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|83k||12 October 1945
Buckner Bay, Okinawa.
Aground alongside PCC-1126 after typhoon Louise
The motor gunboat was built on the Bronx side of the Harlem River by the Consolidated Shipbuilding Corporation. Her keel had been layed down on the 6 of June 1944 as the PC-1558 and was launched on the 28 October 1944 as the PGM-27. Mrs T. J. KeIcher was her sponsor. She was put in commission at 11:45 a.m. at the Brooklyn Naval Yard on Monday, 19 March 1945 with Lt. Percy Rinde- Thorsen, USNR in command.
After commissioning, things moved fast for the new gunboat and her crew. They moved over to Mill Basin, Brooklyn to have its twin 40 mm mounted, and then off to Miami, FL on a shake down trip.
After a short stay in Miami, they headed for the Coco Solo Naval Base and the Panama Canal. After a quick transit of the canal, then headed for San Diego with a brief stop at Manzanillo, Mexico for fuel and water. Another short stay in San Diego and then off to Pearl Harbor. They spent two weeks in Pearl Harbor waiting for orders. During this time Honolulu and Waikiki beach saw much of the crew of the PGM-27. They had a lot of official shore leave and some not so official. Then it was off again westward toward Eniwetok and Guam. Refueled and provisioned, they headed for the lagoon at Ulithi Atoll and then on to the Palau Islands. From there they steamed north toward Okinawa.
Within six months of the commissioning of the PGM-27, they were at Okinawa. Her classification was officially changed from PC-1558 to PGM-27 on the 16th of August 1945.
The war was declared over on 15 August 1945, after which they were ordered to Wakayama, Japan to work with the mine sweepers clearing mines, many of which had been dropped by B-29's from Guam. They were escorted thru the mine fields into Wakayama harbor by a small Japanese patrol boat which seemed to have a Chevrolet 6-cylinder engine for propulsion. On 11 September 1945, the minesweepers began sweeping a channel through the Kii Suido entrance to the Inland Sea. This was the closest entrance to the cities of Kobe and Osaka, Japan. It was their job to explode any mines that the sweeps had cut loose. It was the first time Japanese mine sweepers worked with U.S. Naval units. It was also during this time that they had to ride out the typhoon that struck southern Japan on 17 of September 1945.
In early October, after this operation was over, they steamed back to Okinawa to wait for further orders... 9 October, 1945, 18:45 hrs - During a typhoon of extremely violent intensity, the USS PGM-27 was grounded on a reef off the northwestern coast of Tsuken Shima, Buckner Bay, Okinawa.
The following narrative by Emil Hale, SK2/c, depicts the final hours of the PGM-27.
The first indication of an intended typhoon was received aboard this vessel on the 6th of October, 1945... (my 19th birthday). We were moored alongside the USS Mainstay (AM-261), which, in turn was moored to the starboard side of the USS Mona Island (ARG-9). The Mona Island was a mine sweeper tender and repair ship [She was actually an Internal Combustion Engine Repair Ship]. On the 7th of October, preparations were begun to secure the ship for the coming typhoon. All movable weights topside were removed and shifted below as close to the keel as possible and lashed securely. The heavy armored gun shields off the 20 mm had previously been removed and placed below in preparation for the September 17 typhoon during which this vessel was in Wakayama, Japan. The ship was fueled to 95% of capacity and the fresh water tanks had been topped off from the USS Mona Island.
All movable objects below decks were re-stowed and lashed. All life rafts were checked and life lines were strung fore and aft. Main and auxiliary engines were in good shape. All radio and radar gear aboard were operating properly. The radar had previously been found, during the typhoon of the 17 September, to be of little value due to the height of the antenna above the water, 33 feet. At 0730 hours on 9 October, 1945 we got underway from along side USS Mainstay to take up anchorage in Buckner Bay as directed.
The ship was anchored in 10 fathoms of water with 85 fathoms of chain to the port anchor. Special pains were taken to hook the anchor firmly to the bottom and the ship was on a northeasterly heading when the anchor was let go. This anchorage was chosen due to the shallowness of the water permitting us a maximum scope of our anchor chain. The barometer reading was now at 29.58 and dropping steadily, the wind was increasing and with a medium strain on the anchor chain.
At approximately 0830 hours, the captain came on the bridge and remained there continuously from that time on. The barometer reading was now at 29.06 and dropping steadily, the wind and the height of the waves were increasing which put an extremely heavy strain on the anchor chain. At this time the main engines were engaged to help take the strain off our anchor chain. At 1445 all hands were ordered into life jackets. The barometer was now down to 28.22 and still dropping with the wind and sea conditions getting worst. Wave height was estimated at 35 feet. At 1535 it appeared that the anchor chain broke because the ship took a heading abeam to the sea and wind. Even with the help of the main engines, maneuvering became very difficult trying to keep the bow into the sea and wind.
Our radar screen was confused and the visibility was zero because of the high winds and sea. The ship was getting more difficult to handle in these conditions. No attempt was made to heave in the anchor chain because it was unsafe to send any personnel out on the deck. The ship was rolling as much as 55°. Due to poor visibility the captain ordered the running lights turned on. By this time the Mike-Nan radio became grounded and inoperative. Shortly prior to the grounding, the port running light of a ship was observed on our port beam. It was believed that the vessel was underway and in safe water. It was after dark and it was impossible to see anything except her running lights. It later developed that this vessel whose running lights we observed was, in reality, aground. "Because of this misleading observation and the fact that it was dark, with absolutely no visibility, a few minutes later at 1845 hours, we went hard aground. All engines were stopped. Running lights were turned off and Break down lights turned on. Damage control determined that we were not taking on water and there were no casualties. The captain decided not to abandon ship.
At 2012 hours, the USS PC-1126 drifted down, rammed our starboard quarter near the propeller guards and remained there. (The PC-1126 had been rammed by a drifting pontoon barge ripping a hole in her starboard side flooding her engine room). The starboard and after bulkheads of our lazarette were stove in. The crew of the 1126 took refuge aboard the gunboat for the night.
At daylight on the morning of the 10th of October 1945, after a through inspection was made, the damage to our ship was as follows: Vessel was aground on a reef; completely out of water at low tide and in three feet of water at high tide; both port and starboard propellers, shafts and rudders were damaged, the main engines were inoperable. The starboard and after bulkheads of the lazarette stove in with the USS PC-1126 resting firmly against our starboard quarter.
It was the opinion of the command that our ship could not be salvaged except for the stripping of valuable items which could be removed by hand. It appeared impossible for a salvage tug to approach within 500 yards of the vessel. The continued pounding of the wind and surf on the hull resulted in opening the seams and further buckling of her frames.
Most of the crew were transferred to the USS Sherburne (APA-205) which was anchored in Buckner Bay. Sixteen of us stayed aboard for 2 or 3 days stripping the vessel of all valuable items and eventually we too were transferred to the APA. The hulks of the PGM-27 and the PC-1126 were destroyed by explosives on 24 December 1945.
The USS PGM-27 earned the Navy Occupation Medal for 2 September thru 10 October 1945.
R. W. Daly PC-1181
Crew member Emil Hale, SK 2/c remembers: "The PGM-27 was a superb sea-worthy ship. She had carried us a long, long way from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. She was my first ship and it was with a heavy heart that I saw her for the last time, gently rolling to port. Very still and quiet except for the banging of a lose piece of metal somewhere within the hull..."
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