War Bound from Stockton: U.S. Navy Ships from California’s Central Valley,
In Harm’s Way in Pacific Waters in World War II
Cdr. David D. Bruhn, USN (Retired)
At Stockton, California, during World War II, nearly three dozen small, wooden-hulled Navy ships stood out from builders’ yards alongside its shipping channel, destined for combat duty in the Pacific. The thirty-two salvage ships, rescue tugs, minesweepers, patrol craft sweepers, and net laying ships owed their existence in part to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. A former Assistant Secretary of the Navy and yachtsman, he recognized upon America’s entry into the war that existing yards churning out steel ships as fast as possible could still not meet the Navy’s burgeoning requirements. Accordingly, he directed work to large numbers of underutilized boat and yacht building yards; resulting in thousands of wooden ships and craft, including the famous PT boats and Higgins boats, joining the Fleet. Twenty-three Stockton ships collectively earned thirty-eight battle stars, and one, a Presidential Unit Citation. The latter award is the highest a unit may receive for heroism, and the equivalent of the Silver Star Medal for an individual. Following the war, the ships’ crews, mostly reservists (“hostilities only” personnel in Royal Navy parlance), returned home to their civilian lives, and the Navy quickly disposed of almost all of the wooden vessels. Americans wanted a peace dividend, and the nation no longer needed the service of the stalwart sailors, nor their valiant little ships. One hundred fifty-nine photographs, maps, and diagrams; appendices; and an index to full names, places, and subjects add value to this work.
2023, 6x9, paper, 306 pp.