USS Shaw DD-373
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USS Shaw DD-373 and floating drydock YFD-2, old New Orleans
The US Navy destroyer, USS Shaw was in floating drydock YFD-2 on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. YFD-2, was also referred to as old New Orleans having come from U.S. Naval Station New Orleans, Louisiana on August 23 ,1940. Photo to the left shows its arrival at Pearl Harbor. YFD-2 was a U-shaped drydock which could be lowered by letting water into the ballast tanks to allow a ship, such as the Shaw, to enter for maintenance or repairs, while still afloat. Then the water in the ballast tanks could be pumped out to raise the dock and bring the ship out of the water. Since YFD-2 was a floating drydock, it could also be towed to another location with the ship aboard, if desired.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl harbor the crew of the Shaw was ashore, “as was customary for vessels undergoing overhaul in drydock, and only a few men were on hand when the bombs started to fall,” United States Destroyer Operations in World War II, (p.46).
The first wave of Japanese torpedo planes and bombers targeted the battleships. Soon after, bombs dropped by the second wave of attackers hit the Shaw. The first two bombs which hit the Shaw, struck the Machine Gun platform, forecastle and main decks and exploded in the crew's mess room. The third bomb struck the bridge. Fire immediately broke out, attributed to ruptured fuel oil tanks.
By the time this second wave of dive bombers attacked, the USS Nevada had traveled the length of Ford Island and was docked near the Shaw. The photo shows the smoking Shaw in drydock Y2F-2 and the Nevada, in smoke and flames, is to the extreme right. Because of this, it has been speculated that the intended target may have actually been the battleship Nevada. However, the Shaw herself may have been an attractive target, having been raised out of the water by the floating drydock.
The flames eventually raged out of control and the order was given to abandon ship. Soon after, the Shaw's forward magazines exploded, severing her bow and also sinking drydock YFD-2.
The action report includes a comment by the Commanding Officer indicating that had water been immediately available to fight the fire, the explosion in the magazines might have been prevented. The explosion was believed to have been caused by a combination of heat from the burning fuel oil and wooden blocking in the dock.
Photo to the right shows the USS Shaw after her fires were put out. Visible is her sunken bow and the remainder of the ship which is still afloat. Portions of the sunken drydock YFDF-2 can also be seen.
The USS Shaw lost 24 crewmen during the Pearl Harbor attack. Temporary repairs were made at Pearl Harbor, with the installation of a new bow and remaining repairs completed in San Francisco in June of 1943. Returning to active duty for the remainder of World War II, the Shaw saw action at Guadalcanal, New Guinea and the Philippines. After Pearl Harbor she was to have three more major repairs due to battle damage as well as running aground on uncharted undersea obstacles. YFDF-2, the floating drydock, was raised and refloated. After repairs it rejoined fleet in May 1942.
"Shaw hit by one bomb while docked on floating drydock; also hit by many fragments from another bomb which struck the drydock. The serious fire following bomb hits resulted in blowing up of forward magazine and heat damage to shell plating in the forward areas. The after part of the ship was not seriously damaged.
"The Shaw was re-docked on the same drydock on January 26, 1942, for installation of a false bow at about frame 50. The vessel will be ready to proceed to Mare Island under her own power between 01 and 15 February." - Damage report on USS Shaw Enclosure C to CINCPAC action report Serial 0479, February 15, 1942.
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