ROBERT HUGHES - USS
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.