COLLISION WITH THE USS WASHINGTON

This page is dedicated to the fifteen recorded casualities of the collision. Two dead, one missing, and twelve injured. One of the injured died from his injuries 26 hours after the collision.
Of course this does not include the hundreds who were violently awaken from sound sleep by the screeching sounds from steel crashing and rubbing against steel; thrown from their bunks to the decks; crawling and sliding around on the decks coated with bunker oil; scrambling around looking for clothes: hurrying to collision stations.
Do not forget that this collision between these two 35,000 ton battleships in the darkness of 01 February 1944 deprived the navy of two capital ships for over 90 days.
Few realized at the time how close the Indiana was in danger of sinking, With thanks to the damage control party that shored up the third deck bulkhead #128 1/2 that held, the Indiana remained afloat.
The damage sustained by the Indiana occurred at the most vulnerable location within the armored citadel length. Indeed, a detailed vulnerability study conducted early in 1945 concluded that, if the unprotected stern were riddled, flooding the third deck area between bulkheads 113 and 128 would probably result in a South Dakota-class battleship sinking by the stern. This is precisely the area were the Indiana was hit by the Washington. In this instance the Indiana's holding bulkhead remained intact and the ship's longitudinal stability was not jeopardized, However, it appears that a very similar collision, involving damage to the stern as well as this critical compartment, possibly would have been sufficient to cause the ship to sink.
For another account of the collision check out Howard Wright III's excellent website USS Washington BB56. Howard's father, a marine, Howard Frank Wright Jr., was both a plank owner on the Washington as well as a crew member of the USS Indiana from April 29, 1943 to April 01 1944, during the collision.

The following information was taken from the Deck Log , Special Reports and other information now at the National Archives:



COLLISION DAMAGE
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USS Washington BB-56, 05 February 1944 at Majuro atoll, showing damage to bow after collision on 01 February 1944 with USS Indiana BB-58 USS Indiana BB-58, 05 February 1944, tied up at Majuro atoll, showing damage after collision with USS Washington BB-56

BURIAL AT SEA

Burial at sea on 01 February 1944 at 1345

On 01 February 1944 at 1345, the colors were lowered to half mast and at 1400 services were held for Mc Calanahan, P.R., Cox, USN and Gerou, J.F., S2c, USN. At 1415 the colors were two blocked.

Burial at sea on 01 February 1944 at 1345


FROM THE DECK LOG

1 February 1944
Steaming as before in Task Group 58.1, Southeast of Kwajalein Island, on base course 090°, Fleet axis 060°, Cruising disposition SR, speed 09 knots, conducting fueling operations, WASHINGTON had been designated as guide, destroyer COGSWELL was along side.

The Task Group was engaged in Flintlock operations and operating in accordance with Commander Central Pacific Op Plan Cen 1-44, Task force 58 Op Plan 1-44, and Commander Task Group 58,1 Op Plan 1-44. Having completed our bombardment of Kwajalein, we were now engaged in providing support for the Southern Attack force.

Task Organization was as follows:
Carrier Task Group One (TG 58.1) - Rear Admiral J.W. Reeves, Jr
Carrier Unit C-TU-58.1.5) Rear Admiral J.W. Reeves, Jr.
ENTERPRISE (CV-06) (F)
YORKTOWN (CV-10) (FF)
BELLEAU WOOD (CVL-24)

Support Unit (TU-58.1.3)-Rear Admiral W.A. Lee, Jr.
WASHINGTON (BB-56) (F)
INDIANA (BB-58)
MASSACHUSETTS (BB-59)

Screening Unit (TU-58.1.4) Captain W.A. Phillips
OAKLAND (CL-95)
C.K. BRONSON (DD-668)
COTTEN (DD-669)
DORTCH (DD-670)
GATLING (DD-671)
HEALY (DD-672)
CAPERTON (DD-650)
COGSWELL (DD-651)
INGERSOLL (DD-652)
KNAPP (DD-653)

The COGSWELL completed fueling at 0055 and cast off, by 0220 night fueling had been completed and the destroyers resumed their station in the screen. The ENTERPRISE assumed guide and increased speed to 19 knots.
At 0415 the Group course was changed to 340°, axis was still 060'. At 0420, in accordance with previous orders, INDIANA commenced maneuvering independently to leave the formation for the purpose of refueling destroyers. While coming right and when on approximately 150°, sighted WASHINGTON about 25° on our starboard bow, target angle about 350°, distant approximately 1500 yards. INDIANA maneuvered to avoid her, but collided with her at 0428 +/-.
Material condition ZEBRA was set immediately, and all engines were stopped; six minutes later all engines were ordered ahead at 5 knots. Went to collision quarters at 0440 during which time, a sight muster of all hands was held. Injury report of personal as a result of the collision was:

2 Dead
1 Missing
6 Injured

The destroyers COTTEN, GATLING, CAPERTON, and HEALY were ordered to remain with the WASHINGTON and INDIANA
At 0612 went to General Quarters. (morning alert). INDIANA took station 2000 yards ahead of WASHINGTON, unit speed 6.5 knots, course 180°. Burial services for the two dead men were held this afternoon. The WASHINGTON refueled three destroyers during the afternoon (CAPERTON, COTTEN AND HEALY) operation completed by 1700.
Various speeds were used throughout the afternoon and evening, but at 2249 speed was increased to 12 knots and the INDIANA took station 10° on the starboard quarter of the WASHINGTON, distance 1500 yards, steering course 080°.

02 February 1944
Steaming as before, en route for Majuro, Marshall Islands. 0600 went to General Quarters for morning alert. Majuro Atoll was sighted at 1516 and preparations for entering port were made at 2045. INDIANA anchored in Majuro Atoll berth C-2.
As a result of injuries received in the collision on February 01 1944, one of the injured died at 1700 to-day (See additional sheet for injured, dead, and missing)
Held funeral services for the marine that died last night. Buried him ashore.

07 February 1944
Underway en route Pearl Harbor.



COLLISION REPORT FROM BATTLE LOG

1 February 1944

From: The Commanding Officer.
To: Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet,
Via: (1) Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
(2) Commander Battleship, U.S. Pacific Fleet,
(3) Commander Battleship Division Eight.
Subject: Collision with U.S.S. WASHINGTON (BB-56), Report of
Reference: (A) Article 840, U.S. Navy Regulation, 1920.
Enclosure: (A) Formation at 0420 (local)
(B) Estimated tracks,
(C) Casualties,
(D) Damage sustained.

1. At about 0429 (all times herein Zone Plus 12) 01 February 1944 this vessel was in collision with the U.S.S. WASHINGTON at latitude 07-50.2 North, longitude 167-28.5 East.

The Situation:
2. The situation prior to the collision was;

(A) This vessel was operating with carrier Task Group One (TG 58.1) in support unit (TU 58.1.3) in accordance with Carrier Task Group One operation order No. 1-44 dated 13 January 1944 (Flintlock) and other pertinent directives included below,

(B) During the night of the collision, Task Group 58.1 was in cruising disposition 5R with major units assigned the following stations:
(circle spacing 1000 yards).
U.S.S. ENTERPRISE (GUIDE) 0000
U.S.S. INDIANA 3300
U.S.S. WASHINGTON 3060
U.S.S. MASSACHUSETTS 3180
U.S.S. YORKTOWN 2240
U.S.S. BELLEAU WOOD 2120
U.S.S. OAKLAND 6000
Nine destroyers were equally spaced on circle six.
(C) The task group axis was 060°
(D) The damage control readiness was Yoke and the engineering readiness was 33
(E) All boilers were cut in on the main steam line,
(F) The radars were operating:
3. At 0400 the weather was as indicated below, and no significant change was noted up to the time of collision.
Wind direction 062°, force 16 knots, low cumulus clouds about seven tenths, visibility 1500 to 6000 yards depending on direction, slight from 045°.
4. The following messages were received bearing or prospective moves of this vessel.
(A) Commander Task Unit 58.1.3.
"When directed about twenty one hundred to night one destroyer will fuel from each battleship in present disposition X if weather permits second destroyer may be ordered along side each battleship for simultaneous fueling X about daylight and rejoin in the afternoon.
(B) Commander Task Group 58.1 010650 to Commander Task Group 58.1,3 and retransmitted to INDIANA " If circumstances permit desire to fuel five DD's tonight X remaining four and INDIANA will be detached at about 0400 in latitude 7-41 N, longitude 166-35 E, X two DD's screen while others fuel beginning about 0630 in latitude 7-55 North, longitude 166-56 East while ASP will join groups estimated position at 1200, latitude 8-33 N longitude 161-19 East."
(C) Commander Task Group 58.1 by TBS at 0045, "third team proceeded with mission without further orders at 'XFD' in accordance with previous instructions ,"
5 At 0221 the Task Group speed was set at 19 knots and was not changed by the Task Group prior to the collision. At 0232 the Task Group base was set. At 0307 commenced ZIG-ZAG in accordance with plan six.
6 The Commanding Officer was in the Chart House from about 0348 until 0355 when he went to the Bridge.
7 At 0355 "emergency turn NINE" was received from Commander Task Group 58.1 was executed immediately by this vessel , steady on 042°
8 About 0410 the Commanding Officer directed that signal "My course 280°, speed 15" be transmitted by TBS at 0420 to U.S.S. HEALY, U.S.S. CAPERTON and U.S.S. COTTEN who had been designated to accompany the U.S.S. INDIANA. The 0630 fueling rendezvous for this vessel was then about 30 miles distant bearing 208°.
9 At 0415 "340° turn" was executed by Task Group Commander, this vessel complying.
10 From 0420 to 0430 the time of events were not recorded with sufficient accuracy to permit precise record of all events. The pit log was not recorded during this period. Thus, reconstruction of the ships track during this period is in approximation, All orders to the engines and helm during this time are, therefore, set forth in detail below.
11 At 0420, just prior to bring the ship to the easterly course, the Commanding Officer ordered a change of course to 280° and speed reduced to 15 knots within a few seconds the helm was ordered shifted from left to right. At about 0423 (local) this vessel was steady on course 340° and at about 0420 (local) the CIC reported this vessel "in position." However, the net result was some reduction in ships speed through the water, and probably a small change in bearing of the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE.
12 At 0420 the U.S.S. YORKTOWN, U.S.S. ENTERPRISE, AND U.S.S. BELLEAU WOOD were already visible to port, and were seen by the Commanding Officer and Commander F.W. Brumby, Jr. U.S. Navy (Senior duty Officer on the Bridge).
13 At about 0420 the Officer of the deck was ordered by the Commanding Officer to change to course to the right to 180°, followed by orders from the Commanding Officer to steady up on 090°,
14 By about 0426, the ship steadied on 090°,
15 Shortly after steading on 090*, The Commanding Officer ordered "come to 180°" and as the ship started to swing the Commanding Officer ordered "steady on 150" at this instant and about 0427, The U.S.S. WASHINGTON was sighted on the starboard bow, distance estimated at 150 yards, The rudder was immediately ordered "HARD LEFT" with orders to come to 090° also at about this time the CIC, reported the U.S.S. WASHINGTON bearing 348° distance 1700 yards.
16 Collision seemed inevitably by about this 0428 when the rudder was hard left and emergency full speed was ordered. One engine room bell sheet indicates that increase of speed was ordered at 0427. It was noted that the U.S.S. WASHINGTON was swinging hard left.
17 At the moment of collision this vessel was on 100°. The estimated course of the U.S.S. WASHINGTON on impact was 325",
18 The blow was a glancing one. The U.S.S. WASHINGTON swinging left very rapidly, and U.S.S. INDIANA either steady or swinging slowly right.

Comments of the Commanding Officer, U.S.S. Indiana

19 As it may serve to throw further light on the collision, the intention of the Commanding officer, U.S.S. INDIANA are included. He intended to make a very slow turn to the right, eventually ending up on course 280° and thereby gaining enough ground to the Eastward to clear the heavy ships, then gradually coming around to the South, avoiding the screen by keeping inside of circle six, and after passing clear of the U.S.S. WASHINGTON , to come to course 280° or the appropriate relative course in case zig-zag was resumed before clearing the screen, There was sufficient visibility to make this rather radial maneuver rather than an initial change to say, right to 040° and maneuvering by radar alone.
20 The Commanding Officer regrets the necessity of reporting casualties.
21 Immediately after the collision, the vessel took a list of 4° to the starboard, which was corrected promptly by counter flooding,
22 Except for the loss of automatic weapons the starboard quarter of the main deck and damage to turret three rangefinder, the fire power of this vessel was not affected. There was no damage to the main engines or boilers.
23 During the emergency all officers and men conducted themselves in accordance with the best traditions of the Naval service. No confusion or excessive noise was noted, and all hands acted promptly and intelligently to localize the damage and to effect repairs within the capacity of the ships force.

signed by Captain J.G. Steele

The Following List of Casualties

DEAD
Mc Clanahan, Paul Robert Coxswain, 342-10-50 USN
Gerou, John Francis Seaman Second Class, 238-84-61 USN

MISSING
Neville, Lawrence Hilton Seaman Second Class, V-6, 867-46-51 USNR

INJURED
Kelly, William Martin Fireman First Class, V-6, 710-21-13 USNR
Pattenaude, Milton Lee Seaman Second Class, V-6, 862-01-34 USNR
Stafford, Morris LaVaughn Fireman Second Class, V-6, 645-92-53 USNR
Thompson, Dan Victor Private First Class, 818-999 USMC
Eucke, Robert Frank Seaman First Class, 300-79-77 USN
Trouiller, John Alvin Seaman Second Class, V-6, 846-63-77 USNR

End of COLLISION REPORT

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Last Updated 27 April 2002

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