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Topic: Whats the story?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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vaderr Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 03 2002,10:34  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hi, I was wondering why the USS California sank so easily during the attack? I read somewhere she had her double bottom hull open for inspection that morning, is this true? I'm just trying to figure out what happened to my favorite BB, Thanks sincerely Brian Kotula
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 06 2002,4:00 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Considering she didn't actually settle to the bottom until December 10th the "Prune Barge" hardly sank easy.

One reason she sank is the damage visible in this picture of her hull where one of the two torpedos that hit her struck.

All together she was hit by two torpedos, one bomb, and one near miss which probably caused enough damage to induce some flooding. David Aiken might have some more correct information; I know he's studying every bomb and torpedo dropped in the raid (or attempting to at least! ).

Compounding these four hits, the crew was ordered to abandon ship around 1000 hours when burning oil from the shattered Arizona threatened to engulf their ship. The winds changed and the men were ordered back to try and save their ship but cruicial time and access had been lost.

Rather than risk the ship capsizing as had happened to Oklahoma and Utah, her crew counterflooded, purposefully letting water into select compartments to bring her back to an even keel. This eventually led her to settle three days later. She was salvaged early the next year but spent two years after that being rebuilt and did not rejoin the fleet until after January, 1944.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 06 2002,9:17 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

That is a good picture of the torpedo damage on the California Tracy. That picture is the first out of water photo of any damage that I have ever seen. One question though, it looks like the torpedo hit just below the armor plating. If so were the other ships that were hit by torpedos hit just below the armor plating as well?
Todd Marshall

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 07 2002,10:12 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Well, here's a picture of the Oklahoma after they rightened her and moved her to a drydock. It should be noted that most of the debris below the ship is concrete used to plug holes so she could be refloated.

It looks to me like the armored belt held up fairly well other than the pressure; if you look at both images a lot of the distortion is consistant with what would happen from that much force hitting the hull.

As far as the placement of the hits, I would imagine some were below and some right on. The torpedos, while modified to dampen the oscillations, still did porpoise a bit in the water. In the case of the Oklahoma, at least one torpedo hit above the belt due to the list she had at the time.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 07 2002,10:31 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Nice photo's and thanks for the answer, I just thought it would take more than two torpedoes to sink her or any other BB since they were designed to take a small amount of that type damage.  I 've read about their under water protection scheme's, I guess they were not as good as I thought. Thanks again, sincerely Brian Kotula.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 09 2002,7:38 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Well, keep in mind that these ships were designed before World War One and retrofitted with the extra armor in the late 1920's / Early 1930s. Around a decade of weapon's development went by before Pearl Harbor, including larger warheads. As was mentioned before, Torpedos will oscillate in depth; it varies wildly after the drop and dampens out over the length of the run. Indeed, in some cases it was reported that torpedos passed underneath ships. David Aiken may comment on this as he has a better grasp on this aspect of the attack than most, myself included.

The runs in Pearl were shorter than normal and so it's very possible that a torpedo would be fairly deep, deeper than normal and depper than what a supplimentary belt would be expected to provide protection from.

Also, looking at the first image I posted, it would appear that the hole left from that torpedo is about 7-10 feet in diameter. The Titanic sank in 4 hours after the ice berg sprung plates and seems for an estimated 10 square feet of "hole." The California sank in three days. after two torpedo hits that created openings far larger than this.

Lastly, if you read the log posted on this thread you may notice that there was a constant string of efforts to keep the California on an even keel. In water that shallow it was far more important to keep her upright than floating.

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 27 2008,10:54 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

More importantly, the USS California was scheduled to undergo an Admiral's Inspection on the following Monday Morning.  As a result, her "Double Bottom" was opened for a bilge inspection.  When the Japanese attacked on Sunday morning, she was still wide open and not able to set Condition Zed, full watertight integrity during the attack.  That's why a comparatively few torpedoes sank the California.
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 29 2008,7:45 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The story of a planned Admiral's inspection scheduled for Monday December 8, 1941 is a myth. There is NO evidence (orders, paperwork, etc) to confirm that an inspection was scheduled.

Capt. Bunkley in his testimony during the Hart Inquiry (Part 26 page 453-55) when asked what precautions were in effect regarding watertight integrity, he responded: "None other than as stated in the Navy Regulations for watertight integrity in port."

The following paragraph is from "Golden State Battlewagon; USS California BB-44" by Myron J. Smith, published by Pictorial Histories.

In his Jan.26,1942 after action report, Capt Bunkley stated that a material inspection of California was imminent and normal prepareations required a thorough venting of tanks and voids. This view, reported by Morison and others as recently as Gordon Prange's "At Dawn We Slept," may not be accurate. The 1946 Joint Congressional Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack examined the manhole/inspection question closely. A schedule of of major inspections, noted on page 1667 (part 15)  does not include the "Prune Barge" A statement on page 5351 (part !!) ends: "... The logs of California, Maryland, Nevada and Tennessee have been examined for any record of inspections and for any reference concerning watertight inegrity precedent to or in preparation for any inspections on 5, 6, and 7 December 1941 with negative results."

I would also add from a memorandum  to William D. Mitchell dated 11 Dec.1945 on page 5348 (part 11): An examination of logs and records of major vessels at Pearl Harbor indicates that only one vessel did not have an equivalent of the condition 'all watertight openinings below the third deck closed" at the time of the attack. That vessel, the California, had ten inner and outboard voids open for maintenance work. Its remaining watertight openings below the third deck were closed.
It goes on to state that Navy Regulations(while in port) is that all watertight openings below the third deck be closed from 1600 to 0800.
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 30 2008,7:53 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Ernest Arroyo @ Sep. 29 2008,5:45)
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The story of a planned Admiral's inspection scheduled for Monday December 8, 1941 is a myth. There is NO evidence (orders, paperwork, etc) to confirm that an inspection was scheduled.

Capt. Bunkley in his testimony during the Hart Inquiry (Part 26 page 453-55) when asked what precautions were in effect regarding watertight integrity, he responded: "None other than as stated in the Navy Regulations for watertight integrity in port."

The following paragraph is from "Golden State Battlewagon; USS California BB-44" by Myron J. Smith, published by Pictorial Histories.

In his Jan.26,1942 after action report, Capt Bunkley stated that a material inspection of California was imminent and normal prepareations required a thorough venting of tanks and voids. This view, reported by Morison and others as recently as Gordon Prange's "At Dawn We Slept," may not be accurate. The 1946 Joint Congressional Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack examined the manhole/inspection question closely. A schedule of of major inspections, noted on page 1667 (part 15)  does not include the "Prune Barge" A statement on page 5351 (part !!) ends: "... The logs of California, Maryland, Nevada and Tennessee have been examined for any record of inspections and for any reference concerning watertight inegrity precedent to or in preparation for any inspections on 5, 6, and 7 December 1941 with negative results."

I would also add from a memorandum  to William D. Mitchell dated 11 Dec.1945 on page 5348 (part 11): An examination of logs and records of major vessels at Pearl Harbor indicates that only one vessel did not have an equivalent of the condition 'all watertight openinings below the third deck closed" at the time of the attack. That vessel, the California, had ten inner and outboard voids open for maintenance work. Its remaining watertight openings below the third deck were closed.
It goes on to state that Navy Regulations(while in port) is that all watertight openings below the third deck be closed from 1600 to 0800.

I think I read that in Walter Lord's Book "Day of Infamy."  I'll see if it's in there.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 01 2008,12:51 Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I believe the California's log recorded that she was due to have her voids inspected for possible leakage from the adjacent fuel tanks. Both the voids and the tanks were part of her torpedo defense system, which worked as designed that morning. The torpedo damage in and of itself was not particularly severe. It was indeed the lack of covers over the voids, either loosened or removed completely, which was partly to blame for her sinking. In addition, there was the order to abandon ship, and the lack of adequate pumping capacity available over the next several days which eventually doomed the ship.

There was some degree of uncertainty about exactly how many manhole covers were off/loosened at the time of the attack. Nevertheless, the torpedo and near miss damage was without serious effect, and in fact she was drydocked without any repair to her underwater damage at all and with only two pumps operating.


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