Looking for Assistance on WWII Ship Recognition at Ulithi Atoll

We recently received an inquiry about some well known photographs from World War II. The images (see below) depict a vast fleet of U.S. Navy warships at anchor at Ulithi Atoll, on 8 December 1944, nicknamed “Murderer’s Row.” A group of model builders is working to recreate the images in question, using 1/2400 scale ship models. The aircraft carriers in the top image (National Archives photo 80-G-294131) are clearly identifiable: from the front, Wasp (CV 18), Yorktown (CV 10), Hornet (CV 12), Hancock (CV 19) and Ticonderoga (CV 14). In the bottom photo (National Archives photo 80-G-294129), taken just seconds apart from the first, carrier Lexington (CV 16) is also visible.

Aside from those ships, none of the names of the others in the photos are provided in the National Archives captions. There are destroyers, oilers, hospital ships, and possibly a battleship or two in the haze. We’re looking for assistance from naval historians or researchers who may have information on some of the smaller, hazier ships in the background. Please feel free to comment on this story below with further information, or email the Foundation at nhfwny@navyhistory.org.

Ulithi Atoll 80-G-294131

Ulithi Atoll 80-G-294129

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17 Responses to Looking for Assistance on WWII Ship Recognition at Ulithi Atoll

  1. According to Wikipedia these ships were part of Task Force 38:

    The article provides the following external link:

    The date of the photographs would suggest they were taken before the ‘LOVE III’ operation.

  2. Karl Mousley says:

    This web site shows two other photos presumably from the same time.


    It remarks on two photos (NS022712 and NS015655)

    Task Group 38.3 beginning to reform a column formation after making a simultaneous turn to port. The ships are entering Ulithi Anchorage on December 12, 1944 [see Note below] after strikes against the Japanese in the Philippines. Ships visible in this photo are: Langley (CVL-27); Ticonderoga (CV-14); Washington (BB-56); North Carolina (BB-55); South Dakota (BB-57); Santa Fe (CL-60); Biloxi (CL-80); Mobile (CL-63) and Oakland (CL-95).

    Task Group 38.3 enters Ulithi anchorage in column, 12 December 1944 [see Note below], while returning from strikes on targets in the Philippines. Ships are (from front): Langley (CVL-27); Ticonderoga (CV-14); Washington (BB-56); North Carolina (BB-55); South Dakota (BB-57); Santa Fe (CL-60); Biloxi (CL-80); Mobile (CL-63) and Oakland (CL-95).

    Note: There is a problem with the official date of the photos above (NS022712 and NS015655): Task Group 38.3 arrived in Ulithi on December 2, 1944 after strikes against the Philippines; departed Ulithi again on December 11 to support General MacArthur’s landings on Mindoro Island; was at sea, en route to the Philippines, on December 12; launched strikes against Japanese targets, December 14–16; endured Typhoon “Cobra,” December 17–18; refueled and picked up survivors until December 21; and returned to Ulithi on December 24.

    While date might be hard to pinpoint, this site provides some useful “other ships known to be in the area when the carriers were there” information. Each of the carriers has its own page of photos and a timeline of where they were when…

  3. Karl Mousley says:

    I found this website that pinpoints the dates of the photographs (perhaps) and names some ships thought to be nearby.


  4. admin says:

    Thanks so much Stephen and Karl, we will make sure to pass these links along to the model builders. And if you uncover anything more, please do share it with us.

  5. Tony Dunn says:

    5 Essex class carriers.

  6. Otto A. ZIPF, CDR, USN (Ret) says:

    My comments stem from the VERY little that my older brother, William ZIPF, EM3, shared with me about his WWII service, etc., and Ulithi. He served in the USS CROWLEY(DE 303), and she apparently operated out of Ulithi frequently, escorting AO’s out to various rendezvous’s with CV’s, etc, for task force refuelling. He also mentioned seeing a Japanese kamikazi crash into an AH anchored in Ulithi atoll. You can set someone to do some deck log research to get some ship names, etc.

  7. Thomas J. Mara Chief Gunner's Mate USS Mount Baker AE-4,1941-1945 says:

    I was aboard the AE-4 in Ulithi Harbor the night the carrier Randolph got hit. General Quarters was not sounded before the hit. It was completely dark. We had all our lights on. We were lit up like a Broadway stage. We were unloading ammunition. We knew that we had one patrol plane up patrolling the skies. We were always alert at the sound of the approaching patrol plane. On the night in question, as the sound of the departing patrol plane disappeared in the distance,
    the sound of the second plane was heard and then the third. I couldn’t understand
    why they didn’t drop bombs on us, But apparently they came for the carriers, which
    were visible in the distance with their lights on. One plane dove into the Randolph
    the other dove into a radio station on a nearby island, thinking the lit antenna was
    another carrier, Only then was General Quarters sounded. After 65 years this is the
    best of my recollections. I am 92 years old now.

    • David Colamaria says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your story, Chief Mara. And thank you for your service during the war. We appreciate you stopping by our website and hope you will again.

    • John Kotalik says:

      We were anchored in Ulithi harbor on 14 August 1945. I was aboard the General
      Randall heading for the Phillipines and we berthed at Batangas because the three
      piers in South Harbor were filled for shipping to Japan. Can someone tell me
      how much time in days it would take a C-4 troop ship to cruse from Ulithi to

    • Philip C Krebs says:

      Wow. How many men would be aboard the AE-4 (Mount Baker)? I believe this was my fathers ship during the war. He would have been and officer.. his name was Charles Krebs. Thank you for your service sir.

  8. Michael R Ratti says:

    My father was a plank owner aboard “The USS Jason” (ARH1) he was a Ship Fitter (SF3c) and shared with me many stories of the repairs and work “The Jason”
    performed during WWII. A picture of “The USS Randolph” (CV15) can be seen with “The Jason” along side her doing repairs from the damage caused by a Kamikaze strike. If anyone has any information on “The Jason” or stories they would like to share please contact me. Thank you to all our service men and women past and present.

  9. JOHN LANDRUM says:

    if the leaders and troops of this operation era were still around , they could and, probably, would make short work and history out of the mess going on today, in the middle east ” the big iron on their ship means they didn,’t take no lip “—-J L————– 10/12 /14 —

  10. Jacqueline Bushby (Jackie) says:

    My husband, Stephen M. Bushby, was at Ulithi on the USS Cornel An45 (nettender),. I have never heard anyone mention the fact that there were 10-12 netenders there for 14 months laying nets around Ulithi to keep subs out…They worked hard getting the net layed and when the war was over they had to pull it all up again to salvage..He said they were so anxious to come home, that some of the guys took guns and sunk the nets.He said it was a sight to see so many ships that were there before going off to battle…

  11. Charles McLaughlin says:

    I was in Ulithi in Nov., 1944 when a Japanese 1-man Submarine blew up the merchant T2 tanker Mississinewa anchored several hundred yards from our ship, the Fort Donelson T2 tanker. We had no visible lights that night but the explosion lite up the sky like it was midday. Never forget it.

  12. Robert A. DiChiara says:

    I was a signalman on the Ammunition ship Red Oak Victory AK235. with 4,000 tons of ammunition. We entered Ulithi and they berthed us alongside the Randolph. One afternoon we got an emergency request for ammo and they sent over a landing craft to pick it up. They arrived at dusk and tied up to our starboard side which was facing the Randolph. Around 9:30-10 everything was blacked out except us. WE had floodlights on both the ship and the landing craft! I was down on the landing craft with 2 other guys. My left shoulder was pushing the net as it came down and I was looking at the Randolph over my right shoulder thinking , boy, what a big ship! Suddenly, I saw a huge explosion on the flight deck and the remnants of the plane arching over the bow. This was followed immediately by another explosion and a second ball of flame arching over the bow. Now, I know the record says only 1 plane hit it but I saw 2 separate aircraft parts arching over the bow. After the incident of the Mt Hood exploding in Manus Island, creating havoc, I initially thought it was crazy to put us alongside the Randolph with a crew of 3500. The next day they moved us next to a reef on the outer edge of the Atoll . All I could see were the masts of ships with my long telescope. Their hulls were below the curvature of the earth. It’s nicer to be wanted.

  13. David Stubblebine says:

    Looking at the lower of the two photos above, the main row of carriers are, of course, front-to-back USS Wasp (CV-18), USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Hornet (CV-12), USS Hancock (CV-19), and USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). Beyond Ticonderoga is USS Santa Fe (CL-60). In the row abaft of the main row (to the left) are USS Langley (CVL-27), USS Lexington (CV-16), and USS San Jacinto (CVL-30). In the fairway between these two rows are USS Healy (DD-672) and USS Cahaba (AO-82). Across the back left-to-right are USS Washington (BB-56), Hospital ship USS Solace (AH-5), USS Iowa (BB-61), USS South Dakota (BB-57), Hospital ship USS Samaritan (AH-10), USS New Jersey (BB-62) and two ships I could not identify (yet). Other versions of this photo with less cropped off the right edge also show across the fairway from Santa Fe front-to-back USS New Orleans (CA-32), USS Biloxi (CL-80), and USS Mobile (CL-63). Anchored in the fairway between Santa Fe and Mobile should be USS Oakland (CL-95) but Oakland left that spot for refueling on 8 Dec 1944 between 1235 and 1445 hours when this photo must have been taken.

  14. Pingback: Historical "Murderer's Row" Photograph at Ulithi Update | Naval Historical Foundation

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