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Sun Nov 10, 2019, 08:39 AM

75 Years Ago Today; USS Mount Hood disintegrates in massive explosion - 432 dead

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Mount_Hood_(AE-11)



USS Mount Hood (AE-11) was the lead ship of her class of ammunition ships for the United States Navy in World War II. She was the first ship named after Mount Hood, a volcano in the Cascade Range in Oregon. On 10 November 1944, shortly after 18 men had departed for shore leave, the rest of the crew were killed when the ship exploded in Seeadler Harbor at Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. The ship was obliterated while also sinking or severely damaging 22 smaller craft nearby.

<snip>

Disaster
At 08:30 on 10 November 1944, a party consisting of communications officer, Lt. Lester H. Wallace, and 17 men left the ship and headed for shore. At 08:55, while walking on the beach, they saw a flash from the harbor, followed by two quick explosions. Scrambling into their boat, they headed back to the ship, only to turn around again shortly thereafter as "There was nothing but debris all around..."


Mount Hood explodes: the smoke trails are left by fragments ejected by the explosion.

Mount Hood, anchored in about 35 ft (11 m) of water, had exploded with an estimated 3,800 long tons (3,900 t) of ordnance material on board. The initial explosion caused flame and smoke to shoot up from amidships to more than masthead height. Within seconds, the bulk of her cargo detonated with a more intense explosion. Mushrooming smoke rose to 7,000 ft (2,100 m), obscuring the ship and the surrounding area for a radius of approximately 500 yd (460 m). Mount Hood's former position was revealed by a trench in the ocean floor 1,000 ft (300 m) long, 200 ft (61 m) wide, and 30–40 ft (9–12 m) deep. The largest remaining piece of the hull was found in the trench and measured no bigger than 16 by 10 ft (5 by 3 m). No other remains of Mount Hood were found except fragments of metal which had struck other ships in the harbor and a few tattered pages of a signal notebook found floating in the water several hundred yards away. No human remains were recovered of the 350 men aboard Mount Hood or small boats loading alongside at the time of the explosion. The only other survivors from the Mount Hood crew were a junior officer and 17 enlisted men who had left the ship a short time before the explosion. Two of the crew were being transferred to the base brig for trial by court martial; and the remainder of the party were visiting the base chaplain or picking up mail at the base post office. Charges against the prisoners were dropped following the explosion.

The concussion and metal fragments hurled from the ship also caused casualties and damage to ships and small craft within 2,000 yd (1,800 m). The repair ship Mindanao, which was broadside-on to the blast, was the most seriously damaged. All personnel topside on Mindanao were killed outright, and dozens of men were killed or wounded below decks as numerous heavy fragments from Mount Hood penetrated the side plating. Eighty-two of Mindanao's crew died. The damage to other vessels required more than 100,000 man-hours to repair, while 22 small boats and landing craft were sunk, destroyed, or damaged beyond repair; 371 sailors were injured from all ships in the harbor.

A board convened to examine evidence relating to the disaster was unable to ascertain the exact cause. After only a little over four months' service, Mount Hood was struck from the Naval Register on 11 December 1944.

</snip>


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Reply 75 Years Ago Today; USS Mount Hood disintegrates in massive explosion - 432 dead (Original post)
Dennis Donovan Nov 10 OP
eppur_se_muova Nov 10 #1
Beausoleil Nov 10 #3
eppur_se_muova Nov 10 #4
Beausoleil Nov 10 #6
panader0 Nov 10 #2
pecosbob Nov 10 #5
Beausoleil Nov 10 #7
NutmegYankee Nov 10 #8
pecosbob Nov 10 #9
rusty fender Nov 10 #10
Backseat Driver Nov 10 #11

Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 09:10 AM

1. Wow, never heard of this.

It didn't happen stateside, so I guess it was muffled by wartime censorship.

I guess that was the last time anyone named a ship--particularly an ammo carrier--after a volcano.

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Reply #1)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 09:43 AM

3. Actually Navy ammunition ships were typically named after volcanoes

Like the Kilauea, Kiska, Lassen and Shasta to name a few.

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Response to Beausoleil (Reply #3)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 10:02 AM

4. Is "were" significant ? nt

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Reply #4)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 10:48 AM

6. Yes, the Navy doesn't really operate ammo ships like the Kilauea-class any more

The function has been taken over by dry cargo ships operated by the Military Sealift Command like the Lewis and Clark-class.

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 09:15 AM

2. I spent a lot of time on Mt. Hood.

I got my mail there, general delivery, when I worked in the forest.
I had never heard about this.

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 10:06 AM

5. I used to handle lines during underway replenishment from ships such as this

and then got to form a line to pass ammo once it was on deck. Forty pound projectiles and somewhat lighter powder cases. You don't want to be around large amounts of that sort of stuff and pray that is not handled anywhere near your town.

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Response to pecosbob (Reply #5)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 10:53 AM

7. I was on a replenishment oiler back in the 70s

We carried ammo, ship's stores, and combustible liquids like diesel, jet fuel, etc. If we ever had a fire while underway, we radioed all other ships in the area, not for assistance but to vacate the area.

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Response to pecosbob (Reply #5)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 10:55 AM

8. Yeah, nobody wants to be Halifax.

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Response to NutmegYankee (Reply #8)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 12:18 PM

9. I grew up just down the road from the Texas City disaster

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_City_disaster


This 2-ton anchor was thrown more than 2.6 miles when the Grandcamp exploded

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 01:04 PM

10. Never heard of this

Thanks for highlighting this story on Veteran’s Day eve.

So many died; was this the highest non-combat death toll in US military history?

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Sun Nov 10, 2019, 01:27 PM

11. Thanks for posting this - It led DH and me on

a long discussion today, the day before Veterans Day holiday, to consider our families' war remembrances - My dad, already a Bell employee, served in the war in the Army Signal Corp taking training @ Army Signal school @ Yale University and was shipped out to the Philippines/Papua New Guinea, but he never talked much about the details of his service there. He returned from the war and returned to Bell where he remained until his retirement from a slot as a Central Office long-distance analyst. I think, in retrospect, he knew things the rest of us did not and developed in his older years a strong feeling of dread using the home phone - go figure, huh? Explained it away by declaring he would lose his perk, free lifetime LD, by abusing the privilege.

DH's dad served in the Navy and served @ Pearl Harbor, post-attack, after Electrician training in San Diego and assignment duty in Pearl Harbor, where he checked on harbor buoys and often worked in the Officer's mess. Oh, and did a lot of swimming, hahaha, in the post pool. He related he was once assigned duty to clean up after a munitions incident in which he told of pulling body parts and debris from the harbor waters. After you posted this, we surfed around and perhaps his duty may have been due to the West Loch incident, another munitions explosion, at Pearl Harbor. Dad was one of several brothers serving in the Navy during WWII. One uncle survived the USS Lexington, then was assigned duty on the brand new USS Midway as a "plankholder." New word for me!

My grandfather died in Europe, receiving a Purple Heart, and left behind his wife and daughter. He was interred in Lorraine, France.

Interestingly, neither took full advantage of GI bill educational benefits on their return home to their employers from which they both retired, one in an office; the other rising to Lead Shop Foreman.

DH was drafted into the Army during the Viet Nam conflict but saw no combat and was assigned computer stuff at the Pentagon and stationed at the renamed Ft. Myer, now Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall as of 2005, next to Arlington National Cemetery, by virtue of previous civilian training and OJT as a civil servant; also some time at Fort Knox, by chance, so a lot of strange tales about those duty stations in proximity to literally, the TPTB.

One Veterans Day, many years later, DH and I headed out to do some pre-holiday window shopping and were involved in a head-on accident that changed the course of our lives, so this day holds many memories tucked away in our family remembrance of Veterans Day remembrance.

THANKING ALL VETERANS FOR THEIR SERVICE TO OUR COUNTRY, MANY OF WHOM, FAMILY AND BROTHERS/SISTERS IN ARMS, MADE THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE or have gone before with untold memories of their own.



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