At the beginning of WWII things looked bleek for the Tuna fleets in San Diego. Owners called the fleets home and canning companies started shutting down. But two months after the attack of Pearl Harbor the Navy told the tuna fleet they were needed for war. The boats with giant freezer holds were perfect for running grocery’s.
Navy Commander William J. Morcott told the tuna boat owners “The Navy needs the service of your tuna clippers.” “The government will either buy your ships, or lease them for the duration.” The commander also told the men that the Navy needed them to run the boats and over 600 of the fishermen agreed to man the boats.
The fleet of 46 Tuna boats were painted haze gray and given a YP number, two .50 caliber machine guns and a couple of stern mounted depth charges. Right away they started running grocery’s for the fleet in the pacific.
Soon the fleet nicknamed the boats the Yippie class..And crews would yell “Yippie” for the YP ‘s in joy when the boats were sighted and supplies arrived. Thousands of trips were made but some were special trips made for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. The Yippies feed the Marines on Guadalcanal on Christmas day and the sailors all over the pacific.
Running grocery’s was not a gravy job. The boats were slow only able of making 10 knots of speed, easy targets. Of the 46 boats, each with a crew of 17 sailors, 16 were lost.