Sea Stories

BB55 hitting a swell, December 1944

BB55 hitting a swell, December 1944

On December 18, 1944, the Battleship and Task Force 38 were caught in a typhoon while steaming through the Philippine Sea. Winds rapidly built up to over 100 knots. The ocean swells created high crests and deep troughs. Three destroyers in the Task Force were lost. On occasion the Battleship rolled 30+ degrees, nearly lying flat on her side. On the bow, the immense force folded the 20mm steel gun shields against the guns.

“The scariest time of my life was the typhoon Cobra off the Philippines. We were fueling destroyers…and the seas were getting really rough. We fueled them as long as we could then it started to get dangerous…. The captain ordered us to just cut the ropes and get out of there as it was getting worse by the second. We just left the fuel lines on the deck and everyone went below decks.

While playing pinochle one of our head men of the division walks by and tells about 15 of us to get our lifejackets on, we were going topside! No Japanese plane ever scared me as much as this. Three of us went to the very tip of the bow. The others were spread out along the #1 turret and were going to tie down the fueling lines. At the bow, before we even touched the lines, the ship went up on a swell and we knew were going to take on a good bit of water; so we grabbed onto whatever we could find. We went down and about three feet of ocean hit us and sent us sprawling. We got up and got back to position when we started to go up on a swell again, this time way up and when we started to head back down I knew this was going to be really bad. I just remember being washed down the deck towards the #1 turret and hitting all those obstacles under all this water; and when I came to a stop I was under the spray shield of the 16-inch gun.”

-Bob Palomaris, Gunner’s Mate 3/c


“The pitch was much worse than the roll. Each time the ship dipped into a trough between the waves, a the bow would crash into one of the huge (70 foot) waves and a wall of green water would burst over the bow and roar, two or three feet high, over the main deck for the length of the ship.”

-Ensign Al Dunn