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Battle of Midway: 4-7 June 1942, Online Action Reports: Commanding Officer, USS Yorktown, of 18 June 1942


CV5/A16-3 (CCR-10-oah) U.S.S. YORKTOWN
  PACIFIC FLEET
  18 JUN 1942
 
From: The Commanding Officer.
To: The Commander-in-Chief, U.S. PACIFIC FLEET.
Via: Commander Task Force SEVENTEEN.
(Commander Cruisers, U.S. PACIFIC FLEET)
 
Subject: Report of Action for June 4, 1942 and June 6, 1942.
 
Enclosures: (A) Executive Officer's Report for June 4-7, 1942.
(B) Sketch of Japanese Disposition when Attacked by Yorktown attack group.
(C) Copy of Report of Damage.

1. This report of action is compiled entirely from memory of officers in the ship and Air Group who had intimate knowledge of the various events as they took place. Although approximate times are stated, it may be that some of them are somewhat in error.

2. On the morning of June 4, 1942, Yorktown was a part of Task Force SEVENTEEN, Pacific Fleet, under the direct command of Rear Admiral Frank Jack FLETCHER, Commander Task Force SEVENTEEN. Information had been received on the morning of June 4 that enemy forces, including two carriers, had been located to the Northwestward of Midway.

At dawn, ten VSB of VB5 were launched to search the Northern semi-circle for a distance of 100 miles as a security search against surprise by enemy carriers not previously located by our forces. This search returned at about 0830 with negative results and was landed on board after launching a six-plane combat patrol of fighters. The deck was then spotted for take-off of the attack group.

From 1030 to 1050 took off an attack group composed of seventeen VSB and VB3, twelve VT from VT3, and six VF from VF3. This attack group was launched about an hour and fifteen minutes after Enterprise and Hornet launched their attack groups. Orders were to attack the two enemy carriers previously reported. It had originally been planned to launch all VSB but, as it was considered highly probably that there were two additional carriers in the vicinity which had not yet been located, seventeen VSB were held in reserve to search for and attack these carriers.

At 1115 launched six fighters for Combat Air Patrol and landed the six fighters then in the air. Respotted the flight deck with thirteen VF and seventeen VSB for immediate take-off.

At 1300 launched ten VSB from VS5 to search the sector from 280° to 020° true for a distance of 250 miles to locate and attack enemy carriers. The seven remaining VSB were spotted in the Hangar, fully gassed, and armed with 1,000 pound bombs. A twelve plant combat air patrol was launched.

After this launching, two VSB, from the Enterprise Attack Group, which had been badly damaged in action landed and were struck below. Six VF of the combat air patrol and four VF of the Yorktown Attack Group were landed. The last one to land crashed into the barriers and was struck below. Emergency repairs to barriers No. 4 and 5 were made. Ensign BASSETT of the VF attack group failed to returned and was reported by the Squadron Commander as having been heavily hit.

At about 1359, while fueling the fighters which had turned on board, Radar detected and enemy attack group coming in from a bearing about 250° true, distance 46 miles. These planes had apparently come in at a low altitude and when first detected by Radar were observed to be climbing. Radio Electrician V.M. Bennett, USN, Radar Operator, estimated that there were between 30 and 40 planes in the attack group.

As soon as the enemy attack group was detected by Radar, the fueling of planes was discontinued and the sixteen VSB planes of Yorktown Attack Group, which were then in the landing circle, were directed to form a combat air patrol in order to clear the landing circle and the general area of own anti-aircraft gun fire. An auxiliary gasoline tank on the stern, containing about 8000 gallons of clear aviation gasoline, was dropped over the side. Fuel lines were drained and filled with CO2 at 20 pounds pressure. The gasoline tank compartments had been previously filled with CO2 and all compartments were closed down and secured.

All our fighters in the air were vectored out to intercept the enemy and did intercept at from 15 to 20 miles. The enemy attacking planes were reported as being a squadron of 18 bombers supported by 18 fighters. They were attacked vigorously. As the attacking planes approached the ship they could be seen clearly through binoculars, and it appeared that the organized attack had been broken up. Planes were seen flying in every direction, and many were falling in flames. Of the entire group, seven got through the combat patrol and these made three hits on Yorktown, having released their bombs at about 500 feet. It is believed that none of the enemy planes escaped.

Just before the attack began, the ships of Task Force SEVENTEEN were in anti-aircraft screening formation, radius of screen one mile, speed 25 knots. As the attack approached, speed was increased to the maximum (about 30 1/2 knots) and radical turns were made to avoid bombs. The enemy bombers were under intense anti-aircraft fire from automatic guns as they approached their release points. Of the three which made hits, two were shot down just after releasing their bombs and the other went out of control just as his bomb was released. The bomb from this plane tumbled in flight and hit just abaft No. 2 elevator on the starboard side, exploding on contact, and making a hold in the flight deck about ten by ten feet. This hole was repaired within about 25 minutes. This bomb killed and wounded many men on 1.1" mounts 3 and 4, on machine guns in the vicinity, and the after end of the island structure, and below in the Hangar. Fragments pierced the Hangar Deck. Fires were started in three planes on the Hangar Deck, the two damaged planes from Enterprise and one Yorktown plane fueled and armed with a 1,000 pound bomb. lieutenant A.C. Emerson, USN, Hangar Deck Officer, released the sprinkler system and water curtains in the two after bays and quickly extinguished this fire which otherwise would have undoubtedly developed into a serious conflagration.

The next bomb hit came form the port side, piercing the flight deck, and exploded in the stack, starting fires as follows: (a) on the stack where paint caught fire and flaked off in patches, starting other fires wherever this burning paint fell. (b) in the Photographic Laboratory where photographic film caught fire. (c) in the Executive Officer's Office and First Lieutenant's Office.

Aside from personnel casualties, the most serious effect of this bomb hit was that it ruptured the uptakes from boilers 1, 2, and 3, completely disabled boilers 2 and 3, and extinguished fires in boilers 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. The firerooms containing all saturated boilers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6) were filled with smoke and gases from the bomb hit and from the boilers themselves. In spite of the difficult situation, personnel of No. 1 boiler remained at their station and kept this boiler steaming with two burners. By closing the throttle, steam pressure was able to be maintained at 180 pounds and No. 1 boiler was thus able to keep steam auxiliaries going. Speed immediately dropped to about six knots and at 1440, about 20 minutes after the bomb had hit, all engines were stopped.

The third bomb hit came from starboard, pierced the starboard side of No. 1 elevator and exploded on the fourth deck, starting a persistent fire in a rag stowage space, adjacent to the forward gasoline stowage and the magazines. the magazines were flooded. It is believed that the surrounding of the gasoline tanks by CO2 as has been previously described, prevented the igniting of gasoline.

At about 1540, one hour and ten minutes after the bomb explosion in the uptakes, sufficient repairs had been effected to the uptakes to enable boilers 1, 4, 5, and 6 to be cut in. After boilers 4, 5, and 6 were put back on the line, number 1 was secured in order to eliminate discharge of gases from that boiler into other firerooms. At 1550 the engine room reported ready to make 20 knots or slightly better.

As soon as the bomb explosion had so slowed the ship as to prevent landing and flying off planes, the attack group planes in the air were directed to land on one of the other carriers. As the planes of the combat patrol required fueling, they, too, were directed to land on one of the other carriers. All of the previous combat patrol had to land for fuel or ammunition, and a relief patrol of four fighters had been sent by Hornet, then about forty miles away. These four planes had been relived in turn by six Yorktown planes which had been rearmed and re-fueled on board Enterprise.

By 1550 fires were sufficiently under control to warrant fueling the fighters then on deck. Fueling of these fighters had just started when Radar picked up another approaching Air Group, bearing about 340° true at a distance of 33 miles. Since this group appeared to be climbing, it was immediately determined to be enemy; fueling of planes on deck was stopped, the gasoline system was again drained and secured with CO2, four of the six fighters in the air were vectored out to intercept this group. Of the ten fighters on board, eight had as much as 23 gallons of fuel and these were launched to contact the incoming planes. Within a few second, the remaining two fighters of the Combat Air Patrol were vectored out to intercept.

At about 1600 went ahead emergency full speed. Actual speed developed through the water was about 20 knots.

Our fighters intercepted the enemy planes at about ten to fourteen miles distance and announced that they were Japanese torpedo planes. At least three of the attacking torpedo planes were shot down by fighters prior to the delivery of their attack. As the attack approached, all planes were taken under heavy gun fire by Yorktown and screening vessels and it is believed that some of them were shot down by ships' gun fire prior to the dropping of their torpedoes, and that all but one of them were eventually shot down.

By radical maneuvering, at least two torpedoes were avoided. At about 1620 a torpedo hit on the port side at approximately frame 90, followed shortly thereafter by a second torpedo hit at approximately frame 75. All power was lost, steam dropping immediately and electric power failed completely. The rudder was jammed at about 15° left, and the ship became dead in the water. The ship immediately took a progressively increasing list to port. Word was passed to prepare for another air attack. Ammunition was replenished and batteries were made ready for firing. The Damage Control Officer, Commander C.E. Aldrich, USN, from his station in Central Station, reported that without power nothing could be done to correct the list. The Engineering Officer, Lieutenant Commander J.F. Delaney, USN, reported that all fires were out, all power was lost and it was impossible to correct the steadily increasing list. The after auxiliary diesel was running but the switchboards had been destroyed so that no power was available. The Engineering Officer and Damage Control Officer were ordered to secure below and to direct all personnel to lay up on deck and put on life preservers.

Since the list had steadily increased to 26°, the Commanding Officer and Damage Control Officer both felt that the ship would capsize in a few minutes. In order to save as many of the ship's company as possible, the Commanding Officer ordered the ship to be abandoned. The ship was in total darkness below decks, and it was very difficult to move around because of the heavy list. Wounded personnel were lowered to life rafts and to boats sent by accompanying destroyers and cruisers.

After report had been received that all wounded personnel had been evacuated from Battle Dressing Station No. 1 and Sick Bay, and after all personnel in sight had left the ship, the Executive Officer went down a line on the starboard side. The Commanding Officer then inspected the starboard side from the cat walk and 5" gun platforms, then returned to the flight deck opposite No. 1 crane. He then proceeded down through Dressing Station No. 1 and forward through the Flag Country and the Captain's Cabin to the port side and down the ladder to the Hangar Deck. On this inspection no live personnel were found. By this time the port side of the Hangar Deck was in the water. The Commanding Officer then left the ship by means of a line over the stern and was eventually picked up by the Hammann and shortly thereafter was transferred to Astoria where he reported to Commander Task Force SEVENTEEN, who had transferred his flag to Astoria when the ship stopped after the dive bombing attack.

In conference with Commander Task Force SEVENTEEN, it was determined that a salvage party would return to Yorktown to attempt to save her and bring her into port. Accordingly, on the morning of June 6, the Commanding Officer with 29 selected officers and 141 enlisted men returned aboard Yorktown and found conditions the same as when the ship was left. U.S.S. Vireo had a tow line to the ship and was keeping her headed up into the seas to prevent rolling, and was towing her very slowly. The fire in the rag stowage, which had been started by the bomb hit which pierced No. 1 elevator, was still burning.

A careful plan of Action had been determined upon and was carried out by each department.

Damage Control -- put out the fire in compartment A-305-A. Make careful inspections below deck to determine extent of damage. Reduce list by removing top side weights on the port side and by pumping and counter-flooding, utilizing power from destroyer until salvage tug should arrive.

Gunnery -- prepare automatic guns to resist air attack. Assist Damage Control Officer by cutting loose and casting overboard 5" guns and other removable weights on port side.

Air -- throw overboard all planes and other removable weights on port side.

Engineering -- make careful inspection below decks to determine extent of damage; assist Damage Control Officer in correcting list.

Navigation -- Attempt to bring rudder amidships.

Communication -- maintain visual communications with other ships of the task group. Secure and save or destroy important papers.

Supply -- prepare to subsist on board personnel of the salvage party.

Medical -- collect and identify the dead on board. Bury the dead after funeral services conducted by the Commanding Officer.

The Commanding Officer of the Hammann brought his ship alongside the starboard side of Yorktown, furnished water to fight the fire still burning in the rag storeroom, furnished pumps for counter-flooding starboard tanks, and electric power to operate submersible pumps for pumping in the enginerooms. The other five destroyers, Balch, Benham, Gwin, Anderson, and Monaghan, under the command of Commander Destroyer Squadron SIX, Captain E.P. Sauer, USN, formed anti-submarine and anti-aircraft screen around Yorktown at a distance of about 2,000 yards, speed 14 knots. The conduct of Commander Arnold E. True, U.S. Navy, the Commanding Officer of the Hammann, cannot be too highly praised. Had it not been for the Hammann remaining alongside in the open sea no salvage operations could have been undertaken.

Considerable progress had been made in salvage and in reducing the list by mid-afternoon. One 5" gun had been dropped overboard and another was practically ready for dropping. Several airplanes on the port side had been cast loose and dropped over the side. The fire in the forward rag storeroom had been put out. Two starboard fuel oil tanks had been filled by water pumped from the Hammann, and considerable water had been pumped form the engine rooms by submersible pumps. The list had been reduced by about two degrees.

At about 1536 a salvo of four torpedoes was seen to be approaching the ship on the starboard beam from beyond the line of the screen. The alarm was given by firing one of Yorktown's twenty millimeter guns and by passing the word, "Torpedo Attack." Hammann immediately went to General Quarters. Men were seen to be working on Hammann's depth charges, and it is believed that these were gotten ready for firing by men regularly stationed there. They had been set on safe, and safety forks had been inserted prior to Hammann's coming alongside Yorktown. The first torpedo hit Hammann approximately amidships and caused her to sink very rapidly. Two torpedoes hit Yorktown just below the turn of the bilge at the after end of the island structure. The fourth torpedo passed just astern of the Yorktown.

Approximately a minute after Hammann's stern sank, a terrific explosion occurred, apparently from her depth charges. This explosion killed many of Hammann's and a few Yorktown personnel who were in water and caused serious injuries to personnel from both Hammann and Yorktown who were then in the water and who were later rescued.

The shock from the submarine torpedoes and from Hammann's depth charges was severe. No . 3 auxiliary elevator carried away. Numerous fixtures on the overhead of the hangar crashed on to the hangar deck, and the landing gear of two planes on deck collapsed. All rivets in the starboard leg of the foremast sheared. The list was reduced to 17 degrees. Personnel were thrown in every direction, many sustaining minor injuries and broken bones. Since all destroyers had to be employed in searching for the attacking enemy submarines, and in rescuing Hammann survivors and Yorktown personnel who were thrown overboard by the explosion, no further salvage work could be attempted at that time. Accordingly, it was decided to postpone further attempts to salvage for the time being, to remove the salvage party to destroyers, and to return aboard Yorktown the following morning when the assistance of a large salvage tug was expected. Vireo was directed to come a! longside the starboard side, and all personnel then on board went down lines to the Vireo from which all except eight seriously wounded were transferred to destroyers for the night.

Prior to leaving Vireo, the Commanding Officer, Yorktown conducted burial services for two officers and one enlisted man from Hammann who had been picked up and brought to Vireo by destroyer boats.

About 0530 on the morning of June 7 the list of the Yorktown was noticed to be rapidly increasing to port and, at 0701, Yorktown turned over on her port side and sank in about 3000 fathoms of water with all battle flags flying. Her position at the time of sinking was Latitude 30°-46' North, Longitude 167°-24' West.

AIR

A. COMBAT AIR PATROL

It is believed that the Combat Air Patrol should be placed at such an altitude that the pilots are not required to use oxygen while on patrol. It is felt that 10,000 feet is a satisfactory altitude, for from there they can be vectored out satisfactorily to intercept either low or high flying bogies. It has the additional advantage of being less tiring on the pilot, as he is more comfortable at a lower altitude and is not inconvenienced by having to wear an oxygen mask. In addition, too much time is wasted in having a CAP come down from 18,000 feet by the controlling fighter director. A low flying bogey was picked up and part of the CAP had to be brought down to investigate. By the time they got down the bogey had disappeared off the screen. The Yorktown maintained her CAP at 10,000 feet and successfully intercepted all bogies except for the one mentioned above.

B. GUNNERY DEPARTMENT

At 1359 Radar reported enemy planes bearing 250° true. When this group was about 17 miles away they were attacked by our fighters. Several were shot down and as the dog fight approached, it could be seen that the attack group was broken up. However, one at a time, seven planes were seen to break away and approach the ship, altitude about 12,000 feet, slant range about 8,000 to 10,000 yards. The forward director took control of the starboard 5" battery and opened fire on these planes. This fire was ineffective since the planes circled or approached their diving points by a curved path. On two occasions, when busts appeared close to a plane he was seen to circle away for another approach. These planes were not in formation so it was necessary to shift target continuously as planes circled to turn away. On reaching a point sufficiently low, individual planes were seen to go into shallow glide until they had reached a position angle of about 60° at an altitude of 6,000 to 8,000 feet, then go into a steep glide or dive toward the ship. As the first plane dove, Group III shifted to local control using 1 second fuse (800 yards). Immediately after the first dive Group III shifted back to director control for the rest of the action. The director followed 3 planes in on their approach and preliminary glide, then shifted to planes reported by lookouts as making a torpedo attack on the starboard bow.

Three planes approached at an altitude of about 100 feet as for a torpedo attack from the starboard bow. When bursts appeared near them at a range of about 8,000 yards, they turned away. At from 12,000 to 15,000 yards, they turned again for another approach. This was reported about three times after which two of these flew away and third took a position on our starboard beam, and circled between 15,000 and 20,000 yards at an altitude of about 2000 feet. This plane remained here for about 30 minutes then disappeared. About the same tactics were employed by three planes which approached once on the starboard quarter and twice on the port quarter. These planes were fired on by the port 5" battery in control of the after director and all disappeared upon the completion of the bombing attack. None of these planes on either side pressed home an attack nor was any seen to drop torpedoes.

As the first bomber started his dive, fire was opened with all automatic guns on the starboard side (10-20 mm, 4-1.1 mounts, 12-50 caliber, 2-30 caliber). This plane was cut into at least 3 large pieces before he reached the bombing point. The bomb was released, however, and was seen to tumble as it fell. It struck the flight deck about 15 feet inboard and about 20 feet aft of 1.1 mount number 4, killing 12 men in mount 4 and 5 men in mount 3 instantly and wounding 4 men on mount 4 and 14 on mount 3. The uninjured and some wounded men immediately replaced the others and continued fire on their mounts through the remainder of the action. This fire of course was at a much reduced rate. The pieces of this plane fell close aboard on the starboard quarter.

The second plane to dive was cut to pieces as he reached the bomb release point. His bomb was released, tumbled down to miss close astern and exploded on contact. The pieces of the plane fell in the wake of the ship. Splinters from this bomb killed or wounded the crews of the 50 caliber machine guns by the after port corner of the flight deck and on the port side of the 1st superstructure deck aft, wounded some men on the fantail guns and started several small fires on the fantail. These fires were quickly extinguished by the remaining men under the direction of the Battery Officer.

Three planes dove from the port beam, only one of which dropped a bomb. This bomb exploded in the stack, and heavy black smoke soon covered the after director, the after starboard automatic gun batteries and Group III 5" guns. This plane crashed in the water close aboard on the port side.

A sixth plane circled forward and dove from ahead under considerably lessened fire. His bomb struck number one elevator and exploded above the 4th deck, starting fires in the sail locker and rag stowage. Water used in fighting this fire leaked into the forward 5" handling room thorough the reach rod stuffing boxes. Heat from the fire made it necessary later to evacuate and flood the forward 5" magazines.

The bomb from the seventh plane missed on the starboard beam. Of these 7 planes which dove on the ship, 3 were definitely shot down by automatic guns; a fourth plane was damaged by gunfire and it is believed to have fallen less than a mile from the ship.

Prior to the torpedo attack casualties had been restored, ammunition replaced, and killed or wounded personnel replaced from handling crews. All guns were in full operation except one barrel of each gun of the two after 1.1 mounts.

At about 1555 Radar reported a group of planes approaching from 340° true, 35 miles. At first report it was not definite whether these were friendly or enemy. The ship picked up speed and commenced launching fighters. The forward director picked up a group of 5 torpedo planes at about 19,000 yards. As the fourth fighter was launched the port 5" battery opened fire at about 15,000 yards. A pattern of bursts appeared to straddle the formation in range and deflection but seemed unusually large. No hits or damage appeared to result from 5" gun fire from either the Yorktown or screening vessels. The torpedo planes continued to approach our port bow in a loose V formation with planes in the formation varying in altitude from 50 to 2000 feet. Individual planes changed altitude and swerved from side to side to avoid AA fire.

Our fighters just launched circled and dove on the planes at about 5,000 yards.

One torpedo plane was shot down on the port bow. The wakes of several torpedoes were seen; two passed just under the bow and appeared on the starboard side; two struck the ship about abreast the bridge on the port side. Two more torpedo planes went into the water close aboard on the starboard bow.

Other planes participating in the attack were either shot down or driven away by fighters or by AA fire from screening vessels.

After the first torpedo struck, power on all fire control circuits except battle telephones went out. No other casualties are known to have occurred to he gunnery department as a result of this attack.

2. The following observations may be worthy of note:

Gunnery Casualties

Location Casualty Action Taken
 
Fire Control Intermittent loss of power to control circuits, director and guns during attack. Causes Unknown. Used hand follow ups and matched pointers as necessary.
 
5"38 cal. guns. #1,2,3,4,5,7 Power failed to rammer. Used emergency power.
 
#5 Plug failure Closed with rawhide Mallet.
 
#2 Misfire. Powder case was unloaded but unable to reload against seated projectile. Crew was unable to force projectiles out of the breech. (A similar casualty occurred in the Battle of the Coral Sea, but the gun crew on that occasion was able to knock the projectile out of the gun.) Gun remained out of commission.
 
#8 Pointer, fuse setter and 1st loader wounded by splinters from near miss on port quarter. Replaced by stand-by crew.
 
1.1 Batteries All cooling water was lost after early bomb hit. #4 gun on each mount froze and jammed. Continued fire at reduced rate. Later holes were plugged to retain water in jackets.
 
Mount #3 35 men killed, 14 wounded by 1st bomb hit. 4 men continued fire at reduced rate. Remainder replaced from reserve.
 
Mount #4 12 men killed, 4 wounded by 1st bomb hit. Entire crew replaced from reserves.
 
50 cal. m.g.
Battery #9
4 guns
Splinters from 1st bomb hit caused following damage. Receiver jammed on one gun. Firing lanyard broken on one gun. Water jackets punctured on 4 guns. Two men killed, 4 men wounded. Replaced all guns from spares.
 
Batteries 11 and 12 Three men killed, 3 wounded. Replaced from reserves.

C. ENGINEERING

1415 -- Steaming at full power, 30.5 knots, 284 r.p.m., with main steam line cross connection valves closed in superheater firerooms; the engineering plant in battle operating status, standing by for air attack.

1420 -- (about) -- Bomb exploded just above third deck level in the uptakes leading from the forward group of firerooms (#1, 2, 3 firerooms). See sketch. [not attached] Main steam dropped steadily to 200 pounds; closed throttle, finally checking main steam pressure at 180 pounds, reducing speed to 6 knots, 60 r.p.m. Firerooms 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 were filled with dense black some and gases, fires in boilers 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 were extinguished by shock and concussion. The uptakes from boilers 1, 2, and 3 were badly ruptured. Boilers 2 and 3 were completely disabled, casing and tubes ruptured, brick work torn loose dropping into firebox. Although the casings in boiler number 1 were red hot and ruptured, and the fire brick was loose and broken, this boiler continued to operate using two burners and was able to maintain the auxiliary steam pressure at 200 pounds. Boiler rooms 4, 5, and 6 were filled with heavy smoke and gas and crews were partially overcome. These fire rooms had to finally be secured and abandoned. It was impossible to clear these firerooms of smoke, and on investigation it was found that the gases from #1 boiler were discharging through bomb hole into 2nd boiler group intakes, thence to firerooms 4, 5, and 6. With only #1 boiler furnishing auxiliary steam, the forward generators were secured. And entire electrical load shifted to after generators.

Superheater boilers number 7, 8, and 9 were steaming with cross connection valves opened.

1440 -- (about) -- Stopped engines.

With frequent changes of personnel, #1 boiler continued to operate with two burners in use, furnishing steam to auxiliary machinery. Sent crew into #4 fireroom with gas masks, (these proved more effective than rescue breathing apparatus) and lighted fires under #4 boiler. Speeding up #1 blower slightly alleviated heavy smoke condition, and #4 boiler was cut in about 1520. Crews with gas masks lighted off #5 and #6 boilers and cut boilers in at about 1540. Secured #1 boiler, eliminating discharge of flue gases; this put six boilers on the line. Repair parties were working during this period to blank off bomb holes in uptakes.

1540 -- All engines ahead, working up to 15 knots.

1550 -- Reported ready to make 20 knots or better.

1600 -- Ahead 19 knots. Received word to standby for air attack. Ahead emergency full speed on all engines -- closed main steam line cross connection valves in superheater firerooms. Steaming at maximum speed, 23 knots, 210 r.p.m.

1620 -- (about) -- Torpedo hit port side at approximately frame 90. Heavy jar felt throughout machinery spaces, lost lighting when main circuit breakers went out on after board, steam dropping rapidly. Ship took decided list to port. Emergency diesel generators cut in, but circuit breakers failed to hold, evidently due to short circuits. Approximately 30 seconds later second torpedo hit about frame 75 port. Main and auxiliary steam pressure had now been lost, ship continued to list heavily to port. With list fast approaching 30°, word was received to standby to abandon ship.

D. COMMUNICATION

Communications functioned normally through the bombing attack except that several antennas carried away and there were several intermittent transmitter failures due to the jarring out of relays; these casualties were repaired immediately. Between the time of the bombing attack and the torpedo attack intermittent transmitter trouble was experienced in two aircraft circuits, possibly from partially grounded antennas.

The repairs made to damage received by the Radar and YE antennas in the battle of the Coral Sea stood up very well during the bombing attack, and both Radar and YE continued to function until the torpedo attack.

When it was decided to abandon ship, it was further decided that the best disposition that could be made of Secret and Confidential Registered publications was to leave them in the safes and vaults to go down with the ship. Before leaving the ship, the Communication Officer inspected the Code Room, through the escape hatch leading to the deck above, and noted the safes to be closed and publications to be cleared from the desks.

Upon return to the ship, with the salvage party, the mass of files and other papers which, from force of the torpedo explosions, had been thrown to the deck of the Communication Center and Code Room was gone through carefully, and all matter of a confidential or secret nature was secured in safes except for the secret and confidential dispatch files of Commander Task Force SEVENTEEN (Commander Cruisers, U.S. PACIFIC FLEET). These were taken from the ship and transported to Pearl Harbor where they were turned over to the shore office of Commander Cruisers, U.S. PACIFIC FLEET.

All secret and confidential files of Yorktown were left secured in various safes and offices and went down with the ship.

E. MEDICAL

Prior to the air attacks on June 4, all battle dressing stations were manned and first aid articles were distributed throughout the ship. When the word was passed, "Standy for air attack", all dressing station personnel below decks lay down in their flash proof clothing, pulled the hoods over their heads, and covered their faces with their arms. In the bombing attack, battle dressing station No. 5, in the wardroom annex, was put out of commission by a bomb hit immediately adjacent to it. The explosion set the station on fire and filled the surrounding vicinity with heavy smoke. All personnel there were badly shaken but were not otherwise injured, as all were lying down and were covered with flash proof clothing. These personnel proceeded to the flight deck and hangar deck to assist wounded there.

Battle dressing station No. 4 was flooded and destroyed by a torpedo during the torpedo attack.

As result of the bombing attack many seriously wounded were treated at the dressing stations, the majority coming from the fantail and flight deck. The wounds were principally shrapnel wounds, many of them being penetrating, and requiring blood transfusions and blood plasma. The more serious ones required immediate surgery.

While those requiring immediate surgery were being transferred to the operating room, word was passed to standby for torpedo attack. Within a few minutes we were struck by torpedoes and listed heavily to port. All lights and communications were out. The ladder leading up from the vicinity of the sick bay was damaged, hanging loose on one side, making it very difficult to get patients up.

When word was passed to abandon ship, and wounded were being evacuated, it was found that the process was very difficult because due to the slippery decks and heavy list, it was impossible to carry stretchers across the deck. In some cases stretchers were dragged across, and in other cases patients were carried bodily.

Due to the fact that we were unable to launched our boats, the wounded were lowered over the side in boas from other ships or onto life rafts or into the water alongside rafts or rubber boas and were later picked up. All such wounded were equipped with life preservers.

The Medical Officers in rescuing destroyers and cruisers, assisted by surviving medical personnel from Yorktown, set up improvised operating rooms on those vessels and worked throughout the night on wounded men.

Among those rescued there were 55 men requiring hospitalization. Among these there was but one case of serious burns, practically all of the others being shrapnel wounds. About 60 men were treated for minor shrapnel wounds, and for rope burns incurred as result of sliding down ropes into the water.

With the salvage party which returned to the Yorktown, there was one Medical Officer and six hospital corps ratings. This group proceeded with attempts to identify the remains of those dead who were still on board and in the preparation of them for immediate burial. 35 were found, and all but 10 were identified. Finger prints of all were obtained. These men were buried at sea after burial services conducted by the Captain. When the torpedo attack occurred in mid-afternoon the identifications, finger prints, and valuables of these men, which had been placed on the hangar deck, all slid down the sloping deck and were lost over the side.

When the Yorktown was torpedoed, a number of men were knocked over the side and were in the water when the Hammann's depth charges were exploded. Many of whom were seriously injured. How many fatally is not known. There were some injuries sustained by men in the ship consisting principally of fractures from the shock of the torpedo explosions. These were transferred to the Vireo and later to destroyers for transfer to Pearl Harbor. Upon arrival at Pearl Harbor ten of these were transferred to the Naval Hospital for X-rays and treatment of injuries.

Screening Vessels

1. In the action on June 4, 1942, the actions of the accompanying cruisers and destroyers of Task Force 17 in screening this vessel and in furnishing anti-aircraft defense against both bombing and torpedo attacks were carried out efficiently and smartly. Although the Yorktown maintained an irregular zigzag a high speed, screening vessels maintained positions in formation and put up heavy anti-aircraft fire.

2. All the accompanying vessels of the salvage group which returned to the Yorktown performed their duties in an outstanding manner. It is felt that the success of the Japanese submarine attack against the Yorktown and Hammann was due solely to the extreme difficulty of screening a carrier dead in the water, and to the additional fact that conditions for supersonic sound detection of submarines were especially poor. After the attack, destroyers in the attack group pursued and attacked the enemy submarine vigorously and relentlessly. In rescuing and affording accommodations to survivors from the Hammann and to the Yorktown salvage party the work of the destroyers was highly praiseworthy.

The performance of duty of Commander Arnold E. True, Commanding Officer of the Hammann, in placing and maintaining his vessel alongside Yorktown, in the open sea, and in making possible the salvage operations which, up until the time of the submarine attack in mid-afternoon were so successful, is worthy of the highest commendation.

Captain Sauer, Commander Destroyer Squadron SIX, Commander Holcomb, Commander Destroyer Division TWENTY-TWO, the commanding officer of each destroyer, and the commanding officer of the Vireo, each exerted himself to the fullest extent of the capabilities of his command toward the rescue and comfort of survivors.

Comment and Recommendations

5. A. Air

Navigation

When electric power was lost during the torpedo attack the rudder was left jammed about 15° left. Even if motive power had been available, the ship could not have been steered because there was no means of actuating the hydraulic steering rams. It is recommended that some means of steering the ship by hand be provided.

Communications

The recommendations for the immediate procurement of super-high frequency radio communications for use between carriers and their aircraft and among fighter directors, made in my report of action of May 8, 1942, in the Coral Sea, are hereby reaffirmed.

6. The Commanding Officer can not praise too highly the aggressive fighting spirit of the entire complement of the Yorktown and her Air Group, not only in the Battle of Midway but in all the actions of the present war in which they have participated. These are:

During all these actions and the many weeks at sea in preparation for them the fighting spirit of Yorktown was peerless; that fighting spirit remains alive even though the ship herself has perished gloriously in battle. The wish closest to the hearts of all of us who were privileged to serve in that gallant ship is that she might be preserved not only in memory but by the crew's being kept together to man, commission, and return against the enemy a new aircraft carrier, preferably another Yorktown.

[signed]
E. BUCKMASTER.


Source: Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet report, Serial 01849 of 28 June 1942, World War II action reports, Modern Military Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740.

[The document is also on microfiche, F-2042 (7 fiche) which can be ordered, using the duplication order form and the fee schedule, from the Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center at the above address.


09 January 2007