Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Emergency repairs to the HMAS Hobart

On today's date in 1943, Dad's ship, Vestal, began emergency repairs to the Australian cruiser, HMAS Hobart. The job will take almost a month.

In the early evening of July 20 while in the Solomon Islands, Hobart was hit by a shallow-running torpedo from a Japanese submarine 10 miles away. The torpedo struck the port side of the ship, missing the aft magazine by only a few feet. It caused significant structural damage and lifted the 60-ton gun turret completely off its seating. Two propellers and shafts were blown off, and another was badly damaged. 13 sailors and officers were killed and 7 injured.

The pictures taken at Espiritu Santo of the damaged ship are incredible. It's a wonder that Vestal's crew was able to make repairs to the stricken Hobart sufficient for it to sail on to Sydney in late August for permanent repairs. The extent of the damage will require her to remain out of service through the end of 1944.

Reentering the war by early 1945, Hobart saw further Pacific action before sailing into Sagami Bay, where she was present for Japan's signing the Instrument of Surrender on September 2, 1945. For the next 2 years, the ship participated in the occupation of Japan. Ironically, 15 years after the war, Hobart was sold for scrap to a Japanese firm.

Sources: USS Vestal War Diary, July 1943; Royal Australian Navy

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