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Re: Pre-war convoy escorts in the Pacific

December 31 2010 at 7:54 AM
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Nelson  (no login)


Response to Pre-war convoy escorts in the Pacific

 
Louis,

> All had made Central Pacific crossings until PENSACOLA was routed further south due to the suspected and impending outbreak of war with Japan. >

Sorry, bud, that statement is simply wrong on two counts. First, you missed one of the cruiser escorts, USS Portland (CA 33), which escorted U.S. Army Transport Liberty to the Philippines by the southern route nearly seven weeks before the Pensacola convoy headed west. Here are some snippets from Portland's deck log:

Oct 13, 1941: Portland departed Pearl Harbor and joined with USAT Liberty.
Nov 1, 1941: Sighted Port Moresby signal station; received pilot and reserve naval officer; transited Torres Strait; both vessels dropped pilot.
Nov 8, 1941: Liberty ordered to proceed independently (continuing north through Makassar Strait).
Nov 9, 1941: Portland entered Tarakan harbor and took on bunker oil; stood out.
Nov 12, 1941: Entered Manila Bay.
etc.
Nov 26, 1941: Portland back at P.H.

USAT Liberty never returned, being torpedoed on Jan 11, 1942, by I-66 while entering Badung Strait en route to Soerabaja.

The following two convoys after Portland's, escorted respectively by USS Louisville (CA 28) and USS Boise (CL 47), sailed directly west through the Mandates and San Bernadino Strait, before the next one taking the southern route, the lucky Pensacola convoy. And neither of the southern route convoys did so due to the suspicion of impending war. Despite the Magic intercepts, no one really had a clue, and in fact the southern convoys were so directed to vary the routings and predictability of the U.S. convoys to the P.I. (though the options were pretty slim: either bull directly through the Mandates and San Bernadino Strait, or go via Torres Strait then variously to Manila Bay, a long way around that was seldom used).

> A cruiser escort, aside from the intangibles of image and presence, was little defense against anything else. >

All but Boise were of course heavy cruisers, bringing to bear 8-inch guns, but as your statement implies, all of the heavies were treaty tinclads. The cruisers had an additional advantage over a DD escort: they could steam to the P.I. without refueling, whereas tin cans, with their short legs, would have had to refuel more than once.

Best check Portland's log at NARA II.

Nelson

 
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  • clarification - Nelson on Dec 31, 2010, 8:19 AM
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