Southeast Pacific Area

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USS Trenton in the Gulf of Panama in May 1943.

The Southeast Pacific Area (SEPA) was one of the designated area commands created by the Combined Chiefs of Staff in the Pacific region during World War II. It was responsible to the Joint Chiefs of Staff via the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Navy (COMINCH), Admiral Ernest King. Rear Admiral Abel T. Bidwell, former commander of Cruiser Division Three, commanded the Southeast Pacific Area during the first months of the war.[1]


On 24 March 1942, the newly formed British and Combined Chiefs of Staff issued a directive designating the Pacific theater an area of American strategic responsibility. Six days later the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) divided the Pacific theater into three areas: the Pacific Ocean Areas (POA), the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA), and the Southeast Pacific Area.

The Southeast Pacific Force, SoEastPac, was a small force of cruisers and destroyers based at Balboa, Panama which formed the main force operating in the Southeast Pacific Area. The Southeast Pacific Force was formed by a directive of 28 August 1941 to Admiral Husband Kimmel:

Amongst ships assigned to the Southeast Pacific Force were the light cruisers USS Concord, USS Trenton, USS Detroit, and the destroyers USS Warrington and USS McDougal.

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