The Ship - All Hands - Decorations - Remembrance
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Enterprise remained in the vicinity of Okinawa providing night combat air patrols, anti-submarine patrols, etc., until 14 April 1945 when she once again departed for Ulithi for repair of damage received on 11 April. By 3 May temporary repairs were completed and she departed Ulithi, rejoining Task Group 58.3 on 6 May off Okinawa. On the night of 13-14 May, the task group was southeast of Kyushu, launching strikes against Japanese airfields. At 0357, Enterprise went to General Quarters upon receipt of the report that Japanese planes were in the vicinity. At 0653, the guns of Enterprise opened fire on a plane to starboard and the ship swung hard left in an emergency turn, but to no avail.
The enemy plane maneuvered in the clouds and dropped from an altitude of approximately 1500 feet in a 30° dive. Some 200 yards from the ship the pilot flipped the plane over in a left-hand snap roll to steepen the dive to about 45° and struck the flight deck just abaft the forward elevator, slightly to port of the centerline. A hole roughly 12 feet long by 20 feet wide was punched through the flight deck. Although structural damage reduced operational effectiveness by rendering the flight deck useless between frames 25 and 70, the strength of the ship's girder was little affected.
Power to the Mk. 14 sights of 20mm batteries 1, 2 and 4 and to 5-inch groups I and II was interrupted by the destruction of a bank of transformers mounted under the flight deck, directly in the path of the bomb and plane. 40mm mounts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 and their Mk. 37 directors lost power by the severance of normal and alternative power supply cables in the elevator trunk. 5-inch ammunition hoists were disabled when two controllers were damaged by shock and limit switches in the hoists were grounded by salt water.
The plane, engine and bomb crashed through the deck and the engine and pieces of the plane came to rest in the forward elevator pit. After nicking the lower flange of the transverse bent at frame 40, plane and bomb separated. The bomb pierced the elevator pit (second deck) at about frame 35 just to starboard of the centerline and detonated high order below, in A-305-A on top of stowed rags.
The forward elevator was hurled into the air, the decking pulling away from the main supporting framework. About three-quarters of the decking was raised intact on a plume of smoke about 400 feet above the ship and fell into the sea. Other parts of the elevator, the remainder of the decking, the peripheral girder, and brackets for the steadying rails fell on various parts of the flight deck forward and aft of the elevator hatch. Three officers' heads forward of the elevator and the officers' living quarters surrounding the elevator were demolished.
Despite the large "venting area" provided by the elevator opening in the flight deck, the effect of the blast in the hangar space was great. The flight deck bulged upward across the whole width of the ship, with a maximum deflection of about 3 feet 6 inches at frame 46 centerline. The blast wave continued aft blowing out or damaging hangar deck curtains back to frame 140. The two flight deck bomb elevators between frames 71 and 81 on the starboard side were disabled.
The most serious piping damage was the rupture in A-305-A of a 6-inch firemain loop and a 3-inch damage control main riser. Water flowing through these breaks was one of the principal sources of flooding. High and low pressure air lines, fresh water piping and drainage piping also were extensively damaged in the vicinity of the explosion.
Electrical damage was extensive. A total of 75,000 feet of power, lighting and communication cable was disabled by fragments and flooding forward of frame 50. Power cable for the catapults was severed on the starboard side of the second deck. All lighting forward of frame 38 was lost, and forward of frame 38 all ship service telephones, sound-powered telephone communication to the guns and general alarm bells and buzzers (circuit "G") were out of service. The lighting was restored by portable cables and emergency 2 to 10 KVA single phase transformers made up by the ship's force.
At the time of this hit, Enterprise was Vice Admiral Mitscher's flagship. His comment was:
"The performance of duty of the officers and men on the Enterprise under fire and their effective damage control measures were outstanding, of the highest order and the most effective that I have seen in one year's service in (Task Force 58)."
Diagrams derived from Bureau of Ships, Navy Department, blueprints provided courtesy Arnold Olson, Public Affairs Officer, USS Enterprise CV-6 Association. Narrative derived from War Damage Report No. 59, "U.S.S. Enterprise (CV6) War History", Bureau of Ships, Navy Department.