Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
US Asiatic Fleet
Originally the Asiatic Squadron, it was upgraded to fleet status in 1902. In 1907, the fleet became the First Squadron of the Pacific Fleet in 1907. However, on 28 January 1910, the ships of that squadron were again organized as the Asiatic Fleet.
1902 – 1941
World War II
By mid-1941, the headquarters for this unit was in Manila, at the Marsman Building . The commander was Admiral Thomas C. Hart and the fleet was based at Cavite Naval Base and Olongapo Naval Station. On July 22, the Mariveles Naval Base was completed and used as well.
Admiral Hart had permission to withdraw to the Indian Ocean, in the event of war, at his discretion.
Early in November, the Navy Department ordered Hart to withdraw the fleet's Marines and gunboats, stationed in China. Five of the gunboats were moved to Manila, Wake (PG-43) was left with a skeleton crew as a radio base and was seized by the Japanese on December 8 and Tutuila (PG-44) was given to the Chinese.
The majority of the 4th Marine Regiment was stationed at Shanghai, and other detachments were at Pekin (Beijing) and Tientsin (Tianjin). These troops were loaded onto two President class liners on November 27 and 28 (at either Shanghai or Chinwangtao (Qinghuangdao) and arrived in the Philippines on November 30 and December 1.
President Harrison returned to Chinwangtao, to move the remaining marines, but was captured by the Japanese on December 7. Those Marines which had reached the Philippines were tasked with defending the naval stations, particularly Mariveles Naval Base.
USS Rochester was scuttled.
Manila and Subic Bays (in support of the Harbor Defenses) were mined by the Asiatic Fleet, stationed in Manila Bay. These minefields were designed to stop all vessels, except for submarines and shallow-draft surface craft.
Vessels of the Asiatic Fleet and the 16th Naval District — December 8, 1941
The Asiatic Fleet and the 16th Naval District , possessed 1 heavy cruiser, 1 light cruiser, 13 World War I-era destroyers, 29 submarines, 5 or 6 gunboats, 1 yacht, 6 minesweepers, 2 tankers, an ocean-going tugboat, 1 rescue vessel, and various other ships, including 6 motor torpedo boats that formed Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three.
Also stationed at Cavite Naval Base was the Offshore Patrol.
Aircraft of the Asiatic Fleet — December 8, 1941
The aviation elements of the Asiatic Fleet comprised Patrol Wing 10 , with two patrol squadrons (VPs), a utility unit, and the aviation units aboard the Fleet's two cruisers and the large seaplane tender Langley (AV-3).
Patrol Wing 10 had been commissioned in December 1940, and included Patrol Squadrons 101 (VP 101 ) and 102 (VP 102 ), each equipped with fourteen Consolidated PBY-4 Catalina flying boats. By Mid-1941 these 28 PBY-4s were numbered 1 thru 14 for VP 101, 16 thru 29 for VP 102. The Utility Unit included Grumman J2F amphibians (1 J2F-2, 4 J2F-4s, and, delivered in the late summer, five new Vought-Sikorsky OS2U-2 Kingfisher floatplanes. Also, a number of Curtiss SOC Seagull floatplanes were present. Houston (CA-30) carried four, Marblehead (CL-12) two, and Langley two or three, and two more were under repair or in storage at the Aircraft Overhaul Shop (Shop X 34) at the Cavite Navy Yard.
As of 8 December Patrol Wing 10 was conducting patrols as follows: Daily five PBYs scouted sector to the northwest of Luzon, five more ditto to the northeast. These flights based at either NAS Sangley Point or the Navy's auxiliary seaplane station at Olongapo on Subic Bay, or seaplane tender Childs (AVD-1) in Manila Bay. Trios of PBYs rotated down to the southern islands to base on William B. Preston (AVD-7) at Malalag Bay on Davao Gulf, Mindanao. These patrols out over the Philippine Sea to the east bordered with similar patrols flown by Royal Netherlands Naval Air Service flying boats basing in the Netherlands East Indies. Seaplane tender Heron (AVP-2), with a detachment of four OS2U-2 Kingfishers from the Untility Unit ran morning and evening patrols from Port Ciego , Balabac Island , over the strategically important Balabac Straits from 4 thru 13 December.
Early in the morning of 8 December Preston sent off one plane on patrol and a short time later was attacked by aircraft from the small Japanese carrier Ryujo , and her other two PBYs were sunk on the water.
Patrol Wing 10 was ordered south into the Netherlands East Indies on 12 December, when the collapsing defenses of the islands made further operations untenable. Within the first ninety days of the war Patrol Wing 10 had fallen back to Perth, Western Australia, being reenforced by VP 22 from Hawaii, but losing 43 of 45 PBYs, all but four to enemy action, together with tender Langley.
- PBY-4 (28. Added: 12 PBY-5s from VP 22 and 5 ex-Dutch Catalinas in January)
- J2F-2 -4 (4)
- OS2U-2 (5)
- SOC-1, -2 / SON (10 - 12)
Vessels of the British and Dutch Navies
These forces were either wiped out or driven from the area during the next few months. HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse were the first victims of the Japanese. They set out from Singapore to intercept Japanese forces landing in Malaya. On 10 December 1941, they were intercepted by Japanese aircraft and sunk. The British and Dutch cruisers were damaged or destroyed during the defence of the Netherlands East Indies, including at such engagements as the Battle of the Java Sea.
Asiatic Fleet — December 8, 1941
- Task Force 5
- Destroyer Squadron 29
- Patrol Wing 10
- Submarine Squadron 20
- Mine Squadron 3
- 4th Marine Regiment
Commanders in Chief, Asiatic Fleet
|•||Robley D. Evans||(1902)|
|•||William S. Cowles||(c. 1908||–||1909)|
|•||Joseph Strauss||(1921||–||Aug. 28 1922)|
|•||Edwin Anderson, Jr.||(Aug. 28 1922||–||Oct. 11 1923)|
|•||Thomas Washington||(Oct. 11 1923||–||Oct. 14 1925)|
|•||C. S. Williams||(Oct. 14 1925||–|
|•||Mark L. Bristol||(1927||–|
|•||Charles B. McVay||(||–||Sept. 1 1931)|
|•||Montgomery Taylor||(Sept. 1 1931||–||Aug. 18 1933)|
|•||Frank B. Upham||(Aug. 18 1933||–||Sept. 30 1935)|
|•||Orin G. Murfin||(Sept. 30 1935||–||Oct. 30 1936)|
|•||Harry E. Yarnell||(Oct. 30 1936||–||July 24, 1939)|
|•||Thomas C. Hart||(July 24, 1939||–|
- Philippine Department, USAFFE
- Military History of the Philippines
- Military History of the United States
- Robert W. Love’s History of the U.S. Navy
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