Halsey's Typhoon

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Halsey's Typhoon

Post by JamesL » 10 Dec 2004 01:55

Since we are coming up on Dec. 18th, the 60th anniversary of The Great Typhoon that struck the USN Third Fleet, I thought some might find the following War Diary entry interesting.

18 December 1944

Position 0800: Lat. 14-37 N., Long. 127-59 E.
1200: Lat. 14-03 N., Long. 127-57 E.
2000: Lat. 13-08 N., Long. 128-49 E.

An attempt to resume fueling operations was made at sunrise, with a heavy sea running; destroyers lowest on fuel were designated to fuel first, and to fuel by the astern method from tankers. Later it was attempted to fuel destroyers alongside the large carriers, with the wind and sea about 60 deg on the bow; by 0800 however, weather conditions had become too bad to continue and the OTC gave the order to cease fueling operations. The wind had reached 33 knots and the wind and sea were increasing. It was becoming apparent by this time that the typhoon reported east of the fleet fueling area the previous day had progressed westward during the night, instead of north-northwestward as had been reported in the weather analysis, and that it would pass close by. The wind at 0800 was from the north. During the forenoon it backed around to the west, reaching a steady velocity of 55 knots, with frequent gusts as high as 65 knots by noon. Barometer dropped, reaching a low of 29.97 inches at 1230. The sea, high at sunrise, reaching mountainous proportions by noon. Visibility during the forenoon and early part of the afternoon was very poor owing to the rain and spray, often closing in to 500 yards.

AT 0809 CTF 38 set course 180 (T), running with the wind and sea. MONTEREY reported at 0913 that planes on her hangar deck had caught fire. At 0918 TG 38.1 changed course to 220 (T). Two minutes later COWPENS reported planes afire on her hangar deck, and that she was unable to come to the new course. COWPENS left formation on course 140 (T) with BENHAM and HALSEY POWELL as escorts. 0926 BOSTON’s starboard plane was blown inboard off its catapult by a combination of high wind and heavy roll. 0928 MONTEREY reported that she has lost steerageway, and OTC designated NEW ORLEANS, BROWN, and HAGGARD to stand by her. COWPENS reported her fire under control at 0945 and 15 minutes later MONTEREY reported all fires out. 1020 BOSTON’s starboard plane was carried overboard by wind and sea when the ship took a 46 degree roll to starboard; this was the largest roll recorded, but there were many others in excess of 30 degrees, including one of 38 degrees.

There was considerable confusion during this period. The fueling units had not had time to reform completely after fueling operations, and the TBS was jammed with a multitude of orders and interrogations concerning location of varioius ships and units. Visibility at this time was so bad that is only occasionally that other ships in the formation could be seen. Indicative of the situation was a series of TBS reports from ships in TG 38.1 from about 1010 to 1100 reporting that they had sighted a CVE dead in the water as they passed it close aboard. The CVE, sighted by BOSTON, at 1045 at around one-half mile range, was eventually identified as the CAPE ESPERANCE attached to TG 30.8. A DE belonging to TG 30.8 was similarly encountered, and passed at 500-1000 yards range, which was about the limit of visibility at the time.

There were many reports of men washing overboard from ships in the vicinity. BOSTON, however, lost none, and there were but five minor injuries during the day; also, there was surprisingly little evidence of sea sickness. Aside from loss of one plane, BOSTON’s damage was negligible: the SK and forward SG radar were temporarily disabled but soon fixed.

At 1300 BALTIMORE was ordered to join and take command of the COWPENS groups as CTU 31.1.5.

The height of the storm was reached between noon and 1300 dimishing rapidly between 1500 and 1600 during which hour the wind dropped from 55 to 25 knots, continuing to back around counterclockwise toward the south, and the sea moderated to a lesser degree. Observations from the ship, supported by reports on the storm’s track, indicated that TG 38.1 passed within about 20 to 30 miles of the typhoon center.

The fleet continued south during the night, picking up stray units as it went, and preparing to resume fueling next morning. The only known loss was the HULL which was reported sunk by capsizing during the forenoon.

General Quarters stations were manned for about one hour before sunrise and the AA batteries for about one hour after sunset. Sunrise 0648, sunset 1800, moonset 2025, new moon.

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Post by Barrett » 15 Dec 2004 02:48

A friend of mine was LSO aboard Yorktown (CV-10), and he had an observation after Hurricane Hugo struck Charleston, SC, in 1989. He said, "Well, if Halsey couldn't sink us by sticking his nose into two hurricanes in the Pacific, I guess we're safe from this one!" However, IIRC the carrier was moved from its moorings.

Some 3rd Fleet sailors are still befuddled as to how Halsey got a 5th star after Leyte and two avoidable hurricanes...

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Post by Aufklarung » 15 Dec 2004 04:15

Damage to USS Tabberer (DE 418):

A good account from a DE perspective there.

A :)

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Post by JamesL » 15 Dec 2004 14:25

My father said the carriers looked like billboards with their planes sliding off the sides of the ship into the water.

Somewhat impressive that the smaller DE's withstood the storm better than the larger DD's.

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