Ninety" in WWII
22 December 1943, the USS Thetis Bay was launched at the Kaiser
Shipbuilding Company in Vancouver, Washington. She was
sponsored by Mrs. Ricco Botta, the wife of Captain Ricco Botta,
a U.S. Naval aviator with a distinguished career beginning
during World War I. Thetis Bay was commissioned on 21 April 21
1944 with Captain Donald E. Wilcox in command. The photo on the
right shows movie star
Claudette Colbert, who cut the commissioning cake, and her
Joel J. Pressman. the Thetis Bay's first medical officer.
Following a brief
shakedown cruise conducted from San Diego, CA, Thetis Bay stood
out to sea from San Pedro, CA on June 5, 1944 on her first of 20
round trips from San Francisco/Alameda, Long Beach/San Pedro and
San Diego, California ports to Pearl Harbor and
the Pacific war front. On 21 January 1945, Captain Wilcox
passed command to Captain Benjamin E. Moore at Pearl Harbor.
Captain Allen Smith took over command from Captain Moore in
October 1945. In March 1946, Commander George E. Bolser, Executive
Officer, assumed command of Thetis Bay prior to it's
departed San Pedro, CA on 5 June 1944 loaded with aircraft and
personnel destined for South Pacific bases and arrived at Pearl
Harbor on 11 June 1944 for one day. From there she proceeded to
Makin Island, the northernmost and largest of the
Gilbert Islands followed by Majuro, the current capital of
the Marshall Islands
and Kwajalein, Marshall Islands. The Army's 50th Engineer
Battalion was transported from Kwajalein to Pearl Harbor
arriving on 5 July. 41 aircraft needing repair were transport
from Pearl Harbor to Alameda Naval Station arriving on 12 July.
From there she traveled to Terminal Island Naval Station for
three weeks of repairs.
On 11 August 1944,
Thetis Bay departed San Pedro bound for Pearl Harbor and Majuro,
Marshall Islands to deliver spare parts, aircraft and personnel.
She returned to San Francisco, via Pearl Harbor, on 12
About 15 September
1944, Thetis Bay departed San Francisco for Pearl Harbor,
returning to San Diego on 29 September.
About 3 October
1944 Thetis Bay departed San Diego enroute to Pearl Harbor and
on to Manus Island of
the Admiralty Islands north of Papua, New Guinea. On 22 October,
the day before arriving at Manus Island, Thetis Bay crossed the
Equator for the first time. She returned to San Diego, via
Majuro and Pearl Harbor, arriving on 4 November 1944.
During the month
of November 1944, Thetis Bay moved from San Diego to San
Francisco. In early December 1944, she departed San Francisco
for a non-stop trip to Dreger Harbor in New Guinea. This was the
first Pacific crossing without a stop at Pearl Harbor.