Southern Luzon and Mindoro's airfields; 38.3, the area between 14° and 15° No., including shipping at and around Manila. Marked success attended the strikes. With comparatively minor loss of aircraft (about 40), and no United States vessels sunk, we destroyed 438 enemy aircraft, sank 9 ships, including 1 heavy cruiser, and damaged 33 others.
First Japanese Suicide Attacks. On 5 November Task Group 38.3. had its first experience with organized attacks by the Japanese "suicide squad." In the afternoon one such plane crashed the Lexington's superstructure, virtually demolishing the secondary control, crippling several radars, and inflicting heavy personnel casualties. This Kamikaze (Divine Winds) attack was the forerunner of many others. Later the Navy was to feel the full effect of this desperate destructive effort, particularly at Okinawa, with heavy loss in ships and life besides extensive material damage piled upon the heavy repair load already on the shoulders of the maintenance crews of Service Squadron Ten.
Rearming at Ulithi. Admiral Bogan's Task Group 38.2, with the carriers Intrepid, Independence, Cabot, and Hancock; the battleships Iowa and New Jersey; and numerous cruisers and destroyers, began rearming at Ulithi 9 November. Seabees (Construction Battalion Stevedores) prepared the holds of the merchant ammunition ship Australia Victory so
destroyers could come alongside for their projectiles. Immediately upon their arrival, 4 carriers, 2 battleships, 3cruisers, and 18 destroyers went alongside fleet and station tankers for oil and, incidentally, for that much-hoped-for commodity of a personal nature, mail from home. The destroyer tenders began looking after the needs of their charges, doing all manner of electrical, ordnance, hull, radio, and sound repairs, and issued torpedoes, where needed, and some food. The ungainly but valuable concretes Trefoil, Lieutenant N. King, and Quartz, Lieutenant Commander P.B. Runyon, issued general stores, and the Silica, Lieutenant O.A. Seavey, fresh, frozen, dry, and medical stores.
More and more, Service Squadron Ten was becoming geared to replenishing task groups, and the units named were but a few of the support ships which made it possible for combat groups to return to battle areas with minimum delay. The rearming of Task Group 38.3 (Rear Admiral Sherman) began on the 17th. This group, including the carriersEssex, Langley, and Ticonderoga; battleships North Carolina, Washington, and South Dakota; cruisers Santa Fe, Biloxi, and Mobile; and 16 destroyers, took ammunition and bombs until the 20th--72,345 20-mm. AA; 21,056 40-mm. AA; 3,339 5-inch 38 AAC; 1,100 5-inch .38 special; 658 6-inch 47 AP; 105 2,00-lb. APGP bombs; 248 1,000-lb. 257 500-lb., 32 350-lb., 448 100-lb. GP bombs; and 96 100-lb. incendiary bombs.
Squadron Ten then had two nights and one day in which to rest and reload barges. On the 22nd ammunition and bombs were issued to rear Admiral Davidson's Task Group 38.4, continuing until the 25th. Overlapping these issues was the rearming of Admiral Montgomery's Task Group 38.1 beginning the 24th and ending the 28th. Now Rear Admiral Bogan's Task Group 38.2 returned on the 28th and loaded ammunition and bombs until the 20th. The tempo was being increased, the workload on the service squadron augmented, not only in the in the ammunition categories but for food, clothing, oil, and dry stores issued, repairs made, and other services rendered. To keep unrelenting pressure on the Japanese and the quick turn-around of forces from replenishment and a brief rest at Ulithi was the order of things. In later months there were not just 2 but often 3 and sometimes 4 task groups present at Ulithi. Vice Admiral McCain's task force of 4 task groups on 6 November numbered 10carriers,7 light carriers, 7 battleships, 5 heavy and 5 light cruisers, 1 light AA cruiser, and 64 destroyers, a total of 159 combatant vessels. Time in port was only about 4 days for each group.
Supporting the Fast Carrier Task Force at Sea in November. Though
Admiral Halsey on 29 October had withdrawn all task groups for logistics, and though the need for support of the Leyte-Samar operations appeared to have ended, such was not the case. The air situation in Leyte was difficult, and the one serviceable airstrip at Tacloban proved insufficient to support land operations and to protect our shipping in the Gulf. The Japanese made damaging air strikes on Seventh Fleet units, and some of their land reinforcements arrived. It was apparent that the battle for Leyte was by no means ended, and with the approval of Admiral Nimitz, immediate counter operations by carrier forces were initiated.
These new plans required certain of Captain Acuff's oiler groups again to take to the sea. Task Units 30.8.2 and 30.8.5 left Ulithi 2 November at 6 a.m.m for a rendezvous about 420 miles east of Samar. Later the same day, in response to orders from Halsey, Task Unit 30.8.3 also left. Next day Task Groups 38.1-2-3 were fueled with 148,000 barrels of Navy special fuel and 113,000 gallons of aviation gasoline. These three were the fast carrier groups that struck the Luzon area 5-6 November with excellent results.
On 7 November Admiral Division's Task Group 38.4 was joined by Task Unit 30.8.3 and refueled. Later the same day Captain Acuff formed up three oiler units on the line of bearing in anticipation of joining the Montgomery, Bogan, and Sherman groups, as he did, fueling them all from 9:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m.
Bad Weather fur Fueling. The oiler Kaskaskia, Lieutenant Commander W.F. Patten, was one of the tankers assigned to Task Group 38.1 and reported that when fueling commenced on the 27th the wind was blowing 30 knots from the northeast and the sea was moving from that direction in12- to 15-foot swells. These unfavorable conditions were caused by a typhoon approximately 200 miles to the south, moving in a westerly direction. In the early afternoon the small carrier Monterey and the battleship Massachusetts each reported a man overboard. Destroyers were ordered to the rescue, but one man was not saved. The Kaskaskia reported that as the afternoon wore on the wind increased and fueling became very difficult. Though the destroyer Izard had been keeping good station, a heavy swell swept her alongside the Kaskaskia. Luckily, no personnel casualties or great hull damage resulted, but two lines and various lengths of fuel hose were lost.
Commander H.L. De Rivera, in his war diary of the oiler Atascosa, stated that around noon time, while taking the destroyer Cotten to starboard and the small carrier Langley to port, green water was coming
over the forward well deck, and while making and tending gasoline connections six of his crew received injuries including broken bones, sprains, and lacerations. Hose lines were carried away in several instances, and finally the steel manifold on the after port 6-inch connection was torn loose. The replacement carrier Cape Esperance, Captain R.W. Bockius, was also having difficulties. Though she was successful, commencing about noon, in catapulting 11 fighter, 7 torpedo, and 2 scout bomber planes to Task Groups 38.1 and 38.3, later in the afternoon she was unable to take aboard ferry pilots form the destroyers Callaghan and Marshall "because of coming darkness and increasingly heavy seas due to typhoon weather."
These were some of the vicissitudes experienced in that at-sea servicing of the carrier task groups. Among both combat and service personnel the will to rise above all difficulties brought completion of the task by 9:30 that night. Captain Acuff reported that 299,000 barrels of fuel and 421,000 gallons of aviation gasoline had been issued under most trying conditions. Before the war,refueling operations in such weather would not have been tolerated by the high command as even worth considering. The next day the weather became even more severe. Hoping to avoid the worst of the storm, Captain Acuff moved his group to another fueling area, but the cargo consolidation he had planned for 8 November had to be postponed because of rough seas.
Admiral Bogan's Task Group 38.2 had gone to Ulithi to rearm, beginning on the 9th and finishing on the 13th. During this period the Rainier, Commander F.S. Conner, opened her hatches and began issues to the destroyers Foote, The Sullivans, Hunt, and Owen, alongside. A flash red radar warning at 10:38 a.m. interrupted proceedings for only a few minutes. At 4 p.m. the Rainier closed her holds, and next day she went alongside the Iowa, issuing her 124.61 tons of ammunition. Alongside the light cruiser Vincennes she issued 155.76tons and received 26.14tons of rejected ammunition. Going alongside the Miami she gave out 47.24 tons--all the while discharging ammunition into boats alongside. An LCT picked up empty "ammo" cases from cruisers and battleships. Navy Seabees were preparing the holds of the merchant ammunition ship Australia Victory, specialists were sent aboard large combat ships to assist in reactivating proximity fuzes of AA shells, and on every side food stores were issued, repair work carried on. All units of Service Squadron Ten were active in meeting the needs of Bogan's ships.
The oiler task units, having replenished their cargoes within Ulithi Atoll, sailed to rendezvous with the carrier task groups at sea. There was
no end to the need for oil, and for more oil. On the 11th the merchant tankers Balls Bluff, Mission San Luis Rey, and Mission San Carlos, with 100,000, 103,000, 100,000 barrels, respectively, of Navy special, and the Navy oilers Aucilla and Taluga, with standard cargoes of 90,000 barrels of Navy special, 8,000 barrels of Diesel oil, and400,000 gallons of aviation gas, arrived to keep the life fluid pouring into the fleet.
Admiral Bogan's group, 38.2, sailed after being replenished with everything except rest and recreation. During the short period allowed them, officers and men of this visiting task group went ashore on Mogmog Island--one of the Ulithi islets--to stretch their legs on the sand and bend elbows over a bottle of beer. The spot offered very little more; even the coconut palms were not numerous enough to protect everyone from the tropical sun. But the earth was a change from steel decks, the visit a respite from long watches, constant vigilance, and that tight feeling that is a part of war at sea.
While Task Group 38.2 was at Ulithi the other groups of Task Force 38 operated under tactical command of Rear Admiral Frederick C. Sherman. On the 11th an enemy convoy of four transports and six escorts, approaching Ormoc Bay, on the west side of Leyte, was sighted. Task Force 38 struck and all vessels of the enemy were sunk except three destroyers, and these were badly mauled. The result was substantial, as the transports were loaded with troop reinforcements for Leyte. The next day Captain Acuff stationed three groups of four oilers each at intervals of 10 miles, with 1,500 yards between oilers. Task Groups 38.4, 38.3, and 38.1 closed in and began fueling at 6 a.m., finishing at 3:15 p.m., after loading 383,000 barrels of fuel oil and 327,000 gallons of aviation gasoline. The expenditure of oil and gas was great, but strikes against the Japanese in the Philippines were paying dividends; enemy air power was being butchered.
Sherman Sits on a Powder Keg at Ulithi. On 16 November Task Group 38.2 relieved Admiral Sherman's Task Group 38.3 at sea, and the latter came into Ulithi for rearming and replenishment. Captain D. Kiefer, commanding the Ticonderoga, reported in his war diary that his ship took aviation gas and fuel to capacity, loaded ammunition, stores, and four replacement fighter aircraft, three bombers, and two torpedo planes from units of Service Squadron Ten.
On the 20th the Japanese made a concentrated attack by about five midget submarines. The tanker Mississinewa was torpedoed and sunk. Captain Fahrion of the North Carolina said of this: "The Ship's company had been taking advantage of our stay at Ulithi to go ashore for a
The Mississenewa torpedoed by a midget.
look-see, a swim, the three bottles of beer per man, and a painful case of sunburn;" and referring specifically to the torpedoing: "All of the above is a surprising development after the comparative and apparent safety of the lagoon, and a jolt to the complacency of those having a rest there." In his book Combat Command Admiral Sherman referred to the attack with the words: "All that day and the next we felt we were sitting on a powder keg which might go off at any time. Far from enjoying a rest period, we felt we might be safer in the open sea."
The first indication of attack by Japanese suicide submarines on the fleet and shipping in the harbor came early in the morning of 20 November when the destroyer Case, Lieutenant Commander R.S. Willey, rammed a midget submarine near the entrance to Ulithi anchorage. Shortly afterward, at 5:47 a.m., the fleet oiler Mississinewa, Commander P.G. Beck, at anchor in the lagoon, was torpedoed. Her magazine exploded, and as she had a full load of 85,000 barrels of fuel oil, 9,000 barrels of Diesel oil, and 405,00 gallons of aviation gasoline, she blazed up immediately, the flames and smoke rising in a tremendous column visible for miles.
The Midget Submarine Attack at Ulithi
Directed by voice radio from the operations office in the destroyer tender Prairie, flagship of Commodore Carter of Service Squadron Ten, fleet and rescue tugs and other harbor craft sped to the burning tanker, doing splendid fire fighting, some operating up to the edge of the flames to reach survivors, others actually going alongside the ship. While all units performed commendably, the efforts of the tug Munsee, Lieutenant Commander J.F. Pingley, and the rescue tug ATR-51, Lieutenant A.L. Larson, were especially praiseworthy. Outstanding in rescue work were the ingenuity and daring of pilot Lieutenant (j.g.) B.C. Zamucen of a Kingfisher plan from the light cruiser Santa Fe, and his crewman, E. Enenrude, ARM3c, Zamucen taxied his plane in and out of the burning oil surfaces, trailing a line astern which survivors caught to be hauled out of danger.
Dropping depth charges one at a time rather than in a pattern, to avoid damage to anchored ships,m destroyers wove through the fleet searching for other midget submarines. At about 6:25 a.m. the cruiser Mobile reported a torpedo passing under bow. An antisubmarine attack by the destroyer escorts Rall, Halloran, and Weaver resulted in a kill. Two bodies rose to the surface but sank before they could be recovered.
One of the midgets.
The Mobile recovered a pillow and wooden seat block marked with Japanese characters, and a body identified as Japanese was found nearby 3 days later. Another enemy submarine was reported sunk by planes 15 miles to the eastward of Ulithi, and two explosions on the reef indicated the presence of other midgets, which had presumably destroyed themselves on the rim of the atoll. One of these was found.
The harbor was alert, but as logistic work had to be done, this condition of readiness could not be maintained continuously. Carter, acting as Senior Officer Present (Administrative), was charged with the conduct of affairs and safety measures for the anchorage. The safety of fleet units and service vessels was uppermost in his mind, and that more midget submarines might be lurking under the surface was a worrisome possibility. Against it was weighted the relatively short endurance of this type of craft, and the decision was reached shortly after noon to resume routine logistic operations. This was the end of a concerted effort of probably five midgets; the result of Japanese recognition, possibly for the first time, of the strategic value of Ulithi harbor in support of current operations.
After the war, interrogation of Japanese officials revealed that the attacking submarines had been under the control of Vice Admiral Miwa. He said "I went out eight on-man torpedo-submarines to Ulithi to attack your fleet; they were transported by two regular submarines." Probably three of the eight were lost operationally. What a sigh for a fish--or a diver, had one been underwater then-0-when this fantastic pair passed, the two giant subs each with 4 midgets attached sucker-fashion to the sides, cruising along toward the objective--shades of Jules Verne! And what a target for a well-placed depth charge!
On the 22d Admiral Sherman's Task Group 38.3 departed and Admiral Davison's 38.4 entered Ulithi for rearming and supplies. Two days later Task Group 38.1 came in, and servicing operations, under way for the others, were extended to the newcomers, the carriers Yorktown, Cowpens, and Wasp; battleships Alabama and Massachusetts; cruisers Baltimore, San Francisco, and San Juan; with 15 destroyers. Service Squadron Ten worked around the clock, issuing supplies of all kinds, restowing ammunition in barges and ammunition ships, consolidating oil, food, and other cargoes in order to release store ships for return to the United States,drydocking vessels and making repairs, carrying on a vast amount of boating, ferrying officers and men, some on business and others for very brief periods of recreation. While this was replenishment and momentary relaxation for the visiting fast carrier groups, it was "battle stations" for Service
Squadron Ten, and "keeping the fleet ready" was its action against the Japanese.
Personnel Matters. Along with issues of oil, ammunition, food, supplies, accomplishment of repairs by service units, the problem of supply of the men who give logistic service and those who man the guns is of prime importance in supporting the fleet. Arrival of 2,508 replacements from Manus 11 October on the transport General Ernst occupied the personnel section of Squadron Ten until the task groups began arriving around the 28th. Practically all units were furnished with personnel up to at least 3 percent in excess of approved complements by the following distribution: Carriers, 404; battleships, 271; cruisers, 383; destroyers, 608; tenders, 65; patrol craft, 38; ComServRon Ten, 134; shore unit, 2; and the remainder to miscellaneous other vessels. Approximately 400 various additional ratings received in small drafts during October and November were easily utilized by the fleet with the exception of torpedomen, who were about 70 percent in excess.
The berthing problem was troublesome. While they were in port the big transports were used as receiving ships, but on their departure of the problems of quartering officers and men assumed vexing proportions, added to which was the need of extra boats for transferring men about the harbor. Assignment to Service Squadron Ten of unclassified ships of the Orvetta type, and later the use of hotel barges, helped, especially for housing the Seabee specialist stevedores who worked ammunition and fleet freight cargoes. The unfavorable boat situation persisted throughout the whole Pacific campaign, and service organizations never had enough boats. Combatant ships were not self-supporting in this regard for with their increased armament, fire control, radar, and other special devices there was little if any room topside for boats. The other special devices there was little if any room topside for boats. The need for extra berthing facilities for replacements, officers, men, and other transients such as stevedores, at advanced logistic support anchorages, and the need of boats plus berthing for their crews were felt keenly and are matters which must have a part in planning future activities.
One of the outstanding features of the November operations was the renewed proof of the ability of American warships and men to carry on for long periods with almost no let-up and still give a splendid account of themselves against the enemy. By the end of the month the fast carrier force, with the exception of very brief in-and-out-again replenishments, had bee at sea almost continuously for 84 days. The repeated attacks by this force of the Third Fleet had accomplished a great deal in aiding the Southwest Pacific Forces to break Japanese air power in the
Philippines. The new threat imposed by suicide-plane attacks, already mentioned as having started against the Lexington, could not be lightly regarded. However, the growing repair and salvage forces of the Service Squadron Ten were available, and the Guam base was developing monthly at a good rate. Though this was no compensation for loss of life through Kamikaze attacks, it was nevertheless heartening to know that large battle-damage repair facilities were building up close at hand.
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