Thursday, April 24, 2014

Enroute to Ulithi Atoll

All our friends (Kokomo, Westward II, and La Gitana) headed west toward Palau when we left Woleai. But Dave is on a mission to see as much of the World War II history of Micronesia as he can. So we are headed for Ulithi Atoll. Ulithi was a major staging area for U.S. ships just before the two big battles for the Philippines (late 1944 and early 1945).

Here is what we've garnered off the internet about Ulithi: The atoll is composed of 49 islands, only four of which – Falalop, Mogmog, Asor and Fassarai – are inhabited. Total population is approximately 700. Of the atoll's 209-square mile lagoon, total landmass of the 49 islands is only 1.75 square miles. As usual, Wikipedia has a great writeup on Ulithi. Here are a couple of excerpts:

"Within a month of the occupation of Ulithi, a complete floating base was in operation. Six thousand ship fitters, artificers, welders, carpenters, and electricians arrived aboard repair ships, destroyer tenders, and floating dry docks. The USS Ajax had an air-conditioned optical shop and a metal fabrication shop with a supply of base metals from which she could make any alloy to form any part needed. The USS Abatan, which looked like a big tanker, distilled fresh water and baked bread and pies. The ice cream barge made 500 gallons a shift. The dry docks towed to Ulithi were large enough to lift dry a 45,000 ton battleship. The small island of Mog Mog became a rest and recreation site for sailors.

The Seabees completed a fleet recreation center at Mog Mog island that could accommodate 8,000 men and 1,000 officers daily. A 1,200-seat theatre, including a 25-by-40-foot stage with a Quonset hut roof was completed in 20 days. At the same time, a 500-seat chapel was built. A number of the larger islands were used both as bases to support naval vessels and facilities within the lagoon.

By March 13 there were 647 ships at anchor at Ulithi, and with the arrival of amphibious forces staging for the invasion of Okinawa the number of ships at anchor peaked at 722."

Unfortunately, for a sailing yacht, Ulithi doesn't offer much protection. So we are only planning to stay a day or two, and then move on to the fully-protected harbor at Yap, another 100 miles SW of Ulithi. Dave wants to stop at Mog Mog, and maybe we'll try to dive the USS Mississinewa, a US ship that was sunk by a Japanese manned (ie Kamikaze) torpedo.

Once we get to Yap, we'll only be able to stay a week or so there, as we've scheduled SSCA-sponsored Ham Exams in Palau (a 2-3 day sail from Yap) on May 24th.

We have about 30 miles to go to the pass at Ulithi--as long as the wind holds, we should make it there before sunset today.
At 04/24/2014 12:08 AM (utc) our position was 09°47.58'N 140°10.22'E

No comments:

Post a Comment