USS Chandeleur (AV-10) History
A BIT OF HISTORY: USS Chandeleur (AV-10) Post Card "...USS Chandeleur (AV-10) Post Card 21APR1946..." Contributed by John Lucas JohnLucas@netzero.com [03APR2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Patrol Wings - Rear Admiral A. D. Bernhard - August 1942..." Contributed by John Lucas JohnLucas@netzero.com [28DEC2005]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Chandeleur (AV-10)..." http://www.navsource.org/archives/09/4110.htm [13JUN2001]Circa 1941
Chandeleur Class Seaplane Tender
Laid down, under a Maritime Commission contract at Western Pipe and Steel Co., San Francisco, CA; Launched, 29 November 1941; Commissioned USS Chandeleur (AV-10), 19 November 1942; Decommissioned, 12 February 1947 at Philadelphia, PA; Laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, Philadelphia, PA; Struck from the Naval Register, 1 April 1971; Final disposition, sold for scrapping.
Displacement 5,300t.(lt) 13,700 t.(fl); Length 492'; Beam 69' 6"; Draft 23' 9"; Speed 18kts; Complement 1,075; Armament one single 5"/38 gun mount, four single 3"/50 gun mounts, four dual 40mm gun mounts, fifteen single 20mm gun mounts; Propulsion, steam turbine, two boilers, single shaft, 9,350hp..
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...1946 The War Diary of the USS Chandeleur (AV-10). The story of a Seaplane Tender in World War II. 19 November 1942 to 19 November 1945. Compiled and edited by The Staff of "Tender Topics," the Ship's Paper...Squadrons Supported: VP-14, VP-21, VP-71, VP-202, VP-216, VH-1, and FAW-1..." Contributed by Bruce Barth firstname.lastname@example.org, Director Mariner/Marlin Association [30NOV2000]The
USS Chandeleur (AV-10)
The Story of a Seaplane Tender in World War II
19 November 1942 to 19 November 1945
Compiled and edited by
The Staff of "Tender Topics," the Ship's Paper
The Tale of a Modern Mariner
It is said that the life of a ship begins when her keel is laid. The keel of the USS Chandeleur (AV-10) was laid at 1615 on 29 March 1941 by the Western Pipe and Steel Co. of San Francisco, California. At 1343 on 19 November 1941 she slid down the ways, sponsored by Mrs. W. T. Thea, wife of Rear Admiral THEA, USCG.
One year later to the day on 19 November 1942, after successful trial runs had been made the USS Chandeleur (AV-10) was officially accepted for the Navy Department by Captain William SINTON, U. S. N. who, at the same time, took over as her first Commanding Officer.
For those who sailed aboard her it will be interesting to note that the CHANDELEUR was named for Chandeleur Sound which, with the islands of the same name is located off the coast of Louisiana, north of the Mississippi River delta. The Sound was discovered on 2 February 1699-Candlemas Day, and so was named "Chandeleur," French for Candlemas.
EARLY DAYS OF THE AV-10
After her commissioning the CHANDELEUR started on a series of cargo runs which carried her twice to HAWAll and the NEW HEBRIDES ISLANDS. It was seven and one-half months after going into commission before the AV-10 did any seaplane tending. However, the fact that the CHANDELEUR was doing her part in the war effort is testified by a mailgram received from ComAirSoPac congratulating the ship on her cooperation and by a personal letter received by Captain SINTON from Admiral TOWERS, Com Air Pac.
It may be of interest to note that on 14 February 1943, at Apia, British Samoa, many months before PBM's were commonly in use by the Navy in the Pacific, the CHANDELEUR hoisted aboard a damaged PBM-3R for transportation back to the United States.
FIRST SEAPLANE OPERATIONS
On the Fourth of July, 1943 the U. S. S. took over the job for which she was built, tending seaplanes. On that date, at ESPIRITU SANTO, N. H., VP-71 came aboard and began operations using this vessel as a base. This patrol squadron conducted searches, bombing missions, and Dumbo operations using fifteen PBY's.
An interesting sidelight on the Solomons Campaign was an incident which took place on 12 January 1944 at GAVUTU HARBOR, FLORIDA ISLAND. A New Zealand PBY was taking off and, while making its run, hit an anti-submarine net and tore a large hole in its hull. Boats from the CHANDELEUR were immediately dispatched. When the plane landed it was brought alongside and hoisted aboard. The ship got underway and by maneuvering in very close to HALA VO BEACH, it was possible to beach the damaged PBY on the seaplane ramp by hoisting it into the water and towing it up on the beach.
Thus ended this phase of the CHANDELEUR'S seaplane tending career but bigger and more important things were in store for the A V-10.
BACK TO THE STATES
After the departure of our second PBY patrol squadron, VP-14, the CHANDELEUR'S next job was to make a run up to Bougainville Island's CAPE TOROKINA with a load of Marine Airmen. VMF-218, Marine Air Group 11, First Marine Aircraft Wing and VMSB-244, Marine Air Group 21, Second Marine Aircraft Wing were our passengers on this trip. This was on the 25th of January, 1944, when BOUGAINVILLE was being bitterly contested. The AV-10 came to anchor at 0659 on 25 January and was underway again at 1749 on the same date. The C.0. of the Marines on BOUGAINVILLE presented the ship with a certificate of merit for the effective expediting of this mission.
MUNDA in the New Georgia group was the next stop on our cargo run and was followed by another series of trips between the NEW HEBRIDES and GUADALCANAL.
Then came our long awaited orders home- back to stateside via Pearl Harbor. The CHANDELEUR passed under the Golden , Gate Bridge 21 March 1944 and tied up at the Carrier dock, NAS Alameda, California to discharge passengers and cargo.
March 24, 1944 found us in the yards of General Engineering and Drydock Company, Alameda, for thirty days availability for overhaul and repair. Six days of this time was spent in drydock. After completion of our period of availability in the yard, we made a cargo run between N. S. D., Oakland and Pearl Harbor and returned to Oakland for the final loading for our next assignment overseas.
THE SAIPAN OPERATION
On 18 May 1944, the USS Chandeleur (AV-10) got underway from N. S. D. Oakland for Pearl Harbor. From Hawaii our next stop was KW AJALEIN in the Marshall Islands, which we reached on 5 June 1944. After two weeks at KW AJALEIN, we departed for ENIWETOK. Arriving at ENIWETOK the CHANDELEUR took over the duty of tending these patrol squadrons. Each squadron was made up of fifteen PBM-3D's.
Then came our orders to get underway and on 23 June 1944 we left for SAIPAN, MARMARIANAS, which had been invaded by U. S. forces less than 10 days before. Arriving at SAIPAN on 26 June we immediately began tending our PBM's under the overall command of Captain TAFT, C. 0., U.S.S. POKOMOKE. Captain TAFT was succeeded soon after our arrival at SAIPAN by Commodore Dixwell KETCHAM, U. S. N., Commander FAW-1.
Operating conditions at SAIPAN were not always of the best due to rough water, high winds, and enemy shore batteries. This vessel was anchored in GARAPAN BAY and on several occasions the ship's planes came under fire from enemy shore guns scattering shrapnel and doing some minor damage to the PBM's. At one time, there was a bad run of weather with 15 to 20 foot swells. Plane maintenance crews had to go over the side into their boats via cargo nets and the sea made working on the planes extremely hazardous. .
During the CHANDELEUR's stay on SAIPAN we went to General Quarters many times but were never under actual attack, the raiders seemingly being intent on creating a nuisance and preventing the ship and squadron personnel from getting much needed rest.
During our stay on SAIPAN, the planes of VP-202 and VP-216 conducted long range searches and photographic missions. Planes of VH-1, a rescue and evacuation squadron, were also assigned to us for maintenance on 5 July giving the CHANDELEUR a total of 36 (thirty-six) PBM-3D's to keep flying.
On 10 July 1944, well before the island was secured, the CHANDELEUR placed the first PBM on the ramp of the Japanese seaplane base at SAIPAN for maintenance work. Some Chandeleur men received a commendatory mass from Capt. Goodney for their work in preparing the ramp for operations. Putting this ramp to use greatly facilitated seaplane maintenance during this important operation.
Early in September 1944 we were ordered to make preparations for a new operation. Our plane maintenance crews had thirty-six seaplanes to check before leaving and also eighteen engines to change but all work was accomplished with time to spare.
TENDING AT KOSSL PASSAGE
On 3 September 1944, Commodore Dixwell KETCHAM, U. S. N. came aboard the CHANDELEUR as Commander FAW-1 and Commander Task Group 59.3. This flag remained aboard the AV-10 until 15 October. After completing all checks on the planes of VP-202 and VP-216, and VH-1 the USS Chandeleur (AV-10) was ready to go and on 12 September, 1944 this vessel got underway as part of Task Group 59.3 consisting of the USS Chandeleur (AV-10), USS Pocomoke (AV-9), USS Mackinac (AVP-13), U. S. S. YAKUTAT, and U. S. S. ONSLOW. The task group proceeded to a position latitude 7 degrees 30 minutes north and longitude 138 degrees east to await further orders. Upon receiving the expected orders the task group set its course for KOSSOL PASSAGE, PALAU ISLANDS and arrived at 1130 on 16 September 1944. Hundreds of mines were being sunk on all sides, many even after we were anchored.
The operation at KOSSOL PASSAGE proved to be one of our toughest jobs since the water was almost continuously rough. During one day, 7 November 1944, a wind of hurricane force hit this area with gusts up to 75 knots. Many of the seaplanes rode out this typhoon on the water but despite everything the planes were kept in commission and the patrols were met. Food had to be floated to the planes on a rubber life raft, towed by a boat, since the water was too rough for a boat to come alongside a plane. It was very important that the patrols be made as our planes were flying coverage for the invasion of the PHILIPPINES.
While at KOSSOL PASSAGE, VPB-202 was relieved by VP-21, the last crew of VPB-202 being relieved on 24 October. VH-1 was detached from our cognizance on 6 October and VPB-216 left for home on 21 November leaving the CHANDELEUR only VPB-21 to tend.
The operation at KOSSOL PASSAGE was uneventful in respect to enemy action. A few nuisance raiders came over from nearby BABEL THUAP ISLAND but there was only one instance of a bomb being dropped. On Thanksgiving Day, 30 November 1944 we got underway for dispersal due to an expected enemy air attack. The "attack" came off exactly on time but consisted of only one plane which dropped a bomb (causing no damage) and left the area. The only harm done was to everyone's disposition due to having a fine Thanksgiving dinner spoiled by General Quarters.
ULITHI AND SAIPAN-A BREATHING SPELL
Having completed her mission at KOSSOL PASSAGE, the USS Chandeleur (AV-10) got underway Christmas Day 1944 for ULITHI, CAROLINE ISLANDS, arriving the next day. We stayed at ULITHI for over a month carrying out routine maintenance on the fifteen PBM-3D's of VPB-21 and enjoying a breathing spell from the "no-liberty" port of KOSSOL PASSAGE.
On 8 February 1945 we got underway for SAIPAN, MARIANAS, where we remained until 23 March. The routine here was much the same as at ULITHI. However, things began getting busier during the end of our stay at SAIP AN and we knew that another opera- tion was shaping up.
KERAMA RETTO AND THE OKINAWA CAMPAIGN
On 23 March 1945, the USS Chandeleur (AV-10) embarked on what was to be the most important and difficult operation of her career. The task group consisted of three AV's (HAMLIN, ST. GEORGE, CHANDELEUR) and four AVP's (ONSLOW, HERING STRAIT, SHELIKOF, YAKUTAT) with Commander FAW-1, Commodore Dixwell KETCHAM, in the HAMLIN as CTG and OTC. While still underway we learned that our destination was KERAMA RETTO, a small group of islands in the NANSEI SHOTO or RYUKYU chain, seventeen miles west of OKINAWA.
Task Group 51.20 arrived at KERAMA RETTO 28 March 1945 only one day after the 77th Division, U. S. Army had landed and secured part of the group. Thus 28 March found us at KERAMA RETTO on D plus 1 Day for that group and D minus 3 Day for OKINA W A itself where the initial landing was made on 1 April 1945, Easter Sunday morning.
Immediately prior to leaving SAIPAN, our squadron, VPB-21, completed a change-over from PBM-3D aircraft to the PBM-5 type. Throughout the OKINA W A campaign VPB-21 used fifteen PBM-5's on their bombing, search, and rescue missions.
On 29 March 1945, before any planes had departed on flights, this vessel assumed control of seadrome operations and remained Seadrome Control Tender until relieved by the U. S. S. KENNETH WHITING on 5 August just before our departure for SAIPAN. During the period 29 March through 30 April 1945 the CHANDELEUR also had the duty of FLEET POST OFFICE ANNEX and handled air service for the press to COMMANDER IN CHIEF, PACIFIC OCEANS AREA, Public Relations, Guam.
At KERAMA RETTO the seaplane maintenance problem was made more difficult because of the number of planes returning from missions badly damaged from enemy action-frequently in a sinking condition. Then, too, much valuable working time was lost due to Red and Blue Alerts. In order to keep the planes flying, it became necessary to work even during Flash Blue, using dimmed lights at night. Only when General Quarters was sounded, did the maintenance crews leave their work.
While on the subject of General Quarters and enemy attacks, it is interesting to note that the CHANDELEUR went to General Quarters 204 times between 28 March and 15 July, a period of a little over three and one-half months. During this time enemy aircraft were brought under fire by the ship's guns on eight occasions, hits being scored at least twice. One enemy single-engine aircraft was splashed at 0121 29 April 1945. This plane came through a gap between two nearby islands, headed directly toward the CHANDELEUR. It was tracked and taken under accurate fire from two 40 mm. and eight 20 mm. guns at close range, (before any other ship opened fire). The plane pulled up momentarily, then fell into a dive crashing into the water and exploding about 30 seconds later.
The second time our guns scored hits was on the evening of 21 June 1945. At about 1838 two enemy planes, later identified as a FRANK and an OSCAR, approached our anchorage without warning and at low altitude. The FRANK immediately crashed into the U. S. S. CURTISS and the OSCAR circled to attack this vessel. Due to the alertness of the CHANDELEUR's fire control personnel the enemy plane changed its course and crashed about 10 yards short of the port side of the nearby KENNETH WHITING. Several hits were scored by our 20 mm. and 40 mm. gunners and the CHANDELEUR was credited with an assist for her part in splashing the would-be KAMIKAZE.
It was decided to move the seaplane base from KERAMA RETTO to OKINAWA proper and so on 15 July, after 109 busy days at KERAMA, the CHANDELEUR got underway for CHIMU WAN, OKINAWA in company with other units of Task Group 30.5.
At our new location, this vessel continued tending planes for VPB-21 with our same additional duties as Seadrome Control Tender. During the three weeks we were at CHIMU WAN, we went to General Quarters 16 times but did no firing at enemy targets.
While at CHIMU WAN, the CHANDELEUR had to get underway twice and stand out to sea in execution of Typhoon Plan X. Due to approaching storms, we evacuated our planes and left CHIMU WAN once on 19 July and again on 1 August. The storms quickly subsided however and operations were resumed in short order with no damage being done to any of our seaplanes.
On 5 August the CHANDELEUR was relieved of Seadrome Control and the next day got underway for SAIPAN, MARIANAS.
During the 131 days this vessel operated in the OKINAWA area, every landing and take-off made by planes of FAW-1 was controlled by us and despite 220 (two hundred twenty) general quarters, enemy at- tacks, typhoons, and other hazards to seaplane operation, we helped keep our search planes flying.
A few words about the accomplishments of our squadron during the OKINAWA operation would not be a risk at this point. We have tended VPB-21 continuously since 18 October 1944, eleven months together at KOSSOL PASSAGE, ULITHI, SAIPAN, KERAMA RETTO, CHIMU WAN, and now the Occupation of JAPAN at OMINATO.
In citing the deeds of the squadron at OKINAWA only, we are not forgetting the other months of the day-to-qay patrols but since the operation at OKINAWA was undoubtedly the largest and most important seaplane operation in history, the facts about this campaign seem the most logical to present.
During the OKINAWA operation, Mariniers of VPB-21 sank nine enemy vessels, probably sank three others, and damaged twenty-nine more. In addition to this, many land tar- gets were destroyed or damaged.
CHANDELEUR-based PBM's drew first blood at OKINAWA being in on the kill of a large Japanese submarine two days before the invasion of OKINAWA. Our search planes spotted the giant Japanese battleship YAMATO on the morning of 7 April 1945 and warned the carrier planes that later destroyed her.
During the OKINAWA operation, planes of VPB-21 rescued twenty downed airmen, shot down at least one Nip plane, and flew over five hundred combat missions for a total of 7,000 (seven thousand) hours.
Close co-operation between ship an squadron made such accomplishments possible and in helping VPB-21 pile up such an impressive record, the USS Chandeleur (AV-10) has definitely fulfilled her primary functions to act as a floating base for the maintenance of seaplanes and for the caring of their crews.
OCCUPATION OF JAPAN
After leaving OKINAWA, the USS Chandeleur (AV-10) stopped first at SAIPAN, arriving there 10 August. Orders to get underway again came and on 12 August we departed for ENIWETOK, arriving at this Marshall Island atoll three days later. At ENIWETOK we passed from under the cognizance of CFAW-l for the first time in over a year and during our stay here the CHANDELEUR was under the Commander of the Marshall and Gilberts Area.
The biggest news stories of the war, the atomic bomb, Russia's entry into the conflict, and Japan's surrender offer found us underway between OKINAWA and ENIWETOK and the rapid cessation of hostilities left us very uncertain as to our status.
After seven days availability alongside the U. S. S. LAERTES (AR-20) to make critically needed repairs in the engine room, our status began to clear as cold weather gear came aboard and the CHANDELEUR was ordered to get underway again.
The official V-J day, Sunday, 2 September 1945, found us underway en route to OMINATO, HONSHU, JAPAN. On 6 September the CHANDELEUR joined the main force of the North Pacific Fleet about 200 miles off the Northern coast of the main Japanese island of HONSHU, and thus came under direct command of Com Nor Pac, Vice Admiral Frank Jack FLETCHER, U.S. N.
Reaching OMINATO on 8 September with the other units of the North Pacific Fleet, the CHANDELEUR was one of the first large ships to enter the harbor and anchor. The next morning, Admiral FLETCHER received the formal surrender of Northern HONSHU and all of HOKKAIDO from the Japanese envoys on a nearby ship, U. S. S. PANAMINT.
Our PBM's arrived 10 September and using us as their base flew routine searches, Dumbo missions, and mail and passenger trips to TOKYO. The OMINATO operation was the culmination of the CHANDELEUR's war activity. On 16 October after the arrival of our relief, the U. S. S. TANGLER, we at last weighed anchor. SAIPAN, almost our home port, was our first stop, but in less than 24 hours we had provisioned, fueled and taken on passengers. On the morning of 23 October the familiar landscape of SAIPAN faded from sight and the CHANDELEUR, her days of war over, headed home.
Can you identify the Month and or Year?
A BIT OF HISTORY: USS Chandeleur (AV-10) "...U. S. Naval Photograph..." [13JUN2001]
"USS Chandeleur (AV-10) Summary Page"