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    Nouméa Harbor South Province (Province Sud) New Caledonia
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USN prewar

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U. S. Army Nov 1, 1943

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M Claringbould 2008
Location
Nouméa Harbor borders Nouméa in South Province (Province Sud) on New Caledonia (Nouvelle-Calédonie).

Wartime History
On April 18, 1941 piloted a PBY Catalina on the first flight from Sydney to Nouméa Harbor and delivered the first air mail letter to Nouméa. During World War II, Nouméa Harbor was used by Allied warships and transports including the U. S. Navy (USN) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) during the early years of the Pacific War.

Nickel Docks
Located at the southern end of the harbor. Prewar private wharf of the Nickel Company's smelter at Point Doniamo. Facilities included several cranes, nickel smelter. Early in the war, an Australian commando demolition squadron arranged to blow up the works, if the Japanese landed. During the American occupation, this dock was lengthened and expanded and used, in addition to the the main dock at Noumea. Nickel production was allowed to continue, provided it did not interfere with military needs.

Nickel Dock Explosion
On November 1, 1943, four cargo ships were loading: SS Juan Cabrillo, USS Cassiopeia, SS James Buchanan and SS Cape Breton. and unloading at two finger piers that had been built by U. S. Navy (USN) Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) "Seabees" while handling of munitions caused an accidental explosion later dubbed the "Nickel Dock Explosion". About 100 men were lost, (killed or missing) and another 100 wounded, The ships were removed from their moorings, but did not sustain serious damage. The explosion was, for some years, classified, and now declassified, but there has been little collection of data from each individual file.

Ben Glusing adds:
"I was an officer of the 208th Military Police Company, which furnished guard duty of the docks. I arrived at the scene 8-10 minutes after the first blast. Explosion was followed by fires, all lasting about four and a half hours. We suffered seven men injured; no fatalities. The explosion was, for some years, classified, and now declassified, but there has been little collection of data from each individual file. Until my narrative is completed, I feel I cannot distribute in bits and pieces."

Nouméa Harbor Seaplane Base
Harbor used as a seaplane landing area during the Pacific War.

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Last Updated
March 18, 2020

 

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