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COMMANDER SOUTH ATLANTIC FORCE AT RECIFE - COMMANDER SOUTH ATLANTIC

24)OPERATIONS JUNE 43


On June 1, 1943, the Admiral issued a new Operations Plan, Number 1-43, to the Fleet. It superseded all previous ones, which were ordered forthwith destroyed.The new plan was long and comprehensive. It divided the entire command into nine Task Forces, numbered 41 to 49 inclusive. First came some general observations concerning the mutual support to be rendered by United States, British and Brazilian Naval Forces, operating in adjacent areas. There was reaffirmation of the rule that, when forces of different nationalities operated together, the Senior Officer Present should be coordinator.


Then followed directions for the Fleet as a whole, which should:


a.  Guard traffic in focal areas; 


b.  Destroy or capture enemy forces and shipping;


c.  Destroy or capture vessels trading with the enemy; 


d. Escort Bahia-Trinidad, Trinidad-Bahia Convoys and furnish air coverage within the areas assigned to the Fleet;


e. Patrol the sea area with surface forces and aircraft, with the specific purpose of accomplishing the above items; 


f. Patrol the sea areas along the Brazilian coast, using air and surface craft for anti-submarine operations and convoy protection; 


g. Destroy or capture enemy expeditionary forces, and support the Army and Caribbean Sea Frontier in preventing the extension of enemy military power in the Western Atlantic Area.


Next came designation of Task Forces and their purposes. Task Force Forty-one, commanded by Rear Admiral O. M. Read, consisted of all the Cruisers, with the Omaha as Flagship. This force existed for ocean patrol and should cruise the mid-Atlantic area to capture enemy blockade runners or raiders. Normally this should base at Recife and Bahia, but as the occasion required it might use San Juan, Trinidad, Montevideo, the Falkland Islands and Rio.


Next came the Destroyers, which, under the orders of Commander H. C. Robinson, made up Task Force Forty-two. The purpose would be to escort. But in addition to protecting the Trinidad-Bahia, Bahia-Trinidad Convoys, the Force would provide Destroyer Leaders and Destroyers to escort and screen mid-ocean patrols, and to be ready to furnish components for killer groups.


The first two Task Forces comprised the larger ships of the Fleet. Smaller vessels, including all the PCs, formed a pool from which they could be assigned to various Groups as the situation required. Next came Task Force Forty-three, the Carrier Group, but this had no organization at the time, there being no Carriers attached to the Fourth Fleet. In time its duties would consist of patrolling the mid=ocean line with the Cruisers, cooperating with surface vessels in attacking raiders and surface vessels, and scouting areas as directed.


The Air Arm, commanded by Captain R. D. Lyon, formed Task Force Forty-four. It included Fleet Air Wing Sixteen, all patrol squadrons, and would take in the Lighter-than-Air craft when they reported. Also in this Force were the Naval Air shore facilities in Brazil, and the Aircraft Tenders. Its function was to patrol as directed, provide intensive anti-submarine operations, cooperate with surface vessels, and provide air components for killer groups.


Task Force Forty-five, labeled "Killer Groups" had no set organization, since it would be assembled when necessary and consist of units from other Forces. Its function, when in existence, was to conduct hunting and killing operations against enemy submarines.


Brazilian Naval Forces of the Northeast, commanded by Rear Admiral Soares Dutra, comprised Task Force Forty-six. Normally the latter's function would be to handle the Bahia-Recife part of the Bahia-Trinidad convoy runs. In the case of the southbound convoys it would operate in the reverse direction, covering the same area. But it should also provide shuttle escorts from Belem for these convoys, when required, and other escorts when needed.


Task Force Forty-seven was classed as miscellaneous. The ships placed in this were mainly for the purpose of classifying them somewhere, since there was no likelihood of the units ever operating together. It consisted of the Fleet Flagships, the Harbor craft at Recife, Bahia, and Natal, the supply ship Melville, and the Patoka. This was not a combat Force, nor was it intended to be. Its chief duties were those of furnishing tender and supply service, assisting the shore establishments, and providing for the security of the ports.


The shore facilities, meaning all land establishments maintained by the Navy in Brazil, made up Task Force Forty-eight. Included here were such miscellaneous non-combat activities at the Medical Dispensary at Boa Viagem and the Destroyer Repair Units at Recife and Bahia.


Number Forty-nine consisted of the Brazilian Air Forces of the First, Second, and Third Zones, commanded respectively by Coronel Apel Neto, Brigadeiro Eduardo Gomes, and Brigadeiro Heitor Varady. Its instructions were very similar to those of Task Force Forty-four, except that there was stress on Anti-Submarine Warfare Training, ad no provision for furnishing components to killer groups.


All units involved began operating under the new plan the day of its promulgation. No submarine kills took place in June, though frequent contacts showed the continued presence of enemy U-Boats in South Atlantic waters. On June 3, three torpedoes sank the Greek steamer Boris in 07° 14' S, 18° 41' W. There were 37 survivors, who put to sea in two boats. The British Cable Ship Cambria picked up one party, numbering 16, and brought it into Recife on June 14. Though it seemed that the second boat, containing the Boris' Captain and the rest of the survivors, should be heard from soon, much time went by and it did not put in an appearance.


The Swedish merchant vessel Venezia received two torpedoes on June 21, at 25° 50' S, 38° 38' W., and sank. As the position shows, this took place in the Rio area. Due to earlier reports of a submarine operating there, it had already been planned to move planes of Fleet Air Wing Sixteen into that vicinity. Brazilian authorities in the meantime had been apprised of the intention, to permit them to take appropriate action. On the basis of the Venezia sinking, the number of planes sent to Rio was increased. These, of course, supplemented the FAB aircraft already operating there.


Likewise, a Submarine Alert was established from Bahia to Rio de Janeiro, and Captain Lyon soon got orders to move more U. S. planes into the Rio area. For the remaining few days of the month, that vicinity received the main attention. Another torpedoing, though not a fatal one, occurred on June 25, the day of proclaiming the alert. The SS Eagle, the victim, was damaged by a U-Boat in the 22° 10' S, 40° 45' W, off Cape Frio. The same day, a Brazilian Focke-Wolf plane, sighting a surfaced sub at 23° 20' S, 41° 53' W, dropped a bomb on it with uncertain results. Three days later, on June 28, the Charles W. Peale, U. S. Flag, narrowly escaped sinking just before entering Rio Harbor. Early that morning, a submarine attacked the Peale in the 23° 40' S, 42° 50' W. Though the ship had no escort it managed to evade the torpedoes and enter port undamaged.


Thus, for June as for various other months in the past, no direct score could be chalked up against the Germans. Yet in a less spectacular way the result had been good. Loss on the whole was small, convoys kept moving, and this, it should never be forgotten, was the main reason for the Fleet's existence. Moreover, in sub sinkings, the forthcoming month of July would tell an entirely different story.


Hyper War. Commander South Atlantic Force. U.S Naval Administration in WW II.


 

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