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The Battle for Leyte Gulf
23-26 October 1944

The Third Fleet
(as of dawn 24 October 1944)

(Admiral William F. Halsey in battleship New Jersey)

Third Fleet consisted essentially of Task Force 38 - nominally under the tactical command of Vice Admiral Mitscher - and logistical support units.


CV = Fleet Aircraft-Carrier / CVL = Light Fleet Aircraft-Carrier / VF = Fighter / VB = Dive Bomber / VT = Torpedo-bomber
BB = Battleship / CA = Heavy Cruiser / CL = Light Cruiser  / DD = Destroyer

(S) = sunk in the Battle for Leyte Gulf

Task Force 38 was composed as follows -

Task Force 38, The Fast Carrier Force
(Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher in carrier Lexington)

8 Fleet Carriers, 8 Light Carriers, 6 Battleships, 6 Heavy Cruisers, 9 Light Cruisers, 58 Destroyers

Task Force 38 was divided into four fast carrier groups, as follows  -

Task Group One, TG38.1
(Vice Admiral John S. McCain in carrier Wasp)

3 Fleet Carriers, 2 Light Fleet Carriers, 4 Heavy Cruisers, 2 Anti-aircraft Light Cruisers, 14 Destroyers:

Wasp CV18 (Capt. O.A. Weller)  Air Group 14 (Cdr W.C. Wingard) 43VF, 28VB, 18VT

Hornet CV12 (Capt. A.K. Doyle) Air Group 11 (Cdr F.R. Schraber) 40VF, 25VB, 18VT

Hancock CV19 (Capt. F.C. Dickey)  Air Group 7 (Cdr J.D. Lamade) 41VF, 42(?)VB, 18VT

Cowpens CVL25 (Captain H.W. Taylor)  Air Group 22 (Lt. Cdr T.H. Jenkins USNR) 26VF, 9VT

Monterey CVL26 (Captain S.H. Ingersoll)  Air Group 28 (Lt. Cdr R.W. Mehle) 23VF, 9VT

CA69 Boston (Captain E.E. Herrmann)
CA27 Chester (Captain Henry Hartley)
CA25 Salt Lake City (Captain L.W. Busbey)
CA24 Pensacola (Captain A.P. Mullinix)

CL95 Anti-aircraft light cruiser Oakland (Captain K.S. Reed)
CL53 Anti-aircraft light cruiser San Diego (Captain W.E. Mullan)

DD589 Izard
DD581 Charrette
DD582 Conner
DD587 Bell
DD588 Burns
DD651 Cogswell
DD650 Caperton
DD652 Ingersoll
DD544 Boyd
DD547 Cowell
DD488 McCalla
DD435 Grayson
DD546 Brown
DD460 Woodworth

Ships of Third Fleet in Ulithi,  December 1944

Task Group Two, TG38.2
(Rear Admiral Gerald F. Bogan in carrier Intrepid)

1 Fleet Carrier, 2 Light Fleet Carriers, 2 Battleships, 3 Light Cruisers, 16 Destroyers -

Intrepid CV11 (Captain J.F. Bolger)  Air Group 18 (Cdr W.E. Ellis) 44VT, 28VB, 18VT

Cabot CVL28 (Captain S.J. Michael)  Air Group 29 (Lt. Cdr W.E. Eder) 21VF, 9VT

Independence CVL22 (Captain E.C. Ewen)  Night Air Group 41 (Cdr T.F. Caldwell) 19VF, 8VT

BB61 Iowa (Captain A.R. McCann)
BB62 New Jersey (Captain C.F. Holden)

CL64 Vincennes (Captain A.D. Brown)
CL89 Miami (Captain J.G. Crawford)
CL80 Biloxi (Captain P.R. Heineman)

DD536 Owen
DD535 Miller
DD537 The Sullivans
DD539 Tingey
DD673 Hickox
DD674 Hunt
DD675 Lewis Hancock
DD676 Marshall
DD797 Cushing
DD658 Colahan
DD686 Halsey Powell
DD687 Uhlmann
DD541 Yarnall
DD540 Twining
DD683 Stockham
DD684 Wedderburn

Task Group Three, TG38.3
(Rear Admiral Frederick C. Sherman in carrier Essex)

2 Fleet Carriers, 2 Light Fleet Carriers, 2 Battleships, 3 Light Cruisers, 1 Anti-aircraft Light Cruiser, 17 Destroyers -

Essex CV9 (Captain C.W. Weiber)  Air Group 15 (Cdr David McCampbell) 51VF, 25VB, 19VT

Lexington CV16 (Captain E.W. Litch)  Air Group 19 (Cdr T.H. Winters) 42VF, 30VB, 18VT

Princeton CVL23 (S) (Captain W.H. Buracker) Air Group 27 (Lt. Cdr. F.A. Bardshar) 25VF, 9VT

Langley CVL27 (Captain J.F. Wegforth)  Air Group 44 (Cdr M.T. Wordell) 25VF, 9VT

BB59 Massachusetts (Captain W.W. Warlick)
BB57 South Dakota (Captain C.B. Momsen)

CL60 Santa Fe (Captain Jerauld Wright)
CL63 Mobile (Captain C.C. Miller)
CL62 Birmingham (Captain T.B. Inglis)
CL96 Anti-aircraft light cruiser Reno (Captain R.C. Alexander)

DD682 Porterfield
DD668 Clarence K. Bronson
DD669 Cotten
DD670 Dortch
DD672 Healy
DD651 Cogswell
DD650 Caperton
DD652 Ingersoll
DD653 Knapp
DD792 Callaghan
DD793 Cassin Young
DD795 Preston
DD558 Laws
DD559 Longshaw
DD560 Morrison
DD671 Gatling
DD794 Irwin

My thanks to L. M. Hinsley and to Fred Dunlap for correcting information originally given here for Task Group 38.3

Task Group Four, TG38.4
(Rear Admiral Ralph E. Davison in carrier Franklin)

2 Fleet Carriers, 2 Light Fleet Carriers, 2 Battleships, 2 Heavy Cruisers, 11 Destroyers -

Franklin CV13 (Captain J.M. Shoemaker)  Air Group 13 (Cdr R.L. Kibbe) 39VF, 31VB, 18VT

Enterprise CV6 (Captain Cato D. Glover)  Air Group 20 (Cdr Dan F. Smith) 40VF, 34VB, 19VT

Belleau Wood CVL24 (Captain John Perry)  Air Group 21 (Lt. Cdr V.F. Casey) 25VF, 9VT

San Jacinto CVL30 (Captain M.H. Kernodle)  Air Group 51 (Cdr C.L. Moore) 19VF, 7VT

BB56 Washington (Captain T.R. Cooley)
BB60 Alabama (Captain V.R. Murphy)

CA32 New Orleans (Captain J.E. Hurff)
CA45 Wichita (Captain D.A. Spencer)

DD401 Maury
DD380 Gridley
DD388 Helm
DD400 McCall
DD389 Mugford
DD390 Ralph Talbot
DD392 Patterson
DD386 Bagley
DD441 Wilkes
DD442 Nicholson
DD443 Swanson


Main source for the above data - Samuel Eliot Morison's "History of United States Naval Operations in World War II" (Little, Brown & Co., Boston)
Ships' pennant numbers are taken from P.H. Silverstone's "U.S. Warships of World War II" (Ian Allan Ltd., Shepperton, Surrey, United Kingdom)

PLEASE NOTE -  information as to destroyer dispositions cannot be regarded as completely reliable, since there was, as Samuel E. Morison relates, very frequent shifting of destroyers between task groups - and unfortunately there are confusing discrepancies in the official history. For example, Appendix 1 of  Morison's Volume XII states that destroyer Irwin was transferred from Group 3 (Sherman's group) to Group 4 (Davison's Group) on 23 October, and appears to state that Desdiv 10 containing destroyers Laws, Longshaw, Morrison and Pritchett was also so transferred. However, Morison's narrative of the air battles of the 24 October makes it clear that early on that day destroyers Irwin and Morrison were operating with Sherman's group. Since the two groups were operating some 200 miles apart it seems unlikely that Irwin was transferred to Task Group 4 on 23 October and back again to Task Group 3 by the morning of 24 October. Similarly, Morison's task organisation for Task Force 38 on the morning of 25 October (in the chapter on the Battle off Cape Engano) places Laws and Longshaw with Sherman's group, not Davison's (although here it is possible that Laws and Longshaw had been transferred to Group 4 and then back to Group 3, as the task groups had on the night of 24-25 made rendezvous). On the other hand DDs Morrison and Pritchett of  Desdiv 10 do not appear at all in the Task Organisation given for October 25. In the case of Morrison this is presumably because she was damaged alongside the carrier Princeton on the 24th. and therefore had to be detached on that day. Destroyer Gatling, which was also assisting the damaged Princeton, was also detached on the 24th., presumably as escort for the cruiser Birmingham which had been damaged when the Princeton exploded. I would be very grateful for any information which would resolve the above discrepancies.