USS Currituck (AV-7) History
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Last Of Her Line - Page 10 - Naval Aviation News - February 1968..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1968/feb68.pdf [14SEP2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...End Of Seaplane Tenders - Page 13 - Naval Aviation News - December 1967..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1967/dec67.pdf [13SEP2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Pacific, Atlantic 'E' Winnders Named - Page 3 - Naval Aviation News - April 1967..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1967/apr67.pdf [09SEP2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...24MAY67: The seaplane tender USS Currituck (AV-7) returned to North Island after completing a 10-month tour in the western Pacific and the last combat tour for ships of her type..." http://www.history.navy.mil/branches/avchr9.htm [02JAN2001]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...31OCT67: USS Currituck (AV-7) last seaplane tender in service, was decommissioned at Mare Island and transferred to the Reserve Fleet..." http://www.history.navy.mil/branches/avchr9.htm [02JAN2001]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Pacific Air Wings On Patrol - Page 26 - Naval Aviation News - October 1965..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1965/oct65.pdf [02SEP2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: USS CURRITUCK "...USS CURRITUCK (AV 7) in (I think) Buckner Bay, Okinawa, 1965..." Contributed by ANDERSON, AX2 Lee (Andy) firstname.lastname@example.org [14JUL2001]
A BIT OF HISTORY: USS CURRITUCK (AV 7) "...USS CURRITUCK (AV 7) entering Pearl Harbor Circa 1964. Photo from the Base Libary at NAS North Island, San Diego, California..." Contributed by Mahlon K. Miller email@example.com [07FEB2002]
"...I remember that the pilot had us run our bow aground on the opposite shore so we could do a turn around before we berthed at Embassy Row. We received Secretary of State Henry cabot Lodge aboard for a meeting with high level Vietnamese officials...GROVES, SM1 Charles (Chuck) firstname.lastname@example.org..." [06JUN2004]
"...The 1964 photo of the USS Currituck II (AV-7) was taken in Siagon. This is a cropped version from the 1964 WestPac Cruise Book...Stephen Eakin email@example.com..." [05MAR2004]
"...I am a retired AMCS and served in Currituck 1963-1965. I believe that photo was taken as we approached a T shaped pier near embassy row in Saigon, Republic of South Vietnam in February or March of 1964. It was an interesting port call. From there we went to Camran Bay for the beginning of operation Market time. It is a great photo of a great ship. Regards, Bob Knudsen firstname.lastname@example.org, AMCS, Retired..." [20JUL2003]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...'Warm-Up' Cruise For Currituck - Page 20 to 21 - Naval Aviation News - September 1962..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1962/sep62.pdf [23AUG2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: USS CURRITUCK "...USS CURRITUCK (AV-7) taken 12 July 1962, Pier "KILO", NAS North Island, San Diego, California..." Contributed by Stephen Eakin email@example.com [15AUG2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Currituck Is Reactivated - Page 32 - Naval Aviation News - October 1960..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1960/oct60.pdf [18AUG2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: USS Currituck (AV-7) Post Card "...1956 Seaplane Tender AV-7 USS Currituck at Norfolk..." EBay WebSite: http://cgi.ebay.com/1956-Seaplane-Tender-AV-7-USS-Currituck-at-Norfolk _W0QQitemZ160083919517QQihZ006QQcategoryZ95158QQssPageName ZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem [13FEB2007]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Seaplane Super Service - Page 17 to 20 - Naval Aviation News - May 1951..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1950s/1951/jun51.pdf [24JUL2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...NAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii and Lingayen..." Contributed by George R. Hauser firstname.lastname@example.org [22JAN2005]
After a long flight of almost eighteen hours the Island of Oahu appeared just a few degrees to our left. As Kaneohe Bay came into view, it looked much too small for landing. The approach we made was just over the sand bar separating the bay from the ocean - arrow. When the plane stopped it was evident that there was a lot of landing space still in front of us. As part of our training we made nighttime landings with only a single light at the top of a mast of a sunken sail boat a victim of the Japanese raid.
Our flying schedule at Kaneohe was about the same as Banana River and Alameda. During air-to-air gunnery practice a FM (a fighter built by General Motors) towed a sleeve past our PBM at various relative directions and speeds to provide live-gunnery practice for the crew firing from the nose, dorsal, and tail turrets as well as from the waist. The pilot of the tow plane was Ted Williams we were told during debriefing. Ted Williams was a pilot in two wars and yet managed to become one of baseball's greats.
We visited the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach several times to listen to dual-piano music played by an overweight-civilian lady and a sailor and to grab a drink or two at the bar. The hotel had been taken over by the army (I believe) for R&R. In those days to get there from Kaneohe one took the Windward Transit Co. bus that traveled over the mountains by way of the Pali Pass. That trip was the most thrilling ride during our short stay at Kaneohe. (A tunnel now connects the north and south sides of the island at that location).
I signed for a brand new PBM # 59253 with orders to deliver it to squadron VPB-17 aboard the USS Currituck (AV-7) at Lingayen Gulf. This PBM model had the latest engines and electronics.
While flying out of Kaneohe we experienced our first real in-flight engine failure.
We were based at Kaneohe five days shy of one month when we were directed to report to VPB-17 aboard the Currituck at Lingayen Gulf. Lingayen Gulf is located at the Midwestern side of Luzon, PI about 125 miles north of Manila arrow.
Our route and hours in route:
Kaneohe to Johnson 5.3
Johnson to Kwajalein 10.3
Kwajalein to Saipan 10.3
Saipan to Jinamoc 11.0
Jinamoc to Lingayen 3.5
USS Currituck (AV7)
We carried lots of hitchhikers on these flights 20 from Jinamoc to Lingayen. That was a common way for military personnel to travel to and from assignments.
The Currituck anchored at Lingayen on June 11, 1945, just three days before our arrival on 14 June. It would be our home until 2 July. We flew one familiarization flight and three Black Cat missions while at Lingayen. The name Black Cat originated with the Catalina PBY flying boats that were painted black for low-altitude night attacks on shipping. Squadron VPB-17's job, while at Lingayen, was to fly Black Cat missions along the south China coast from Formosa to Hainan Island.
The area was divided into two sectors. The sector we flew included the coastline between Kowloon and Hainan Island. The flights were long, running more than 15 hours. With a mid-afternoon takeoff flights would arrive at the China coast well after dark. The direction of flight along the coast was selected to take advantage of moon light. The airplanes were blacked out so that no light from the plane was visible from the outside. Radar was used for navigation and for target detection and ranging. During our three flights the weather was clear, we had a bright moon in front of us and visibility was good as we flew in a generally west-south-west direction along the coast from Kowloon. Prior to reaching the coast we moved the mixture control closer toward rich, reduced altitude to 250 feet, and the crew was directed to man their stations'. While flying around under 250 feet and below we didn't do much looking at the radar scope maneuvering was done with reference to the real-world outside. In the Kowloon-Hong Kong area there were rocks jutting up out of the water as high as we were.
Pilots were told that junks, more than certain number of miles offshore, were to be considered unfriendly and destroyed. The logic was that the Japanese were using them to move equipment and troops closer to their main islands. While I was maneuvering the airplane into position along the side of the first junk that we sited the bow gunner asked "should we shoot if there are women and children aboard" I confess, after all these 60 years, that we passed it up.
On each mission we flew by Hong Kong and up the Pearl River toward Canton then south past Macau looking for targets. Macau (a Moroccan mandate) was lit up like a Christmas tree even the beacon at the airport was rotating brightly. We maneuvered in and out along the coast at altitudes below 100 feet at times trying to find and sneak up on targets. The radio altimeter worked down to 70 feet (I think). The sector ended after passing through the narrow waterway between China and Hainan Island. On the return leg we climbed to a more comfortable altitude, adjusted the engine settings and headed for the Currituck at Lingayen Gulf.
On our second mission, the night of 21-22 June, as we passed over the northern tip of Hainan Island I spotted what looked like a ship just offshore. The nose and tail gunners confirmed that it was a ship but by this time we had passed it up. I made a 360-degree turn and came back along the same course and pickled off all of our bombs and pulled up in a right-hand turn and got out of there. The crew got on the intercom again to say we got it and that we had started a hell of a fire. I turned the airplane enough to look back and saw the red glow. It was chalked-up as a FTC by the Currituck's ACI officer. A FTC was a ship in the 1000 ton class if I remember correctly. (It was hard to miss a target with a vertical profile when a string of bombs was dropped from an altitude just a few feet above the target.)
The third flight was flown as the other two and that ended our Black Catting and we were to be deployed to Tawi Tawi.
Tawi Tawi, five- degrees north latitude and 124-degree east longitude, is the southern most islands of the Sulo Archipelago and only a few miles east of the easternmost tip of northern Borneo.
On the morning of 30 June a number of VPB-17's PBMs departed Lingayen for Tawi Tawi. Lt. Commander Cutter was leading the flight. His plane carried two crews. I was flying at his left wing position. We were heading south over the low land between Lingayen and Manila. Everything was going along well when Mr. Cutter started to descend. I held my position until it was obvious that he would crash. I headed for the South China Sea only a couple of minutes to our west, landed and anchored the plane. Two crew members and I armed ourselves, inflated a life raft, paddled ashore and walked inland. After a few minutes we met Mr. Cutter and his copilot, Lt(jg) Roberson, walking out. The two pilots had escaped through their respective cockpit windows. Mr. Cutter's plane had burst into flames on impact. One of his hands was burned, his copilot, the PPC of the second crew, was not injured.
The crash occurred at the point where one would likely transfer fuel from the hull tanks to the wing tanks. Since we had flown for several minutes after transferring fuel we decided to fly over the same land on the way back in order to get to the Currituck as quickly a possible.
Another PBM, flown by Lt Hicks, landed at the same time we did. He managed to stretch his descent to the coast and make a safe landing. At the time I thought that he was there to help survivors. I didn't learn until many years later that he also made an emergency landing because of water in his fuel tanks.
Each engine on the PBM received fuel from separate wing tanks located near their respective engine nacelles. The wing tanks were relatively small, holding only enough fuel for about two hours of flying -- 200 gallons if my memory serves me correctly. They were refilled from much larger tanks located in the hull by transfer pumps operated by the flight engineer (AMM) from his control station. The airplanes were to always land with full wing tanks to assure good gasoline for the next take off and fly out. Hull tanks were always tested for any sign of water before a flight. This was done by drawing fuel from the bottom of the hull tank into a test tube. If water and fuel both were in the tube the water will form a glob at the bottom that is easily recognized. If the tube were filled with water only or fuel only there would be no glob. Since water and the 100 octane fuel used by the PBM are both colorless and clear, pure water would no be readily apparent.
The crews deserve much credit that I don't believe they received at the time. Imagine the tail-gunner's job for example: he would enter through the aft bulk-head hatch, crawl through the tunnel, cram himself into the tail turret and sit there for several hours with his knees at his chest while the guy up front maneuvered around at altitudes below 250 feet in the dark of night the nose and dorsal-turrets gunner's jobs weren't much better. And the other six crew member sitting at their station operating their systems with out reference to the outside world. There were only a couple of small portholes . They never complained to me - not one of them about their job or about each other.
On 2 July we alone left Lingayen for Tawi Tawi time in flight 6.4 hrs. The trip was uneventful.
The information in italics was abstracted from the book, Ghost Soldiers published by Doubleday, copyright by Hampton Sides 2001, first edition. - - On Jan. 9, 1945 one of the most monumental operations during WWII in terms of troops, airplanes and ships took place at Lingayen. It was where and when General MacArthur waded ashore Later, a few miles south of Lingayen, at Cabanatuan, Americans from Bataan and Corregidor held prisoners by the Japanese were rescued by U S Rangers in a daring raid on January 30, 1945.'
Gen. MacArthur had also waded ashore at Leyte on 20 Oct. 1944
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...26JUN44: The seaplane tender USS Currituck (AV-7), first of four ships of her class, was commissioned at Philadelphia, Captain W. A. Evans commanding..." http://www.history.navy.mil/branches/avchr5.htm [02JAN2001]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Richard Davidson provided these for all who served attached to or assigned to the Currituck. My Father worked in the Philadelphia Ship Yard during WW2 he was an electrician. I do remember he wore a round red badge with the number [I believe was 73]. One day when he came home from work he gave this to me, I have kept it for sentimental reasons all these years. I'm thankful now that it can be shared with those men who served on the USS Currituck (AV-7)..." Forwarded by Nathan Good email@example.com WebSite: http://www.usscurrituck.org/ [01DEC2007]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...FAW-10: Redesignated at Perth, Australia, on 1 November 1942. 1 September 1944: Relocated from Perth to Los Negros, Admiralty Islands. 17 October 1944: Relocated from Los Negros to Leyte, Philippines, aboard USS Currituck (AV-7). 30 November 1944: Relocated from Leyte to Jinamoc Seaplane Base, San Pedro Bay, Leyte Gulf, Philippines, based ashore..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/avh-vol2/Appen13.pdf [18OCT2004]
Can you identify the Month and or Year?
A BIT OF HISTORY: USS CURRITUCK Contributed by KOONTS, AT2 Billy firstname.lastname@example.org [07MAR2003]
"...This is a cropped version of the U.S. Navy photo taken July 19, 1944 "Off The Port Side" taken while on her shakdown trials. This is one of a series of photos taken by the U.S. Navy for recognition purposes. There were a total of 26 photos taken from both water level and ariel. Most are still available from the US Naval Institute...Stephen Eakin email@example.com..." [05MAR2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: USS CURRITUCK (AV 7) Contributed by KOONTS, AT2 Billy firstname.lastname@example.org [19APR2002]
A BIT OF HISTORY: [14OCT2001]
A BIT OF HISTORY: USS Currituck II (AV-7) "...VP-42 (RB 7) P5M (BuNo 135534) at anchor near USS Currituck II (AV-7), date unknown. Photo from the TailHook Association http://www.tailhook.org/..." Contributed by Mahlon K. Miller email@example.com [24OCT2001]
A BIT OF HISTORY: USS CURRITUCK "...Circa 1955...USS CURRITUCK (AV 7)..." Contributed by KOONTS, AT2 Billy firstname.lastname@example.org [03AUG2001]
A BIT OF HISTORY: USS CURRITUCK "...USS CURRITUCK (AV 7) in port with a P5M being craned aboard. Date unknown. Photo from the Naval Historical Center http://www.history.navy.mil/index.html..." Contributed by Mahlon K. Miller email@example.com [28MAY2001]
A BIT OF HISTORY: USS CURRITUCK "...USS CURRITUCK (AV 7) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Date unknown. Photo from the Naval Historical Center http://www.history.navy.mil/index.html..." Contributed by Mahlon K. Miller firstname.lastname@example.org [28MAY2001]
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