Morotai

USS Fletcher DD-445

Morotai Action Report

September 15, 1944

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

Serial 004

19 September, 1944

S-E-C-R-E-T (DECLASSIFIED)

From:  The Commanding Officer.
To:      The Commander in Chief, United States Fleet.
Via:     (1) The Commander Destroyer Division 42.
             (2) The Commander Destroyer Squadron 2.
             (3) The Commander Task Force 77.
             (4) The Commander Seventh Fleet.

Subject:   Action Report - Morotai Bombardment.

Reference: (a) Pac Fleet Conf. ltr. 201-44.
               (b) U.S.Navy Regulations 1920.
               (c) CTF 77 Op Plan 8-44.

Enclosure: (A) Track of bombardment approach and retirement (missing)

PART I

  1. This vessel in company with units of Task Force 77 conducted a bombardment of an assigned area in preparation for the landing of U.S. troops at Red Beach near Pitoe Airstrip, Morotai Island from 0735 to 0750, zone minus 9 time, September 15, 1944. The bombardment was carried out as scheduled. 679 rounds of 5"/38 caliber AA common projectiles were fired into the target area from a range of 1250 yards determined by navigational plot. Results were unobserved.

  2. PRELIMINARIES

  (a) This vessel as part of Task Group 77.3 left the rendezvous point off Maffin Bay, New Guinea at 1000, September 11, 1944 in accordance with CTF 77 Op Plan 8-44. The attack force arrived off Cape Gila, Morotai Island at 0600 September 15, 1944 without incident enroute. At 0623 Task Unit 77.3.2.1 USS FLETCHER (CTG 77.3.2.1-CDD 42) and USS. LA VALLETTE were detached without signal to proceed to fire support area "D".

  (b) MISSION

     The mission of Task Unit 77.3.2.1 Fire Support Unit "D" was (1) to provide anti-aircraft and anti-submarine protection during the approach and retirement of Echelons to and from the landing area, (2) to provide naval gunfire support in preparation for the landing in accordance with the Naval Gunfire Support Plan, (3) to provide anti-aircraft and anti-submarine screen around the transport area during unloading operations, (4) to provide call fire if so requested by the Shore Fire Control Parties.

  (c) OWN FORCES

ATTACK FORCE
 (TF 77) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - Rear Adm. BARRY

FORCE FLAGSHIP (1 AGC)
  WASATCH  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Captain GRANUM

RELIEF FORCE FLAGSHIP (1 DD)
  RUSSELL  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Lt. Comdr. WICKS

77.1 ESCORT CARRIERS (TF 78) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Rear Adm. SPRAGUE

  77.1.1 CARRIER UNIT ONE (4 CVE)(8 DE)

  SANGAMON (F), SUWANNEE, CHENANGO, SANTEE.

  RICHARD S. BULL (F), RICHARD M. ROWELL, EVERSOLE, SEMS J. C. BUTLER, RAYMOND, EDMONS, SHELTON.

  77.1.2 CARRIER UNIT TWO (CVE 2) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - R.Adm. C.A.F. SPRAGUE.
  
  FANSHAW BAY (F), MIDWAY.

77.2 CLOSE SUPPORT AND COVERING FORCE (TF 75) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Rear Adm. BERKEY

  77.2.1 CRUISER UNIT ONE (3 CL)(6 DD)

  PHOENIX (F), NASHVILLE, BOISE.

  HUTCHINGS, BEALE, BACHE, DALY, ABNER READ, BUSH.

  77.2.2 CRUISER UNIT TWO (2 CA)( 4 DD) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Commodore Calling, RAN.

  AUSTRALIA (F), SHROPSHIRE.

  ARUNTA, WARRAMUNGA, AMMEN, MULLANY.

77.3 ATTACK GROUP

GROUP FLAGSHIP (Force Flagship)
 (1 AGC)

  WASATCH  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Captain GRANUM.

RELIEF GROUP FLAGSHIP (1 DD)

  RUSSELL.

  77.3.1 WHITE BEACH UNIT - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Rear Adm. BARBY.

  DESTROYERS (5 DD)

  MORRIS (F), ANDERSON, MUSTIN (FD), McKEE, STEVENS.

  TRANSPORT (1 APA)

  KANIMELA - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Comdr. BUNYAN.

  APDs (5 APD)

  WARD (F), SCHLEY, KILTY, CROSBY, HERBERT.

  LCIs (9 LCI)

  LCI 25 (F), 29, 30, 224, 361, 225, 226, 430, 432.

  LSTs (4 LST) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Comdr. BAKER.

  LST 470 (F), 245, 459, 474.

  LCTs (4 LCT) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Ensign HINES.

  LCT 947 (F), 939, 940, 941*.

  * LCT 941 joins Red Beach LCTs upon arrival in objective area.

  SPECIAL SERVICE CRAFT - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Captain BRANTLY.

  PC 1119, 1134. (2 PC)
  LCI 72,73.     (2 LCI)(R)
  LCI 68, 70 (F) (2 LCI)(G)
  LCI 227.       (1 LCI)(D)
  SONOMA         (1 AT).

  BEACH PARTY

  Beach Party #6.  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Lt.Comdr. AVERY

  77.3.2 RED BEACH UNIT

  UNIT FLAGSHIP (1 DD)

  HUGHES.

  DESTROYERS (5 DD)- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Comdr. JARRELL

  FLETCHER (F), TAYLOR (FD), JENKINS (FD), LA VALLETTE, STACK.

  TRANSPORT (1 APA)  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Comdr. COUSINS.

  MANOORA.

  LCIs (LCI 546 (F)) (28 LCI) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Comdr. MARTIN.

  LCI 543, 544, 545, 547, 663, 744, 577, 746, 747, 748, 750, 1014, 958, 578
     579, 1015, 922, 964, 965, 967, 969, 971, 977, 978, 976, 979, 981, 968.

  LSTs (8 LST) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Captain SCRUGGS.

  LSTs 466 (F), 181, 452, 468, 462, 467, 472.

  LCTs (8 LCT) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Lt.(jg) RAMIN.

  LCT 984 (F), 942, 943, 949, 950, 951, 952, 953.

  LSD (1 LSD) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Lt. Comdr. HARRIS.

  CARTER HALL.

  SPECIAL SERVICE CRAFT - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Captain MURPHEY.

  PC 1120, 1133, 476, 1122.  (4 PC)
  YSM 8, 339, 46, 51.        (4 YMS)
  LCI 65, 23, 64, 69 (F)     (4 LCI)(G)
  LIC 31, 24.                (2 LCI)(R)

  BEACH PARTY

  Beach Party #5 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Lieut. WILLIAMS.

  (d)  ENEMY FORCES

       The only enemy force observed was one single engine fighter which passed over the unloading area at 0622 September 16, 1944 while being chased by several friendly fighters. Due to the fact that its approach was not detected either visually or by radar until it was in a position where our own fighters fouled the range it was not fired upon by this vessel.

  (e)  WEATHER CONDITIONS

       Temperature 84°
       Wind - Force 2, moving from 255°(T).
       Clouds - Sky 7 tenths covered, ceiling 99.
       Visibility - #8.
       Sea - (Outside Gila Peninsula) Slight, 1 to 3 feet.
       Swell - (Outside Gila Peninsula) Long and very low.

PART II

Chronological Accounts of Action

0623 - Task Unit 77.3.2.1 USS FLETCHER (CTU 77.3.2.1-CDD 42) and USS LA VALLETTE left cruising formation C-2 for bombardment station, speed 10.5 knots.
0645 - Increased speed to 20 knots to enter ahead of minesweepers who were about 10 minutes behind schedule. Permission was requested and received from CTF 77 for this by TBS. SG radar out of commission.
0650 - Passed between Point Gila and Mititia Island, slowed to 15 knots.
0654 - Slowed to 10 knots.
0715 - Observed shrapnel falling in approximate area of bombardment station. CTU 77.3.2.1 requested CTF 77.2 by TBS to draw his shots to the right.
0732 - On station.
0735 - Commenced firing. SG rdar back in operation.
0740 - Again reported to CTU 77.2 by TBS that fragments were falling in bombardment area and boat control lanes.
0741 - CTU 77.2 reported that he had ceased firing.
0750 - Ceased firing, commenced maneuvering to get clear of area to the westward. LA VALLETTE 600 yards astern.
0805 - Received orders from CTG 77 to intercept three enemy vessels reported northwest of Morotai. Commenced search. Proceeded north to Rao Island then on course 340°(T) until contact was made with USS TAYLOR at Longitude 128-00.5 E, Latitude 02-38 N. Result of search was negative and returned to patrol station in APA area.

PART III

  1. PERFORMANCE OF ORDNANCE EQUIPMENT 

  (a) Ordnance equipment functioned as designed. There were one material and one personnel casualty. The main battery director was laid in elevation and train by ranges and bearings from C.I.C. During the bombardment the ship lay to 1250 yards from the center of the target area (900 yards from shore line). Coverage of the target area was obtained by setting up arbitrary target courses and speeds on the Mark I Computer so as to move the fall of shot across the target area at a uniform rate (6 knots), reversing target course when notified by C.I.C. that limiting bearings had been reached. Provision was made for applying spots if such became necessary. Since only two shorts in the water were observed, it is assumed that all salvos fell in or over the target area.

  (b) AMMUNITION EXPENDED

     679 rounds 5"/38 AA Common.

  (c) The gunnery coverage as observed from the ship was considered to have been thorough and adequate to the elimination of any enemy personnel who may have been in the area.

  2. There was not return fire from the enemy. However, some fragments fell within 500 yards of FLETCHER and LA VALLETTE, caused by the simultaneous bombardment of the same area by Fire Support Unit "A", TG 77.2 from a position east of Point Gila. When the fact was reported to CTG 77.2 by CTU 77.3.2.1 the former checked fire.

PART IV

  1. MATERIAL CASUALTIES

  (a) On salvo number 89 the plug of gun #3 jammed due to an ammunition data card (specimen appended) which had stuck to the powder cork and had become wedged between the cork and the bore of the gun, causing the plug to jam. The gun was immediately cleared of all personnel. The CGM and the Gun Captain extracted both case and projectile and threw them over the side. The gun did not resume fire as the cause of the casualty was not immediately known.

  (b) The SG Radar went out of commission at 0645 due to an overheated magnetron in the transmitter caused by  failure of the blower-motor. It resumed operation at 0735. This casualty occurred at a time when accurate navigation was most important both to the safety of the ship and the execution of the mission. The combination of visual and sound cuts, however, proved satisfactory as a casualty procedure.

  2. PERSONNEL CASUALTY

     The personnel casualty occurred to the hot shellman in gun #5. The distal end of his right index finger was amputated when the finger was jammed against the top of the hot shell chute by a hot shell.

PART V

  1. C.I.C. was used to coach the main battery director as previously described.

  2. The ship was navigated through the somewhat restricted waters to its firing position from C.I.C. Visual bearings, sound ranges and bearings and fathometer readings were sent from the bridge to C.I.C. over the JX circuit. The Navigator plotted the ship's track on the D.R.T. Table. The chart was made up to scale 550 yards to the inch and contained all available navigational and fire support data. The D.R.T. pencil was never more than 150 yards from the visual cuts. The failure of the SG did not prevent the ship from reaching approximately the proper station.

PART VI

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

J. L. FOSTER

Copies to;

  Cominch (Advance copy)  CinCPac (Advance copy)  ComSoPac  ComThirdFleet  ComDesPac  CDS 21  CTF 76 (Advance copy)  CinCPOA (Advance copy).

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