Ormoc Bay

USS Fletcher DD-445

Ormoc Bay Action Report

December 6 - 7, 1944

USS Fletcher (DD-445)
c/o Fleet Post Office
San Francisco, Calif.

C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-T-I-A-L (DECLASSIFIED)                                                    20 December, 1944

From:  The Commanding Officer.
To:    The Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet.
Via:   (1) Commander, Destroyer Division FORTY-TWO.
           (2) Commander, Destroyer Squadron TWENTY-ONE.
           (3) Commander, Task Unit SEVENTYSEVEN.
           (4) Commander, SEVENTH FLEET.

Subject: Action Report - Destroyer Sweep of Ormoc Bay, Leyte Island, Philippine Islands.

Reference: (a) PacFlt. Confidential Ltr. 2CL-44.
           (b) U.S. Navy Regulations, 1920.

Enclosures:  (A) Track chart of USS FLETCHER.
             (B) T.B.S. Log, USS FLETCHER
             (C) Chronological record of operations.

PART I

  1. A sweep of Ormoc Bay, Leyte, Philippine Islands was made the night of December 6 - 7, 1944 by DDs NICHOLAS (CDS 21, OTC), O'BANNON, FLETCHER (CDD 42) and LA VALLETTE. The group departed from the screen of the Ormoc Attack Force (TG 78.3) about 2030 in the lower Surigao Strait and proceeded via Canigao Strait and the Camotes Sea arriving in the target area about 0130. No surface targets other than native canoes were encountered. The west coast of Ormoc Bay lying between Merida and Calunangan Point was illuminated by star-shells and bombarded in hopes of locating and firing camouflaged enemy craft lying close inshore. Several small fires were started on the beach. Retirement was begun at 0245 by route west of the Camotes Islands. During this time there was some heckling by bogeys who were taken under fire on several occasions without results. No bombs were dropped. The formation passed west through the channel of Canigao Strait at 0500 and thence through Surigao Strait and Leyte Gulf to San Pedro Bay.

  2. PRELIMINARIES

     (a) Immediately prior to the operation this vessel proceeded from San Pedro Bay to rendezvous with LA VALLETTE, who was patrolling picket station in Surigao Strait. About 1630 vessels of the Ormoc Attack Force (TG 78.3), plus NICHOLAS and O'BANNON began arriving in this patrol area and FLETCHER and LA VALLETTE joined the formation.

     (b) The purpose of the operation was to intercept and destroy a Japanese convoy of transports and escorts known to be heading for Ormoc Bay. The specific mission of this vessel was to furnish star-shell illumination in locating enemy shipping hiding close inshore.

     (c) Own forces were DDs NICHOLAS, O'BANNON, FLETCHER and LA VALLETTE.

     (d) No enemy forces other than aircraft were encountered.

     (e) Wind - 230°(T), force strong breeze 17-21 knots.
         Sea - No. 2, slight 1-3 feet.
         Swell - From 230°(T), No. 1, low.
         Visibility - 2 nautical miles, overcast - completely covered by clouds.

PART II

  1. Chronological account of action.
     See Enclosure (A), (B) and (C).

PART III

  1. Ordnance equipment functioned as designed.

     (a) FLETCHER was designated as illumination ship. Illumination was necessary due to proximity of land through 300° of bearing saturating the FD Radar screen (Mk. 4). On each suspected target, illumination was ordered by OTC. Procedure followed: Opened with 3 - 5"/38 gun salvos according to gunnery doctrine. Then shift was made for guns 2, 3 and 4 to maintain illumination. Guns 1 and 5 standing by for AA fire if necessary. CIC information was used throughout except for anti-aircraft firing in which full radar control fire discipline and gunnery communications were used after being well coached on target by SC Radar.

     (b) The hot shellman in Gun #1 received a mashed finger from hot shell catching it against the after bulkhead of shield just above hot shell chute when gun was fired at short range on suspected surface contact. This casualty has been experienced before and steps have now been taken to raise height of hot shell chute to assure no recurrence.

     (c) There were no material casualties.

     (d) Ammunition expended: 92 rounds of illumination projectiles, 242 AA common projectiles, 114 Mk. 32 projectiles, 158 40mm projectiles,. Effectiveness of gunnery, surface and anti-aircraft unobserved.

     (e) No fire was received from an enemy units.

PART IV

  1. This vessel suffered no battle damage. No observed damage was inflicted upon the enemy.

PART V

  1. Although CIC functioned without any major failures, this operation brought out clearly the necessity of a gunnery liaison officer in CIC. The simultaneous problem of air and surface target designation, high speed maneuvers, bridge, director, and TBS communications were too much for the evaluator and CIC officer to handle efficiently without assistance. The result was that the director was not kept fully informed of the complicated conditions.

PART VI

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

/s/ J. L. FOSTER

Copes:
  CinCPOA (Adv)
  Cominch (Adv)
  CinCPac (Adv)
  ComDesPac

ENCLOSURE B   (TBS Log)

(CDS 21 is in NICHOLAS, CDD 42 is in FLETCHER, Gang is all four destroyers)

6 December, 1944
2018 CDS 21 to Gang - Form speed of formation sections form 180. Section 1 to starboard, section 2 to port.
2024 CDS 21 to CTG 78.3 - Request channel of message 061000 just received on 2415.
2048 CDD 42 to LA VALLETTE - Is that you dead astern of me?
2049 LA VALLETTE to CDD 42 - I can't answer that just now, I am about abeam of head of big formation and am looking for you.
2049 CDD 42 to LA VALLETTE - Someone just came in astern of me and I think that is you.
2055 CDD 42 to CDS 21 - Believe I am on your starboard beam, is that correct?
2057 LA VALLETTE to CDD 42 - I believe you are on my starboard beam. I have just come up on port side of formation.
2058 CDD 42 to LA VALLETTE - Form 18 on me.
2103 O'BANNON to CDS 21 - We have a native canoe 210 true, 2500 yards.
2103 CDD 42 to LA VALLETTE - Mike speed 5.
2113 CDD 42 to O'BANNON - What is your bearing with NICHOLAS from formation?
2113 CDD 42 to CDS 21 - Can you tell me where you are in the formation?
2113 CDS 21 to CDD 42 - We are about six thousand ahead of main body.
2113 CDD 42 to CDS 21 - We see you. Are joining immediately.
2119 NICOLAS to O'BANNON - Mike speed 09.
2142 O'BANNON to CDS 21 - Many skunks 310, 23,400.
2147 LA VALLETTE to CDS 21 - We are getting friendly indications on targets.
2150 CDD 42 to CDS 21 - Have you broken 061000?
2150 CDS 21 to CDD 42 - Negative.
2150 CDS 21 to CDD 42 - Were you able to break subject message?
2150 CDD 42 to CDS 21 - Roger, affirmative.
2210 CDS 21 to FLETCHER - Request you tell me channel used.
2212 CDD 42 to CDS 21 - Reference your last message, use channel 106.
2214 CDD 42 to CDS 21 - We can give you substance of message if you desire.
2215 CDD 42 to CDS 21 - Text of message was sent.
2215 CDD 42 to LA VALLETTE - Execute on receipt, turn 3.
2303 CTG 78.3 this is CDS 21 - I am in contact with Black Cat, he is making preliminary sweep to north... (remainder of this entry is illegible).
2306 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute speed 3.
2306 CDD 42 to LA VALLETTE - Execute speed 2.
2308 CDD 42 to LA VALLETTE - Speed 3, execute on receipt. Execute 6 turn.
2354 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, speed 4.
2355 CDS 21 to Gang - Standby, execute speed 4.
2358 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, speed 5. Execute, speed 5.
7 December, 1944
0003 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, speed 30.
0004 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute, speed 30.
0023 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute on receipt, form Victor 000, NICHOLAS on axis. O'BANNON to port, FLETCHER to starboard.
0023 LA VALLETTE to CDS 21 - We burned out a feed pump, have slowed down to standard speed. Will inform you later.
0028 CDS 21 to LA VALLETTE - Keep us informed of situation and maximum speed possible.
0028 LA VALLETTE to CDS 21 - We are at standard speed and are on axis and course you gave, we are having trouble with vacuum.
0033 LA VALLETTE to CDS 21 - We are regaining vacuum and will cross connect and think we can make speed 30 with this setup and will increase speed gradually.
0035 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, speed 5. Execute speed 5.
0039 LA VALLETTE to CDS 21 - We are making flank speed now and so far everything is O.K.
0042 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow turn 033. Execute turn 033.
0045 CDS to FLETCHER - Do you have 061256 on channel 2415?
0045 FLETCHER to LA VALLETTE - Do you have message requested in last transmission?
0052 O'BANNON to CDS 21 - We have message but have not broken it yet. Will advise you when broken.
0057 LA VALLETTE to CDS 21 - We are ready to try previous speed now. Any time you wish.
0058 LA VALLETTE to CDS 21 - In reference to your request about despatch. We have it but can't break it for we have no ECM.
0100 CDS 21 to Gang - Set watch with MAN on 37.6, call CDS 21 for radio check when ready.
0110 CDS 21 to Gang - In absence of ships, present intentions are to hit targets as follows: Sagunbun river mouth, river mouth inlet 2.2 miles west of Ormoc Town, along shore line, coastline between Merida and Calnangan Point.
0111 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow 000 turn. Execute 000 turn.
0115 LA VALLETTE to CDS 21 - We have 3 small surface contacts 078 - 5500. They do not show friendly indications, may be small craft.
0117 LA VALLETTE to CDS 21 - We have 4 dispatches addressed to you on that circuit we are guarding for which we have no machine. Two are urgent and others are operational.
0117 CDS 21 to LA VALLETTE - Roger, we think we have most of the information. Thank you, out.
0125 CDS 21 to Gang - Black Cat reports he has made sweep on coast line to 20 miles north of Point Molly and reports negative results.
0130 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, 318 turn. Execute, 318 turn.
0133 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute on receipt, form 18.
0135 O'BANNON to CDS 21 - Plane bearing 250°(T), 3 miles, no friendly indications.
0135 CDS 21 to O'BANNON - Have friendly indications on that plane.
0141 CDS 21 to Gang - On first target all ships fire 2 salvos of stars.
0144 CDS 21 to O'BANNON - Have surface contact at 288, 3150.
0144 O'BANNON to CDS 21 - We make that to be a plane.
0145 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, speed 3. Execute, speed 3.
0146 CDS 21 to Gang - Standby to illuminate.
0147 FLETCHER to CDS 21 - Surface gadget bearing 310, 13080.
0149 FLETCHER to CDS 21 - Another surface gadget bearing 335, 11800.
0149 CDS 21 to Gang - Belay the shore line target, get on surface targets.
0150 CDS 21 to FLETCHER - Standby to illuminate surface target at 310.
0151 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, speed 4. Execute speed 4.
0152 CDS 21 to FLETCHER - Illuminate, others standby to open fire immediately.
0153 FLETCHER to CDS 21 - Another target at 341, 9948.
0155 CDS 21 to Gang - Cease illumination, we have no targets. Standby to illuminate shore line between Merida and Calnangan Point.
0159 CDS 21 to Gang - On this firing if there are no available targets direct your fire at the beach line.
0200 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute 3 turn.
0201 LA VALLETTE to CDS 21 - Have small target at 109, 4430, I can't identify positively.
0202 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, turn 3. Execute turn 3.
0203 CDS 21 to Gang - (first sentence illegible) Along this coast line large camouflaged ships are reported right against coast.
0204 CDS 21 to Gang - Illuminate.
0205 CDS 21 to Gang - Commence firing at coast line.
0206 CDS 21 to Gang - execute to follow, turn 3. Execute turn 3.
0207 FLETCHER to CDS 21 - We have no more illumination projectiles.
0209 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, 3 turn. Execute, 3 turn.
0211 CDS 21 to Gang - Check fire. Execute to follow, turn 18.
0211½ CDS 21 to Gang - Execute turn 18.
0213 O'BANNON to CDS 21 - Unloading one gun through muzzle.
0213 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, speed 5.
0214 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute speed 5.
0215 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, turn 6. Execute turn 6.
0215 LA VALLETTE - Surface gadget bearing 296, 1870.
0216 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, 6 turn.
0217 CDS 21 to O'BANNON - Do you have LA VALLETTE's surface gadget?
0217 O'BANNON to CDS 21 - Negative.
0217 CDS 21 to Gang - Standby, execute 6 turn.
0217 CDS 21 to LA VALLETTE - Illuminate your surface gadget.
0218 LA VALLETTE to CDS 21 - We have lost it. It was definite and disappeared suddenly. Looked like it might have been a periscope.
0220 O'BANNON to CDS 21 - We have that surface contact at 272, 3400.
0220 CDS 21 to O'BANNON - Illuminate.
0220 O'BANNON to CDS 21 - See no target.
0222 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, turn 18. Execute, turn 18.
0226 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, turn 6.
0227 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute turn 6.
0228 CDS 21 to Gang - Work over same coast line between Merida and Calnangan Point. All ships illuminate. O'BANNON maintain illumination.
0229 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, turn 3.
0230 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute turn 3. Execute to follow, 9 turn. Execute 9 turn.
0231 CDS 21 to Gang - Last signal was execute 9 turn.
0232 CDS 21 to LA VALLETTE - Have that gadget again at 246, 2410.
0233 CDS 21 to Gang - Last reported gadget thought to be a native boat. Standby to illuminate. Illuminate. Commence firing.
0234 CDS 21 to Gang - Check fire.
0236½ CDS 21 to Gang - I am coming right to 240. Follow the leader.
0239 CDS to to Gang - Cease firing.
0240½ CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, turn 6.
0241 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute turn 6.
0243 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, 3 turn. Execute 3 turn.
0245 CDS 21 to Gang - We are now commencing retirement, bombardment completed. Small targets thought to be native boats.
0247 CDS 21 to Gang - Form Victor, axis 180, execute on receipt.
0247 CDS 21 to LA VALLETTE - Request report on engineering condition.
0247 LA VALLETTE to CDS 21 - Wait.
0247 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, 3 turn. Execute 3 turn.
0249 LA VALLETTE to CDS 21 - Engineering condition report. Pump will be repaired in about a half-hour. Until then we can make speed between 31 and 31. Packing had burned out in pump.
0257 LA VALLETTE to CDS 21 - Bogie bearing 155, 16 closing.
0258 CDS 21 to Gang - Form 18.
0259 LA VALLETTE to CDS 21 - Bogie bearing 140, 14 miles, course 020, speed 180. May be several bogies.
0300 LA VALLETTE to CDS 21 - Several bogies bearing 140 - 11, course 320, speed 180.
0301 CDS 21 to O'BANNON - We have surface gadget 222, 4700. Do you concur?
0301 O'BANNON to CDS 21 - Negative on your last transmission.
0302 O'BANNON to CDS 21 - We have contact now at 225, 5000.
0303 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, turn 3. Execute turn 3.
0303 LA VALLETTE to CDS 21 - I do not have any bogies now.
0303½ CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, 6 turn.
0304 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute 6 turn.
0305 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, 2 turn.
0306 CDS 21 to Gang - Negat my last transmission.
0307 CDS 21 to Gang - Form 18.
0309 O'BANNON to CDS 21 - Did you see firing in vicinity of Calnangan Point about where we were firing?
0309 CDS 21 to O'BANNON - Affirmative.
0309 CDS 21 to Gang - Mike Corpen 130.
0311 CDS 21 to Gang - form Victor, axis 180, NICHOLAS on axis.
0312 LA VALLETTE to CDS 21 - Bogie bearing 205, 6 miles, closing.
0313 LA VALLETTE to CDS 21 - Bogie bearing 203, 3 miles, closing 200.
0315 CDS 21 to Gang - Turn 4 answering. Execute turn 4 answering.
0316 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute on receipt, speed 30.
0317 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, 4 answering turn. Execute 4 answering turn.
0318 CDS 21 to Gang - Emergency turn 3.
0320 CDS 21 to Gang - Emergency 3 turn.
0322 CDS 21 to Gang - Emergency turn 3.
0323 CDS 21 to Gang - Emergency 6 turn.
0325 FLETCHER to CDS 21 - Bogie bearing 325, 11 miles, closing.
0325 CDS 21 to FLETCHER - We concur.
0326 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, turn 3. Execute turn 3.
0328 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, 4 answering turn. Execute 4 answering turn.
0331 LA VALLETTE to CDS 21 - Are we in formation Victor?
0331 CDS 21 to LA VALLETTE - Affirmative. We are in form VICTOR 180, NICHOLAS on axis.
0342 FLETCHER to CDS 21 - Bogie bearing 195, 6 miles.
0342 CDS 21 to Gang - Emergency 3 turn.
0343 CDS 21 to Gang - Emergency turn 6. Emergency 3 turn.
0345 CDS 21 to Gang - Emergency 4 answering turn.
0357 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, 120 turn.
0357½ CDS 21 to Gang - Execute 120 turn.
0427 CDS 21 to Gang - Execute to follow, 113 turn. Execute 113 turn.
0428 FLETCHER to CDS 21 - Bogie bearing 245, 11 miles.
0428 CDS 21 to FLETCHER - We concur.
0432 CDS 21 to Gang - Emergency turn 3.
0433 CDS 21 to Gang - Emergency 3 turn.
0434 FLETCHER to CDS 21 - Bogie bearing 255, 5 miles.
0435 CDS 21 to Gang - Bogies merged with friendly at 200, 7 miles.
0443 CDS 21 to Gang - Form 18.

ENCLOSURE C   (Chronological Record of Operations)

2018 Left formation in company with DDs NICHOLAS (CDS 21, OTC), O'BANNON, and LAVALLETTE and formed up in two sections, FLETCHER (CDD 42) #1 in section two.
2103
 O'BANNON reports native canoe 210°(T), 2500 yards.
2130
 Changed course to 315°(T), speed 09 knots.
2133
 Friendly surface target 310°(T), 23,000 yards.
2142
 O'BANNON reports several skunks.
2147
 LA VALLETTE identifies O'BANNON's skunks as friendly.
2300
 Formed column to transit east channel Canigao Strait, FLETCHER #3.
2305
 Increased speed to 15 knots.
2306
 Changed course to 355°(T).
2329
 Changed course to 025°(T).
2354
 Increased speed to 20 knots.
2356
 Increased speed to 25 knots.
2357
 Changed course to 315°(T).
0004
 Increased speed to 30 knots.
0015
 Changed course to 330°(T).
0023
 Formed "V" formation, FLETCHER station #3. LA VALLETTE reports engineering casualty.
0035
 Changed speed to 25 knots.
0042
 Changed course to 033°(T); alerted all stations at General Quarters.
0110
 CDS 21 designated shore targets in case no enemy shipping is present.
0111
 Changed course to 000°(T).
0115
 LA VALLETTE reports 3 small surface contacts 078°(T), 5600 yards. Believed to be native canoes.
(illegible entry)
 U.S. aircraft searched the area with negative results.
0130
 Changed course to 318°(T).
0133
 Formed column, FLETCHER station #3.
0141
 CDS 21 instructed all ships to fire two salvos of stars and the first designated target.
0145
 Slowed to 15 knots.
0146
 Standby to illuminate.
0147
 FLETCHER reports surface target bearing 310°(T), 13,000 yards.
0149
 FLETCHER reports surface target 355°(T), 11,800 yards. CDS 21 orders shift from short line to surface targets.
0150
 Changed course to 270°(T), changed speed to 20 knots.
0151
 Commenced firing star-shells.
0153
 FLETCHER reports another target at 341°(T), 9948 yards.
0154
 Ceased firing, no target illuminated.
0155
 Changed course to 200°(T).
0159
 Changed course to 170°(T), CDS 21 directs all ships to bombard shore line if next illumination reveals no target.
0201
 LA VALLETTE reports small unidentified target 109°(T), 4430 yards.
0202
 Changed course to 200°(T).
0204
 Commenced firing star-shells to illuminate coast line bearing 315°(T), range 6,200 yards.
0206
 Changed course to 230°(T).
0208
 Ceased firing, all star-shells expended.
0209
 Changed course to 200°(T).
0211
 Changed course to 020°(T).
0214
 Changed speed to 25 knots.
0215
 Changed course to 080°(T). LA VALLETTE reports surface gadget 296°(T), 1370 yards. (TBS log shows 1870 yards.)
0222
 Changed course to 200°(T).
0227
 Changed course to 260°(T).
0228
 CDS 21 orders all ships to work over coast line between Merida and Calnangan Point again. O'BANNON designated to maintain illumination.
0229
 Changed course to 290°(T).
0230
 Changed course 20 200°(T).
0233
 Commenced firing at shore line.
0234
 Ceased firing.
0234½
 Resumed firing.
0236
 Changed course to 240°(T).
0243
 Changed course to 270°(T).
0245
 Commenced retirement.
0247
 Formed "V" formation, axis 180°(T). Changed course to 270°(T).
0249
 LA VALLETTE reports ability to maintain 30 knots.
0257
 Formed column, FLETCHER in station #3. LA VALLETTE reports bogie 155°(T), 16 miles, closing.
0301
 CDS 21 surface gadget 222°(T), 4700 yards.
0302
 Changed course to 270°(T).
0303
 Changed course to 210°(T).
0309
 O'BANNON reports AA fire in vicinity of previous bombardment area.
0311
 Formed "V" formation, axis 180°(T).
0313
 Changed course to 275°(T).
0314
 FLETCHER reports bogies 080°(T), 3 miles.
0315
 Commenced firing.
0316
 Increased speed to 30 knots. Ceased firing.
0318
 Emergency turn to 260°(T). Commenced firing at bogies 330°(T), 4 miles.
0319
 Ceased firing.
0320
 Emergency turn to 230°(T).
0321
 Emergency turn 3 to 260°(T)
0322
 Emergency turn 6 to 200°(T).
0325
 FLETCHER reports bogie 325°(T), 11 miles, closing.
0326
 Changed course to 230°(T).
0328
 Changed course to 185°(T).
0342
 FLETCHER reports bogie 195°(T), 6 miles.
0343
 Emergency 3 turn to 155°(T). Commenced firing, 180°(T), 4000 yards. Emergency turn 6 to 215°(T).
0343
 Ceased firing.
0345
 Emergency turn to 185°(T).
0346
 Emergency 4.5 turn to 140°(T).
0357
 Changed course to 120°(T).
0427
 Changed course to 113°(T).

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