Target Duty for Torpedo Planes

Memory from: Sonarman 2nd class Fred Higgins, Jr.

Setting the Scene

Sonarman 2nd class Fred Higgins, Jr., recalls an unnerving experience off the coast of Honolulu in which the KIDD came under fire from friendly forces again in another war games exercise.

The Recollection

I can recall one time [that] I was mentioning to one of the crew members aboard the KIDD yesterday. Before we left for Ulithi, we went out as a target ship for some torpedo planes. They were dropping dummy torpedoes for practice and we were the guinea pig. Evidently, this was a new squadron, or maybe this was a problem that torpedo planes have continuously. But, anyway, they were dropping these things from too high off the water and the torpedo would dive and then come up and jump out of the water like a porpoise. This became a very dangerous situation. It took a lot of maneuvering on the part of the skipper to be able to steer clear of these torpedoes. This thing could smash not only into the side of the ship but above the water [in] any position at all. That day we were running–it was in a secure area off Hawaii, of course–we were running without the sound gear operating. When we finally had a squadron that was dropping these things halfway normal, the skipper asked me to go down and lower the sonar gear in the sonar dome. I must say that going down to lower this thing manually, as I recall, in the bowels of the ship, … Why, I didn’t particularly like that. I could see a torpedo coming through the side of the ship all the time I was down there.

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