Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Lieutenant (j. g.) August V. Zaccor, Commander, Bobolink, to Admiral Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet

U.S.S.Bobolink           

At Sea            

May 14, 1919.

From   :  Commanding Officer.

To     :  Commander-in-Chief, U.S.ATLANTIC FLEET.

Subject:  Report of accident while engaged in Minesweeping

          Operations, North Sea Barrage, Middle Area.

     1.   After U.S.S.Teal made signal sweep wire parted, slowed to 1/3 speed and commenced reeling in parted sweep wire. While this operation was being carried on, Lieutenant Frank Bruce, USN., Commanding Officer, U.S.S.Bobolink, and H. H.Reinbold, Botswain, USN., were standing on rail aft, looking over stern to sight kite. After well clear of minefield, stopped engines and laid to in order to lessen strain on drum and assure safety. As kite was sighted, Boatswain H.H.Reinbold reported mine foul of wire, kite and emergency cable. Immediately thereafter, Commanding Officer ordered all hands forward, ceased heaving in on wire, and as I understand, his intentions were to pay out easy on wire, then cut same and let go everything. Whether or not this execution took place I cannot say. At seven o’clock, mine exploded, throwing a geyser about fifty feet, and as far forward as the bridge, partly the forecastle. As soon as all was clear, I detected two men in the water, one well forward, and the other on port quarter about one hundred feet from ship, and inquired immediately the whereabouts of Commanding Officer, and was notified he had been picked up on torn rail aft, seriously injured and carried forward to wardroom and was put under care and attention of Surgeon G. A. Eckert, USN.,(MC), and Pharmacist’s Mate first class O. D. Lambert, USN. I thereupon made preparations to let go life raft to pick up men in water, but noticed two men, B. J. Mauk, Chief Machinist’s Mate, USN., and Fred F. Campanaro, Baker first class, USN., had discarded their clothing and gone over the side with ring life preserver to assist men in water. Fred Campanaro, after striving out toward man on port quarter, turned about and was hauled aboard. B.J.Mauk, continued on his errand and successfully returned to ship with his man, who was practically unconscious and found to be H.H.Reinbold, Boatswain, USN., who was carried forward to the wardroom and attended to by crew and as soon thereafter as possible by Surgeon and Pharmacist’s Mate. During this evolution crew along ship’s side passed a line to the man well forward in the water, and hauled him aboard, who was found to be A. L. Londraville, Electrician first class (G), USN., uninjured and capable of looking after his own welfare. I then had the crew mustered and received report, all present and accounted for. Had heads of departments make thorough inspection of their part of the ship to note damage caused by explosion, take soundings and report if ship was making water. In the mean time I reported by phone to Commander Division #2, Minesweeping Detachment1 information received regarding Commanding Officer’s and Boatswain H.H.Reinbold’s condition as reported by the Surgeon and reports received pertaining to damage of ship and circumstances thereof as often as practicable. At eight o’clock received report from Surgeon, Lieutenant Frank Bruce, USN., Commanding Officer, U.S.S.Bobolink, dead – and immediately thereafter forwarded report to Commander Division #2, Minesweeping Detachment. After receiving orders from Commander Division #2, Minesweeping Detachment to transfer body to Sub Chaser #45, moored alongside of U.S.S.Bobolink. Surgeon requested body remaim on board U.S.S.Bobolink and be embalmed immediately by O.D.Lambert, Pharmacist’s Mate first class, USN., recommended as an efficient and experienced embalmer. Request granted by Commander Division #2, Minesweeping Detachment, and thereupon Pharmacist’s Mate with assistance of W. L. Kevill, Sea2c., USN., proceeded to embalm body.

     2.   At eight one received tow line from U.S.S.Swallow. At eight five Sub Chaser #45 cast off from alongside U.S.S. Bobolink. Eight seven U.S.S.Swallow under way proceeding to Kirkwall with U.S.S.Bobolink in tow, U.S.S.Teal and Sub Chaser #45 standing by. Following is a list of reports received regarding damage to U.S.S. Bobolink caused by explosion:

Line shafting out of line in after shaft alley.

Steam line after Capstan Engine cracked.

Engine foundation and all machinery in engine room

Probably thrown out of line, and minor repairs to lines and machinery in engine room.

Boiler foundation doubtful.

Probably capstan engine and towing engine out of adjustment.

Oil coming out of fuel tank and into after hold.

Rudder lost.

Plates buckled and split in tiller compartment.

Bulk Head number 87 buckled and split in tiller room.

Shaft alley flooded through hole below water line.

Upper and lower fender torn away between frames 85

     and stern post.

Upper and lower decks between frames 75 and stern post

     unbuckled and leaking.

Oil and water leaking from oil tanks to after hold.

Several seams opened in after part of ship.

Waterway on extreme stern raised about eight inches.

After capstan engine raised five inches.

After extreme deck raised one foot.

Sub Chaser astern informed that two blades of

     propeller were missing.

Compass in pilot house lifted six inches from deck and

     thrown to one side.

Polaris on bridge upset in stand but not damaged.

Both search lights out of commission.

At time of explosion all lights darkened and immediately thereafter Electrician on protective device watch, inspected emergency cable and found that all but one hundred and fifty feet had carried away, hauled in and made necessary repairs and then paid out all on drum and turned on required current as previously instructed. Electrician also reported protective device was in operation and carrying one hundred and fifty amp., previous to, and right up to the time of accident with one hundred fathoms of cable out.

Had forward compartments inspected and sounded, same found to be dry and in good condition. All excessive wire belonging to U.S.S. Teal taken on board during parted sweeps, and wound on reel, was blown overboard.

A. V. Zaccor

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: Cmdr. Walter F. Jacobs.