August 1945! Orders to cease fire were transmitted to the Pacific Fleet and to all other units under the command of Admiral Nimitz almost immediately after President Truman's announcement on the 15th that Japan had accepted our surrender terms. On the 16th Nimitz sent a dispatch assigning Service Squadron Ten, with Service Divisions 103 and 104, to the Fifth Fleet, Service Division 101 to the Seventh Fleet, and Service Division 102 to the Third Fleet. With Japan's surrender some changes were to be expected, but this sudden overnight split-up to three different fleets--what could it mean? The answer was merely the preliminary assignment as task groups to the three fleets concerned in the invasion plans. It had ground through regular channels and come out almost simultaneously with the "cease fire!"
The Giant Takes Off His Armor
Surrender--Changes in Logistic Services--Getting Back Toward Peace Routine--Pipe Down
On the 25h Admiral Nimitz modified these orders slightly by designating Service Squadrons Ten and Six to operate under Commander Service Force Pacific Fleet for the occupation. Service Squadron Ten was further directed to provide mobile services to the Ryukyus, Marianas and Marshalls-Gilbert area, and Leyte. This did not differ greatly from what it had been doing most of the time. Service Squadron Six was directed to provide replenishment at sea. Commanders of Service Divisions 101, 102 and 103, with their staffs and vessels, could be moved forward at the discretion of the commanders of the Seventh, Third, and Fifth Fleets respectively.
Commodore Carter had been ordered by the Bureau of Naval Personnel to a continental hospital as a possible cancer case. The orders were very displeasing to Carter, who having been in the Pacific war during and ever since the Pearl Harbor attack, wanted to stay and see the
job through. But in spite of his objections based upon his disbelief in the suspicion (later, back in the United States, it was determined that the original suspicion was erroneous as several specialists in the Pacific had also held), the transfer was effected, and on 29 July Rear Admiral Allan E. Smith relieved Carter as Commander Service Squadron Ten.
Despite the impairment of all its functions and that of the service divisions by reason of their lack of suitable flagships, all staffs, on abandonment of Operation OLYMPIC for invasion, concentrated upon organizing for occupation of Korea, China, and Japan. Service Division 101, to go forward to Korea in accord with orders from Commander Seventh Fleet, turned over its duties and responsibilities at Leyte to Service Division 72, Captain J.D. Beard. On the 20th the heavy repair ship Jason, Commander E.F. Beck, of Service Division 101, was sent to Jinsen, Korea, via Buckner Bay, and was followed in a few days by the Division Commander, Commodore E.E. Duvall, Jr., in the destroyer tender Sierra. About the end of the month other units of Service Squadron Ten began to move forward to zones to be occupied in accordance with assigned tasks of the different fleets. On the 28th Commander Service Division 102 departed from Eniwetok with his staff and many of his vessels to take up his duties in Tokyo Bay.
So began a wide spread in logistic facilities to meet the requirements at many occupation points. Rear Admiral Smith, in the Ocelot at Leyte 1-9 September, went to Buckner Bay and on the 18th shifted his flag to the cargo transportAntares, shifting again on the 25th to the old submarine tender Holland, in which he went to Tokyo Bay where he found Commodore J.T. Acuff, Commander Service Division 102, with his flag in the destroyer tender Piedmont. Later, Acuff shifted back to the Argonne.
Commodore Henry Hartley, Commander Service Division 103, in the command control ship Campbell, was a few days in Leyte getting established aboard before going to Buckner Bay, where he spent 12 days, then went to the Wakayama area.
Commander Service Division 104, Commodore Keliher, in the destroyer tender Hamul, remained at Buckner Bay, which was a place of much activity on the part of fleet units of all types.
The problems of the next few months were troublesome. First came demobilization and the problem of how to carry on in spite of the loss of the most experienced and valuable men. The high-point officers and men were those of longest service and consequently the best qualified to fulfill the post-war mission in occupied areas, but they were the first to be sent home. Logistic support vessels had to be sent through and
operated in regions where typhoons were frequent and violent, with winds of 86 miles an hour and barometer readings as low as 28.44. Officers and men had to be assigned to naval base occupation units, special Japanese yen for Korea had to be obtained and distributed to naval personnel, and the types and schedules of supply loads had to be changed and shifted about to fit the occupation plan.
On 1 October, Service Squadron Six was dissolved and its duties and responsibilities taken over by Service Squadron Ten. The latter's commander, Rear Admiral Smith, was hospitalized on 5 October and relieved by Rear Admiral F.C. Denebrink, who broke his flag in the Holland 20 October.
Five days later, Admiral Denebrink began a tour of the important places where Service Divisions 103, 101, and 104 had logistic facilities, to make a thorough examination of each division's problems, with adjustments on the spot so that maximum service could be provided with a minimum of men and ships. On these visits he and his staff obtained first-hand knowledge of existing trends and of anticipated deficiencies.
On 29 October the locations and operations of the four service divisions were:
- 101 furnished logistic support for the Seventh Fleet and fulfilled normal obligations to assigned forces ashore in the jurisdictional areas of the fleet. Its major bases were Jinsen (Korea), Shanghai and Hongkong; its minor bases were Fusan (Korea), Taku and Tsingtao, both in northern China.
- 102 furnished logistics at the main fleet base in Tokyo Bay. Some smaller facilities remained at Eniwetok for the replenishment and repair of ships in transit. Eniwetok, however, was in process of being rolled up.
- 103 supported units in Japanese waters west of Tokyo and south of latitude 40° N. The major facilities were fairly well divided between Sasebo and Wakayama, while minor ones were operated at Nagoya, Matsuyama, and Kure.
- 104 at Okinawa was assigned approximately one-half of the total repair and supply facilities of Service Squadron Ten to handle local and fleet logistics, including typhoon damage and salvage work.
Service Squadron Ten also maintained minor units at Ominato, Saipan, Ulithi, and Leyte. The one at Ominato was originally allocated to Commander North Pacific Forces, but authority was requested and obtained to make these a component of Service Squadron Ten, as they should have become when the North Japan Forces, but authority was requested and obtained to make these a component of Service Squadron Ten, as they should have become when the North Japan Force (ex-North Pacific) became a
component of the Fifth Fleet. At Leyte a reduced activity was maintained to carry out ammunition directives, while facilities at Ulithi were gradually being rolled up.
Some of the high points of the continuing problems may be illustrated by the activities of Service Division 101. The maintenance department was seriously handicapped by the reduction of skilled personnel in not only its own repair units but in fleet units as well. This reduced the output of the tenders and repair ships to an estimated 30 percent of the peak wartime standard. Less than one-third as much work could be done. Of course there was not battle damage to repair, but the handicap was great nevertheless. About half the loss was due to the lowered efficiency of the skilled mechanics of tenders and repair ships. The other half was the result of a combination of factors, such as the shortage in numbers of skilled men, the great scattering of the ships, and some delay in material supply because the urgency of war was gone. An added load to normal supply was the urgent requirement of replenishment for the mine-sweeping vessels of the Fifth and Seventh Fleets operating in the Formosa-South China area. Before that was completed, Commander Service Division 101 was informed of plans involving the shifting of Chinese armies from Shanghai and South China ports to North China for the occupation of Manchuria. This necessitated the conversion of six LST's into horse transports. On the whole, the horse lift can be called successful. Of 2,000 horses transported, only 3 died. As one healthy colt was born en route, the net loss was 2. When occasion arises, American sailors can be horse wranglers, or just plain wranglers. Redeployment of supply fuel, and water equipment was required at Tsingtao, Shanghai, and Hongkong to meet the logistic requirements of the vessels transporting Chinese troops, horses, and equipment.
Then up came the problem of obtaining quickly the winter clothing to outfit vessels diverted to North China. Another problem was a supply of anti-freeze fluids. However, after a bookful of dispatches, quantities of these items were received, and by the end of a month the supply was ample.
Personnel. The port of Shanghai was a very important place in personnel traffic, the focal point from which replacements of men and officers were distributed to all ships operating in Japanese Empire waters. During November 300 officers and about 3,000 enlisted men were transferred to the United States for separation from the Navy. Every ship leaving the China area for home was loaded to capacity with passengers, which resulted in very few being on the waiting list.
There was difficulty in obtaining qualified replacements for men eligible for discharge. Nearly three-fourths of the replacements being sent out to China were nonrated men; of the rated remainder there were insufficient repair and engine-room ratings. This made it advisable to urge all ships to start intensive training programs to prepare these nonrated men to fill jobs left vacant by discharges. All personnel transactions were handled afloat, as there were no shore-based facilities for doing this work. With the shortages came a drop in efficiency, as already stated. It was distressing to those in command positions, used to doing things in prompt and thorough fashion, to see the deterioration of fine equipment from neglect and improper use. Equipment costing much money to provide in the first place, and much to repair or replace, was being wasted. But the harsh years of war with their death and destruction were over, the giant was doffing his armor, and to Americans it seemed time for family reunions regardless of gear and equipment. "To hell with it! We'll make some more and better if we ever need it. Home and family and friends again! That's different. Every day lost from them is lost forever. We are no Roman legions to stay away a hundred years; not, not even a hundred minutes longer for all the equipment in the Navy if I can catch the next transport!"
Thus was Denebrink, fortunately for the Navy one of its ablest officers, left holding the bag. To his everlasting credit, he did an outstanding logistic job at a time when the bottom was nearly out of the bag. But service,nevertheless!
The broader meaning of logistic service afloat had for years been repeatedly brought up in naval circles, but the attention given by the majority of the influential during peace had been slight. Then came war! With hostilities spread over such tremendous areas of the Pacific, it seemed almost as if with the change of name of the Base Force to Service Force in those early tough-going days of the war, that the broader concept of logistics service began to sprout. But, whatever the reason, sprout it did, and it grew, first under the cultivating guidance of "Uncle Bill"--Vice Admiral William L.Calhoun, Commander Service Force Pacific Fleet--and late under that of Commodore Alan G. Quynn, his chief of staff. It grew until finally the question of what facilities a port or anchorage had was not vital. If we wanted to use that place, we sailed
in with the necessary logistics afloat ready for service. Even with the demobilization handicap which confronted Denebrink, the Navy carried on in those far distant places, so well had we learned the lesson of "beans,bullets, and black oil," afloat.
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