Service Squadron Six was established 5 December 1944 to provide mobile support to fleet units during specific operations. It proved its worth at Iwo, and in still greater degree demonstrated an advanced phase in naval tactics. Its logistic support during the Okinawa operation was principally to the fast carrier force, though substantial deliveries were also made to other Fifth Fleet forces.
Expansion of "At-Sea" Support by Service Squadron Six
Known in operations orders as the Logistic Support Group, the squadron was composed of ships speedy enough to remain near the fleet with facilities to supply fuel oils, food, ammunition, airplanes, clothing, general stores, personnel, and towing and limited salvage services, plus suitable escort. Units of the squadron, under Rear Admiral D.B. Beary, were formed at Eniwetok and Ulithi early in February for participation at Iwo Jima. The first fueling operations were undertaken with a Task Group 58 on 13 February.
The fleet oilers were naturally the major component of Squadron Six. When the fast carriers were organized in four groups, there were usually three oilers in each fuel division; if, however, there were less than four carrier groups, then four oilers were generally utilized for each fuel division. The method of fueling task groups remained the same as formerly, but the procedure as applied to the Logistic Support Group bears some amplification here.
During the night preceding a fueling rendezvous, careful check of the wind, weather, and state of sea was kept by the group commander with a view of determining the speed and course for safe and rapid fueling. Speed of of oiler group during the night was set so as to make contact with the fueling group one or two hours prior to rendezvous. The oilers then prepared to begin fueling as soon as there was sufficient light, unless rendezvous had been previously set for a definite hour. Three or
four oilers, about 1,500 to 2,000 yards apart, formed in a single line to establish the fueling course, normally into the wind at about 10 knots speed. Carriers took aviation gasoline while taking fuel oil.
As soon after each fueling as possible the oiler-group commander reported to the logistic-group commander the amount of fuel left on board; detailed figures of issues made were submitted later. Consolidation of cargoes followed in order to return empty ships to base, an oiler being considered empty when it had less than 10,000 barrels of fuel oil which it could not discharge within 36 hours. This was regardless of Diesel oil or aviation gasoline, on board.
Commander Air Force Pacific Fleet, through his type command representatives in the forward area, was responsible for replenishing the Logistic Support Group ships with aircraft, aviation material, and aviation personnel. For this, carrier transports were assigned to the Logistic Support Group and delivered airplanes, pilots, and aircrewmen as requested by the carrier task force or group commander. Returning pilots were usually picked up by a destroyer for delivery to the transport carrier. Ferry pilots went aboard her and planes were catapulted, carrying as much equipment for transfer as possible. Often replacement pilots flew replacement planes to the carriers to which both were destined. Otherwise, replenishment was made through ship-to-ship transfer. The transport carrier then reported back to the Logistic Support Group to effect consolidation of residual planes, pilots, and aircrewmen, and to allow several such ships to return to base for discharge of flyable duds and for replenishment.
Ammunition ships took their positions in the second fueling line (oilers in the first) along with stores ships. All combatant types approached the ammunition ship and took position abreast. After the position lines were put over and secured, the ammunition ship steamed at about 8 to 10 knots and the ship receiving kept station on her regardless of which was the guide. Normal transfer was over the port side of the ammunition ship. Only one large ship could be rearmed at a time, but two destroyers, escorts, or small vessels could be rearmed simultaneously.
Stores ships were stationed in the second fueling line, 2,000 yards astern of the first. All ships made approach on the stores ships in order to preserve the formation. Position had to be carefully maintained to keep proper alinement between the issuing hatch on the stores ship and the receiving station on the combatant. Destroyers and small craft kept position on provisions ships. All receiving vessels maintained station on
the stores ships because the latter could not in all cases regulate their speed closer than one or two turns of the shaft. Immediately after servicing a task group, the stores ships reported the balance of items on hand to the logistic group commander, reporting detailed issues later.
Fleet tugs operated as part of the logistic train to render salvage service to damaged vessels by towing them to places where repairs could be made. Unless otherwise directed, two tugs were to be assigned to a battleship or carrier, one tug usually to any other disabled ship.
Describing operations for the capture of Okinawa, the oiler Platte reported on the workings of the Logistic Support Group much as has already been stated, adding "Four or five oilers formed a line normal to the fueling course and spaced 1,500 to 2,000 yards apart. Four ammunition ships and a provision ship formed a similar line 2,000 yards astern of the oilers. While these ships fueled, provisioned, and rearmed ships of Task Force 58, the other oilers of Task Group 50.8 consolidated cargo for the return of those emptied to Ulithi. Whenever an oiler became low on cargo it would not take 'fueling line,' but instead consolidate. Oilers also handled passengers, U.S. mail, patients, drum lube oil, carrier-plane belly tanks, and even Japanese prisoners of war. This vessel alone transferred and received as many as 50 passengers a day."
After Iwo the Logistic Support Group 50.8 returned to Ulithi to prepare for the next operation. From arrival, 5 March, to departure on the 13th, conferences were held with ComFifthFleet, ComServRonTen, Commander Fast Carrier Force, and various other commanders. At Ulithi the Support Group was divided into 4 task units: First Replenishment, Second Replenishment, Salvage, and Carrier Transport. Admiral Beary's flagship was the old light cruiser Detroit. On departure for sea on 13 March, after being replenished by Service Squadron Ten, the group totaled 1 light cruiser, 16 oilers, 4 ammunition ships, 4 fleet tugs, 2 airplane transports, 2 escort carriers, 12 destroyers, and 7 destroyer escorts. The first fueling at sea for the Okinawa operation commenced 16 March, when the support groups rendezvoused with units of fast carrier force, servicing it from 4 divisions, 3 of which had 4 oilers and an ammunition ship, the other 3 oilers and an ammunition ship.
Three days later, on the 19th, came the salvage unit's first call, when Task Unit 40.8.3,the tugs Cree, Ute, Munsee, and Sioux, with screen, was sent to the area southeast of Kyushu to help the carrier Franklin, seriously damaged by enemy aircraft bombs. The carrier was taken in tow by the heavy cruiser Pittsburgh at the scene, but by the following day had regained enough power to proceed without assistance. The
tugs reversed course, steamed away, and rejoined Task Group 50.8.
For the first complete replenishment on 22 March the carrier force had been reorganized into three groups to allow the Wasp, Enterprise, Franklin, and Santa Fe to return to Ulithi for repairs. Commander Task Force 58 reported "a very busy day was spent fueling, provisioning, replenishing ammunition, and receiving replacement aircraft and pilots." This caused the British liaison officer on the staff of Commander Task Force 58 to remark that "it was during this first replenishment period that he became fully aware of the versatility, power, and efficiency of the United States Pacific Fleet."
On the 26th the cargo ship Mercury arrived from Ulithi to join the group for provisions replacement. On this first day she transferred 37 tons of fresh and 17 tons of other provisions to Task Group 58.1. On rejoining Task Group 50.8 at the end of the day she received the following message from the group commander: "Your commendable performance in your initial replenishment operation is noted with pleasure." From that time until detached 12 May to return to Ulithi, the Mercury operated with Task Group 50.8. Transfer of cargo was slow because she was equipped with only one transfer whip on each side. Carrier-force commanding officers felt she should have had more whips. Toward the end of the Okinawa campaign increased efficiency in transferring stores under way decreased the time necessary for the replenishing ship to remain alongside. For example, the Pittsburgh took 21 tons of ship's stores and provisions in 55 minutes while a destroyer was taking stores simultaneously on the other side of the supply ship.
As other Fifth Fleet units approached the objective during the last week in March the Logistic Support Group ceased to operate solely with the carrier force. Two oilers. Cowanesque and Atascosa, left Ulithi with Minecraft Task Group 52.3 on 19 March. After fueling the mine vessels on the 22d, the oilers and two destroyer escorts proceeded to rendezvous with another mine group, Task Group 52.4. After fueling it, the two oilers reported to Commander Task Group 50.8non the 24th, spent several days with the carrier force, and separated, Atascosa going to Kerama Retto with the first tanker group to enter the newly acquired anchorage, and Cowanesque joining a group leaving to fuel the escort carriers of Task Group 52.1. Both tankers reported back to Commander Task Group 50.8 on 1 April from their respective assignments and then went to Ulithi for fresh cargo. This was typical of the procedure followed throughout the operation.
The Logistic Support Group performed additional service as a relay
and waiting station for ships of all types proceeding to the rear and from it to units in the combat area. Twelve ammunition ships came forward with the oiler shuttle units of Task Group 50.8 up to 28 May, and operated with the group until called for by Admiral Turner, Commander Task Force 51. These ships were then included in the next regular oiler shuttle unit dispatched to Okinawa. Empty ammunition and other logistics ships were routed to the rear area via Task Group 50.8, using returning shuttle units from Okinawa. Combatant ships reporting to Task Force 58 also made rendezvous with the Logistic Support Group and remained in company until they could join their assigned units on replenishment days. A total of five cruisers, one small carrier, two cruisers, and eight destroyers joined Task Force 58 this way.
Three carriers, one small carrier, two cruisers, and eight destroyers of Task Force 58, forced to withdraw by battle damage, joined with the Logistic Support Group, which serviced them as far as possible, after which they sailed under special escort to Guam or Ulithi. In one instance in which a combat destroyer had no officer left qualified to command, a relief commanding officer was supplied by the group. This was the case of the Hazelwood, hit by a suicide plane. Lieutenant D.N. Morey, Jr., of the Buchanan took her to Ulithi.
On 5 April the oilers Escalante and Ashtabula, going to Ulithi for reloading, were both in collision with the seaplane tender Thornton. The oilers sustained only minor damage; the tug Munsee went to the tender's assistance. Next day the oiler Neches, on a fueling assignment at Kerama Retto, secured a direct hit on an enemy plane, which was observed to disintegrate. On the 16th the oiler Taluga sustained a suicide attack by a plane believed to be a "Zeke," the Japanese Navy fighter. The resulting fires were extinguished and repairs completed in the forward area. She was the only oiler to suffer battle damage during the Okinawa operation. On the 8th, approaching Kerama, the destroyer Gillespie of the Logistic Support Group, escorting the Thornton, towed by the Munsee, was attacked by four Kamikazes, two of which the destroyer shot down. The remaining two did not attempt to attack.
Fuels and Lubricants. The fuel required for the Okinawa operation far exceeded that consumed during any previous campaign. This large consumption was the result of the many ships employed and an increase in their endurance at sea because of under-way replenishment facilities of Service Squadron Six. During a 3-week peak period in April the service of 39 oilers were required, making total daily issues averaging 167,000 barrels of fuel oil and 385,000 gallons of gasoline to the fleet carrier force
The oiler Cahaba fueling the battleship Iowa and the carrier Shangri-La on a smooth day.
alone. With the program of rotation of one group of Task Force 58 to Ulithi for 10 days availability and replenishment, commencing 27 April, and the reduction of the number of combatant ships operating with the Joint Expeditionary Force (Task Force 51) after the latter part of April, the daly over-all consumption of fuel oil was reduced from about 220,000 barrels to approximately 140,000.
Fleet oiler schedules were established prior to sortie from Ulithi. The original schedule, providing that five full oilers leave from Ulithi every 4 days, was modified to two full oilers every 3 days. Fuel supply at the objective was ample at all times. Once, toward the end of the period of highest sustained daily averages, the supply at Ulithi was exhausted, but sufficient fuel was on hand at sea in fleet oilers to prevent interruption of operations.
Aviation gasoline and aviation lubricating oil consumed was also materially greater than in any previous operation. Formerly the standard load of 20 drums of lubricating oil on each fleet oiler adequately met carrier requirements. As the operation extended, each oiler had to carry 75 drums. Continued demand for it, and an average issue of 80 drums daily over a period of 1 month prompted a directive requiring that fleet oilers leave port with an initial load of 150 drums.
The oilers carried numerous other items in addition to their regular cargoes. They provided gasoline drop tanks, depth charges, arbors, ammunition, dry stores, medical stores, mail, replacement personnel, and passengers, as previously stated. All could be transferred while vessels were alongside for fueling. At Okinawa, until supplies were available from provisions and stores ships,fleet oilers were stripped of all stores and supplies in excess of bare essentials for the return to Ulithi. From 17 March to 27 May the fuel oil, Diesel oil, and aviation gasoline issued by Task Group 50.8 for replenishment at sea and own use was 8,745,000 barrels of fuel oil, 259,000 barrels of Diesel oil, and 21,47,000gallons of aviation gasoline. This consumption decreased from 28 May to 11 June to 1,388,000 barrels of black oil, 64,000 of Diesel, and 4,096,000 gallons of aviation gasoline.
On the 11th, after Task Group 30.6 (antisubmarine group) was serviced, Commander Task Group 30.8* retired to port. Thereafter logistic support was limited to shuttle groups from Ulithi, consisting of three fleet oilers every 5 days servicing Task Group 32.1 (carriers and aircraft of amphibious support force) and then reporting to
* On May 28th the Fifth FLeet became the Third Fleet and the numerical designation changed by substituting a "three" for the first digit "five" in the Fifth Fleet designations.
Commander Service Squadron Ten Fuel Representative for duty at the objective. On 28 June this service was assumed by Commander Service Squadron Ten, marking the end of logistic support rendered by Task Group 30.8. Commander Third Fleet's diary spoke of this in the following words: "Due to the departure of Task Force 38 from the operating area in the vicinity of Okinawa, certain units of the Logistic Support Group were also withdrawn and steps were initiated between Commander Service Squadron Ten (ComTask Group 30.8), and Commander Marianas for the establishment of regular resupply convoys to care for the logistic needs of forces in the Okinawa area."
Ammunition. Of all the difficulties of logistics afloat, ammunitioning at sea is the most dangerous, but with the high degree of success achieved during the Okinawa operation, fairly complete logistic support under way had proved practical. Only the fast carrier groups received ammunition at sea from the Logistic Support Group.
In rearming at sea, where time is at a premium and unnecessary ship movements must be kept at a minimum, larger ships cannot "shop" from one ammunition carrier to another to obtain all their requirements. It was soon apparent that when only one ammunition ship accompanied the support group to service one particular task group, those ships with 50 percent or more of their allowance expended found it impossible to obtain a balanced reload. Because of variety in size and weights, and its general nature, ammunition was not adaptable to cargo consolidation in the operation area, not forgetting the danger involved, and so the carrying and issuing capacity of a single ammunition ship was often below requirements. Admiral Beary therefore, considered that four ammunition ships with balanced cargoes were needed on the servicing line to render more complete rearming service.
There were frequent changes in the types of ammunition required. Alterations in the fleet issue load did not always solve this problem. For instance, initially 10-pound bombs were in great demand. This was due to heavy strikes on aircraft and airfield installations in the Empire by fighter planes. Following landing operations there was a great increase in the number of rockets issued. At all times aircraft and antiaircraft ammunition was used inconsiderable quantities. Main battery ammunition had to be carried by the ammunition ships of 50.8, but for the most part was restricted in use, since shore bombardment was principally the duty of the fire-support ships operating under Task Force 51. They were replenished at Kerama Retto.
During the early part of the operation a critical shortage of depth charges developed. This was met by loading approximately 100 depth charges on each of 3 transport carriers, and a standard load was established for all oilers, which carried 27 complete depth charges and 17 arbors. The frequent arrival of oilers assured adequate quantities of both. This became the most practical manner of rearming destroyers with depth charges, for at the same time tankers carried extra ammunition for limited issue to them. These "extra slides" allowed larger ships more time alongside ammunition carriers.
From past experience it was considered that attempts to service two large vessels simultaneously from one ammunition ship reduced the transfers to both ships to an undesirable point. Ammunitioning of a large ship and an antiaircraft light cruiser or destroyer at the same time proved more practical. Jeeps were delivered from the deck of an ammunition ship to a carrier. Airplane engines were also transferred. As a result, each ammunition ship carried a standard load of six.
From 22 March to 27 May the five ammunition ships of Service Squadron Six--Wrangell, Shasta, Lassen, Mauna Loa, and Vesuvius--in a total of 106 days servicing, delivered a daly average of 143 tons, making a total of 15,159 tons. The Firedrake issued small amounts of HVAR rockets only and is not included above. Likewise, Las Vegas Victory made some experimental issues during this period which are not included. Her rate of transfer did not compare with that of the others because of smaller handling crews and inferior equipment.
The types of ammunition issued 22 March-27 May indicate the demands: 77,482 5-inch, 38-caliber projectiles; 34,773 5-inch rockets; 119 2,000-pound bombs, G.P.; 65 1,000-pound bombs, G.P.; 280 1,000-pound bombs, G.P.; 100 500-pound bombs, S.A.P.; 3,671 250-pound bombs, G.P.; 18,579 100-pound bombs, G.P.; 83 torpedoes A/C/; 810 depth charges; 289 arbors. In 3 days the Lassen issued 342 tons, the Vesuvius 233, and the Shasta 236 tons of explosives, the latter two in 4 days each. We were learning the technique of ammunitioning at sea.
Aviation Logistics. Four carrier transports (CVET's)--the Attu, Admiralty Islands, Bougainville, and Windham Bay--were assigned to the Logistic Support Group to deliver replacement planes and aircrews for the fast carrier force. During the early stages of the operation, plane requirements would have exceeded the supply available from these four had it not been that planes from carriers put out of action were used. A few shortages occurred later, but this represented a deficiency of plane
models on hand in the forward area rather than of the total number.
An important development in plane deliveries at sea was the successful transfer of several Kingfisher observation scouts. It was found that one or two of this type could be loaded aboard without interfering with catapult operations of carrier planes. When the CVET's rendezvoused with the support group, cranes lowered the planes into the water. They taxied up to the cruiser Detroit, which catapulted them for further delivery.
Whenever it was determined that a surplus of a particular plane model existed, ComFifth Fleet was informed, to make the planes at sea available for the best use of the fleet, and to expedite the return of the carrier transport to Guam for reloading. In this way several deliveries of excess plane models were made to the escort carriers of Task Group 52.1 operating in close support of the amphibious landings and ground action on Okinawa. Once, however, the Attu made a special trip and delivered 76 planes to that task group. At the beginning of the operation, aircraft supplies were carried aboard a stores ship. This soon proved impractical, and the stores were transferred to a CVET, which made them more accessible to the carriers.
Besides being carried by the CVET's, drop tanks were available from fleet oilers. Task-group commanders preferred delivery of belly drop tanks from the latter because this eliminated double transfers from transport to operating carriers by destroyers, and better use of time while fueling alongside the oilers. The carrier transports were better used for delivering certain critical types of drop tanks available at Guam where the oilers seldom went (the oilers reloaded at Ulithi) and were also used to supplement temporary shortages on oilers. Corsair pylon tanks and 150-gallon Universal tanks were scarce throughout the operation, and it became necessary for Commander Task Force 58 to allocate them between the task groups.
Delivery of aircraft engines at sea was made by the Lassen. Transfer of this weight (3,500 pounds) and cube (225 cubic feet) demonstrated that every aviation item except wings could be delivered at sea. Delivery of three jeeps to the Bunker Hill was made to replace three others lost because of a flight-deck plane crash.
Commander Fast Carrier Task Group No. 1 (Commander Task Group 58.1) reported that procurement of aeronautical spare parts presented a definite problem. Carriers generally submitted their requirements to the task-group commander the day before fueling. The list of items was then forwarded to each CVET and to Commander Logistic Support Group.
What the former could not supply, he requested from Commander Aircraft Pacific, Subordinate Command, Forward Area, but the time between originating the request and receiving the material was often too great. It was the commander of this task group who recommended that each oiler carry fighter drop tanks to eliminate the transfers from a CVET via a destroyer.
Provisions and General Stores. The cargo ship Mercury joined the support group 26 March to provision the fast carrier force with fresh, frozen, and dry food, general stores, ship's store stock, clothing,. and small stores. Her cargo proved adequate for the first part of the operation because for the first 35 days few ships needed food. The time arrived, however, when all began running low at once, and beyond the ability of one stores ship to replenish. To meet this situation oilers were deckloaded with staples for issue while on the fueling line. Admiral Beary stated that if ships had replenished to capacity whenever the opportunity presented instead of allowing dry provisions to run low and taking only when in actual need, and if in addition larger ships had topped off dry stores earlier in the operation, the Mercury could have provisioned in half the working days actually required. He felt it was poor policy to hold a ship carrying half fresh and half dry provisions in order to issue dry after all fresh cargo had been exhausted. At the same time it was admitted that shipping space was wasted if a vessel returned to reload fresh provisions with the bulk of its dry provisions intact. He believed that in the long run forces receiving provisions would gain by drawing fresh and dry in a more balanced measure.
The Mercury made issues until she was relieved by the Aldebaran on 9 May. Fleet oilers continued bringing provisions in limited quantities. The tonnage transferred by ship from March to 27 May was: Mercury, 29 service days, 275 tons refrigerated, 2,500 tons dry; Aldebaran, 8 days 1,350 tons refrigerated, 560 dry; fleet oilers, 36 days, 277 tons refrigerated 672 dry. Totals: 1,902 tons refrigerated, 3,732 dry. From 26 May to 11 June, the Aldebaran issued in 8 servicing days 305 tons of refrigerated and 146 dry, the fleet oilers in the same period, 59 tons refrigerated, 127 tons dry, making totals of 364 tons refrigerated and 273 dry.
Although the ship's store supplies consumed were but a fraction in comparison to the total weight of provisions issued, the quantities on a man-day basis were very large, indicating the scale of our operations and forces. For instance, more than 27,000,000 packages of cigarettes and 1,200,000 candy bars were issued between 14 March and 27 May. Including the cigarettes and candy, the ship's stores stock issued during this
period was: Mercury, 29 servicing days, 334 tons; Aldebaran, 8 days, 113 tons; fleet oilers, 36 days, 58 tons. From the 28th to 11 June the Aldebaran gave out 57 tons and the oilers 13.
Rear Admiral Beary reported that with stores ships and oilers carrying such adequate stocks of ship's stores, the especially prepared "pack-up units" of selected items packaged for immediate transfer in 8 cubic feet, 200-pound units received little demand. Issues of these units were made chiefly when no other source was available, and to small craft at the objective before adequate bulk supplies arrived. In clothing and small stores items there was steady demand for socks, dungarees, chambray shirts, undershirts, and nainsook drawers. Prepackaged clothing units were also in small demand, as stores ships carried required items which were easily transferred during provisioning operations.
The amount of general stores available in the operating area was limited to the special load of approximately 100 items aboard the Mercury and quantities available from the regular allowance of oilers these sources were ordered from Guam and Ulithi, delivery being handled in the same manner as any other freight. The 100 or so items on the cargo ships were mostly consumable goods, such as rags, soaps, toilet paper, cups, bowls, etc., with some special articles such as line, wire rope, flags, lamps, and fuses. Few large ships found it necessary to draw general stores, but there were continuing demands form destroyers. As the operation progressed, loadings of general stores were altered on the basis of requests and past experience.
Towing and Salvage. During the heavy strikes against Japan by Task Force 58, fleet tugs with fire-fighting teams aboard moved forward along the retirement course of Task Force 58 to be in a more strategic position should their services be required. In the latter stages the operating area of the Logistic Support Group was close enough to that of the task force to make this unnecessary. Fortunately the calls for tugs from the fast carrier force were few, which made possible the loan of two to Task Force 51 at the objective, where their services for towing were in demand.
Mail. All first-class, registered, and officer mail for each task group was loaded on Task Group 50.8 oilers at Ulithi, the oiler with the mail being placed on the fuel line when the proper fast carrier group or groups were serviced. Standard practice placed the mail oilers on the left end of the fuel line. The flagship of the group, serviced from that oiler, arranged for mail distribution by destroyers within the group.
Outgoing mail for other task groups and elsewhere was put aboard the oilers on the line by all ships being serviced, and the shuttle schedule of oilers between Ulithi and the fueling area provided a steady flow of mail in both directions.
After the capture of air fields on Okinawa, mail was flown in, but fleet oilers continued to deliver most of the passengers and freight. Mail handled by the air bases on Okinawa during the operation ran to figures as follows: April, incoming 322,819, outgoing 174,886 pounds; May, incoming 541,406, outgoing 564,000 pounds; June, incoming 418,161, outgoing 504,855 pounds. Parcel post and second class was not delivered at sea, though Rear Admiral J.J. Clark, commanding Task Group 58.1, felt that with the number of service ships meeting fleet units under way, the important morale-building influence of mail should not be limited to first-class and air mail.
Passengers and Replacement Personnel.Both officer and enlisted passengers ordered to specific ships and commands were transferred in much the same manner as mail, except that personnel often arrived on all the ships of a shuttle unit. This necessitated a great deal of errand running by destroyers and much rigging and unrigging of breeches buoys for "at sea" transfer until the men finally reached their destination in the fleet.
During the first 6 weeks of Okinawa, until the fast carriers began returning to Ulithi for rotation, approximately 40 unassigned enlisted personnel came out in each tanker. Most of these men held rates; the commander of the task group being serviced was notified of the number and ratings available in each oiler for transfer. The greatest demand, however, was for nonrated men, and not enough were available. Supply of replacement personnel at sea marked the beginning of what was hoped to be the culmination of an effort to keep ships engaged in extensive combat operations at full battle strength. Nonrated men, along with radio technicians, shorthand yeomen, and radiomen constituted the greatest need.
Between 14 March and 27 May fleet oilers carried to the objective 13,501 bags of mail, 1,064 officer and enlisted personnel-passengers, and 988 replacement enlisted personnel. From 28 May to 11 June the figures were 1,897 bags of mail, 176 passengers, and 44 replacement enlisted personnel.
Rear Admiral Beary, on the basis of experience gained during the Okinawa campaign, made recommendations concerning mail, passengers, replacement personnel, and freight services, indicating that the activity forwarding mail to the operating area should be made information
addressee on all dispatches concerning changes in composition of task groups of the fast carrier forces. Offices of activities handling mail, personnel, and freight must, he said, maintain close liaison with operations to avoid misdirection. Second-class mail should be forwarded for delivery at sea, as receipt of magazines and packages decidedly improves morale. Where possible, personnel under orders to specific ships or commands should be grouped aboard oilers in the same manner as mail. Finally, Service Squadron Six should be an addressee on regular dispatches to post offices concerning holding or forwarding of mail in the forward and objective areas.
Movie-Exchange Facilities. Commander Service Squadron Six did not run a movie exchange in the true sense of the term. However, he did afford ample opportunity to trade films between ships. The Detroit, flagship of the Logistic Support Group, carried from 15 to 25 prints available always for exchange. The stock of pictures was continually renewed and expanded by the frequent shuttles of oiler groups, together with shipments of more than 30 new prints to the support group from Service Squadron Ten. These were divided among the task groups of Task Force 58.
And thus did Service Squadron Six still further develop the Navy's logistics afloat.
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