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Pathfinder: Recollections of Those Who Served 1942 - 1971

Compiled by the Office of NOAA Corps Operations

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Recollections of Henry V. Oheim, Lt. (J.G.), USNR
of the Wartime Experiences of the U.S.S. PATHFINDER


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
by 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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