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C O N F I D E N T I A L
1. On 21 January 1945 the U.S.S. TICONDEROGA, while operating in waters east of Formosa with Task Force 38 conducting aerial strikes against Formosa in support of amphibious operations on Luzon, was hit by two suicide bombers causing extensive fires and resulting in considerable damage to the ship. The following report is submitted in accordance with reference (a).
At 1210 the ship went to general quarters. Batteries which were already manned opened fire on a plane on the starboard bow, and almost immediately the ship was struck by an enemy plane which came in from astern and dived through the flight deck. At this time the ship was in material contition Baker,
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and was on an even keel. The ship was maneuvering to attain position in formation, which was on base course 330ºT., speed 16 knots. All planes, with exception of 29 fighters which were on CAP, were on deck having returned from the morning strike and had been rearmed and refueled for the next strike. The gasoline system had been secured at 1200. The hangar deck was full of planes, and all planes on teh flight deck had been spotted aft.
HIT NO. 1.
At approximately 1210 an enemy plane came in from the port quarter and crashed through the flight deck at an angle of about 30º between frames 67 and 73, on the centerline, carrying with it what is believed to be a 250 kg. (550 lb.) SAP bomb which exploded between the hangar deck and the gallery deck. An intense fire was started among the thickly parked planes on the hangar deck spreading immediately via hatch 1-42 to the wardroom passage and staterooms, A-210L. Hangar deck sprinklers and water curtains functioned excellently thereby assisting in controlling the fire, but the fire spread due to exploding of belly tanks which did not receive the full effeect of the sprinklers because of their position beneath the planes. The effect of the fire among the plans on the hangar deck was diminished as it spread aft and was completely stopped by the water curtain at frame 125 and by the heroic efforts of the fire fighters as well as by plane handlers who removed smouldering and burning planes and shoved them over the side.
The plane and bomb passed through bulkheads 67 and 70 gallery deck, coompletely demolishing galley, captain's and admiral's stores A-0224L and admiral's pantry A-0213L. Heat from the hangar fire damaged all overhead beams between frames 39 and 82. Main girders at frame 58 and 63, the bay here the bomb exploded, are seriously distorted by blast fragments and heat.
At 1220 course was changed to 290º T. in order to place the wind on the starboard beam to aid in fighting the fire and to keep the smoke from entering the fireroom and engine room supply ventilation intakes. Voids were ordered flooded in order to give the ship a port list, and water, which had poured down the open hangar deck hatches to the second and third decks, moved to port causing the list to increase to 9º. A threat of fire spreading to the magazines was met by flooding group one.
HIT NO. 2.
At 1258 all starboard batteries took an anemy plane under fire, diving in at 5000 yards at about 2000 feet altitude. The guns were firing with excellent pattern but the plane got through to crash into the ship at the 08 deck level, passing completely through sky forward and the sky lookout platform. (See plate XVIII Link me) The plane is believed to have carried one or two 250kg. SAP bombs which exploded just after passing through the lookout platform spraying fragments which made a sieve of the forward side of the stack and surounding
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superstructure and spread fragments all across the flight deck, many of which penetrated the compartments of the gallery deck and even through the gallery deck itself. No. 1 5" AA director was nearly severed from its base, and barely hanging by a few plates became a hazard as there was a possibilit of its toppling to port onto and through the flight deck. (See plate XVI Link Me). This structure was secured to the mast structure by springlay wire cable immediately, and upon anchoring was shored up by welding steel beams to the director and to the deck underneath. (See plates XVIII and XIX LINK ME).
Fires broke out throughout the forward part of the island structure due to falling pieces of burning debris. Signal halyards burned in two and dropped into the flag bags starting fires on both wings of the signal bridge. Falling debris set fire to the canvas ammunition cover and other inflammable material in the #5 40mm mount. Life Jackets on men killed and injured by the explosion were set afire and smouldered long after all other fired were extinguished. Most of the fire in the islands tructure was limited to sky forward and #1 5" AA director, the flames from this fire seared and destroyed or badly damaged all equipment on the mast and yardarm. Another fire was started among planes on the port side of the flight deck, but prompt action by fire fighting parties confined this fire to two planes with only slight damage to a few others nearby.
At 1415 it was reported that all fires were under control, and steps were initiated to remove the list. At 1437 it was reported that the fire on the second deck was out. Voids were ordered pumped and educators and portable submersible pumps were put to use pumping out flooded spaces below decks. By 1800 there was less than 3º list, compartments had been ventilated and freed of smoke, and all-out efforts were underway to restore the ship to condition to fight.
4. DESCRIPTION OF PROJECTILES AND THEIR EFFECT ON THE SHIP.
Of the two planes which struck the ship, one has been identified as a Zeke 52. The other has not been identified. From the evidence at hand it appears that each plane carried at least one bomb which probably was a 250 kg. (550 lbs.) SAP Navy bomb. The noze and tail fuze of the bomb which it is believed exploded between the gallery deck level and the hangar deck were recovered. The nose fuze is a Japanse Navy mechanical impact type B-2(a) (U.S. NAVY bomb disposal designation). Fragments from a bomb carried by the second plane which hit #1 5" AA director are 3/4" wrought steel, machined on inside and outside.
The first bomb exploded between the gallery deck and the hangar deck, on the centerline. The nose fuze of this bomb was found lodged in No. 1 crane on the starboard side, and the tail fuze was blown through the bulkhead of 40mm ready service ammunition room A-112M, and lodged in an ammunition can without exploding the shells therein See photo XXXX. (See Plates VIII, IX, and X). The explosion
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of this bomb caused slight deflection downward of the armored hangar deck (2 courses of 50# STS plating), and fragments pitted this deck to a maximum depth of about 2 inches, the largest pits being about 6 inches long by 2 inches wide of very irregular description. One rivet was knocked out, and the two courses of plating separated somwhat and water settled between them. Fragments also flew upwards thoroughly perforating the flight deck over a space approximately four feet wide by fifteen feet long, (See plate III), and forward, scattering fragments which penetrated the forward bulkhead of No. 1 elevator pit causing a certain amount of minor damage to wash rooms and water closets, passages, staterooms, and bunkrooms, on the forecastle deck, main deck, and second deck, and to the crew's washroom and water closet on the gallery deck in A-0201L. (See Plate XV) Fragments were also thrown to port and starboard adding to the damage done by blast and fire.
At the time of the first hit the ship was at an even keel, slightly down by the stern. The Captain ordered a 5º-10º port list in order that gasoline on the hangar deck would drain to port and not endanger the island structure. Approximately three minutes after the hit three voids, B-28V, B-44V, and B-74V were ordered flooded. Shortly thereafter the ship took a 2º port list, and three more voids were ordered flooded. In the meantime so much water was flooding the second and third decks that the list increased to 9º port and the order to flood additional voids was countermanded. Void B-34V also filled slowly, apparently through the sounding tube. Goup one magazines, spaces A-512M, A-517M, A-518M, A-521M, A-521M, A-523M, and A-526M, were ordered sprinkled, and compartments A-405AE and B-420A were completely flooded.
Water from the fire fighting on the hangar deck, flowing through open hatch 2-32-2 in No. 1 elevator well, flooded A-405AE. Foxed fog was used in A-206-2A and A-206-4A, on the port side of No. 1 elevaor well, and partially flooded those compartments. Water flowing from the hangar deck through hatch 1-42, as well as water used in fighting fires on the second deck, partially flooded A-210L, A212L, A-214L, A-216-2L Hatch 1-75 was open, permitting large quantities of water to flow into the passageways on the starboard side of the second and third decks. Condition ABLE not being set, water flowed from compartment to compartment keeping flooding in general to the depth of the coamings at doorways, but at trunks A-323T, A422T, and A-540T the water found an artificial sump; the hatch on the 5th deck being closed, A-540T filled, overflowed into A-422T, and this trunk A-422T filed to a depth of about three (3) feet. With the port list, and with compartments open, the water on the third deck between frames 39 and 121 flowed into the port-side compartments flooding them to a depth of between one and two feet. B-310-2EL received large quantities of water through the open hatches on the starboard side at frame 109. This compartment being the location of midship repair, B-420A was used as a sump to draw off most of this water in order to make it easier for the repair party to perform its duties. This water was later pumped out with portable educator pumps after it was found that the strainers of the portable submersible
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pumps became clogged too fast with paper and refuse for them to make much headway. B-201-4EL flooded to a depth of over a foot through the open hatch at frame 104 on the port side. After some progress had been made in pumping out B-420A, the water from B-201-4EL was also drained into this compartment through hatch 2-104.
As soon as most of the fires were out it was started taking water off the decks with portable submersible pumps, and one eduacator was put to pumping out the voids. By 2000 the list had been reduced to 2-3º port, and a second educator was started to pump out the magazines. The following morning it was discovered that B-34V had flooded, apparently through the sounding tube, and this void was then pumped.
The GM at the time of hit was approximately 7.4 and the displacement 36,000 tons (estimated, as draft indicator was not functioning). It is estimated that three-fourths of the water on the second and third deck was on the port side with its moment arm 40 feet. Under these conditions the heeling moment for 1º is 4650 foot tons. The ship took 1044 tons on the port side causing 9º port list. This includes the flooded voids. Water taken aboard fighting fires was approximately 1000 tons. Total water, including flooded magazines, was 1609 tons. During the entire time, the stability of the ship was good and no concern was expressed over it. With the forward magazine flooded and most of the water in the forward part of the ship there was some change in trim, but as the ship was down by the stern when hit the trim was not seriously affected.
Smoke proved to be a major problem in fighting the fire and otherwise controlling the damage. Smoke billowed out the openings along the hangar deck and up through the #1 elevator opening in such densities as to hamper personnel fighting fire and treating wounded on the flight deck. The density was great enough at the bridge level to greatly reduce visibility and make maneuvering the ship dangerous. This danger was eliminated by changing course, placing the wind on the starboard bow. On the hangar deck the smoke was so heavy that rescue breathers were a necessity. Smoke also quickly filled the Island Structure and Gallery Deck (fr.31-150) so that most of the stations had to be abandoned. Many of these stations were evacuated through ports by means of lines lowered from flight deck catwalks. Smoke also quickly spread to the second and third decks (fr.31-150) through the open hatches (Cond. BAKER) and the ventilation systems.
The use of gas masks was ineffective and all men without rescue breathing apparatus were ordered to evacuate the smoke filled areas. Many people were overcome before they could escape, however, most of these men were rescued; a few suffocated.
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Prior to changing course so that the wind was placed on the starboard bow, some smoke was entering the engine rooms and firerooms through the ventilation tunnel (intake on the Starboard Quarter).
7. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DAMAGE.
Sky forward and #1 5" AA director were completely knocked out. The signal bridge platform and the platforms on the naviation bridge level were badly damaged by shrapnel and fire. The stack, mast, and the upper part of the island structure were badly riddled with shrapnel and damaged by fire. (Plate XVII)
The flight deck had a large hole between frames 67 and 73 where the Japanese plane and bomb crashed through, (Plate II) and was badly splintered and punctured between frames 55 and 65 from the effects of teh bomb explosion. (Plate III) In addition there were many holes throughout the flight deck from the effects ot the second bomb explosion. The deck was distorted between frames 40 and 81 due to damage to main athwartships support girders and stanchions at frames 58, 63, and 67. (Plate IV) Expansion joints at frames 40 and 77 were warped.
On the gallery deck, many of the decks and bulkheads between frames 34 and 115 were buckled due to heat and pierced by splinters. The Captain's and Admiral's galley and pantries and stores lockers, the fire control workshop, and all surrounding areas were burned out or badly damaged by fire. (Plates XI and XII)
The hangar deck between frames 39 and 100 was gutted by fire. (Plate VII) All hangar deck roller curtains between frames 39 and 116 were damaged or blown out. Bulkheads in the forward portion of the hangar deck area were badly damaged by bomb fragments. The armored hangar deck was dented and pitted by the bomb explosion.
The stanchion at frame 61 on the second deck was buckled, and the one on the third deck at frame 58 was bent. (Plates XIII and XIV). The staterooms in A-210L were gutted by fire.
All radar, IFF and VHF antennae and associated coaxial lines, cables, and wave guides were damaged beyond repair with the exception of after Mk. 12 - Mk. 22. All wiring of radio operating and control circuits between Radio I, Radio II, Radio III, Bridge, and Sky I, was damaged and require replacement. Four 40mm quads were damaged by bomb blast, shrapnel and fire and require overhaul; and three 40mm directors, five 20mm mounts, twenty Mk. 14 20mm gunsights, one 5" AA director, and the rangefinder in the after 5" AA Director were damaged to such extent as to require replacement.
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One propeller was damaged, apparently having struck the airplanes which were jettisoned. Most of the wiring in the forward half of the hangar deck and above and in A-210Lwas damaged and all the wiring in the flooded compartments recommended to be replaced. Two 36", two 24", and three 12" searchlights were knocked out. Many blowers and other motors were damaged by fire and water and require overhaul.
8. SUMMARY OF EFFECT OF THE DAMAGE ON THE FIGHTING EFFICIENCY OF THE SHIP.
Defensively, the ship is considered to have lost approximately half its effectiveness due to the loss of one 5" AA director, slight damage to the other, damage to four 40mm quads, five 20mm mounts, and all radar equipment.
Offensively, the ship is considered to be less than 10% effective due to damage to the hangar deck and flight deck. Although it was still possible to use one catapult, and to land aircraft, damage to the flight deck impaired launchings and deck capacity, and the loss of hangar deck curtains and light locks made it impractical to perform necessary night check on aircraft.
Otherwise this ship was able to operate at nearly 100% efficiency for the time being, but damage and deterioration of electrical wiring and equipment would soon bring this efficiency to a very low percentage.
9. COMMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS.
(a) The damage control organization functioned smoothly throughout the attack. Approximately 65% of the ship's officers and men had received training at fire fighters' school and this training was reflected in their use of fire fighting equipment as well as in the discipline displayed by the entire crew when confronted with so much smoke and fire. Communications were very good, all necessary orders and information getting through. Repair parties were well aquainted with their stations and equipment, and they carried out their duties with little confusion. Plates I, V, and VI show conditions on the flight deck during fire.
(b) It is recommended that coamings, approximately 12" high, be placed around all hatches on the hangar deck. It is believed that had these coamings been installed there would have been no fire and only a negligible amount of water below tha hangar deck. It has been learned that other carriers have installed these coamings without impairing the handling of planes.
(b) When the fire was out and the hangar deck sprinklers were turned off, they could not be secured because they turned themselves back on again each time. The valve motor continued running preventing the securing of the valves by hand, and it was necessary to pull the fuzes of the system in order to permit the hangar deck sprinklers to be secured manually. It is recommended that a cut out switch under a "break glass" protection be installed at each valve in order that electrical
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operation may be stopped to permit normal operation.
(d) All available rescue breathers were used and many more were needed. It is recommended that the allowance be raised to 500 and that the allowance be filled. It was learned that ordinary gas masks were unsatisfatory for working in spaces containing a heavy concentration of smoke although they can be used to advantage for a short period of time to escape through smoke filled compartments.
(e) Stowage for droppable gasoline tanks in the overhead of the hangar deck were provided by building yard and more added later. The hangar deck sprinklers were not installed below this stowage although the work was requested of the acceptance board and navy yards. During the fire they did not function to full advantage, as the water filtered through the stowages and tanks in streams instead of a spray, greatly reducing the cooling effect. It is therefore recommended that the sprinklers be installed below the stowages.
(f) Portable educators were found to be superior to portable submersible pumps due to their greater force and the fact that the strainers did not become so quickly clogged up. They are particularly useful whenever for any reason power is not readily available for the electric pumps. It is recommended that the allowance of portable educators be increased.
(g) It is recommended that additional bomb disposal ramps be installed in dispersed positions about the hangar deck and the flight deck. When this ship was attacked the planes were in the process of being rearmed for the next strike and it was necessary to jettison the following:
12 - 1000 lb. bombs
It would have greatly facilitated the jettisonning of these bombs had there been bomb disposal ramps located in accesible places on the flight deck and the hangar deck.
(h) An effective waterproof flashlight is required for issue to all men in repair parties. Non-waterproof flashlights were no good. The two-cell waterproof flashlights issued to a small percentage of the men in repair parties were useful, but were not strong enough to pierce the darkness of unlighted smoke-filled compartments. Battle lanterns were used where necessary but are too heavy and cumbersome for efficient use, and moreover it is considered to be more desireable to keep those in their brackets for general lighting of compartments.
(i) Personnel trapped in the island structure between the hangar deck and the navigation bridge level had no means of escape except through the ports. Knotted ropes had been provided and proved valuable, but had these been burned would have left the men trapped. It is recommended that ladders be installed near the air ports on the starboard side of the island structure.
Transcribed by RESEARCHER @ LARGE. Formatting & Comments Copyright R@L.