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The Most Decorated Ship of the Second World War

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Instructions for Scuttling Ship

In a modern Navy, little is left to chance: not even the means for sinking one's own ship. The instructions below, promulgated around May 1943, spelled out in detail the steps to be taken should it become necessary to scuttle Enterprise to prevent capture of the ship and sensitive materials she carried. Fortunately, it never became necessary to execute this particular plan.

The great difficulty (and, ultimately, failure) in scuttling Enterprise's sister ship Hornet during the Battle of Santa Cruz in October 1942 vividly demonstrated the need for such detailed plans.


Instructions for Scuttling Ship.


  1. Magazine group.
    Mock, AOM2c [Robert P. Mock Jr.]
    Brant, S1c [Marvin O. Brant]
  2. Hangar deck (Repair 7).
    Ensign Blevins. [William C. Blevins]
    Diemert, TM1c. [Robert C. Diemert]


  1. In magazine.
    1. Two 300ft. lengths of single conductor cable rolled in separate coils.
    2. Galvanometer.
    3. One 2000 lb. centrally located bomb.
    4. Auxiliary booster can with detonator adapter hole drilled in one end. (Hole: 1/2 inch in diameter and 3 inchs long.)
    5. Three commercial No. 8 Electric (tetryl) blasting caps (have been pretested). Stored in near vicinity of selected magazine.
    6. Shipping plug (removed from bomb. Hole for detonator leads drilled through hole of plug.)
    7. One role each of rubber and friction tape.
    8. Stillson wrench, 10-inch.
    9. Battle lantern.
    10. Role of heavy wrapping twine.
  2. At Repair 7, hangar deck. Stored in OD Shack near Quarter Deck.
    1. Battery box with Timer.
    2. Two firing circuit test lamps.


General procedure and safety precautions for operations in the magazine.

  1. Unscrew shipping plug from a centrally-located bomb (preferably a M 66, 2,000-pound general purpose type). Withdraw the auxilliary booster can from nose fuze pocket. Shipping plug, and booster can, (both undrilled) should be set aside, and the drilled plug and can substituted.
    1. Run the electric cap lead wires through a drilled shipping plug.
    2. Insert electric cap in drilled auxilliary booster can and secure with friction tape.
    3. Restore booster can and cap in the nose fuze pocket.
    4. Replace drilled shipping plug; this will secure the initiation charge.
    5. Lead detonator lead wires back over body of bomb, leaving a fairly large loop in front of bomb nose. Secure detonator leads to bomb by tieing two or three wrappings of heavy twine around bomb body.
  2. Connect lead wires to demolition cable. (These connections should be thoroughly insulated with rubber tape as a safeguard against shorting the circuit through steel decks, water, or other connectors.)
  3. Remove shipping plugs and auxilliary booster can from bombs in the immediate vicinity. This is done to insure detonation of all bombs in the magazine. Procedure for initiating the charge thus is completed.
  4. Demolition party already stationed in magazine (General Quarters Stations) shall now lead both cables up through appropriate hatches to Repair 7. Sections of demolition cables near the prepared bomb should be secured so that tugs and pulls in leading the cables through the hatches will not jerk either detonator or booster.
  5. Ends of cables should be tested with Galvanometer at Repair 7 when cables have been led to this spot. This test should insure that circuit as rigged is complete.

    Remarks: The operations outlined above should not be carried out until personnel in the magazine are given the word to Abandon Ship.

General procedure and safety precautions for operations on the Hangar Deck.

  1. On the Third Phase of Abandon Ship, the demolition party stationed on the Hangar Deck will bring the Battery Box and Timer out of the OOD Shack to Repair 7, making safety tests at this location.
    1. Firstly, test Battery Test Lamp located just below the clock, and note if it glows brightly.
    2. In case there has been a bomb hit, or near miss, relatively near the OOD Shack, and there is a possibility that internal mechanism or circuits have been damaged, another test besides the Battery Test Lamp should be run. Two firing circuit test lamps are provided for this purpose. The two wire leads of the circuit test lamp are connected to the terminals of the Timer. The Safety Plate is then removed from the clock mechanism and the clock key is given enough turn to register two or three clicks. This should give a delay time of five or ten minutes. The Toggle Switch is then turned to on position and after set time delay the test lamp should glow. If test lamp does not glow after time delay, there is some fault in the mechanism and the apparatus is unfit for use. If the test lamp glows when Toggle Switch is thrown, the apparatus is in a dangerous condition and the Timer is unfit to use.
    3. When demolition party from magazine arrives with the two cable leads, the leads are connected to the terminals of the Timer (Timer has been tested and is safe.) The leads are connected only when the safety plate is on the clock mechanism.
    4. After all gear is connected up, word is awaited from the Captain as to what time delay period is to be used and when Toggle Switch on Timer is to be switched to ON position.

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