Lat 11° 0' 0S Long 166° 15' 0E. Graciosa Bay is located on the northwestern edge of Ndeni Island (Nendo) in the Santa Cruz Island Group (Santa Cruz Islands) in Temotu Province in the Solomon Islands.
During August 1942 during the Guadalcanal campaign, Graciosa Bay was used by the U. S. Navy (USN) as a forward seaplane operating area. In August 1942, a detachment of PBY-5 Catalinas from U. S. Navy (USN) squadrons VP-23 and VP-11 began operating from Graciosa Bay. By August 20, 1942 supported by seaplane tender USS Mackinac and USS Ballard used it as a temporary seaplane anchorage.
Removable mooring buoys were installed for the PBY Catalinas and a fueling boat for the aircraft while their crews lived aboard the ships. From this location, PBYs flew reconnaissance missions northward over the Solomons Islands. On August 23, 1942 PBY Catalina 23-P-11 suffered hull damage during take off in heavy swells and sank.
On September 12, 1942, both ships were shelled by a Japanese submarine.
On September 9, 1942 PBY Catalina 11-P-1 suffered hull damage during take off and sank. During September 1942, both tenders returned to Espiritu Santo and this location ceased to be used.
Japanese missions against Graciosa Bay
August 31, 1942–September 12, 1942
Disused as a seaplane base since the war.
Catalina Tail 23-P-11
Pilot Geritz force landed August 23, 1942
Catalina Tail 11-P-1
Pilot Enloe force landed September 9, 1942
The Pacific Theater: island representations of World War II page 262, 263-264
"The excitement caused by the U.S. Navy activities soon took an ominous turn. One day a PBY returned trailing smoke. After landing safely, it taxied straight to the shore, where it was beached near a village. Just as the crew had safely abandoned it, the aircraft exploded. On another day, another, another returning aircraft sank in shallow water before it could be beached... The two aircraft that were now out of action were among those that had been hit, and because their hulls had been holed, their crews had tried to beach the planes before they sunk in Graciosa Bay.
"The anticipated Japanese attack finally came. At the time, the aircraft were away on patrol, so the attack was directed toward the ship. The ship fired back, and witnesses believed that the attack was beaten off. There was apparently one casualty: a local boy about five or six years old, who had been paddling about the ship, was struck in the face by a bomb fragment. He made it back to shore and recovered from his injuries, but he lost one eye. Shortly after the attack, the ship weighed anchor and left Graciosa Bay not to return. The remains of two damaged PBYs that were hit by enemy fire are still visible, one on the beach and one in shallow water. Both have been stripped clean of every fragment that could be man hammered and cut away, but they are testaments to to that memorable war action in Graciosa Bay."
Thanks to Jim Sawruk for additional information
In early October 1942, the Japanese Navy decided to establish a secret refueling point for the R Area Air Force's E13A1 Jakes at Mohawk Bay. Initially, it is planned for the Kunikawa Maru deliver the first three Jakes, but did not sortie due to a mechanical breaktown. The Japanese base at Mohawk Bay was never established.
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
October 23, 2019