Tragedy at Honda

One of America's Greatest Naval Disasters

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Overview

Known to seafarers as the Devil's Jaw, Point Honda has lured ships to its dangerous rocks on California's coast for centuries, but its worst disaster occurred on 8 September 1923. That night nine U.S. Navy destroyers ran into Honda's fog-wrapped reefs. Part of Destroyer Squadron 11, the ships were making a fast run from San Francisco to their homeport of San Diego as fog closed around them. The captain of the flagship Delphy ordered a change of course, but due to navigational errors and unusual currents caused by an earthquake in Japan the previous week, she ran aground. Eight destroyers followed her. Only Pearl Harbor in 1941 would do more damage.

In dramatic hour-by-hour detail, the authors recreate what happened, including the heroic efforts to rescue men and ships. In addition to presenting a full picture of the tragedy, they cover the subsequent investigations, which became a media sensation. The authors suggest that the cause of the tragedy lay in the interpretation of the differences that exist between the classic concepts of naval regulations and the stark realism of the unwritten code of destroyer doctrine to follow the leader. Admiral Nimitz's introduction sets the scene for this action-filled account of America's greatest peacetime naval tragedy in history, first published in 1960.

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