ROBERT HUGHES        - USS CANBERRA

 

Robert Hughes describes how his cruiser being struck by an aerial torpedo.

 

 

On October 13, about 90 miles off Formosa, the CANBERRA was hit with an aerial torpedo.  “Struck below her armor belt in the engineering spaces, the torpedo blew a jagged hole in her side and killed 23 of her crew instantly.  Some 4,500 tons of water flooded the fire room and the engine rooms” (Hansen 2).  Hughes remembered being told that when they were to encounter the Japanese fleet the formation of the Group was set up so that the CANBERRA was often used as bait.  The enemy would want to sink a cruiser.  Thus we were used as bait and torpedoed,” Hughes stated.

Hughes was on the starboard side at his battle station.  The ship was under battle conditions and the hatches and compartments had been secured to preserve watertight integrity.  Hughes was manning the 40mm on the superstructure when the ship was hit on the opposite side from him.  In his quiet and articulate manner, Hughes described the incident.

 

…I heard the explosion and it was scary.  It seemed like a “Jolly Green Giant” had picked the ship up, shook it, and then put it back into the water.  The CANBERRA is 673 feet long.  For one torpedo to do this was hard to believe.  I wondered how far is the ship going down?  We then checked to see if our lifejackets were on securely.  Everything had gone out - we had no power, no engine power, no propulsion, and no sound powered phones.  We were dead in the water.