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Pathfinder: Recollections of Those Who Served 1942 - 1971

Compiled by the

Office of NOAA Corps Operations


My office has been engaged in chronicling the history of NOAA Corps and its ancestor organizations. In doing so, the theme of kinship of NOAA Corps with the Naval community is encountered time and again. In particular, our kinship with the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command is striking. As such, on the occasion of the Change of Command and Relieving Ceremony of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command on board the USNS PATHFINDER (T-AGS 60), it is appropriate to share an outstanding example of that kinship and cooperation. The example that I have in mind is the saga of the USS PATHFINDER (AGS-1), also known as the USC&GSS PATHFINDER (OSS 30.)

I directed my staff to compile personal histories, official accounts, and non-official published accounts of the PATHFINDER (this was the second C&GS ship of that name; and, the vessel on which I served my first sea duty) for compilation into a volume which I could share with our fellow officers, scientists, technicians, and vessel operators of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (NMOC). This resulting compendium of PATHFINDER lore is primarily directed towards the WWII exploits of the USS PATHFINDER, but it also traces the career of the vessel through to its final decommissioning.

My wish is that the USNS PATHFINDER have as an illustrious career as its namesake. May the name PATHFINDER always evoke images of cooperation between our organizations, thoughts of perils shared and hard work accomplished together, and a reminder of our similar heritage.

My congratulations are extended to Rear Admiral Paul G. Gaffney on the assumption of command of NMOC. Likewise, I congratulate Rear Admiral John E. Chubb for his conclusion of a successful tour of duty as the outgoing Commanding Officer of NMOC and wish him well in his retirement.

Rear Admiral Sigmund R. Petersen, NOAA
Director, NOAA Corps Operations


he PATHFINDER has been a respected ship name within the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey and today's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for close to a century. This name was meant to convey the spirit of the vessel and its work.

The first PATHFINDER was built at Crescent Shipyard in Elizabethport, New Jersey, and launched December 7, 1898. It was a three-deck steel vessel with fifteen water-tight compartments, was 196 feet 3 inches overall, 33 feet 6 inches beam, drew 13 feet when fully loaded, and was powered by 4500 feet of canvas and a triple-expansion steam engine capable of 1,173 horsepower. The vessel cruised between 11 and 13 knots. This vessel had been designed for operating in the Aleutian Islands.

On June 1, 1899, the PATHFINDER sailed from the shipyard with a Coast and Geodetic Survey officer in command and a crew of 65 Navy enlisted personnel. The ship proceeded to the West Coast via the Straits of Magellan and arrived in San Francisco on September 17 after many port calls along the way. Its first work was in the Hawaiian Islands in the winter of 1899-1900. The 1900 and 1901 working seasons were spent in the Aleutians, but because of the urgent need for up-to-date charts in the recently acquired Philippine Islands, the PATHFINDER was ordered to Manila following the 1901 field season. The ship sailed directly to the Philippines from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, which must have been quite a surprise to the crew. The first PATHFINDER spent most of the next 40 years charting the waters of the Philippines until it was finally lost as a result of a Japanese bombing raid in late 1941. At that time, it was sailing under the name RESEARCH, which it had been named after a period of inactivity in the 1930's.

The second PATHFINDER was under construction at Lake Washington Shipyards in Seattle, Washington, at the outbreak of WWII. The keel was laid on February 20, 1941, and the ship launched on January 11, 1942. Shortly after launching the ship was transferred to the Navy for wartime use. The second PATHFINDER was 229 feet in overall length, 39 feet in breadth, had a loaded draft of 15 feet, and displaced 1,900 tons when fully loaded. It was single screw, steam turbine powered, and capable of generating 2000 shaft horsepower with a maximum speed of 15 knots.

The PATHFINDER was commissioned on August 31, 1942, and served in the Pacific war from Guadalcanal to Tokyo Bay. Following the war, the vessel was returned to the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey where it served until 1971 conducting surveys off Alaska, Hawaii, and the West Coast of the United States. The following are personal accounts and historical compilations of the illustrious career of the second PATHFINDER.

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At the beginning of WWII, Lorin Woodcock was a young C&GS officer with not quite a year's service. He joined the PATHFINDER at Funafuti in the Ellice Islands and served on the ship throughout the remainder of its first tour of duty in the South Pacific. Following the war, he returned to the C&GS and retired in 1968.



"When World War II broke out, the PATHFINDER was still in a Lake Washington shipyard, being constructed by the Coast Survey for survey duty in Alaska. It immediately became apparent to the Navy that the war in the Pacific would take place in very sketchily charted waters, and that the PATHFINDER would be a very valuable asset to our Navy. So, the Navy took her over right in the shipyard, fitted her with guns, depth-charges, and a printing press for printing charts on the spot, gave her a number AGS1, and sent her out to the South Pacific. She had a Navy crew aboard, and her officer complement contained a nucleus of men experienced in hydrographic surveying and chart construction, who had been transferred to the Navy from the Coast Survey.

"After a brief training period in San Francisco Bay, the PATHFINDER left the states, bound for the South Pacific. Her first job was at Funafuti in the Ellice Islands. Our occupation forces had sneaked in here under the noses of the Japs, and the PATHFINDER joined them as unobtrusively as possible. Her highly secret mission was to find, chart, buoy, and blast out if necessary, a deep water passage into the lagoon, and lay out sufficient anchorages to repair damaged ships and serve as a staging area for future invasions.

"In spite of bad weather and an inexperienced crew, the job was done in the allotted time of four weeks, and the charts were printed before the Japs had prepared any organized action on our foot-hold there. The PATHFINDER sailed on then to Noumea, New Caledonia, arriving there in January, 1943.

"On the second of February, she sailed again, this time to survey Tulagi and Gavutu harbors in the Solomons. On the way to Guadalcanal she formed a part of the escort for a convoy carrying supplies to our hard-fighting Marines. With the convoy safely delivered, the PATHFINDER sailed the few remaining miles to Tulagi Harbor and started surveying operations. Her assigned task was a complete hydrographic and wire-drag survey of Tulagi and Gavutu Harbors and approaches for the purpose of charting any sunken wrecks and dangers to navigation, and to enlarge the available anchorage area. This job was accomplished very expeditiously under the most trying conditions. The field parties spent as much as 11 hours a day in the field, and spent the nights alternating between working on boat sheets and survey records, and manning battle stations while from one to a half dozen Jap bombers droned about overhead, spattering bombs here and there, sometimes uncomfortably close.

"The next job was an inshore survey along the coast of Guadalcanal, from Point Cruz to Berande Point. The job consisted of building and locating beacons, hydrography and wire-drag. At this period all supplies were landed on Guadalcanal by lighter, and the purpose of the survey was to provide anchorages as close to shore as possible, thereby expediting unloading operations. While engaged on this job, the PATHFINDER participated in a surprise daylight air-raid by about 150 Jap planes. With half her crew out on field parties she accounted for two dive-bombers, and after the action, rendered invaluable medical aid to injured personnel from the AARON WARD, a destroyer which took a bomb in her engine room during the action and later sunk. During this action Captain Thomas was credited by his crew with saving the ship. He turned the right way at the right time and the bomb fell where the ship would have been.

"While this job was in progress the ship's drafting room turned out a chart of Sandfly Passage, using existing hydrographic information and aerial photographs. It's purpose was to provide a rapid escape route for PT boats making their nightly attacks on the 'Tokyo Express.'

"With the completion of this job, the PATHFINDER returned south to Espiritu Santo Island in the New Hebrides Islands, where survey operations were carried on without the interference of enemy action. An area off Bogaeio Island at the entrance to Segond Channel was surveyed and charted, for the installation of a degaussing station. An area in Segond Channel was wire-dragged for the location of a floating cruiser drydock. An extensive inshore survey of Segond Channel was made for the location of piers and docks. Turtle and Pallikulo Bays were surveyed and charted to provide anchorage and staging areas. A portion of Pallikulo Bay was dragged to 90 feet for a floating battleship drydock. A portion of Undine Bay on the north shore of Efate Island was surveyed to provide a closer approach to the airfields by tankers. Fila Harbor on Efate was surveyed and wire-dragged, to enlarge the safe anchorage area for units of the fleet engaged in training activities.

"The next job was a two week's tour of duty in Sydney, Australia for the purpose of rest, rehabilitation and recreation. Civilization proved much too alluring for the accomplishment of the first purpose, but the other two were accomplished with sufficient vigor and enthusiasm to more than atone for the omission.

"The PATHFINDER then returned to the job, reported to the Commander of Advanced Naval Bases, Solomons, and was assigned the task of surveying the Russell Islands. This base was to become a tremendous staging point for army equipment and troops, and was the biggest single job undertaken by the PATHFINDER.

"In the middle of the Russell Islands job, the PATHFINDER was called upon by Commander Third Amphibious Force for several emergency rush jobs. The first of these was a survey of Manning Straits. It was thought that Manning Straits would provide a good route for task forces, and a detached party was sent to conduct the survey. Hathorn Sound on Northern New Georgia was surveyed to provide anchorages to serve the growing base and airfields. Vovobe Cove on Kolombangara was completely charted. Rendova Harbor was charted to meet the needs of the new base on Rendova Island. While engaged on this job, the PATHFINDER was called upon to send a party immediately to Cape Torokina, Bougainville. During the invasion there at least one transport had run aground on an uncharted reef, and two others had very narrowly escaped hitting reefs. The assigned mission was to locate, buoy and chart all off-shore reefs. Operations were carried on amidst falling bombs and shells, but eventually were concluded with no serious misfortunes.

"Another detached party was sent on the invasion of Treasury Islands, and made a complete survey of Blanche Harbor.

"Then finally back to the Russell Islands. That job was finally completed and then the PATHFINDER made another trip to Sydney. However, part of the crew and officers had to stay behind to participate in the invasion of Green Islands. This party landed with the first wave of troops and had started surveying before the shooting had gotten well started. A complete chart of the lagoon and entrances was made, and the rapid development of the base was thereby greatly aided. This party also participated in a reconnaissance raid on Green Islands, and determined minimum depths in the two entrance channels prior to the actual invasion.

"The next job was in the form of another detached party to Emirau Island in the St. Matthias Group. This party landed with the invasion forces and gathered data for charts necessary for the development of the base.

"Before the return of this party, the PATHFINDER had started a survey of Seeadler Harbor in the Admiralty Islands. The entrances and anchorage areas were wire-dragged, and a section of the harbor was dragged to 90 feet for a floating battleship drydock. This base eventually became the main staging area and supply point for the Philippine invasion, and its development was materially speeded when satisfactory charts became available. In the same area, Ponam Island and approaches were surveyed, to make possible the servicing of an air-strip to be built on Ponam Island.

"The PATHFINDER then returned to New Caledonia and commenced surveys improving the existing charts of Havannah Passage leading to Noumea. The wire-dragged channel was widened near it's beginning, and a channel through Woodin Passage was wire-dragged, thus shortening the route appreciably. A survey was made of Burai Bay, New Caledonia, to determine it's feasibility as a staging area. Lifu-Uvea Passage in the Loyalty Islands was surveyed to definitely determine its safety for navigation, and Patteson Passage in the New Hebrides was surveyed for the same reason. Finally, in October, 1944 the PATHFINDER sailed for Pearl Harbor, and then on to San Francisco for a much needed and well earned repair and overhaul period. During this time all but one of the remaining Coast Survey officers were detached, and he left after seeing her safely out to her working grounds again."

"Author's note:

This history has been prepared very hastily and entirely from memory. The facts as stated are true to the best of my memory. The ship received several letters of commendation during her tour of duty in the South Pacific, and copies are attached of the ones I have. Prepared by Captain Lorin Woodcock."

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Rear Admiral William M. Gibson served as Navigation Officer and then Executive Officer of the U.S.S. PATHFINDER. He then served as Executive Officer of the U.S.S. OCEANOGRAPHER and ended the war in command of the U.S.S. HYDROGRAPHER. He entered on duty with the commissioned corps of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey on September 2, 1924, and retired in 1958. Prior to WWII he served on numerous ships and field parties of the Coast and Geodetic Survey on the East Coast, West Coast, Alaska, and the Philippines. At the beginning of WWII, he was Executive Officer on the USC&GSS PIONEER, a former Navy minesweeper that had been loaned to the Survey following WWI. In 1941, the PIONEER was operating in the Aleutians, but its field season was shortened by one month as the Navy required the vessel back in preparation for war.


"Three ships, the PIONEER, GUIDE, and DISCOVERER were decommissioned after removal of all Coast & Geodetic Survey equipment. They were turned over to Merrit, Chapman, and Scott for use in sweeping mines in the Caribbean Sea. By this time war had been declared. There was no time for any leave of absence except when officers were given continental assignment. The Navy gave in lieu of the PIONEER a beautiful yacht formerly owned by Mr. Fleishman and built in Sweden of Krupp steel. They gave in lieu of the GUIDE a small yacht called the ANDRADITE.

"We worked like beavers getting the new PIONEER ready for Prince William Sound in Alaska, and when ready the Navy took her back! An officer came down to the dock at Treasure Island and took the ship with a skeleton crew 'to do escort work from Panama north.'

"We had to get off the ship in a hurry and we were standing on the dock as it left. A bar pilot that we knew struck up a conversation. He had been taken into the Navy too. The refresher course at Treasure Island was being given to college graduates who had been through the 90 day courses back east. They were at Treasure Island for practical courses before assignment to ships. Why didn't we tie in with the school? They were desperate for instructors!

"We were transferred to the Navy by Presidential Order, but we had to pass a physical examination at the 12th Naval District in San Francisco. Two rows of doctors were sitting at desks and as we walked by (in the raw) they all asked questions and made notes. Of course we all passed! Commander Lyman Graham and Lt. Charles Thomas were assigned to teach seamanship. I was assigned the Navigation School and Lieuts. Chovan and Stohsner were assigned to the Post Office. That lasted 3 months!

"Not having ever studied Navigation I had to go through Dutton's Navigation ahead of the class! And I had to take the class of about 30 officers out on a tug boat to teach them to pilot. I was just getting to like the work when my orders came along with the orders for the others - all to go to Seattle for the commissioning of the PATHFINDER and to serve thereon. The student officers liked my teaching and asked the Captain of the school to keep me. In the meantime I had driven to Seattle accompanied by the family. Orders canceling my assignment to the PATHFINDER were issued and arrived at Treasure Island a few days after I had left. So I suppose they canceled the cancellation!

"They were cutting a large hole in the PATHFINDER's side to accommodate a printing press. Other photolithographic equipment was installed and the ship soon readied for sea trials. Two 3-inch AA guns were installed on the bow and 20mm guns scattered about the ship. When the ship put to sea, the plumbing did not work right. We were deluged with water all the way to San Francisco from the toilets and the propeller was singing refrains. The propeller was considered a submarine hazard and arrangements made for dry docking. While in San Francisco we got the service of Lt. Vincent of the Coast & Geodetic Survey ( who had been given a Navy commission) to work on the fathometers. Navy technicians had no knowledge of Coast & Geodetic Survey fathometers. [Vincent had been a Chief Radio Operator and electronic technician on Coast & Geodetic Survey ships for many years. He had been a co-inventor of the Radio Sonobuoy, originally used by the C&GS with Radio-Acoustic Ranging Navigation.]

"At last the toilets had been vented; the fathometers performed O.K.; and the propeller made reasonably quiet. We sailed out the Golden Gate, past the picket boat that didn't like our bow wave, and into the war. My leave that was canceled totaled 72 calendar days. This was regarded as necessary to the country in time of war and was an accumulation since 1938 when ordered to the New York office to take charge. Perhaps some time I would get the leave back.


1. Bascom Thomas, Commander USNR, Lawyer in civilian life, Commanding Officer.

2. Harry A. Mason, Lieutenant Commander, Executive Officer, from Merchant Marine, a strict disciplinarian.

3. William M. Gibson, Lieutenant Commander, USC&GS, Navigator and Chief Survey Officer, Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey, President of Summary Court Martial.

4. James Walls, Chief Engineer, Lieutenant Commander USNR, Steamboat Inspection Service, U.S. Coast Guard.

5. James E. Baker, Lieutenant, USNR, Asst. Chief Engineer, Civil Service rating of Chief Engineer, U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey.

6. Samuel N. Davis, Lieutenant, USNR, Asst. Engineer, U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey, Civil Service.

7. Evan Kackley, Lieutenant, Medical Corps, USNR.

8. Robert E. Glaze, Ensign, USNR, Engineer Officer.

9. William K. Herman, Lieutenant, USNR, Supply Officer.

10. Walter J. Chovan, Lieutenant, USC&GS, Wire Drag and Hydrography.

11. Edwin Hicks, Lieutenant, USC&GS, Tides, Currents, Hydrography.

12. Junius T. Jarman, Lieutenant, USC&GS, Cartography and Hydrography.

13. E.E. Stohsner, Lieutenant, USC&GS, Hydrography, Wire Drag.

14. Lorin Woodcock, Lieutenant (jg), USC&GS, Hydrography, Wire Drag (joined ship after Funafuti.)

15. E.E. Anderson, Jr., Lieutenant (jg), Gunnery Officer, Hydrography, Topography.

16. William B. Sears, Ensign, USNR, Hydrography.

17. William W. Thompson, Lieutenant (jg), Communications Officer.

18. Dan W. McMurphy, Ensign, USNR, Courts & Boards, Hydrography.

19. Breed Mounger, Lieutenant (jg), USNR, Hydrography.

20. Clarkson W. Pinkham, Ensign, USNR, Hydrography.

21. Raymond Dondero, Ensign, USNR, Engineer (joined after April 1.)

"Commander Bascom Thomas, a Naval Reserve Officer from Dallas, Texas, was given command of the PATHFINDER when commissioned as a Naval Ship in Lake Washington at Seattle. The ship had been altered to conform to Navy Regulations during the construction. The Coast & Geodetic Survey flag was run up and down immediately; and the Navy Pennant run up.

"Each department head was responsible for his own work. The Navigator was responsible for the charts and location of the entrance to the harbors of the South Pacific and Honolulu. The Engineer Officer (a Coast Guard Officer) was appointed from the Naval Reserve - Commander Walls - and the Executive Officer was from the Merchant Marine.

"Five Coast & Geodetic Survey officers were transferred to the Navy to serve under Navy Regulations for the duration of the war. And various Naval Reserve Officers in lower ranks were assigned.

"Commander Bascom Thomas was an excellent Commanding Officer. Although his knowledge of map making was deficient, his knowledge of Communications, Naval Procedure, and Gunnery were excellent and he learned of the map making as he progressed. He was firm, fair and dedicated.

"After 18 months were up he transferred his new Executive Officer and Chief Survey Officer, and appointed Walter Chovan in his place. Also he put Edgar Hicks in the plotting room and transferred Junius Jarman to heavier duty. He had previously parted with his Coast Guard Engineer and had put Sam Davis in that top spot. He had transferred Ernst Stohsner to new construction; and Engineer James Davis had been called home on account of the death of his wife. With his new organization he was all set for another year of duty which he did in commendable fashion. Details follow.

"The U.S.S. PATHFINDER zig zagged all the way to Pearl Harbor. Everyone was wearing full regalia for war. When the Navigator was taking star sights he found the regalia cumbersome to say the least. A rendezvous was arranged for a PCS to meet us about 19 miles east of Pearl Harbor. We never saw her and the captain wondered about the navigation. We simply steamed on into Pearl Harbor without our guide. Admiral Nimitz allowed one of the officers to telephone San Francisco to check on the success of the operation on his son.

"The Staff wanted a reliable chart of Funafuti, Ellice Island. The Fleet Transport that carried a regiment of Marines into the atoll avoided many coral heads. Her draft was twenty feet and many coral heads were reported. The Fleet Transport let the men off but left hurriedly with only a part of the cargo unloaded.

"The PATHFINDER stopped for fuel at Christmas Island. A channel had been dredged and we were the first ship to enter the harbor. The Pilot assigned to the PATHFINDER got confused and was heading for the beach when the Navigator spotted the real entrance in a different position in time to save the ship.

"The cruise of the PATHFINDER to Funafuti crossing the Equator was the occasion for celebrating. Neptune Rex came aboard. All hands off duty joined in welcoming him aboard.

"A taste of the future was suddenly received about half way to Funafuti. An unidentified hulk appeared. Later it was identified as a cruiser. The cruiser had entombed in it 19 men. It had been torpedoed but was going on her own steam.

"The last 5 days of the cruise were overcast and there was speculation that the ship would miss the island. The Navy Pilot charts showed a current of 2 knots flowing at a right angle to the course; that was a possible set of 48 miles to the northwest. The speculation increased as the time for arrival got near. The Navigator, to cover his own apprehension, said to the Captain, "You come up to the bridge at 1500 this afternoon and I will show you the 'conspicuous' tree charted on the island." True to the words, the Captain arrived on the bridge at 1500 in time to hear the lookout shout 'Land, Ho. The Port Bow!'

"The entrance was at Le Buabua and the ship proceeded very gingerly to anchorage about one half the distance to the main part of the island. About 3 days later the sun was right to show the bottom off the starboard quarter. Soundings showed the depth of 11 feet and the PATHFINDER's draft was 14 feet.

"Captain Rickenbacker had been brought to Funafuti when he had been rescued. Someone had immediately sent a case of Scotch whiskey to him at Funafuti but Rickenbacker had left before the Scotch arrived. Captain Good, Commandant of the Marine Corps, had sent his aide out to the ship with one bottle to be used for medicinal purposes on Christmas Eve, our first Christmas away from home.

"The PATHFINDER had been ordered to Funafuti in the Ellice Islands to make charts, place beacons and buoys, lay out anchorages and seaplane runways and find a deep water entrance to enable damaged carriers or battleships and naval auxiliaries to enter. The time limit was 3 weeks. It was the first or 'breaking in' job assigned by Cincpac enroute to our south Pacific Area to report to ComSoPac.

"Because it was the first job there were certain apprehensions. Funafuti had been charted about 1850 by a British vessel and later used by whalers from New England. When looking for the Observation Point used in the original survey, a native with bright red hair stepped aside and saluted, saying 'me Forbes.' There had been a deserter by the name of Forbes. This was his descendant.

"The ship's force welded superstructures on thoroughly drained gasoline drums for channel and obstruction buoys for marking significant coral heads. They also constructed a tall beacon of angle iron to mount at a turning point of the channel. The beacon was placed on two boats, catamaran fashion, and taken to the site.

"The deepest water in the entrances was found to lie in Te Ave Fugea, a tortuous entrance at the southwest side. The channel was blocked by a huge coral head with deep water on all sides. This was a problem for the dynamite gang composed of 2 pharmacists, 2 seamen, and 2 officers. There was a great explosion that should have notified the enemy 35 miles away of PATHFINDER activities. The coral head went down to 30 feet and the spot was marked by white water; a perfect landmark! The other entrance where the Troop Transport crossed was recommended for dredging after the wire dragging showed clearance of 19 feet.

"The location of the conspicuous tree, the beacon at the channel turning point and a third PATHFINDER beacon in the vicinity of Te Ave Fugea gave a plottable 3-point fix, but bearings on the same points would not intersect in a point. There was something wrong! After checking the field triangulation and finding nothing, the culprit was finally run down. The British had constructed a perfect projection and inadvertently turned it upside down for plotting. In other words, the meridians inadvertently converged to the north instead of to the south. This was in South Latitude. The position of ships entering and anchoring in the atoll could be determined by using our positions as shown on the chart, as long as they did not stray outside of the area marked off for anchorages or use the old chart.

"This all took time and the ship was perilously low on fuel. The one and only ship to enter the atoll while the PATHFINDER was there was the inter-island steamer called the USS CAMANGO. She had ample fuel to get back to Pago Pago. She agreed to furnish the PATHFINDER some fuel oil; and the PATHFINDER went alongside her for that purpose. Unfortunately, the Captain of the USS CAMANGO turned off the fuel going to the PATHFINDER almost immediately and took back suction on the hose. Later the Engineer was doubtful if the ship was any better off.

"The tidal note on the chart was carefully considered. The island lay in South Latitude and East Longitude. We had to give the time of tide in terms of Navy time and West Longitude. The exact time used was given on the chart.

"The anchorages were laid out, the beacons accurately determined, the markers placed on coral heads, the channels buoyed, and the range for entering and leaving via Te Ave Fugea in place and the tidal note was on the chart. The Commanding Officer tested the charts by having the PATHFINDER run at 13 knots in and out of the channel and through the atoll. His assumption was that if we had no confidence in our charts, how would others? This test was made just 4 weeks after starting the job - one week over.

"The PATHFINDER laid a course for Pago Pago for fuel, arriving in the morning, refueling during the day and by evening the ship was headed for Noumea. The sea was too rough to run the printing press, so the charts were actually printed in the Great Roads of Noumea, while reporting to Admiral Halsey's staff. A copy was sent to the Hydrographic Office for review. They reprinted the chart showing 30 feet as the depth of Te Ave Bue Bue. Fortunately their error was caught at once and they recalled all the charts they had issued on Funafuti. There were 4 charts of Funafuti, the entrances and anchorages, and sea plane area.

"The ship cruised up the east side of New Caledonia to Espiritu Santo where a large convoy was being formed. Enemy submarines were reported as awaiting the convoy to the north and west of Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides. So the convoy passed around the east side to avoid the submarines. Twice the convoy with PATHFINDER in the escort turned back to Espiritu Santo. Then word was received that a large enemy task force with a battleship, cruisers and destroyers was ahead.

"The Navy Code had been captured when the Japanese shot down a plane, and the Japanese used the code to cover the evacuation of troops from Guadalcanal.
"A most fortunate experience occurred when the convoy was to arrive by daylight at Guadalcanal and it met another convoy going east in the darkness. It was in this night that the New Zealand Corvette, the KIWI, fought a Japanese submarine to the end, having forced it on the beach and killed the Captain and other officers. A diver found the Japanese Code on the wrecked submarine.

"Reporting for duty to the Commander of the Solomon Islands, the ship was assigned the task of surveying and charting Tulagi Harbor about fifteen miles from Guadalcanal. Tulagi Harbor was fairly large and almost landlocked. There was a huge ammunition dump to the east and the PATHFINDER anchored well inside the harbor - almost up to the creek where the USS NIAGARA was moored with camouflage over it to protect against bombing. The USS NIAGARA was supposed to provide housing for the P.T. boat personnel. But due to the intense heat, the P.T. boat personnel chose sleeping in the makeshift structures at the P.T. Boat Base about a half mile to the south.

"The commander of the base at Tulagi ordered that no ship return fire when the Japs bombed the base in the hope that they never saw the ships and were concentrating their bombs on the base.

"A one kilometer base line was quickly measured and a weak expansion made to locate such points as necessary for control. If there had been any intention of more work to be done later, some additional work would have been warranted to improve the accuracy of the base line and the subsequent expansion.

"Later on orders were received to chart about 20 miles of the north coast of Guadalcanal. Points had been cut in on the north coast from Tulagi Harbor by observing over long distances on large targets. Later again the OCEANOGRAPHER surveyed Indispensable Strait by using the same control on a scale of 1/250,000. They extended the control over that tremendous area.

"The ship's officers had never dreamed of so much expansion of the one kilometer base line. It seemed like a hopeless undertaking to select and measure another base line. There were no possible places and time was pressing. Then there was the question always in mind "Is this necessary to keep ships from going aground?" The founding father of the Coast Survey would have answered the problem differently, but in time of war, would he have?

"Shortly after the PATHFINDER's arrival we were initiated by the Japanese bombers. One night in particular five bombs landed in the harbor straddling the PATHFINDER. Discipline was broken and the ship returned the fire against the high flying planes. One motor torpedo boat was hit and the crews badly shaken up.

"In view of the frequency of the bombing, the PATHFINDER sought a less conspicuous anchorage. Perhaps the Jap planes didn't see the ship and only dropped bombs on the harbor in general. On another night they bombed the ammunition dump to the east and set off explosions and fires that lasted for several days. A Liberty Ship was unloading ammunition with a group of stevedores that took to the jungles which surrounded the base.

"About this time the Commander of the Solomon Islands asked for a volunteer to locate Baruku Island on the map. The Task Force running up the "Slot" each night laid their course 5 miles off the Island and to their consternation found the island much closer than they had thought. One officer accompanied by 2 men trained in Jiu Jitsu went along, traveling on a Destroyer and LCT as far as the Russell Islands, carrying a theodolite and a chronometer.

"They arrived at the Russell Islands headquarters during a bombing raid which the island Commander watched outside his bomb proof shelter. Arrangements were made for a motor torpedo boat to take the party up to Baruku Island. Unfortunately, the officer in charge of the motor torpedo boat was not the same officer, nor was it the same boat, that had landed a Coast Watching party two weeks before. At that time, the officer in charge had arranged that he would be back with drinking water in about two weeks and that he would signal his arrival with a long and two short flashes.

"When the survey party arrived off the part of the island where it was thought the Coast Watchers had landed, the boat crew flashed the regular ship to shore signal and waited for the answer that never came. The motor torpedo boat cruised around the island flashing the ship to shore signal in the belief that they had wrongly identified the landing spot of the Coast Watchers. No answer came from the beach. In desperation, the motor torpedo boat returned to the first place opposite the beach and off a slight cove. A rubber boat was put in the water with a theodolite and a chronometer in the custody of the Chief Quartermaster. The officer started to shore with Bos'n Mate rowing. When the party got within gunfire range, the officer had the Chief Quartermaster call out in a loud voice, 'Navy men from the USS PATHFINDER coming in.' It saved their lives! The Coast Watchers were stationed along the beach with guns trained on the small rubber raft waiting the signal to open fire. That was the 26th of March.

"One young Coast Watcher, not knowing the necessity for concentration, talked incessantly of Lake Merritt and Oakland while the officer was setting up the theodolite. [Bill Gibson was speaking of himself as the officer setting up the theodolite in describing this episode as he lived in Oakland, California, and ended up retiring to that area.] Yes, there were Japs on the island too! They didn't move around much. They hoped the Japs didn't either. They were out of water and couldn't light a fire. They would have to be particularly careful now that the Japs had seen our light.

"At any rate the observations were made and the party embarked in their rubber raft in about 3 hours. The time was set during the dark of the moon, and the moon was now rising and breaking through the clouds. The observation party had taken a line on a tangent between two points. They had observed three stars, one of which was Dubhe in the constellation of the Dipper. For some reason, the Dipper showing in 10 degrees south latitude was particularly comforting. On the way back to the Russells, the P.T. Boat Skipper was very conscious of the fluorescent wake of his boat. Airplanes could pick up the wake and bomb them. The night before a Motor torpedo Boat had opened fire on one of our planes when the plane dropped a bomb near the boat.

"Upon arrival in the Russell Islands, it was found out that a motor torpedo boat was to leave for Guadalcanal at 11 o'clock. This seemed preferable transportation to the way the party had come by Destroyer and LCT. The motor torpedo boat made 30 knots. Just at the time of departure, General Patch and several of his staff came down to the landing with the intention of riding down to Guadalcanal. He asked the skipper about night running. The skipper launched into a dissertation about danger from our planes, and told about the necessity of firing on one of ours a few nights back. General Patch exclaimed, "Was that you?" He then turned and walked away with his staff! There was plenty of room on the boat going to Guadalcanal! Another young skipper of another boat was being called on the 'carpet.' He never divulged what he was going on the 'carpet' for, except he said it was very serious. I surmised that it was he that fired a torpedo at the flagship and sunk it when it strayed into the wrong zone in the Invasion of Munda.

"At Lunga Point, Guadalcanal, a boat was ready to leave for Port Purvis, so the party arrived there well ahead of schedule. There it developed that the PATHFINDER was out, and while waiting on a pier a Marine Officer by the name of Robert Earle [transferred from the Coast and Geodetic Survey to the Marines at the beginning of the war] invited the whole party (one officer and two men) to dinner. The Chief Quartermaster declined because of his charge of caring for the chronometer and guarding it against undue shocks.

"At 7:00 o'clock the PATHFINDER launch took them off to the ship, and the officer and men tumbled into their bunks to get their first sleep in three days. When they awoke, the staff had computed the position of the observation point, and estimated the size of the Island of Baruku from aerial photographs. The chronometer had lost one second and the island was indicated to be several miles out of position. At any rate, we never had any more complaints from the Task Force about it being in the way while heading up the 'Slot' for the nocturnal bombardment after the change of position.

"The work laid out for the PATHFINDER was nearing completion. The ships could enter and leave Tulagi Harbor and Gavutu Harbor with assurance. And the surveys had been made relative to a point left in Port Purvis by the USS SUMNER. The anchorages were laid out in circles in Tulagi Harbor and along the coast of Guadalcanal. The coast of Guadalcanal was made [delineated] relative to the baseline on Gavutu causeway. A light was put on top of Beacon 'B' which could be turned on by notification of the Marine Detachment at Koli Point. (The Marines preferred the light to be normally off, because planes bombing Henderson Field would take a crack at any light and did.) Large convoys coming to Guadalcanal by night had the light to judge their distance off shore and along the shore.

"All that was left was a few soundings parallel to the coast in Sealark Passage. The PATHFINDER was asked to report the date of completion. The dispatch was simple enough. Apparently the headquarters had another job for us! An earlier dispatch had told us to expect air attacks in force. There was pressure to take off leaving the last few lines undone. A similar situation had occurred at Tonga Tabu when a battleship hit an uncharted rock just outside an area surveyed by the USS SUMNER. With this in mind, leaving the site before completion of the work was turned down.

"As the PATHFINDER steamed on line toward Lunga Point, a group of transports was met running east with the lines trailing in the water, and without lifeboats of any kind. They were making flank speed. Also, the cruisers of the Task Force were seen cruising out of Tulagi Harbor where they had been fueling.

"When the ship was opposite Lunga Point the USS AARON WARD was queried. They replied 'air attack imminent' by signal light. Surprisingly the destroyer secured from General Quarters just as the first bomb was dropped from the high flying planes. It hit the AARON WARD in the boiler room. The destroyer had been escorting a large LST containing, among other passengers, one by name of John F. Kennedy. The AARON WARD lay dead in the water and was putting the wounded in a boat while the PATHFINDER maneuvered rapidly to avoid the dive bombers. The Captain was on the flying bridge, the Navigator watching the conn and the 20mm guns on the bridge deck. The 20mm guns were more effective than the 3-inch AA guns.

"The PATHFINDER was maneuvering rapidly running figure eights. When the enemy planes went into their dive, the PATHFINDER was changing course so rapidly that the enemy planes missed their target and in turn were raked with 20mm gun fire or 3-inch anti-aircraft fire. The only trouble was the PATHFINDER, with rapidly changing course, could not hit the planes. However, four Zeros hit the water - two by direct hits and two with assists from some other ship. The planes that missed leveled off and then tried to strafe the ship launches which were in the water. One boat was holed by gunfire while the personnel dived deep overboard. The Zeros then flew over Tulagi and strafed the installations. As they completed their strafing runs they flew directly over the P.T. Boat Tender, the USS NIAGARA. The NIAGARA had removed its camouflage and had a man painting zeros on her smokestack as they were shot down. He got up to 16 zeros that had been shot down. The planes, not knowing NIAGARA was there, ran into heavy gunfire right after strafing Tulagi Harbor. The next day the NIAGARA, with about one dozen motor torpedo boats steamed out of Tulagi Harbor for Espiritu Santo when one lone Japanese plane at high level dropped a bomb on her. She sank almost immediately not having any compartmentation. All of the crew were saved. They transferred to the torpedo boats.

"In the meantime, when the attack broke off, the AARON WARD, which was dead in the water, was taken in tow by a fleet tug. The intention was to get the ship over to the place at Tulagi Harbor vacated by the NIAGARA in the creek in the shoal water. The men were shoring up the compartments when the ship suddenly went down taking 80 men with it.

"The PATHFINDER steering engine and rudder had been damaged by a near miss. The Commanding Officer left his post on the flying bridge and took the wheel to guide the ship after the steering engine went out. His great strength was sufficient to guide the ship to an anchorage off the coast of Guadalcanal. As the ship approached the anchorage a high flying plane appeared overhead coming out of the sun. The ship opened up on it, but the plane was quickly identified as friendly and the firing belayed. It was the only friendly plane that we had observed during the day.

"At the time of the attack the AARON WARD lowered a launch with 19 men on it. When the firing stopped Lieutenant Lorin Woodcock in the motor whaleboat, who had found the AARON WARD casualties on the beach, brought them off to the PATHFINDER. They were immediately taken to the sick bay where they took up all the operating tables plus the CPO mess table. Lt. Evan Kackley and his 3 pharmacy mates worked on them all night and saved many lives. And Lt. Sam Davis and his engineer worked throughout the night on the steering engine in the terrible heat of the poop deck. At dawn he pronounced the ship operational. It was important to get operational as soon as possible because of the danger of additional bombing or from submarine activity.

"At 0700 the wounded and dead were put ashore when a truck showed up to take them to MOB 8. The sounding line was picked up that had been interrupted on the preceding day and the whole day spent on finishing the work.

"On the following day the ship departed for Espiritu Santo but had to return to Tulagi to pick up about 50 survivors of the sinking of the large tanker. [This was the USS KANAWHA which was sunk while attempting to leave Tulagi Harbor during the bombing raid of April 7.] The Task Force had just gotten fuel and left hurriedly from Tulagi when the bombing of April 7th happened. They kept clear of the enemy raid and did not seem to be seen by them. A New Zealand corvette was sunk with the tanker.

"The following date the PATHFINDER dropped anchor in Pallikula Bay, Espiritu Santo, just as Eleanor Roosevelt landed and a lone Japanese bomber dropped a bomb. The long days of hard work in the field under a blistering sun and sleepless nights at General Quarters in the sporadic bombing was about all that the men could stand. However, the quiet of Pallikula Bay tended to give new life to the crew, except the work went on as usual.

"In June 1943 the report on the charting of Pallikula Bay to the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, contained the following: 'PATHFINDER personnel have shown a high degree of loyalty and devotion to duty, but continuous operation in advance areas is making itself manifest --- added is the requirement of learning a new type of work for which they had no previous training. They deserve a great deal of credit.' Almost by return mail came commendations for the officers and men for their part in the action and for the accuracy of information and excellent workmanship of the charts from Admiral Nimitz. Admiral Halsey added that the work of the PATHFINDER would play an important part in the successful prosecution of the war, and ordered the ship to Sydney, Australia, for ten days recreation and for some supplies and equipment. [This would be the first of two trips to Sydney.]

"The ship force were tired but orders were received to survey and chart Pallikula and Turtle Bay and approaches which was done in about 2 weeks time. Then Commander Boak [J.E. Boak, Commanding Officer U.S. Naval Advanced Base, Espiritu Santo] assigned the job of finding an anchorage for a large floating dry dock. The ship revised the chart of Espiritu Santo somewhat and then proceeded south to Undine Bay. Being open to the sea, the PATHFINDER stationed a launch one mile out to give warning of any attack. Here the wire drag kept hanging on a mine which was charted and marked as a buoyed danger.

"After Undine Bay was charted the officers of the ship were invited aboard a carrier to hear Admiral Halsey talk. He predicted that we would meet again in Tokyo but we would not be able to tell one street from another on account of the destruction! (We had not heard of the atomic bomb at that time; perhaps Halsey had.)

"When in Sydney, Australia, some needed supplies were obtained and a much needed radar installed. The officers and crew were wined and dined by the Aussies. They were a very hospitable people. When it came to leave we missed only 4 men, 3 of which were delivered to us at the entrance buoy. One man was delivered to us at Guadalcanal. Three charts of Tulagi and two of Guadalcanal were made and printed and published on board the ship.

"In Noumea, charts were completed and printed on the ship's return from Australia. ComSoPac did not seem aware that the OCEANOGRAPHER had no camera or printing press and her first three months of surveys were unprocessed and on a scale of 1/10,000. Furthermore, the ship had been aground, had bent her propeller, and was in poor morale. Consequently the PATHFINDER had to compile the surveys on a scale of 1/40,000 for printing on a scale of 1/80,000 before returning to the combat areas. Upon return to the combat area the PATHFINDER surveys proceeded very efficiently and seven charts were published in a period of one month.

"While charting the Russell Islands for Commander of Naval Activities, Solomon Islands, orders were received from Commander Third Amphibious Corps to chart Manning Strait (1,200 square miles,) Vovoke Cove on Kolambangara, Hathorn Sound, and Rendova Harbor on New Georgia Island. The surveys of the Russell Islands were for staging a great Invasion Armada, while Manning Straits was useful in the naval battles.

"The PATHFINDER was escorted up the 'Slot' to the north end of New Georgia Island which had been captured by the U.S. Marines in the Battle of Munda, New Georgia. Lieutenant Schoene was in charge of the survey party for the OCEANOGRAPHER during the invasion of Munda. The ship [PATHFINDER] anchored in the middle of Hathorn Sound. The officers and crew laid out a baseline and took astronomic sights for a position. The whole survey was based on this hasty beginning as there was no connection with any other place on New Georgia. No dangers were found in the harbor but the ship was bombed frequently by the Japs whose Coast Watchers saw the ship coming in and reported it as a heavy cruiser. Probably the closest to a hit was obtained on the PATHFINDER here, but it did not explode - a dud. The C.B.'s were building an airfield and got the brunt of the bombing. The ship went to General Quarters with each bombing.

"An officer was sent ashore to look for a Chaplain to hold services on board. A Catholic was contacted who turned him down. Then a preacher was invited out to the ship to hold services inasmuch as some thought each night might be our last. The ship went to 'condition red' in the middle of the service and all hands went to their stations. The preacher tried twice more to hold services and each time it was similarly interrupted. He stayed all night and the next morning reported his watch missing! The Captain picked up his Bible and it fell open at the right page - the 'watch' page. During the scrambling when the alarm sounded the preacher had closed the Bible on his watch.

"The C.B.'s worked day and night, and had to have lights on for the night work. They turned off the lights when the first bomb dropped. They remained dark for about 15 minutes and then the lights came on. By that time the Jap bombers, turned around and heading for their base at Kavieng, dropped more bombs which delayed the C.B.'s another 15 minutes.

"One of our duties at Hathorn Sound was to find a place where a tanker could be moored with easy access from the sea. While this was being surveyed, Manning Strait was surveyed by a party on a YMS with Lieutenant Jarman in charge. He had been watched closely by a reconnaissance airplane and they had given the only code they had at the moment, admittedly outdated. The plane signalled back, 'We know it is outdated!' but kept right on the contact.

"The Vovoke Cove, Kolambangara Island, was done in a matter of hours by a wire drag to 30-feet swinging around an anchored end. The cove was almost circular. The problem then was to get the ship over to Rendova Harbor without going back around the long island of New Georgia. We had not run into any mines in Kula Gulf although we could have because the high speed destroyer that planted them did so in the dark and didn't know exactly where they were. That was during the Battle of Kula Gulf. The PATHFINDER was the first ship in the Kula Gulf after the battle. We took the chance and navigated the Blackett Strait between the islands, with a minesweeper proceeding ahead of us. We made it around to the south side of New Georgia in a portion of one day whereas the trip back the long way would have taken taken about 3 days.

"The PATHFINDER anchored in Rendova Harbor with a sigh of relief. That evening Lieutenant Woodcock and a crew of men were sent to Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville, on a destroyer which stopped about a mile at sea for him and his men to come aboard. Two large transports had gone aground on uncharted rocks in the unloading area.

"Heretofore all the Task Forces bombarding the Japanese and supporting the Bougainville offensive had to return to Tulagi Harbor for logistics. By mooring a tanker in Hathorn Sound the destroyers and cruisers could refuel before and after engagements without the long run down to Tulagi. They could run lower on fuel than before and could even chase the Japs right up to their base at Kavieng as did '30 Knot Burke making 31 knots.' During the Battle of Bougainville, our ability to hang on was made possible by refueling destroyers and cruisers there.

"But my orders were in Rendova directing me to proceed to Guadalcanal and report as Executive Officer to the OCEANOGRAPHER. It was with sincere regret that I left the PATHFINDER - my home away from home for the last eighteen months. By this time the PATHFINDER was a smoothly functioning unit of the fleet and well-known and respected.

"Many personnel changes had been made in the past few months. Lt. Comdr. James Baker had been detached in Tulagi to go home as his wife had passed away and his young daughter was alone. Commander Walls, Chief Engineer, had been detached and sent to new construction from Espiritu Santo on our way to Sydney, Australia. That left the PATHFINDER with one Engineer Officer, Lt. Comdr. Sam Davis, who was eminently capable; and Lt. Comdr. Harry Mason, Executive Officer, was ordered to the States about April 15th and I was promoted to Executive Officer at that time. Upon our return from Australia, Lt. Comdr. E.E. Stohsner was sent to new construction, so we lost two Engineer Officers, 1 Executive Officer, and a Survey Officer in a short period of time. The loss of Lt. Comdr. E.E. Stohsner without replacement was especially critical. Commander Stohsner was particularly trained in wire drag work and a long time friend. That left the captain, Lt. Comdr. Walter Chovan, Lt. Hicks, Lt. Jarman, and Lt. Woodcock as Survey Officer; and Naval Reserve Officers Pickhan, Thompson, Glaze, McMurphy, Anderson (the gunnery officer,) and Dondero (a recent acquisition.)

"Cdr. W.M. Gibson had navigated the PATHFINDER from Seattle to San Francisco to Pearl Harbor, and Australia, and acted as Chief Survey Officer for all the time and as Executive Officer the last six months."

* * * * * * * * * * * * *





Junius T. Jarman was a career officer with the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey. He served as a civilian Junior Cartographic Engineer in that organization from July 1, 1927, until April 30, 1930, when he transferred to the Commissioned Officer Corps of the Coast and Geodetic Survey. Prior to WWII he served on numerous C&GS ships and field parties. By Executive Order he was transferred to the Navy on March 2, 1942. Following the war he was transferred back to the C&GS and served until retirement in 1964.


"My first Naval assignment was the temporary command of the YP-96 which operated in Puget Sound. In April 1942 I took this vessel to the Tacoma Shipyard where it was overhauled and outfitted with Sound Detection Gear. In May 1942, I was ordered to the U.S.S. EUCALYPTUS, a net tender as Executive Officer. The first project that came to this vessel was a plan to lay a Magnetic Submarine Detector Loop across the mouth of Resurrection Bay, Alaska. The design and logistics were handled by a Naval Officer temporarily assigned by Navy Personnel. The actual laying and location of the cable was my job. The work was completed in 8 days.

"My ship was in Kodiak, Alaska, preparing to lay the same type of loop across the entrance to Kodiak Harbor when I received 'Urdet' orders to report to the Hydrographic Office in Washington, D.C. for two weeks instruction; then to the U.S.S. PATHFINDER in Seattle, Washington. The PATHFINDER was a new USC&GS ship just completed by the Lake Washington Shipyard. It was transferred to the Navy in mid-1942. This ship was scheduled to operate in the South Pacific as a Survey and Charting vessel. The Navy installed various types of reproduction gear such as cameras, wirlers, etc.; a hole had to be cut into the side of the ship to install a Harris Offset press because it was too large to pass through the ship's companionways.

"My first assignment aboard the PATHFINDER was Chart Compilation Officer, and then successively Navigation Officer, First Lieutenant, and lastly as Executive Officer. In addition to the usual shipboard duties, I planned, directed and executed hydrographic and wire drag surveys. The work included astronomic azimuths, astronomic positions and all other survey phases common to combined operations. The data so produced were processed immediately and compiled into nautical charts. Generally the charts came off the press about 6 to 8 days after completion of the field work. They were then available to all Naval and Allied shipping operating in the area.

"I was selected by the Commanding Officer of the PATHFINDER to be the Officer-in-Charge of Advance Survey Parties at Manning Straits, Blanche Harbor (Treasury Islands,) and Green Islands. These areas were at or near the front lines, and survey information was needed to facilitate combat operations.

"The Manning Straits survey was requested by Admiral Halsey, Commander of the Third Fleet, as a result of the Battle of Savo Island. Prior to that battle, a U.S. reconnaissance plane had spotted an enemy Naval Task Force and noted its position. From the data available, Intelligence estimated it would take this force, travelling at flank speed, until at least 8 AM the following morning to reach Guadalcanal. The American Task Force composed of the QUINCY, ASTORIA, VINCENNES, plus the Australian cruiser CANBERRA moved behind Savo Island and anchored. All hands except those on duty turned in for a good night's rest before the expected battle the following morning. The enemy task force arrived about 2 AM instead of the predicted time of 8 AM. The Japanese force knew the exact location of the American ships which meant there was a Japanese Coast Watcher on either Savo Island or Florida Island. The enemy fleet rounded Savo Island, turned on their search lights and blew the American ships out of the water before they knew what hit them. The enemy fleet did not tarry. They rounded Savo Island at high speed and returned in the direction from which they came.

"Because the arrival of the enemy fleet was about 6 hours earlier than expected, Intelligence figured the Japanese must know of an uncharted short cut. An inspection of area charts revealed Manning Strait, although unsurveyed, might possibly be the short cut from Truk to Guadalcanal. This was the thinking which caused the request for the survey.

"The survey party, operating from a YMS, surveyed and charted a passage through Manning Strait, there-to-fore not known to exist and which was used successfully by our ships. The usual survey methods could not be used because Choiseul Island on one side of the strait was enemy occupied, and Intelligence was unsure about enemy presence on Santa Isabel to the east. Using ingenious methods, an accurate survey was made of the Strait without having to land. The survey of some 600 square miles was completed in 10 days and the resulting chart was ready for distribution in 8 days.

"I expected some trouble from Japanese planes while making this survey, but nothing developed. Our Marines were making a diversionary attack on Japanese installations on Choiseul Island while the main American force was taking Treasury Islands, and later, Bougainville; also our Air Force controlled the air space which probably explains why we saw no enemy planes.

"One afternoon we did spend an anxious 15 minutes because of our own planes. A Navy PBY was spotted flying high and escorted by 6 P-38's. As was customary, we turned our search light on the P-38's and gave the recognition signal. The P-38's immediately left their escort positions and flew at high speed to the West where they had the sun at their backs. They then started what appeared to be a strafing run on our vessel. All the while we were frantically signaling the recognition signal, but they kept coming. Finally in desperation we turned our search light on the PBY. Almost immediately, the P-38's broke ranks and returned to their escort duties. This type of situation was not unusual in the early days of the War. The Army desperately needed pilots and they were sending them into combat before they had thoroughly mastered the Morse code. The P-38's had voice contact with the PBY and the Navy pilot called off the strafing run as soon as our recognition was received.

"I no sooner returned to the PATHFINDER from surveying Manning Strait when I was detached once more in charge of the advance survey group to proceed to Blanche Harbor, Treasury Islands, to survey the Harbor there and its approaches. Our forces were in control of the Harbor, but the area was not secured. Japanese Forces still held Choiseul Island and Bougainville which made it too dangerous for a large ship such as the PATHFINDER to make this survey. The small group with me, operating from a very small APC attracted very little attention. We did endure several night bombing raids with very little resulting damage. This survey was completed and the resulting chart was ready for distribution in 12 days.

"After returning to the PATHFINDER from Blanche Harbor, I managed to remain aboard over Xmas, but I was detached on January 15, 1944 to lead an Advanced Survey Party composed of 4 Officers and 17 men. This group proceeded to Guadalcanal from Noumea, New Caledonia. Upon arrival, we were attached to Naval Advance Base Unit 11. This was something new and the name was abbreviated thus: NABU-11. It was a group of men and officers trained and organized to land with combat trooops and immediately begin functioning as a Naval Base. I learned my group was a part of the attack force scheduled to take Green Islands, a small coral atoll about 50 miles north of Bougainville and opposite New Ireland.

"The survey of Green Islands was requested because the Commander of the Third Fleet desired fighter plane protection for the bombers engaged with daily activity over Rabaul, Kavienge and Bougainville. The distance from the Russel Islands and Guadalcanal was too far for fighter escorts to remain over the target area for the duration of a raid because they did not have the necessary fuel capacity even with wing tanks. The planned runway on Green Islands was also to furnish fighter support for a scheduled attack on the Japanese Base at Kavienge. Meanwhile, MacArthur's success in by-passing strongly held bases on New Guinea, plus the heavy casualties to be expected from attacking a strong base such as Kavienge, negated that attack. The decision to negate the Kavienge attack came after our forces had taken Green Islands. The Green Island fighter base, however, was directly responsible for reducing casualties during the bombing raids on the three nearby Japanese bases.

"Not much was known about Green Islands at this time except vessels entering the lagoon at Nissan Atoll used the South Passage with a reported depth of 18 feet, coral bottom. It was suspected the atoll was being used by the Japanese as a Barge Station in the supply lines to Rabaul and Bougainville. Our Air Force activity prevented enemy surface vessels from supplying the bases of Kavienge, Rabaul and Bougainville. The only way the Japanese could safely supply these bases was to use submarines or barges which operated only at night. During daylight hours the barges were hid at convenient 'way' stations such as the one at Green Islands.

"The suspicion the enemy were using Green Islands as a barge station was verified by the findings of a reconnaissance force composed of Officers and technicians from NABU-11, Officers from a Seabee Unit, several Officers from an LST squadron, several Air Force Officers, and about 300 New Zealand combat troops. Two Officers and 5 men from my advance survey party were a part of this force. The reconnaissance force landed on the atoll at mid-night on January 31, 1944, (D-15 days,) and departed 24 hours later at mid-night. The entire force lost only 5 men killed and about 10 wounded during the 24 hour stay. It was estimated the enemy force stationed on the atoll was not over 500 men, most of them belonging to a Japanese Naval Supply Corps. My group investigated Middle and South Channels into the lagoon for least depth, ran a few exploratory lines in an east-west direction across the lagoon, and ran several sounding lines, north-south direction, along the shoreline to assist in locating LST landing sites. We also obtained 24 hours of tidal data to assist in estimating the tidal stage on 'D' day.

"'D' day for assaulting Nissan Atoll was February 15, 1944. Our forces met with very little resistance on 'D' day and the atoll was secure within a week. The estimate of 500 enemy troops was pretty accurate; we found between 400 and 500 Japanese on the atoll. They were true Japanese in that not one of them surrendered, and all were killed.

"Pinapel Island, the next largest island in the Green Island group was never searched thoroughly. It is possible some of the enemy troops may have escaped to this island since it is separated from Nissan Atoll by less than half a mile of water. My group spent one day making a hydrographic survey of Pinapel Island Lagoon. This island was not very important to the High Command in the Green Island Caper. We did discover one side of the lagoon was shallow and offered an excellent spot to beach a damaged or sinking vessel.

"My small group remained at Green Islands from 'D' day, February 15, 1944 to near the middle of March 1944. During this period, a complete hydrographic survey was made of Nissan Atoll, all shoals and channels were buoyed, two permanent tide stations were established, and party members acted as Pilots in getting supply vessels through South Channel. The commander of NABU-11 seemed to rely rather heavily on my group for assistance in establishing the Naval Base. The base demolition squad was turned over to me and I was told to use it as I saw fit. I had this squad reduce all dangerous coral heads, and pointed out high spots in the entrance channels that needed reducing. Two members of NABU-11 were given instruction and training in piloting supply vessels into Nissan Atoll through South Entrance Channel. Another of the base unit was instructed in how to obtain data from the tide staffs and interpret it.

"My party returned to the PATHFINDER on March 25, 1944. The ship was at Noumea, New Caledonia. I learned the entire complement of the PATHFINDER had enjoyed 10 days of rest and relaxation while my party was struggling at Green Islands. I requested the same treatment for my group and the ship's Commanding Officer turned me down which I thought was most unfair.

"As a result of activities at Green Islands, I received a letter of appreciation from the Commander of NABU-11 for the rapid survey of Nissan and Pinapel Atolls plus the assistance rendered in establishing the Naval Base. A letter of Commendation was also received for the hydrographic and tidal data gathered on D-15 day, and used successfully on D-day.

"The PATHFINDER surveyed Seadler Harbor, Admiralty Islands in the spring and summer of 1944. This harbor was the main staging area for the assault on the Philippines. Seadler Harbor is full of coral heads which were located and buoyed. In August 1944, Lifu-Uvea Passage was surveyed using the PATHFINDER as the sounding vessel. This extensive passage was often used by ships heading for Noumea, New Caledonia from Hawaii. Several new shoals were discovered, but none were a danger to navigation. The survey was completed in less than three weeks and the resulting chart became available in one week.

"In September 1944, the PATHFINDER received orders to return to San Francisco for much needed repairs. Prior to the departure of the ship from the South Pacific, the Commanding Officer reported by letter to the various South Pacific Commanders on the ship's activities for the two year period just ending.

"... Just before Xmas 1944, repairs and overhaul were complete and the PATHFINDER departed San Francisco for the Central Pacific with me as Executive Officer. The ship arrived at Guam late in January and was assigned an anchorage in Guam Harbor. In about a week, an assignment was received.

"Navigators on planes based at Saipan and making daily bombing raids on Tokyo reported seeing discolored water about 300 miles northwest of Guam. Almost immediately, orders were received to proceed to the spot, investigate, and locate. We found the shoal to be rather extensive in area, reasonably flat on top with a depth of 8 fathoms over it. It was thought to be of volcanic origin. The weather was inclement with very rough seas, and the Captain was having trouble maintaining his position. Finally he moved over the shoal area and anchored. Thereafter the PATHFINDER claimed the distinction of having anchored closer to Tokyo than any other Navy ship. The spot was named PATHFINDER shoal. A good location was obtained, using LORAN 'C', and astronomic sights with a dead reckoning position as a check.

"As a result of my survey work away from the PATHFINDER plus other activities, I was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, and authorized to wear the Combat 'V'...."
Oddly, Junius Jarman did not mention the Japanese bombing attack of Tulagi on April 7, 1943, in the main body of his personal memoir. However, in an Appendix he refers to a September 1961 Saturday Evening Post article entitled "The Adventure That Made a President." This article recounted the experiences of President John F. Kennedy in the South Pacific during WWII. On April 7, 1943, then Lt. (j.g.) Kennedy was a passenger on LST 449 on the last leg of a trip that was destined to end with his taking command of a PT boat at Guadalcanal. Both the PATHFINDER and LST 449 were attacked by Japanese dive-bombers. The PATHFINDER shot down two Japanese planes. Jarman was in command of the forward anti-aircraft guns on the PATHFINDER although he took no credit for directing the kills. However, "During this raid, I was on the PATHFINDER which was alongside the destroyer AARON WARD, and just ahead of the LST 449. I happened to be looking back at Kennedy's ship while four dive bombers were attacking it. There were so many exploding bombs along with the resulting water spouts that I could not see the LST." The AARON WARD was hit and put her wounded over in small boats which the PATHFINDER picked up and cared for overnight. In the Saturday Evening Post article, the PATHFINDER is not named and is referred to as a minesweeper.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *






At the beginning of WWII, Lieutenant Ernst E. Stohsner was serving on the USC&GSS PIONEER with Bill Gibson and Lorin Woodcock. Following the return of the PIONEER to the Navy, Lt. Stohsner was assigned to duty with the Navy on March 16, 1942, and reported to the Commandant of the Twelfth Naval District and was assigned to Treasure Island and performed minor duties until June 11, 1942, when he was assigned to the PATHFINDER which was still under construction. Lt. Stohsner subsequently spent the next fifteen months with the PATHFINDER and then was attached to the USS BOWDITCH for the duration of the war. Following the war, he retired on a medical disability as a Commander, USC&GS, in 1947 after eighteen years of service.


June 15, 1942 to August 31, 1942

"Assigned to the Supervisor Shipbuilding, Lake Washington Shipyards, Houghton, Washington, for duty in connection with the conversion, outfitting, and transfer of the USS PATHFINDER. The PATHFINDER was placed in full commission August 31, 1942. During this period my duties were quite varied but all connected with outfitting this vessel. The Supply Officer did not report until about the commissioning date. I was detailed to substitute for him in the obtaining and transferring of supplies and equipment. This entailed the preparation of 'allowance lists' prior to requisitioning and procuring. As the greater part of the necessary supplies and equipment was being transferred from the Coiast and Geodetic Survey, my knowledge of its inventory methods aided greatly in converting from one accounting system to another.

August 31, 1942 to September 22, 1943

"On board USS PATHFINDER. The itinerary of the vessel during this period follows: Upon commissioning, trial runs in Puget Sound, then shakedown cruise to San Francisco, arriving end of September. After several weeks additional conversion and repairs, sailed from the States early in November. Arrived Funafuti Atoll, Ellice Islands, early December, surveyed for, compiled, and printed anchorage charts of this atoll. Arrived vicinity Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, about February first, proceeded with surveys necessary to compile and print anchorage charts of selected sheltered areas off Florida and Guadalcanal Islands. End of April proceeded to New Hebrides Islands and continued similar operations at a number of existing and proposed anchorages in this group. I was detached from this vessel at Espiritu Santo Island, New Hebrides, on September 22, 1943. During this last period the vessel spent two weeks in August at Sydney, Australia, for repairs of the ship and recreation of the personnel.

"My survey duties during this period included everything in combined operations with a large amount of wire drag and baseline measurement. Training Navy personnel for survey work was a major and laborious task. There were six Coast and Geodetic officers on board during this time and I was fifth in rank. The planning and direction of the survey work was therefore mostly done by the senior survey officers and I served as a field officer. The experience in small boats and ashore under the conditions of war filled out my previous experience in the Coast and Geodetic Survey and proved valuable on my next assignment. [Assignment to the USS BOWDITCH in assignments ranging from Assistant Horizontal Control Officer to Senior Survey Officer, as well as Officer-in-Charge of two detached mobile hydrographic units which accompanied amphibious operations at Kwajalein.]

"My ship's duties from the time of commissioning until about the first of May were First Division Officer, and my battle station was the two forward 20mm anti-aircraft guns. I had attended a six day course at the Anti-Aircraft Training Center, Point Montara, California, early in November which covered the operation of this gun. About the first of May I assumed the duties of Navigator and my battle station was then Officer of the Deck. Additional duties were Watch Officer and Educational Officer.

"One of the many unforgettable experiences during this period was a heavy enemy air attack one afternoon early in April. The ship was doing hydrography between Florida and Guadalcanal Islands at the time. I had the wire drag out and was on the thirty-foot guide launch about two miles east of the ship. Our first knowledge of the actual attack was a geyser of water next to the PATHFINDER caused by the near-miss of a dive bomber. A number of planes pealed out of the sun at the same time attacking craft in the vicinity of the PATHFINDER. One of these escaped fire from the ships and came directly towards us and commenced strafing. All personnel topside dove over the side. The recorder, dragmaster, and myself were at the plotting table below and did not have time to get out. Six machine gun slugs hit the launch up forward within a few feet of us. The PATHFINDER escaped damage although two bombs hit close aboard. She was given credit for shooting down two dive bombers.

"At the end of May the officers and men of the PATHFINDER were commended for their excellent performance of duty in forward areas by the Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet. Attention was called to the excellent workmanship indicated in the charts produced on board."

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The following account was written as an official report to the Director of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey by Henry V. Oheim, who in 1946 was a draftsman in the Baltimore Engineering Field Office of the Coast and Geodetic Survey. Mr. Oheim had been a Naval Reserve Officer assigned to the PATHFINDER in November, 1943, and remained attached to the ship for the duration of the war. As such, he accompanied the ship on its second wartime cruise and provided information concerning its work in the latter stages of WWII and post-war work.




November 7, 1943 to December 24, 1945
Lieutenant (j.g.) H. V. Oheim, USNR


November 7, 1943 to October 21, 1944

"Bascom H. Thomas, Capt., USNR, Commanding
"Walter J. Chovan, Lieutenant Commander, U.S.C.& G.S.,
Executive Officer

"On November 7, 1943, the PATHFINDER was engaged in surveying the waters of Rendova Island, one of the islands of the New Georgia Group. The survey of Rendova consisted of triangulation, hydrography, wire drag, beacon building and setting buoys. While engaged in this survey, an advance party left the ship for the Bougainville invasion to make a survey of Empress Augusta Bay. This party was under the direction of Lieutenant E. E. Anderson, U.S.N.R. and Lieutenant (j.g.) Lorin Woodcock, U.S.C.& G.S. The survey of Rendova was finished in the latter part of November, 1943 and the ship got underway for the Russell Islands where she was to chart the waters of Sunlight Channel, Renard Sound, and various other bays of this group of islands. During this survey, a second advance party left the ship bound for the Treasury Islands to survey Blanche Harbor. The party was under the direction of Lieutenant Commander Junius T. Jarman, U.S.C.& G.S., Lieutenant C.W. Pinkham, USNR, and Ensign H.V. Oheim, U.S.N.R. This survey was run by an APC and an LCVP. The PATHFINDER remained in the Russell Islands until after Christmas of 1943 and then got underway for Noumea, New Caledonia. During January, 1944, the ship widened the wire drag area through the eastern portion of Havanna Passage that was originally done by the OCEANOGRAPHER. At this time a third advance party left the ship bound for the Green Islands under the direction of Lieutenant Commander Junius T. Jarman, U.S.C.& G.S., Lieutenant (j.g.) Lorin Woodcock, U.S.C.&G.S., and Lieutenant (j.g.) William B. Sears, U.S.N.R. Lieutenant Commander Jarman received the Bronze Star medal for his participation in this Survey. After finishing the wire drag of Havanna Passage, the ship received orders to proceed to Sydney, Australia, for ten days recreation.

"After the recreation in Sydney, the PATHFINDER returned to New Caledonia where she received orders for another advance party, this one bound for Emirau in the St. Mathias Islands. This party was under the direction of Lieutenant Commander Walter J. Chovan, U.S.C.& G.S.; Lieutenant C.W. Pinkham, USNR; Ensign C. W. Crawford, USNR; and Ensign Henry V. Oheim, USNR. While this party was away from the ship, the PATHFINDER proceeded to the Admiralty Islands to run a survey of Seeadler Harbor.

"Upon the completion of the Emirau survey, and the Admiralty Island survey, the ship proceeded to Purvis Bay, Tulagi, for minor repairs and then proceeded to Noumea, New Caledonia. Once more survey operations were begun and parties were sent out to survey Woodin Passage from Havanna Passage to Amedee Lighthouse. Several other minor surveys were completed on the northwest coast of New Caledonia. At this time, the ship heard rumors that its days in the South Pacific were numbered. After the completion of the New Caledonia surveys, the ship moved over into the Loyalty Islands and surveyed the passage between Lifu Island and Uvea Atoll.

"The survey of the Loyalty Islands was completed in September 1944, and the ship moved up into the New Hebrides Islands and surveyed the passage between Maewo and Pentecost Islands. It was here that the rumors heard at New Caledonia became reality and the ship received orders to San Francisco for repairs. The ship weighed anchor on October 1, 1944, for the United States and finally arrived in San Francisco on October 21, 1944.


December 18, 1944 to December 24, 1945

"Bascom H. Thomas, Captain, USNR, Commanding
"Junius T. Jarman, Commander, U. S. C. & G. S., Executive Officer

"The PATHFINDER began its second cruise on December 18, 1944, when she sailed from San Francisco Bay bound for Pearl Harbor, Oahu, T.H. After a rough but uneventful trip, the PATHFINDER put into Pearl Harbor on December 26, 1944, to await her next survey assignment. During this time, the war had moved north of the Solomons and New Guinea and west of the Caroline, Marshall, and Marianas Islands, so the PATHFINDER knew that her next important operation would be in the Western Pacific. While at Pearl Harbor, Captain Bascom H. Thomas was relieved of command by Lieutenant Commander Francis L. DuBois, USNR. On January 20, 1945, the ship got underway for Guam via Eniwetok. After a brief stay at Guam, during which Commander Junius T. Jarman, U.S.C.& G.S., was relieved as Executive Officer by Lieutenant Lacon H. Carlock, USNR, we received orders to find and locate a shoal that lay somewhere northwest of Saipan. After several days of searching, the Soundman reported that he had made contact with the shoal on the sonar equipment. Within a few minutes, bottom was sighted and the fathometer recorded a depth of forty-five feet in mid-ocean. Engines were stopped and the anchor was let go. While the ship rode at anchor that night, the shoal was accurately located by celestial and Loran fixes. The next morning launches were put over and soundings were taken, thereby locating and establishing the depth of water over "PATHFINDER REEF".

"When the ship returned to Guam, she received orders to report to the Command at Ulithi in the Caroline Islands for further assignment. It was finally learned that the next job was to be Casiguran Bay and Sound on the northeast coast of Luzon in the Philippines. This area was still in the hands of the Japanese. The PATHFINDER sailed from Ulithi to Casiguran Bay via Leyte, accompanied by an escort vessel and two submarine chasers. On March 13, 1945, a landing party was put ashore to scout the beaches. They had the element of surprise and the Japs went back into the hills leaving behind their machine guns and ammunition. The next day, survey operations were started and the triangulation signals were erected. The concrete monuments that were set up by the U.S.C.& G.S. on Motiong and Dilalongan Points in 1929 were found and served as a base line for the triangulation scheme. After the control had been established, hydrography and wire drag was started. It was during the wire drag operations that the submarine chasers were put into use for dragging the large area of the Sound.

"The survey of Casiguran Bay went very smoothly and such conditions made working a pleasure. One afternoon, one of the officers in charge of triangulation reported seeing a Japanese twin-engine bomber, know as a "Betty", at the lower end of the Sound. That night, the ship was attacked by two Japanese dive bombers. The first of the planes made a bombing run, dropping two bombs about thirty yards off the port bow. The second plane came in from the bow to make a strafing run, but by this time the ship was at general quarters and the guns were manned. The starboard three-inch gun opened fire on the plane placing two bursts under the belly of the Jap causing him to pull out of his dive smoking, and he took off over the mountains. About three nights after the bombing incident, the ship was fired on from the beach by machine guns but the fire was not returned and the ship moved anchorage under the cover of darkness. The survey was completed by the first of April and the chart was printed by the fifth, so the ship got underway for Leyte and then to Ulithi.

"After a three weeks rest, the PATHFINDER received orders to Okinawa to made a survey of the western side of the island. The trip from Ulithi to Okinawa was very uneventful and it was one of the few times that the PATHFINDER was ever escorted. The ship anchored in Hagushi anchorage on May 1st and on May 4th moved up into Nago Wan to begin a survey of Toguchi. On May 6th as the ship was coming to anchor in the lee of Sesoko Island, two Kamikaze planes roared out of the sky. The first plane crashed in the port side of the 20 mm. gun platform causing little damage to the ship but killing one man. The ship immediately went to general quarters and the three inch battery drove off the second plane which went over Ie Shima and crashed an LST. For the next thirty days, the gunnery activity of the PATHFINDER at night far exceeded the survey activity during the day and the ship went to general quarters nearly one hundred times during this period. It was soon decided that the ship would be safer under the protection of the anti-aircraft batteries of Hagushi anchorage so a party was established on the beach of Nago Wan to run the survey from there.

"After several months of continuous survey, rumors were heard that Japan was suing for peace. On August 10, 1945, this rumor became a reality, ending the war in the Pacific. These orders were to proceed to Yokosuka Naval Base in Tokyo Bay which was the last leg of a long journey in the Pacific. The PATHFINDER sailed from Hagushi, Okinawa on October 11, 1945, and arrived at Yokosuka on October 14, 1945. After running several minor surveys in the Tokyo Bay area, the last of which was to sound the channel from Tokyo Bay to the docks of Tokyo proper, the ship received orders to return to Seattle, Washington for decommissioning and to be returned to the Coast and Geodetic Survey. On December 5, 1945, the PATHFINDER sailed from Tokyo Bay bound for Seattle, Washington, to be honorably discharged from the United States Navy.

Respectfully submitted:
April 4, 1946

Henry V. Oheim, Lieut.(j.g.)USNR
Engineering Draftsman, SP-6
Baltimore Field Office
Coast and Geodetic Survey

Respectfully forwarded to The Director - April 5, 1946

Commander Fred. L. Peacock, C&GS
Officer in Charge
Baltimore Field Office

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Mr. Roger Lincoln of Wasilla, Alaska, served on the USC&GSS PATHFINDER during the summer of 1967 as a young man just out of high school. His account details his experience as an ordinary seaman on the PATHFINDER and his perspective on the work of the ship. His view of life on the PATHFINDER during an Alaska field season would probably be shared by the majority of those who served in the deck department of the PATHFINDER for the duration of its post-war career as a survey vessel.


"During the summer of 1967 I took a job with the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. I needed a job for the summer until I was to go into the Marines in October. I went to Anchorage and applied for any job I could get for the summer with the civil service. Just as I got home I received a call offering me a job as an ordinary seaman on the OSS PATHFINDER, an oceanographic research ship, based in Kodiak. Later I found the ship was affectionately known as the 'PIGFINDER.' I accepted the offer of employment, flew to Kodiak the next day, and reported aboard the ship. I was accompanied by five other new hires.

"As it was late in the evening the quartermaster gave us some blankets and told us to find an empty bunk, known as a 'rack,' and get some sleep until morning. About one in the morning I was suddenly awakened. There was loud singing and shouting. Then there was the sound of bodies bouncing off the bulkheads. It seems the crew was coming back from a night in the town of Kodiak. They were for the most part quite drunk. They introduced themselves to me and told me to get a good night's sleep. Right!!

"The job was very physical in nature. The ship was recharting the shoreline and ocean bottom off of Shelikof Strait, Kodiak and the Aleutian Islands to update the charts due to the changes after the 1964 earthquake.

"Much of my job was loading and unloading equipment from the ship to small boats for the scientists and surveyors. The rest of the time was spent scrubbing decks and general ship maintenance.

"Most of the maintenance was chipping paint. Chipping paint seems to be an ancient time consuming tradition of the sea. It's primary purpose apparently is to keep sailors busy so they don't get bored. First the paint is chipped away from any rust spots with a chipping hammer and a wire brush. After that a coat of red colored rust inhibitor known as 'red death' is applied. After that a coat of green called 'green death' is applied. After they are dry a coat of paint is applied to match the color scheme of the vessel. As there seemed to be an endless supply of paint it did no good to try to use it all.

"Many times I went ashore to work as a porter for the scientific crews. After the equipment was set up we could go beach combing. We found hundreds of glass Japanese fishing floats. Sometimes we found Russian ones. They were made of iron. I still have a few of these floats.

"The bos'n was an old sailor named 'Chief Scott'. He was a kindly old man and took a liking to those of us that worked hard and tried. When weather was too bad to be above decks he would take us below and give us practical seamanship lessons. He taught to tie knots and to handle small boats. Of course he told us old sea stories. We liked him and he liked us. It is unbelievable how many kinds of knots he knew. After he accepted us it was OK to call him 'Scottie.'

"Another old bos'n told us how he was on a freighter in Manila in the 1930's. He told us of tying up next to a small ship and looking at it with disdain. He commented that he hoped he would never be found working on a ship like that. It was the PATHFINDER. [The PATHFINDER that Mr. Lincoln served on was not launched until 1942. The PATHFINDER referred to was the old PATHFINDER which served in the Philippine Islands for forty years before being lost due to hostile action in WWII.]

"After a few weeks I was assigned as helmsman. This meant I was to steer the ship. It was interesting because I was on the bridge with the captain and other officers. I usually knew what was happening. It takes some practice to learn to steer without wandering all over the ocean. Once in the middle of the night I turned hard right to avoid a large log floating dead ahead. Of course the ship heeled over to starboard. Many of the crew were thrown out of their racks and onto the deck. They expressed their extreme displeasure to me the next morning. I then learned that it is best to go ahead and ram a floating log rather than face the wrath of sailors who have had their sleep disturbed.

"We hit a few storms off the Aleutians. The ship would roll way over on its side and take green water over the bow. sometimes the water would come over the flying bridge. The flying bridge is the open bridge one deck above the command bridge. During extreme weather everyone was required to stay inside. No one was allowed on deck for fear of being swept overboard. Often times most of the crew would be seasick. I only got seasick a little bit. Now I seem to get seasick all the time.

"Sometimes the North Pacific was calm as a lake. It was very beautiful. For a few days in the month of August the earth passed through a meteor shower. At night from the flying bridge we could watch hundreds of meteors burning through the sky. I've never seen anything like it.

"Once a sailor fell overboard. The ship was stopped and we were preparing to lower a skiff to take some supplies ashore. As he stepped into the skiff the ship rolled and he fell into the water. The water was about 34 degrees. He was paralyzed by the cold. He couldn't call for help and he couldn't swim because of the cold shock. Fortunately he was wearing a life jacket. He was pulled out of the water in a short time and other than being cold he was OK. To this day I believe in wearing a life jacket when I am around the water.

"The ship was tied up to the pier with a big 4 inch rope called a hawser. The rope is too big to throw ashore so it must be pulled ashore with a smaller rope called a heaving line. At the end of the heaving line is a baseball sized knot called a monkey fist. It is wrapped around a steel weight so it can be thrown ashore to someone on the dock. The ship is then winched in by capstans mounted on the deck. One sailor insisted on his right to throw the heaving line ashore. He threw the monkey fist with all his strength. Unfortunately he forgot about the motor launch just over his head. The monkey fist hit the keel, bounced back, and knocked the sailor unconscious. He never heard the end of it.

"It was interesting to visit some of the normally inaccessible places ashore. One place was Karluk and its old Orthodox Church. One of the older native women gave us a tour of the church. She explained everything and told how the icons had been brought to Alaska from old Russia. It was like stepping several hundred years back in time. We visited old abandoned canneries. We went ashore on Augustine Island and visited the volcano. I have been on the Barren Islands and the Shumagin Islands.

"Often we saw seals and whales. We could feed the seals hot dogs from small boats. The whales were impressive. Killer whales used to come out of the water alongside our boats. The whales were longer than our 16 foot boat. We were assured by the biologists that no one had ever been known to have been attacked by a killer whale. The usual retort was, "If someone has been attacked, who would know about it?"

"We had fun with seagulls. They were everywhere. We used to take two pieces of meat and tie them together with about three feet of string. It was fun to watch the gulls fight over it. Another trick was to pour tabasco sauce over a piece of meat and throw it to the gulls. The gulls would squawk and beat their wings against the water as they tried to drink.

"Sometimes we anchored at night in a secluded cove that was protected from the wind. We dropped crab pots over the stern and in the morning had fresh crab for breakfast.

"The cooks were Filipinos. All meals had rice and pineapple served somewhere. I got so sick of rice and pineapple I swore I would never eat them again. Even today when I eat rice and pineapple I remember the PATHFINDER.

"Once I was on a small boat that got lost in the fog. We were charting the ocean bottom. A sudden fog bank rolled in and we were not able to see. We radioed the PATHFINDER and asked them if they could pick us up on radar. They couldn't. They sounded the ships horn. We couldn't hear. We began to worry. Being run down by a passing freighter was a possibility. Another possibility was running on the rocks along the coastline. After several hours the fog suddenly lifted and we found we had drifted within a few hundred yards of the ship. It felt really good to see it sitting there right in front of us.

"At the end of the summer I left the ship in Homer and returned to Wasilla. The summer of 1967 was one of the most interesting I have ever had."

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In July of 1971, I transferred my commission as a Lieutenant in the Navy to NOAA Corps. Because I had spent over five years in the Navy, I was allowed to leave the NOAA Corps training class early and report to my first NOAA Ship, the PATHFINDER.

Getting to the PATHFINDER was quite an experience in itself as I had to fly to Homer, Alaska, via Seattle and Anchorage. Landing in Homer in mid-August, I was greeted by a fine Alaska summer day as I stepped down the ladder from the small plane. Commander Sid Miller, executive officer of the PATHFINDER and Lt.(j.g.) Bob Roush were there to pick me up and drive me to the ship. We passed the Salty Dawg Saloon, a well-known Homer landmark, and were soon at the ship. Within a short time the PATHFINDER got underway for its working grounds on the west side of Cook Inlet in the Kamishak Bay area.

Upon arrival in the working grounds, I was assigned to the survey launch of Officer-in-Charge, Lieutenant Don Nortrup. At eight o'clock in the morning, amidst much hustle and bustle, the survey boats were put over; and I commenced my first real day's work in NOAA. We set out to work in one of the old wooden survey launches for Outer Bruin Bay. As the tide was predicted to be favorable for running shoreline, Lt. Nortrup headed for the shore. Within half an hour, Lt. Nortrup taught me that one of the primary jobs of a NOAA survey launch is to find rocks such that unsuspecting mariners do not find them with disastrous consequences. The way that he taught me this lesson was to have the survey launch run aground on a rock during an ebbing tide (contrary to predictions.) As a consequence, I spent my first day of hydrography hung up on the same rock that we had just discovered. However, we did have plenty of time to get the position of that rock. In the late afternoon the tide had risen sufficiently for us to be pulled off the rock. Captain Herb Lippold, commanding officer of the PATHFINDER, took the ship as close as he safely could to our boat, then took a ship's boat and carried a line to us from the ship. While passing the line to us, he passed on the sad news that the PATHFINDER had been ordered back to Seattle to be laid up and our survey season was ending. He returned to the ship and commenced pulling us off the rock. 

After a day or so of removing tide gauges, visual signals, and electronic navigation shore stations, the ship got underway and laid a course from Cook Inlet to Cape Spencer and the Inside Passage. The PATHFINDER's reputation as a lucky ship proved unfounded when crossing the Gulf of Alaska as we had an extremely rough transit. As Captain Lippold said concerning that stretch of ocean, " I never had a smooth crossing of the Gulf"; and even the PATHFINDER, on what was to be her final homecoming, could not beat the odds. After about two days of pitching, rolling, and yawing the ship entered the calm waters of Cross Sound and proceeded down the Inside Passage. 

As I was new to the ship and stood watch only as an observer, I was able to enjoy much of the magnificent scenery of the Inside Passage on the way south to Seattle. However, having spent over five years in the Navy prior to entering NOAA Corps, I was able to recognize and admire excellent seamanship. Early one morning, while still dark and transiting the north side of Vancouver Island, Captain Lippold came to the bridge. Within a few minutes of his arrival on the bridge, the helmsman began having difficulty steering. Captain Lippold calmly took the conn and ordered "Hard Left" and we proceeded to crab through Race Passage in the dark, an area notorious for its strong currents. After passing the dangerous area, the captain returned the conn to the officer-of-the-deck and retired for the remainder of the night without saying another word. A few hours later we passed through Seymour Narrows, another area of difficult tides and currents.

The next day, we were at Seattle and beginning the transit of the Lake Washington Ship Canal on the final leg of the PATHFINDER's trip home to the Pacific Marine Center on Lake Union. We called the operator of the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks from Shilshole Bay, and we were assured that the constricted passage leading to the locks was clear. We proceeded into the canal; and, just before the Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge, we saw a large Coast Guard cutter coming out. Without missing a heartbeat, Captain Lippold once again took the conn and ordered "Full astern" followed by "Full ahead. Hard left." The PATHFINDER was a single screw steamship with manual engine room controls so Chief Engineer Ray Schmitz and his "snipes" were earning their pay as a succession of "Full astern" and "Full ahead" commands were given. The ship was spun around in an area having only a ship length or two distance across to maneuver within. Captain Lippold went to the left to be able to gauge the location of the bow relative to a bridge pier. He didn't go to the right, which was the more natural direction with a single-screw vessel, because there was a shoal area on the south side of the channel which was difficult to judge one's distance from. I was on the bow of the PATHFINDER during this remarkable ship-handling display listening to the orders and hearing the jingle of the engine order telegraph. After getting turned about, we headed back to Shilshole Bay and returned to the canal after the Coast Guard vessel had cleared. Within an hour we were tied up at Pacific Marine Center. Needless to say, I was extremely impressed with the shiphandling skills of my "new" colleagues. Captain Lippold, who had sailed on the PATHFINDER as a brand-new ensign in 1951, brought her home to stay.
Never again did the PATHFINDER sail on a charting mission. The sturdy survey vessel that had served for 30 years in war and peace was deactivated on September 10, 1971. The ship was stripped of all usable equipment over the next few months and then purchased by General Auto Wrecking of Ballard, Washington. Not all of the PATHFINDER was scrapped in 1972 as the house was removed and was serving as an office on a pier on the Duwamish River in 1979. Perhaps that small part of the PATHFINDER is still there filled with memories of the South Pacific and a quarter century of work charting the waterways of Alaska.

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The following account of the wartime experiences of the USS PATHFINDER has been compiled by the Office of NOAA Corps Operations of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This account has been excerpted from a larger effort directed towards chronicling the history of the NOAA Corps and its predecessor organizations which include the Commissioned Corps of the Coast and Geodetic Survey, the Coast and Geodetic Survey, the Coast Survey, and the Survey of the Coast dating back to 1807.



No half-breeds the hydrographers and chartmakers of the Southwest and West Pacific. Because the war in the Pacific occurred in such poorly charted waters, it readily became apparent to the Navy that it would require the services of a cadre of hydrographers to rapidly survey areas of tactical and strategic interest. Officers of the Coast and Geodetic Survey provided the nucleus of that cadre and compiled an enviable record of accomplishments from the Solomons to the Aleutians. The ships they served on included the venerable HYDROGRAPHER and OCEANOGRAPHER, the brand new PATHFINDER, the BOWDITCH, and even the ROCKY MOUNT, Vice Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner's amphibious command ship. Of the survey ships, the most illustrious of all was the PATHFINDER of which it was said, "The road to Tokyo was paved with PATHFINDER charts."

The men who served on these ships literally fought the war with sextants, shooting millions of horizontal angles for three-point fixes while operating fathometers or heaving the lead. Anchorages were wire-dragged, invasion beaches surveyed before the U. S. Marines or Army landed, tide information determined and provided to amphibious planners, tactical operating areas delineated, passages blasted through coral reefs, and charts printed and distributed to fleet units either in anticipation of amphibious operations or to expedite the establishment of supply and refitting bases. This work was not without its hazards as the PATHFINDER alone was subjected to over 50 enemy bombing raids, shot down 2 Japanese torpedo bombers, and was crashed by a kamikaze at Okinawa. Numerous clandestine operations were carried out from these vessels as well as from smaller craft attached to the hydrographic units.


The PATHFINDER was in a Lake Washington, Seattle shipyard under construction as the sister ship to the USC&GSS EXPLORER at the outbreak of WWII. She was launched in 1942 with a champagne bottle broken across the bow by Eleanor Roosevelt Boettiger, the 14-year-old granddaughter of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The Navy immediately took her over, designated her AGS1, fit her out with anti-aircraft guns, depth charges, and a Navy crew and sent her out to Funafuti, Ellice Islands, to survey the harbor and help clear obstructions as this base was used as a staging area during the Guadalcanal-Solomon Islands campaign. When the PATHFINDER first sailed, the captain was Captain B. H. Thomas, USNR, while many of the other officers were on loan to the Navy from the Coast and Geodetic Survey. Bill Gibson was Navigator/Operations Office; Junius "Jerry" Jarman was data processing and chart production officer; and numerous junior officers acquired survey data and were boat OIC's. These included Ernie Stohsner, C. "Lon" Schoene, Walter Chovan, and Edgar Hicks among others.

Following the Funafuti survey, the ship moved down to Noumea, New Caledonia. While there Ernie Stohsner was strolling through Noumea and ran into his friend Lorin Woodcock directing a group of SeaBees constructing a brig. This wasn't a very productive way for a C&GS hydrographer to be spending his time so, as Schoene was being transferred to the OCEANOGRAPHER, permission was asked for Woodcock to join the PATHFINDER. Permission was granted and Woodcock joined the ship for the next 2 years. On February 2 the PATHFINDER sailed as an escort vessel for a group of transports bound for Guadalcanal to resupply Marine and Army units engaged there. After delivering the convoy, the ship proceeded to Tulagi Harbor and commenced surveying operations. According to Woodcock, the survey "was accomplished very expeditiously under the most trying conditions. The field parties spent as much as 11 hours a day in the field, and spent the nights alternating between working on boat sheets and survey records, and manning battle stations while from one to a half dozen Jap bombers droned about overhead, spattering bombs here and there, sometimes uncomfortably close."

Having finished Tulagi, the next job entailed inshore hydrography off the coast of Guadalcanal from Point Cruz to Berande Point. At this time all supplies were landed on Guadalcanal by lighter, and the purpose of the survey was to determine anchorage areas as close inshore as possible to expedite unloading operations. While conducting this survey, the PATHFINDER had perhaps her finest hour. On April 7, 1943, no fewer than 187 Japanese planes attacked Tulagi Harbor. During this action, the PATHFINDER shot down two enemy dive bombers, assisted with two others, and sustained two near misses which necessitated minor repairs to the ship's rudder. Bill Gibson "was at the bridge conn during the action keeping the ship on figure eight courses at flank speed, and specifying targets to the bridge gun crews as the rapidly swinging ship brought them into the various gun sectors." On one occasion the ship was in a hard right turn and a bomb fell close aboard to port right where the ship would have been had it remained on a straight course.

During this action, much of the ship's complement was out in survey launches either wire dragging or conducting sounding lines. Ernie Stohsner described his experience:
"The ship was out doing hydrography between Florida and Guadalcanal Islands at the time. I had the wire drag out and was on the 30-foot guide launch about two miles east of the ship. Our first knowledge of the actual attack was a geyser of water next to the PATHFINDER caused by the near-miss of a dive bomber. A number of planes pealed out of the sun at the same time attacking aircraft in the vicinity of the PATHFINDER. One of these escaped fire from the ships and came directly towards us and commenced strafing. All personnel topside dove over the side. The recorder, dragmaster, and myself were at the plotting table below and did not have time to get out. Six machine gun slugs hit the launch up forward within a few feet of us...."

The PATHFINDER and its crew were not done for the day. Following the attack, the PATHFINDER maneuvered to assist the stricken destroyer AARON WARD which was doomed to soon sink. In describing the role of the PATHFINDER, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet, stated as follows:

"The performance of PATHFINDER on 7 April is noteworthy. Preceding the attack this vessel was conducting survey operations off Berande Point, Guadalcanal. Despite warning of approaching planes and the departure of most of our large ships from the area, her personnel continued hydrography until enemy planes were near. Leaving her ship boats with one quarter of the crew at their assigned survey duties, the commanding officer then went to maximum speed and maneuvered close aboard AARON WARD. Two planes dived on her and were shot down. Her boats brought off wounded from AARON WARD who were cared for on board during the night. Early next morning these men were disembarked for hospitalization and at 0700, 8 April local time 'the ship resumed its survey operations.' It is a pleasure to report on the efficient and business like conduct of duty under fire of this USC&GS ship operating under my command."
During this attack, Lorin Woodcock was out on a survey launch and observed two planes collide overhead. Two parachutes wafted down and Woodcock directed his launch to the closest chute. Fortunately for him, LST 449 beat him to the downed pilot who was Japanese and commenced shooting at his would be captors. As Woodcock and his crew had neglected to carry their standard issue weapons with them, they would have been in quite a pickle if they had pulled that pilot out of the water. As Captain Woodcock said during an interview, "I fought the war with a sextant. I sure was lucky that time." As a footnote to history, President-to-be John F. Kennedy was a junior officer on LST 449. Jerry Jarman was in charge of the forward anti-aircraft guns on the PATHFINDER as it pulled up to the AARON WARD and recalled "looking back at Kennedy's ship while four dive bombers were attacking it. There were so many exploding bombs along with the resulting water spouts that I could not see the LST."

The PATHFINDER, as well as being a combat survey ship, made many innovations and markedly increased the efficiency of chart production and chart distribution in the forward areas. Prior to sailing from the U.S., the Navy outfitted the PATHFINDER with printing press, photographic equipment, and all equipment necessary for printing charts in the field. The compilation and publishing of charts aboard ship was never done prior to WWII. A major obstacle to accomplishing this was that no one on board had ever worked in a printing plant. Through the efforts of Jerry Jarman, who read every available textbook on cartography and printing, the PATHFINDER became the first vessel to ever publish Hydrographic Office charts for distribution to fleet units. This bypassed the time-consuming step of sending the data back to the United States for verification, compilation, and final printing.

Jarman, as well as devising the system that ended up producing charts, was also a field hydrographer and went on numerous clandestine operations in enemy-held waters including Manning Straits, Blanche Harbor in the Treasury Islands, and Green Islands. He provided insight into the requirements for combat tactical hydrographic surveys in a discussion of the Manning Straits survey. This survey was conducted as a direct result of the United States' naval defeat at the Battle of Savo Island. According to Jarman, "Prior to that battle, a U.S. reconnaissance plane had spotted an enemy Naval Task Force and noted its position. From the data available, Intelligence estimated it would take this force, travelling at flank speed, until at least 8 AM the following morning to reach Guadalcanal." The Japanese arrived instead at 2 AM and decimated a sleepy American Task Force behind Savo Island and then withdrew. "Because the arrival of the enemy fleet was about six hours earlier than expected, Intelligence figured the Japanese must know of an uncharted shortcut. An inspection of area charts revealed Manning Strait, although unsurveyed, might possibly be the shortcut from Truk to Guadalcanal." This thinking caused Admiral "Bull" Halsey to request the survey which resulted in finding an unknown (to the Americans) passage through Manning Strait which was used successfully by American vessels.

In the Green Islands operation, Junius Jarman was attached to Naval Advance Base Unit 11, a unit trained and organized to land with combat troops and immediately begin functioning as a naval base. Jarman's job was to lead an Advance Survey Party of four officers and seventeen men. A reconnaissance force of approximately 400 men including two officers and five men from Jarman's survey party landed on Nissan Atoll on January 31, 1944, (D-15) at midnight and "departed twenty-four hours later.... The entire force lost only five men killed and about ten wounded during the twenty-four hour stay.... My group investigated Middle and South Channels into the lagoon for least depth, ran a few exploratory lines in an east-west direction across the lagoon, and ran several sounding lines , north-south direction, along the shoreline to assist in locating LST landing sites. We also obtained 24 hours of tidal data to assist in estimating the tidal stage on D day.

"D day for assaulting Nissan Atoll was February 15, 1944. Our forces met with very little resistance on D day and the atoll was secure within a week.... we found between 400 and 500 Japanese on the Atoll. They were true Japanese in that not one of them surrendered, and all were killed.... My small group remained at Green Islands from D day to near the middle of March, 1944. During this period, a complete hydrographic survey was made of Nissan Atoll, all shoals and channels were buoyed, two permanent tide stations were established, and party members acted as Pilots in getting supply vessels through South Channel.... The base demolition squad was turned over to me and I was told to use it as I saw fit. I had this squad reduce all dangerous coral heads, and pointed out high spots in the entrance channels that needed reducing."

The PATHFINDER continued on its illustrious career. Its largest single job was of Seeadler Harbor in the Admiralty Islands. The ship accomplished this work in the spring and summer of 1944. This particular survey was for a very large base which became the staging area for the invasion of the Philippines. In October 1944 the PATHFINDER returned to the United States for repairs. On its first wartime cruise, this ship developed the methodology for forward area chart production for immediate distribution to fleet operating units, completed 20 major survey projects, compiled 41 H.O. Field Charts, and published 62,077 copies for distribution. The ship completed another 10 miscellaneous projects and published approximately 20,000 copies of the resulting charts. The hydrographers of the PATHFINDER had expanded tactical fleet operating areas, developed port areas for major staging bases, and established safe channels through the myriad islands of the southwest Pacific, The value of this work to United States naval operations during the PATHFINDER's first cruise was recognized by Admiral Chester Nimitz as follows:

"The officers and men of the PATHFINDER are commended for their excellent performance of survey duty in forward areas. It is especially noted that PATHFINDER charts indicate accuracy of information and excellent workmanship."

Admiral William F."Bull" Halsey also commended the ship as follows:

"The charts produced on board the PATHFINDER indicate excellent workmanship. The men and officers are to be commended on their precision work carried on in a forward area over a considerable length of time. Their efforts have been most helpful to ships required to operate in waters previously so inadequately charted."

Perhaps the most fitting tribute for this cruise was stated by the ship's commanding officer, Captain Bascom H. Thomas, who upon concluding his report of activities of the ship from first arriving in the South Pacific to September 22, 1944, wrote : "U.S.S. PATHFINDER arrived in the South Pacific a new ship with an untrained crew. No one aboard except the six U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Officers had ever had any experience in hydrographic surveying and they had none in planning and laying out of surveys, chart compilation and publication, or the establishing of aids to navigation such as beacons and buoys. The Commanding Officer was the only officer who had any experience in Navy organization, operations and procedure other than short training courses. A majority of the crew had never been to sea. There have been few breaches of discipline and none of a serious nature. All hands have worked diligently and faithfully to establish the PATHFINDER's unequalled record. They merit the utmost credit for the results."

The PATHFINDER left shipyard in San Francisco and returned to the western Pacific on December 18, 1944, under the command of Commander Francis L. Dubois, USNR. Jerry Jarman was now executive officer and the only C&GS officer on board although he was detached upon arrival at Guam. The Coast and Geodetic Survey connection continued though, as Ensign Henry V. Oheim, USNR, of the Baltimore Field Office and Lieutenant Commander Samuel N. Davis, USNR, the chief engineer and engineer on C&GS ships since 1919 remained with the ship for the duration of the war.

The ship arrived at Guam in late January 1945 and then proceeded to an area reported as discolored water about 350 miles north of Guam. Here, in the course of surveying what even to this day is named Pathfinder Reef, the PATHFINDER gained the distinction of being the American vessel that anchored the closest to Japan since the beginning of hostilities. In late March, the PATHFINDER was sent to the east coast of Luzon, Philippine Islands, and helped liberate the village of Casiguran. On March 13, 1945, a landing party was put ashore from the PATHFINDER which surprised the Japanese who deserted their machine gun emplacements and fled into the surrounding hills. On March 28th the ship was bombed by two Japanese dive bombers; but, once again, its luck held out. The first plane dropped two bombs about 30 yards off the port bow. By this time the ship was at general quarters and the starboard 3-inch gun hit the second plane causing it to pull out of its dive smoking. The plane was last seen proceeding over the mountains to the west.

Finishing the Luzon job, the ship sailed to Ulithi anchorage where it stayed for 3 weeks prior to departing for Okinawa. On May 1 she sailed into Hagushi Anchorage, Okinawa. May 6 the PATHFINDER's luck was sorely tested at Suicide Slot, Sesoko; the ship was attacked by two kamikaze planes. The first managed to crash the after port 40-mm gun platform, killing one crewman. Fortunately, the 500-pound bomb the plane was carrying did not detonate or,in all probability, the ship would have been sunk with much greater loss of life. The ship fought off the second kamikaze which veered off and crashed into an LST at Ie Shima. From her arrival at Okinawa until cessation of hostilities, the PATHFINDER went to general quarters 170 times; those sent ashore for work at Nago Wan endured foxhole watches, sniper fire, and mortar bombardment. As Henry Oheim wrote of this period, "... the gunnery activity of the PATHFINDER at night far exceeded the survey activity during the day...." But not one more PATHFINDER crewman was scratched. On August 10, with hints of peace coming to the great fleet at Hagushi Anchorage, a great barrage of firepower was unleashed in celebration which the PATHFINDER was there to witness. The end had come at last. In spite of surviving over 50 bombing attacks, being declared sunk at least six times by Tokyo Rose, and having surveyed many western Pacific islands, anchorages, passages, and operating areas in advance of the fleet, the PATHFINDER was there for the victory.

October 13, 1945, found the PATHFINDER at Yokosuka Naval Base in Tokyo Bay. The ship wound up its Navy career conducting a series of surveys in the Tokyo Bay area. She left Japan on December 5, 1945, and arrived in Seattle, Washington, on December 24. On January 31, 1946, she was decommissioned and thence returned to commission as the Coast and Geodetic Survey Ship PATHFINDER on August 22, 1946. She served as a survey ship in Alaskan, Hawaiian, and Pacific Coast waters for the next 25 years, and was deactivated in December 1971.

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The following is a history of the WWII experiences of the USS PATHFINDER which was compiled by the Office of Naval Records and History, Ships' History Branch, Navy Department. The original document was dated 11-20-47 with a revision of 7 June 1950.


A sea-going arm of the U.S. Navy's Hydrographic Office, the survey ship PATHFINDER spent the war years in paving the way for amphibious invasion. With a team of skilled geographers operating her valuable equipment, she charted and calculated all the way from the early, dark days in the Solomons to the dark hours before the dawn at Okinawa. PATHFINDER data relayed to fleet navigators in map form, made the rugged oceanic road to Tokyo a little more easy to follow.

31 August 1942 the new, 229-foot PATHFINDER was acquired from the Coast and Geodetic Survey and armed and outfitted for Naval service; on 31 August 1942 the USS PATHFINDER (AGS-1) was placed in commission as a full-fledged fleet survey vessel. Captain Bascom H. Thomas, USNR, the PATHFINDER's first skipper, put his new command through her nautical paces during subsequent shakedown in the Puget Sound area of Washington.

Minor repairs and realignments were begun soon after PATHFINDER's 20 September arrival in San Francisco. Loaded with stores and provisions she steamed out of the Bay 10 November 1942 and set course for Pearl Harbor. Eight days were consumed in travelling the 2,091 miles from the West Coast harbor to the Hawaiian bastion, and another ten days within Pearl Harbor itself. On 28 November the PATHFINDER shoved off and, with a pause at Palmyra to the south, she reached Funa Futi in the Ellice Islands 26 December 1942.

War in the Southwest Pacific centered around the U.S. long range plan to break the Japanese grip on the dangerous New Guinea -New Britain-Solomon Islands arc; for nearly two years the PATHFINDER plowed throughout that theater as the bitter land-air-sea conflict raged about her. An isolated reef, an uncharted harbor, a lonely stretch of enemy held coastline -- all presented a different species of nut to crack.

On several occasions, notably at Bougainville, Treasury Island, Green Island, Emirau and Guam, advance PATHFINDER parties were sent ashore under the noses of the Japanese to work in close cooperation with Allied amphibious elements in laying out harbor charts or surveying inland channels.

During most of 1943 Captain Thomas' ship operated in the Solomons and neighboring groups, the Russells, Admiralties, Loyalties, and New Caledonia, with an eleven day breather at Sydney, Australia in August. USS PATHFINDER, although essentially a non-combatant, experienced some fifty bombing raids while working close to the front lines, also showed that she could retaliate when on the defensive; at Goadalcanal on 7 jApril 1943 her anti-aircraft gunners bagged two Nip planes which ventured within range.
There was another period of liberty and relaxation at Sydney in March 1944, then approximately three months of scientific probing around New Guinea. Out of Espiritu Santo the PATHFINDER sailed at the end of September 1944, with the thanks of all U.S. men-of-war in the Southwest Pacific and written commendations from Admirals Nimitz, Kinkaid, and Halsey. Pearl Harbor was reached on the 11th of October, departure taken on the 14th, the PATHFINDER's uneventful voyage home ended 21 October 1944 at Alameda (inside San Francisco Bay), California.

Veteran PATHFINDER headed back to the war zone on 18 December 1944, the superstructure of the Golden Gate Bridge vanishing amidst a downpour of California sunshine. By this time the tide of battle had swept northward and engulfed the Philippines. Guadalcanal was a recreation center and weeds were growing over the battlefields of Saipan and Tarawa, but need for the PATHFINDER rose progressively as U.S. forces pressed deeper into unfamiliar territory.

On 26 December 1944 the PATHFINDER stood into Pearl Harbor and remained there for almost a month. Four days before continuing west on the long cross-Pacific trek the vessel had to change in command, Captain Thomas being relieved by Commander Francis L. DuBois, USNR, on 16 January 1945.

Via Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands (where she stopped 29-31 January 1945), the PATHFINDER sailed onward to reach Guam 4 February. Roughly 350 miles northwest of Guam, Pathfinder Reef was discovered and duly charted for posterity. Further assignment took the ship to remote Casiguran Bay on embattle Luqon Island in the Philippines. On 13 March 1945 armed forces effected a landing in that region -- the first on the eastern coast of Luzon -- and liberated the village of Casiguran.

Such was the nature of the place that it seemed to the PATHFINDER crew that, except for the lack of mail, Casiguran would be an ideal spot in which to spend the war's remaining days. This idea was promptly shelved, however, when on 28 March the ship was assailed by two enemy aircraft. Luck prevailed again, and the vulnerable survey vessel escaped damage.

One month after the initial beachhead was established on Okinawa Jima, on 1 May 1945, the PATHFINDER churned into Hagushi Anchorage (situated about one-third of the way up Okinawa's Japanward side.) Okinawa was the scene of many firsts for the ship, most lamentable of which occurred on 6 May 1945 at 'Suicide Slot,' Sesoko; a Japanese Kamikaze plane crash-dived into PATHFINDER's after gun platform killing one man, starting fires and setting off ready ammunition. Emergency parties quickly brought the flames under control, kept PATHFINDER free of serious harm.

Between her arrival at Okinawa and the final cessation of hostilities the ship was at General Quarters 170 times, and there were moments, particularly at Nago Wan, when it appeared as if the PATHFINDER's run of luck would run out. It never did, even for those who were sent ashore at Nago and underwent the hazards of a fox hole watch, snipers and mortar fire. August 15th brought the long-awaited 'cease all offensive operations' message to a non-combatant who had seen enough of combat.

October 13th 1945 found the PATHFINDER lolling around her anchor at Yokosuka Naval Base, Tokyo Bay; the ship wound up her U.S. Naval Career with a series of surveys among the Empire's home islands in coordination with the Allied occupation. Her last path found and findings interpreted, USS PATHFINDER left Yokosuka 5 December 1945.

Touching at Pearl Harbor on 16 December, the ship steamed northeast to Seattle and arrive 24 December 1945. Berthed at Seattle, Washington the survey ship was placed out of commission on 31 January 1946. On the 22nd of August 1946 she was transferred to the Interior Department [Commerce] and in October 1946 the PATHFINDER was returned to duty with the Coast and Geodetic Survey.

USS PATHFINDER earned two campaign or battle stars for taking part in two major amphibious operations in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater of action.

1. Consolidation of Southern British Solomons. 7 April to June 1943.
2. Assault and Occupation of Okinawa Gunto. 5 January to 30 June 1945.

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The following historical account of the Ship PATHFINDER is reproduced through the kindness of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society (PSMHS), a non-profit organization devoted to capturing the MARITIME history of the United States Pacific Northwest. The Coast and Geodetic Survey conducted pioneering surveys in the Puget Sound region in the 1850's and has home-ported ships in the Seattle area since the early 1900's. This account of the PATHFINDER was published in the official publication of the PSMHS, SEACHEST Vol. 16.3, pp. 103-113, March 1983.

The author of this article is Rear Admiral Harold J. Seaborg, NOAA (Ret.), who first was associated with the PATHFINDER in 1946 while refitting it after it was returned to the Coast and Geodetic Survey by the Navy. Subsequently, he served as Commanding Officer of the PATHFINDER in 1963 and 1964. Rear Admiral Seaborg entered on duty in 1929 with the C&GS and commanded five C&GS vessels during his career. He served as the first Director of the Pacific Marine Center in Seattle, Washington, from where he retired in 1967.



The U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Ship PATHFINDER was built by the Lake Washington Shipyards in accordance with specifications and contract plans prepared in the office of the Coast and Geodetic Survey Headquarters, Washington, D.C. The awarded contract, dated September 25, 1940, was for the sum of $1,267,000. Subsequent changes in the specifications reduced the cost of the completed vessel to $1,265,448, a rather small cost reduction, but a saving when compared to large overruns of some of the present day similar contracts. The contract period was 720 days, from October 4, 1940, to September 23, 1942. The vessel was completed on August 31, 1942, ahead of time, but the urgency of the war effort may have contributed to the earlier completion. The USC&GSS EXPLORER had been build by the same shipyard a year earlier, but PATHFINDER was increased in size and had other modifications.
PATHFINDER's keel was laid at Houghton, Washington, on February 20, 1941, and the ship was launched on January 11, 1942. The ships sponsor was Miss Eleanor Roosevelt Boettiger, granddaughter of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Soon after launching, a request was channeled through the Department of Commerce by the Navy for the transfer of the ship for wartime use, the Coast and Geodetic Survey being an agency under Commerce. The transfer was approved and armament and other naval features were installed concurrently with the completion of the vessel under the prime contract.
This survey ship was an all steel vessel, 229 feet in overall length, breadth of 39 feet, depth of 23 feet, and with a loaded mean draft of 15 feet. She was a single screw, with double reduction gear, steam turbine powered vessel developing 2000 shaft horsepower with a full load displacement of 1900 tons. Steam was provided by two watertube boilers. Auxiliaries were two turbine driven main generators and a diesel generator for emergency use. She developed full power when reversing. Her maximum speed was 15 knots with a cruising range of 9000 miles and with a fuel oil capacity of 110,000 gallons.

Her main and upper decks were the length of the ship. The lower deck was forward and abaft the machinery spaces, and the superstructure deck went aft about three-quarters of the ship's length from the bow. The bridge deck with the compass deck atop were placed forward of midships on the superstructure deck. A small poop deck was raised some 3 feet above the upper deck and carried the double wheel auxiliary steering station. All outside steel plated decks were covered with calked wooden planking. She carried two masts with funnel between and her hull was divided by eight watertight bulkheads, some of which had watertight doors. In accordance with the original specifications four 30 foot diesel powered wood sounding launches, two 24 foot gasoline powered whaleboats and several 16 foot skiffs were installed. In the beginning these small boats served as the life saving equipment in addition to several life floats.

PATHFINDER was designed to accommodate 19 officers and 68 crew. However, the conversion involved extensive changes in the arrangements as the crew was more than doubled. Another addition was the installation of a chart reproduction plant with a capacity of 5000 copies of small charts per hour. This would provide for the issuance of nautical charts directly in the field upon completion of hydrographic surveys.

The most modern of special instruments and equiment for hydrographic surveying and navigation were installed. This included echo-sounding fathometers, electric powered sounding machines for wire casts and various rangefinders. Also installed was a Sperry gyrocompass system complete with master compass, steering and bearing repeaters and gyropilot for steering sounding lines. The magnetic compass was standard U.S. Navy equipment. Radio equipment included several code radio transmitters, a ship-to-shore radio telephone and a radio direction finder. In addition, there was radio telephone equipment designed for use by detached parties from the ship. A two way local speaker communication between the pilothouse and various parts of the ship became part of the equipment. Also installed was a fire control system operated from the bridge deck area to automatically close watertight doors and activate carbon dioxide (CO2) in the various closed compartments. An electric submerged log installed inside the hull was provided for measuring distances the ship traveled when underway.

On August 31, 1942, PATHFINDER was placed in commission as a full fledged Navy fleet survey ship designated USS PATHFINDER (AGS-1). She now was ready for wartime duty. After a short shakedown cruise in Puget Sound, PATHFINDER sailed for San Francisco, arriving September 20. Upon completion of minor repairs, stores and provisions were loaded and the ship steamed out of San Francisco Bay on November 10, 1942, setting course for Pearl Harbor. PATHFINDER departed Pearl Harbor on November 28 on the first of her two long wartime cruises. It should be noted that during the time when the ship was with the Navy seven experienced C&GS officers were aboard initially in a transfer status. This immediately brought a wealth of survey knowledge to a ship on a special mission. Later the number of C&GS officers was decreased.

The U.S. long range war plan in the southwest Pacific was to break the Japanese hold on the New Guinea-New Britain-Solomon Island arc. This was to be the area of PATHFINDER's operation for nearly two years. Her mission was to provide charts for the ever-expanding Allied amphibious operations; surveying uncharted harbors, lonely stretches of coastline and inland channels. It was necessary to send small parties ashore in the furtherance of these surveys, sometimes going into enemy held territory.

PATHFINDER's first cruise took her to the Solomons and neighboring island groups. While working close to the front lines, the ship, although essentially non-combatant, experienced some fifty bombing raids and on April 7, 1943, her anti-aircraft gunners shot down two Japanese planes. In August, 1943 and in March, 1944, she was at Sydney, Australia for short periods of liberty and relaxation. She surveyed as far north as New Guinea before departing the war area for home at the end of September, 1944. PATHINDER ended her first cruise at Alameda, California, on October 21, 1944.

PATHFINDER headed back to the war zone for her second cruise on December 18, 1944. By this time our forces had swept northward and the scene of conflict had shifted to the Philippine Islands area. After several way point stops, Guam was reached on February 4, 1945. While in this area, Pathfinder Reef, some 350 miles northwest of Guam, was discovered and duly charted. On March 28, 1945, she was attacked by two enemy planes while surveying along the eastern coast of Luzon in the Philippines but once again escaped damage. She was not so lucky on May 6, 1945, when along the Japanese side of Okinawa a Japanese Kamikaze plane crashed into PATHFINDER's after gun platform killing one man and setting fire to the ship, which was quickly brought under control. The mainmast was clipped off during this engagement. Upon contact with the ship the plane slid off the stern into the sea.

During the final stages of the conflict in the Okinawa area, PATHFINDER was at general quarters 170 times. Japan's wartime radio broadcaster, Tokyo Rose, reported the ship sunk at least on six different occasions. The ship continued her charting activities in support of the advancing Allied Forces. On August 15 the long-awaited word "Cease all offensive operations" was indeed welcome news. PATHFINDER's last survey duty during World War II was among the Japanese home islands in coordination with the Allied occupation. She departed Yokosuka Naval Base, Tokyo Bay on December 5, 1945, arriving at Seattle, Washington on December 24, and was placed out of commission on January 31, 1946. For her excellent work in helping to survey the road to Tokyo, she was awarded two campaign or battle stars and received the written commendations of Admirals Nimitz, Kinkaid and Halsey.

Upon completion of necessary repairs and restoration for peacetime survey duty, PATHFINDER was returned to the Commerce Department and on August 23, 1946, was recommissioned as a unit of the Coast and Geodetic Survey ship fleet. A shakedown cruise to Bristol Bay, Alaska, was made soon thereafter and then she returned to Seattle in the early fall to close out a shortened 1946 field season. She later was to be designated Ocean Survey Ship 30 and carry the legend OSS 30 on her bow. She was berthed at the south end of Lake Union at leased facilities along with other units of the Survey fleet.

During the field seasons 1947 through 1950, PATHFINDER continued surveys in the Bristol Bay area. Previous charts were largely based on hydrography extended beyond the visual range of the shoreline by dead reckoning lines. Dead reckoning at its best is far from exact, as too many variables such as currents and imperfect steering can only be estimated. However, such areas as Nushagak and Kvichak Bays and Ports Heiden and Moller were covered by modern type surveys. Shoran equipment, a special type of radar, was used extensively in the hydrographic surveys of Bristol Bay. Fuel, provisions and other supplies were obtained at Dutch Harbor, the field base of operations when working the Bristol Bay area.

Shoran (Short Range Navigation) gives quite accurate determination of position. Developed during W.W.II to control the position of aircraft in flight, Shoran was adapted by the Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1945 for the positioning of sounding vessels. Shortly thereafter Shoran became the standard control system for hydrographic surveys ranging as far as 100 miles offshore under favorable conditions. The position of a sounding vessel is obtained by measuring the elapsed time between a transmitted radio pulse and the return signal from two fixed stations, usually ashore. The two times are converted to distances for plotting purposes. The line of sight limitation was reduced by placing, when possible, shore stations on high land points. This equipment worked very well in such an area as Bristol Bay where weather conditions often precluded visual sights upon shore signals for location of the sounding vessel, either ship or launch. Shoran required trained electronic technicians to keep the equipment in proper adjustment and calibration. Survey operations in the Bristol Bay area were generally hampered by the large tidal range and extensive shoal water areas. However, Shoran has accuracy limitations when within several miles of the land stations. Thus, the close to shore hydrography was usually accomplished by launches, traditionally using sextant fixes upon established hydrographic signals along the shoreline. During hydrographic sounding it was necessary to have a series of tide stations or gages in operation which were referenced to an established standard station somewhere in the general working area to establish the tidal datum plane.

The first use of aerial photographs for map and chart making began before W.W.II. By 1949 the Coast and Geodetic Survey had developed its own program of preparing shoreline manuscripts based on aerial photography. When possible, manuscripts were prepared at Headquarters, using special plotting equipment to provide shoreline and other topographic features ahead of operations in the field. In Alaska, in some instances, only preliminary manuscripts could be furnished because of insufficient information. The field parties would then have to inspect photographs and apply the missing information by other means. The general use of manuscripts signaled the end of topography by hand-drawn plane table methods. In the ensuing years, PATHFINDER used these manuscripts whenever available.

All topographic surveys and manuscripts, and in turn hydrography, are controlled by a basic scheme of triangulation. These schemes consist of a series of marked land stations whose positions are precisely determined by instrumentation. Special geodetic parties working as independent units provide this basic control. However, ship parties are usually required to extend or breakdown the previously established primary control to provide a greater density of stations.

When working on a combined project where ship and launches were programmed to do hydrography, a survey ship such as PATHFINDER would anchor in a protected area as close to the general working area as possible. Launch and other small boat parties would then be dispatched to work ashore or close into shore. The ship might then weigh anchor and do hydrography at the outer limits of the project, returning to pick up the small boat parties.

During the 1951 field season three survey ships were engaged in a project to tie established geodetic control points along the eatern shore of the Bering Sea to the off-lying islands. PATHFINDER coordinated the project, assisted by EXPLORER and PIONEER. The concept was to measure distances between mainland stations and stations on the off-lying islands by means of Shoran and a second electronic system known as Electronic Position Indicator (EPI). With a beginning in 1944, select Coast Survey personnel devised the EPI system which combined the best features of Shoran and Loran. Loran (Long Range Navigation) was another electronic system used in navigation and developed during W.W.II. The EPI system had a greater range than Shoran as the transmitted pulses followed the curvature of the earth rather than line of sight. The use of EPI, as in Shoran, requires the placing of shore stations at previously determined land points. The usable range is something like 250 miles, but under favorable conditions can be used to 500 miles.

Previously, the Bering Sea islands such as St. Lawrence and the Pribilofs had been surveyed using independent datums derived from astronomic positions. The 1951 work was to establish a common datum with the mainland to the outer reaches of the Bering Sea. The lines to be measured ranged between 100 and 500 miles and these lengths would be involved in the triangulation computations. The successful completion of this project provided for future homogeneous hydrographic surveys for an improved charting program.

PATHFINDER was able to utilize this improved control during the field seasons of 1952 through 1954 in the completion of hydrographic surveys in the general area of the Pribilof Islands. Economically, the field season in this area began about May 1st and ended sometime in September. During the 1954 season Mount Shishaldin on the Alaska Peninsula was observed in eruption at a distance of eighty miles. Hydrographic surveys were made along the north coast of the Alaska Peninsula during the seasons of 1955 through 1958. In 1959 the ship's working area shifted to Cook Inlet and this continued into 1960. Part of 1960 was devoted to the occupation of oceanographic stations in the northern Pacific wherein the properties of sea water were recorded and studied by means of sea water samples. Bottom samples were also obtained.

However, PATHFINDER was assigned a new project in the Hawaiian Islands in 1962. Her primary mission was to update nautical charts by a program of new hydrographic surveys. Because of much better weather conditions the working season began earlier in the year. Departure from Seattle was in early February for her working base in Honolulu. Upon completion of a special survey at Christmas Island in mid-Pacific she began a systematic resurvey of close-in areas around Maui, Molokai and Lanai. Prior offshore surveys were considered adequate. A return to Seattle was made in June followed by a second cruise to the Hawaiian Islands. Tracklines or sounding lines were run between the west coast, usually Cape Flattery, and the Islands on every trip across the Pacific and return. Loran A and C provided the prime control on these long line surveys, with adequate checks by astronomic sights. This program provided additional charting information in open ocean areas. The ship averaged some 10,000 to 15,000 nautical miles each year in deep-sea hydrography. This program also applied to Alaska work.

The Hawaiian Island surveys continued the first half of the 1963 field season. In early July PATHFINDER departed Seattle to conduct a cable route survey between Guam and the east coast of Luzon Island, the Philippines. This survey was at the request of International Telephone and Telegraph Company. A replenishment stop was made at Midway Island and later at Manila Harbor and the Naval Base at Subic Bay. This was the first and only return of PATHFINDER to the western Pacific, an area of her W.W.II exploits. While in Manila Harbor several pre-arranged meetings were held with the top officers of the Philippine Coast and Geodetic Survey. Philippine personnel had been in a training status for a number of years and when the country was granted its independence in 1946 the Philippine Survey cam into being. The new survey had several of its own vessels as the small U.S. Coast Survey fleet in the Philippines was lost during W.W.II. Upon completion of the cable route survey, the ship returned to her basic project in the Hawaiian Islands, arriving in Seattle in early October. She was berthed for the first time at the newly completed ship base on the eastern shore of Lake Union. For the remainder of her service time the Pacific Marine Center Ship Base was to be her home, along with other Coast and Geodetic Survey vessels, later to become the NOAA fleet.

The Hawaiian Islands work continued in 1964 but was interrupted by the need for surveys following the March 28 Alaska earthquake. The ship arrived at Kodiak by direct passage on April 8 and, upon taking provisions and fuel, departed for Seward in Resurrection Bay. A desolate scene greeted PATHFINDER. Huge sections of the built-up waterfront had slid into the Bay, leaving a tangled mass of railroad rails and pier sections hanging over the water's edge. Inshore, overturned railroad cars, fuel storage tanks, trucks and automobiles were a jumbled mess. PATHFINDER found anchorage in the upper bay. Sufficient triangulation control was recovered for the topographic plane table surveys for shoreline and signals and in turn the hydrographic surveys. Aerial photographs were not available and sextant angles were taken to position the launches and ship during hydrography. It was necessary to fall back on these time honored methods of surveying when the more modern approach was not possible. The survey of upper Resurrection Bay was completed by mid-April and in early June a temporary chart was issued showing considerable bottom changes in this earthquake stricken area.

PATHFINDER next surveyed the principal shipping lanes in Cook Inlet north to Anchorage and also made a detailed survey of the Anchorage waterfront. These surveys proved no significant charting changes in these areas. Local hydrographic surveys at Homer and Seldovia revealed no bottom changes, but shoreline piers and structures had been damaged. For the remainder of the 1964 season a new project, the re-survey of Kamishak Bay in lower Cook Inlet, was begun. This area required more detailed surveys at a larger scale. This work was continued in 1965.

During the 1965 season, when working at the entrance to Cook Inlet, PATHFINDER personnel became interested in the Alaska Christian School, an orphanage some 10 miles out of Homer. The ship began making a twice yearly call at Homer to bring the children down to the ship for a tour and a dessert treat in the wardroom. She indeed became a "foster mother," donating fresh fruit, candy, toys and clothing to the orphanage.

At the beginning of the 1965 season, two of the original launches were replaced with modern-type Navy equipment. These 30 foot launches had more space forward to accommodate increased instrumentation needed when using electronic control. Later, the remaining two original launches were replaced. Original wooden whaleboats were also replaced with a modern type of reinforced plastic design. Also, 1965 saw the first use of a data logger system, wherein hydrographic surveying elements are logged into a punched paper tape for use in plotting surveys on an automatic plotter housed ahsore at Pacific Marine Center. This system was to save many man hours of tedious hand plotting.

The first half of the 1966 field season found PATHFINDER resuming her hydrographic project in the Hawaiian Islands. By early June the ship was at Homer, Kachemak Bay, Alaska, extending triangulation control in that area to check any relative movement of the land mass resulting from the 1964 Alaska earthquake. No significant changes were found. The main project in Kamishak Bay was then resumed and continued for the remainder of the season.

During the winter lay-up period, personnel of the Survey Fleet would be engaged in multiple activities. Deck, engine-room and electronic departments effected maintenance and minor repairs. Junior Commissioned Officers replotted hydrographic surveys to produce what was commonly known as the "smooth sheet." Also, triangulation, tide, current and other survey records were prepared in systematic form for transmission to Headquarters. The Operations Officer was responsible for the completion of all survey records.

A board composed of the Executive Officer, Chief Bosun and Chief Engineer prepared in draft form any necessary repair and maintenance items which the ship's complement was unable to perform. Usually the Commanding Officer would then prepare the specifications for outside ship repairs for submission to Headquarters for approval and funding. Invitation to bid would then be submitted to various shipyards, with delivery of the ship to the successful bidder for haulout the first part of the new year. During all of this time a program of the taking of accumulated annual leave for all hands was followed.

However, with the advent of Pacific Marine Center and Ship Base in 1964, a staff of qualified personnel ashore began to assist in and coordinate ship repairs and, to some extent, the processing of survey records. When funding was available PATHFINDER and other ships were thus able to spend more time in the field.

During the early months of 1967 PATHFINDER was engaged in a combined project along the coast of Southern California. Loran B, a navigation and ship position electronic control system, was installed and used on this project with a great deal of success. Operations shifted to Kamishak Bay during May and continued as the main Alaska project. Some work was also done at Montague and Middleton Islands. In June a temporary platform was built over the poop deck for the use of a leased helicopter. This was to provide ship-to-shore transportation for a shoreline triangulation project in Shelikof Strait. This was the last season that Shoran was used. The equipment was old and obsolete, and replacement units and parts were not readily available.

PATHFINDER did not make an early cruise in the 1968 season. She arrived at Kodiak in early May and her main effort was again in Kamishak Bay with some work in Kodiak Harbor. On her return from the Cook Inlet area she began a project in Clarence Strait in S.E. Alaska.

A new electronic control system for ship and launch hydrography, Raydist DR-S, was used by PATHFINDER, replacing Shoran. Raydist, prodeuced commercially, was adapted and refined by the Coast Survey, providing more accurate and reliable positioning of vessels in open water. This equipment has a range in excess of 200 nautical miles and required two shore based stations which were, however, automatic in operation and only required an occasional visit by trained personnel. Portable units were develped for launch use and several sounding units could operate simultaneously.

The 1969 season followed the pattern of 1968, but in early 1970 PATHFINDER returned to the Hawaiian Islands before resuming her main projects in Cook Inlet and Clarence Strait. In 1971 more of the same in Cook Inlet and S.E. Alaska. This was to be her last season, as she was deactivated on September 10, 1971, upon return to Seattle. PATHFINDER had put in nearly 30 years of faithful service but her age and a tight budget precluded any further work as a survey ship.

All usable equipment and instruments, including radio and electronic survey gear, spare parts and supplies of all types, were removed and transferred to other ship units or stored for future use. Deactivation was completed December 23, 1971. PATHFINDER's career ended when the General Auto Wrecking Co. of Ballard purchased the stripped ship, and she was scrapped at their yard in 1972.

PATHFINDER always seemed to be a happy ship. After W.W.II many of her crew, enjoying a special Civil Service status as shipboard personnel with seagoing rates, remained on the ship year after year. Her last Chief Bosun spent some 15-odd years aboard. Some of the personnel in the Engineering, Radio-Electronic and Steward Departments had similar years of duty. There was more movement with the Commissioned Officers of the Survey, who usually were assigned for two year tour of duty as ship and survey officers, thus wearing two hats. The commanding officer was also the Chief of Party.

Several mementos of her service have been salvaged and preserved in the Seattle area. The double wheel auxiliary steering stand once located on the poop deck and the standard magnetic compass and binnacle are now on display at the Pacific Marine Center headquarters on Lake Union. In the lobby of Capitan's Table restaurant, Elliott Avenue in Seattle, mounted on two panels are some twenty assorted steam, air, lube oil and water guages from the engine room of PATHFINDER. The author completed a scale model of the ship in April 1983, which is presently on display in the Marine Room of Edmonds Museum, Edmonds-South Snohomish County Historical Society, Edmonds, Washington.

During the last years of her gallant service, PATHFINDER found herself under new direction. In July 1965, the Coast and Geodetic Survey merged with the U.S. Weather Bureau to become Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA) still within Commerce. Then in October 1971, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was formed bringing together the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries and ESSA along with several other government agencies. The legend of the 90 year old Coast and Geodetic Survey was to be no more. Her functions were taken over by the National Ocean Survey under NOAA. For those who served on her and knew her well, PATHFINDER will always remain a Coast and Geodetic Survey Ship.

Editor's Note:
Rear Admiral Seaborg, then a Lieutenant, served on a small C&GS staff when PATHFINDER was returned by Navy in 1946. Also, he served as Commanding Officer in 1963 and 1964.


1. U.S.C.&G.S. Special Publication No. 143, Hydrographic Manual, Revised 1942 Edition.
2. Office of Naval Records and History, History of USS PATHFINDER (AGS-1), Revised 7 June 1950.
3. The Journal, C&GS, June 1953, No. 5.
4. U.S.C.&G.S. Publication 20-2, Hydrographic Manual, 1960 Edition.
5. NOAA Publication, January 1972 issue.
6. Marine Digest, May 26, 1973; May 1, 1982.
7. Various Annual Reports, Coast & Geodetic Survey.
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