[Image 1: Photo
courtesy of BGen
William A. Bloomer,
USMC (Ret). Three
of the four major helicopters of the Marine amphibious unit
are shown in this Seventh Fleet picture. In the foreground
on the left is a CH-46 Sea
Knight and to the right of it is the AH-1] Cobra. Two UH-lE Hueys sit on the
port side of the flight deck.
Page 28(The Bitter End)
stocks, aviation supplies, and general provisions was always a welcome sight
to sailors and Marines long at sea.
The Seventh Fleet's submarine force was Task Force 74, while cruisers and
destroyers made up Task Force 75. Both of these task forces maintained a high
tempo of operations.
The amphibious force, Task Force 76, and the Fleet Marines of Task Force 79 were inseparable partners of over-the-horizon power projection* Task Force 76 was usually composed of one amphibious squadron of eight ships ready to conduct sea-based operations upon call. The task force command ship function was performed by the amphibious force command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) or a flag-configured dock landing platform (LPD). The remaining seven ships of the force were divided into two amphibious ready groups: four ships in Alpha, three ships in Bravo. Normally, Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) Alpha consisted of an amphibious assault ship (LPH), a dock landing ship (LSD), and a tank landing ship (LST). The Bravo ARG usually was comprised of a LPD, an amphibious cargo ship (LKA), and either a LSD or LST. Task Force 79 provided the landing teams for the amphibious ready groups. When not at sea, the Amphibious Force, Seventh Fleet shared Okinawa with the Landing Force, Seventh Fleet as a base of operations.
The main striking force of the Seventh Fleet was its carrier aircraft, the fighting edge of Task Force 77. When the situation dictated, the Seventh Fleet drew on other task forces for the supporting ships and aircraft needed to form carrier task groups. Roving the seas in company with Task Force 72 units, elements of Task Force 77 patrolled as far west as the Persian Gulf, south to Australia, north to the Sea of Japan, east to the Marianas, and everything in between including the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.
The magnificent base at Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines, provided needed repairs, supplies, and recreation facilities for the Seventh Fleet. Yakosuka. and Guam followed in order of importance as bases for the fleet. Some support was also available at Singapore and Sasebo. Aircraft of the fleet were based at Cubi Point
*An operation conducted at sea out of sight and danger of enemy ground fire, but within close enough range to deliver force, project power, and, if necessary, make a forced entry by surface or air.
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