Honda (Pedernales) Point, California, Disaster, 8 September 1923:
Memorandum Concerning the Honda Disaster

15 October 1931


The court of inquiry convened to inquire into the grounding of the destroyers on Pedernales Point on the night of September 8, 1923, stated as follows:

In the opinion of the court the disaster which resulted in the stranding of the destroyers on Pedernales Point, and in the grounding of two others in the same vicinity, is in the first instance attributable to bad errors in judgment and faulty navigation.

After considering carefully the testimony adduced the court finds nothing which reflects on the efficiency of the radio compass installation. A mass of confusing testimony has been brought forward to prove that bearings may not be relied upon, but out of this testimony shines the clear fact that it was not the compass bearings sent to the Delphy, which were wrong, but the judgment of the men who interpreted these bearings and used them wrongly.

Dead reckoning alone can never be relied upon.

In commenting upon the record of the court of inquiry, the Chief of the Bureau of Engineering said: “The Bureau desires to emphasize the fact that such devices as radio compasses, sonic depth finders, etc., are reliable only to the extent that they are operated properly, and recommends that the attention of the forces afloat be directed to the necessity for continuous training in their use.” With this remark the Bureau of Navigation concurred.

Commander Court,
Room 2723

Related Resource: Honda (Pedernales) Point, California, Disaster, 8 September 1923.