Monday, December 22, 2014

Repair work on the San Jacinto

In 1944, during operations against Japanese air bases on Luzon, the Third Fleet's Task Force 38 encountered a devastating typhoon on December 18, resulting in 3 ships lost and many others damaged. On today's date in 1944, those damaged ships, which were sent ahead, began reaching their base at Ulithi for repairs. The remainder of the fleet arrived a few days later. Fleet repair ships and other auxiliaries began work immediately.*

One of those injured ships, the light carrier USS San Jacinto, came alongside the repair ship Hector, on which my dad, Frank Dolan, was stationed. Hector's crews began major repairs immediately for damage received from the typhoon. Much of the damage resulted from planes in the hanger deck breaking loose and destroying air intakes, vent ducts, and the sprinkling system. There also was widespread flooding and water damage to electrical, ventilation and power systems, and 2 doors had to be made watertight. Carriers were essential to the ongoing operation in the Philippines, and Hector labored to complete its work by December 29th.

USS San Jacinto, 1944
Source: NavSource

Launched in September 1943, San Jacinto arrived in the Pacific war zone in June 1944 to take part in the Marianas Campaign and the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Throughout that summer, her planes struck targets in the Palaus, Bonins, and the Caroline Islands. During October, she participated in raids on Okinawa, Formosa, and the Philippines, and the famous Battle of Leyte Gulf. She was then part of the task group that continued the Western Pacific offensive against Japanese targets in the Philippines, Formosa, and throughout the South China Sea.

In the early months of 1945, San Jacinto's planes raided the Japanese home islands and assisted with the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Remaining off Okinawa, she battled suicide planes and helped destroy the final Japanese surface warship attack in the Pacific. She again struck targets in Japan during July and operated in the area through the final days of the war.

Lt. (j.g.) George H. W. Bush
One of the more famous men to serve on the San Jacinto was future President George H.W. Bush. Bush's first assignment after finishing flight training was with a torpedo squadron based on the San Jacinto in 1944. San Jacinto was part of Task Force 58 that participated in operations against Marcus and Wake Islands in May, and then in the Marianas during June. On June 19th, the task force triumphed in one of the largest air battles of the war, the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Three months later, Bush piloted one of the aircraft that attacked the Japanese installations on Chichi Jima. His plane was hit, although he was able to complete the attack. The crew was forced to bail out several miles from the island, although, sadly, his other 2 crewmen were killed. After 30 days on his rescue sub, USS Finback, Bush was returned to San Jacinto. He saw action in the Philippines before returning to Guam, where his squadron, which had suffered heavy losses, was replaced. Bush flew 58 combat missions and received the Distinguished Flying Cross for the Chichi Jima raid. He also earned 3 Air Medals.

After Japan's surrender, San Jacinto returned to the U.S. She was decommissioned 1947. In 1959, while still in the Reserve Fleet, she was reclassified as an aircraft transport. Finally in 1971, the ship was sold for scrap. The USS San Jacinto earned a Presidential Unit Citation, 5 battle stars, and other medals for her WWII service.

*While the Hector was repairing the San Jacinto, the repair ship Ajax worked on the escort carrier Altamaha and the fleet tug Jicarilla. The destroyer Dewey was tied up to the destroyer tender Prairie for repairs. The destroyer tender Cascade had the destroyer Buchanan alongside, and the destroyer tender Dixie was repairing the destroyer Dyson.

Sources: USS Hector War Diary, December 1944; Short History of the USS San Jacinto, 3 May 1944 15 August 1945; USS Hector AR7- Ship's Log (WWII); Naval History and Heritage: Biographies in Naval History; Military Wiki Encyclopedia

No comments:

Post a Comment