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Task Group       Operations Date
       
      1944
       
TG 22.7   Dep Norfolk, VA for Cape Verde Islands 28 Sep
    Arrv Port Royal Bay, Bermuda 30 Sep
    Dep Port Royal Bay, Bermuda (for ASW exercises) 1 Oct
    Arrv Port Royal Bay, Bermuda (for replenishment) 5 Oct
    Dep Port Royal Bay, Bermuda (for ASW operations) 5 Oct
    Arr Ponta del Gada, Azores (for replenishment) 30 Oct
    Dep Ponta del Gada (for ASW operations) 30 Oct
    Rtn Norfolk (for repairs and alterations) 06 Nov
    Dep Norfolk for Baltimore, MD 26 Nov
    Arrv Baltimore (for leave, liberty and recreation) 27 Nov
    Dep Baltimore 29 Nov
    Arrv Norfolk 30 Nov
       
Units: USS Guadalcanal, VC-69, USS Pillsbury, USS Chatelain, USS Pope, USS Flaherty, USS Neunzer, Destroyer Division 4 in USS Pillsbury
 
Results: U-170 attacked - escaped undamaged, Severe storm damage sustained by TG
 

Crash of F4F VF #2 Bu 55643, pilot LTJG R. K. Johnson, 11 October 1944


Night crash of TBM VT #21 Bu 46374, pilot LTJG W. D. Gordon, 11 October 1944
 
Gale and hurricane weather, 17 October 1944. Seas were exceedingly high in the morning and increased to mountainous in the afternoon. The winds averaged 48 knots, but as high as 70 knots were recorded. Barometer lowest reading was 28.61. The ship rolled and pitched constantly, steering was difficult, engines were used to help steer the course.
 
Gale and hurricane weather, 17 October 1944. Seas breaking over the bow.
 
Gale and hurricane weather, 17 October 1944. Looking aft.
 
The Big Storm
        Task Group 22.7 left Norfolk headed east on Sept. 28, 1944 for the open Atlantic on another sweep looking for submarines. On this cruise the DEs Pillsbury, Pope, Flaherty, Chatelain, and Neunzer accompanied us. Our usual sweep pattern took us east to Bermuda and onward bending southerly where we usually encountered warm weather and moderate seas. On this cruise we turned north out of Bermuda. We reached Bermuda on the 30th of September and left the next morning. However we were back in Bermuda a day or two later and departed again on the 5th of October. The engineers were having trouble in the engine room and this time we sailed on one engine while a condenser failure was repaired at sea.
        By the 16th of October we had reached Latitude 57 deg, 57 min N, and Longitude 34 deg, 26min W which was about as far north as the ship had ever sailed. That morning the wind was building and gusts to 56 kts were measured. Dark scudding clouds obscured the sun and by noon it looked like night and we secured from flight operations.
        The noon meal was to prove an unforgettable experience. The ship was rolling hard. Down in the mess hall we went through the chow line and, carefully balancing mess trays, made our way to a seat at the tables. The tables were arranged so that they were aligned athwartships. It was really funny at first. As the ship rolled, every man would hold one end of his tray, picking it up so as to keep the tray level while forking food with the other hand. As the roll to the other side started, everyone quickly switched hands and the operation was repeated. Actually you could eat pretty good once you got the timing figured out and the meal was progressing in good shape. Then a roll to port began that felt like it would never end. As everyone hung on for dear life, one of the mess tables collapsed. Men, table, and benches went hurtling across the deck to smash into the opposite bulkhead. On the opposite roll they all came skidding back on a deck now well greased with mashed potatoes and gravy, jello, hot coffee and salad greens. Picking up speed, men, tables, benches, and food crashed into the tables on the other side causing more tables to collapse. What started out as merely funny, was fast becoming pretty serious. The laughing turned to curses mixed with groans. Everyone was down on the deck now on hands and knees and it was almost impossible to stand up. As a table and its load of men came shooting across the deck, those on the other side scrambled frantically trying to get out of the way. All the tables came down and people were getting bruised as they slammed into the bulkheads. The deck was covered with men, overturned tables and benches, and the whole mess liberally covered with spilled food. Those of us who had come down from the flight deck decided it would be a damn site safer topside. Extracting ourselves from the tangled mess as fast as possible, we headed for “safety” topside. After this fiasco, the mess hall and galley were secured for the next three days and we lived on sandwiches and coffee. A few hands reported to sick bay for treatment of assorted bumps and bruises.
        The storm continued to build for the next two days. The quartermasters were holding 20 to 30 degrees of rudder trying to keep the ship on base course. The storm was a spectacular sight from up on the flight deck. The waves were huge. Green water was coming over the flight deck 60 feet above the waterline. The ship was rolling so hard we had to double-up on the aircraft tie-down lines and even at that, with the lines stretched to the limit, it appeared some of those airplanes would snap the lines and slide into the catwalks. The wind was blowing so hard aircraft propellers were actually turning in the wind; not spinning, but hitching around in little jerks. Ordinarily it took two men pulling hard on a propeller tip to turn one of those engines over.
        The ship would struggle to rise on the crest of a wave only to fall off into a trough and the only sight was of mountainous waves all around higher than the deck. Nosing into a wave, the bow would begin to rise, water cascading off the deck. Stuck on the face of a huge wave the ship would come to a halt and slide backwards, completely burying the 5-inch gun mount on the fantail. The vibration caused by the ship sliding backward against the thrust of the propellers shook the hull like a dog with a bone in its teeth. The expansion joints in the flight deck were gaping far beyond anything seen before as the hull was wracked by the waves. The combination of wind and rolling made it almost impossible to move around; we were just too busy hanging on.
        The DEs were having a rough time of it also. They were cocky little ships and good company for the business we were in. As we watched from the catwalks, a DE would nose into a wave and go out of sight with just a bit of the bridge and the radar mast sticking out. As we stood watching and wondering if they would ever come up again, the wave would roll on by and the little ship would come rearing up, the water cascading off her decks, only to repeat the process with the next wave. Those guys should have been drawing submarine pay; they were under the waves as much as they were on top.
        Down on the hanger deck, the side plates between the flight deck and hanger deck began to fail. Huge cracks in the plates would open and close as the hull wracked and twisted. When the edges of a crack would momentarily close up, a shipfitter would throw a fast tack on it with his welding rod hoping to pin the crack but it was a losing proposition. On the next heave of the hull the weld would let go with a loud crack and the tear would continue on up the plate. Water began spurting through the cracks onto the deck.
        The storm continued the next day building in intensity. Wind gusts were reaching 75 kts and waves were estimated to be about 60 ft high. Finally, the hanger deck doors off the fantail gave way and water began washing in on the hanger deck. The aft elevator pit flooded and filled with seawater like a swimming pool.
        Sleep was hard to come by. The rolling was so intense we had to strap ourselves into the bunks to keep from being tossed out. This storm lasted for three days. The Task Group could do nothing but ride it out. Finally by noon of the third day the wind began to abate and the seas moderate. It was time to take stock of our situation. It turned out considerable damage had been done. The hull had cracked and admitted seawater to the boiler feedwater tanks. The feedwater was now contaminated and could not be used to make steam. The ship was forced to run on what water could be made with the evaporators and the engines demands came first. Fresh water was in short supply. Seawater was supplied to the heads and we had our first experience showering in salt water. It wasn’t too bad if you dried quickly so the water didn’t leave salt deposits on the skin. Of more concern was the drinking water. The scuttlebutts were turned off except for ten minutes every hour. The galley was still shut down and sandwiches began to get tiresome but no one had to go hungry.
        Some liferafts had been swept away and the anchor windlass electrical circuits were out. It appeared the 5” gun mount was damaged and the hanger deck bulkhead doors to the fantail needed repairing. There were numerous cracks in the hull and flight deck structures but by late that afternoon, the ship was able to resume flight operations and we headed for Ponta Delgada, arriving on the 30th of October. After refueling we headed back to Norfolk where the ship went into drydock for a month of repairs and the crew went ashore for a little rest and relaxation.
        [Note: Guadalcanal’s experience in the North Atlantic was typical for the Casablanca-class carriers. These ships were notorious “rollers” and were considered to be unstable. The Bogue-class carriers fared better in heavy seas; they had been modified with 2000 tons of concrete poured into the bilges. They were slower however, and aircraft handling was more difficult due to their cambered hangar decks. By the end of 1944, all the Casablanca-class carriers, except Mission Bay, were reassigned to duties which took them off patrols into the North Atlantic.]
...Donald M. Baker ABM1/c, USS Guadalcanal
 
USS Flaherty, October 1944
 
USS Pope, October 1944
 

USS Neunzer, October 1944
 
Crash of VF #7 Bu 16584, 18 October 1944
 

Crash of TBM VT #15 Bu 25481, 26 October 1944. The TBM made a normal landing and caught the number 4 wire, but hurdled the barriers as the tail hook pulled out of the plane. VT #15 smashed ahead, then knocked VT #12 off the starboard bow into the sea. Pushed VT #14 forward on to the forecastle and wrecked VT #21. No personnel were injured.
 
Shoreline of Ponta Delgada from the flight deck of USS Guadalcanal, 30 October 1944
 
VC-69 Officers on the flight deck of the USS Guadalcanal, November 1944
 
VC-69 Enlisted flight crew on the flight deck of the USS Guadalcanal, November 1944