IN A CAPSULE: THE WORLD WAR II HISTORY
USS STEPHEN POTTER
(adapted from Ships Histories, Division of Naval History of the Navy Department)
In 1943, after the U.S. Pacific offensive began, moving from the Marshall Islands eastward to the Japanese homeland, the war record of the STEPHEN POTTER is practically synonymous with that of the FIFTH and THIRD fleets. Upon completing shakedown training, she sailed for Pearl Harbor in December, 1943. Thereafter, the STEPHEN POTTER became a perennial member of Task Group 58.2, beginning with providing air support for landings on Kwajalein and Namur in the Marshall group in January, 1944.
On 16 February, she proceeded with Task Group 58 to conduct carrier air operations against Japanese shipping and installations at Truk. That night the task force was subjected to air attack by torpedo planes and during which the USS INTREPID was struck. The POTTER was assigned as escort for the damaged ship, and on the night of the 17th, retired from the area.
From 21 to 28 April, the STEPHEN POTTER sailed with Task Force SE to cover operations in occupying Hollandia in Northern New Guinea, and moved up to the Carolines to make a second attack on Truk on the 29th. At 0700 on the 30th, contact was made on an enemy submarine. For two hours in coordination with the USS MAC DONOUGH, the STEPHEN POTTER searched for and attacked the sub. MAC DONOUGH made two attacks and the STEPHEN POTTER one. After several deep explosions were detected, much oil and debris appeared on the surface. Failure to regain contact indicated complete destruction of the sub.
On 1 May, the STEPHEN POTTER, together with other ships in Destroyer Squadron 52 and fast battleships, bombarded the island of Ponape in the eastern Carolines. These bombardments were made without opposition and any hope that the Japanese might have had for developing a strong airbase on the island was obliterated. Raids were conducted on Marcus and Wake Islands from 19 to 23 May 1944. Commander Leonidas H, Pancoast, USN, relieved Commander Crichton as commanding officer on 21 May 1944.
The occupation of the Marianas during June and July of 1944 was next on the STEPHEN POTTER's schedule. The Task Group sortied from Majuro on 3 June and a week later commenced air strikes against selected objectives. Saipan was first on the list. On 17 June the task force moved out into the Eastern Philippine Sea to meet a strong Japanese naval force which now threatened both the American naval and ground forces at Saipan. The enemy apparently thought that our task force would stick close to the lee of the islands, and launched his planes from 350 miles away, shuttling them between his carriers and Guam, refueling and rearming at both ends to continuously attack U.S. naval forces.