ACTION REPORT COMMANDER TASK FORCE 34
COMMANDER BATTLESHIPS PACIFIC
SERIAL 0316 14 DECEMBER 1944 REPORT OF OPERATIONS OF TASK FORCE THIRTY-FOUR
DURING THE PERIOD 6 OCTOBER 1944 TO 3 NOVEMBER 1944.
COVERS BATTLE FOR LEYTE GULF.
COMMANDER BATTLESHIPS, U.S. PACIFIC FLEET
c/o Fleet Post Office,
San Francisco, California.
CONFIDENTIAL 14 December 1944 From: Commander Task Force THIRTY-FOUR (Vice Admiral W.A. Lee, Jr., U.S. Navy, Commander Battleships, U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S.S. Washington, Flagship. To: Commander in Chief, United States Fleet. Via: (1) Commander THIRD Fleet.
(2) Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Subject: Report of Operations of Task Force THIRTY-FOUR During the Period 6 October 1944 to 3 December 1944. Reference: (a) Pacific Fleet Confidential Letter 2CL-44.
(b) ALPAC 165.
Enclosures: (A) Track Chart.
- All times herein used are zone minus nine (ITEM), unless otherwise specified.
- ENEMY FORCES
- At 0800 on the morning of 24 October 1944 the enemy situation as known to Commander Battleships, U.S. Pacific Fleet, was as follows:
- Central Pacific searches V-212 and V-440 had reported no contacts in their areas of search to the north and northeast of Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT during 23 October 1944.
- A force estimated at 15-20 enemy ships comprising at least 3 battleships and a number of heavy cruisers, after being trailed from the south and attacked in PALAWAN Passage by friendly submarines, was entering MINDORO Strait from the west on a southerly course. During the previous day submarines had reported sinking one heavy cruiser of this force, damaging another heavy cruiser, and possibly damaging one Kongo class battleship.
- Another small force, comprising 2 heavy cruisers, Aoba class, and one destroyer had been sighted off MANILA Bay and one cruiser hit by a torpedo.
24 October 1944
- 0800 - 1200. During the morning of 24 October 1944, the main enemy force was attacked by carrier planes, first south of MINDORO Island, later in the SIBUYAN Sea, and appeared to be sustaining heavy damage. In a message received at 1138, this force was reported to comprise 4 battleships, 8 heavy cruisers and 13 destroyers. Concurrently, a second force, estimated to consist of 2 battleships, 2 cruisers and 4 destroyers, was sighted southwest of NEGROS Island apparently proceeding toward MINDANAO Sea. This force was attacked by carrier planes and damage was reported on both battleships.
- 1200 - 1800. During the afternoon the main force moved eastward in the SIBUYAN Sea toward TABLAS Island, still under heavy air attack by Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT and at one time (1605) reported to be milling around. One light cruiser had been reported sunk, other ships damaged in varying degree and one Yamato class battleship very severely damaged. At 1749 the Enterprise reported that this force consisted of about 25 ships in two groups, position 12° 50' N., 122° 35' E. on a westerly heading when last seen at 1600.
No reports were received indicating contact during the afternoon with the southern force which, from a report originated in the late morning, had been identified as 2 Fuso class battleships, 1 heavy cruiser and 4 destroyers.
At 1647 a message was received from an Essex search plane reporting a force east of northern LUZON in position 18° 25' N., 125° 28' E., on course 270, speed 15 knots, consisting of 3 carriers, 2 light cruisers and 3 destroyers. At 1755 an amplifying despatch from Commander Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT reported this force as 3 carriers, 4 - 6 heavy cruisers and 6 destroyers, one of the carriers being an Ise class; position 18° 10' N., 125° 30' E., course 210, speed 15 knots.
- 1800 - 2400. At 2005 a report from an Independence night search plane placed the main battleship-cruiser force at 12° 45' N., 122° 40' E., course 120, speed 12 knots, time of sighting 1935. At 2032 it was again sighted passing between BURIAS and MASBATE Islands. At 2302 an Independence plane report gave the enemy position as 12° 45' N., 123° 22' E., speed 12 knots on a northwesterly course, time of sighting 2145.
During this period no contact reports on the southern force were received. D/F reports were received at 2115, 2140, and 2330 on enemy surface units within 250 miles of 16° 30' N., 122° 35' E.; 13° 20' N., 122° 00' E.; and 21° 25' N., 121° 30' E. respectively.
25 October 1944
- 0000 - 0253. (At which time Task Force THIRTY-FOUR was formed.) During this period no contact reports were received on the main body but at 0102 a message from Commander THIRD Fleet stated that the course given in the 2145 Independence report apparently should have been southeast instead of northwest.
D/F reports were received as follows:
TOR TIME WITHIN POSITION 0000 I Surface 242214 I 500 Miles 14° 35' N., 125° 05' E. 0030 Enemy Unit 242254 250 " 09° 30' N., 125° 20' E. 0104 Surface 242304 250 " 18° 05' N., 125° 00' E. 0130 Surface 250038 250 " 11° 00' N., 128° 00' E. 0216 Enemy Unit 250107 500 " 11° 25' N., 123° 30' E.
The southern force was again contacted. PT 130, in a message received at 0127, reported 3 destroyers and 2 larger ships southeast of BOHOL Island on a northerly course at 242310. Eighteen minutes later PT 127's message of 0030 was received reporting two contacts 10 miles bearing 310 from CAMIGUIN Island (09° 10' N., 124° 45' E.). At 0224 a report from LCI 16 was received of a surface contact at 0123, 18 miles off TAANCAN Point on southern LEYTE Island.
The northern carrier force was reported against at 0209 by an Independence plane which made contact at 0205 in position 16° 43' N., 125° 37' E. and gave the composition of the group as 5 ships -- 2 large, 2 small and one undetermined. At 0212 an amplifying report corrected this to 3 large ships and 3 small ships on course 110°, speed 15 knots. At 0218 the same Independence plane reported another force 40 miles astern of the 6-ship group on the same course and speed.
- 0253. At the same time Task Force THIRTY-FOUR was ordered formed the position of the main enemy force was unknown but estimated to be approaching the western end of SAN BERNARDINO Strait. A force of undetermined strength was at the southwestern approach to LEYTE Gulf. Two forces, one of 6 ships and the other of unknown strength, were approaching Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT from the north. These latter two forces, based on last previous daylight sightings, contained 3 carriers of which one was an Ise, 4 to 6 cruisers and 6 destroyers.
- OWN FORCES
- On the morning of 24 October 1944 the ships of Task Force THIRTY-FOUR were operating as units of the carrier task groups of Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT in support of the occupation of LEYTE, pursuant to Commander THIRD Fleet Operation Order No. 21-44. At 0800 24 October the locations of the task groups of Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT and the disposition of the ships of Task Force THIRTY-FOUR were as follows:
- Task Group 38.4
Position: latitude 11° 18' N., longitude 126° 14' E.
Task Force THIRTY-FOUR ships present:
Washington (BB56) ComBatPac (CTF 34) Alabama (BB60) *Wichita (CA45) ComCruDiv SIX *New Orleans (CA32) Cogswell (DD651) ComDesDiv 100 Caperton (DD650) Ingersoll (DD652) Knapp (DD653) *Patterson (DD392) *Bagley (DD386)
*These four ships, while not previously assigned to Task Force THIRTY-FOUR, were temporarily so assigned by Commander THIRD Fleet at 241716 ITEM.
- Task Group 38.2
Position: Near latitude 13° N., longitude 125° E.
Task Force THIRTY-FOUR ships present:
Iowa (BB61) ComBatDiv SEVEN (CTG 34.5) New Jersey (BB62) Commander THIRD Fleet. Vincennes (CL64) ComCruDiv FOURTEEN Miami (CL89) Biloxi (CL80) Tingey (DD539) ComDesRon FIFTY-TWO Owen (DD536) Miller (DD535) The Sullivans (DD537) Hickox (DD673) ComDesDiv 104 Hunt (DD674) Lewis Hancock (DD675) Marshall (DD676)
Houston(CL81) had been hit an enemy aircraft torpedo and was in tow enroute ULITHI with Task Group
30.3. Biloxi had been shifted from Task Group 38.4 to Task Group 38.2 on 22 October and thereafter operated with Cruiser Division FOURTEEN. At 1200 24 October Stephen Potter (DD538) with Bunker Hill (CV17) and Benham (DD796) were enroute MANUS, in connection with transfer of air personnel.
- Task Group 38.3
Position: Near latitude 15° N., longitude 123° 45' E.
Task Force THIRTY-FOUR ships present:
South Dakota (BB57) ComBatDiv NINE Massachusetts (BB59) ComBatDiv EIGHT Santa Fe (CL60) ComCruDiv THIRTEEN Birmingham (CL62) Mobile (CL63) Clarence K. Bronson (DD668) ComDesRon FIFTY Cotten (DD669) Dortch (DD670) Healy (DD672)
During afternoon of 24 October while alongside Princeton (CVL23) after that vessel had been hit by an enemy bomb, Birmingham was damaged by an explosion on board Princeton. Birmingham, Gatling (DD671), Irwin(DD794) and Morrison (DD560) proceeded to ULITHI for repairs and to discharge injured and survivors.
- At 1010 24 October Commander THIRD Fleet directed Task Groups 38.3 and 38.4 to concentrate on Task Group 38.2. At 1630 Task Group 38.4 joined Task Group 38.2 in position latitude 13° 36' N., longitude 126° 01' E. At 1713 Commander THIRD Fleet directed Commander Task Group 38.4 to assume tactical command of Task Groups 38.2 and 38.4, to operate in the general vicinity of San Bernardino Strait, and stated that in event of enemy sortie Task Force THIRTY-FOUR would be formed, when directed by Commmander THIRD Fleet. Task Force THIRTY-FOUR units in vicinity were as follows:
Washington (BB56) ComBatPac (CTF 34) Alabama (BB60) Iowa (BB61) ComBatDiv SEVEN New Jersey (BB62) Commander THIRD Fleet Vincennes (CL64) ComCruDiv FOURTEEN Miami (CL89) Biloxi (CL80) Wichita (CA45) ComCruDiv SIX New Orleans (CA32) Tingey (DD539) ComDesRon FIFTY-TWO Owen (DD536) Miller (DD535) The Sullivans (DD537) Hickox (DD673) ComDesDiv 104 Hunt (DD674) Lewis Hancock (DD675) Marshall (DD676) Cogswell (DD651) ComDesDiv 100 Caperton (DD650) Ingersoll (DD652) Knapp (DD653) Patterson (DD392) Bagley (DD386)
- At 2010 Commander THIRD Fleet directed Commander Task Group 38.4 to turn north. At 2337 Task Group 38.3 joined the disposition and Commander Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT assumed tactical command. Commander THIRD Fleet directed Commander Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT to steer present course (000° T) until midnight, then proceed to latitude 16° N. At 0000 25 October Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT was in position latitude 14° 31' N., longitude 125° 34' E. in Cruising Disposition 3 W, fleet course 045° T., axis 060° T., speed 16 knots, order of task groups from north 38.2, 38.3, 38.4, proceeding toward the enemy force last reported at 1755 in position latitude 18° 10' N., longitude 125° 30' E. At 0050, Independence (CVL22) launched ten sector, 350 mile search, one plane per sector, between bearings 320° T. -- 010° T. At 0135, Enterprise (CV6) launched two VF(N).
- At 0209 Independence plane reported contact with enemy force consisting of three large ships and three small ships in position latitude 16° 43' N., longitude 125° 37' E., on course 110° T., speed 15 knots, distant 93 miles, bearing 345° T. At 0217 an Enterprise VF(N) shot down one MAVIS bearing 210° T. distant 40 miles from Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT. At 0218 an Independence search plane reported a large group of ships 40 miles astern of previous contact.
- At 0226 Commander Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT recommended to Commander THIRD Fleet that fleet course be changed to north and Task Force THIRTY-FOUR be formed. At 0240 Commander THIRD Fleet directed Commander Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT to form Task Force THIRTY-FOUR in position ten miles north of fleet guide, Commander Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT retaining tactical command of the fleet until otherwise ordered, and approved the recommended course change.
- At 0253 in position latitude 15° 22' N., longitude 126° 01' E., Commander Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT ordered Task Force THIRTY-FOUR to take station ten miles north of Task Group 38.3, and to clear at 25 knots. Commander Task Force THIRTY-FOUR ordered units to clear their dispositions independently and to form Crusing [sic] Disposition 4 N, Massachusetts guide, course and axis 000° T. At 0330 guide speed was slowed to 15 knots to facilitate forming up. The force was constituted as follows:
TEMPORARY TASK ORGANIZATION CASE I -- fleet flagship present.
34 HEAVY SURFACE STRIKING FORCE
- 34.1 Battle Line, V.Adm. Lee
34.1.1 Batdiv SEVEN, R.Adm. Badger
Iowa (F), New Jersey (FFF) 2 BB
34.1.2 Batdiv EIGHT, R.Adm. Davis
Massachusetts (F), Washington (FF) 2 BB
34.1.3 Batdiv NINE, R.Adm. Hanson
South Dakota (F), Alabama 2 BB
- 34.2 Right Flank, R.Adm. Whiting
34.2.1 - CA
34.2.2 Crudiv FOURTEEN
Vincennes (F), Miami plus Biloxi 3 CL
34.2.3 Desdiv ONE HUNDRED THREE, Capt. Womble (CDS 52)
Tingey (SF), Owen, Miller, The Sullivans 4 DD
34.2.4 Desdiv ONE HUNDRED FOUR, Capt. Kenny
Hickox (F), Hunt, Lewis Hancock, Marshall 4 DD
- 34.3 Center, R.Adm. Joy
34.3.1 Crudiv SIX
Wichita (F), New Orleans 2 CA
34.3.2 - CL
34.3.3 Desdiv ONE HUNDRED, Capt. Miller
Cogswell (F), Caperton, Ingersoll, Knapp 4 DD
- 34.4 Left Flank, R.Adm. DuBose
34.4.1 - CA
34.4.2 Crudiv THIRTEEN
Santa Fe (F), Mobile 2 CL
34.4.3 Desdiv NINETY-NINE, Capt. Wilkinson (CDS 50)
Clarence K. Bronson (SF), Cotten, Dortch, Healy plus
Patterson, Bagley 6 DD
- At 0315 Commander Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT ordered all radars silent except SM search radars. Commander Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT designated Task Group 38.2 Battle Line Carrier Group at 0333. At 0410 Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT changed course to 270° in order to open the distance on Task Force THIRTY-FOUR.
- At 0458 Commander Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT announced the fleet reference position at 0500 to be latitude 15° 47' N., longitude 125° 53' E., estimated position of enemy at 0205 to be latitude 16° 42' N., longitude 125° 36' E., with a second group 26 miles to northward of this position, both groups on course 110° T., speed 15 knots.
- At 0520 Commander Task Force THIRTY-FOUR ordered the following conditions of readiness set: Armament (1), Aircraft (11), Engineering (31). At 0551 Task Force THIRTY-FOUR formed Cruising Disposition 4 S, with Knapp and Caperton on picket station 10 miles bearing 000° T. from disposition center. At 0600 Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT launched first strike with orders to vector north 50 miles and stand by for target data. Three divisions of VF from Intrepid (CV11) reported as Combat Air Patrol over Task Force THIRTY-FOUR, with Fighter Direction in Washington. At 0609 radar condition FIVE was set in Task Force THIRTY-FOUR (no restrictions on use of radars, with guardships searching in depth as prescribed by CTF 34 Radar Plan).
- At 0640 Commander Task Force THIRTY-FOUR ordered the following conditions of readiness set: Anti-aircraft batteries (1E), Aircraft (12). At 0700 Task Force THIRTY-FOUR formed Cruising Disposition 4 V, with destroyers in anti-submarine screen on circle thirteen. At 0720 Task Force THIRTY-FOUR changed speed to 18 knots. At 0731 aircraft made contact with enemy, bearing 015° T., distant 140 miles from fleet center, course 180° T., speed 20 knots, estimated to consist of seventeen ships including three carriers. At 0755 Commander THIRD Fleet directed Task Force THIRTY-FOUR to stand toward the enemy at 20 knots. At 0756 Task Force THIRTY-FOUR changed speed to 20 knots and 0802 changed course to 030° T.
- At 0803 aircraft reported the enemy force to include on CV, two CVL, one CVE. At 0811 our aircraft reported the enemy carriers launching aircraft, our strike preparing to attack out of the sun. At 0818 Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT launched second strike. At 0832 Commander THIRD Fleet directed Task Force THIRTY-FOUR to close the enemy at 25 knots. At 0835 Task Force THIRTY-FOUR changed speed to 25 knots and at 0837 changed course to 010° T. At 0841 Commander Task Force THIRTY-FOUR set Condition of Readiness ONE for armament. At 0855 Commander THIRD Fleet informed Commander Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT that orders were in the air directing Commander Task Group 38.1 to proceed at high speed from point MICK (latitude 15° N., longitude 130° E.) to Surigao Strait to assist Task Unit 77.4.3 then under heavy attack from enemy surface force. At 0904 Dortch and Bagley were stationed as linking vessels between Commander Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT and Task Force THIRTY-FOUR. At 0920 Task Force THIRTY-FOUR changed course to 000° T. At 0945 Commander Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT estimated enemy position to be latitude 18° 29' N., longitude 126° 07' E., course at 0845 about 150° T., speed 20 knots, bearing 352° T., distance 84 miles. At 1004 Commander THIRD Fleet ordered Commander Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT and all task group commanders to instruct all pilots to attack only undamaged ships. At 1017 Task Force THIRTY-FOUR changed speed to 20 knots in accordance with orders of Commander THIRD Fleet. At 1020, large groups of enemy aircraft, previously reported by Commander Task Group 38.4 at 89 miles and closing from the direction of the enemy, were reported by Commander Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT as heading toward LUZON. At 1112 Belleau Wood (CVL24) planes shot down one JAKE bearing 215° T., distance 20 miles from task force.
- At 1115 in position latitude 18° N., longitude 126° E., in accordance with orders of Commander THIRD Fleet, Task Force THIRTY-FOUR and Task Group 38.2 reversed course to 180° T. The following units were detached from Task Force THIRTY-FOUR and proceeded to rejoin assigned groups of Task Force THIRTY-EIGHT:
Wichita (CA45) ComCruDiv SIX New Orleans (CA32) Santa Fe (CL60) ComCruDiv THIRTEEN Mobile (CL63) Clarence K. Bronson (DD668) ComDesRon FIFTY Cotten (DD669) Dortch (DD670) Healy (DD672) Patterson (DD392) Bagley (DD386) Cogswell (DD651) ComDesDiv 100 Caperton (DD650) Ingersoll (DD652) Knapp (DD653)
The following units remained in Task Force THIRTY-FOUR:
Iowa (BB61) ComBatDiv SEVEN New Jersey (BB62) Commander THIRD Fleet Washington (BB56) ComBatPac (CTF 34) South Dakota (BB57) ComBatDiv NINE Massachusetts (BB59) ComBatDiv EIGHT Alabama (BB60) Vincennes (CL64) ComCruDiv FOURTEEN Miami (CL89) Biloxi (CL80) Tingey (DD539) ComDesRon FIFTY-TWO Owen (DD536) Miller (DD535) The Sullivans (DD537) Hickox (DD673) ComDesDiv 104 Hunt (DD674) Lewis Hancock (DD675) Marshall (DD676)
Task Groups 38.3 and 38.4 were directed to continue strikes on the enemy force to northward and fuel at dawn 26 October. Prior to reversing course, Santa Fe reported sighting a floating horned type mine and Caperton was directed to destroy it.
- At 1148 Task Force THIRTY-FOUR formed Cruising Disposition 4 S, course and axis 180° T., speed 20 knots. At 1212, Belleau Wood planes shot down second JAKE, bearing 055° T., 25 miles. At 1213 Commander Task Force THIRTY-FOUR ordered the following conditions of readiness set: Armament (3), Aircraft (9). At 1230, in accordance with orders of Command THIRD Fleet, Commander Task Force THIRTY-FOUR reported for duty to Commander Task Group 38.2, units of Task Force THIRTY-FOUR took station in screen of Task Group 38.2 and Task Force THIRTY-FOUR was temporarily dissolved. At 1345 commenced fueling destroyers from battleships and carriers of Task Group 38.2, completing at 1621.
- At 1622 in accordance with orders of Commander THIRD Fleet, Task Group 34.5 was formed and at 1701 departed on course 195°, speed 24 knots, for San Bernardino Strait. The task group was constituted as follows:
Iowa (BB61) ComBatDiv SEVEN (CTG 34.5) New Jersey (BB62) Commander THIRD Fleet Vincennes (CL64) ComCruDiv FOURTEEN Miami (CL89) Biloxi (CL80) Tingey (DD539) ComDesRon FIFTY-TWO Owen (DD536) Miller (DD535) The Sullivans (DD537 Hickox (DD673) ComDesDiv 104 Hunt (DD674) Lewis Hancock (DD675) Marshall (DD676)
- Task Force THIRTY-FOUR was not again formed during the period covered by this report. Report of operations of Task Group 34.5 will be forwarded separately.
- Comments on performance of ordnance material are contained in reports of individual ships, separately forwarded.
- No battle damage was incurred, nor inflicted on the enemy by vessels while operating as Task Force THIRTY-FOUR.
- During the 147 days between and including 6 June 1944 to 30 October 1944, battleships operating with the Striking Force were underway during all or part of 123 days. On 105 of these days boiler power for speeds in excess of 23 knots was required during all or part of the day.
- Ships of the North Carolina and South Dakota classes can make 23 knots with half boiler power (one boiler in each engine room cut in). When boiler power for speeds in excess of 23 knots is required, it is necessary to cut in all boilers, in order to operate each engine as a unit, with no cross-connections open. While it is possible to make over 25 knots with one boiler secured, by running the shafts at different speeds, this is not standard practice and is resorted to only when necessary to secure one boiler for a short period, as for example to renew a leaking gasket.
- This high percentage of time operating under full power conditions results in greatly increased upkeep requirements. The life of boiler brickwork and tubes is shortened and the reliability of the main propulsion plants is seriously compromised.
- It is recommended that battleships of the North Carolina and South Dakota classes be not required to cut in boilers for speeds in excess of 23 knots unless there is some prospect that the battleships themselves will be required to make such speeds.
- It would appear that the great majority of carrier task group operations can be accomplished without requiring the supporting battleships to increase speed above 23 knots. If the task group steams into the wind for 30 minutes with the carriers making 27 knots and the battleships making 23 knots, the resulting separation will be of the order of 4000 yards. It is believed that this separation can be accepted under all but the most immediate prospects of enemy attack.
- No personnel casualties occurred as the result of enemy action while operating as Task Force THIRTY-FOUR.
W. A. LEE, Jr.
CominCh (1) (Advance copy, less enclosure).
CinCPac (2) (Advance copies, less enclosure).
CTF 38 (1) (less enclosure).