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Mariveles

Mariveles (120.497E 14.438N) is a small port located at the tip of the Bataan peninsula.  Its strategic importance was recognized before the outbreak of war, and significant stores had already been moved here, including 400,000 gallons of gasoline; 15,000 tons of ammunition; and food.  Curiously, the food stores included 2.3 million pounds of canned salmon.  There was also a small naval station here, guarded by a battalion of 45 Regiment, Philippines Division, and a tiny airstrip. Two additional small airstrips converted from drained rice paddies, Bataan and Cabcaben Fields, were located just to the east.

The port fell without a fight upon the surrender of Bataan to the Japanese on 9 April 1942.

Liberation of Mariveles. MacArthur assigned 151 Regimental Combat Team (Chase) to retake Mariveles on 15 March 1945. The landing force would embark at Subic Bay and was commanded by Admiral Struble. Minesweepers would commence sweeping on 13 February and be followed by a bombardment force under Admiral Berkey.

MacArthur's intelligence had badly overestimated the Japanese force on Bataan, which numbered only 1400, of which very few were anywhere near Mariveles. Berkey was "extremely perturbed" (Morison 1959) by the lack of any Japanese reaction to the minesweeper force, which he hoped would reveal their gun positions. Berkey began his bombardment at 0943 on 14 February and the Japanese finally responded by firing on the minesweepers from Corregidor and Caballo. Fire was intense until 1018, when the sweepers completed sweeping 76 mines and withdrew without loss.

The destroyer force off Mariveles had a rougher time. Fletcher took a 6" (155mm) shell hit that started a brief fire, YMS-48 was set afire, and Hopewell took four hits that inflicted 19 casualties and forced the destroyer to withdraw to Manus. The minesweepers moved into the harbor, but LaVallette and Radford both were mined and forced to withdraw. The destroyers were in waters that had already been swept twice, suggesting the Japanese had used more sophisticated mines than their usual moored contact mines. The landing force arrived at 1000 on 15 February and encountered negligible opposition ashore, but LSM-169 hit yet another mine. Early the next morning, about twenty suicide boats penetrated Mariveles harbor, sank LCS-7 and LCS-49, and disabled LCS-27.

References

Morton (1953)

Rottman (2002)

Sears (2008)


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