Atmosphere And Weather

The Typhoon that Devastated Usn Task Force 38

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"The Typhoon that Devastated Usn Task Force 38"
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On the 17th of December 1944 the US navy task force 38 had just completed three days of heavy air raids against Japanese airfields in support of amphibious operations against the island of Mindaro in the Philippines. Attempts were made to refuel in preparation for further raids but with the sea becoming rougher all day and reports of a typhoon nearby the decision was made to rendezvous again on the 18th when the they should be clear of a the approaching storm. The following day the northern most part of the task force was overtaken by the typhoon during refueling operations, it was moving along a coarse further south than thought and many of the ships on the task forces northern flank were directly in its path.

The worst effected ships, near the center of the typhoon and involved in refueling operations, were effected by average wind speeds of 50 75 knots with gusts as high as 120 knots and some survivors reported that barometric pressures in the storms eye dropped as low as 26.8 inches and that at the worst the wind was gusting to 300 knots.

Destroyers caught in the storms path reported that they were unable to manouver against the wind and waves and were rolling to 70 degrees or more, several of the survivors reported coming close to capsizing and three destroyers did capsize. The USS Hull, Spence and Monaghan were lost with all of their crews though 62 men from the Hull, 24 from the Spence and 6 from the Monaghan were recovered from the sea alive over the next three days. All three ships were preparing to refuel at the time and had emptied their bilge tanks; this explains why they capsized immediately while other destroyers survived.

Light carriers were also badly affected by the storm and 146 aircraft were destroyed or damaged beyond repair, 19 were blown overboard. On the hangar decks of the carriers aircraft were broken loose and fires started due to ruptured fuel tanks, this and impact damage caused extensive to the hangar decks of the UCLN Monterey, Cowpens and San Jacinto.

In total 790 crew were lost or killed and 80 were injured throughout the task force and with the loss of ships and aircraft it was the worse storm damage suffered by the US navy since hurricane Apia struck Samoa in 1889.

A typhoon is the name given to a hurricane in the western north pacific and China Sea. Although the official reports state that the typhoon was severe in strength their is no definite record of its size and strength and other reports refer to it as a small typhoon.

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