Victory is won or lost in battle, but all military history shows that adequate logistic support is essential to the winning of battles.

In World War II, logistic support of the fleet in the Pacific became a problem of such magnitude and diversity, as well as vital necessity, that all operations against Japan hinged upon it. The advance against the enemy moved our fleet progressively farther and farther away form the west coast of the United States, from Pearl Harbor, and from other sources of supply. to support our fleet we constructed temporary bases for various uses, and we formed floating mobile service squadrons and other logistic support groups. These floating organizations remained near the fighting fleet, supplying food, ammunition, and other necessities while rendering repair services close to the combat areas. this support enabled the fleet to keep unrelenting pressure upon the enemy by obviating the return of the fleet to home bases.

Because of the knowledge gained during his South Pacific service and particularly from his experience as Commander of Service Squadron Ten, the largest of the mobile squadrons, Rear Admiral W.R. Carter was chosen to write this history of logistics afloat in the Pacific. The opinions expressed and the conclusions reached are those of the author.

Dan A. Kimball
Secretary of the Navy

6 February 1952



by Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, USN (Retired)

A sound logistic plan is the foundation upon which a war operation should be based. If the necessary minimum of logistic support cannot be given to the combatant forces involved, the operation may fail, or at best be only partially successful.

In a war, one operation normally follows another in a theater and each one is dependent upon what has preceded it and what is anticipated. The logistic planning has to fit into and accompany the operational planning. the two must be closely coordinated, and the planners for each must look as far into the future as they can in order to anticipate and prepare for what lies ahead.

A history of the sum total of American logistics during World War II would be forced to cover a tremendous field. The present volume deals only with naval logistics in the Pacific. As such, its scope is limited to a not-too--great portion of our entire national logistic effort. However, the area involved--the Pacific Ocean--is the one where our maximum naval effort was expended. Distances in that ocean were very great, and the resources available to us form friendly countries in the Western Pacific were comparatively minor, in both variety and quantity. Nearly everything our forces required had to come form or through the United States, with the exception of the large amounts of petroleum products originating in the Caribbean area and moving west through the Panama Canal.

The study of our naval logistic effort in the Pacific, as outlined in the present volume, brings out our dependence on both shore bases and mobile floating bases such as are exemplified yb Service Squadron Ten. Each had its advantages, and neither alone could have done the job.

In the early days of the war, when the fighting was principally in the South and Southwest Pacific, we had around our bases good-sized land masses, which permitted the construction of shore facilities. Shipping then was scarce and at a premium, and large numbers of ships could not be spared for conversion to the special purposes of a mobile floating base. Furthermore, our advance against the enemy them was not so rapid


in its movement as it became later. Shore bases continued to be close enough to the fighting front to retain practically their full usefulness.

When we started planning in the summer of 1943 for operations in the Central Pacific, it was obvious that the geography of the area which we hoped to capture had characteristics very different form those of the South Pacific. We did not know how fast we would be able to move ahead, but we did know that in the Gilberts, Marshalls, and Carolines, many of the islands had splendid protected anchorages in their lagoons. However, the land areas surrounding the lagoons were very small. These islands were only large enough, as a rule, to enable us to construct the always necessary air strips and to take care of the requirements of the atoll garrison forces. Truk, which we bypassed, in the Carolines, was an exception geologically in that there were some fairly large but rugged islands in the middle of its magnificent lagoon. Exceptions also were Kusaie and Ponape, which were large rugged islands without any protected anchorages big enough to be of interest to us. the Marianas we knew had some good-sized islands in the group, but we also knew that not one of them had a protected anchorage large enough for fleet use.

This geography meant that teh logistic support for our fleet during operations in the Central Pacific would have to be primarily afloat, in what developed into the mobile service squadron--first Service Squadron Four at Funafuti in the Ellice Islands and then Service Squadron Ten at Majuro in the Marshalls. The small beginnings of the idea in Service Squadron Four were absorbed into Service Squadron Ten soon after the latter came into being in February 1944 at Majuro.

The growth of Service Squadron Ten, its movement across the Pacific to successive bases at Eniwetok, then Ulithi and then Leyte, and its continuous and most efficient service to the fleet at these and numerous other bases where it stationed ships and representatives as our operations demanded, are achievements of which all Americans can be justly proud, but about which most of them have little or no knowledge.

The actual furnishing of logistic support to ships at sea is an essential part of this picture. At first it was confined to fuel, but as we pushed westward toward Japan and as the tempo of our operations increased, our fleet had to remain for longer and longer periods at sea. This reached its peak in the Okinawa operation, which lasted for over 3 months and during all of which it was necessary to keep strong fleet forces form the fast carrier force in a covering position. The fine work of Service Squadron Six under Rear Admiral D.B. Beary, USN, enabled this to be done.


The author if this book, Rear Admiral W.R. Carter, USN (Ret.), is well qualified by experience to write about naval logistics in the Pacific during World War II. At the outbreak of war and during its early months he was Chief of Staff to Commander Battleships Pacific Fleet, Rear Admiral Walter S. Anderson, USN. When that command changed, Captain Carter (as he was then) was most insistent that he remain at sea in the Pacific, and if possible that he be sent wherever there was fighting. His demands resulted in his being sent ot the South Pacific in the fall of 1942, where he became Commander Naval Bases. Here he helped to build up the shore bases which supported our early operations in the Solomons. Later, after a South Pacific organizational change which originated in the Navy Department, he returned to Pearl Harbor and was then sent to the Aleutians. After returning to Pearl harbor, he worked up on paper the organization of Service Squadron Ten.

At the time of the Marshalls operation Captain Carter secured a billet as a convoy commodore, which was consistent with his idea of getting closer to where the fighting was going on. When I found him in this capacity at Majuro shortly after we had taken Kwajalein, I told him to find a relief for his convoy billet and to start building up Service Squadron Ten at Majuro, which he did.

From February 1944 until July 1945, "Nick" Cater continued to run Service Squadron Ten and did a magnificent job, often under great difficulties. Just before the end of the war, Carter was ordered to Washington for a medically survey over the vehement protests of Admiral Nimitz and others in the Pacific. After being found physically fit he asked for reassignment to the Pacific, but the war ended before action could be taken on his request.

Commodore Carter was fortunate, as were all the rest of us, in having at all times the intelligent, generous, and wholehearted support of Vice Admiral W.L. Calhoun, USN, who as Commander Service Force in Pearl Harbor was Carter's immediate superior. Bill Calhoun's loyalty up to his boss, Admiral Nimitz, "down" to all his own command in the Service Force, and "sideways" to all the rest of us who needed his help and support, was something that could always be depended upon. Under the leadership of Admiral Nimitz, we had a combination that could--and did--go anywhere in the Pacific.

R.A. Spruance



This is not a study in logistics. It is more a story of logistics. It is a story about the logistic services supplied to U.S. naval forces in the operating areas in the Pacific, 1941-45. It is largely an account of services rendered by means of floating facilities. It does not go into the magnificent production and supply by the industrial plants, shipyards, and naval bases of continental United States and hawaii which made possible the floating bases of distribution and maintenance. This is a story of the support of the fleet into the far reaches of the Pacific in its campaign against the Japanese. It is the story of the distribution to the fleet of the sinews of war, at times, at places, and in quantities unsuspected by the enemy until it was too late for him to do much to oppose it. This book has little or nothing to say about the building, equipping, and fitting out of new vessels, or the manufacture and shipping of the thousands of tons of thousands of different items by continental sources, without which colossal accomplishment there could have been no drive across the Pacific. This account does not attempt to furnish complete statistical figures; such statistics are matters for the technical bureaus of the Navy. This is, rather, an attempt to spin a yarn of the logistics afloat in the Pacific Fleet, in order that those interested in naval history may realize that naval warfare is not all blazing combat.

I have been helped by several people, but most of all by Rear Admiral ed.E. Duvall, USN (Ret.), my former Chief Staff Officer in Service Squadron Ten. Mere acknowledgment of the work he has done would be an injustice. He is practically the co-author and has furnished me with many useful suggestions. Just as he was every ready to tackle patiently any assignments during the war, so has he worked with me on this book. Duvall designed and made preliminary sketches for the sea-horse emblem, the spine, charts, and end-papers of the book.

My thanks go to Miss Loretta I. MacCrindle, Head of the World War II Classified Records Branch, Division of Naval Records and History, and her assistant, Miss Barbara A. Gilmore, for their help in digging up material from the acres of filing cabinets and for their tolerance of my disorderly use of it.

I am indebted to Miss Mary Baer, the Film Librarian at the Navy


Photographic Center, for helping me with the illustrations.

The student cartographers under the direction of Mr. Leo M. Samuels and Mr. Fulton G. Perkins of the Hydrographic Office helped me with the charts.

The early typing was done by Miss Shirley Zimmerman, who proved herself almost a cryptanalyst in reading my writing. Norman L. Clark and Maurice O'Connor helped. The rewrite typing was done by YN3 Johnnie J. Freeman. I thank them all.

Rear Admiral John B. Heffernan, USN (Ret.), the Director of Naval Records and History, who got me into this history writing but who is not to be held responsible for anything found amiss herein, has been my boss and my backer. Without the facilities and encouragement which he has furnished me this neophytic effort would have failed.

This work originated in a request from the President of the Naval War College, Newport, R.I., and the project was approved by the Chief of Naval Operations on the recommendation of Vice Admiral R.B. Carney, then Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Logistics. The project has continued to receive the support and encouragement of Vice Admiral F.S. Low, now Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Logistics.

The original manuscript on file with the Division of Naval Records and History, which is much larger, goes into greater detail, and has a larger appendix section, is retained for official use. Commander A.S. Riggs, USNR, read the manuscript and did much of the work of cutting down to a more popular version and size. For his work I am very thankful and appreciative. It was not easy. For the final editing I am much indebted to Mr. L.R. Potter.

The sources of this book are official naval records, such as war diaries, logs, operation plans, and action reports, and therefore it is thought unnecessary to give individual case authentications to which very few readers ever refer and which makes fora great deal more printing and crowding of pages. A glossary has been included to acquaint the reader with the meaning of certain abbreviations and terms.

W.R. Carter
Rear Admiral, USN (Ret.)

Washington, D.C.
8 October 1951


Table of Contents ** Next Chapter (1)

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation