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Re: I'm a little surprised...
The thing is that the USN was in an undeclared war from as early as the Bismarck episode, with US ships patrolling the 'Neutrality Zone' at 25 degrees W longitude and orders to assist the RN in respect of locating enemy ships. This followed on one day after the USS Niblack attack on U-52 after its attack on the freighter Saleir (6,600 tons, convoy OB 306). It was a case of the US Govt. backing UK, but not making it public.
the RN ships were "shared out" around the US. it can be argued that the repairs to RN ships brought the US DOCKYARDS up to speed on what to expect , and how to do the repairs, WHEN the US joined in the war!
No one has mentioned the Royal Navy's wants and needs. Surely it must have absorbed a significant percentage of US capacity.
USN Yard (and to private yards) assignments were centrally controlled out of DC by BuShips. BuShips was most concerned about balancing the resources available between the yards, particularly the use of drydocks. Many badly damaged ships were repaired on the west coast during the war, but BuShips always tried to maintain a margin of drydock availability (not tie up the drydocks, especially the large ones, for long periods of time on one ship repair) for battle damage repair to critical ships (like carriers). Some ships were sent to the east coast because those yards in general had less demand on them except for routine overhauls, fitting-out new ships, and escort repairs. The late war Kamikaze damaged ships put a real strain on the whole repair system of the USN and more ships went to the east coast as the war in Europe ended and the number of ships needing longterm repairs grew.
USS MARBLEHEAD went to NYNY because given the routes available to the west coast being long and in danger of IJN attack, the longer trip via the Indian Ocean looked to be safer with several allied ports available along the way. Remember that in early 1942 the allies had yet to secure new advance bases back to the USA west coast. MARBLEHEAD may well would have had to go all the way around Australia just to avoid the IJN.
yards did not have? It seems that most heavily damaged ships, Marblehead or Franklyn, were sent there.
The WWII life and death of the USS Houston is best covered in this book the Java Sea Campaign of 1941–42.
After the damage of Makassar the Marblehead was no longer an operational combat vessel, due to popped rivets used in her construction her sea worthiness was very much in doubt until arrival at the Brooklyn naval yard for repairs. Indeed, after her eventual arrival for repairs in the USA in May of '42 it took 5 months for the rebuild and she never returned to the Pacific.
The Houston was still a viable combat asset. Her remaining fire power still made her equal of the HMS Exeter . The reasons for her keeping on station was Houston was the flagship of the ll fated US Asiatic Squadron and her fate is described in the book Java Sea Campaign of 1941–42.
As was noted by other posters, with the exception of the stern 8" turret the Houston was operational.
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