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Shakedown of USS Missouri

by Nov 17, 2019

SHAKEDOWN is the final critical period following a ship’s construction, fitting out and “sea trials”, that tests and confirms the combined operational and material readiness of a Navy ship and her crew.

Missouri’s Fitting Out period began following her launch at Brooklyn’s New York Navy Yard on January 29, 1944. During that period all remaining machinery, equipment and armament was installed aboard and tested according to operational systems and performance specifications. Technical manuals necessary for personnel training and equipment operation and maintenance were placed aboard. The ship was provisioned and fueled, and sufficient nucleus, or “skeleton” crew were on-hand that were experienced and capable of maintaining and operating the ship safely and effectively while at sea.

Following the Fitting Out period and Missouri’s formal Commissioning Ceremony on June 11, 1944, Missouri’s Post Delivery Tests and Trials Period, or “Sea Trials”, began on July 24., During this period ammunition, fuel and provisions were brought aboard and crew indoctrination and drills began along with general training and practice exercises specific to the ship’s weapons and operational systems. Those tests and trials included gunnery training and practice, structural test firings and weapons tracking exercises, refueling-at-sea exercises, deperming, radar testing and checks, and propulsion plant testing.

With Missouri’s “sea trials” completed, and following refueling, provisioning and rearming, Missouri’s Shakedown period began on August 21, 1944 as Missouri got underway for Trinidad with the full ship’s company aboard as part of Task Unit 23.16.3.

During Shakedown the ship’s company was familiarized, organized, assigned duty stations, trained and put to the test via a gamut of rigorous drills and exercises designed to sharpen their skills, insure their operational and combat readiness, and to confirm the material readiness of the ship.

Among those tests, trails and exercises were propulsion system tests, full power and speed runs, anti-aircraft gunnery training and practice, main and secondary battery shore bombardment practice, General Quarters drills, day and night battle practice, simulated battle problems, tactical trials, standardization trials and testing of all ship’s operational and weapons systems to confirm their readiness.

The Shakedown period was concluded with a formal military inspection of spaces, offices, equipment and personnel , as well as various personnel drills conducted and observed by Admiral Donald B. “Red” Beary, Commander, Operational Training Command, Atlantic Fleet (COTCLANT) on September 23, 1944.

Missouri’s Post Shakedown Availability period (PSA) began following her return from Trinidad on September 28, at the New York Navy Yard Annex at Bayonne, where she remained until November 4, 1944. During that period all construction, structural and equipment deficiencies discovered during Shakedown were repaired, and all changes or improvements were accomplished. On November 6, 1944, Missouri got underway, completing a final post-repairs trial run.

The following is a detailed chronology of that period derived from Missouri’s War Diary, provided for reference:

July 24, 1944, at 1344, Missouri was underway from Bayonne (NJ) Navy Yard Annex*, for Gravesend Bay, to load fuel and ammunition and provisions, while conducting departmental and general drills for indoctrination of the crew to life aboard Missouri.

*Bayonne Navy Yard Annex was located in New Jersey opposite Brooklyn, New York. It later became the Military Ocean Terminal.

On July 31st, Missouri got underway at 0932, escorted by destroyers Winslow (DD359), Broome (DD210) and Simpson (DD221), proceeding out through Ambrose Channel to a firing area off the Port of New York to conduct structural firing exercises, which commenced at 1213.

At 1348, Missouri’s first 16” projectile was fired from the right hand-gun of Turret #1.

The structural firing exercise was concluded at 1617. Ammunition expended: 13 rounds of 16”, 35 rounds of 5”, 390 rounds of 40mm, and 408 rounds of 20mm ammunition.

During the course of the day, the number one main reduction gear bearing developed rising temperatures. This was reported to the CNO by radio dispatch suggesting lifting of the bearing be accomplished if the condition persisted during the second day’s run.

The next morning, August 1, 1944, Missouri got underway to conduct a second day’s structural firing which concluded at 1442.

After conclusion of the day’s firing exercise, Missouri returned to Gravesend Bay, anchoring at 1743. During the second day’s run, 14 rounds of 16”, 35 rounds of 5”, 301 rounds of 40mm, and 562 rounds of 20mm ammunition were expended.

During the course of the second day, the previously reported bearing condition was again encountered, and it was approved by the CNO to have the Navy Yard lift the bearing and proceed with repairs.

On August 2nd, while at anchor at Gravesend Bay, the suspect bearing was found to be defective due to improper manufacture, and was replaced.

Missouri underway from Gravesend Bay, New York Harbor, August 3, 1944

The next morning, August 3rd, at 0925, Missouri got underway from Gravesend Bay, setting course for Hampton Roads, VA with Captain W. M. Callaghan commanding, departing New York Harbor and entering the open ocean for the first time.

Captain Callaghan described that experience in Paul Stillwell’s Battleship Missouri:

“What a sensation it was to have the responsibility and thrill of handling the ship in the open sea after we dropped the pilot at Sandy Hook Lightship*”.

*Lightship Ambrose (LV111) was located in proximity to Sandy Hook between 1932 and 1952. It was one of a series of lightships marking the way for ships coming and going through New York Harbor’s main shipping Channel.

Missouri entered the channel in Chesapeake Bay the next morning, passing the lighted whistle buoy at Point XS at 0240, moored in the deperming pen off Lambert’s Point by 1030, at which point they proceeded with deperming* of the ship.

*Deperming refers to the process of reducing the permanent magnetic signature in a ship by flashing the ship's hull with electricity to create a reversing magnetizing field. The term is synonymous with “degaussing”, which refers to the magnetic unit of measurement in C.G.S. units called the Gauss.

Two days later, on August 5th, the electrical current in the deperming pen was secured at 0145, Missouri shifted from the deperming pen to anchor in berth “Z” in Hampton Roads.

That evening, at 1847 Missouri got underway from Hampton Roads, escorted by destroyers Broome and Simpson, and destroyer escort Chaffee (DE230), to conduct fueling-at-sea exercises.

At sea the following morning, August 6th, Missouri conducted fueling-at-sea exercises with the USS Aucilla (AO56) between 0805 and 0921.

That afternoon, upon return to the entrance into Chesapeake Bay channel, Missouri proceeded on various course changes while adjustment were made to the ship’s magnetic compasses effected by the deperming process. Missouri returned to anchorage in Chesapeake Bay at 1837.

Between August 7 to 11, 1944, Missouri engaged in various practices according to COTCLANT*’s secret directive from 29 June 1944. The specifics of those activities and period of time are not detailed in Missouri’s War Diary.

* COTCLANT: Commander, Operational Training Command, Atlantic Fleet.

On August 12th, Missouri was underway at 0928 for Chesapeake Annex, Naval Research Laboratory* to conduct radar tests.

* The first Navy Research Lab began operations in 1923 producing communications equipment, direction-finding devices, sonar sets, and the first practical radar equipment built in the US. All efforts were focused on applied research.

On August 13, 1944, Missouri was underway at 0700, steaming at various speeds and courses throughout the day as directed by the Naval Research Laboratory designed to carry out radar checks. After anchoring at 1818, Missouri was underway again at 2141 for further radar checks.

The following morning, August 14th, upon completion of radar checks off of Chesapeake Beach, Missouri got underway at 0900 for gun fire and daylight spotting practice with the 5” battery. The practice commenced at 1343 and was completed by 1535 after expending 80 rounds of 5” ammunition. Missouri returned to Chesapeake Bay, anchoring at 1647.

On August 15, 1944, Missouri was underway at 0832 setting course for the firing area to conduct various gunnery practices. Between 1011 and 1103, machine gun training practice was held; between 1328 and 1341 main battery target practice took place, and between 1432 and 1534 5” secondary battery target practice commenced.

Ammunition expended during the day’s gunnery practices included 18 rounds of 16”, 93 rounds of 5”, 460 rounds of 40mm and 751 rounds of 20mm ammunition.

At 1628 Missouri anchored off Rappahannock Spit in Chesapeake Bay until 2013, when she got underway again for star shell illumination practice.

Upon completion of these exercises, Missouri returned to Chesapeake Bay and anchored off of Windmill Point located at the mouth of the Rappahannock River.

On August 16th, Missouri was underway at 0826 to the firing area. Machine gun training practice commenced between 1015 and 1053. Missouri then returned to her anchorage off Rappahannock Spit, getting underway again that evening at 2020 for night spotting and star shell illumination practice for the main and secondary batteries. Those practices were completed at 2247 and Missouri returned to her anchorage off Rappahannock Spit after expending 18 rounds of 16”, 37 rounds of 5”, 186 rounds of 40mm, and 748 rounds of 20mm.

The following morning, August 17th at 0828, Missouri got underway for secondary battery anti-aircraft training practice, commencing at 0929, completing the exercise at 1100, then returning to anchorage at berth “Zebra”, Hampton Roads, VA, having expended 78 rounds of 5” ammunition during the practice.

At 0828, August 18, 1944, Missouri got underway at 0810 for Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, VA, moored at Pier #7 at 0930.

The following day, August 19, was spent loading ammunition and provisions. During the morning Rear Admiral “Red” Beary, COTCLANT, came aboard with members of his staff and held an informal inspection of the ship.

On August 20, 1944, with loading of provisions completed, Captain Callaghan, his XO and department heads left the ship in the afternoon for a conference aboard the cruiser USS Alaska for the purpose of determining details of the upcoming passage to Trinidad.

The following morning, August 21, 1944, Missouri got underway at 0958 bound for Trinidad in company with USS Alaska (CB-1) and destroyers Sumner (DD692), Moale (DD693) and Ingraham (DD694), designated Task Unit 23.16.3.

At 1735 Missouri commenced zigzagging in accordance with zigzag plan #25*. At 2024, the Task Unit ceased zigzagging and resumed base course.

*Zig zag plans were pre-determined maneuvering plans used by convoys as a defensive measure against submarine attack, with predetermined course changes held for specific lengths of time, made at prescribed intervals on the clock, with one ship as guide-on for other ships to follow.

22 August 1944: Missouri continued on base course, steaming at 23 knots, changing to varying speeds during the day ranging from 18 to 27 knots, zigzagging according to plan #25 when not on base course.

At 0530, base course changed to 175 degrees T. At 1330 Missouri assumed the Guide-on position and the order of ships in the task unit was inverted.

At 1440, a small fishing vessel, flying the Norwegian flag, was encountered. When challenged using merchant ship’s procedures, they did not give the correct reply and a boarding party from destroyer Moale went aboard. Identification was confirmed satisfactory and the task unit resumed base course without further delay.

The following morning, Missouri continued as Guide-on, maintaining base course, the destroyer screen using plan #53, speed at 24 knots. At 0800 Oestigos Island* was sighted.

*Isla Testigo Grande, is one of six small islands in the southeastern Caribbean Sea off the coast of Venezuela that are visible on approach to Trinidad.

At 0940 the cruiser Alaska assumed the Guide-on position and the sequence of ships in the task unit was inverted, Missouri taking up a position 1000 yards astern.

At 1135 Trinidad Island was sighted and at 1430 Missouri passed through the anti-submarine net and anchored in the Gulf of Paria. At 1505, Captain Callaghan, his XO and department heads left the ship to attend a conference ashore at the Naval Operating Base, Trinidad.

26 and 27 August 1944: Missouri remained at anchorage in the Gulf of Paria off of Trinidad’s capital city Port of Spain, while a conference ashore was held with representatives of the Naval Operating Base commandant to arrange various services necessary during upcoming training exercises.

Missouri’s crew enjoyed liberty ashore.

Escort destroyers Sumner, Moale and Ingraham were detached from the Task Unit to proceed to Panama to report to CINCPAC for duty.

At 0550, August 28, Missouri got underway to conduct gunnery exercises in the Gulf of Paria. Beginning at 0840, main battery calibration practice was held, followed, in the afternoon by anti-aircraft training exercises. At day’s end Missouri anchorage having expended 44 rounds of 16”, 72 rounds of 5”, 832 rounds of 40mm, and 1321 rounds of 20mm ammunition.

The following day, August 29, Missouri was underway at 0730 for continued gunnery exercises. In the morning they conducted short range spotting practice runs followed by local control spotting practice for the main and secondary battery. In the afternoon local control battle practice was held before returning to anchorage, having expended 18 rounds of 16” and 32 rounds of 5”.

On August 30, Missouri was underway at 0700 for continued gunnery practice, accompanied by the cruiser USS Alaska. Short range firing practice training runs commenced at 0825. In the afternoon, anti-aircraft practice was held before returning to Port of Spain harbor, after expending 100 rounds of 5”, 1280 rounds of 40mm and 2296 rounds of 20mm ammunition. In the evening, it was Liberty for the crew.

On August 31, 1944, Missouri was underway at 1133 for gunnery exercises. At 1351 they commenced compass compensation; at 1443 the order was given for all engines ahead one third for a shaft locking test, followed by continued 5” battery and machine gun battery firing practice with spotting plane towing targets on “baker” and “tare” runs.,

After completing practice, Missouri returned to anchorage in vicinity of buoy “C” having expended 99 rounds of 5”, 1125 rounds of 40mm, and 2165 rounds of 20mm ammunition.

On September 1, Missouri was underway at 0715 for simulated Short-Range Battle Practice for the main and secondary batteries. Upon completion of that practice Missouri returned to anchorage off of the Naval Operating Base, Trinidad having expended 57 rounds of 16” and 161 rounds of 5” ammunition.

The following two days, September 2 - 3, 1944, Missouri remained at her anchorage in the Gulf of Paria off of Trinidad.

On September 4th, Missouri was underway at 0630 to conduct various gunnery drills including Day Battle Practice for the main and secondary batteries and machine gun practice. Upon completion of these practice runs, the ship anchored at 1528 before getting underway again at 1842 to conduct Night Battle Practice for the main and secondary batteries. Upon completion, Missouri returned to her anchorage in vicinity of Buoy “C” having expended 59 rounds of 16”, 96 rounds of 5”, 2325 rounds of 40mm and 3518 rounds of 20mm ammunition.

The following morning, September 5, at 0700, Missouri was again underway for gunnery exercises, tactical data exercises, a locked shaft test, shock backing test, and a streaming paravane* drill.

* Paravanes were invented during World War I as a defense against moored explosive mines for ships under way. The paravane, appearing much like a torpedo, is towed at the end of towing wire from the bow of a ship, designed to deflect and sever a mine’s mooring line so that it floats to the surface where it can be destroyed.

Missouri anchored at 1620, then resumed Night Battle Practice before anchoring off of the Naval Operating Base at Trinidad at 2331 having expended 19 rounds of 16”, 160 rounds of 5”, 1711 rounds of 40mm and 2863 rounds of 20mm ammunition.

On September 7, 1944, Missouri remained at her anchorage off Naval Operating Base, Trinidad.

8 September 1944: Missouri was underway at 0756 to conduct submarine spotting training exercises with submarine S-11 during which submerged approach was made for training of ship’s lookouts and topside personnel. At 0911 the crew was called to General Quarters for a simulated air attack. Upon completion of that exercise, Missouri commenced a towing exercise, taking the cruiser USS Alaska in tow followed by Alaska attempting to take Missouri in tow. The latter attempt was unsuccessful due to parting of the Manila line at Alaska’s stern, the exercise belayed until a later date. Missouri returned to her anchorage off the Naval Operating Base, Trinidad at 1900.

Between 9 and 10 September, Missouri remained at her anchorage off of the Naval Operating Base, Trinidad.

On September 11, 1944, Missouri got underway at 0641 for gunnery exercises, including main and secondary battery Advanced Day Battle Practice, 5” and 40mm Anti-Aircraft Battle Practice and 40mm and 20mm batteries Anti-Aircraft Machine Gun Practice. Gunnery practice resumed in the evening at 1945 with secondary battery Night Anti-Aircraft Battle Practice before returning to anchorage “K” in the Gulf of Paria after expending 33 rounds of 16”, 135 rounds of 5”, 1798 rounds of 40mm and 2443 rounds of 20mm ammunition.

12 September, Missouri got underway at 0800 for continued gunnery exercises including 5” anti-aircraft practice, 40mm and 20mm firing practice, and main and secondary battery Local Control Battle Practice. Upon completion of exercises, Missouri returned to her anchorage in vicinity of Buoy “C”, Gulf of Paria having expended 21 rounds of 16”, 95 rounds of 5”, 1864 rounds of 40mm and 3249 rounds of 20mm ammunition.

On September 13, Missouri was underway at 0712 for continued gunnery exercises. These included Advanced Day Battle Practice throughout the morning and afternoon, at the maximum radar range, for the secondary and machine gun batteries. In the evening, practice resumed with main and secondary battery Night Battle Practice before returning to anchorage in vicinity of Buoy “C” having expended 48 rounds of 16”, 143 rounds of 5”, 3863 rounds of 40mm and 6016 rounds of 20mm ammunition.

Missouri was underway at 0712 on September 13, 1944, for continued gunnery practice that included Advanced Day Battle Practice at maximum radar range, secondary and machine gun practice with “George” and “Love” runs, followed in the evening by Night Battle Practice with the main and secondary batteries. Missouri then returned to her anchorage in vicinity of Buoy “C” having expended 48 rounds of 16”, 143 rounds of 5”, 3863 rounds of 40mm and 6016 rounds of 20mm ammunition.

On September 14, Missouri was underway at 0856, refueling the USS Bainbridge between 0955 and 1058 before commencing the belayed towing exercise with the USS Alaska, which was successful. In the evening Night Anti-Aircraft Battle Practice commenced with the secondary battery. Missouri returned to her anchorage in vicinity of Buoy “C” at 2212, having expended 113 rounds of 5” ammunition.

On 15 September, Missouri completed a streaming paravane drill and went to General Quarters to hold a battle problem, securing upon completion at 1055 and returning to anchorage off of Naval Operating Base, Trinidad.

Missouri remained at her anchorage throughout the day on September 16, 1944.

On September 17th, Missouri was underway at 1301 for Norfolk, VA, via Culebra Island, Virgin Islands, in company with USS Alaska, USS Decatur and USS Bainbridge, designated Task Unit 23.16.3, steaming at various courses and speeds and zigzagging according to plans #7 and #23.

Throughout the day on September 18th, Missouri remained on course toward Culebra Island, commencing a full power run at 0735, attaining a speed of 29.6 knots at 0830. At 1200 Missouri commenced a two-hour smokeless run at 29.5 knots, passing Culebra Island at 1416 abeam to port at 14,000 yards. At 1424 Missouri’s crew was ordered to General Quarters for rehearsal of a shore bombardment of Culebra Island, in conjunction with the cruiser USS Alaska. conducting simulated bombardment runs on various courses until 1604 when the ship was secured from general quarters.

On September 19, 1944, Missouri went to General Quarters at 0735 for shore bombardment practice on Culebra Island. At 1004 the ship was secured from General Quarters, having expended 18 rounds of 16” and 40 rounds of 5” ammunition.

On 20 September, Missouri continued steaming on course, commencing secondary and machine gun batteries gunnery practice exercises 13A, 13B, 13C and USF10A, ceasing firing at 1408 having expended 31 rounds of 5”, 66 rounds of 40mm and 190 rounds of 20mm ammunition.

21 September 1944: Missouri continued steaming as before, speed 21 knots, commencing secondary and machine gun batteries practice at 1024, secured at 1101, ammunition expended 29 rounds of 5”, 62 rounds of 40mm, 238 rounds of 20mm.

On September 22, at 0818, Missouri passed Buoy Xray Sugar at the entrance to Chesapeake Bay, before anchoring at Berth Yoke off of the Naval Operating Base, Hampton Roads, VA.

At 0830 on September 23rd, Commander Operational Training Command, Atlantic Fleet came aboard to conduct the ship’s official military inspection, COTCLANT shifting his flag from the USS Williamsburg to Missouri, commencing inspection of personnel, spaces, offices, equipment and installations during which various drills were held and observed. The formal inspection was concluded at 1415.

On September 24, 1944, at 1540, Missouri received an observing party from the USS Alaska before getting underway. Between 0930 and 1008, the crew was ordered to General Quarters for a simulated gas attack problem, followed by damage control and battle problems, completed at 1230. During the afternoon, the ship conducted streaming paravane practice, held general drills and returned to her Hampton Roads anchorage “Z” at 1738.

September 25, Missouri remained at Hampton Roads anchorage throughout the day while Captain Callaghan, accompanied by officer and enlisted observers, went aboard the cruiser USS Alaska to assist COTCLANT in that ship’s formal military inspection.

On 26 September 1944, Captain Callaghan and the observing party returned to the USS Alaska at 0600. Upon their return aboard ship that evening, Missouri got underway at 1945, accompanied by the USS Decatur, with orders to proceed to New York Navy Yard. Enroute, Missouri conducted multiple drone firing exercises.

On September 27th, Missouri, in company with USS Decatur, continued enroute to New York Harbor, steaming on various courses and speeds, firing multiple drone gunnery practice runs enroute, entering Ambrose Channel, New York Harbor at 1857, anchoring at 2207 at Liberty Anchorage #1, ammunition expended: 96 rounds of 5”, 819 rounds of 40mm and 655 rounds of 20mm.

Between September 28 and November 4, 1944, Missouri remained at the New York Navy Yard Annex at Bayonne for her Post Shakedown Availability Period.

Orders were received by CINCLANT dispatch for USS Missouri, USS Weeks and USS Hank, designated ComBatDiv 5, to depart New York Harbor for [Panama] Canal Zone, when ready, about 10-11 November, to rendezvous with Task Group 27.7.

November 5, 1944, Missouri got underway at 1353 for Gravesend Bay, New York Harbor, to take on fuel, ammunition and supplies, anchoring at 1452.

On November 6, Missouri got underway for PSA post repairs trial run, passing New York Harbor entrance Buoy “A” at 1055, commencing speed run until 1218, returning to anchorage in Gravesend Bay at 1510.

November 7 – 9, 1944, Missouri remained at Gravesend Bay throughout the day taking on ammunition, fuel and supplies.

November 10, 1944, USS Missouri got underway at 1703 from Gravesend Bay for rendezvous at sea with Task Group 27.7, passing harbor entrance Buoy “A” at 2112 in company with USS Hank and USS Weeks, commencing zigzagging according to plan #23.

On November 11, 1944, Missouri continued steaming on various courses toward a position off of the Delaware Cape to conduct drone firing practice which concluded at 1130 after two drones were shot down.

At 1132 Missouri changed course and proceeded to position off buoy X-ray Sugar at entrance to Chesapeake Bay, to conduct anti-aircraft machine gun practice with planes of Utility Squadron 4 (VJ-4), ammunition expended: 142 rounds of 5”, 1258 rounds of 20mm and 2350 rounds of 40mm ammunition.

The sea being too heavy to transfer passengers, Missouri entered Chesapeake Bay and transferred passengers and hospital cases to the USS Haas (DE424). Missouri was again underway at 2131, departing Chesapeake Bay.

On November 12, 1944, Missouri, screened by USS Hank and USS Weeks, affected rendezvous with Task Group 27.7 at 1117, Rear Admiral I.C. Sowell commanding, in company with USS Texas (BB35), USS Arkansas (BB33), carriers USS Shamrock Bay (CVE84), USS Wake Island (CVE65), and screening group, Hank and Weeks, USS Lewis (DE535) and USS Henry A. Wiley (DM29). The Task Group continued steaming at standard speed of 15 knots, on course to the Panama Canal Zone.

On November 18, 1944, Missouri got underway at 0551 to complete transit of the Panama Canal. At 1329 the last of the Miraflores Locks was opened and Missouri entered the Pacific Ocean Level and moored at pier 18, Balboa, Canal Zone, at 1504.

19 November 1944: Missouri got underway at 1525 from Pier 18, Balboa, Panama Canal Zone, to form up with Task Unit 12.7.1 at sea, accomplished at 1819, assuming base course at 16 knots.

At 0730, on November 28, 1944, Missouri entered San Francisco harbor and moored at South Pier, US Naval Dry Dock, Hunters Point to initiate changes to equip Missouri for duty as fleet flagship by request of CinCPac.

Missouri remained at the US Naval Dry Dock, Hunters Point until December 15, 1944, then proceeded to anchorage off Oakland Bridge, Pier “C”, and taking on fuel and provisions.

On December 17, 1944, Missouri received orders for passage to Pearl Harbor, getting underway the following morning, December 18, at 0806.

December 24, 1944, in company with Task Unit 12.7.1 in training areas S-1, V-11, V-12 and V-17 off the south coast of Oahu, Missouri commended a day of concentrated gunnery exercises including simulated dawn air attack, anti-aircraft firing at sleeves, glide and torpedo runs, main battery firing, combination surface and air firing followed by drone target practice for the 5” battery.

At 1731 Missouri passed buoys 1 and 2 at channel entrance to Pearl Harbor and proceeded to mooring at Berth F2, secured at 1923. Captain Callaghan reported to Commander Task Force 15 for duty, as ordered by CinCPAC.