Monday, June 23, 2014

Emergency repairs to USS Saranac

On today's date in 1944, the fleet oiler, USS Saranac, was received alongside my dad's repair ship, USS Hector, at Eniwetok for emergency battle damage work.

Saranac had been refueling carriers 30 miles east of Saipan when on June 18th, she and 2 other oilers in her group were attacked by Japanese aircraft. Saranac was hit by a bomb in her after superstructure deck, and her sick bay and engine room also were badly damaged. Tragically, 9 men were lost and 21 were wounded. The next day the stricken ship limped under her own power toward Eniwetok, all the while under enemy observation.

Crews from Hector worked in double shifts fully intending to complete Saranac's repairs. However, after the repair work was well underway, the Saranac received orders to return to the states for permanent repairs. Hector's crews then turned their attention to repairing the ship's power plant, enabling her to sail under her own power on July 2nd.

USS Saranac, near Mare Island, June 20, 1944

After her stateside repairs, Saranac rejoined the war in the Pacific. She supported the naval action in the Battle of Leyte starting in October 1944, the invasion of Okinawa in April 1945, and through the end of that year she refueled ships in the South China Sea. At the end of the war, Saranac was converted to a floating power barge for military installations in the Pacific. Finally, she was struck from the Naval Vessel Register in 1956, and a year later was sold to a private corporation.

For her distinguished World War II service the USS Saranac received 5 battle stars.

Sources: USS Hector AR7- Ship’s Log (WWII); USS Saranac War Diary, June & July 1944

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