Mystically unlucky USS «William D. porter»
More than 70 years ago as part of the naval forces of the United States served two-pipe destroyer with the name of «William D. porter» (DD-579). The ship was no different from dozens of built serially in the years of world war II destroyers type Fletcher. Was commissioned in 1943; its commander was an experienced officer, Lieutenant-commander Wilfred Walter.
In November 1943, the «Willie D» (as it is familiarly called in sailor circles the destroyer) was ordered to leave the naval base in Norfolk and join the escort of the battleship «Iowa» in which the US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt went at the head of the U.S. delegation to the Tehran conference.
Departing from the pier, «Willie D» was faced with the same type of destroyer and, with a grating moving along the neighbor’s side, ripped off its anchor rail, boat, trawl nets and life rafts.
Touch up ragged Board, «William D. porter» finally joined the escort of battleship, and connection («Iowa» and three destroyers) sailed into the Atlantic. Given the threat from the German submarines were ordered to observe radio silence. Suddenly smooth sailing marching orders was broken by a strong blast.
The escort ships moved in anti-submarine zigzag. Torpedo maneuvers lasted as long as the «Willie D» is not prosimetric that this is only one of its depth charges, which, accidentally fell from the rack, fell overboard and exploded. Raised by the blast wave washed away from the stern all that has not been adequately secured, and one of the sailors, save failed.
Then for some unknown reason the accident occurred in the car. After some time the pressure dropped a couple in one of the boilers, etc., etc. Almost every hour aboard the «Willie D» on the flagship received reports about all the new accidents. It was shaped the way of the cross, and probably no one would have condemned the commander of connection if he sent the ill-fated destroyer is back in Norfolk.
The morning of 14 November 1943 dawned Sunny and warm. The ocean was quietly rolled its waves beneath a cloudless sky. When «Iowa» with an escort passed Bermuda, President Roosevelt and his supporters wished to see how would look like a reflection of a RAID by enemy aircraft. The commander of the battleship was ordered to run and the air weather balloons, bottles of which were to serve as targets for the gunners.
As recalled by witnesses, the sight was impressive. Still — at balloons fired more than a hundred guns of different calibre. Watching the progress of the exercises, the President could be proud of the power of its fleet.
On Board the «William D. porter» Lieutenant commander Walter watched the air exercise, thinking intensely on how to mitigate the adverse impression caused by the explosion of depth charges.
To show their best side, he also announced a combat alarm. The gunners of the destroyer opened fire on balloons, and the rest of the crew began to prepare for a simulated torpedo attack on the battleship «Iowa», majestically rassekali ocean surface a few miles from the «Willie D».
The two were ordered to torpedo out of the torpedo tubes propelling charges (primers). However, doom did not want to leave the destroyer alone: one of the sailors on a completely inexplicable reason, forgot to remove the primer from torpedo tube torpedo tube. Meanwhile, the commander of mine-torpedo part gave the order to fire and began the countdown: «First — fire! The second fire! Third — fire!».
He did not command «the Fourth — fire!», as everyone heard the distinctive cotton gun shots and saw off from the deadly torpedo cigar. Watching everything happening from the top of the bridge Lieutenant Seward Lewis breaking with emotion voice asked the commander whether he gave the order to combat the torpedo firing.
Lieutenant commander froze in terror, seeing Blanker breaker torpedoes, as if nothing had happened rushed to the battleship, on Board of which was the President. On the bridge the «Willie D» panic broke out. Crumbled chaotic, contradictory one of the other team. Everyone knew that the main thing now — to prevent the battleship of the impending danger.
Decided to disobey the radio silence, but the radio operator on the «Iowa» was not working in reception. And precious seconds left. Finally, the battleship received a confirmation of the reception of telegrams. A huge ship increased speed and changed course.
News of a torpedo attack reached the ears of President Roosevelt, who even asked the aide to push his wheelchair to the rails to have the opportunity to watch the development of events. Meanwhile, making the circulation battleship turned all their guns on the unfortunate «William D. porter» because the command had an idea that the crew of the destroyer, perhaps, became embroiled in a conspiracy that aimed to assassinate the US President.
A minute later at the stern of the battleship explosion: the torpedo detonated in foam screws water Wake «Iowa.» All were on her bridge with a relieved breath. Crisis that threatens unpredictable consequences, over, and with him and a few looked very promising seafaring careers.
On persistent queries from the battleship Lieutenant commander Walter contritely admitted that the liability for which nearly ended in tragedy the incident falls on him and his ship. The destroyer along with the commander and the entire crew were declared arrested and sent to the port of Hamilton in Bermuda, where the perpetrators of the fatal accident was expected a military court.
It was the first in the history of the U.S. Navy in the event of seizure of the ship and all its crew, located in the open sea.
Arrived at the port of destination «Willie D» was immediately surrounded by a cordon of Marines and military court in closed sessions started figuring out what was going on aboard the destroyer in a memorable day on 14 November. After several interrogations torpedoman Lawton Dawson admitted that by mistake left in the torpedo tube of the propellant, the ignition of which has led to the launch of torpedoes.
When the truth was finally clarified, the Commission of inquiry has recognized it as a result of the incredible set of circumstances, and in any case was classified as the results of the investigation and the fact of the incident. Lieutenant-commander Walter, his assistant and several officers from the destroyer was transferred to a punishment on a provincial coastal office, and Dawson was fired from the naval forces and sentenced to 14 years in penitentiary.
However, intervened with President Roosevelt, and the convict was pardoned.
Unfortunately, the subsequent history of the destroyer «William D. porter» was full of unexplained incidents and accidents. When the ship was sent to patrol in the waters surrounding the Aleutian archipelago, it before to step up combat watch by mistake (but with great accuracy) hit by a projectile of its caliber in the location of the headquarters of the American garrison on one of the Islands.
Arriving then to the district of Okinawa, «Willie D» as the ship air defense of the landing force was shot down a few Japanese and three… of their aircraft.
After that, the American pilots in order to avoid misfortune chose to ignore the fatal destroyer. That it was a very superfluous precaution, have convinced the crew of her sister ship «Lewis» (DD-522), whose Board and add-ins «Willie D» was riddled by the fire of his antiaircraft artillery, trying to shoot down a Japanese plane.
June 10, 1945, when «William D. porter» was carrying anti-aircraft duty, a Japanese dive bomber broke through the line far defense. It was loaded with bombs, suicide bombers who choose to target major transport near the destroyer.
Struck by anti-aircraft fire, the plane at the last moment off course and fell into the sea at the side of the «Willie D». However, no sooner had the sailors congratulate each other with unheard-of luck, as just under the keel of the destroyer, a powerful explosion: a downed Japanese pilot still managed to avenge his death.
«William D. porter» began to rapidly fill with water, roll to starboard. Three hours later the commander of the damaged destroyer with a crew moved on Board approached the landing barges. The ship that almost changed the course of world history, sank at a depth of approximately 800 meters off the coast of a distant island of Okinawa.
So ended an incredible, full of unsolved mysteries history of the destroyer «William D. porter».