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    Nouméa Harbor  New Caledonia

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Prewar

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November 1, 1943

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M Claringbould 2008

Location
Harbor Located at Nouméa.

Wartime History
This harbor was used by ships and warships of the US Navy (USN) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) during the 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 US Navy Seabees, when handling of munitions caused an 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 early in the war

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Last Updated
January 8, 2014

 

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1943

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