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I almost forgot CDR Maher's Action Report

November 1 2011 at 4:36 AM
Melmoth the Generous Wanderer (DMKjr)  (no login)


Response to Re: Numerical accounting of 5-inch AA shells

Nelson & others,

1) The gunnery officer of HOUSTON [her senior survivor], CDR Arthur Maher stated in his 1945 Action Report on the Battle of Sunda Strait that HOUSTON fired approximately 750 rds of 5"/25cal in the final engagement, so hardly a negligible amount, even if off by 100 rds either way.

2) One must bear in mind that her MB's 8" supply was far more critical in terms of depletion, and the MB was put out of action by shellfire & attendant damage before all could be fired. Based on various sources I believe the ship had roughly 300 MB shells left when she went into Sunda Strait. That figure would equal 1/3 of her "as built" allotment of 900 shells, and as her forward turrets had fired approx. 600 shells at BatJvzee, this makes good arithmetical sense. Some accounts--including Van Oosten--have said she had 50 shells per 8" gun left that night, so that's 300 projectiles. I find the figure quite plausible.

3) I have an official message sent by the ship to HQ saying she had 60 shells left, but this is clearly a missprint or garble; turret two alone fired 26 or 27 salvos before being destroyed--that's about 80 shells right there--so it may have been 60 shells per gun...but there's no way that moving 60 shells from Turret Three forward consumed as much time and effort as ALL firsthand accounts say. Moving 300 is much more like it. That's about the amount that would still have been in Turret Three's [previously flooded] magazines.

4) Also, the business about her 'being reduced to firing starshells' is a misunderstanding of how her 5"/DP battery was set up to function, pure & simple. It also fails to take into account how large her allotment of SS had been. (e.g., when undergoing her final refit at Machina Wharf, Navy Yard Cavite in November 1941, in one day she off-loaded over 330 starshells...among much else.)

5) Someone has suggested that CA-30 fired the most 8" MB shells of any USN cruiser in the war. I have no idea if this is true or not, but I like the sound of it.

All for now,

MthW/DMKjr

 
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