Leyte Gulf

USS Fletcher DD-445

Leyte Gulf Action Report

October 20, 1944

USS Fletcher
c/o Fleet Post Office
San Francisco, Calif.

Serial 057

25 October, 1944


CONFIDENTIAL (DECLASSIFIED)

From:  The Commanding Officer.
To:      The Commander in Chief, United States Fleet.
Via:     (1) The Commander Destroyer Division 42.
             (2) The Commander Destroyer Division FORTY-TWO.
             (3) The Commander Task Group 78.2.
             (4) The Commander SEVENTH FLEET.

Subject:   Leyte Operation - Action Report.

References:    (a) PacFlt Letter No. 201-44.
                     (b) U.S.Navy Regulations, 1920.
                     (c) PacFlt Notice 260E-44
                     (d) CTF 78 Operation Plan No. 101-44

PART I - Derived from CSWPA Op-Plan 16-44

  1. In accordance with reference (c) this vessel participated in the Leyte Operation as Flagship of TU 78.2.6 and Fire Support Unit "C".

 PRELIMINARIES

  (a) This vessel in company with Task Group 78.2 departed Seeadler Harbor, Admiralty Islands 12 October, 1944. At 1200 on 15 October, Task Group 78.2 rendezvoused with the remainder of Task Force 78 in Latitude 02°-40' N, Longitude 136°-45' E and proceeded to San Pedro Bay, Leyte Island, Philippines, arriving as scheduled 20 October, 1944.

 MISSION

  (b) The assigned mission of TU 78.2.6 was (1) to provide protection for the Attack Force against enemy air and submarine forces enroute; (2) to provide counter-battery fire against the west coast of Samar Island in the objective area and furnish call fire support in the Red Beach Area in accordance with Naval Gunfire Support Plan, Reference (d); (3) to provide anti-aircraft, anti-submarine and anti-torpedo boat screen in the objective area.

 OWN FORCES

  (c) Own Forces as in Task Organization, Reference (d).

 ENEMY FORCES

  (d) No enemy surface or submarine units were encountered. This vessel received no fire from shore batteries. Several harassing attacks were made by a few enemy air units.

PART II

 CHRONOLOGICAL ACCOUNT OF ACTION

  (a) The Operation was carried out according to schedule. This vessel took part in three (3) anti-aircraft actions as described in Part III.

October 20, 1944

  0553 - Radar contact on bogey 183°(T), 15 miles.
  0610 - Sighted enemy twin-engine plane 298°(T), 8 miles. Plane circled out of range.
  0624 - Commenced firing.
  0628 - Ceased firing, no hits observed.
  0700 - Took departure from formation to proceed to Fire Support Area.
  0724 - Entered Fire Support Area "BAKER".
  1842 - Radar contact on bogey 192°(T), 15 miles.
  1846 - Sighted enemy plane, commenced firing.
  1847 - Ceased firing, no hits observed.
  1940 - Radar contact on bogey 175°(T), 12 miles.
  1946 - Commenced firing.
  1949 - Ceased firing, no hits observed, plane turned away.

PART III

  (a) Ordnance equipment functioned as designed. Casualties consisted of the hammers in Guns #1, #2 and #3 sticking at maximum elevation in the second action. Conditions were promptly corrected and no further difficulties were experienced. The main battery director was coached on air targets by CIC, SC Radar plot, replots from voice communications from other ships and lookouts. Method of Control: Full optical control when conditions permitted and radar ranges could not be taken due to proximity of large ship formations and land, partial radar and full radar control with the 5"/38 battery in full automatic control. No hits were observed. Great difficulty was experienced in obtaining radar targets due to the land-locked position of this vessel and the interference of the radar equipment of other ships.

  (b) Ammunition expended as follows:

     First Action - 53 rounds AA common projectiles and smokeless powder.
     Second Action - 9 rounds AA common projectiles and flashless powder, 40 rounds 40mm and 60 rounds 20mm.
     Third Action - 90 rounds AA common projectiles and flashless powder.

  (c) Effectiveness of gunnery was observed as follows:

     First Action - Target was taken under fire for a short period over our ships formation with our own bursts unobserved due to much fire from other ships, and again as it was leaving the formation in a dive to get close to the water crossing from port quarter to starboard quarter. To clear cable twist, director was slewed around as ship was turning right. Stereo ranges were observed at this point and the shift was made to partial radar as the target cleared formation, increasing speed and flying about twenty feet over the water. Range increased rapidly from 7000 yards until cease firing. Bursts appeared to be short of target; some water bursts being ahead of target.

     Second Action - Ineffective due to the fact that director was tracking a more distant target when enemy plane was sighted visually going down port beam position angle 75°. The director was slewed on the target and fire opened immediately with 5/38 guns and forward 40mm who also saw the target momentarily but the insufficient time to switch to Mk. 51 director from main battery director. FD radar could not pick up the target and no satisfactory solution was obtained. Special projectiles could not be used due to proximity of enemy held territory.

     Third Action - Considered effective as target was forced to turn back from direct attack course at 9500 yards.

PART IV

  1. This vessel received no damage or casualties during the operation.

PART V

  1. There was no opportunity to test the coordination between CIC, Director and Shore Fire Control Party.

  (a) Radar conditions were poor in the San Pedro Bay, both for SC and FD due to land echoes and the interference of other equipment.

  (b) An instrument for the rapid replotting of all bogies reported relative to the fixed reference point in the area proved very convenient. Properly adjusted and handled, it enables the Air Plotter to convert these reports relative to own ship in about four seconds. In this way, with reports coming in rapid succession, a clear overall plot of the air situation can be kept, courses, speeds and groups determined from many sources. In anti-aircraft action No. 2 (Part III), this method was particularly effective.

  (c) The worst feature observed was the poor discipline and irresponsible use of the TGS and 34.8 megacycles. The air was so cluttered with simultaneous transmissions of administrative and unimportant traffic that operational measures could not be sent or received. This ship was never able to determine when orders were given to open fire or hold fire during enemy air attacks. Furthermore, the noise level was so high on the bridge and in CIC that the functions of those vital stations were actually hampered.

PART VI

  1. There were no casualties to personnel. All hands performed their duties in a highly satisfactory manner.

J. L. FOSTER

Copies to: Cominch (Adv. Copy)
           CinCPac (2 Adv. Copy)
           CinCPOA (2 Adv. Copy)
           ComSoPac
           Com3rdFlt
           ComDesPac
           CDS 21
           CTF 76 (Adv. Copy).

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