USS Thetis Bay

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The "Gay Ninety" in WWII


On 22 December 1943, the USS Thetis Bay was launched at the Kaiser Shipbuilding Company in Vancouver, Washington. She was sponsored by Mrs. Ricco Botta, the wife of Captain Ricco Botta, a U.S. Naval aviator with a distinguished career beginning during World War I. Thetis Bay was commissioned on 21 April 21 1944 with Captain Donald E. Wilcox in command. The photo on the right shows movie star Claudette Colbert, who cut the commissioning cake, and her husband, LCDR Joel J. Pressman. the Thetis Bay's first medical officer.

Following a brief shakedown cruise conducted from San Diego, CA, Thetis Bay stood out to sea from San Pedro, CA on June 5, 1944 on her first of 20 round trips from San Francisco/Alameda, Long Beach/San Pedro and San Diego, California ports to Pearl Harbor and the Pacific war front. On 21 January 1945, Captain Wilcox passed command to Captain Benjamin E. Moore at Pearl Harbor. Captain Allen Smith took over command from Captain Moore in October 1945. In March 1946, Commander George E. Bolser, Executive Officer, assumed command of Thetis Bay prior to it's decommissioning.


Cruise 1

Thetis Bay departed San Pedro, CA on 5 June 1944 loaded with aircraft and personnel destined for South Pacific bases and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 11 June 1944 for one day. From there she proceeded to Makin Island, the northernmost and largest of the Gilbert Islands followed by Majuro, the current capital of the Marshall Islands and Kwajalein, Marshall Islands. The Army's 50th Engineer Battalion was transported from Kwajalein to Pearl Harbor arriving on 5 July. 41 aircraft needing repair were transport from Pearl Harbor to Alameda Naval Station arriving on 12 July. From there she traveled to Terminal Island Naval Station for three weeks of repairs.

Cruise 2

On 11 August 1944, Thetis Bay departed San Pedro bound for Pearl Harbor and Majuro, Marshall Islands to deliver spare parts, aircraft and personnel. She returned to San Francisco, via Pearl Harbor, on 12 September, 1944.

Cruise 3

About 15 September 1944, Thetis Bay departed San Francisco for Pearl Harbor, returning to San Diego on 29 September.

Cruise 4

About 3 October 1944 Thetis Bay departed San Diego enroute to Pearl Harbor and on to Manus Island of the Admiralty Islands north of Papua, New Guinea. On 22 October, the day before arriving at Manus Island, Thetis Bay crossed the Equator for the first time. She returned to San Diego, via Majuro and Pearl Harbor, arriving on 4 November 1944.

Cruise 5

During the month of November 1944, Thetis Bay moved from San Diego to San Francisco. In early December 1944, she departed San Francisco for a non-stop trip to Dreger Harbor in New Guinea. This was the first Pacific crossing without a stop at Pearl Harbor.

To be continued.......


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