GENERATIONS OF SHARED HERITAGESailors, Seamen, Coast Guardsmen, Yachtsmen, Fishermen
Eyes of the Fleet
Now available from Heritage Books: www.heritagebooks.com
Evasion of Destruction by Richard DeRosset portrays a strafing run by three Japanese "Mavis" flying boats following their unsuccessful torpedo attack on the USS Heron (AVP-2) on 31 December 1942. Heron shot down one of the aircraft with her starboard 3-inch gun; her port gun had been disabled by earlier combat action. This final attack followed a series of earlier ones by twelve other enemy aircraft against the seaplane tender as she sailed alone in the Java Sea. Due to heroic actions by her captain and crew, Heron survived overwhelming odds during the long ordeal.
Cloaked by jungle foliage, the unheralded seaplane tenders operated ahead of the Fleet, like the Navy's famed PT boats. As Halsey's South Pacific, MacArthur's Southwest Pacific, and Spruance's Central Pacific forces advanced toward Japan, these ships served as afloat-bases for patrol planes referred to as the "eyes of the fleet." The large fabric-clad PBY "Catalinas" and later PBM "Mariners" combed the seaways for Japanese forces and carried out bombing, depth charge, and torpedo attacks on enemy ships and submarines. Nighttime anti-shipping operations-"Black Cat" or "Nightmare" missions-were dangerous and daytime combat operations even more so, when encounters with more maneuverable and heavily-armed fighters necessitated hiding in clouds to survive. The Japanese were keen to destroy the scouts and their floating bases, and seaplane tenders often lived a furtive existence, particularly early in the war. Pilots, plane crews and shipboard personnel received scores of awards for valor, including the Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, and Silver and Bronze Star Medals.
Praise for Eyes of the Fleet
I loved the book! I'm not a big reader, but I read it in a weekend. I found that I just "had to know" everything, right now.
I hadn't realized that so much occurred between the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway. I've always been interested in WWII since I was a kid, but was never a researcher or one to put everything down to memory. It was great to learn about the small naval forces that we had in the southwest Pacific and what they did with so little in the area, as compared to the Japanese.
I hadn't realized how valuable a part the seaplanes played in almost every campaign, and that the seaplane tenders were relied upon so much for many, many things.
My focus has been on the USS Barnegat-class and I've favored them in my own mind over the other AVs and AVPs and AVDs. Your book has set my mind to a new outlook on all of the classes of tenders and their capabilities and roles in the war.
My father is now reading the book and enjoying it. He first jumped to the parts about his ship, USS Duxbury Bay (AVP-38), but is now reading the whole thing.
Carl T. Musselman MM1/SS USN (1982-1995) Webmaster, www.back-aft.com/About_Back-Aft
It took me awhile to get through "Eyes of the Fleet". It is a very impressive and detailed work entirely up to your usual standard. To me it relates a important story that I was entirely unfamiliar with. I hope it will do the same with many others. The Pacific was quite a different type of war than Europe and without the resources you have described would have been even more difficult to have won. It is great for those who served in the tender navy and its aircraft that someone has told their story - well done.
George Duddy White Rock, British Colombia
We are Sinking, Send Help!
Now available from Heritage Books: www.heritagebooks.com
Spartan Death Throes off Anzio by Richard DeRosset depicts the rescue tug USS ATR-1 alongside HMS Spartan; hit by a glider-bomb that passed down through the British light cruiser, set her aflame and blasted a hole in her hull. She sank shortly thereafter off Anzio.
U.S. Navy tugs and salvage ships were in the thick of the action during the invasion of French North Africa, the lengthy, bitter Italian Campaign, and the invasion of France in World War II. Seventeen officers and men from the salvage ship Brant and the fleet tug Cherokee received Navy Cross Medals for their heroic actions during a special operation in French Morocco. Cherokee was the first Atlantic Fleet tug to earn a battle star overseas. Tugs and salvage ships were with the Fleet at Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, Normandy, and during the invasion of southern France. Tugs saved many ships damaged by combat action, and the lives of sailors and soldiers aboard aflame or sinking ships, or in the sea. These workhorses also pulled scores of landing craft off hostile beaches. Thirty-six tugs and six salvage ships collectively garnered sixty-six battle stars. The fleet tugs Arikara and Pinto, and rescue tug ATR-2, received the Navy Unit Commendation for their work off Omaha beach at Normandy. Officers and crewmen who took vessels into harm's way received awards for valor for acts of heroism performed under fire. Following the capture of enemy ports, tugs and salvage ships and their salvage personnel worked with minesweepers and mine clearance divers to open harbors critical to sea-supplied support of Allied troops ashore.
Click here to read a review by David Kronenfeld, Associate General Counsel at Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc.
Battle Stars for the "Cactus Navy"Now available from Heritage Books
Companion book to MacArthur and Halsey's "Pacific Island Hoppers"
Night Action off Tulagi by Richard DeRosset depicts the destruction of USS YP-346 by the Japanese light cruiser IJN Sendai off Guadalcanal on 8 September 1942. It is the cover art for this book, which is devoted to the U.S. Navy's Patrol Yachts and Patrol Craft (converted civilian yachts and fishing vessels commonly called "Yippees") of World War II. (Click on title to view entire painting.)
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Navy obtained approximately 700 vessels from private owners, armed them, designated them as patrol yachts (PY) or patrol craft (YP), and sent them to sea. The vessels spanned the spectrum from yacht to waterfront work horse—fishing vessel, whaler, tug, and freighter. San Diego tuna fishermen—including those that would be aboard their boats at the Battle of Midway, and at Guadalcanal supporting the 1st Marines—donned Navy uniforms without the benefit of "boot camp" training and went off to war. They were joined by fishermen and yachtsmen from ports and harbors all across America, as well as men straight from cities and rural towns. Officers and crewmen who took vessels into harm's way received the Navy Cross, and other awards for valor for acts of heroism performed under fire. Officers aboard the yachts Fisheries II and Maryanne were awarded Navy Crosses for their actions during the defense of the Philippines—three posthumously, as they died while prisoners of war. Three men aboard the YP-346—sunk by the Japanese light cruiser Sendai—also earned Navy Crosses, and the YP-346 and two other former tuna boats at Guadalcanal received the Presidential Unit Citation for heroism. YPs and PYs at Saipan, Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Leyte, and Balikpapan earned battle stars for combat; the ex-halibut boat YP-251 was credited with sinking a Japanese submarine in Alaskan waters, and the patrol yacht Siren earned a battle star during one of the most successful series of attacks on a convoy by a single German submarine. Others did not fare so well; the YP-389 and patrol yacht Cythera were lost to German U-boats in infamous "Torpedo Junction" off North Carolina. All of the unheralded vessels served when called, and like militiamen of old, they were mustered out when no longer needed.
Praise for Battle Stars for the "Cactus Navy"
I have been waiting for a book on this subject for a long time and was very pleased to find this one. The author covers units and selected operation of these craft in all theaters. There is special emphasis on some boats that saw sudden and dramatic action, such as YP-389 which was sunk by gunfire from a U-boat and the YPs off Guadalcanal. Of particular value is the data found in the appendix, listing specifications and sources for all YP boats.
One very pleasant surprise was the inclusion of the operations of a small minesweeper outfitted as a Q-ship and sent to hunt Japanese subs off the southern California coast in 1942. Having studied the USN Q-ship programs in WW1 and 2, this came as a welcome surprise.
I enjoyed reading "Cactus Navy". I read in passing about YPs in naval books from time to time, but your book puts their contribution in perspective. With all the YPs obtained from the California and New England fishing fleets, I wonder what the civilian population ate for fish!?
Cdr. Gary Grice, USN (Ret.)
MacArthur and Halsey's Pacific Island Hoppers
Endorsement of Painting
Richard DeRosset's depiction of the APc-15 during its battle with a flight of Japanese dive bombers and fighters takes me back to that day seven decades ago and reminds me of the heroic efforts of my officers and crew. He captures the minute details of the ship engaged in a life and death fight for its survival against overwhelming odds. His magnificent painting is a masterful work of power, passion, and detail.
Kemper Goffigon III
Former Commanding Officer USS APc-15
At the commencement of World War II, the Navy and the Army—woefully lacking small ships able to ply shallow, reef-infested South and Southwest Pacific waters, which were necessary to support island ground combat—initially acquired whatever was available in ports, harbors, and backwaters to meet their needs. These vessels included schooners, ancient ferry boats, luggers, fishing trawlers, tuna boats, tugs, launches, lighters, surf boats, ketches, yachts, and yawls. The services took whatever craft they could get—some barely seaworthy—as the urgency of need did not permit discrimination in what was purchased or chartered.
Gen. Douglas MacArthur, needing his own Navy to support leapfrog operations up the New Guinea coast, found his vessels in Australia and New Zealand, and the Navy its small ships and craft in America. These "Pacific island hoppers" were later supplemented with other small vessels newly constructed in American boat and shipyards. Among them were sixty Navy wooden-hulled 103-foot small coastal transports, hundreds of Army freight-supply ships and large tugs, and lesser numbers of coastal tankers and harbor tugs. The Army ships—most of steel construction, a few of wood—were manned by Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, or Army crews.
The islands hoppers worked mostly with amphibious forces, but also supported PT boat squadrons, and as "maids of all duties" engaged in a variety of operations. Periodic combat with Japanese planes off the New Guinea coast and in the Solomon Islands transitioned to frequent battles with conventional and kamikaze aircraft and suicide Q-boats during the Philippine Islands Campaign. Significant numbers of the island hoppers earned battle stars, and crewmen awards for valor including the Navy Cross, the Silver Star and the Bronze Star medals.
Following the war, the Navy acquired some of the Army ships; many served in the Korean War and a few in Vietnam. Three of the former freight-supply ships were employed for intelligence gathering; the most famous, USS Pueblo, was captured by North Korea. Others led interesting careers under civilian ownership; one was run aground while engaged in drug smuggling in the Caribbean, and another served as a "radio pirate" off England, broadcasting BBC-banned rock and roll music over the airwaves in 1966.
Richard DeRosset's Salvation from the Sea depicts PT-59, under the command of Lt. John F. Kennedy, rescuing U.S. Marines pinned down by Japanese forces at the mouth of the Warrior River on Choiseul Island the evening of 2 November 1943.
Praise for MacArthur and Halsey's "Pacific Island Hoppers" I have found the book MacArthur and Halsey's Pacific Island Hoppers, the forgotten fleet of WWII, a very interesting part of the war that I was not aware of. David D. Bruhn has done a wonderful job bringing to the forefront the many wooden vessels used to bring the war to the enemy. From the small wooden PT BOATS, to the larger Freight-supply ships, this book has covered the bases on these forgotten wooden wonders and the brave men that manned them. Mr. Bruhn's book will happily take its place in my World War Two reading library.
Frank J. Andruss Sr. The Mosquito Fleet Exhibit WWII PT BOATS
Having researched the histories of nine former U.S. Navy APc "Small Coastal Transports" that were registered in Vancouver after the war and served Canada for many years as tugs, fish packers and herring seiners, I was delighted to discover David Bruhn's thoroughly researched and well-presented book MacArthur and Halsey's Pacific Island Hoppers.
The American and Anzac Allies having finally stopped the Japanese advancements at the very gates of Australia were in desperate need for ships to carry the war back to the Japanese along the Papua New Guinea coast and in the Solomon Islands. Bruhn's book relates the story of the long hard struggle through numerous tropical island battlefields, supported by vessels procured from both coasts of the United States and sailed across the vast Pacific by hastily trained crews of young officers and sailors. He focuses on small navy and army ships and tugs which to date have been little recognized for the vital work they accomplished. As is depicted in the dramatic painting of the USS APc-15 on the cover of his book, these small wooden vessels of barely over 100 feet in length frequently suffered enemy air attacks during which crewmen fought valiantly to save their austere, minimally equipped and armed ships. I was privileged recently to speak by phone to 94 year old Kemper Goffigon who commanded the APc-15 and won the Navy Cross for his leadership and courageous actions during and following the action depicted.
I am happy to report that the ex-APc-15 spent a far calmer working life following the war, first as the tug La Belle and later in retirement, following removal of her engine, as the non-powered live-aboard vessel Black Trader. Retired tug boat skipper Kerri Beaulieu reported seeing the ship at a Fraser River marina near the end of her days, "She was dressed up as a funky live aboard with hanging baskets, deck furniture and new paint to her super-structure.....but no work [had been performed] to her hull." Reportedly, she later capsized and sank in a nearby slough in the late 1990s.
I highly recommend this book for those interested in ships, action in the South and Southwest Pacific during World War II, and the history of the Pacific islands.
George Duddy White Rock, British Colombia, June 2014
Just finished Island Hoppers. Amazing amount of work and research you did here. This is a phase of WWII that has been completely overlooked. What a good read.
Chuck Sheley Editor, Smokejumper magazine
Wooden Ships and Iron Men, Volume III: The U.S. Navy's Coastal and Inshore Minesweepers, and the Minecraft that Served in Vietnam, 1953-1976
From 1953 to 1976, twenty-four U.S. Navy coastal minesweepers (MSCs) swept mines, searched the seafloor for downed aircraft, sunken ships and lost munitions, "showed the flag" in the Caribbean and throughout the Far East, and played a key role in the Vietnam War. Atlantic Fleet coastal minesweepers searched for a nuclear bomb buried in the sea bed off Savannah, Georgia, as a result of a midair collision between two U.S. Air Force aircraft and provided support for the unsuccessful Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba. MSCs based at Sasebo, Japan, conducted patrols off Vietnam to interdict smuggling of supplies by sea to the Viet Cong in the South. One, USS Vireo, participated in the destruction of an enemy gun runner. Much smaller minesweeping boats(MSBs) kept the Long Tau River, which passed through the dangerous "Forest of Assassins" and connected the South China Sea to Saigon, open to merchant vessels delivering military cargos to allied forces. Facing daily the possibility of death by Viet Cong mine or riverbank ambush, the thirteen boats of Mine Squadron Eleven Detachment Alfa comprised the first Navy unit to be awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for heroism by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Possessing too few minecraft to support its riverine combat operations, the U.S. Navy also pressed existing landing craft and newly built assault support patrol boats and minesweeping drones into these duties.
The unheralded MSBs and steel-hulled minecraft collectively garnered four Presidential Unit Citations, three Meritorious Unit Commendations, and three Navy Unit Commendations. Significant numbers of the small enlisted crews that took the craft in harm's way received the Navy Cross, Silver Star and Bronze Star Medals for acts of heroism performed under fire.
Cover painting by Richard DeRosset (view entire painting)
Click here to read forewords from Dr. Edward J. Marolda, Former Senior Historian of the Navy, and Capt. Richard Tarbuck, USN (Ret.)
Click here for an endorsement from Capt.James A. McClure, USNR (Ret.)
Also from David D. Bruhn
Click on the images below for more information.
Click hereto read book reviews for the Wooden Ships and Iron Men series.