1 Reply Latest reply on Mar 8, 2021 9:32 AM by Jason Atkinson

    Seeking Navy ship with seaplane catapults

    Christian Walter Newbie

      Were there any US Navy ships with seaplane catapults in the vicinity of Easter Island during WWII?  In the 1970s I was told that James Michener had flown over Easter Island during WWII. If this really happened, it most probably was done looking for a suitable landing strip for a new ferry route across the Pacific.  It would either have been in a long-range bomber (range for B-17 is too short, but the ferry range of a B-29 would technically permit a Baltra to Bora Bora flight) or in a seaplane catapulted off a cruiser or battleship.

        • Re: Seeking Navy ship with seaplane catapults
          Jason Atkinson Ranger

          Dear Mr. Walter,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          There really is no set of records in National Archives custody that would make it easy to answer your questions. We searched the National Archives Catalog and located Logbooks of U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941 - 1983 in the Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel (Record Group 24) that can be used to trace movements of specific ships. However, since the logs are arranged by ship name instead of geographic location it would be prohibitively time consuming to go through all the logs looking for ships that passed near a specific location.  For more information about these records, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at Archives2reference@nara.gov.


          We also located Ship Plotting Charts, 1941 - 1945 in the Records of Naval Operating Forces (Record Group 313). For more information about these records, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Cartographic (RDSC) at carto@nara.gov.


          Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT2 & RDSC. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.

          Please note that, it is likely that there were a great many ships that passed by Easter Island as it was between the Panama Canal and the New Zealand and Australia area. We suggest that you conduct some additional research before trying to use the Navy records in NARA custody. The James A. Michener Papers and Special Collections are in the custody of the University of Northern Colorado University Libraries Archives & Special Collections. There have been multiple biographies about him, including biographies by Stephen J. May and John P. Hayes.  Michener also wrote an autobiography entitled The World Is My Home: A Memoir. These sources might provide additional information on this topic.


          We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!


          [information provided by Nate Patch, Subject Matter Expert]