Flier Grounded

Posted by Rebekah
Jan 16 2011

I’ve been spending the day working on a model showing exactly how the grounding of Flier occurred.  In this, I am indebted to Mr. Michael Sturma, author of USS Flier: Death and Survival on a WWII Submarine, since he so kindly sent me the actual transcript of the investigation into Flier’s grounding.  It helped explain a lot more, seeing it over an over in the men’s own words, what actually happened, and how, and why, the Flier ended up the way she did.

But alas, we’ve all been laid low by something, so it is no where near done.  I did not want today to pass without an acknowledgement of Flier’s grounding, nor the passing of Mr. James Cahl of South Holland Illinois, who drowned in the seas near Midway Island.

So instead of the model, I thought I would  post a transcript of the deck log from that day: how the grounding happened in real time.

Sunday 16 January 1944

Pg. 16

Zone Description +11


Underway in accordance with COMSUBPAC operation order #22-44 on course 285°T going ahead at f/s 14 kts. With 3 ME on propulsion.  Aux. engine on battery charge.  0225 c/c to 253°T

J.W. Liddell


Underway as before.  0748  Changed course to 262°T

J.E. Casey


Underway as before. 0947  Changed speed to standard speed on two main engines.  Commenced charging batteries on one main engine.  1000 Changed course to 220°T.  1127  Changed course to 255°(T)

B.J. Germerhausen


Underway as before on course 255°(T).  Going ahead as s/s 14 kts. With 3 ME on Propulsion. 1230  Made radar contact on land bearing 286°(T) range 25,50 yds.  1232  c/c to 270°(T)  1315 Sighted MIDWAY ISLANDS bearing 290°(T)  range 15,000 yards.  1328  Steering various courses and speed approaching entrance buoys.  Received signal from SAND ISLAND to standby for pilot.  1425  Lying to aft entrance buoys waiting to pilot.  Secured main engines and closed inductions.  Tug with pilot aboard stood out and directed Flier to follow tug through channel since heavy seas prevented receiving pilot aboard.  1523.  Passed entrance buoys abeam apparently equidistant on both sides.  Going ahead at 2/3 speed 10 kts.  Using main storage batteries for propulsion on course 350°(T) following pilot aboard tug 1000 yds ahead.    Own vessel bearing set to right of channel by heavy seas.  Immediately after passing through buoys, ship swung to 008°T.  Set full left rudder and endeavored to come to 340°(T).  Vessel  grounded at 1524 bearing 345°(T)  at lat. 28-12-3.15 N long 177-21-13.5 W.  The fathometer had been in continuous operation since 1510 and indicated four fathoms immediately before grounding.  “All ahead full”  attempting to pass over obstruction.  Unable to clear to gave “port stop, left full rudder”  trying to turn clean.  Maneuvering room reported fire which subsequent investigation showed to be rags ignited by sparks caused from screw driver [sic] falling across terminals for #4 MM.  Fire was quickly extinguished without loss of power.  Continued bearing full and emergency bells and full rudder trying to head vessel into sea.  Started lightening ship by emptying variable tanks #1 & 2 NFOT and #3 & % FBT  1540 Ship had swing left to 300°(T) headed into sea, so tried to let go anchor in attempt to keep from being driven further up reef.  The following two men in anchor detail

Apprived: J.D. Crowley

Examined By: B.E> Adams, USN Navigator

Sunday 16 January 1944

Pg. 16

1200-200 Cont’d:

Were washed overboard:  CAHL, JAMES FRANCIS PEDER, 725-72-09  TM 3/c, V-6, USNR., and GERBER CLYDE ARTHUR 328-81-09, TM i/c USN.  CAHL drifted out of sight.  CANCHER, GEORGE JOESPH, 663-91-06  MoMM 2/c V-6, USNR went over side with life preserver and life ring in attempt to reach GERBER, CANCHERO and GERBER eventually reached sand spit together.  COMSUBFOR, PHCFLT, SUBORDINATE COMMAND reported that GERBER was taken to hospital and BANCHER to rest and recuperation center Sub Base #1504.  Ship continued to swing left to 150°T then back to 200°T.  Continued using full and emergency bells as lightening of ship continued.  Used three main engine alternately because coral found sea suction causing overheating.  #4 main engine out of commission due to being unable to zero out board glands.  By use of trim and drain pumps and bucket brigade managed to keep ahead of water while taking up on pecking glands.  When ship was as light as possible it became apparent that vessel could not pull clear by use of own power so at 1720 let go anchor with 35 fathoms of chaing and re-flooded tanks in effort to settle ship more firmly to reduce pounding.  At time men were washed overboard, DAGGY, WAITE HOYT 386-24-89  F1c MoMM2/c  V-6, USNR received the following injuries in line of duty.  From being washed against conning tower:  laceration of right side about two inches long and on inch deep jagged laceration of lower lip which severed small vein, teeth #12 & 13 broken off, #14 loose and out of line preventing proper closure of jaw, #28 broken off, #25, 26, & 27 loose and  out of line with possible fracture of jaw.  At approximately 1720  USS MACAW (ASR 11) grounded on north heading approximately 75 yards west of Flier.  1730  Ship’s position lat 28-12-31.8 N long 177-21-09 W as fixzed by following bearings of objects on SAND ISLAND: SW Radio Tower 276 ½ °(T)  NW Radio tower 277 ½ °(T),

J.W. Liddell


Aground as before.  Pounding of seas excessive.  Stress noises in framing in ballast tanks noted.  Both propellors seemed to be on bottom, turning shafts as the ship rolled.  2340  Pumped forward trim tanks full in attempt to sease pounding of ship on bottom.

B.J. Germerhausne

Approved: J.D. Crowley

Examined By: B.E. Adams, USN Navigator

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