U.S.S. MISSOURI (BB-63) Salvage Report, 1950, describes the salvage of the battleship after running aground.

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U. S. S. MISSOURI (BB-63 )
Salvage Report
Commander Cruiser Force, U. S. Atlantic Fleet
Norfolk, Virginia
17 January - 1 February,1950



1 Daily Summaries
2 Photographic Summary
3 Organization
4 Ships and Facilities
5 Beach Gear
Appendix (A) - Deck Arrangement of Beach Gear Tackles as Employed in the Refloating Operation
Appendix (B) - Position of Beach Gear and Tugs, 1 February 1950
Appendix (C) - Beach Gear Control Organization
Appendix (D) - U. S. S. MISSOURI Beach Gear Stations
Appendix (E) - Deck Arrangement SALVAGER and WINDLASS on 1 February 1950
6 Dredging
Appendix (A) - Tabular Summary of the Operations of the U. S. Army Dredge COMBER
Appendix (B) - Tabular Summary of the Operations of the Norfolk Dredging Company's Dredge Washington
Appendix (C) - Chart of soundings in Exit Channel
7 Diving
Appendix (A) - Summary of Tunneling Operations
8 Pontoons
Appendix (A) - Pontoon Details (sets #2 and #3)
Appendix (B) - Pontoon Details (set #1)
Appendix (C) - Organization
9 Weight Computations and Tidal Data
Appendix (A) - Weight Removal Computations
Appendix (B) - Record of Weights Removed
Appendix (C) - Coefficient of Static Friction Tests
10 Diagrams and Devices
Appendix (A) - Tide Study and Weight Reduction Curves
Appendix (B) - Time - Tide - Ship Movement Graphs
Appendix (C) - Tide Study Curves
Appendix (D) - Vertical Movement of Vessel Prior to Refloating
Appendix (E) - Trim as Observed by Gunner's Quadrants Forward and Aft
Appendix (F) - Progress Chart
11 Summary of Damage
12 Public Relations
13 Daily Log
Appendix (A) - Schedule for Salvage Plan
Appendix (B) - Staff Station Bill
Appendix (C) - Operation Order 1-50
Appendix (D) - Plan I
Appendix (E) - Plan II
14 Costs

Address Reply to
Refer to No.
FF13-5/01: jm
Ser 650

15 March 1950

From: Commander Cruiser Force, U. S. Atlantic Fleet

To: Chief of Naval Operations

Via: Commander in Chief, U. S. Atlantic Fleet

Subj: Salvage of U. S. S. MISSOURI (BB-63)


(1) Daily Summaries
(2) Photographic Summary
(3) Organization
(4) Ships and Facilities
(5) Beach Gear
(6) Dredging
(7) Diving
(8) Pontoons
(9) Weight Computations and Tidal Data
(10) Diagrams and Devices
(11) Summary of Damage
(12) Public Relations
(13) Daily Log
(14) Costs

1. This report of the salvage operations of the U. S. S. MISSOURI (BB63) covers the period from 0910 on 17 January, the time at which COMCRULANT first received word of the grounding until the completion of the operation at about 1430, 1 February 1950, when the MISSOURI was secured in the drydock at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Virginia.

2. COMCRULANT directed salvage operations in and from the MISSOURI.

I Preliminary Information

3. Commander Cruiser Force first received information that the MISSOURI was in difficulty by a telephone call from CINCLANTFLT at about 0910 on Tuesday, 17 January. Shortly afterward, the Port Director, in the offices of Commander Naval Base, Norfolk, Virginia provided the accurate location of the grounding, information that tugs had unsuccessfully attempted to free her immediately following the grounding, and advised further that the MISSOURI had been in the process of running through a special acoustic range to the left of the main ship channel while enroute to sea. This was the first that COMCRULANT had heard of the Naval Ordnance Laboratory request for ships to run the range. Information was also received that the ship was making about 12.4 knots and accelerating, and was considerably to the north of the track through the buoys. Shortly thereafter, information was received by radio indicating the approximate draft around the ship and the draft upon departure from the Naval Base prior to grounding. The difference between the two was almost 7 feet.

4. Information was received that COMSERVLANT (Rear Admiral R. H. GOOD) had boarded the MISSOURI and upon his return COMCRULANT conferred with him, obtained more details of her current situation and information that plans were going ahead to try a pull off at evening high tide of the 17th. This attempted pull was permitted because the Commanding Officer had already arranged for it, it did not interfere with the basic plan and a captain always hopes.

5. With the above preliminary information it became apparent to COMCRULANT that the salvage of the MISSOURI was a major operation and would require time. Decision was immediately arrived at to move aboard with part of the staff and commence salvage operations as soon as possible.

6. At 1630 COMCRULANT, the Chief of Staff, Operations Officer, Material Officer, and the Flag Lieutenant boarded the MISSOURI and assisted with the necessary preparations for the attempted pull which took place unsuccessfully at 1900. Subsequently the Staff was augmented, organized and assigned duties as outlined in enclosure (3), organization.

II Elements of the Situation

7. The following general facts were immediately available when COMCRULANT first boarded the MISSOURI.

a. The MISSOURI draft upon departure from Naval Base for operations prior to grounding was 36'9" aft and 35'9" forward.

b. Standard speed, fifteen knots had been rung up several minutes prior to grounding.

c. An attempt was made to come right with full right rudder when it became evident that the ship was in trouble and the rudder was still applied.

d. An attempt was made to back the starboard engines but power was lost before any effect was achieved.

e. The MISSOURI had moved across the sand approximately 2500 feet from the point where her bow first touched. (See chart on following page.)

f. Her heading was 054 where she came to rest.

g. The MISSOURI'S draft was 29' forward and 30' aft after grounding, as referred to a 2.6' tide. Thus at low tide she pressed down on her sandy bed with some 18,000 tons.

h. The ship went aground at a time of unusual high tide (2.6'). Details of tidal data are outlined in enclosures (9) and (10).

i. The tide tables indicated that a fairly high tide would occur on Friday, 20 January, but that thereafter the nearest approach to the tidal conditions existing at the time of grounding would be 2 February.

j. Removable weights easily handled including fluids, ammunition, stores, etc., were estimated to be about 11,320 tons. Weight removal required to float the MISSOURI at a tide equal to that at grounding, was estimated to be about 12,150 tons. Details of weights and tidal data are covered in enclosure (9).

k. Sand had blocked all main and auxiliary injections and overboards, except for the after emergency diesel generator, which set was supplying power for vital ventilation and lighting. The ATF KIOVVA was alongside providing water for fire and flushing.

8. By midnight of 17 January the following additional information and facilities were available:

a. The ship's officers and men had immediately set about to restore the operation of number seven main turbo generator to full operation by removing sand from the condenser. While the condenser was being readied the generator was able to supply some power by running non-condensing. By 1700 on 17 January, the generator was restored to full operation and took the ship's power load.

chart showing path of BB MO

b. Preliminary sounding of tanks, voids and cofferdams indicated that there was no serious flooding and the ship was not damaged in that respect.

c. The submarine rescue vessel KITTIWAKE (ASR13) had reported and the capabilities of her divers in tunneling under the hull with high pressure lances were enthusiastically described by her commanding officer.

d. It was ascertained that the U. S. Army dredge COMBER was engaged in a routine channel maintenance job in Baltimore and at the request of COMCRULANT she was made available and left Baltimore immediately to proceed to the scene of the salvage.

e. The use of beach gear was discussed with an officer representative of the Bureau of Ships.

f. Facilities immediately available in the area to assist included four fleet tugs (ATFs), three auxiliary tugs (ATAs), eight harbor tugs (YTBs), two fleet oilers (AOs), YWs (to deliver potable water), floating cranes, etc.

9. By 2000 of 18 January the situation had crystallized and a preliminary plan was outlined.

a. Summary of situation

(1) Number eight main turbo generator was ready for full operation. As a result of the above, and with adequate potable water available by delivery from Commander Naval Base, Norfolk, habitability in the MISSOURI was fair to excellent throughout the operation.

(2) During the off loading of fuel on 18 January, the liquid level could not be lowered in tanks B-29-F, B-37-F, and B-43-F, which immediately indicated that these tanks were open to the sea. (The breaching of these tanks was confirmed by a diver on 24 January.)

(3) Further reports of divers indicated no damage to propellers or rudders.

(4) Divers reported that the ship was resting on fine to medium coarse sand and that this sand had been packed to the consistency of a poor grade of cement under the great weights involved. In the course of later dredging and tunneling operations, it was disclosed that large boulders of the size of footballs and larger were encountered at depths of about thirty-five feet below the high water level.

(5) Being that hard aground, on a sandy bottom, in a protected harbor, there was little likelihood of any settling nor of any movement due to tide or wind. Hence, until considerable weight was removed, there was no need to secure the ship with beach gear as is mandatory in off shore salvage situations.

(6) The ship would not be able to use her own propellers to assist in any refloating operations.

(7) The dredge COMBER had arrived at 0820 the 18th and immediately set about dredging around the ship.

b. Preliminary plan

(1) Remove fuel oil immediately (about 2,000,000 gallons) to be completed by 2400 18 January.

(2) Commence removal of ammunition, boats, boat skids, anchors and chains, and stores as soon as possible.

(3) COMBER dredge close aboard along both sides (unloading operations were scheduled to keep one side or the other clear through 19 January).

(4) Arrange to obtain beach gear and two submarine rescue vessels, WINDLASS and SALVAGER (ARSDs) from Bayonne Salvage Center.

(5) Attempt to pull off with all tugs at evening tide on 18 January and at morning high tides on 19 and 20 January.

(6) Subsequently the pull off attempts on the 18th and 19th were abandoned as being too time consuming. It was well established that any attempt prior to removal of maximum weights had little chance of success and they were considered in the preliminary plans only at the request of the Commanding Officer of the MISSOURI. The attempt on the 20th could be accommodated without loss of time in the longer range plans, and in the event of an extra high tide and even though the MISSOURI would still be some 4000 tons heavy, it had a remote chance of succeeding. As expected, however, the attempt did not succeed, as the tide was not above the predicted.

III The General Plan

10. Meanwhile long range plans were being formulated. The next high tide would occur on 2 February. With this in view, and considering a most important factor which influenced plans and operations throughout the entire period, that of public relations, it became apparent that an immediate decision and public statement as to the target date of ultimate pull off effort was necessary. Some unfavorable press notices had appeared and gave indications of increasing in volume and pointedness. It is not considered good practice to commit oneself when so many variable factors are involved, but in this case some definite statement was needed. After considering all elements of the operation it seemed feasible to complete the many salvage tasks planned by 2 February and accordingly this date was selected and publicized as that toward which all efforts were pointed. This was done with full recognition of the probability that if the MISSOURI was not afloat on or by 2 February higher authority would be forced to take some other and more drastic action.

11. After making an estimate of the situation including the means available the basic plan was written as follows:

Will refloat the MISSOURI to deep water -

a. By increasing her buoyancy and decreasing her displacement

(1) By removal of the maximum fluids, ammunition, stores, personnel, etc.

(2) By lifting her stern with pontoons.

(3) By tearing away the sand from under her and letting her settle further.

b. By pulling off

(1) With nine beach gear rigs.

(2) With two especially powered ARSD beach gear.

(3) With tugs equipped for towing.

(4) By using tugs as surging and twisting arm.

c. By dredging an exit channel

12. Major aspects of the operation were then outlined and drawn up and daily schedules derived therefrom. These daily schedules were arrived at in COMCRULANT Staff conferences held each day at 1100 and 1700 where hour by hour tasks were decided upon and promulgated for the succeeding day's operations. These daily conferences, in addition to the details which were discussed, were a most important phase of all operations. It was through the medium of these conferences that COMCRULANT was able to create the necessary mutual understanding and thus impose upon his organization the need for utmost effort in every undertaking.

13. In planning the daily tasks it was necessary to carefully consider the space alongside the ship and the type of operations being conducted. These had to be integrated to prevent interference of the many tasks assigned which required space alongside the MISSOURI by various ships. Thus all dredging and major off loading had to be completed prior to laying beach gear. To protect the divers, diving operations had to be conducted in areas at least two hundred feet from any dredging. The rigging of pontoons interfered to some extent with the rigging of beach gear, and so forth. The time space factors alongside the ship were developed into a diagram for clarity. It is reproduced on the following page and described in detail in enclosure (10).

illustrations showing times of access alongside BB MO

14. The plans provided that all tasks supporting the basic plan were to be completed by dark on 30 January, that a coordinating team rehearsal would be held at high tide on the morning of 31 January, and full pull off efforts scheduled on each morning high tide daily thereafter through 4 February.

15. Once the general plan had been outlined, it was never deviated from in any major aspect.

IV Major Aspects

16. The major aspects of the operation were derived from the general plan and are outlined and scheduled in brief below.

a. Fuel - Off load all fuel possible within the capacity of the pumps on 18, 19, and 20 January.

b. Dredging - Use the U. S. Army dredge COMBER to dredge a trench on both sides of the MISSOURI forty feet deep and of sufficient width to allow that depth to be attained, and dredge an exit channel one hundred fifty feet wide and forty feet deep from the stern of the ship to the main channel. Obtain a hydraulic dredge and dredge to forty foot depth along the sides of the MISSOURI as close aboard as possible, concentrating in the area aft of frame 120, port and starboard, and close astern. Divers wash out under the rudders, skegs, and counter, and tunnel under the hull along the sides aft of frame 120, port and starboard. The above depths all refer to a 2.6 foot tide.

c. Beach gear - Lay out nine sets of beach gear to be completed before ammunition is removed. Position two submarine salvage craft, WINDLASS and SALVAGER to utilize their own beach gear for maximum horizontal pull.

d. Pontoons - Position three sets of submarine salvage pontoons in vicinity of the skegs and rudders.

e. Ammunition - Remove all ammunition from magazines forward of frame 120 before 29 January. Remove remaining ammunition 30 January.

f. Stores - Remove all fresh and dry provisions and other stores in excess of one week's supply to be completed prior 28 January.

g. Personnel - Be prepared to transfer about one thousand men ashore or to ships alongside any time after 30 January.

h. Special operations:

(1) Receive about two thousand tons of fuel aft of amidships on 25 January to provide crushing effect to induce some settling of the ship to gain buoyancy.

(2) Discharge all fuel oil, diesel oil, feed water and potable water, retaining only sufficient supply to last until 0600, 2 February, to be completed by 0600, 31 January.

(3) Remove the fluids in the three breached tanks by air pressure and shoring adjacent compartments.

(4) Make preparations to give the ship an explosive shock on 29 January and prior to removing the extra weight aft. This was in conjunction with (1) above.

(5) Make preparations to provide more buoyancy aft by use of a special underwater explosion research barge (UEB 1) located in Norfolk Naval Shipyard. This barge, with a controllable draft of from five to twenty-four feet, was modified to fit under the stern of the MISSOURI and was so rigged that towing hawsers and beach gear wires would ride over its top. When secured in this position and pumped free of water it was expected that a lift of something in the nature of five hundred tons would obtain. It was planned to apply this measure if the pull off failed on 1 February.

(6) Prepare to apply a heavy surge by using two loaded AOs alongside, lashed heavily but with slack. It was planned to apply this measure if pull off failed on 2 February.

(7) Provide for destroyers to make wash at high speeds.

i. Services as required to accomplish the above, including communications, transportation etc., are outlined in detail in enclosure (4).

17. To implement the tasks required of these major aspects, dredges, ships, equipment, and personnel experienced in salvage were obtained through cognizant authorities with the maximum of despatch. These are described in detail in enclosures (3) and (4).

V Summary of Operations

18. To summarize the operation the following was accomplished during the period 17 to 30 January. Details of these accomplishments and their intimately related results are outlined in the pertinent enclosures.

a. A net total of 12,023 tons in weight was removed from the MISSOURI. This is summarized in enclosure (9).

b. A total of 266,845 cubic yards of sand was dredged alongside and in the exit channel, and is summarized in enclosure (6).

c. A total of 651.4 man hours of diving operations were conducted. Divers were assigned to the work of tunneling under the hull, inspections, and rigging pontoons. It is estimated that a total of 1500 cubic yards of sand was removed from under the hull in the tunneling operations of divers. Details are contained in enclosure (7).

d. Nine sets of beach gear were rigged with winches and pulling gear on the MISSOURI. In addition, two ARSDs were rigged for maximum horizontal pull using their own anchor windlasses and pulling winches. Two preventer hawsers were placed on the bow of the MISSOURI to hold the ship in place in case of bad weather and were rigged for quick release. Details are contained in enclosure (5).

e. A total of four pairs of pontoons were rigged, one pair at the bow (rigged after pull off attempt 31 January), two pairs under the skegs aft, and one pair rigged athwart the rudders. Due to difficulties in rigging, the latter pair was not effective during any pull off attempt. Details are contained in enclosure (8).

19. To coordinate planned pull off attempts an operation order was drawn up and promulgated. This order set up task groups with assigned tasks and group commanders. It provided for several contingencies which might arise during any pull off attempt. It provided a plan to recover all gear once the ship was pulled free. It provided two detailed plans in the form of a sequence of events to occur during pull off attempts. Plan One covered the period from minus two hours to minus one hour and was designed to develop maximum twisting effect. Plan Two covered the period from minus one hour to zero hour and was designed to work up by steps to maximum pulling and twisting effort. Zero hour, the time of high tide, was promulgated the night before by dispatch. This operation order and plans are included herewith as appendices C, D and E to enclosure (13).

20. Prior to dark on 30 January all the major tasks were completed with the exception of the pontoons. The after pair, those secured abreast the rudders, broke loose during a test run of the destroyers in preparation for their possible use to create waves. This pair was never effectively rerigged. In order to obtain a more even trim fore and aft both anchors and all cable had been replaced and the forward peak tanks flooded, a total addition of about 600 tons in the bow. Tugs were in place in accordance with the diagram on the following page.

21. On the morning of 31 January the weather was calm and operations were begun during darkness and in a heavy fog. A flood tide of about one knot was running. Its direction was from about 10° on the starboard bow of the MISSOURI. Beach gear was set taut at 0515 and tugs began working up to speed shortly thereafter. All tugs were pulling at full speed by 0600. In the meantime, because of reduced visibility and the effects of the current, the towing unit had drifted to the northward, that is, clockwise with respect to the fore and aft axis of the MISSOURI. This drift to the northward resulted in one of the assisting YTBs of the towing unit getting across the double wire hawser used by the northern ARSD. As a consequence, this ARSD (one of the two most powerful units) had to slack off on her lines and her full effectiveness was never realized. The twisting unit of YTBs on the bow of the MISSOURI on this occasion was never fully effective because of the wash from the screws of the bow unit. The YTBs were not sufficiently powerful for the task assigned. Consequently, a full and effective twisting effort was never obtained on this occasion. One of the pulling tugs snapped her

illustration of ships and gear on 31 Jan 1950

heavy towing wire. The remaining beach gear and tugs functioned as was expected. The effort obtained therefore on the morning of 31 January turned out to be exactly as it was named, that is, a coordination rehearsal. The MISSOURI remained hard aground.

22. Immediately following the unsuccessful attempt outlined above, the anchors and anchor chain were again removed. The peak tanks were emptied and the fourth pair of pontoons were rigged in place on the bow. Tugs were rearranged in accordance with the diagram on the following page.

23. On the morning of 1 February the weather was clear, a southeast wind of about 12 knots had developed during the night. At 0530, Plan One was executed. The twisting unit of three fleet tugs took its first pull on the starboard bow and began working up to full power at 0545. The port beach gear was set taut at the same time. The ship started swinging slowly to the right almost immediately and within fifteen minutes was 10° to the right of her initial resting position. The twisting unit was then shifted to the port bow. The port quarter beach gear was slacked and the starboard quarter beach gear set taut. Within a very short time the ship began swinging rapidly to port and almost immediately report was received that the draft astern had increased some five feet. At 0630, Plan Two was executed. By 0644 it was obvious that the ship was free and efforts thereafter were devoted to straightening the ship up so that her axis was parallel with the exit channel. This required some little time as the wind and current were very effective in keeping the ship's bow to port. By 0700 however, the ship was lined up sufficiently so that all beach gear was set taut and the pulling tugs worked up to one third speed. The ship moved rapidly aft. In fact, the full and effective pull of the beach gear along the axis was not achieved nor was it necessary. Thereafter efforts were devoted entirely to casting free all beach gear and towing the ship carefully and slowly through the dredged channel. During this period only two untoward incidents occurred. The YTB in attempting to pull the northern ARSD (WINDLASS) clear snapped her towing hawser and it was only due to the splendid ship handling efforts of the commanding officer of this ARSD that a serious casualty was prevented. Actually the ARS outboard of the port bow unit brushed the WINDLASS but no serious damage was sustained. The second incident related to the pontoons. The after set broke loose when the ship started to come free and one of the pair sank. It was located in the main ship channel on 10 February by the AMCU 11, a specially equipped sonar ship of the Mine Force requested for the occasion. After locating the pontoon, the KITTIWAKE divers recovered it.

24. The Recovery Plan was executed by despatch as soon as the MISSOURI was in deep water and all gear except the one pontoon mentioned above was recovered and delivered to cognizant authorities by 7 February.

25. The ship was towed to the Shipyard without further incident and secured in drydock at 1430.

VI Evaluation

26. In evaluating an operation such as this it is important to consider the conditions under which the salvage was conducted. The MISSOURI went aground in a protected harbor. Salvage operations therefore were never confronted with the problem of the open sea. The MISSOURI went aground on sandy bottom. The ship was not hung up on rocks. The MISSOURI was undamaged. Except for three compartments of 456 double bottoms there was no flooding to contend with. There was no problem of stability once afloat. The 57,600 tons of MISSOURI; her position of a half mile from deep water; the hard packed sand, a good part of which had the consistency of light concrete; the heavy cumbersome salvage gear; the great number of officers and personnel to organize; the mutual understanding to be created together with the short time factor (that date of 2 February); these were the primary considerations.

27. Another broad point in evaluation is the fact that the Navy does not have an operating salvage unit as such. It is recognized that maintenance of such a unit would be inefficient unless collateral duties were imposed upon it or unless it could be integrated into and used by a fleet or type commander in the normal execution of his duties. From the results obtained in this operation it would seem that such a unit could be organized and exist in fact, that it could be trained as a team for special duties of salvage and so disposed that its employment in salvage operations could be quickly obtained, and that it could operate from an organization, plans and instructions already formulated and effective.

illustration of ships and gear on 1 Feb 1950

28. In spite of the above, however, and in spite of the fact that equipment and personnel were assembled from sources variously located from Boston to Panama, it can be said that for this operation no single phase was delayed for want of facilities or technical experience. Such might not have been the case however had the scene of salvage been located in any other place on the Atlantic seaboard.

29. One of the most outstanding aspects of the entire operation was the quick and ready support and assistance which was supplied by all commands ashore and afloat throughout the entire Atlantic area. The mutual understanding between commands, the vast and diversified facilities, skills and equipment which were available, the ingenuity, devotion to duty, and loyalty portrayed by individuals and groups, all go to prove that the Navys' basic concepts of organization and training are sound and effective.

30. In the matter of training it is considered that this operation bore to the salvage units involved the same relation that actual war bears to the Navy as a whole. It was more than training. It was a test of capabilities developed in training. With that in view, COMCRULANT obtained and employed ships, equipment and personnel in excess of that actually required. Thus, students from the school of salvage at Bayonne, New Jersey were asked for and did participate. The benefits derived by all hands in actual participation were much greater than could have been obtained in an artificially devised salvage exercise.

31. One of the most unusual features of the operation was the fact that not one single personnel casualty occurred. The dangers inherent in handling the heavy beach gear, pontoons, towing wires, in diving operations, and off loading ammunition, and the heavy strains involved all were recognized. In addition, there was the ever present hazard of fire in the MISSOURI, particularly considering her reduced fire fighting capabilities under the circumstances. With the foregoing in view a comprehensive program of security measures were instituted and while it is recognized that luck looked on with favor, these measures are considered to have contributed greatly to the results.

32. Comments on the various methods which might have been employed are worthy of note:

a. Weight removal - If the MISSOURI had been stripped of all semi-permanent and many permanent weights, such as her 16" guns, it is possible that she might, with a favorable tide, have been successfully refloated by weight removals only. The time of refloating by this method would have been indefinite - the costs would have been excessive - and, considering other means available - inefficient. Removal of the crew, even temporarily, was held in abeyance in order not to cause a lowering of morale. In other words, "stand by your ship" was not to be violated unless as a last resort.

b. Dredging - This method had considerable appeal, especially if combined with weight removal and reloading. The sand underneath the MISSOURI had been packed to the consistency of light concrete, in many areas. If the MISSOURI's fluid weights could be removed; then the sand underneath dredged out; then the MISSOURI reloaded to squash her down; then unloaded and dredged underneath some more; then the cycle repeated - it was considered feasible by COMCRULANT to refloat the MISSOURI. However, a dredge was needed which could reach 50 feet under the flat bottom of the MISSOURI. Such a dredge could not be found - nor is one known to exist - although a claim was made as to the availability of such a dredge on the Atlantic Coast which would reach under the hull a distance of 30 feet. At any rate, the tunneling by the divers with the pressurized hose and lance, relative to the tremendous underwater body of the MISSOURI, was a very slow method, and the date of 2 February could not be met by this method alone. If the MISSOURI had not been spotlighted in the public mind, the cycle outlined above would have had first place in the plans of COMCRULANT.

c. Beach gear - The exclusive use of beach gear, along with removing the fluids from the MISSOURI, would not be a good solution because of the MISSOURI's distance from deep water. As it was, the number of beach gear utilized approached the maximum that could have been used on the MISSOURI and gave an effective pull of 750 tons, and this with a coefficient of friction of 0.5 could overcome a negative buoyancy of approximately 1500 tons in the MISSOURI. It is possible that the MISSOURI might have been dragged by beach gear together with weight removal, but it is a hard tough job for a ship the size of the MISSOURI, and the time of refloating would have been indeterminate. Beach gear, however, is a proven instrument of salvagers, and received a new incentive and understanding in the Atlantic Fleet through its employment in the MISSOURI case.

d. Pontoons - Pontoon rigging takes time. It is not an operation to be quickly accomplished. The passing of chains and wires requires experience and determination. It would have required many more pairs of pontoons than space could accommodate - together with fluid weight removal - to have refloated the MISSOURI. The use of the new "bubble" or "parachute" pontoons was considered, but always a choice had to be made between the various activities which needed space alongside the MISSOURI and their comparative contributions.

e. Tunneling - This has been mentioned under dredging above - the important point in the case of the MISSOURI being that the diving and utilization of high pressure jets could not be made effective by the 2nd of February, when considered in comparison with the size of the underwater job of removing such a mass of sand and gravel. The explosives which were set off close aboard on Sunday, 29 January, after some 600 man-hours of tunneling by divers, just three days before the MISSOURI was refloated, produced a jarring effect which settled the MISSOURI about one inch (equivalent to 150 tons weight removal). COMCRULANT held a conference with the Commander of the Underwater Demolition Team, Amphibious Force, to investigate the possibilities of UDT operations. The decision was not to use the UDT, as the other operations would necessarily cease while they were working and the advantages to be gained were insufficient when compared with the disadvantages of stopping almost all other work.

f. Tugs - Tugs alone could not generate sufficient power to pull the MISSOURI off. A 3000 h. p. fleet tug exerts some 30 tons of horizontal pull, and so it would not be possible to get enough tugs positioned to pull the MISSOURI free by that method combined with the fluid weight removal, except in the event of an unusually and unexpected high tide.

33. It is evident therefore that the courses of action taken, that of combining all of these major tasks, resulted in the final success in the Minimum of time. This matter of time, of setting a definite target date was vital and mandatory. The public interest which was aroused as demonstrated in the broad press coverage and the hundreds of letters received from all over the world (all of which were answered) demanded the earliest target date and further demanded that no effort was too great to assure success.

34. The question immediately arises therefore why did the ship not come off on the attempted pull off effort of the morning of 31 January? Theoretically, all of the major tasks had been completed and the predicted high tide was not more than one or two inches lower than that expected on the morning of February 1st. In the light of known facts obtained afterwards, three factors are probably responsible for the failure of the pull off on 31 January: first, the maximum pulling effort was not obtained either by the beach gear or the tugs; second, in an effort to obtain a more even fore and aft trim and a spread of the pressure on the ground, some six hundred additional tons of water, anchors and chains were replaced in the bow prior to the 31st and were removed prior to the 1st of February; and third, the tide was actually some seven inches higher on the 1st of February than on the 31st of January. Intimately connected with the above is the fact that on the morning of the 31st, little or no twisting effort was obtained. On the morning of the 1st of February however, a very favorable twisting moment was obtained and it became apparent almost immediately when the ship first began to swing to starboard that she was going to come clear. Therefore, it is believed that if the additional six hundred tons had not been aboard on the morning of the 31st, if the maximum effort of the beach gear and tugs had been obtained and if a full and effective athwartship twisting moment had been exerted, that even with the seven inch less tide existing the ship would still have come free on the morning of 31 January.

35. In the final analysis, the results go to prove that the basic planning was correct, the computations were correct, the major aspects were properly applied and it only remained for the full and effective application of those factors to obtain success within the time limit deliberately set.

36. From the command viewpoint, the Daily Summaries, enclosure (1), with the hindsight now available, show the development of the plan, its implementation, some of the difficulties which had to be overcome, and most important the tenacious hanging on to the basic plan.


VII Recommendations

37. Salvage Organization - It is recommended that a salvage unit be organized under COMSERVLANT. That a billet under his organization be designated as Officer in Charge of Salvage Operations. That plans and organization be developed and promulgated and that special ships be assigned as a secondary task to this organization ready for deployment on short notice. (Some ships have such a task now). This organization to be one in being only, but fleet planning should provide for their combined training periodically.

38. Research and Development

a. It is recommended that research and development be conducted in the following items:

(1) Coefficient of friction be obtained for different types of bottom.

(2) Investigate the possibility of using small YOs as pontoons to be properly fitted with lift chains, eye bolts, etc.

(3) Experiments be conducted in developing other types of pontoons. The pontoons used in this operation were primarily developed for submarine rescue work where a vertical lift in deeper water is visualized.

(4) Experiment with a lifting barge such as was planned for 2 February with the UEB 1.

(5) Use of explosives for different types of sea bottom and ship hulls.

b. It is recommended that a salvage book with several examples, situations and generalities be written and promulgated.

signature of Allan E. Smith


CNO (3)
CO, Naval Supply Center, Norfolk
COM 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13
Commanders, All Naval Shipyards
CO, U. S. NavDamContTraCen, Phila., Pa.
CO, U. S. NavDamContTraCen, Treasure Island, San Fran., Calif.
CO, U. S. Naval School (Salvage), Bayonne, N.J.
Pres., Naval War College
Naval Aide to the Pres. of U. S.
CO, U. S. NavScol General Line, Monterey, Calif.
CO, U. S. NavScol General Line, Newport, R. I.
CO, U. S. S. CADMUS (AR14)
CO, U. S. S. HOIST (ARS40)
CO, U. S. S. KIOWA (ATF72)
CO, U. S. S. PAIUTE (ATF159)
CO, U. S. S. ALSEA (ATF97)
CO, U. S. S. PAPAGO (ATF160)
CO, U. S. S. NIPMUC (ATF157)
Supt. U. S. NavPGScol, Annapolis, Md.

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