USS DYSON DD-572 Member of the "Little Beaver Squadron" Destroyer Squadron 23

   
Service in WW II 1943-1945
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Captain A. Burke
(31 Knot Burke)
"Little Beaver Squadron"
Fleet Captain
 

Captain R.A. Gano
USS Dyson

Dec. 1942 - Mar. 1944

 

Captain L. E. Ruff
USS Dyson

Mar. 1944 - Aug. 1945

 

Captain V. P. Healey

USS Dyson

Aug. 1945 - Jun. 1946


 

LT. W. J. Murray

USS Dyson

Dec. 1942 - Dec. 1945

 

Donald Verduin GM3C

USS Dyson

Sept. 1944 - Apr. 1946

 

December 18, 1944 the USS Dyson and the 3rd Fleet were caught in Typhoon Cobra
 

From the Ship's Book:

"...Task Group 38.2 and other Third Fleet units had an awesome experience. A typhoon of terrifying intensity enveloped the Fleet. Three destroyers—the HULL, MONAGHAN, and SPENCE—overturned and capsized. Though a tedious search of the area was made by ships and aircraft, only a few survivors were found. During the raging storm the DYSON had a close call when the ship rolled heavily to port taking a huge swell over the main deck. Water entered a ventilation intake and was sluiced into the forward engine roam, causing the No. I switchboard to short out. To save the ship, emergency repairs were effected immediately. It was BOONE KEMP who saved the ship on this day. He had to enter the engine room and throw switches and told me that it was "extremely hot" in the engine room with temperatures of 125 to 150 degrees. He went in not expecting to come out.  Three days later the DYSON entered Ulithi Atoll to repair storm damage."

 

On December 17, the typhoon was first observed, surprising a fleet of ships in the open western Pacific Ocean. Barometric pressures as low as 26.8 and wind speeds up to 120 knots (140 mph) in gusts were reported by some ships

 

A huge swell hits The USS Dyson December 18, 1944 during Typhoon Cobra

Typhoon Cobra, also known as the Typhoon of 1944 or Halsey's Typhoon (named after Admiral William 'Bull' Halsey), was the United States Navy designation for a tropical cyclone which struck the United States Pacific Fleet in December 1944 during World War II.

        

Two Destroyers during the Storm (Unknown Ship Names)

Despite some warning signs, on December 17, Admiral Halsey had unwittingly sailed Task Force 38 (TF 38), which was operating about 300 miles (480 km) east of Luzon in the Philippine Sea into the heart of the typhoon. The carriers had been conducting raids against Japanese airfields in the Philippines and ships were being refueled, especially many destroyers running low on fuel. However, due to worsening weather, attempts to refuel generally failed.

Because of 100-mile-an-hour winds, very high seas and torrential rain, three destroyers which had modifications making them more top-heavy than originally designed capsized and sank, and a total of 790 lives were lost. Nine other warships were damaged, and over one hundred aircraft were wrecked or washed overboard; the aircraft carrier Monterey was forced to battle a serious fire that was caused by a plane hitting a bulkhead.

The USS Tabberer (DE-418) (At Left), a small John C. Butler-class destroyer escort lost her mast and radio antennas. Though damaged and unable to radio for help, she took the initiative to remain on the scene to recover 55 of the 93 total that were rescued. Captain Henry Lee Plage earned the Legion of Merit, while the entire crew earned the Navy's Unit Commendation Ribbon, presented by Halsey.

In the words of Admiral Chester Nimitz, the typhoon's impact "represented a more crippling blow to the 3rd Fleet than it might be expected to suffer in anything less than a major action". A Navy inquiry found Halsey responsible for the losses. It cited "errors of judgment committed under stress of war operations." Just six months later, he still failed to steer his fleet clear of another typhoon on June 5. After the second incident, an official court of inquiry recommended that he be relieved of his duties, but no action was taken. His December 1945 promotion was controversial because between his decisions leading to the Battle off Samar action in Leyte Gulf and the typhoons, Halsey was effectively responsible for the loss of seven warships and 1,450 men, more than the combined losses of the Battle of Midway and Battle of Coral Sea.

Task Force 38

TF 38 consisted of seven fleet carriers, six light carriers, eight battleships, 15 cruisers, and about 50 destroyers. The carriers had been conducting raids against Japanese airfields in the Philippines and ships were being refueled, especially many destroyers running low on fuel. When the storm hit, the procedure had to be aborted.

Some ships experienced rolls of over 70 degrees and damage suffered by the fleet was severe. Three destroyers, Spence, Hickox and Maddox had nearly empty fuel stores (10-15% of capacity) and therefore lacked the stabilizing effect of the extra weight and thus were relatively unstable. Additionally, several other destroyers, including Hull and Monaghan, were of the older Farragut-class and had been refitted with over 500 tons of extra equipment and armament which made them top-heavy. The Spence, Hull and Monaghan were sunk either by capsizing or as a result of water downflooded through their smokestacks and disabling their engines, leaving them at the mercy of the wind and seas. The Hickox and Maddox, due to ballasting of their empty fuel tanks (pumping them full of seawater) had greater stability and were able to ride out the storm with relatively minor damage.

Many other ships of Task Force 38 suffered various degrees of damage, especially to radar and radio equipment which severely compromised communications within the fleet. Several carriers suffered fires on their hangars and 146 aircraft were wrecked or blown overboard. Nine ships — including one light cruiser, three light carriers, and two escort carriers — suffered severe damage and had to be sent for repairs.

The carrier Monterey was nearly taken down in flames by its own airplanes as they crashed into bulkheads and exploded during violent rolls. One of those fighting the fires aboard the Monterey was then-Lt. Gerald Ford, later President of the United States. Ford later recalled nearly going overboard; when 20+ degree rolls caused aircraft below decks to careen into each other, igniting a fire, he volunteered to take a fire team below decks and fought fires all night, saving his ship from sure destruction at sea.

3rd Fleet damages

bullet USS Hull (DD-350) - with 70 percent fuel aboard, capsized and sunk with 202 men drowned (62 survivors)
bullet USS Monaghan (DD-354) - capsized and sunk with 256 men drowned (6 survivors)
bullet USS Spence (DD-512) - rudder jammed hard to starboard, capsized and sunk with 317 men drowned (23 survivors) after hoses parted attempting to refuel from New Jersey
bullet USS Cowpens (CVL-25) - hangar door torn open and RADAR, 20mm gun sponson, whaleboat, jeeps, tractors, Kerry crane, and 8 aircraft lost overboard
bullet USS Monterey (CVL-26) - hangar deck fire killed 3 men and caused evacuation of boiler rooms requiring repairs at Bremerton Navy yard
bullet USS Langley (CVL-27) - damaged
bullet USS Cabot (CVL-28) - damaged
bullet USS San Jacinto (CVL-30) - hangar deck planes broke loose and destroyed air intakes, vent ducts and sprinkling system causing widespread flooding.[3] Damage repaired by USS Hector (AR-7)
bullet USS Altamaha (CVE-18) - hangar deck crane and aircraft broke loose and broke fire mains
bullet USS Anzio (CVE-57) - required major repair
bullet USS Nehenta Bay (CVE-74) - damaged
bullet USS Cape Esperance (CVE-88) - flight deck fire required major repair
bullet USS Kwajalein (CVE-98) - lost steering control
bullet USS Baltimore (CA-68) - required major repair
bullet USS Miami (CL-89) - required major repair
bullet USS Dewey (DD-349) - lost steering control, RADAR, the forward stack, and all power when salt water shorted main electrical switchboard
bullet USS Aylwin (DD-355) - required major repair
bullet USS Buchanan (DD-484) - required major repair
bullet USS Dyson (DD-572) - required major repair
bullet USS Hickox (DD-673) - required major repair
bullet USS Maddox (DD-731) - damaged
bullet USS Benham (DD-796) - required major repair
bullet USS Donaldson (DE-44) - required major repair
bullet USS Melvin R. Nawman (DE-416) - required major repair
bullet USS Tabberer (DE-418) - lost foremast
bullet USS Waterman (DE-740) - damaged
bullet USS Nantahala (AO-60) - damaged
bullet USS Jicarilla (ATF-104) - damaged

 

Lost in the Storm

Left to Right: USS Hull DD-350, USS Spence DD-512, USS Monaghan DD-354

The Survivors from the Spence and the Hull rescued by The USS Tabberer

Rescue efforts

At Left: USS Tabberer DE-418

The fleet was scattered by the storm. One ship, the destroyer escort Tabberer, ran across a survivor from the Hull while itself desperately fighting the typhoon. This was the first survivor from any of the capsized destroyers to be picked up. Shortly thereafter many more survivors were picked up, in groups or in isolation. The Tabberer's skipper, Lieutenant Commander Henry Lee Plage, directed that the ship, despite its own dire condition, begin boxed searches to look for more survivors. Eventually, the Tabberer rescued 55 survivors in a 51-hour search, despite repeated orders from Admiral Halsey to return all ships to port in Ulithi. She picked up 41 men from the Hull and 14 from the Spence before finally returning to Ulithi after being directly relieved from the search by two destroyer escorts.

After the fleet had regrouped (without the Tabberer), ships and aircraft conducted search and rescue missions. The destroyer Brown rescued the only survivors from the Monaghan, seven in total. She additionally rescued 13 sailors from the Hull. Eighteen other survivors from the Hull and the Spence were rescued over the three days following Typhoon Cobra by other ships of the Third Fleet. In all, 93 men were rescued of the over 800 men presumed missing in the three ships, and one other who had been swept overboard from the escort carrier Anzio and had by good fortune floated upon another group of survivors.

Despite disobeying fleet orders, Plage was awarded the Legion of Merit by Admiral Halsey, and the Tabberer's crew each were awarded Navy Unit Commendation ribbons (the first ever awarded).

Investigation

While conducting operations off the Philippines, the force remained on station rather than avoiding a major storm, leading to a losses of men, ships and aircraft. A Navy court of inquiry found that while Halsey had committed an error of judgement in sailing into the typhoon, it stopped short of unambiguously recommending sanction.

In January 1945, Halsey passed command of his fleet to Admiral Spruance (whereupon its designation changed to 'Fifth Fleet'). Halsey resumed command of Third Fleet in late-May 1945 and retained it until the end of the war. In early June 1945 Halsey again sailed the fleet into the path of a typhoon, and while ships sustained crippling damage, none were lost. Six lives were lost and 75 planes were lost or destroyed, with almost 70 badly damaged. Again a Navy court of inquiry was convened, and it suggested that Halsey be reassigned, but Admiral Nimitz recommended otherwise due to Halsey's prior service.

 

The USS Spence Member of the "Little Beaver Squadron"

Sister ship to the USS Dyson

 

Spence's electrical equipment got wet from great quantities of sea water taken on board. After a 72 degree roll to port, all of the lights went out and the pumps stopped. The rudder jammed; and, after a deep roll to port about 1100, Spence capsized and sank. Only 24 of her complement survived. One of the 24 survivors was David Moore, an African American who floated at sea for two days and also was responsible for saving the lives of two other men. Hull (DD-350) and Monaghan (DD-354) were also sunk in the typhoon. Spence was struck from the Navy list on 19 January 1945.
 

From the Jerseymen 2003:

 

USS SPENCE (DD-512)
“after a deep roll to port about 1100, Spence capsized and sank. Only 24 of her complement survived. Hull (DD-350) and Monaghan DD-354) were also sunk in the typhoon. Spence was struck from the Navy list on 19 January 1945.”
(Source: Dictionary of American Fighting Ships)


Lt. (jg) A.S. Krauchunas, SC, USNR, was the supply officer aboard USS SPENCE, and the only officer of the crew to survive. Following is an excerpt from a letter dated 28 February 1945, that Lt. Krauchunas sent as “Senior Survivor” to all families of USS SPENCE crewmen that were lost on December 18, 1944.

 

 

 

 


The 14 Survivors (23 total) from the USS Spence rescued by the USS Tabberer

 

“The SPENCE was carrying out a mission of war with other vessels which included the ill- fated HULL and MONAGHAN. There was little warning of the vicious typhoon which struck us with great violence. The seas were mountainous and the wind was estimated to be about 110 knots. There was no indication of the ship capsizing until it was caught in the trough of the huge swells. The tremendous waves were beating us unmercifully with water washing over the entire main deck. The men had been advised to seek shelter several hours before the disaster to prevent their being washed overboard. The ship, unable to combat the sea any longer, rolled over on her side and continued until she was turned completely over, thereby trapping all the men below the main deck, and those who were in enclosures such as the engine room, fire room, radio room, etc. Only those who were topside at the time of capsizing were able to jump into the water. The violent seas pounded us terrifically. We were at the mercy of the seas for two to three days before being picked up.
At the time of capsizing, Robert was not able to get off the ship into the water. He was not seen by any of the survivors at any time after the ship rolled over. Extensive and careful searches were made the following days by surface vessels and aircraft for the survivors. Since there was no land within several hundred miles, it was quite impossible that anyone could have survived if he were not picked up.
The U.S.S. SPENCE had been a member of the “Little Beaver Squadron” which, after many hectic encounters with the enemy during the early stages of the South Pacific Operations, molded strong ties of friendship and understanding. During the past few months, the kinship of the men and officers of the U.S. S. SPENCE and its sister ship, the U.S.S. DYSON, became more binding during an operation that separated us from the rest of the “Little Beavers”. At 9:30 a.m., 22 December 1944, services were held aboard the U.S.S. DYSON in honor of the men and officers of the SPENCE who lost their lives in honor of their country. All men and officers of the DYSON attended these services and wish to extend they sympathies and share your great sorrow.”

 
We sincerely thank Mr. Richard Strand for permitting The Jerseyman to quote from this letter sent to his parents. At the end of the letter, Lt. AS. Krauchunas listed his home as Kalamazoo, Michigan. According to Mr. Strand, Lt. Krauchunas passed away in 1994.

 

Memorial Services were held for the USS Spence aboard her sister ship the USS Dyson at 9:30am December 22, 1944

 

                       

 

    

 

 

 

A Letter from the senior surviving officer, Lt. A.S. Krauchunas, to the officers and crew of the USS Dyson:

(from the Ship's Book)

 

 

The "Jerseyman" from December 2003 contains eyewitness reports from various ships in the typhoon. Click on the link below

 

Click Here

 

 

 

 

 
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