San Diego, CA Explosion on Cruiser MARBLEHEAD, July 1936
PROBE ORDERED INTO EXPLOSION IN GUN HOUSING.
TWO KILLED, 9 INJURED AS BREECH LOCK EXPLODES; SEAMEN REMAIN CALM IN ORDEAL.
San Diego, Calif., July 29 (AP) - A breech-block explosion aboard the light cruiser Marblehead, which turned a gun housing into a blazing crypt, killing two seamen and injuring nine others, was under naval investigation today.
The accident occurred during gunnery practice yesterday off the Southern California coast.
The dead were:
LEO STEVE MORANDA, seaman second class, South San Francisco.
PERCY WILLIAM COFER, Augusta, Ga., a boatswain's mate second class.
The injured, all first and second class seamen, include:
JOHN WILLIAM OVERTON, (160 West Orleans St.), Jackson, Tenn.
HAROLD VINCENT SMALLWOOD, Whitesburg, Ky.
Official comment was withheld by naval officers, but it was understood the breech block of the broadside six-inch gun blew out, shattering the rifle tubing. The heavy charge of explosive enveloped the gun crew, while steel fragments ripped the housing.
No panic resulted among the victims after the explosion, witnesses said.
COFER blown clear of the sun, shouted to shipmates to "turn on the water," referring to the sprinkling systems which floods the powder magazines and prevent fire from reaching the explosives deep in the hold. He died shortly thereafter.
MORANDA was killed instantly.
Despite the choking gas fumes, members of the crew carried out emergency orders "in accordance with the traditions of the navy," officers said.
Kingsport Times Tennessee 1936-07-29