- 1 The united statesAstoria was one in every of 4 Allied cruisers misplaced in an evening engagement with the Japanese off Guadalcanal.
- 1.1 Activity Group 62.three at Guadalcanal
- 1.2 The Night time Watch
- 1.3 Mikawa’s Daring Counterattack
- 1.4 “Unusual Ships Getting into the Harbor”
- 1.5 Shocking the Allied Formation
- 1.6 The Opening Photographs
- 1.7 The Astoria Dropping Weapons
- 1.8 “There was Only a Metal Wall Between Us”
- 1.9 Treating Casualties Underneath Hearth
- 1.10 The Final Photographs of the Astoria
- 1.11 Assessing the Injury
- 1.12 “Abandon Ship”
- 1.13 Making an attempt to Save the Astoria
- 1.14 Explosions Under Deck
- 1.15 Dropping the Astoria, Profitable Guadalcanal
The united statesAstoria was one in every of 4 Allied cruisers misplaced in an evening engagement with the Japanese off Guadalcanal.
By John Domagalski
Admiral Ernest King couldn’t consider what he was studying. The graying 63-year-old chief of U.S. naval operations had been awoken from his sleep. An overdue message from the Guadalcanal battle zone had lastly arrived at his headquarters in the course of the early morning hours of August 12, 1942.
In displaying King the memo, Captain George Russell merely stated, “It isn’t good.” A naval battle had taken place off Savo Island close to Guadalcanal. The American warships guarding the approaches to the touchdown zone on the island’s seashores had been stunned at night time by a Japanese naval drive. 4 Allied heavy cruisers had been sunk. The close by troop transports, nonetheless unloading valuable provides, weren’t harmed. Nevertheless, they have been being pulled again because of the imminent menace of further assaults.
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King would later contemplate the Savo Island battle the low level of the conflict. He stated, “That, so far as I’m involved, was the blackest day of the warfare. The entire future then turned unpredictable.” The final of the 4 cruisers to go down was the united statesAstoria (CA-34).
Activity Group 62.three at Guadalcanal
Launched on the Puget Sound Navy Yard on December 16, 1933, the Astoria was the second ship of the New Orleans class of heavy cruisers. Among the many final group of cruisers designed to be inside the tips of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, the New Orleans class emphasised safety. Though barely smaller than earlier courses of “treaty cruisers,” the New Orleans ships featured thicker belts of aspect armor, elevated safety across the journal areas, and stronger deck armor. The Astoria as constructed had a principal battery of 9 Eight-inch weapons mounted in three turrets. Secondary armament consisted of eight 5-inch single-mount weapons positioned roughly amidships, 4 to a aspect, and eight machine weapons. Wartime introduced the addition of an assortment of antiaircraft weapons mounted at numerous factors across the ship.
The Astoria was no stranger to motion previous to her participation within the Guadalcanal operation. She started the struggle cruising with the service Lexington on a mission to ship planes to Halfway Island. The duty pressure was situated about 420 miles southeast of Halfway when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Subsequent months noticed the Astoria concerned primarily in service escort duties. She participated within the Battles of Coral Sea and Halfway. Through the latter battle, she briefly served because the flagship for Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher after the service Yorktown was deserted. By late summer time the Astoria was underneath the command of Captain William Garrett Greenman. The 53-year-old Greenman had taken over because the commanding officer of the cruiser on June 14, 1942.
Early August meant an exhausting stretch of lengthy and troublesome days for the crewmen aboard the Astoria. Since departing Koro Island within the Fijis on July 31, the crew had been in an virtually fixed state of readiness. The USA Navy was now on the offensive within the eight- month-old conflict with Japan, and the Astoria was within the thick of it. Because the touchdown of the Marines close to Lunga Level on Guadalcanal and the smaller close by island of Tulagi on the morning of August 7, the Astoria had helped struggle off two Japanese air assaults and stood guard obligation overlaying the approaches to the touchdown zone. Extra of the identical routine was anticipated within the days to return.
Upon the preliminary strategy to Guadalcanal, the Astoria had operated together with her sister ships Vincennes and Quincy as half of a fireplace help group designated Activity Group 62.three. When the hearth help position ended, the cruisers turned half of a bigger screening group. Underneath the command of British Rear Admiral V.A. Crutchley aboard the cruiser Australia, the operations of the screening group centered on defending the transport ships. Positioned off the touchdown zone, these have been the ships that carried the Marines, gear, and provides that made up the invasion drive. Their survival was very important to the success of the Guadalcanal operation.
Throughout daylight the cruisers took up antiaircraft positions in shut proximity to the transports. Within the night, the screening group guarded the ocean approaches to the touchdown zone towards the potential of an assault by Japanese floor forces. To cowl all attainable factors of entry to the world, Crutchley divided his screening drive cruisers into three foremost teams; every was initially designated a reputation based mostly on the lead cruiser of the formation.
Patrolling south and east of Savo Island, the Australia group comprised the heavy cruisers Australia, Canberra, and Chicago. The Australia group later turned referred to as the south group of cruisers. The Vincennes group, later referred to as the north group, contained the Astoria and Quincy along with the identify ship. Beneath the command of Captain Fredrick L. Riefkohl of the Vincennes, this group coated the east to west distance between Savo Island and Florida Island. Masking the japanese approaches to the touchdown zone have been the sunshine cruisers San Juan and Hobart. The latter space was deemed by Allied commanders because the least doubtless avenue for a Japanese floor assault. Every cruiser group was screened by two destroyers with further radar-equipped picket destroyers stationed past the approaches.
The Night time Watch
The night time of August Eight started very similar to the earlier night time. At twilight the Astoria moved out of her daytime antiaircraft place and into her preassigned night patrol space as a part of the north group of cruisers. She took up place because the final ship within the column of cruisers about 600 yards immediately behind the Quincy. The destroyer Helm was positioned 1,500 yards off the port bow of the lead cruiser, Vincennes. The destroyer Wilson occupied an identical place off the lead cruiser’s starboard bow.
The group patrolled the perimeter of a field that was roughly 5 miles per aspect. Turning 90 levels in column to the fitting each 30 minutes, the group cruised at a velocity of 10 knots, making the suitable changes in time and velocity to execute the nook turns as scheduled. Simply earlier than midnight rain squalls over Savo Island started to slowly transfer to the southeast, finally ending up between the north and south teams of patrolling cruisers.
The Astoria stood at situation of readiness two. Beneath this association, usually used when the potential for a shock assault existed, the crew stood alternate watches of 4 hours’ period. Two weapons in every of the cruiser’s three Eight-inch fundamental turrets have been manned. All 9 weapons have been loaded with shells however weren’t primed. Lookouts scanned the horizon for enemy submarines, which have been reported to be working within the space. Captain Greenman was conscious that a group of Japanese floor ships had been sighted earlier within the day some 400 miles away within the neighborhood of Bougainville Island. Certainly the picket destroyers or the south group of cruisers would sound an early alarm if and when the enemy floor ships arrived within the space.
The stroke of midnight ushered within the begin of a brand new day—Sunday, August 9, 1942. The 12 to four am mid-watch had simply begun aboard the Astoria. Males approaching watch settled into their positions throughout the cruiser. Weary sailors coming off watch set out for a quick 4 hours of relaxation earlier than rotating again on obligation.
Amongst these coming off watch was Seaman 2nd Class Norman Miller. He went under for a fast bathe. Unable to sleep in his bunk, he determined to go topside. This was commonplace given the recent circumstances that existed under deck. He ended up mendacity down on some life jackets close to the 20mm weapons that have been situated simply above turret quantity three.
Lieutenant Commander J.R. Topper had begun his watch on the bridge because the supervisory officer of the deck simply previous to midnight. A couple of minutes later Lieutenant (j.g.) N.A. Burkey, Jr., assumed his watch as officer of the deck. Amongst different sailors taking over their watch positions on the bridge have been Quartermaster 2nd Class Royal Radke and Seaman 2nd Class Don Yeamans. Aboard the Astoria since June 1941, Yeamans was a part of the quartermaster crew. Radke would function the lead quartermaster for the watch. Captain Greenman retired, absolutely dressed, to his emergency cabin situated instantly adjoining to the pilot home.
Above the bridge, Seaman 1st Class Lynn Hager arrived for his watch at sky management. He placed on his headset and tuned into the JV communications circuit. His first order of enterprise was to check communications to the bridge. All the things seemed to be working correctly. From the bridge got here the next request: “Maintain a pointy lookout on our personal formation and throughout.” He then moved over to his lookout station on the starboard aspect subsequent to the 1.1-inch gun director, adjusted his binoculars, and commenced to look the horizon.
Deep under the primary deck, Ralph Boone started his watch within the after engine room. The Machinist Mate 2nd Class had been aboard the Astoria since Might 1940. He knew the ship nicely and shortly went about his duties of conducting routine upkeep. In all elements of the ship, the lads on watch went about their duties unaware that catastrophe lay lower than two hours forward.
Mikawa’s Daring Counterattack
The occasions that might result in catastrophe for the lads of the Astoria started to take form shortly after the Japanese had discovered of the American landings on Guadalcanal and Tulagi. At about 2:30 pm on August 7, the Japanese heavy cruiser Chokai sortied from Simpson Harbor, Rabaul. Aboard was Rear Admiral Gunichi Mikawa, the commander of the newly shaped Eighth Fleet. From the bridge of his flagship, Mikawa would personally lead an audacious counterattack. The daring plan referred to as for a shock night time assault towards American delivery within the Guadalcanal space about 675 miles southeast of Rabaul.
Mikawa had assembled a strong drive of 5 heavy cruisers, two mild cruisers, and a single destroyer. The assault pressure would enter the Guadalcanal space on the south aspect of Savo Island and transfer east to assault American delivery earlier than departing the world by touring north between Florida and Savo Islands. The journey south from Rabaul would take the Japanese drive to the east of Bougainville after which southeast via a slender passage within the Central Solomons generally known as “The Slot” that led on to Guadalcanal. By the afternoon of August Eight, the pressure had handed to the northeast of New Georgia on its remaining strategy to Guadalcanal.
With scout planes launched prematurely to reconnoiter the Guadalcanal space, the Japanese approached Savo Island at a excessive fee of velocity. The scout planes reported the approximate positions of the 2 Allied cruiser forces positioned round Savo Island in addition to the disposition of the transports. Simply after 1 am on August 9, the pressure handed undetected close to the destroyer USS Blue stationed northwest of Savo Island. Each radar and lookouts failed to identify the Japanese ships as they moved by way of the south passage round Savo and immediately towards the south cruiser pressure. By this time Admiral Crutchley had already departed the world with the Australia for an pressing assembly of commanders off the touchdown zone.
“Unusual Ships Getting into the Harbor”
In a collection of occasions that occurred in speedy succession, the Japanese pressure approached and stunned the unsuspecting cruisers on patrol southeast of Savo Island. Among the many first American ships to sight the approaching Japanese was the destroyer Patterson. She instantly despatched an emergency message over TBS (Speak Between Ships) radio, “Warning! Warning! Unusual Ships Getting into Harbor!” It was 1:46 am. Virtually instantly, Japanese float planes dropped brilliant flares within the neighborhood of the transports off Lunga Level, illuminating the cruisers Canberra and Chicago.
Then, the capturing began. Hit 24 occasions in lower than 5 minutes, the Canberra was shortly became a blazing inferno. The Chicago, hit by a torpedo within the bow, did not make contact with the Japanese cruisers as they sped previous. Captain Howard Bode of the Chicago, left in control of the south drive by Crutchley, did not ship out a warning to Captain Riefkohl aboard the Vincennes.
On the approximate time of the Patterson’s warning message, Astoria’s Officer of the Deck Burkey was acknowledging a course change from the Vincennes over TBS radio. The cruiser group was turning barely off schedule. In consequence, the Patterson’s warning message was not acquired. A couple of minutes later Lt. Cmdr. Topper felt what he thought was a distant underwater explosion. Though he attributed it to a destroyer dropping depth fees, the noise was most certainly torpedoes from the Japanese battle with the southern cruisers. Captain Greenman was not notified and remained asleep in his emergency cabin.
Lieutenant Topper was not the one one to listen to underwater noises. Within the after engine room, Machinist Mate Boone was within the means of checking the shaft alleys. The duty, thought-about routine upkeep, was finished to make sure that the shafts have been correctly turning. Boone abruptly heard unusual noises within the water. He thought that there have been issues with the shafts and instantly reported the sounds to the chief machinist mate who was answerable for the engine room. The chief promptly informed him to verify the shafts once more.
At sky management, Seaman 1st Class Hager heard the distant sound of an airplane. Different lookouts quickly reported listening to planes overhead. Hager twice reported this info to the bridge, and the latter report occurred at about 1:30 am. Lieutenant Arthur McLaughlin, the officer in control of the six-man watch on obligation at sky management, ordered sky ahead and sky aft to maintain a pointy lookout.
Upon listening to the stories of planes overhead, Topper instantly went to the starboard aspect of the bridge. Listening intently he might hear solely the sound of the blowers that have been situated proper behind turret one. He then went to the starboard window of the pilot home and appeared ahead and to the best. Nothing appeared amiss with the opposite ships within the formation.
Shocking the Allied Formation
The primary indication that one thing was incorrect appeared a short while later. Lynn Hager sighted a string of 4 or 5 flares from his publish at sky management. He estimated the space was 5,00zero yards from the Astoria. A relative bearing of 180 levels put the flares off the Astoria’s stern. Hager believed that the flares had been dropped from planes, and he reported his sighting to the bridge. At first the flares didn’t appear to be burning very nicely as they hung within the misty environment. Nevertheless, after decreasing a brief distance, the flares quickly started to burn brightly. Lieutenant McLaughlin ordered Hager to report back to the bridge the necessity to sound basic quarters.
At concerning the time Hager’s report of flares reached the bridge, Topper yelled for Burkey to name the captain and stand by to sound common quarters. He then ran out the portside door of the pilot home and recognized a string of 4 plane flares about 5,00zero yards off the port quarter. It was about 1:50 am.
The gunnery division sprang into motion on the first sight of the flares. Gunnery Officer Lt. Cmdr. William Truesdell, noticed the flares simply as a lookout reported the sighting of three Japanese cruisers. He instantly ordered all the remaining primary battery weapons loaded after which requested the officer of the deck to sound common quarters. Sighting info was already flowing into the primary battery plotting room the place Lieutenant (j.g.) Dante Marzetta and his males have been shortly calculating a firing answer. The enemy cruisers have been considered 5,500 yards away at a goal angle of 315 levels.
The Japanese cruisers, rushing northwest towards the Vincennes group, had their weapons aimed on the American cruisers as early as 1:47 am. Lookouts aboard the Chokai might clearly see that the final ship of the American column, the Astoria, didn’t have her most important battery turrets educated in battle positions. To the Japanese it appeared that the northern drive of cruisers would even be stunned. With the command to begin firing given at 1:50 am, the Chokai instantly switched on her searchlight, illuminating the Astoria at a distance of seven,800 yards.
The Opening Photographs
Inside seconds the Japanese flagship’s first foremost battery salvo fell off the Astoria’s port bow, brief and to the left. Following the lead of their flagship, different Japanese cruisers equally opened hearth towards the Quincy and Yorktown. Lower than two minutes later the Chokai’s second primary battery salvo fell off the Astoria’s port aspect.
By this time Gunnery Officer Truesdell had requested permission to open hearth. When no reply got here from the bridge, he gave the order himself at about 1:53 am. The Astoria out of the blue shook from the blast of an eight- or nine-gun salvo. Directed on the Chokai, all photographs missed.
Confusion reigned aboard the bridge of the Astoria as the important thing officers of the watch have been initially unaware that enemy cruisers had been sighted. Officer of the Deck Burkey, on the TBS with the Yorktown acknowledging a deliberate course change, had not carried out Topper’s request to name the captain. Quartermaster Radke noticed a distant ship opening hearth and instantly pulled the overall quarters alarm with out having the orders to take action. Noticing the absence of the captain, the junior officer of the deck, Lieutenant (j.g.) John Mullen rushed to get Greenman.
The fourth foremost battery salvo left the Chokai at about 1:53 am because the cruiser was virtually 6,800 yards from the Astoria. Falling about 500 yards brief, the salvo was right in deflection. The Japanese gunners have been near having the Astoria’s quantity.
The Astoria Dropping Weapons
With the overall alarm sounding, Captain Greenman entered the pilot home simply as the primary battery fired. Making an attempt to understand the state of affairs at hand, he famous the flares within the distance and his ship being illuminated by a searchlight. He instantly questioned Topper, “Who sounded the overall alarm? Who gave the order to begin firing?” Topper replied that he had not given both order. Involved that the Astoria was firing on pleasant ships, Greenman gave the order to stop hearth. Truesdell instantly knowledgeable the bridge that he was firing at Japanese cruisers.
The gunnery officer requested pressing permission to renew hearth. Captain Greenman seemed as much as see a salvo straddle the Vincennes off within the distance. Lower than a minute later he noticed the Chokai’s fourth salvo fall simply in need of the Astoria. He instantly gave the orders to sound basic quarters and open hearth. Greenman then ordered the ship to full velocity and turned the Astoria barely to port to raised place her in relation to the targets and to maintain away from Quincy’s firing line.
The overall quarters alarm despatched sailors scurrying concerning the Astoria heading to their assigned battle stations. Males appeared to be racing in all instructions on and across the bridge. Royal Radke stayed on the bridge as lead quartermaster, whereas Topper went to central station. Don Yeamans was in place on the port aspect pelorus, an prolonged level out from the bridge, together with his headset tuned into the JV circuit. From his vantage level he noticed the confusion on the bridge because the battle began.
He recalled, “Everybody was operating round just like the satan.” He turned to look out to sea. “I might see one thing on hearth off within the distance.” The flames have been probably the burning Canberra, whose males had already endured what the Astoria’s crew was about to expertise. Additionally dashing to his bridge battle station was Ensign Thomas Ferneding. Aboard the Astoria for lower than a yr, Ferneding served because the cruiser’s sign officer.
At about 1:55 am, the Chokai’s fifth salvo hit the Astoria amidships, scoring at the very least 4 direct hits with Eight-inch armor-piercing shells. The hits began fires on the boat deck and within the hangar space. The cruiser’s seaplanes, absolutely fueled in anticipation of an early morning launch, have been shortly set aflame. The fires served as a goal for Japanese gunners, who not wanted assistance from searchlights.
The Astoria returned hearth with a six-gun salvo. Fired from the 2 ahead turrets, the shells fell in need of their meant goal. The 2 ahead turrets now reached the restrict of their turning radius on the port aspect and will not be delivered to bear on the lead Japanese cruiser. The U.S. cruiser might now solely return hearth with turret three, which had briefly misplaced energy. A flip would later right the state of affairs and shift the firing to the starboard aspect.
Shortly after the Astoria fired her salvo, turret one was hit 3 times. Probably coming from the identical Eight-inch salvo, one shell pierced the face plate whereas the 2 remaining shells hit the barbette. All personnel inside the turret and barbette have been killed. One other flip of the cruiser allowed her solely obtainable turret, quantity two, to fireside its two weapons.
“There was Only a Metal Wall Between Us”
The Astoria now got here beneath extraordinarily concentrated hearth as further Japanese cruisers directed their weapons upon her. Throughout a six-minute stretch starting at 2 am, the Astoria was hit time after time by shells each giant and small. In the course of the onslaught the ahead engine room was crammed with smoke from successful above and needed to be deserted. The primary fireroom was hit and all occupants killed. The primary hearth risers have been severed, chopping off the water provide wanted to struggle the now raging fires amidships. An Eight-inch shell pierced the protecting defend across the quantity eight 5-inch secondary gun on the port aspect, hitting the prepared service ammunition field and blowing a big gap within the deck. The hearth within the hangar space now burned uncontrolled. A lot of the secondary 5-inch batteries ultimately fell silent, with nearly all of their crews killed at their battle stations.
Through the hail of gunfire, a direct hit on the chart home killed the Astoria’s navigator, William Man Eaton. The 42-year-old lieutenant commander was most certainly killed immediately. Additionally felled in the identical blast was Chief Quartermaster Leo Brom. The shell had hit simply inside Don Yeamans’s place on the port aspect pelorus. “There was only a metal wall between us,” he recalled of the world. The pressure of the blast knocked him off his ft and ruptured his eardrums. The subsequent factor he knew, two sailors have been serving to him up off the deck asking if he was okay.
Treating Casualties Underneath Hearth
Ralph Boone by no means accomplished his routine upkeep. He was nearly to start out his second verify of the shaft alleys when basic quarters sounded. “I grabbed my lifejacket and flashlight,” Boone recalled as he raced to his battle station. At basic quarters he would turn into a part of a restore social gathering that assembled within the mess corridor. The room was situated proper above the after engine room.
Shortly after he arrived on station, the mess corridor was hit by a Japanese shell. It induced an incredible explosion and began a fireplace. Boone was not injured, however others round him weren’t so lucky. One other machinist mate, A.L. McCann, was critically wounded within the foot and ankle. Boone referred to as out for a primary help package. Ensign Hugh Davis instantly appeared with one in hand.
“I used to be getting ready to placed on a tourniquet when one other shell hit close by and destroyed the primary help package,” stated Boone, who determined to hold the wounded man to the after battle dressing space the place he might obtain higher remedy. Passing via the crew quarters, he was stopped by Water Tender 2nd Class W.T. Duffy who had been on the JV telephone. Duffy knowledgeable Boone that the after battle dressing space had been hit and was on hearth. Not sure of what to do subsequent, Boone gently laid McCann down right into a bunk mattress. He was quickly recruited to assist plug a shell gap one deck under and by no means noticed the wounded man once more.
In his place above the hangar, Seaman 2nd Class Miller had been critically wounded in each legs. He was nearly to go to sleep when the battle began. To flee his precarious place he was lowered by rope to the highest of turret quantity three. Shortly thereafter, he was pushed off the turret and onto the primary deck. With a life jacket on, he was lowered by rope into the water. Someday later he was pulled aboard a life raft and was ultimately picked up by a destroyer.
The Final Photographs of the Astoria
The state of affairs aboard the Astoria was getting worse. All through the stricken cruiser, a grisly scene was being repeated. Wounded males have been clinging to life. Some had been badly burned, whereas others have been lacking limbs. The deck was slick with blood.
The bridge personnel nonetheless had management of each steering and engines. Communications strains have been nonetheless open with central station, which was believed to be intact. There have been no main fires reported under the primary deck. Nevertheless, the ship was on hearth amidships, turret one was out, and a lot of the secondary gun batteries had been silenced. At about this time the engineering officer reported to the captain that there was critical hassle within the boiler rooms and that the ship had begun to lose energy.
At this juncture the starboard aspect of the Astoria’s bridge was raked by gunfire, almost definitely from the heavy cruiser Kako. Among the many bridge personnel who went down was the helmsman, Quartermaster 1st Class Houston Williams. Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Julian Younger, additionally wounded from shrapnel, made it to his ft and took the wheel. Simply then the Quincy appeared off the port bow, a mass of flames. It appeared as if the ships would collide. Captain Greenman ordered a tough flip to port. Younger threw the wheel to the left, and the Astoria handed safely astern of her sister ship.
The gunfire had additionally significantly wounded Ensign Ferneding in the best leg and heel. “I went to face up and collapsed,” he would recall of the second. Ferneding had been standing simply contained in the pilot home on the starboard aspect. Yeoman 2nd class Walter Putman propped him up towards the bulkhead and gave him a cigarette.
After the hit on the chart home, Quartermaster Radke went about attending to the wounded as greatest he might. The captain’s orderly quickly advised him to alleviate Younger on the helm. The wounded boatswain’s mate was close to the purpose of collapse. Somebody wanted to have management of the wheel to proceed the zigzag actions that the captain had been ordering. Radke took the wheel and found that steering management had been misplaced. Steering was instantly shifted to central station. The velocity of the Astoria was now seven knots.
Turret two educated out to the port aspect to take purpose at a searchlight that was as soon as once more illuminating the ship. The supply of the sunshine was almost certainly the Japanese cruiser Kinugasa. With the primary hearth management system down, the turret fired underneath native management. These can be the final photographs fired by the Astoria. The salvo missed the Kinugasa however scored a direct hit on the primary turret of the Chokai. The searchlight was quickly extinguished. Enemy gunfire now started to subside. Eventually it appeared that the battle had handed by the Astoria.
Assessing the Injury
Above the bridge at sky management the state of affairs was deteriorating as enemy gunfire exacted a heavy toll. The final order that Lynn Hager had acquired over the JV circuit from the bridge was to “Get these rattling searchlights.” The communication circuit then went lifeless. Hager later reported, “Males up on the sky management stored dropping. They have been scattered across the decks.” An officer left the place to attempt to convey some wounded males right down to sick bay and returned reporting that the sick bay had been destroyed. Hager took off his ineffective headset and commenced to help the wounded. When sky management was evacuated, he made his means right down to the communication deck.
At about 2:15 am, the Astoria misplaced energy. Moments later, Lt. Cmdr. Truesdell, coming down from the director excessive above, entered the pilot home and knowledgeable the captain that the ammunition clipping room immediately above the bridge was on hearth. With ammunition already beginning to explode, he really helpful that the bridge be deserted. To these remaining on the bridge, it appeared that the complete ship aft of the primary mast was a mass of flames. Greenman wasted no time ordering the abandonment of the bridge space. He handed phrase that each one able- bodied and wounded males have been to assemble on the forecastle, close to the entrance of the ship. The captain himself took up station on the communication deck, simply ahead of turret two.
Truesdell stayed behind to direct the evacuation of the wounded from the bridge space. He searched all of the higher ranges to make sure that everybody was out. The able-bodied did one of the best they might to assist the wounded down. Unable to go away underneath his personal energy, Ensign Ferneding was lowered to security after a rope had been tied round him. Don Yeamans climbed down a ladder and made his approach towards the entrance of the ship. All the things appeared to be on hearth.
By three am, about 400 males, together with many wounded, had gathered close to the forecastle. Captain Greenman started to assemble the information as to the standing of his ship. It appeared that no critical fires existed under the second deck. The engine rooms have been considered watertight. The ship had an inventory of three levels to port, cause unknown. Giant fires within the neighborhood of the properly deck, secondary gun batteries, and boat deck prevented entry to the after a part of the ship. Circumstances close to the strict weren’t recognized.
With all water mains ruptured, a bucket brigade was organized to assault the flames. It was hoped that the fires amidships could possibly be crushed again. Sailors labored feverishly preventing the flames however with little success. The decks close to the captain’s cabin turned so scorching that a plan to deal with the wounded in that space needed to be deserted. Captain Greenman quickly turned involved concerning the ahead magazines. He ordered each the Eight-inch and 5-inch magazines flooded. The flooding of the Eight-inch journal appeared to have been profitable, however explosions heard within the neighborhood of the 5-inch journal forged doubt as as to if the flooding of that space labored. The captain turned more and more involved that the 5-inch journal would detonate.
Coming down from the bridge, Yeamans might really feel the primary deck getting scorching. He knew that he was close to one of many magazines however had no concept if it had been flooded. He thought that he heard somebody yell “abandon ship” and shortly jumped over the aspect. It turned out that no such order had been given. He was picked up by the destroyer Bagley after spending three or 4 hours within the water.
At about four:45 am, the captain determined it was time to desert the stricken cruiser. The Bagley was requested by blinker to return alongside the Astoria’s starboard bow. Maneuvering into place, the destroyer nudged her bow proper as much as the aspect of the cruiser. Picket planks, usually used for portray the aspect of the ship, have been put in place to determine a crossing. As soon as the wounded have been safely transferred to the destroyer, able-bodied personnel started to go away the Astoria.
Because the Bagley pulled away, a flashing mild was seen close to the strict of the Astoria. The after portion of the cruiser didn’t look like on hearth as first thought. The destroyer acknowledged the sign after which turned her consideration to choosing up survivors who have been scattered concerning the sea.
Making an attempt to Save the Astoria
Beneath the course of Commander Frank Shoup, the cruiser’s government officer, survivors had assembled close to the strict of the ship. Commander Shoup had been pressured to desert his station as a consequence of intense fires. About 150 males, together with about 30 wounded, gathered close to the fantail. The 1.1-inch machine gun mounts on the primary deck close to the strict and turret three remained manned though the latter had no energy. Wanting ahead, the lads aft might see intense fires. They assumed that all the ahead a part of the ship was ablaze.
Shoup ordered the wounded evacuated. 4 life rafts full of probably the most critical instances forged off from the Astoria’s stern in the hunt for a destroyer. They have been later picked up by the Wilson.
Commander Shoup then organized a bucket brigade. The group started to work on the starboard entrance to the hangar. Utilizing buckets and Eight-inch powder cans, they labored to beat again the flames. Their efforts have been aided at about three:00 am when a light-weight rain started to fall. About an hour later the noise of a gas-powered pump was heard coming from someplace close to the ahead a part of the ship. Between four:30 and 5 am, the bucket brigade had labored its method onto the nicely deck the place progress was ultimately blocked by an oil hearth. About that point, the Bagley was seen departing close to the Astoria’s bow and signaled by flashlight.
Taking inventory of the state of affairs, Shoup and the chief engineering officer, Lt. Cmdr. John Hayes, got here to the identical conclusion. The Astoria could possibly be saved. They felt that there was a very good risk that the cruiser might even get underneath means on her personal energy. Shortly after daylight the Bagley pulled up near the Astoria. A collection of shell holes was noticed simply above the waterline on the port aspect of the cruiser. Captain Greenman quickly reboarded his stricken ship.
Commander Shoup advised the captain, “I feel we will save her.” Greenman instantly formulated a plan of motion.
After further wounded have been taken off the cruiser, a salvage crew of about 325 males started the trouble to save lots of the Astoria. The group consisted principally of engineers, signalmen, and different specialists. A lot of the officers additionally participated. The Bagley took off to switch the remaining survivors to a transport simply after 6 am. The trouble to save lots of the Astoria was quickly in full swing. Three firefighting events have been organized to proceed the work towards the flames. One other group was assigned the grim activity of accumulating lifeless our bodies and getting ready the corpses for burial at sea.
Lieutenant Commander Topper, additionally the ship’s injury management officer, led a celebration under decks in an effort to find out the extent of the injury under the waterline. A 5-inch shell gap was discovered on the starboard aspect. It had been plugged and seemed to be holding. A number of small fires have been discovered and extinguished. The after magazines appeared to have been correctly flooded. The group secured all watertight hatches and openings on the second deck and under.
Engineering personnel additionally went under to look at the varied engine and hearth rooms. A number of the rooms proved to be inaccessible on account of particles or warmth from close by fires. Engineering Officer Hayes concluded that he might try and make steam from fireroom quantity four solely. With each the ahead and after batteries exhausted and the center batteries destroyed close to the nicely deck, all electrical battery energy was discovered to be gone.
Explosions Under Deck
At about 7 am, the minesweeper Hopkins got here to the world to offer help. An previous destroyer transformed to a minesweeper, the vessel transferred a gas-powered pump and hose to the cruiser to assist within the firefighting effort. An influence cable was additionally handed over with the hope that it might be spliced into the Astoria’s system. Captain Greenman felt that the most effective probability to save lots of the Astoria can be to get her into the shallow waters close to Guadalcanal. He requested that his cruiser be taken underneath tow. Accordingly, the Hopkins backed her stern as much as the cruiser’s rear so that a tow line could possibly be handed between the ships. It took two makes an attempt, however the Astoria was quickly underneath tow. The Hopkins ultimately was capable of make three knots.
The destroyer Wilson arrived on the scene at about 9 am. Positioning herself off the Astoria’s starboard bow, she quickly started to pump water into the fires. The stream continued for nearly an hour. Round 10 am each the Wilson and Hopkins have been referred to as away. Captain Greenman was quickly suggested that the destroyer Buchanan would arrive to proceed the firefighting effort. The transport Alchiba was additionally dispatched to take up the tow line
Though some progress had been made on the flames above deck, the fires under have been growing in depth. A big hearth was burning uncontrolled within the wardroom space. A number of small explosions under decks occurred, adopted by a a lot bigger one at 11 am. The bigger explosion appeared to have originated under and simply behind turret two. The Astoria’s record to port started to extend, first to 10 levels after which to 15 levels. The holes, which had been simply above the waterline, have been now taking in water. A failed try and plug them was made with mattresses and pillows.
Lieutenant Commander Topper was standing on the forecastle when he felt the rumble of one other inner explosion. Wanting over the port aspect he observed yellow bubbles coming to the floor close to turret two. He instantly ordered all personnel to go away the world after which rushed to report this info to the captain.
The Buchanan, now on station off the starboard bow of the cruiser, ready to proceed the firefighting effort. Captain Greenman made his means ahead for a firsthand assessment of the efforts. The cruiser’s record was now growing quickly. The senior officers gathered to debate the state of affairs. Topper, Government Officer Shoup, and Engineering Officer Hayes all felt that it was time to desert ship as soon as once more. Captain Greenman readily agreed. Preparations have been made for the Buchanan to maneuver to the starboard quarter to take off personnel. All arms have been ordered to make their approach towards the strict of the ship.
Earlier than Captain Greenman and his officers might make their option to the fantail, the Astoria’s listing had reached 30 levels. It turned obvious that the cruiser was not going to remain afloat for much longer. At midday Captain Greenman gave the order to desert ship. Males started to leap into the water because the Buchanan stood about 300 yards distant. As Greenman and Shoup departed the ship for the final time, the record had elevated to 45 levels. The Astoria turned over to her port beam and commenced to sink stern first. Her bow rose barely above the water, and she or he disappeared at 12:15.
Dropping the Astoria, Profitable Guadalcanal
Considered one of quite a few casualties suffered through the Battle of Savo Island, maybe probably the most full defeat of a pressure in fight through the proud historical past of the U.S. Navy, the united statesAstoria was however a gallant ship whose crew labored lengthy to save lots of her. The sacrifice of 1 Australian and three American heavy cruisers off Savo Island, nevertheless, proved to not be in useless. Seven months later, the island of Guadalcanal was secured, and the lengthy street to victory within the Pacific took a serious step ahead.
On July 27, 2005, the Clatsop County, Oregon, board of commissioners unanimously permitted a decision proclaiming August ninth of every yr USS Astoria Day. Situated within the northwest nook of the state, Astoria is Clatsop County’s largest metropolis. The proclamation serves as a small however lasting tribute.