“Brace For Collision . . . Again!!!”

Memory from: George Quarré

Setting the Scene

George Quarré, one of the KIDD's wartime Lieutenants recounts how Commander Allan Roby, the KIDD's first commander, performed routine ship maneuvers with a flair for showmanship.

The Recollection

It was 1944 and the KIDD was operating with a Fast Carrier Task Unit. These units usually consisted of three carriers in a triangle at the center, steaming 1,000 yards apart. Next to the carriers, about 500 yards away, were one to three battleships to provide close-in concentrated AA (anti-aircraft support) from their 20 five-inch guns and multiple 40mm and 20mm small guns. Outside the battleships, there were usually four cruisers steaming in a square configuration, also to provide close-in AA firepower. Outside this inner core were the destroyers, “smallboys.” Usually about 20 in a complete circle around the inner force. The KIDD, in the outer screen, received a message from the Screen Commander to proceed to Carrier #1, pick up some dispatches, and deliver them to Carrier #2. This maneuver was to be undertaken as the entire Task Unit was steaming along at 15 knots. Captain Roby took the “conn,” the forward deck party was called away, and as the Assistant First Lieutenant, I joined the deck gang on the forecastle.

It would be necessary for us to shoot a line across to each carrier, bend on a larger hauling line, and thus pass the packages. The KIDD had to be conned out of the outer screen and make for Carrier #1 through the screening cruisers and battleships, all while they were proceeding forward at the fleet speed. Using a “Maneuvering Board,” the Executive Officer plotted the KIDD’s course and speed to arrive safely at Carrier #1. With the Captain on the bridge, the KIDD went through the formation, passing within less than 100 yards of some of the “Bigboys.” We approached Carrier #1 from astern, got within distance to pass our line and, while we were in the shadows of the flight deck and overhanging gun tubs, we safely got the package on board. Now it was necessary to sheer off and make for Carrier #2, which we did. We then had to add quite a few turns, get ahead of Carrier #2 while avoiding the other ships in the inner core, and come alongside Carrier #2. To do this, the Captain, after getting somewhat ahead on the starboard bow, turned the KIDD directly at the carrier. 

We were on a collision course to hit her just below the bridge. The entire bridge personnel of the carrier–including, I am sure, some of the Admiral’s staff–rushed to the starboard wing of the bridge to see what was going to happen to this “smallboy.” We continued on our course at about 25 knots until we were literally under the overhanging flight deck. Then at exactly the right moment, Captain Roby gave the order to come starboard 90 degrees. As the carrier personnel were yelling and waving their arms, we slid neatly alongside at a distance of about 20 feet. A line was passed, the package transferred, and the KIDD again sheered off, made her way through the 15-knot formation, and returned to her position in the outer screen. As the deck gang was being secured, the KIDD received a message from the flagship: “Tare Victor George.” TVG: “Well done, DD-661.” To this day, I can still recall the horrified faces of the flagship bridge personnel as our “smallboy” headed for them at 25 knots..

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