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On 24 March 1945, Enterprise anchored in Ulithi where repairs to the damage received on 18 and 20 March were undertaken by the ship's force and personnel from USS Jason. They were not completed in time for her to participate in the 1 April landings on Okinawa, but by 7 April she was able to join Task Group 58.3 operating to the east of Okinawa.
A large-scale Kamikaze attack developed against Task Group 58.3 on 11 April northeast of Okinawa. At 1345 two large groups of Japanese aircraft were noted closing from the north. Enterprise opened fire on two planes at 1408, shooting one down about 1500 yards off the starboard quarter. The other dived on the port quarter, struck two 40mm mounts and fell into the sea. The bomb carried by the plane detonated beneath the ship. At 1500 another Japanese plane carrying a bomb attempted a suicide dive but missed and struck the water 45 to 50 feet off the starboard bow.
The outboard gun shields and semicircular platforms of 40mm mounts Nos. 8 and 10 were sheared off or bent by impact of the plane and blast from the first near-miss. Parts of the plane remained in the gun tubs. Distortion of the shield of mount No. 8 blocked the train of the gun until damage control parties removed the obstruction. The guns and mount were undamaged. The blast ruptured the main drain line of the external gasoline system between frames 141 and 152 beneath the 40mm mounts. The system was secured at a cut-off valve forward of the break.
The action report stated the belief that both near-misses were by Judy-11's. However, a photograph shows a head-on view just before the crash, which indicates that the plane which grazed the port quarter was a Zeke-52, with a bomb slung under its fuselage. The plane which fell off the starboard bow was probably a Judy-11, judging from the action report and from a photograph of the piece of the wing recovered on the flight deck.
Shock and structural deformation between frames 120 and 150 in way of the first near-miss forced foundations of Nos. 3 and 4 main generators, Nos. 3 and 4 main engines and Nos. 3 and 4 shaft spring bearings inward and upward with a maximum permanent deflection of about one inch. Both generators were broken loose from their foundations at the after ends of the turbines. The supporting pedestals broke away from the cast iron exhaust casings of which they were a part, leaving the ends of the turbines with no support.
No. 4 generator, which was carrying the load aft under split plant operation, tripped out. An attempt was made to carry the load on No. 3 generator in order to maintain split plant operation, but after two hours running, vibration became excessive and it was secured. The ship was then dependent on Nos. 1 and 2 main generators and the emergency Diesel generators. It should be noted that the after emergency generator started instantly and automatically when the No. 4 main generator tripped out.
The detonation of the bomb from the first near-miss lifted the ship bodily and whipped it violently. Violent whipping of the foremast induced by flexural vibration of the ship broke the struts supporting the SK radar antenna and snapped off about 6 feet of the starboard yardarm. The yardarm was cleared and an unsuccessful attempt was made to install a temporary support for the antenna.
No. 4 shaft was slightly bent, the bow in the shaft causing its Nos. 2 and 3 spring bearings to wobble athwartships about one inch with each revolution. Although less bent than the outboard shaft, No. 3 shaft suffered more damage to its supports. Damage to No. 3 main engine was appreciable, though not disabling. The after bearing of the L.P. turbine, the forward and after bearings of the H.P. turbine and all three bearings of both H.P. and L.P. pinions were wiped. The reduction gear teeth were not damaged, but misalignment in the gears caused intense vibration at high speeds and during turns. There was no damage to No. 4 main engine.
Three tanks between torpedo bulkheads 4 and 5, which were opened to the sea through weeping seams and rivets, were the only damaged tanks empty at the time. They filled slowly and caused an estimated 1° list to port and an estimated 3-inch increase in draft aft. Fuel tanks were full so that, although leaks quickly contaminated and largely displaced the fuel, there was little appreciable effect on list or trim. A large oil slick trailed Enterprise for about an hour.
The first plane's engine struck the blister at frame 136, tearing a 3-foot by 2-foot hole into D-54-F at the waterline. Except where torn open by the impact of the plane's engine, the welded blister plating did not develop cracks or tears from the first near-miss. In contrast to this, rivets popped and seams opened in the original hull even where protected by the blister.
The bomb from the second Japanese plane detonated 45 to 50 feet off the starboard bow, causing additional shock damage and slight structural damage in six tanks and voids. Water spray carried as far aft as the pilothouse and part of the plane wing was hurled to the flight deck. A fighter plane on the starboard catapult was ignited and fire spread to the deck. Since shock failure of the forward Diesel fire pump hampered firefighting, the plane was catapulted into the sea. The small fire on deck was quickly extinguished.
During the afternoon, five more enemy planes were shot down near Enterprise. After dark the Japanese dropped flares, but no attacks developed.
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.