Monday, September 16, 2019


     The Seventh Fleet alone, greatly augmented by ships which normally operated in the Pacific Ocean Area under Admiral Nimitz, comprised a total of 738 vessels. Of these, 157 were combatant ships, 420 were amphibious craft, 84 were patrol, minesweeping, and hydrographic types, and 73 were service vessels. These vessels were organized in three task forces: (1) the Covering and Support Force, including the heavy bombardment, fire support, and escort carrier vessels, all directly under Vice Admiral Kinkaid; (2) the Northern Attack Force under Rear Admiral Daniel E. Barbey, and (3) the Southern Attack Force under Vice Admiral Theodore S. Wilkinson. Both of the latter were amphibious forces. Of the combatant vessels composing the Covering and Support Force, six were the old battleships Mississippi, Maryland, West Virginia, Tennessee, California, and Pennsylvania, five of which were salvaged casualties of the attack on Pearl Harbor; there were also five heavy cruisers, six light cruisers, eighteen escort carriers, eighty-six destroyers, twenty-five destroyer escorts, and eleven frigates. Included among these ships were elements of the Royal Australian Navy which had served in the Southwest Pacific under Kinkaid’s command.

        With the Third Fleet were eight aircraft carriers (CV’s), eight light carriers (CVL’s), six new, fast battleships with 16-inch guns (BB’s), six heavy cruisers (CA’s), nine light cruisers (CL’s) and fifty-eight destroyers (DD’s). At the outset of this operation all these vessels were organized as Task Force 38, under the command of Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher, who was responsible directly to Admiral Halsey. The task force was in turn divided into four task groups, the first under Vice Admiral John S. McCain, in the Wasp, the second under Rear Admiral Gerald F. Bogan in the Intrepid, the third under Rear Admiral Frederick C. Sherman, in the Essex, and the fourth under Rear Admiral Ralph E. Davison, in the Franklin. Halsey’s flagship was the battleship New Jersey, that of Mitscher the carrier Lexington. Task Force 38 represented the preponderance of striking force of the United States Fleet, greater fire power than had ever been assembled on the high seas under one tactical command, capable alone of dealing with any combination of forces that could be brought together by the enemy. In regular cruising formation this force stretched over a sea area some forty miles in length and nine miles from flank to flank.

C. Vann Woodward, The Battle for Leyte Gulf: The Incredible Story of World War II's Largest Naval Battle. Skyhorse Publishing. Kindle Edition.