WWII (1943-46)

“SNAFU — Depth Charging The Carriers”

Memory from: Andy Jancovic

Setting the Scene

Andy Jancovic, one of the KIDD's World War II Torpedoman's Mates, relates how, through a series of small errors and lack of communication, the KIDD fired a depth charge into the path of an approaching aircraft carrier.

The Recollection

I guess this would be your classic blunder. Location: unknown. Pacific Ocean. We were escorting a carrier. I don’t know the name. We were in the forward part of the escort. The Fire Controlman came down to check the firing circuits on the “K” guns 1, 3, and 5, on the starboard side. He came down, opened the breaches, took out the cartridges and said “Fire One.” I notified the bridge to fire One. That checked out good. We notified the bridge to fire Three. That checked out good. Then we checked Number 5. That was good. Then, forgetting that the Torpedoman up on the bridge still had his finger on the firing button, the Fire Controlman reinserted the firing cartridge and closed the breach. Closing the breach made the depth charge take off, with the carrier behind us. The Fire Controlman ran like hell because he was in the blast with his head down there. All I could see was that depth charge flying. I turned my head to see it about 50 or 60 feet in the air, heading out to sea. Fortunately, you had to remove the safety fork from the booster for the depth charge to explode. I got excited and I didn’t know what to do. Chief Pribble came down and said, “The first thing you do is reload.” We reloaded and that was it. I had to go see Doc Savage, the Executive Officer, and I had to explain what happened. It was actually lack of communications, or whatever you want to call it. But, the depth charge would not explode, thanks to the safety fork, even though the “K” gun had fired it.

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