USS LCT 387 (LCT 387)
Landing craft tank of the LCT (Mk 5) class
|Navy||The US Navy|
|Type||Landing craft tank|
|Class||LCT (Mk 5)|
|Built by||Mount Vernon Bridge Co. (Mount Vernon, Ohio, U.S.A.)|
|Laid down||20 Nov 1942|
|Launched||12 Dec 1942|
|Commissioned||12 Dec 1942|
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Notable events involving LCT 387 include:
15 Dec 1943
Landings at Arawe on New Britain.
Around 0700L/14, Task Group 74.1, made up of Task Group 74.1.1, which were the heavy cruisers HMAS Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, MVO, DSO, RAN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN), HMAS Shropshire (Capt. J.A. Collins, CB, RAN) and Task Group 74.1.2 which were the destroyers HMAS Warramunga (Cdr. E.F.V. Dechaineux, DSC, RAN (now Commander Destroyers Task Force 74)) and HMAS Arunta (Cdr. A.E. Buchanan, RAN) , USS Ralph Talbot (T/Lt.Cdr. R.D. Shepard, USN) and USS Helm (T/Lt.Cdr. S.K. Santmyers, USN) departed Milne Bay to support the landings at Arawa on New Britain (operation Director) as part of operation Dexterity which in itself was part of operation Cartwheel which objection was to neutralise the major Japanese base at Rabaul. Task Group 74.1 was the cover group for operation Director.
The landings were to be carried out by Task Force 76 which was organised as follows; CTG 76 (Headquarters Group) was on board the destroyer USS Conyngham. COMTASKFOR 76 was T/R.Adm. D.E. Barbey, USN. Task Group 76.1 was the Transport Task Group of the amphibious transport HMAS Westralia and the dock landing ship USS Carter Hall. Task Group 76.2 was the APD Task Group made up of seven APD's (APD = High Speed Transport). Task Group 76.5 was the LCT Task Group made up of LCT from LCT Flot 7. Task Group 76.6 was the Destroyer Task Group. This group was divided into Task Group 76.6.1 which was the escort unit made up of the destroyers USS Shaw, USS Drayton, USS Bagley and USS Mugford. Task Group 76.6.2 which was the bombardment unit made up of the destroyers USS Mahan, USS Lamson, USS Flusser, USS Reid and USS Smith. Task Group 76.7 was the Escort and Minesweeping Group and was made up of 4 PC's, 9 SC's, 5 YMS and 1 APc. But more ships were in available in the forward area. Task Group 76.8 was the Service Group and was made up of a repair ship, two landing craft repair ships (LST's), a 'medical' landing ship (LST) and two tugs. Task Group 76.9 was the landing craft control group and was divided into four sub groups; 76.9.1 was the Buna Unit. 76.9.2 was the Cro Bay Unit. 76.9.3 was the Goodenough Unit. 76.9.4 was the Cape Cretin Unit. Task Group 76.10 was the Beachmaster Unit.
At 1530L/14, CTF 76 in USS Conyngham (T/Cdr. J.H. Ward, USN, with T/R.Adm. D.E. Barbey, USN on board) departed Buna for Arawe in company with the first and second attack echelons and their escorts. The other ships in the convoy were the following, amphibious transport HMAS Westralia (Cdr. A.V. Knight, RD, RANR(S)), dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (Lt.Cdr. F.J. Harris, USNR), high speed transports USS Humphreys (T/Lt.Cdr. Frank Dewey Schwartz, USN) and USS Sands (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Brogger, Jr., USNR), destroyers USS Shaw (T/Cdr. R.H. Phillips, USN, with COMDESRON 5, T/Capt. J.H. Carter, USN on board), USS Drayton (T/Cdr. R.S. Craighill, USN), USS Bagley (T/Cdr. T.E. Chambers, USN), USS Mugford (T/Cdr. H.G. Corey, USN), USS Mahan (T/Cdr. J.T. Smith, USN), USS Lamson (T/Cdr. J.R. Rubins, USN), USS Flusser (T/Cdr. J.A. Robbins, USN), USS Reid (T/Cdr. H.H. McIlhenny, USN, with COMDESDIV 10, T/Capt. C.D. Reynolds, USN on board), USS Smith (T/Cdr. R.A. Theobald, Jr., USN), patrol craft USS PC-479 (Lt. M.C. White, USNR), USS PC-1122 (Lt. J.J. Peck, USNR), USS SC-742 (Lt. R.H. Blake, USNR), USS SC-981 (Lt.(jg) R.A. Campbell, USNR) and minesweeper USS YMS-51 (Lt. F.P. Allen, Jr., USNR).
1800L/14, after passing Cape Ward Hunt this force set course for Finschhaven as a deceptive move. Two Catalina flying boats provided A/S escort for the convoy.
1900L/14, the third attack echelon was scheduled to depart Cape Cretin. This echelon was made up of seven LCT's; USS LCT 172, USS LCT 174, USS LCT 176, USS LCT 374, USS LCT 378, LCT 380 and USS LCT 381. They were escorted by the patrol vessel USS SC-699 (Lt.(jg) J.W. Foristel, USNR), minesweeper USS YMS-70 (Lt. B.M. Brink, USNR) and coastal transport USS APc-4 (Lt.(jg) E.R. Edwards, USNR). USS LCT-378 and USS LCT-380 however were stuck on the beach and could not sail with the third attack echelon and remained behind but were able to departed around 1945L/14.
1900L/14, Task Group 74.1 passed north of Kiriwina Island and proceeded to the north-west at 27 knots.
2030L/14, the convoy with the first and second echelons changed its course to 040 to proceed to Arawe.
0100L/15, Task Group 74.1 was now about 25 nautical to the east of the first and second attack echelons. Task Group 74.1 remained 25 nautical miles to the east of the Arawe attack force until 0400L/15.
0315L/15, an enemy floatplane circled the convoy and dropped a stick of bombs near USS Reid. It was now apparent that the Allied movement had been spotted and that the element of surprise had been lost.
0400L/15, the convoy was led into the Transport Area by USS Conyngham. USS Humpreys and USS Sands had previously left the formation (around 0320L/15) escorted by USS Lamson and USS Shaw, they were to proceed to vicinity of Cape Merkus. HMAS Westralia and USS Carter Hall immediately began unloading. By 0500L/15, USS Cartel Hall had launched all her 41 DUKW's, Buffaloes and Alligators.
Task Group 74.1, the cover group, at this moment still 25 nautical miles to the east of the Arawe attack force commenced to sweep eastwards along the south coast of New Britain about 15 miles from the coast.
0500L/15, Task Group 74.1 had just increased speed to 27 knots and set course for a position to the north of Kiriwina Island when HMAS Warramunga got a sound contact and dropped a full pattern of depth charges on it. The attack could not be followed up as dawn was approaching and HMAS Warramunga was ordered to rejoin the Task Group.
0505L/15, HMAS Westralia and USS Carter Hall had completed unloading and then left the area for Buna escorted by the destroyers USS Bagley, USS Mugford, USS Drayton and the patrol vessels USS PC-1120 and USS PC-1129. They arrived at Buna around 1625L/15. HMAS Westralia, USS Carter Hall then immediately departed for Milne Bay, escorted by USS Conyngham and USS Bagley.
0515L/15, the leading wave of amphibious tractors was sighted heading full speed towards Arawe harbour, which if continued, would place them well ahead of schedule. USS SC-742, having learned from the leader that he had misunderstood his orders, ordered them to turn back to kill time.
0530L/15, the landing plan for Blue Beach called for three waves of five rubber boats each, but the troop commander desired to use four waves of four boats each. Due to the narrowness of the beach, this change appeared feasible and was accepted. Just as the first wave was about to land, Japanese, entrenched along and in the general vicinity of Blue Beach opened up with machine gun and mortar fire. The Japanese fire raked back and forth across all waves. The situation became most critical since it was not possible to determine the exact location of our troops, and it was considered better not to open ship counter battery fire until our troops could be located definitely.
0533L/15, USS Shaw proceed to a firing position where she was able to open fire without endangering our own troops. Two salvos silenced the Japanese. As far as is known, no troops reached the beach. The succeeding waves scrattered and returned to USS Shaw. After daylight survivors were recovered by destroyers and landing craft in the area.
USS SC-742 escorted the amphibious tractors of the first wave toward Orange Beach, via Pilelio Passage, but the succeeding waves failed to join up. The control LCVP was sent to herd them on, while the first wave stalled along losing time rapidly.
0615L/15, the Naval Gun Fire Support Group commenced bombardment on Orange Beach five minutes behind schedule, anticipating a delay in the first wave.
0625L/15, Six B-25 bombers reported on station in the Arawe Area for close support.
0637L/15, the naval bombardment ceased on Orange Beach and USS Shaw opened fire for three minutes on the ridge east of Cape Merkub. The bombardment did not draw enemy fire.
0645L/15, USS SC-742 fired 20mm on Cape Merkub as she entered the pass into Arawe Harbour. At the same time USS SC-981 laid a heavy and accurate rocket barrage on the beach and bluff east of the Cape. They drew no return fire.
0705L/15, USS SC-742 fired 49 rockets on Orange Beach as the first wave was 200 yards from the shore.
0708L/15, the B-25 bombers were ordered to bombard and stafe Cape Merkub and the area behind Orange Beach.
0710L/15, The first wave of amphibious tractors hit the beach, 40 minutes late, due partly to the late start, partly to the slowness in joining up, and partly to the unexpected current in Pilelio Passage.
0715L/15, Eight P-38 aircraft arrived on station as air cover over the landing area. USS Shaw was acting as fighter director ship, with USS Reid standing by.
0730L/15, Seven B-25 bombers comprising the second air support group relieved the first which departed to the eastward to find alternate targets to bomb on the track leading to Cape Bali.
0750L/15, The third wave of alligators landed, followed closely the fourth and fifth waves. The following three waves (ESB craft) were forced to lay to in Pelelio passage due to the slowness of the alligators.
0800L/15, Sixteen P-38's were on aircombat patrol over the landing area.
0810L/15, The sixth wave landed. The LCP's beached 30 yards from the shore and the troops waded ashore in three feet of water over the reefs.
0820L/15, USS Shaw, standing by as support off Blue Beach, picked up one officer and 19 men of the assault troops who failed to reach the beach.
0830L/15, The beachmaster reported the landing going well, but thst he was having difficulty in finding suitable landing points for boats.
0835L/15, Echelon number three arrived on schedule from Cape Cretin. While entering Pilelo Passage, numerous army personnel were picked up from the rubber boats and from the water. These men were the survivors of the unsuccessful attack on Blue Beach. At 0855, while waiting on the signal to beach, units of this echelon were subjected to an attack by 15 enemy dive bombers. Fortunately the craft had been dispersed and were thus able to maneuver and avoid serious damage. Three enemy planes were shot down.
0841L/15, USS Reid reported two groups of unidentified planes bearing 052°, 55 miles at 18000 feet and then lost them in the land echo in the vicinity of Gasmata.
0850L/15, Both USS Reid and USS Shaw regained radar contact of the enemy planes bearing 054°, 34 miles, course 190° and speed 180 knots. USS Shaw vectored our fighter patrol out at 23000 feet. USS Conyngham departed the Arawa area at 30 knots.
0857L/15, Our planes made contact with enemy planes.
0901L/15, USS Shaw reported enemy aircraft, 335°, 14 miles. This placed the enemy over USS Conyngham, which was indeed correct. Thirty or more planes were starting an attack. About 24 enemy Val aircraft released bombs on Arawe harbour. One Val bombed USS Conyngham but skillful maneuvering caused the bombs to miss, resulting in no damage.
0909L/15, USS Shaw reported enemy aircraft bearing 030°, 30 miles.
0926L/15, USS Shaw and USS Reid lost radar contact with the enemy aircraft at 080° at a range of 59 miles.
1600L/15, All destroyers of the gunfire support and escort group joined the return convoy south of Cape Ward Hunt. USS Conyngham proceeded independently to Buna.
1800L/15, Task Group 74.1, the cover group, which had spent the day to the north of Kiriwina Island now set corse to return to the Arawe area to protect the landing forces from possible enemy attack by surface ships but at 2000L/15, when it became clear that no enemy surface ships were to interfere with the landings, Task Group 74.1 was ordered to return to Milne Bay.
1830L/15, Echelon four departed Cape Cretin for Arawe. It was made up of six LCT's; USS LCT-82, USS LCT-88, USS LCT-384, USS LCT-386, USS LCT-387 and USS LCT-388. They were escorted by the patrol vessel USS SC-743 (Lt. W.W. Robinson, USNR) and the coastal transport APc-21 (Lt.(jg) W.J. Bates, USNR). Later the same evening they were ordered to return to Cape Cretin.
1900L/15, Echelon three completed unloading at Arawe and departed to return to Cape Cretin.
0630L/16, Echelon four again departed Cape Cretin for Arawa. It was made up of the same ships listed as above with the addition of LCT-378 and LCT-380. Also the minesweeper YMS-50 had joined as escort.
0800L/16, The cover group, Task Group 74.1 arrived at Milne Bay from the Arawe area. They now remained at Milne Bay at two hours readiness for sea.
1630L/16, Echelon four, en route from Cape Cretin to Arawe was attacked by twelve Japanese Val and Zeke aircraft but no damage was done by the enemy.
0130L/17, Echelon four, which was unloading at Arawe was submitted to intermittent air attacks during the night. The enemy attacks lasted until 0845L/17. At 0810L/17 around 50 enemy Val and Nate aircraft attacked by dive bombing and strafing. USS APc 21 was sunk by a direct hit at 0815L/17. USS YMS-50 sustained underwater damage by a near miss. USS LCT-88, USS LCT-378, USS LCT-380, USS LCT-384 and USS LCT-386 all sustained hull damage. USS LCT-380 had to be beached but was later able to return to Cape Cretin under her own power.
Sailing of echelon five was cancelled.
1900L/17, Echelon six departed Cape Cretin for Arawe. It was made up of six LCT's; USS LCT-142, USS USS LCT-166, USS LCT-245, USS LCT-248, USS LCT-391 and USS LCT-393. They were escorted by the patrol vessel USS SC-699, minesweeper USS YMS-49 (Lt. J.R. Lewis, USNR) and the coastal transport APc-15 (Lt.(jg) K. Goffigon, III. USNR).
2300L/17, Echelon four returned to Cape Cretin from the Arawe area only half unloaded.
0800L/18, Echelon six arrived at Arawe and unloaded as scheduled.
1900L/18, Echelon six, having completed unloading at Arawe, departed that place to return to Cape Cretin. During the unloading operations they had not been attacked. Fighter cover of the area had now been much inproved compared to the previous day.
0800L/19, Echelon six arrived at Cape Cretin from Arawe.
1700L/19, Echelon seven departed Cape Cretin for Arawe. This echelon was made up of six LCT's; USS LCT-61, USS LCT-177, USS LCT-179, USS LCT-183, USS LCT-184 and USS LCT-371. They were escorted by the patrol vessel USS SC-703 (Lt.(jg) R.M. Baird, USNR), minesweeper YMS-70 and the coastal transport APc-22 (Lt.(jg) V.G. Martin, USNR). Very bad weather was encountered and USS LCT-179 sustained weather damage and after two hours had to turn back to Cape Cretin.
0620L/20, Echelon seven arrived at Arawe from Cape Cretin.
1645L/20, Echelon seven completed unloading at Arawe and departed that place to return to Cape Cretin.
1700L/20, Echelon eight departed Cape Cretin for Arawe. This echelon was made up of six LCT's; USS LCT-85, USS LCT-171, USS LCT-172, USS LCT-176, USS LCT-374 and USS LCT-381. They were escorted by the patrol vessels USS SC-738 (Lt.(jg) R.B. Woodcock, USNR), USS SC-743 and the coastal transport APc-2.
0330L/21, Three enemy aircraft attack Arawa but no damage was done.
0630L/21, Echelon seven arrived at Cape Cretin from Arawe.
0715L/21, Echelon eight arrived at Arawe from Cape Cretin.
1150L/21, While unloading at Arawe, echelon eight was attacked by enemy aircraft, 30 Vals and 15 Zero's dive bombed and strafed them. USS APc-2 was near missed and started to take on water. USS LCT-171, sustained multiple holes on her starboard side forward, from shrapnel.
1700L/21, Echelon eight, still at Arawe, was again attacked by Japanese aircraft. 45 Vals and 15 Zero's again dive bombed and strafed them but no further damage was done by the enemy. Echelon eight then departed Arawe to return to Cape Cretin.
1200L/22, Echelon eight arrived at Cape Cretin from Arawe.