Archive for the 'Accident' Category

Apr 30

Disaster at Honda Point: The U.S. Navy's Largest Peacetime Loss of Ships

Thursday, April 30, 2020 12:26 PM


Honda Point, also known as Point Pedernales, is located just north of the entrance to the Santa Barbara Channel in Santa Barbara County, California. The area has been known to be hazardous as far back as the 16th century, when Spanish explorers coined the area the “Devil’s Jaw” due to its treacherous and plentiful rocky outcroppings. Local mariners have long known to avoid the area at all costs, and the sailors involved on the 8 September 1923 incident were no exception. However, a perfect storm of radio and navigational errors, irregular currents, and poor visibility all came together at just… Read the rest of this entry »

Dec 2

The Mysterious Disappearance of Flight 19

Monday, December 2, 2019 11:08 AM


At 1410 hours on 5 December 1945, a group of five TBM Avenger torpedo bombers took off from the U.S. Naval Air Station, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for a routine overwater navigational training flight. The flight leader in charge of the unit, dubbed “Flight 19,” was U.S. Navy Lieutenant Charles Carroll Taylor, who had amassed some 2,500 flying hours in addition to the completion of a combat tour in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Taylor and his crew of 13 airmen, some trainee pilots, were to execute “navigation problem No. 1,” described by the Naval History and Heritage Command… Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 30

Racism, Mutiny, and Exoneration-The Port Chicago Disaster

Tuesday, July 30, 2019 11:53 AM


The date is 17 July 1944. It’s nearing half past 10 PM, and the 24-hour cycle of munitions and cargo loading at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine, California is in full swing. Two merchant ships, the SS Quinault Victory and the SS E.A. Bryan, sit at the pier. The SS Quinault Victory is empty, the SS E.A. Bryan holds over 4,000 tons of ammunition, and sixteen railcars sitting on the pier contain 429 tons of ammunition. Hundreds of cargo handlers, munitions handlers, crewmen, and officers swarm the area, working tirelessly to load the two vessels with explosives, bombs, depth charges,… Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 21

The Bennington Disaster

Sunday, July 21, 2019 12:01 AM


One half of a steroview showing the Bennington beached after the explosion.

All seemed well on board the USS Bennington (Gunboat No. 4) as the sun rose over the hills of San Diego, California on Friday, 21 July 1905. The gunboat was laying at anchor just west of the Coronado ferry crossing, having arrived on the 19th after a 17-day voyage from Pearl Harbor. The crew were undoubtedly disappointed, for their long-awaited shore leave in the city was cancelled when the gunboat was ordered to tow the Wyoming to Port Hartford after the monitor blew a gasket on her main engine. Down below, the “black gang” stoked the fires to prepare the… Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 3

USOs Not UFOs Have Been the Greatest Threat to the Navy

Monday, June 3, 2019 3:21 AM


The United States Navy created a bit of a buzz when it revealed new guidelines for pilots who wanted to report encounters with unexplained aerial phenomena. The guidelines were created in response to a rash of unusual sightings over the past several years. Many media outlets equated unexplained aerial phenomena to unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, which in turn was interpreted by a lot of people as meaning “spacecraft flown by aliens.” To the disappointment of believers, most reported phenomena are probably due to something a bit more mundane than extraterrestrials taking a joy ride through our atmosphere. In addition… Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 3

Death of a Destroyer

Monday, June 3, 2019 12:01 AM


To mark the 50th anniversary, below is a reprint of Captain Paul Sherbo’s article from the December 2003 issue of Naval History. Many a ship driver reading of the 1969 collision between the USS Frank E. Evans and HMAS Melbourne can see familiar errors that again could end in catastrophe. But tracking down the cause of the disaster has been no easy task. At quarter past three in the morning on 3 June 1969, 74 crewmen of a U.S. destroyer in the South China Sea began to die.1 It was not enemy fire that took them. The tragedy occurred when… Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 7

Honoring Soviet Submarine Disaster's Victims, Survivors

Sunday, April 7, 2019 12:01 AM


On 7 April 1989, the Soviet K-278 Komsomolets—a Project 685 (or in NATO-speak “Mike” class) submarine—sank, claiming the lives of 42 sailors on board. On the 20th anniversary of the loss, as a U.S. naval attache based in Moscow, I traveled by train north to St. Petersburg to represent the U.S. Navy at ceremonies to honor those who died as well as those who survived the disaster. A service was first held at Nikolsky Cathedral, better known as the Sailor’s Cathedral, where the echoes of the singing and chants swung back and forth from the Orthodox priests to the choir and back again…. Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 7

The Loss of the USS Macon, 12 February 1935

Thursday, February 7, 2019 12:01 AM


Lieutenant Harold B. "Min" Miller at the controls of his F9C over Moffett Field. In 1934, Miller became the HTA Unit's senior aviator and was co-developer of the radio equipment which "homed" the pilots back to the airship.

  The interwar years were a period of rapid development for U.S. naval aviation. Achievements in carrier operations are well known. But the Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics, led by Rear Admiral William A. Moffett, also featured a lighter-than-air program that reached it’s apogee with the commissioning of the USS Akron (ZR-3) in 1931 and Macon (ZRS-5) in 1933. The revolutionary airships were “flying aircraft carriers,” designed to scout for the U.S. fleet. Each featured hangar space for five Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk fighters that could be lowered from the belly of the dirigible for takeoff and raised back into the ship after… Read the rest of this entry »

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