Allied small ships and craft of Guadalcanal Campaign

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OldBill
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Allied small ships and craft of Guadalcanal Campaign

Post by OldBill » 13 Aug 2021 00:59

There are reams of information on the combatants on both sides, but precious little of the small craft and small ships the Allies used during the campaign for Guadalcanal. USS Bobolink was a tug there, but I've only ever seen her mentioned once. USS Butternut was present at some point, along with the USS Pathfinder, a former US Coast and Geodetic Survey ship whose work was extremely important in the Solomon's. The USCG was present at Tulagi and Guadalcanal, mostly running landing craft, but also on the transports and possibly in other jobs. I'd greatly appreciate any links or sources of info on what little ships were present and what they did, along with the boats that operated there.

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Re: Allied small ships and craft of Guadalcanal Campaign

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 28 Aug 2021 15:36

Cant point to anything specific. There are a lot of random remarks in the literature about this or that water craft in action. The PT boats are the most common. Then a fair number of small landing craft used to lighter supplies & vehicles from the cargo ships to shore.

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Re: Allied small ships and craft of Guadalcanal Campaign

Post by OpanaPointer » 28 Aug 2021 18:35

https://books.google.com/books/about/U_ ... rld_W.html This may help. NHHC may also have info.
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Lethl215
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Re: Allied small ships and craft of Guadalcanal Campaign

Post by Lethl215 » 30 Aug 2021 23:40

Try the CINCPAC war diary for Nov 1942. 800+ pages listing movements and task organizations. It’ll give you an idea.

https://catalog.archives.gov/id/134027785

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Re: Allied small ships and craft of Guadalcanal Campaign

Post by daveshoup2MD » 03 Feb 2022 08:46

Lethl215 wrote:
30 Aug 2021 23:40
Try the CINCPAC war diary for Nov 1942. 800+ pages listing movements and task organizations. It’ll give you an idea.

https://catalog.archives.gov/id/134027785
The "Cactus Navy" deserves a well-researched, factual history; there doesn't seem to be one. From various sources, the local forces were based on Tulagi at the Task Unit level in 1942-43; vessels assigned ranged from destroyers (and various DM, DMS, and APD types) through PCs, SCs, PTs, YPs, AMs, AGs, tugs, landing craft (orphaned and otherwise), various small merchant vessels purchased or chartered, and some Allied vessels, from RNZN "corvettes" on down. Personnel were mostly USN (although some, like the crews of the fishing boats turned YPs) were enlisted en masse, with the fishing boat skippers given warrants and sent out... there would have been USCG and RNZN, as well.

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Re: Allied small ships and craft of Guadalcanal Campaign

Post by OpanaPointer » 03 Feb 2022 16:45

Concur.
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Re: Allied small ships and craft of Guadalcanal Campaign

Post by daveshoup2MD » 03 Feb 2022 21:40

OpanaPointer wrote:
03 Feb 2022 16:45
Concur.
One idea that has always seemed like it could be regarding would be to examine the various "local" commands, at the sea frontier level on down (Naval District, area, etc.), and pull together a series of operational histories - ESF, CSF, PSF, etc. There are war diaries and administrative histories for the sourcing, of course, but very little that has looked at these various commands at the operational level, which they all were at times (along with being administrative commands). Most of the general histories are at the theater level, or of the Navy as a whole, or the numbered fleet(s), etc.

It would be interesting in a general sense, but also could - presumably - lay to rest some of the myths and related conventional wisdom that has grown up over the decades about the USN's responses to Pearl Harbor and the 1941-42 Philippines campaign, how and why PAUKENSCHLAG and NEULAND turned out they way they did, and - in this example - what was going on in the Pacific when (for example) the task forces were not on the prowl.

Integrating the USN's planning and operations in these areas with the (prewar) USCGs', the Allies, and the applicable U.S. Army watercraft forces and equivalent Allied watercraft, plus the USMM/USMS where applicable, would be rewarding.

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Re: Allied small ships and craft of Guadalcanal Campaign

Post by OpanaPointer » 03 Feb 2022 22:58

Navy History and Heritage Command might be a source for that kind of thing.
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Re: Allied small ships and craft of Guadalcanal Campaign

Post by daveshoup2MD » 04 Feb 2022 03:06

OpanaPointer wrote:
03 Feb 2022 22:58
Navy History and Heritage Command might be a source for that kind of thing.
The war diaries and administrative histories online at NHHC are fascinating, but the thought above is a synthesis, using records and original sources, but comparing (for example) how the different sea frontiers (and their commanders and staffs) dealt with their various challenges.

The respective Axis submarine offensives in 1942 into the western Atlantic and Caribbean compared to the those into the eastern Pacific the same year; different scale, but similar problems. Same for the the various "local" navy commands - the Solomons, the SWPA, the PI, etc. - that were set up as the amphibious campaigns rolled west, and how they dealt with becoming the maids of all work in theaters defined by archipelagos and littoral warfare. The USN's operations with the Allies in littoral operations in North African waters in 1942-43, in comparison with the same in Western Mediterranean waters in 1943-44, and, for that matter, with the French in the Channel/Biscay region in 1944-45.

One concept haven't really seen explored is what the USN was going to do inshore in the Home Islands in the event of a final series of campaigns in 1945-46; Kagoshima Bay was supposed to be taken to become a forward operating naval base (shades of Buckner Bay, etc.); what were the plans for operations in the Inland Sea and Sea of Japan? Presume the 3rd Fleet/5th Fleet would keep its AOR east of the Home Islands, but the UN naval forces operated on both sides of the Korean Peninsula in 1950-53 - presume the equivalent was envisioned for the Sea of Japan, for example, much less in Korean waters.

Given the emphasis these days on littoral warfare in areas where the opposition is going to try and deny access, might be some interesting lessons learned.
Last edited by daveshoup2MD on 05 Feb 2022 00:50, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Allied small ships and craft of Guadalcanal Campaign

Post by OpanaPointer » 04 Feb 2022 13:24

Downfall plans should discuss the Inland Sea. Things would be frisky given the number of suiciders available. I suspect they would have been used wantonly in the hope of an easy defeat of the Allies.
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Re: Allied small ships and craft of Guadalcanal Campaign

Post by EwenS » 04 Feb 2022 16:52

Must admit I’ve never seen any plans for Coronet beyond the first 2-3 months. There is a para in “Hell to Pay” about the exposed left flank of Eighth Army to Japanese Artillery fire from the Kanto Mountains and this steadily becoming a bigger problem the further they advanced. Giangreco then writes

“....At some point before Coronet, this certainly would be realised by planners, but as of August 1945 it had not been anticipated, and consequently no significant amount of troops had been allocated to this critical mission, which would require a large and growing manpower commitment.....”

So planning was ongoing.

I doubt that the USN would be that interested in the short term about entering the Inland Sea or the Sea of Japan. Firstly the aircraft from TF37/38 were ranging across the full width of Japan during carrier strikes in July/Aug 1945, weather permitting, and striking at ports and shipping on Japan’s west coast. So no real need to enter the Sea of Japan.

Secondly all the entrances to these waters had been extensively mined. Minesweeping operations to clear them began immediately the war ended but went on well into 1946. To give an idea of the scale of the mine problem, XXI Bomber Command of 20th AF alone laid over 13,000 mines between March and Aug 1945. US submarines had been laying mines around Japan since 1942. And Japan had laid its own defensive minefields which had claimed US submarines, for examaple the Escolar in the Yellow Sea in 1944.

Some of the sweeping highlights:-

Tsushima Straits between Japan and Korea - 6,000 mines laid over 4,500 square miles of ocean. 3,200 cleared in 6 months of hard work that claimed the last minesweeper casualty of the war - USS Minivet sunk 29/12/45.

Tsugaru Strait between Honshu and Hokkaido - 920 mines cleared.

Bungo Suido between Kyushu and Shikoku - 3,500 mines laid nearly 2,000 cleared.

Yellow Sea - some 7,000 square miles of ocean was covered in clearance operations. Over 12,000 mines were known to have been laid and over 2,500 were cleared.

These are only some of the highlights. US minefields had been laid around virtually every significant port. There were estimated to have been some 32,000 mines, both Japanese and American, to clear from around Japan. Some had been lost to wind and weather. Others sterilised themselves after periods of time (not always reliable). But the minesweepers were still able to clear 11,200 in 20 separate sweeping operations. The work involved hundreds of sweepers both Japanese and American, mostly the latter, in all weathers.

So I very much doubt that the USN would have been venturing into these waters close to Japan in a hurry.

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Re: Allied small ships and craft of Guadalcanal Campaign

Post by daveshoup2MD » 05 Feb 2022 00:58

OpanaPointer wrote:
04 Feb 2022 13:24
Downfall plans should discuss the Inland Sea. Things would be frisky given the number of suiciders available. I suspect they would have been used wantonly in the hope of an easy defeat of the Allies.
"Frisky," indeed ... certainly dicey.

Given the nature of the archipelago, presume the concept of "attack at the source" would be actively considered by the USN in terms of IJN small combatants.

Whatever the terminology for a US/Allied advantage in the air beyond "air supremacy" ("air ubiquity?") would presumably come into play pretty quickly after the final spasm by the IJNAF and IJAAF aimed at the actual invasion, but once what is left of Japanese air power is gone, one would think the Allied surface forces would be moving in close to deal with the suicide flotillas in their bases, shutting down anything left in terms of Japanese coastal and inshore cargo shipping, destroying whatever was left of the coastal railways and road net, and NGFS for the troops ashore and straightforward naval bombardment of anything left within range of the guns...

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Re: Allied small ships and craft of Guadalcanal Campaign

Post by daveshoup2MD » 05 Feb 2022 01:46

EwenS wrote:
04 Feb 2022 16:52
Must admit I’ve never seen any plans for Coronet beyond the first 2-3 months. There is a para in “Hell to Pay” about the exposed left flank of Eighth Army to Japanese Artillery fire from the Kanto Mountains and this steadily becoming a bigger problem the further they advanced. Giangreco then writes

“....At some point before Coronet, this certainly would be realised by planners, but as of August 1945 it had not been anticipated, and consequently no significant amount of troops had been allocated to this critical mission, which would require a large and growing manpower commitment.....”

So planning was ongoing.

I doubt that the USN would be that interested in the short term about entering the Inland Sea or the Sea of Japan. Firstly the aircraft from TF37/38 were ranging across the full width of Japan during carrier strikes in July/Aug 1945, weather permitting, and striking at ports and shipping on Japan’s west coast. So no real need to enter the Sea of Japan.

Secondly all the entrances to these waters had been extensively mined. Minesweeping operations to clear them began immediately the war ended but went on well into 1946. To give an idea of the scale of the mine problem, XXI Bomber Command of 20th AF alone laid over 13,000 mines between March and Aug 1945. US submarines had been laying mines around Japan since 1942. And Japan had laid its own defensive minefields which had claimed US submarines, for examaple the Escolar in the Yellow Sea in 1944.

Some of the sweeping highlights:-

Tsushima Straits between Japan and Korea - 6,000 mines laid over 4,500 square miles of ocean. 3,200 cleared in 6 months of hard work that claimed the last minesweeper casualty of the war - USS Minivet sunk 29/12/45.

Tsugaru Strait between Honshu and Hokkaido - 920 mines cleared.

Bungo Suido between Kyushu and Shikoku - 3,500 mines laid nearly 2,000 cleared.

Yellow Sea - some 7,000 square miles of ocean was covered in clearance operations. Over 12,000 mines were known to have been laid and over 2,500 were cleared.

These are only some of the highlights. US minefields had been laid around virtually every significant port. There were estimated to have been some 32,000 mines, both Japanese and American, to clear from around Japan. Some had been lost to wind and weather. Others sterilised themselves after periods of time (not always reliable). But the minesweepers were still able to clear 11,200 in 20 separate sweeping operations. The work involved hundreds of sweepers both Japanese and American, mostly the latter, in all weathers.

So I very much doubt that the USN would have been venturing into these waters close to Japan in a hurry.
Very good point, and appreciate the detail.

That being said, inshore forces were used throughout the 1944-45 campaigns in Europe; not into the Baltic (at least not from the west), but still, seems like NGFS for the troops ashore and straightforward naval bombardment of anything left within range of the guns would be in the playbook.

And, as stated above, given the nature of the archipelago, presume the concept of "attack at the source" would be actively considered by the USN in terms of any remaining threat from IJN small combatants.

The Sea of Japan, even heavily mined, would be about the last "road" from the Asian mainland to the Home Islands, and even with absolute air supremacy, naval gunfire could, presumably, get at some targets that would be more challenging for air power ... of course, the Red Army presumably could have gotten to some of those targets as well, which raises the question of what the Allies would over the Soviets in term of support (beyond HULA); USN surface warships providing NGFS to Soviet ground forces in Sakhalin, the Kuriles, or - potentially - Hokkaido is an interesting thought.

Which brings up another one: beyond the remaining assets of the Soviet Pacific Fleet, augmented by the resources transferred under HULA, did the Soviets have any plans to beef up their naval forces in the North Pacific after VE Day by sending reinforcements eastward? The shades of the 2nd and 3rd Pacific squadrons notwithstanding, between the L-L transfers from the RN and USN in the Atlantic and the Baltic and Arctic forces, the Soviets could - on paper, at least - have put together something resembling a small task group ... whether said "something" could have made it to the Pacific is a different question.

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Re: Allied small ships and craft of Guadalcanal Campaign

Post by OpanaPointer » 06 Feb 2022 22:32

I sent Tully a request to do a book on the Cactus Navy. Will keep this forum informed.
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Re: Allied small ships and craft of Guadalcanal Campaign

Post by daveshoup2MD » 07 Feb 2022 08:25

OpanaPointer wrote:
06 Feb 2022 22:32
I sent Tully a request to do a book on the Cactus Navy. Will keep this forum informed.
Sounds good.

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