September 27, 2023

Don't Launch a Ship on the 27th of September.

Eso Terry in the Navy

Being a former sailor, I marvel at sea coinkydinks.  Take for example the date of September 27th -- esoterically speaking that is -- after being delayed by bad weather, William, duke of Normandy, embarked his army and set sail for the southeastern coast of England in what would be known in history as the Norman Conquest and one hell of a bloody year.  Then in 1854 on this day over 150 passengers were killed when the shipped named SS Arctic sinks after being hit by a French steamship off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. 

So, if I were launching a new ship, I would probably look at the date of September 27th as not a great day to put a ship on water for the first time, and maybe wait until the 28th. The US Navy didn't see it this way so they launched the USS William D. Porter on September 27th in 1942, and from the get-go, it was a disaster. 

The ship nicknamed the "Willie Dee," was assigned its first mission of escorting the USS Iowa which was transporting President Franklin D. Roosevelt to a summit with Allied leaders at a secret conference in Tehran; however, before leaving port to join the others the Willie Dee managed to smash into a fellow destroyer and caused damage to the other ship as well as the pier.  In that favorite book of mine, "Bad Days in History," the author writes: "From there it got worse." 

In beginning its secret mission to escort the ship with the president on it, the Willie Dee accidentally dropped a depth charge and caused a sailor to fall overboard and the engine room to lose power for a time -- so much for keeping the mission a secret. 

To overcome this dilemma and prove the Willie Dee was an asset to the mission, the captain of the Willie Dee thought he would impress the president with a war drill, and so organized a torpedo exercise with the ship the president was on as its pretend target.  And yes, you guessed it, the Willie Dee launched a live torpedo at the ship with the president on it.  The ship carrying the president turned abruptly to avoid the torpedo and the torpedo exploded in the water behind the president's ship.  

After the debacle, and with a strong suspicion that an assassin may have been on board, the Willie Dee was sent to Bermuda where the entire crew was arrested.  The unfortunate crewman who had caused the mistake was sentenced to 14 years of hard labor, but President Roosevelt, a former sailor himself, dismissed the charges and all was forgiven.  

The Willie Dee went on to have more mishaps and sailed for a three years before being sunk by Japanese warplanes.  The bright side of the story is that none of the men aboard the Willie Dee died.  Seems that the mischievous spirits aboard her had hearts, besides, they had another ship to launch on this day which would happen September 27th, 1938 when RMS Queen Elizabeth was launched and would eventually sink in Hong Kong Harbor despite a massive firefighting effort over two days.

Don't launch a ship on the 27th of September.  

Oh, and in today's news: 

LONDON (AP) — Britain on Wednesday (September 27th) gave the go-ahead for a major oil and gas project in the North Sea, ignoring warnings from scientists and the United Nations that countries must stop developing new fossil fuel resources if the world is to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Let's see how that works.

~~ Eso Terry


Closed For Business Until Further Notice Due To Wars

 I'm taking a war break: Remember, which ever side you're on, sides suck.  ~~ Eso Terry 

Thanks For Being!

Thanks For Being!