Patrol Squadron SEVENTY-ONE, under the command of Lieutenant Commander W.J. MULLINS, USN, was actively engaged in fighting the "Battle of the Atlantic" even before the United States was officially at war. Based on the seaplane tender ALBEMARLE, it had been conducting search, anti-submarine, and convoy-escort operations from Greenland and Iceland during 1941. Its home port at that time was the Naval Air Station at Quonset Point, Rhode Island.

On and immediately prior to December 7, 1941, the squadron was based at Argentia, Newfoundland. It was awaiting orders, since the decision had been reached during the latter part of November to discontinue winter operations from Argentia because of the unfavorable weather conditions prevailing.

Immediately following the outbreak of war between the United States and Japan the squadron was ordered to the west coast, and the staging of planes to San Francisco via Jacksonville, Florida; Lake Worth, Texas; and Salton Sea, California began immediately.

Patrol Squadron SEVENTY-ONE arrived at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Day, 1941. It was the first Navy patrol squadron to arrive there to reinforce the squadrons which had been all but wiped out in the Japanese surprise attack of December 7. The squadron, now based at Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, immediately began flying 850-mile patrols which averaged 14 hours in length, and required both taking off and returning to base in darkness without the assistance of landing lights. Pilots averaged 170 hours flying time a month during this period.




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