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Topic: Torpedo shots, Dangerous remains under the piers< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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Brian OConnor Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 29 2003,12:56  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Having read several posts about torpedo "swirls" from fish getting stuck in the mud, I'm curious about any that may have gone toward the shipyard piers and not found targets.
There was a note about a swirl near 1010 dock.
Now, the big question; could those torpedoes still be there?
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David Aiken Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 29 2003,10:10 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Aloha Brian,
Yes, John DeVirgilio -Japanese ordnance specialist and former docent at USS Arizona Memorial- and I went over the various torpedo hits to warships and the reports of misses from both sides' witnesses. Yes, there are torpedoes left in the harbor.

On May 2, 1991, one of the 'swirls' [torpedoes] was recovered the hard way...in the famous "Matsumura" photo of Battleship Row are several swirls...the one recovered was just to the port of the USS OKlahoma's bow. The Pearl Harbor Base Public Affairs Officer told me that the dredging of that area near USS Oklahoma was meant to help with the docking of USS Missouri for exhibit. The dredge operator picked up a piling and gingerly 'tapped' the piling against the water to get rid of the large amount of mud attached to one end...when the mud dropped off, he was stareing at fins ...with the warhead in the bite section of the dredging shovel. The torpedo was very ready to explode. The swirl means that the torpedo was running its motor after hitting the harbor bottom.

The torpedo motor must run a select amount of time equal to 600 meters in test to arm the warhead. That means that the torpedo must travel that amount under water to arm the warhead before hitting its target or the warhead will not explode. If the torpedo hits its target before running that 600 meters, the motor will continue to run until it is armed and the slightest hit to the warhead exploder will set it off. The above mentioned drege operator was extremely lucky.

Torpedoes were targeted toward USS Helena and USS Oglala, moored next to 1010 dock:
[1] One went under the USS Oglala to hit USS Helena.
[2] There is a 'swirl' in the water forward of USS Helena, coming from under 1010 dock, showing in the above cited photo, which indicate a torpedo which did not run the required 600 meters and hit in the mud under the dock.
[3] a torpedo hit the side of 1010 dock, exploded and 'sank' a huge power transformer...the soil under 1010 was removed by the explosion and the transformer foundation dropped several feet.
[4] a 'swirl' is seen in photo NH50931, the Naval Historical Center copy of the "Matsumura" photo, just beyond the drege pipe...indication of a torpedo which was incorrectly launched [and was viewed by the following Japanese pilot, too].
[5] another 'swirl' is seen to the right of the fourth mentioned torpedo, but in the original photograph. The Naval Historical Center print does not show it. The NHC copy of that "Matsumura" photo is cropped of the area to the right.

All three of the above noted 'swirls' [torpedoes] are armed and dangerous. In my quest through documents, I sought information about any recovery of these armed torpedoes. I can cite a few cases, but none from the above list.

The USN EOD at Pearl Harbor Base has a manuscript copy of my article "Torpedoing Pearl Harbor", Military History mag, Dec 2001, with each of the suspected armed torpedo locations highlighted and a cover letter with a duplicate roster. Another copy is on file with the Base PAO.

The fear continues that someone may not have read the "Torpedoing Pearl Harbor" report, scooped up another torpedo ...the warhead explosion would result in more loss of life from that Day of Infamy. Further, the torpedo under 1010 dock may cook off on its own with lives lost. Forewarned is forearmed. Too many have already died at Pearl Harbor.

Hope this helps, too, in keeping an alert diving crew.

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David Aiken, a Director
Pearl Harbor History Associates, Inc.

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Brian OConnor Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 29 2003,10:54 Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thank You David.   Hopefully the word will get out to the dive crews.   In the four and a half years of working dives in Pearl, I had no clue that there could still be live ordnance "lurking" under the piers.
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