View Full Version : US Fleet Train in World War II

11 Aug 05,, 15:26
I had someone tell me that the US Fleet Train didn't "get fully organized until 1945" but I think it was organized and working well before then.

Does anybody here have a date that the US Fleet Train (in the Pacific) would have been considered "organized"?

11 Aug 05,, 22:23
There are some books with more definitive info but this is what I can provide quickly. Notice that the fleet train was fully organised no later than November 1943 and most likely many months before. Did it continue to grow? Of course but then so did the whole fleet. In fact at least as early as the battle of Coral Sea in early 1942 oilers accompanied the fast carriers. Does this constitute "fully organised" probably not but then neither was the fleet as a whole for that matter.:

The Central Pacific Offensive and Leyte

J.F.C. Fuller ["The Decisive Battles of the Western World" Vol. III ] writes thus of the Central Pacific offensive directed by Admiral Nimitz -

"Nimitz's problem differred from MacArthur's. The latter was land-based, but Nimitz had to move his base along with him, which meant that his fleet had to be both his base of operations and his striking force. It was therefore a four-fold organization - a floating base, a fleet, an air force, and an army, combined in one. That it was designed, built and assembled within 18 months of the Battle of Midway Island is without question the greatest organizational feat of naval history."

The developments which led to operations becoming both more continous and more protracted were the 'fleet train' - which by provisioning, refuelling and rearming ships at sea meant not only that forces could remain at sea for long periods but that they could remain at sea and continue operations almost indefinitely, despite long periods of action - and the dramatic intensification of air-sea warfare.

For, in the days of sail, ships could remain at sea for long periods - sometimes as long as a year - and of course did not need to refuel. However, if involved in a serious encounter with the enemy they were likely to need to return to a naval base to replenish their ammunition. And in any case encounters between opposing ships were only occasional - and remained so into the Twentieth Century.

What led to combat taking place day after day was the coming to maturity of air-sea warfare. This meant that a fleet operating so to speak 'at the front' ( i.e. within a few hundred miles of enemy air bases) could be attacked almost hourly for day after day and for week after week. Moreover, the fleet itself could be called upon to conduct offensive air operations almost continuously, again for weeks at a time. And the immense strength of the American Fast Carrier Force meant that it could remain in an operational area for unprecedentedly long periods - and all the time slugging it out with land-based airpower.

The capacity of this force to move into an enemy area, establishing and then maintaining air superiority in that area, was convincingly demonstrated in the period between November 1943 and June 1944 - beginning with the US landings in the Gilbert Islands and ending with the US occupation of the Marianas. However, airborne and ground resistance in these outlying island groups was in each case quickly eliminated, and as yet operations had thus not become a matter of more than a few weeks.

12 Aug 05,, 15:21
Thank you for your reply. The information came in handy.