San Clemente Island, CA (off shore) Battleship MISSISSIPPI Disaster, June 1924
Three quarters of an hour elapsed after the fire in turret No. 2 was observed from the quartermasters
deck before entrance into the red-hot chamber containing the charred bodies of the entombed men could be made by Ensign Smith.
Ensign Leveasseur was scheduled to operate as check sight observer on the battleship during practice, but officers of the battleship are said to have requested that their check sight officer, Lieut. ERWIN, remain in his official capacity.
Leveasseur went to the shell deck and was saved.
ERWIN was killed.
Hardly had the echo of th blast died away when the dreadnaught's prow swung-around and the big ship racd full steam ahead toward port. In the wireless room radio snapped out the tragic news to the hospital ship Relief, at anchor in the harbor forty-five miles away.
Aboard the Relief, men and surgeons sprang into action. Decks and operating rooms were cleared for the reception of the injured.
Stretchers were brought out and placed in readiness. Preparations were made to lower the ship's lifeboats and launches for carrying the wounded from the crippled dreadnaught to the Relief.
Meanwhile the word that something had gone wrong aboard the Mississippi spread from the naval patrol station along the waterfront and all who could muster field glasses strained their eyes toward the south where the fighting tops of the dreadnaught were visible above the horizon.
From Point Firmin, an eminence near the mouth of the harbor, the distressed vessel could be plainly seen, with sailors crowded around the shattered turret.
As yet no one ashore knew the extent of the disaster but from the Relief came the new that preparations were being made to care for fifty injured.
Finally, the Mississippi rounded the breakwater, the hospital ship racing out to meet it, and passengers aboard the steamship Yale, just then departing for San Francisco, crowded the rail to gaze awe struck at the approaching battleship.
Once inside the breakwater, the Mississippi let go her anchor.
Just then another blast rocked the dreadnought. A fourteen-inch shell shrieked past the stern of the Yale and plowed into the sea.
There was panic aboard the passenger vessel and near the dreadnought the water was crowded with boats from the hospital ship, pressing on towar their duty of rescue, carrying surgeons and stretchers to the stricken ship.
Within a few moments twenty dead, injured or dying men had been transferred to the Relief and that was but the beginning. After the last man had been taken across, the Mississippi moved slowly back to her regular berth near the end of the breakwater.
But there was no respite for the shattered and careworn personnel of the fighting craft. Hardly had a semblance of order been restored when it was discovered that another "hang fire" still menaced life aboard the ship and near it.
Another unexploded charge in a gun chamber was in danger of "letting go" at any moment, like the one which hurled its ton of steel in the harbor and narrowly missed the Yale.
There was but once course to take, and the Mississippi's commander took it.
The dreadnought's anchor was lifted and she steamed out to sea, away from the crowded harbor which her presence menaced.
Seventy-seven men, naval officers stated, contitute the crew of men working on the three guns in a turret
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