Underway Replenishment before WW2

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    I have been researching the development of underway replenishment in the US and Japanese navies before World War II. There is a complete book on the subject for the US Navy. Thomas Wildenberg, Grey Steel and Black Oil, Naval Institute Press, 1996. This is reproduced in the Hyperwar website with the permission of the author. The link is http://ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/GSBO/index.html


    I have found only a few references for the Imperial Japanese Navy. I am also hunting for papers or works on this for the Royal Navy and the German Kriegsmarine. Would anyone know of sources covering any of these latter three navies? Thanks in advance.


    The 1932 edition of the Admiralty Manual of Seamanship vol 2 (available in secondhand bookshops)has a section on oiling at sea although this only covers oiling a destroyer from a larger ship.


    F Riesenberg, Standard Seamanship for the Merchant Service, 2nd edition New York 1936, pp693-697 discusses coaling and bunkering at sea. Trials using a cable way between the collier Marcellus and USS Massachusetts in 1899, and Cyclops and USS South Carolina in 1913, are described. The transfer of fuel oil was accomplished by the latter two vessels in 1915.

    P.V. N

    I agree Thomas Wildenberg’s book is invaluable for USN progress but perhaps the following sources might also be of help to you, particularly if you can’t find second hand copies.

    Admiralty Library of the Ministry of Defence , based in Portsmouth.

    • -Admiralty, BR68, Manual of Seamanship, Vol. II (London: HMSO, 1923).
    • -Admiralty, BR68, Manual of Seamanship, Vol. II (London: HMSO, 1932).
    • -Admiralty, BR68, Manual of Seamanship, Vol. II (London: HMSO, 1937).

    Public Record Office Kew

    • ADM 116/5813, History of Naval Store Department 1939–1945: Role of Yards and
      Depots Overseas (including North America) and History of Fuelling at Sea during
      Second World War.
    • -ADM 1/27143, History of the RFA Service 1919–1958.
    • Both contain material related to the interwar period.


    National Maritime Museum, Caird Library, Greenwich

    • K. G. B. Dewar Papers, DEW 20 Miscellaneous Historical Section Papers
    • A. W. Brock TSD to Adm. K. G. B. Dewar, Mss. note May 21, 1941, Oiling at Sea 1930–
      1941. Ref. Pre War Decision: Admiralty letter NS 02393/38/22570, December 20,
    • A. W. Brock TSD to Adm. K. G. B. Dewar, Mss. note May 21, 1941, Oiling at Sea 1930–
      1941. Ref. Present situation in regard to oiling cruisers and heavier ships at sea,
      Certain Suggestions Resulting from a Comparison between the Mobility of the British
      and American Fleets, Admiral K. G. B. Dewar, Deputy Director NID Admiralty,
      [u.d., but written in 1926]
      Present situation in regard to oiling cruisers and heavier ships at sea, Oiling at Sea
      1930–1941, Admiralty letter NS 02393/38/22570, 20/12/38.


    US Naval War College Library

      • First Quarterly Report Oct–Dec 1982: WWI–WWII, Naval Ships Weapons Systems
        Engineering Station (NSWSES), Port Hueneme

      Underway Replenishment of Naval Ships,UNREP: System Development of the
      UNREP Fleet. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Underway Replenishment Department,
      U.S. Navy, (Port Hueneme, CA, and Washington DC: US Government
      Printing Office, 1992)


      National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland

      • -RG38. Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations:
        Oiling at Sea, Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) No. 67, No. 12217, June 28, 1913,
        Records of the Office of the CNO, E-10c, Box 838.


      I have in fact just had published The Development of Mobile Logistic Support in Anglo-American Naval Policy, 1900–1953 (University Press of Florida:2009). The bulk is devoted to the period 1944-1953 because this was the period when fleet trains in general and underway replenishment in particular really came into their own. However in case it helps and you are interested, you can get hold of a copy in the UK. SNR members can have a 20% discount until 31st March 2010. It can be found at http://www.eurospanbookstore.com

      If you are in the US it would probably make more sense to try via Amazon.com

      Meanwhile good luck! It is really good news that further studies are being undertaken in this far too neglected aspect of modern naval history.

      E. J. S

      You might also look at Adams, Thomas A and Smith, James R, The Royal Fleet Auxiliary: A Century of Service, Chatham Publishing, London 2005, which gives a comprehensive though sparsely-referenced chronology of the Royal Navy’s support organisation afloat from 1905 onwards.

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