Chapter XXX
Okinawa After 1 July 1945
Operations Under Service Squadron Twelve--The Move to Buckner Bay and Service Activities There the Remaining Days of the War

On 1 July 1945 the new organization previously mentioned was inaugurated within Squadron Ten, whereupon Captain Rhoads at Kerama Retto ceased to be known as Representative B and became Commander Service Division 104. Rhoads, who had been Representative B of ComServRon Ten since June 1944, had be recommended for command of the division, but the powers could not see it,a nd Commodore Keliher was ordered to the job. Meanwhile Rhoads, in the destroyer tender Hamul, his flagship, continued administering the logistics of the division until relieved by Keliher at Buckner Bay on 13 July. This bay was Nakagusuku Wan, east side of Okinawa, renamed in July for Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner, killed in the fighting.

Between 1 July and the abandonment of Kerama Retto as the main floating base of Service Division 104, activities in the Okinawa area were interesting and varied. Unloading of aircraft mines from the cargo ship Mayfield Victory, Lieutenant Commander N.H. Olsen, was completed in 3 days, 3 to 6 July. Relatively few ships received ammunition during the first week of July, tapering off to three on the 8th and none on the 9th, as service division ships moved to Buckner Bay.

Besides the many repair jobs continuing by dock, barge, and ship, new ones were added. The Zaniah, Lieutenant Commander Henry Mayfield, made voyage repairs to a destroyer, did boiler work on the tanker Whippet, and battle-damage repairs for the destroyer escort Halloran. The landing-craft repair ship Poseidon, Lieutenant E.M. Davis, made bow-door repairs on LCI-807, and other work, principally voyage repairs, on LCI's, LCS's, and a PC. The Hamul, Captain G.C. Hoffner, repaired


Map: Okinawa Shima
Okinawa Shima


destroyer, escort, mine-layer, and seaplane-tender classes, including extensive battle-damage repairs to the destroyer Badger. Battle-damage repair ship Aristaeus, Lieutenant Commander J.K. Killen, repaired battle damage to the destroyer Shubrick. By smart execution of repairs on destroyers, escorts, light mine-layers, LSM's, IX's, the Waco VIctory, and the Luxembourg Victory, the destroyer tender Cascade, Captain H.K. Gates, made her usual splendid contribution. Lieutenant Commander S.N. Davis' battle-damage repair ship Nestor made voyage repairs for a destroyer, an LST, an AK, PC's, and an AM, in addition to repairing battle damage to the seaplane tender Kenneth Whiting, Captain R.R. Lyons, which had been attacked 21 June at Kerama Retto by a suicide plane that crashed about 40 feet from the port side of the ship. The plane disintegrated violently upon impact, and its engine was hurled into the side of the ship, causing some damage, though not serious enough to force the tender to cease operations.

Provisions and Dry Stores. On 1 July the light cruiser St. Louis and escorts, on a brief visit to Kerama Retto, were supplied with provisions and stores. The same day the food ship Athanasia, Lieutenant D.M. Paul, discharged in a 15-hour period chilled, frozen,m and dry cargo amounting to 756.5 tons to 11 units, including the cruiser and the large seaplane tender St. George. On the 2d she issued 411.9 tons to the Cascade, Hamul, and Wythe, and the 3d 110.8 tons to various ships including 11 LSM's, 5 LCI's, and 11 LCS's. The merchant ship Musa had arrived 1 July with 2,100 tons of fresh provisions and on the 2d the Polaris, Commander J.A. Stansbury, brought 1,650 tons of fresh and 2,000 tons of dry provisions, 150 tons of ship's store stock, and 75 tons of medical supplies. On the 3d Captain Rhoads' diary shows that the battleship Nevada, escorts, and screen were supplied with provisions and dry stores. The Nevada's account states that she fueled from the Elk, Lieutenant R.H. Weeks, completing her oiling and replenishment within 6 hours and leaving the same day. By the 6th, the Athanasia had discharged all but 11 tons of dry provisions in her cargo, and left for Pearl Harbor to reload, returning via Ulithi with fresh, frozen, and dry provisions for fleet issue, reaching Buckner Bay 4 September.

From 1 to 5 July the ships daily present in the Kerama Retto anchorage numbered slightly more than 300. This tapered off with the approaching move to Buckner Bay. On the 9th only 90 ships remained. From the 4th to the 8th, Task Force 39, Rear Admiral Sharp's mine-craft, was busy mine-sweeping and training, and some of the units received logistic services. Besides his local duties at Kerama Retto, Captain


Rhoads records in his war diary the dispatch of the Athanasia on the 3d to Hagushi, of the general stores ship Castor on the 4th to Buckner Bay with approximately 25 percent of her original cargo, and the Musa to Ie Shima with 1,408 tons of fresh provisions.

Fuel and Water. Four tankers--the Elk, Lieutenant R.H. Weeks; Camel, Lieutenant M.H. Parson; Whippet, Lieutenant Commander C.R. Stuntz; and Arethusa, Lieutenant R.L. Barrington--took active part in delivering oil and gasoline at Kerama Retto. Fresh water and petroleum products were also being supplied at Hagushi and Buckner Bay. The gasoline tanker Kishwaukee, Lieutenant J.V. SCott, and the 1st was at Buckner Bay issuing Diesel and lubricating oil, and on the 5th went to Hagushi on the same mission. Water was most important, especially to small craft which had no distilling apparatus. The gas tanker Tombigbee, Lieutenant A.O. Ashland, on the 1st delivered 84,000 gallons of fresh water to LCI, LCS, SC, and LCT types at Hagushi and on the 3 succeeding days 92,700, 141,650, and 39,350 gallons. After reloading from the water-carrying oiler Soubarissen, Commander W.H. Fogarty, by taking 536,698 gallons on the 8th, she returned to Hagushi. Captain Rhoads' diary for 2July records that "1 BB, 8 DD, 3 DM, 2 DE, 2 APD, and 6 smaller type vessels were fueled. U.S.S. Niobrara arrived with cargo of 67,000 barrels of Navy special fuel, 5,000 barrels of Diesel and 375,000 gallons of avgas and the usual deck cargo loads of drummed lube, cylinder gases, ammo, provisions, and medical supplies." On the 8th the move of facilities to Buckner Bay began with the sailing of the station ships Camel, Narraguagas, Wabash, and Arethusa.

Service Squadron Twelve; Bowditch Survey. Another important activity was that of Service Squadron Twelve, and particularly that of the Bowdith, a survey vessel. She prepared Buckner Bay for use by our forces. Commodore L.S. Fiske, commanding Squadron Twelve, had the task-group designation of Commander Task Group 94.2, a subdivision of Commander Task Group 94, Vice Admiral Hoover, Commander Forward Area Central Pacific. Commodore Fiske's operation plan in part was phrased: "This force will survey, clear, and develop harbors, seaplane runways, and anchorages in the Central and Western Pacific as required in order to accommodate berthing of vessels and seaplanes supporting island and fleet activities."

U.S.S. Bowditch. Assisting the Bowditch, Commander H.C. Behner, were the YP's 41 and 56 and other small craft. On 29 March she anchored at Kerama Retto, and though engaged in the ordinarily peaceful occupation of surveying, on 1 April she was in battle readiness, actually


firing on enemy planes on the 2d, 3d, and 7th. Between these encounters she continued her surveying, her attendant craft, boats, and shore parties conducting tide and current investigations and installing aids to navigation, her office force producing temporary charts of the immediate locality and making preparations for surveying the general Okinawa area.

On 18 April she left Kerama and 6 hours later anchored in Nakagusuku Wan, which henceforth will be referred to as "Buckner Bay." On the 19th she went to Chimu Wan to conduct surveys to develop that anchorage, including a detailed survey of possible landing beaches and pontoon dock sites. Certain navigation aids were constructed, the artisans of survey vessels being highly skilled in that sort of work. But it was not all peaceful work. On the 29th the record shows she "splashed" a Japanese plane referred to as a "Judy" (single-engine Navy torpedo bomber), and later she was in combat with other enemy planes on three occasions. During peacetime, survey ships were painted white, had no armament, and their sole mission was to determine accurately and plot correctly the rocks and shoals--in short, to make the sealanes safe for navigators. But here we have the survey ship armed with all the guns she could carry while still doing her work, with the same mission, the same desire to do a precise job, but doing it while defending her very existence and that of her brood.

On 12 May the Bowditch arrived at Buckner Bay and began the survey there by building navigation beacons, carrying the triangulation network from Chimu Wan to these stations. A tie was made to a Japanese marker on Kutaka Shima for which a geodetic position to the nearest hundredth of a second was available. A company of Marines landed with and protected the survey party on Kutaka Shima, as that island was then not occupied by friendly forces. During June, surveys at Okinawa continued, with the Bowditch unit on the east and the Pathfinder unit, commanded by Lieutenant Commander F.L. DuBois, on the west coast. On 3 June while anchored in Buckner Bay the Bowditch shot down another Japanese plane, bringing the total to four for this operation, and on the 4th sank a small boat carrying four Japanese, killing one and capturing three. These combat incidents occurred in the midst of building signals and the actual triangulation of Buckner Bay and wire dragging of Chimu Wan. The writer cannot refrain from recalling his own experiences as commander of a survey ship during peacetime, and noting the disparity of the conditions. During this month of June the ship's office accomplished considerable chart work. Besides printing and distributing 2,000


copies of Hydrographic Office Field Chart 2031 of Buckner Bay, the Bowditch printed field charts of Chimu Wan, Kerama Retto, Okinawa, and adjacent islands, and tide diagram, a total of 14,500 charts. She made a fine war record for a survey ship.

In July the priority project, second only to that of Chimu Wan, was the hydrographic development by wire dragging and sounding of an area in northeastern Buckner Bay, north of Tsuken Shima, the site of the proposed seaplane base. Rough water, the presence of numerous coral heads, and rapidly changing tides made it difficult to drag the area at the specified depth of minus 10 feet.

Dredging and Navigation-Aid Operations. Commodore L.S. Fiske, Commander Service Squadron Twelve, reported working conditions at Okinawa as fair in June. Few difficulties were experienced with bad weather, but many hours were lost because of heavy swells, preparation against expected typhoons, and frequent alerts for air raids. The transport William War Burrows, Commander H.A. Ellis, reached Okinawa at the beginning of June, discharging more than 3,500 tons of equipment and working stores for the naval construction battalion. The battalion personnel immediately began construction of the main camp near Baten Ko, on the southern extremity of Buckner Bay. On the 20th the 20-inch steam suction dredge Sacramento arrived under tow and was "unboxed" and made ready for operating. Besides these vessels there also arrived in June three LCT's, one rescue tug, the salvage tug Anchor, four dredge barges or scows, and two buoy tenders--the Balsam, Lieutenant H.T. Hendrickson, USCG, and the Woodbine, Lieutenant J.A. Anderson, USCGR.

Three clamshell dredges, the YD-69 and two pontoon Whirleys, began work 1 June and during the month removed 88,921 cubic yards of material. Of this total the YD-69 took 51,200 cubic yards from the site of a fuel pier at Katchin Hanto in the Bay. Whirley No. 3 worked there also, removing 21,849 cubic yards from the site of Boat Pool A Section Base. Number 15 Whirley, operating on the western side, dredged 15,872 cubic yards from the small-boat channel at Bishi Gawa.

Sounding sketches of the Baten Ko and Yonabaru areas of Buckner Bay were made and distributed, and a channel on the southeast shore was surveyed and buoyed for emergency discharge of LST's and other landing craft. The net layer Sweetbriar, Lieutenant Paul Lybrand, buoyed channels and shoals in Buckner Bay, Chimu Wan, and Naha Harbor on the west coast. Buoyage of Buckner Bay was 90 percent completed by the planting of 20 additional buoys. In the middle of the month the


Raising a Jap midget by net layers
Raising a Jap midget by net layers.


Sweetbriar went to the west side of Okinawa, completed temporary buoyage of Naha Harbor, and returned to Buckner Bay with a full load of Japanese buoy material salvaged from Naha. It was through the painstaking efforts of the Bowditch and her survey crews, with the subsequent work of Service Squadron Twelve in clearing, dredging, and installing navigational aids, that the safe entry into the normal occupancy of Buckner Bay was possible as one of the new fleet anchorages and the location of the floating logistics of Service Squadron Ten's Division 104.

The Move to Buckner Bay. Captain F.A. Rhoads, since 17 May charged with logistics at Kerama Retto, began to move his service ships by sending four fuel units--the Camel,Narraguagas, Wabash, and Arethusa--to Buckner on 9 July, continuing next day with the Whippet, Ponchatoula, YW-88, and Cuyama. Because of the transfer of activities to the new anchorage, no ships were rearmed on either the 9th or 10th. On the latter date the food ship Polaris, which had been resupplying force afloat at Kerama Retto since the 2d, moved to Buckner Bay with the destroyer tender Hamul, Captain Rhoads' flagship, and all other vessels with the exception of seaplane tenders. Transfer of Division 104's fueling units was completed with the departure of the Elk, Brazos, YO-112, and the water tanker Soubarissen for Buckner Bay. The Alkes went to Hagushi to discharge dry provisions to forces there. The Bridge, with 893 tons of fresh provisions and 836 of dry, and the Palisana, with 1,720 tons of fresh, arrived in Buckner Bay. The Athanasia left for Pearl to reload provisions and the gasoline barge Tombigbee arrived to load water from the Soubarissen. The ammunition department serviced two ships, balanced the load of the Mayfield Victory, and unloaded the LST's 868 and 865 into the Luxembourg Victory. For the maintenance department repair ships, a destroyer tender, floating drydock, battle-damage, and a landing-craft repair ship undertook voyage, battle damage, and incidental repairs. The ships present on 10 July under operational control of Commander Service Division 104 numbered 78. Operations at the new location had commenced.

Service at Buckner Bay During Remainder of War. With the transfer of the main body of service units from Kerama Retto and the establishment on 10 July of the new logistic base in Buckner Bay, Service Division 104 continued to contribute very substantial support to current operations under trying conditions. Though Okinawa was officially declared to be "secure" as of 21 June, it was still harassed by the enemy from the air and our ships w3ere continually molested by alarms of air raids or actually damaged by suicide attacks. The typhoon menace, with


its hindrance of logistic operations or actual storm casualties, was ever present.

Our task forces were still rampaging in the general vicinity in covering, sweeping, antishipping, and bombardment operations. For such forces it was highly desirable that they be supported nearby instead of returning to Ulithi or Leyte. No detailed account of the incessant activity is necessary, for the fueling, provisioning, watering, and other supply accomplishments have all been told before, with vessels of all types shuttling back and forth and combat units dashing in and out as operations required. In the midst of this an expected typhoon caused Commodore Keliher to warn all ships to prepare to go to sea to ride it out, and on 18 July he issued a detailed typhoon sortie plan. Next morning at 5:48 the sortie began. After the storm passed, the ship came back into Buckner Bay, and on the 21st a busy period began in satisfying their logistic needs.

Vice Admiral Oldendorf's Task Force 32 entered with its gunfire and covering force, and mine craft and supply activities, especially fueling, reached a peak of efficiency. Commodore Keliher reported in his war diary one of the busiest fueling days in the area. More busy days followed. One rather unusual service was rendered by the Enoree, Lieutenant Commander E.L. Jurewicz. Early in July she had gone to Ulithi, reloaded alongside the merchant tanker Skullbar, and returned to Buckner Bay to service the large cruiser Guam and other fleet units. On the 26th, besides her fueling duties, she unloaded five 27-ton pontoon barges for the LSM-329. Her 160-ton derrick enabled her to do this easily. The Niobrara was similarly equipped, so besides being fine tankers, both ships were very useful in making heavy lifts. Later--5 August--the Enoree lifted the 105-ton LCT-591 from the deck of the LST-534.

On the 24th the cruiser Denver came in and went alongside the tanker Celtic, Lieutenant A.N. Michaelson, for fuel, and next day took ammunition from 2 Victory ships (Mayfield Victory and Monroe Victory) and LST-555 before departing for another antishipping sweep off the China coast. Five days later, on the 29th, the cruiser Montpelier cam alongside the Chotauk and took 159,778 gallons of fuel. Her commander, Captain W.A. Gorry, reported for 30-31 July that the nights at anchor were disturbed by intermittent "flash reds" from SOPA and OTC (Officer in Tactical Command); "All ships ordered to commence making smoke in an effort to blanket the harbor." The atmosphere of working conditions in Buckner Bay is also expressed in the diary of the internal-combustion-engine repair ship Mona Island, Commander K.F. Horne, which


contained the entry that "during July 834 job orders were completed on 138 vessels," and that work had been interrupted by 21 air raids.

One of Commodore Keliher's branch activities was at Hagushi on the west coast of Okinawa. Here the tanker Armadillo, Lieutenant J.B. Hewgley, relieved after 24 July by Lieutenant Commander M.R. Myer, acted as station tanker for fueling and supplying water and lubricating oils to small craft in the area. Her fore and aft peak tanks, with a total capacity of 70,000 gallons, were used for water, so necessary when servicing small crafts. Her cargo capacity for Diesel fuel was 65,000 barrels. Commander Service Division 104 maintained a fuel representative in her. His responsibility was administration of all local fuel, water, and lubricating-oil matters.

At Buckner Bay a special activity made necessary by suicide-plane attacks was the making of smoke to obscure ships at anchor. As has already been pointed out, this became so important and widely used that fog oil and smoke generators formed significant items in logistic planning. Maintaining generators in proper working order became so essential that at Buckner Bay during July the battle-damage repair ship Nestor, Lieutenant Commander S.N. Davis, was assigned the collateral duty of acting as smoke-generator repair unit. She was also very active in her principal duties, her record for July showing voyage repairs to 80 ships; battle-damage repairs to an attack transport, the Marathon, and the merchantman Allison; collision repairs to LST-107; and installation of new engines in submarine chaser SC-632.

Nearing the End. Though the threat of enemy suicide planes was always present, the number of interruptions due to this menace was diminishing. However, the forces of nature were still to be reckoned with, and August began with the weather imposing its will upon current operation in the form of a typhoon. In obedience to a typhoon plan issued by the senior office present, ships sortied from Buckner Bay on 1 August to avoid or ride out the storm in the lesser danger of the open sea. Some of those interrupting their work and leaving port were: the repair ship Aristaeus, Lieutenant Commander J.K. Killen, which suspended voyage and battle-damage repairs; the gasoline tanker Wabash, Lieutenant Micklethwaite, which stopped fueling light mine units; the tender Hamul, flagship of Commander Service Division 104, which cast off destroyer types (alongside undergoing repair); the cargo vessel Rutilicus, Lieutenant Commander H.O. Mattiesen, ceased discharging fleet issue cargo; the oiler Enoree, did no more fueling of larger ships and got under way and took position in a group of 37 vessels cruising in 3 columns;


News of the surrender of Japan
News of the surrender of Japan.


Celebrating the good news.
Celebrating the good news.


the tender Cascade, interrupted her overhaul work to sortie, with the U.S.S. Supply, U.S.S. Nestor, and 7 merchant ships protected by 5 escorts.

Typhoon sorties were made at other Okinawa anchorages. The Bridge suspended cargo operations and left Hagushi. From Chimu Wan sailed the seaplane tender Norton Sound. On 3 August the majority of the ships which had cleared because of the typhoon returned, and service units immediately resumed their logistic tasks. The Niobrara, Commander R.C. Spaulding, having loaded 12,898 barrels of Diesel oil at Ulithi from Lieutenant Commander R.G. Malin, entered Buckner Bay. On the 5th she fueled the destroyers Dale, Dewey, and Farragut. On the 6th she gave 50,059 barrels of fuel oil to the station tanker Celtic. The same day she pumped into the escort carriers Makin Island and Lunga Point, respectively, 3,223 barrels of fuel plus 25,992 gallons of aviation gasoline, and 3,611 barrels of Diesel oil. The food ship Latona, Lieutenant Commander N.W. Landis, entered Buckner Bay on the 4th, began fleet issue of provisions, and continued until the 7th, when she commenced unloading her cargo into the BRL-3071, a 1,000-ton refrigerated provision storage barge.

The Memorable Tenth of August. Activities in the various anchorages and areas of the Pacific were continuing as usual when 10 August (eastern longitude date) rolled around, looking like any other day. Then, after supper time, radios blared out the news that all our people in the Pacific had hoped for but which few had dreamed would come so soon--news of the Japanese surrender. The enemy was willing to accept the terms of the Potsdam treaty [sic]. This news was repeated by a San Francisco radio station many times without change of wording, so that there could be no doubt that those overseas would be informed. The effect was electrifying! Jubilation spread almost instantaneously. There was unrestrained raiding of the pyrotechnic lockers at fleet anchorages. In San Pedro Bay, Leyte Gulf, where more than 1,200 ships were anchored, countless rockets--red, blue, white, and green--were joyfully and freely shot into the night sky. Probably never before had there been anything to compare with the illumination.

This was the end of the war! There might be a few more suicide attacks, possibly, as some thought, from failure of the peace news to reach all enemy units through the badly crippled Japanese communications system. Precautions were taken against possible acts of treachery also. Captain J.B. Griggs, of the light cruiser St. Louis, in his war diary


reported that "each night, 13-16 August, in accordance with Commander Task Group 95.3 dispatch, the task group got under way to avoid any surprise enemy attacks, and retired to eastward of Okinawa, returning to Buckner Bay each morning."

With the month of August came an end of more than 3 years and 8 months of arduous and sometimes desperate fighting in the Pacific. The end of hostilities was officially ordered on 15 August.

Termination of hostilities brought a change in logistic requirements, which for a time tended to increase rather than decrease the work of the supporting units. Fuel and food were still needed, plus a larger demand than before for heavier clothing for occupation forces to be sent to Japan. The tremendous supply of ammunition was no longer drawn upon, but there was immediate demand for paint, polish, scrubbing gear, and boats. So, at Buckner Bay and elsewhere, the Service Divisions carried on. Though enemy action no longer threatened, there was still the threat of weather to be reckoned with in the daily scheme of things. The typhoons came and did a lot of damage, particularly at Buckner Bay, where it had been foreseen that the risk would be great. Storms struck on 16 and 28 September and on 9 October at this appropriately named "typhoon crossroads." While considerable information about Okinawa typhoons was available before Buckner Bay was chosen as a fleet anchorage, the necessity for a staging point for the planned Japan invasion, and the size of anchorage required to accommodate the tremendous number of ships to be used, turned the scale in favor of Okinawa and its risks. The typhoon of 9 October was very damaging to both floating and shore equipment. The elaborate land-based facilities--hospitals, ammunition and fuel storage, repair ships receiving station, operations base, and recreation base--were well advanced when the gales roared in and practically none escaped heavy damage. In the harbors several ships were lost, among them the old Service Squadron Ten flagship Ocelot, previously damaged on 16 September. The October storm took the remaining lives of the "old Spotted Cat."


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