Thursday, February 28, 2013

February's routine repairs

In the month of February 1943, in addition to major emergency repairs to Alchiba and Minneapolis, Dad's ship, Vestal, working non-stop, tackled numerous "routine not alongside repairs" to various vessels of the fleet. In relative order of service and repair, these ships included: Neosho, Tangier, St. Louis, Nashville, Liggett, Shelldrake, Rosewood, Helena, Platte, Mackinac, Honolulu, Neosho, Tangier, Whipstock,  Platte, Curtiss, Drake, Wilson, Kohi, Pyro, Conflict, Hopkins, Pathfinder, subchasers 531, 668, and 640, Mackinac, Carina, YAG-27, Kapora, Navajo, YMS-47, San Diego, Mormactern, Enterprise, Helena, Crater, Brastagi, Taurus, Ballard, Pickney, Majaba, Flusser, PB-4, Vireo, Clymer, Cape Fairweather, YMS-48, and Skylark, plus the Shore station.

Source: USS Vestal War Diary, February 1943

Monday, February 11, 2013

Work on the Pyro

One of the many ships in need of routine repairs by the Vestal at Espiritu Santo this month in 1943, was the USS Pyro. Aptly named, the Pyro was an ammunition ship, which transported ammunition between various fleet ships operating in the area during 1943. Pyro is one of many unsung heroes during the war.

The USS Pyro was one of the older ships in the fleet, having been launched in 1919. She was assigned to the Pacific Fleet in August 1941, arriving at Pearl Harbor that same month. She would enter the war with the other ships at Pearl when the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941. In the attack, she suffered no serious damage and was credited with damaging 1 Japanese plane. Immediately after the attack, Dad was temporarily assigned to a crew to unload its ammunition to safeguard it from becoming another Japanese target. Four days later she departed Pearl Harbor for San Francisco. She carried ammunition from the West Coast to Pearl Harbor through September 1942.

After her stint in 1943 as the primary ammunition ship supporting vessels around Espiritu Santo, Pyro transported ammunition from Australia, New Caledonia, and the New Hebrides to New Guinea. From April through July 1944, she replenished combatants engaged in the Admiralty Islands and Hollandia campaigns in New Guinea. From December 1944 to August 1945, she replenished ships in the Philippines. After transporting troops en route at Eniwetok, Marshall Islands, in October 1945, she returned to the West Coast.

USS Pyro was decommissioned in 1945, and sold for scrap in 1946. She earned 1 Battle Star for her WWII service.

USS Pyro 1941-1942
Source: USS Vestal War Diary, February 1943; Wikipedia

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Seaplane Tender USS Tangier

Another of the many vessels that Dad's ship, Vestal, repaired at Espiritu Santo during February 1943, was the USS Tangier. Tangier was a seaplane tender, one of many such ships that supplemented the aircraft carrier force during the war.

Tangier was launched in 1939 as a cargo ship but was converted to seaplane tender service in 1941. She was moored to the rear of the USS Utah (which was hit and sunk) in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese led a surprise attack on the US Fleet stationed there. During the attack, Tangier′s gunners claimed 3 enemy planes and scored hits on a midget sub that had penetrated the harbor's defenses. In March 1942, Tangier arrived in Nouméa, New Caledonia, to relieve the Curtiss as a tender for PBY Catalina flying boats in their long-range searches for the enemy. She participated in searches to rescue survivors in the Battle of the Coral Sea in April and May of that year. After a complete overhaul in February 1943, she sailed for Espiritu Santo, which is where she was serviced by Vestal, and operated out of this base through 1944. In 1945, her planes participated in anti-shipping missions in the South China Sea, before being assigned occupation duty in Japan.

The USS Tangier was decommissioned in 1947, and scrapped in 1961. Tangier earned 3 Battle Stars for her WWII service.

Sources: NavSource OnlineUSS Vestal War Diary, February 1943