Honda (Pedernales) Point, California, Disaster, 8 September 1923
Report on Visit to the Vessels Aground

Copy date
2 May 1951


Captain D. C. Nutting (CC), USN, Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, San Francisco, California, 18 Sept. 1923 (1510-039)

At the request of the Commandant of the Twelfth Naval District, San Francisco, California, visited the vessels aground near Honda, California, on his return from the trials of the US Submarine S-31 at San Pedro on the 14th of September 1923, and on the 18th of September submitted a report to the Commandant. The following excerpts are taken from that report:

“2. I arrived at Honda at about 1:20 p.m. on the 15th instant and spent the afternoon inspecting the vessels and the work underway upon them and in conferring with Captain J.G. Church, US Navy, in charge and with Lieutenant C.F. Osborn (CC), US Navy, in charge of salvage operations.

“3. Since my visit on the 11th instant there had been one quiet day but there had been considerable surf on all the other days and during the afternoon of the 15th the surf was breaking badly over all the vessels with the exception of the S.P. Lee and the Chauncey……………

“4. The surf was so strong that it was impossible, while I was there, to reach any of the vessels except the Chauncey and the S.P. Lee which could be reached from shore by trolley. Twenty-four torpedoes had been removed from the destroyers of which all but eight had been taken off to a mine layer and by her transported to San Diego……………

“6. All of the vessels with the exception apparently of the Fuller, were working considerably with the action of the surf. The Chauncey had been flooded forward in an attempt to keep her steady on the bottom but in spite of this she was moving considerably. The Young had forged ahead considerably under the action of the surf and threatened, if the surf continued, to move in under the starboard quarters of the Chauncey. The Nicholas had worked astern toward the bow of the S.P. Lee and was rolling through an arc of nearly 30 degrees each time the surf struck her………… Captain L. Curtis, Pacific Coast representative of the Merritt, Chapman and Scott Wrecking organization, stated that during his visit to the scene of the wrecks on the 16th instant the Nicholas broke in two about abreast the bridge and her bow was thrown around to starboard to an angle of 90 degrees. The Woodbury had slipped aft somewhat from the position she occupied at the time of my visit on the 11th instant and her stern had been swung around to port so that the sea was more fully broadside on than had been the case previously. The Fuller appeared to have remained unchanged.

“8. The general conditions of the vessels was considerably worse than on my visit on the 11th instant and all were suffering more or less from the pounding of the surf. This was especially the case with the Nicholas, Delphy, Young and Woodbury which cannot last long if the surf continues as it was then.

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