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Between 2105 and 2115, on that day, seven destroyers out of a total of fourteen, steaming in column formation with the Eleventh Destroyer Squadron, Pacific Battle Fleet, on a 20-knot, high-speed, endurance test of their cruising turbines, were trapped in a web of sharp, volcanic spires along the rocky California coast and were stranded.
"The old spark transmitters of the day (1920 era) emitted a strong wideband of radio frequency interference which would have made it difficult if not impossible to carry on a ship to ship radiotelephone (voice) communication simultaneously. It is likely that radio procedures at that time required the bridge, where the radiotelephone probably was located, to call down to the radio-room requesting that the spark transmitter for Morse code (cw) not be used until the radiotelephone conversation was completed. I do not know this for a certainty but I do have extensive knowledge of seaborne radiocommunications as I was a Radio Officer aboard Army Transports."
On November 7, 1923, Lieutenant Commander Hunter, skipper of the Delphy and self-proclaimed navigator on September 8, 1923, testified at his trial by General Courts-martial concerning the navigational situation.
16. Q. If you have any other statement to make to the court relative to navigational work of the Delphy, please make it now.?
A. I believe that the contributory factors to the loss of the Delphy were unusual and abnormal currents which could not be anticipated with the weather conditions as they were, and to the fact that a very thick fog extended not more than 500 yards from the coast line, when the visibility at the time of the change of course was a good two miles, which prevented us from seeing the danger and taking steps to avoid it.[x]
Lieutenant Commander Hunter taught navigation for two years at the Naval Academy prior to assuming command of the Delphy. On September 8, 1923, he navigated the Delphy by dead reckoning because he did not trust the radio compass signals sent to the Delphy from the station at Point Arguello. Several of the radio signals indicated that the Delphy was heading directly toward the station, although, the dead reckoning position showed the Delphy in safe waters.
Whether the oceanic changes on this side are the direct result of the upheaval in Japan, or whether they are due to a secondary disturbance in the bed of the ocean a comparatively few miles off the California coast, is yet unknown. Whether the bed of the ocean here has changed is also a matter of conjecture, and will be until new soundings can be made throughout the area of disturbance.
Originally posted by Erongaricuaro
Thanks OP. A major incident in US Naval history, worst peacetime disaster. I read the book Tragedy at Honda about this event many years ago, 9 destroyers ran aground and 7 remain on those rocks. If you visit Jalama beach near that area the shop in there has a number of photos of those ships, perhaps some that you display in your post came from their collection. It is often pea-soup fog there.
On one particular visit I recall walking along the beach with a friend on a similarly foggy day. We could not see each other nor our own feet. Our voices were booming, talking as we were walking astride of each other, but otherwise had no visual point of reference. It was a wonder we did not get disoriented and lost ourselves during that stroll.
They had no clue they were on the mainland until hearing a passing train. Until then it was their guess they may have grounded on the channel islands. At least that is how the story was portrayed in the book I referenced. That is difficult to imagine as Anacapa is the closest island to shore and is about 11 miles out. The coast makes a large and abrupt swing inward south of Point Conception to enter the channel. They made that turn too early, and a late change of course would have put them on the islands. This incident put an end to the "follow the leader" tradition the navy used up until that time with group ship maneuvers.
edit on 21-8-2012 by Erongaricuaro because: (no reason given)