The List 5252 TGB
Good Friday Morning to all.
Today in Naval History
This Day In Naval History – March 25, 2019
President George Washington signs "An act to provide a naval armament"
authorizing the construction of six frigates: United States,
Constellation, Constitution, Chesapeake, Congress, and President.
The sloop of war Constellation departs New York with food for famine
victims in Ireland. To modify the sloop for the mission, her armament
and some ballast are removed, and carpenters at the New York Navy Yard
build bins on the lowest deck to carry a cargo of more than 2,500
barrels of potatoes and flour.
USS Hake (SS 256) torpedoes and sinks Japanese merchant tanker Yamamizu
Maru about 75 miles south of Borneo. Also on this date, USS Rasher (SS
269) attacks a Japanese convoy and sinks army cargo ship Nichinan Maru
about 50 miles north of Bali.
The evacuation by sea of Da Nang, Vietnam begins, a four-day effort by
Military Sea Command ships that carry more than 30,000 refugees from Da
Nang until March 30, when the North Vietnamese troops overrun the city
The last known female veteran of World War I, Charlotte Louise Berry
Winters, dies at the age of 109. She enlisted in the Navy in 1917.
Thanks to CHINFO
• USNS Mercy is expected to arrive in Los Angeles today and
USNS Comfort will depart for New York on Saturday, multiple outlets report.
• Multiple outlets report that USS Theodore Roosevelt diverted
to Guam to test its entire crew for COVID-19 as 25 sailors have tested
positive for the virus.
• Multiple outlets report DoD and Navy have increased COVID-19
mitigations after a spike in new cases.
Today in History March 28
Britain passes the Coercive Act against rebellious Massachusetts.
Britain and France declare war on Russia.
A group of Copperheads attack Federal soldiers in Charleston, Illinois.
Five are killed and twenty wounded.
The Salvation Army is officially organized in the United States.
Automobile owners lobby Congress in support of a bill that calls for
vehicle licensing and federal registration.
The first seaplane takes off from water at Martiniques, France.
The Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) is founded, Great Britain's
first official service women.
President Warren Harding names William Howard Taft as chief justice of
the United States.
Constantinople and Angora change their names to Istanbul and Ankara
Nazis order a ban on all Jews in businesses, professions and schools.
The Spanish Civil War ends as Madrid falls to Francisco Franco.
The Italian fleet is routed by the British at the Battle of Battle of
English novelist Virginia Woolf throws herself into the River Ouse near
her home in Sussex. Her body will not be found until April 18.
A British ship, the HMS Campbeltown, a Lend-Lease American destroyer,
which was specifically rammed into a German occupied dry-dock in France,
explodes, knocking the area out of action for the German battleship Tirpitz.
Germany launches the last of its V-2 rockets against England.
Juan Peron is elected President of Argentina. He will hold the office
for six years.
The U.S. Air Force announces research into the use of lasers to
intercept missiles and satellites.
Dwight D. Eisenhower dies at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington,
A major accident occurs at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island nuclear
The U.S. Senate passes $100 million aid package for the Nicaraguan contras.
Jesse Owens receives the Congressional Gold Medal from President George
An American Stealth F117 Nighthawk is shot down over northern Yugoslavia
during NATO air strikes.
A year ago when H-Gram 27 came out I became somewhat emotional as I read
the personal note by Admiral Cox as I read his comments highlighted below.
Thanks to NHHC…This is long but Admiral Cox has done an outstanding job
in providing insights into what happened in those days in 1942 when the
US was fighting back against tremendous odds and American sailors and
Marines were displaying such courage and determination. His personal
thoughts are highlighted below as he sums up what happened the late
summer and Fall of 1942
H-Gram: 027: Wasp, Hornet Discoveries
In his latest H-Gram, NHHC Director Sam Cox pauses from tracking the
anniversaries of notable World War I, World War II, and Vietnam War
naval history events. Instead, he discusses the exciting discoveries of
lost WWII-era aircraft carriers USS Wasp and USS Hornet, and other ships
sunk in "Iron Bottom Sound" during the Guadalcanal campaign. Over the
course of the last several years, NHHC and R/V Petrel have established a
"trusted collaborative relationship." For the first time, NHHC was
invited to participate in the expedition of Wasp. Director Cox was on
board Petrel for the discovery and admits that "seeing an aircraft
carrier on the bottom of the ocean is quite a sobering experience."
Nearly 5,000 Sailors died in the battles where Wasp and Hornet were
discovered, including Rear Adm. Daniel Callaghan, Rear Adm. Norman
Scott, and all five Sullivan brothers. To learn more, read H-Gram 027 at
NHHC's Director's Corner.
H-Gram 027: There Are No Headstones at Sea—The Search for Wasp and Hornet
High on a windswept bluff above the Pacific at San Francisco's Land's
End stands an American flag and a memorial to the heavy cruiser USS San
Francisco (CA-38). It is overlooked by most visitors because on the
other side of the parking lot is a spectacular view of the Golden Gate
Bridge, under which that battered cruiser returned, under her own power,
despite having been hit 45 times during the brutal night battle off
Guadalcanal on Friday the 13th, November 1942. I, however, never miss an
opportunity to pay my respects at the memorial, for although San
Francisco returned from the battle with a Presidential Unit Citation,
110 of her crewmen (including 7 Marines) did not.
The memorial consists of the bridge wings of San Francisco, removed
after the battle, and almost sold for $350 in scrap value at the end of
the war. The port bridge wing is perforated with holes large and small,
inflicted by the Japanese battleship Hiei and other ships. It is
profoundly emotionally sobering to know that the shells and shrapnel
that blasted through that metal killed Rear Admiral Daniel Callaghan,
Captain Cassin Young, and every other officer on the bridge except
Lieutenant Commander Bruce McCandless, who chose to keep San Francisco
in the battle rather than disengage, despite his serious wounds. Other
shells killed the previously wounded executive officer, the acting
executive officer, and every officer senior to McCandless but one,
Lieutenant Commander Herbert Schonland, who, as the damage control
officer, stayed below to keep the damaged cruiser from capsizing.
Rear Admiral Callaghan would be awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor,
along with three of San Francisco's crew: McCandless, Schonland, and
Boatswain's Mate First Class Reinhardt Keppler. Captain Young, who had
been awarded a Medal of Honor for heroism during the attack on Pearl
Harbor, would receive a Navy Cross along with 31 others of his crew (21
posthumously including Young); 21 Silver Stars were also awarded.
Despite this record of extraordinary valor and ultimate sacrifice, an
ever-decreasing number of people today have any clue of the price the
U.S. Navy paid in the early days of World War II to buy the time for a
nation that was unprepared for war, so that the U.S. could achieve
ultimate victory in that terrible war, so that we could all have the
freedom we take for granted today.
The San Francisco memorial is oriented so that it points along a great
circle course to the island of Guadalcanal. The largest town on
Guadalcanal, Honiara, is now the capital of the independent Solomon
Islands, in a relatively isolated area of the South Pacific northeast of
Australia. As I arrived at Honiara International Airport (formerly
Henderson Field, the name still on the tower) on 1 January 2019, it was
clear that Guadalcanal was not quite as far off the beaten path as it
was in 1942 when Imperial Japan and the United States waged a brutal
months-long campaign for control of Henderson Field. From the airfield I
could see "Bloody Ridge," one of several immortalized places on the
island where U.S. Marines and, later, U.S. Army troops, fought valiantly
and at great cost to prevent repeated Japanese counter-attacks from
regaining control of the airfield that the Japanese had originally begun
to build. I could also see Mount Austen, site of a modern Japanese
memorial to the over 20,000 Japanese soldiers and sailors who died in
vain trying to re-take the airfield.
As I stood on the bridge of the research vessel Petrel with its sweeping
view and my first sight of the waters north of Guadalcanal, I admit to
being overcome with emotion, literally choking up and barely able to
speak for several minutes. Although the sea was calm, the sky overcast
but not threatening, a typical late tropical afternoon, I knew that
unseen under those placid waters were about 30 U.S. Navy ships, and
another 10 or so in waters adjacent to Guadalcanal. Almost 5,000 U.S.
Navy Sailors had died in five major night surface battles, two carrier
versus carrier duels, and dozens of smaller but deadly naval battles for
control of the sea, and countless dogfights for control of the skies
over the sea. From where I was standing, in about a 60-degree arc, I
could clearly see the sites of all five surface battles: Savo Island,
the worst defeat for the U.S. Navy at sea in history (9 August 1942);
Cape Esperance, a narrow U.S. victory (11–12 October); the suicidal
bloodbath for both sides of 13 November and the costly but decisive U.S.
naval victory on 14–15 November; and Tassafaronga (30 November), yet
another terrible U.S. defeat, but which did not change the outcome of
the campaign. So many U.S. and Japanese ships were lost in these waters
that they became known as Iron Bottom Sound.
I had been invited aboard the Petrel to participate in their search for
two U.S. aircraft carriers lost in the campaign for Guadalcanal: the USS
Wasp (CV-7) and the USS Hornet(CV-8), and, time permitting, other sunken
U.S. and Japanese ships. To be frank, it would have been enough just for
the opportunity to see Iron Bottom Sound, and pay my respects to those
thousands of Sailors who left such a legacy of honor, courage, and
commitment that our Navy strives to live up to today. But, the chance to
be the first to see aircraft carriers unseen for 77 years was an
opportunity I couldn't let pass.
Petrel is a privately funded, highly sophisticated ocean research ship,
equipped with state-of-the art autonomous and remote underwater research
equipment capable of search of the ocean floor down to 19,000 feet and
of covering a larger search area faster than previous research ships. It
also had better internet connectivity via satellite than I have from my
desktop at work, which I suppose would be expected given the ship was
funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who sadly passed away last
year. Mr. Allen did live to see his dream of finding the lost heavy
cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA-35), sunk with heavy loss of life in the
last weeks of World War II. Petrel continues to fulfill his wish of
honoring his father's World War II naval service by locating other U.S.
ships lost in action.
The U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command's Underwater Archaeology
Branch pays close attention to any effort to find sunken U.S. Navy
vessels. Under customary international maritime law, sunken naval
vessels remain sovereign property, and the "right of salvage" or the
"right of finds" for sunken merchant ships or commercial vessels do not
apply. The U.S. Navy retains title to all sunken ships and aircraft
wrecks (including terrestrial) in perpetuity unless specifically legally
divested (the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor sunk off Cape Hattaras in
1863 is a rare example of this). In addition, the U.S. Navy has
traditionally viewed a sunken naval vessel as a "fit and final resting
place," for U.S. Navy Sailors lost at sea due to the enemy or the
elements, and this has recently been codified by a U.S. Navy regulation
(at NHHC's instigation). Many of these wrecks are "war graves," or
otherwise represent the last resting place of Sailors who gave their
lives in the service of our country, and, as such, deserve to be treated
with the utmost respect and decorum—they are literally hallowed sites as
much as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier or Arlington National Cemetery.
In addition, many of these sunken craft are hazardous due to unexploded
ordnance or risk environmental contamination due to trapped fuel oil, as
well as other potential dangers.
In 2004, the "customary" maritime law was legally codified by the U.S.
Congress under the "Sunken Military Craft Act (SMCA)," for U.S.
warships, naval auxiliaries, or other shipping operating under U.S.
government control in non-commercial service (e.g., merchant ships
carrying U.S. war material in convoy) as well as military aircraft. The
act applies to U.S. ships that meet the definition of "military craft"
anywhere in the world, but applies only to U.S. citizens. That is, U.S.
sunken military craft outside U.S. territorial waters are not protected
by the SMCA from salvage activity by foreign entities, although
"customary" maritime law still applies to the extent that the foreign
entity chooses to respect it.
Nation-states generally do respect customary maritime law (which was
also codified under the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention, which
the United States signed but has not yet ratified). However, some
salvagers conduct operations either unbeknownst to nations or outside
any national jurisdiction. For example, within the last several years,
British and Dutch warship wrecks lost during the Battle of the Java Sea
in February 1942 such as the British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter, have been
blown apart by explosives and the pieces brought up by claw crane to
barges (most likely from China), with human remains buried in unmarked
mass graves ashore and the remains of the ship used as scrap (metal from
shipwrecks that occurred before the advent of atmospheric nuclear
explosions appears to have a market value worth the effort). In the case
of Java Sea, such salvage operations are believed to have been conducted
without the knowledge of official Indonesian government authorities.
The U.S. has lost two ships to this illicit activity in the Java Sea,
the destroyer USS Pope (DD-225) and the submarine USS Perch (SS-176),
with the saving grace being that neither vessel went down with their
crews (their hell began in Japanese prisoner of war camps). NHHC
continues to work closely with the U.S. Country Team in Jakarta to have
Indonesia declare the wreck of the heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA-30) a
protected maritime conservation zone so that she does not meet the same
fate. Houston was lost on 1 March 1942 along with the Australian light
cruiser HMAS Perth in a heroic night action against an overwhelming
Japanese force in the Sunda Strait; approximately 600 of Houston's crew
went down with the ship and are likely entombed within. Many others died
in the water or in Japanese captivity.
Throughout all previous incarnations of the command, NHHC has kept a
database of known or estimated positions of sunken U.S. naval vessels or
aircraft as a matter of course and for the sake of history. It includes
about 3,000 shipwrecks of all sizes dating to the Continental Navy plus
14,000 (and counting) aircraft wrecks. This database activity now has
additional impetus as NHHC is the U.S. Navy's executive agent for
administering SMCA, and there are severe civil penalties (up to $100,000
per day) that can be levied on any U.S. citizen who deliberately
disturbs a wreck covered by the act. In order to prove any such case in
court, however, it is important to know the exact location and condition
of wrecks in order to prove disturbance. Although Indonesia came under
criticism for failing to protect the Java Sea wrecks, the reality is
that even the U.S. Navy lacks the resources to monitor the condition of
most of sunken naval vessels. Working with legitimate private
researchers such as the Petrel, or receiving reports from responsible
recreational divers, is generally the only way NHHC can learn of the
location and condition or ongoing disturbance of U.S. Navy wrecks.
Under SMCA, it is perfectly legal for anyone to dive on a U.S. Navy
wreck anywhere in the world (consistent with local laws) so long as
there is no intent to disturb the wreck. If there is a valid scientific,
educational, archaeological, environmental, or other U.S. Government
purpose, NHHC has authority to issue a permit to a requestor for
controlled disturbance of a wreck, which so far has been extremely rare.
(Special policies are in place in the case of supporting activity by the
Defense POW/MIA Accountability Agency—DPAA.)
Initially, Mr. Allen's group (operating under his corporation, Vulcan,
Inc.) began hunting shipwrecks in 2015 using his private yacht, Octopus
(which was equipped with very sophisticated underwater search gear), and
relying entirely on their own independent research. Octopus's survey of
U.S. and Japanese ships in Iron Bottom Sound and the location of the
Japanese super-battleship Musashi in the Philippines attracted NHHC
attention. It quickly became apparent that Vulcan's Subsea Team was a
very responsible organization, with exceptional capability, that treated
the wrecks with the utmost respect, with no intent other than to find
the wrecks and then publicize the courage and sacrifice of those U.S.
Sailors who served aboard. (The team also had the wherewithal to get
these stories of U.S. Navy valor into widely disseminated media such as
the New York Times and CBS and not just into an H-gram.) In addition,
Vulcan's Subsea Team voluntarily shared positional and condition
information (including extensive video and photos) with NHHC, and made
clear they had no intent to publicize the precise coordinates of the
wrecks. This began a collaborative relationship between Vulcan and NHHC,
at no cost to the U.S. Navy other than staff time I chose to commit to
the effort (which is a sunk cost). I would also note that NHHC
collaborates with a few other research entities, such as Bob Ballard—so
long as the research is legitimate, there is no intent to disturb the
wreck, and the exact location is not publicized.
With the purchase of Petrel in 2016, and the desire by Mr. Allen to find
the wreck of the USS Indianapolis (after multiple previous efforts by
others had failed), the vessel's underwater search group approached NHHC
for additional data to supplement the considerable amount of data they
had already amassed. As director of NHHC, I had previously directed NHHC
historians and underwater archaeologists to do a "deep dive" (in the
records) regarding the loss of Indianapolis. As a result of that, along
with modern wind/current drift computer modeling courtesy of the U.S.
Naval Academy Oceanography Department, NHHC determined that the actual
position of Indianapolis' loss was about 40 nautical miles
west-southwest of the "official" U.S. Navy position used in the court of
inquiry and court martial of Captain Charles McVay in 1945. I directed
this information be shared with Petrel. Given her exceptional
capability, she would have eventually found Indianapolis without NHHC's
help, and, in fact, the actual position of Indianapolis was about the
same distance west but a bit further to the north than NHHC's estimated
position (but a lot closer than the "official" Navy position).
Nevertheless, the successful search of the Indianapolis, Vulcan's care
in managing the release of information (enabling NHHC to initiate
contact with the Indianapolis Survivor's Association so that the
remaining few survivors learned of the discovery before it hit the
media), and the no-cost sharing of data from Petrel established a solid
foundation for a trusted relationship that continues to this day.
The Vulcan Group prefers to keep future operations by Petrel as
proprietary information and does not divulge positional data of the ship
while underway. However, since the Indianapolis search, Petrel has
shared future plans with NHHC. During 2018, Petrel located the aircraft
carrier USS Lexington (CV-2), lost during the Battle of the Coral Sea in
May 1942, the light anti-aircraft cruiser USS Juneau (CL-52), sunk by
Japanese submarine I-26after being severely damaged in the 13 November
1942 battle off Guadalcanal, and the light cruiser USS Helena (CL-50),
sunk during the Battle of Kula Gulf in July 1943. The 2018 expedition
searched for, but was unable to locate, the destroyer USS Strong
(DD-467), sunk in the southern Kula Gulf by what is believed to be the
longest successful torpedo shot in history (11 nautical miles) by a
Japanese Type-93 "Long Lance" torpedo. Petrel would subsequently locate
Strong on 26 February 2019.
In late 2018, Petrel's team issued an invitation to NHHC to participate
aboard the vessel in a search for the lost aircraft carriers USS Wasp
(CV-7) and USS Hornet (CV-8), and other ships in the Guadalcanal area,
time permitting. Under the RHIP ("rank has its privileges") principle, I
took the first underway period out of Honiara from 2–16 January, and
NHHC's long-time director of underwater archaeology, Bob Neyland, took
the second two-week underway period. Upon arrival on board Petrel, I
reacquainted with Mr. Robert Kraft, the head of Petrel's "A.T.U." Unit
("All Things Underwater"); Mr. Paul Mayer, senior researcher and jack of
many trades; and Ms. Janet Greenlee, their superb public outreach
leader. On board with me were also Mr. Ed Caesar, an award-winning
(Foreign Press Association 2014 Journalist of the Year) international
correspondent doing a story for the New York Times Magazine, and
international award–winning professional photographer David Maurice Smith.
The initial plan was to go after Hornet first due to her more extensive
battle record (launching the Doolittle Raid on Japan; participating in
the pivotal Battle of Midway, in which her entire torpedo squadron was
shot down in one of the most valiant attacks against overwhelming odds
in U.S. naval history; and her ultimate loss in the Battle of Santa Cruz
in October 1942, during which her planes severely damaged the Japanese
carrier Shokaku and her guns shot down many Japanese aircraft). Meteora,
the goddess of weather, had other ideas. Petrel had very sophisticated
tools for tracking weather and sea states. The autonomous underwater
vehicle (AUV) could be launched and operate in almost any weather, but
the manned Zodiac boat necessary to retrieve it when it surfaced could
not be operated safely in the predicted conditions. The weather in the
area of Wasp's sinking was only marginally better, but expected to
improve sooner, so Robert Kraft made the decision to go for Wasp first
(no plan survives contact with the enemy).
Wasp was a one-of-a-kind aircraft carrier, with her tonnage limited by
treaty restrictions. She carried about the same number of aircraft
(70–80) as the previous Yorktown-class (Yorktown (CV-5), Enterprise
(CV-6), and Hornet (CV-8), but was smaller, with less redundancy and
less compartmentation to save weight. She was the first carrier to have
a deck-edge elevator. Upon the outbreak of World War II, the less
capable Wasp was intended to operate in the Atlantic, while Yorktown and
Hornet were transferred to the Pacific. During this period, Wasp
conducted two aircraft ferry missions, flying off British Spitfire
fighters to bolster the defense of beleaguered Malta in the
Mediterranean (and recovering one Spitfire—not a carrier aircraft—aboard
that had engine trouble after launch, with a few feet to spare).
However, with the loss of Lexington (CV-2) at Coral Sea and Yorktown at
Midway, Wasp was rushed around to the Pacific.
At the time of the U.S. landings on Guadalcanal on 7 August 1942, Wasp
provided air support, along with Enterprise and Saratoga (CV-3), while
Hornet defended Pearl Harbor from potential Japanese attack. During the
Battle of the Eastern Solomons on 24 August 1942, Wasp was out of
position, having been ordered to go south to refuel, and missed the
battle. Enterprise was badly damaged in the battle and had to return to
Pearl Harbor for repairs and was replaced by Hornet. On 28 August,
Saratoga was hit by a Japanese submarine torpedo (for the second time in
the war) from I-26 and put out of action for several months, leaving
Wasp and Hornet as the only two operational U.S. aircraft carriers in
the Pacific. (I-26 would later sink the light cruiser Juneau on 13
For the first weeks of September 1942, Wasp and Hornet operated south of
Guadalcanal, close enough to provide support to the Marines ashore on
short notice if necessary, but outside the range of land-based Japanese
bombers. The Japanese countered by flooding that operating area with at
least nine submarines. On 15 September, Task Force 18 (TF 18), centered
on Wasp, and TF-17, centered on Hornet, were providing air cover to a
convoy transporting the 7th Marine Regiment (about 4,000 Marines) to
reinforce the Marines already on Guadalcanal.
At about 1445, just after Wasp completed a launch and recovery cycle of
aircraft and a particularly vulnerable time, the Japanese submarine I-19
penetrated Wasp's escort screen undetected and fired all six of her bow
torpedoes at the carrier from the relatively short range of just under
1,000 yards. At least two and possibly three of the torpedoes struck
Wasp on her starboard side forward, immediately igniting an intense
conflagration and causing a 15-degree starboard list. Among other
things, the explosions knocked out the fire mains, so the crew had no
effective means to fight the fires that immediately spread.
The U.S. Navy had learned numerous hard lessons in damage control from
the loss of Lexington at Coral Sea (such as filling aviation fuel lines
with inert gas) and these lessons had been incorporated and had
initially saved Yorktown at Midway, despite multiple bomb and torpedo
hits, until she was later sunk by a Japanese submarine I-168, and they
had saved Enterprise during the Battle of Eastern Solomons.
Unfortunately, many of these preventive measures required warning of an
inbound air strike in order to implement. In the case of I-19's
torpedoes, there were only a few seconds of warning.
Wasp was quickly rocked by secondary explosions from stored bombs and
fuel (the third torpedo hit may or may not have actually been a
secondary explosion). These were followed by a massive explosion at 1500
and within about 20 minutes it was apparent that saving the ship was
impossible. Captain Forrest Sherman gave the order to abandon ship. It
took about 40 minutes for the crew to go over the side and Sherman was
the last living person to go into the water. (Sherman would be awarded a
Navy Cross and a Purple Heart for his efforts to save his ship.)
Following the massive explosion on Wasp, Rear Admiral Norman Scott,
embarked on San Francisco, assumed command of TF-18, believing that Rear
Admiral Leigh Noyes on Waspwould likely have been killed, so violent was
the explosion. Noyes was only burned, but with all radio communication
destroyed on Wasp, Scott's decision was correct. (One of the most famous
photos of Wasp on fire was taken from San Francisco.) Noyes would be
relieved of command and criticized, somewhat unfairly, for operating the
carriers for too long in the same vicinity, increasing the risk of
Fortunately, the burning Wasp remained afloat for hours, which enabled a
relatively orderly abandon ship, and the great majority of Wasp's
2,247-man crew were rescued by the carrier's escorts, including the
Laffey (DD-459), Landsdowne (DD-486), and other destroyers. Those who
were killed included 25 officers, 150 men (including 4 Marines and 42
aircraft squadron personnel), and one war correspondent, Jack Singer
(last seen sitting at his typewriter) for a total of 176 dead plus about
175 wounded. Captain Sherman's original report, filed in December 1942,
gave a total of 193 killed (plus the journalist) and that number has
been used in almost every account since, although one account (Richard
Frank's very well-researched Guadalcanal) gives 173 (plus the
journalist). However, very recent research by NHHC historian Bob
Cressman confirms 176 (including the journalist)—Frank's account missed
two Marines. This just goes to show there is always something new to
learn in history.
Survivors included Rear Admiral Noyes and Captain Sherman, who went on
to be the youngest Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) at that time
(1949–51), and, unfortunately, the youngest to ever die in office (of a
heart attack). Benedict Semmes, Jr., went on to serve as a vice admiral
and president of the Naval War College in the 1970s. Lieutenant David
McCampbell, a landing signal officer (LSO) on Wasp, jumped into the
water from the LSO platform and went on to be the U.S. Navy's all-time
leading "ace," with 34 Japanese downed aircraft to his credit (a record
9 of them in one mission.)
Meanwhile, one of the torpedoes that missed Wasp passed directly under
Landsdowne(DD-486) without exploding, and Landsdowne radioed a warning
as the torpedo headed for the Hornet Task Force. At least three of the
torpedoes that missed Wasp travelled about five miles into Hornet's
screen, one passing too close to the carrier for comfort. Another passed
directly under the destroyer Mustin (DD-413) without exploding before
hitting the new fast battleship North Carolina (BB-55,) killing five
Sailors and blowing a 32 by 18 foot–hole in the ship, which necessitated
the forward ammunition magazine be flooded as a precaution. Although
still capable of making 25 knots, North Carolina required extensive
repair and was out of action for two months. One of Hornet's escorting
destroyers, O'Brien (DD-415), successfully dodged one of the torpedoes
only to be hit in the bow by another. Although no crewmen were killed,
the damage was severe enough that O'Brien broke apart and sank a month
later after transiting over 2,800 miles attempting to reach Pearl Harbor
for repair; her entire crew was rescued.
Hitting three ships with at least four of six torpedoes fired in a
single spread makes Lieutenant Commander Takakazu Kinashi's attack
arguably the most effective by a submarine of all time. Wasp's escort
destroyers dropped 30 depth charges on I-19, but she escaped, only to
later be sunk with all hands by destroyer USS Radford (DD-446) in
For many years, the torpedo hits on North Carolina and O'Brien were
attributed to a second submarine, I-15; however, Japanese records
confirm I-19 fired all six. I-15 did, however, witness the destroyer
Landsdowne as she was ordered to scuttle Wasp with a spread of torpedoes
at 2100 on 15 September. (Of interest, both I-15 and I-19 were of a
class of submarines that was equipped with a hangar and a float plane,
and a plane from sister submarine I-25 bombed Oregon twice with
incendiary bombs in September 1942, the only air attacks on U.S. soil by