I was wondering if you guys could help me understand something please. Could anyone give me some logic as to why you feel the mine struck the stern of the ship? Is the reason solely because you read it in a book?
All I can come up with is one more reason that makes the ‘stern hit’ scenario even more unlikely.
A starboard turn toward the outer edge of the mine field would put the bow in the most dangerous position. If the bow was missed, then the mine might strike further toward the center of the ship since the hull widens greatly.
Past the middle of the ship, the hull narrows again making the stern further from any mine. Now add the fact that the stern is pushed to port during a turn which puts it even farther from danger. In a starboard turn, if it was not a bow hit, how could an anchored mine get past the middle section of the ship, swing around, and strike the stern?
This drawing is a good representation of a ship positioned on its pivot point during a starboard turn. Note that the stern swings to port (away from the track of the turn) which places it at a greater distance from a starboard side mine. (The bow actually is slightly inside the track of the turn potentially closer to any mines).
Fots, I'm once again at work passing thru an airport. Don't have much time to reply, and no time to research this. But I do have (another) SWAG to your very valid point.
I think it's possible that those mines were tethered on cables, not rigid posts, and only under enough cable tension to stabilize them in a static position.
If a heavily loaded ship at high speed then closely approached the mine, the bow would generate a pressure wave with the tendency to "push" the mine away. This pressure wave would increase as long as the width of the ship kept increasing, and continue to hold the mine away. But as the ship became narrower at the stern, the reverse would happen. The mine, already "wanting" to return to its original position because of cable tension, would be aided by a vacuum effect caused by the narrowing stern. Sort of an "airfoil" effect, maybe.
But I confess this idea may be a complete WASP (wild axx speculation, period).
If the ship in fact did not make a turn and maintained its heading, I like johneakin's explanation of it being drawn into the minefield by a current or wind which caused it to drift west. I remember the Japanese faced a powerfull current when they came ashore the night of 5-6 May (though in that case they drifted further east).
Last Edit: May 10, 2012 10:49:05 GMT 8 by chadhill
I struggled to understand the same thing. <G> Keep in mind that all I know about the sinking of the SS Corregidor is what I read here and I was just trying to figure out how all these pieces fit together.
I have no reason to think that the damage was to someplace other than the starboard stern, but it just didn't quite compute with my experience with tug boats and barges. My observation has been that the rudder generally pushes the stern to the left or right until the bow is pointed in the right direction.
Everyone seemed to be in agreement that the SS Corregidor likely struck the last mine with her starboard stern as she started a turn to the right - presumably a premature turn toward the open sea. But that didn't quite compute. It seemed to me that if she started to turn *inside* or before that last mine, the impact would have been on the port side somewhere. If she turned *outside" or after the last mine, the impact would have been on the starboard bow.
Not that all this really makes any difference, but I was just trying to reconcile all the bits of this fascinating story.
It finally dawned on me that the chines, or corners of the bottom of the ship, were probably not 90* to the bottom. IOW, the bottom was likely a vee or u shape with the keel being the lowest point. Somewhere on the internet I found a page that said the SS Corregidor had a draft of 16'. (And it seems safe to assume that she was drawing at least that.) The mine depth was 15' outside the channel, but we don't know if that was high or low tide depth. But it seems a good guess that the mine was struck in the vicinity of the keel since that is the deepest part of the hull.
At that point it started to fall in to place for me how the mine could have impacted the starboard stern - the port side of the hull could have passed over the mine until the keel struck it.
The real bottom line is that this was just speculation about speculation - what mine hit where and what direction the ship was turning. Perhaps more importantly, after reading the pieces of the story which Chad had so nicely packaged in one place, I began to form a mental picture of how the Captain and the Colonel could get to the point of playing such a dangerous game with so many lives.
We'll never know how many times Calvo had transited the mine field, but I'll bet this wasn't the first time and probably not the second or third. The first time he probably followed all the proper procedures - mines on safe, daytime, good weather, with an escort and perhaps at high tide. Each time he passed through safely it got just a little easier to make up his own rules. By the same token, Bunker was unhappy that proper procedures weren't being followed, but no one was getting blown up, either, and it was a semi-regular occurrence. (If the mines had been on supervisory he would have known if they were hit.) So after a few weeks of this, both Calvo and Bunker had a false sense of security and all it took was one little thing - a deeper draft or lower tide or a current that set the ship toward the West - to call their collective bluffs.
I believe that we should be looking to the concepts developed in the fields of maritime safety, the nuclear power industry, the aviation industry and even patient quality in medical practices.
In all of these, a chain of events, often called the error chain, is a term referring to the concept that many contributing factors typically lead to an accident, rather than one single event.
There is no reason of which I am aware, that the error chain should not be applied to the demise of the SS Corregidor.
Systems or processes that depend on human performance (such as dealing with minefields) are inherently flawed, not just because everyone commits errors, but because human error is generally the result of circumstances beyond the control of those committing the errors.
For a catastrophic error NOT to occur, there should be a filter or filters designed into each and every process to catch errors which have not been caught in prior (and subsequent) processes.
What occurred in the North Channel was that a system had been deliberately put into play which allowed dangers which were established at the beginning of the chain (eg a live mine) to progress through a series of additional links (eg human error, communication failure, inattention, environmental factors) ultimately to mature into a disaster. There were inadequate error-catching filters built into the system.
I do not accept there is any one cause or any greatest cause for this disaster. There were numerous causes. To design and specify a system whereby a single human error results (eg by a ship's captain) in an atrocious disaster is as culpable an engineering error as that of the ship's captain. Col. Bunker was ultimately responsible not just for the design of that system, but for failing to establish within it a means whereby a fail-safe filter could prevent disaster.
He may well have inserted himself into that system as a fail-safe filter, failing to recognize that so to do allowed his own selectivity, and confirmation bias could skew the result and prove to be no error-catching filter at all.
In 1941, the Articles of War applied, and they were inadequate to this circumstance to convict him of anything. He might not have transgressed a law, but he was not beyond being a critical link, possibly two, in the error chain.
NOTE: IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS, ALL S.S. CORREGIDOR RELATED POSTS WILL BE MOVED TO A SEPARATE THREAD AS IT IS OFF-TOPIC THE NAMED TITLE OF THIS THREAD. IT'S BEEN A PARTICULARLY INTERESTING DISCUSSION, AND SOURCE OF FURTHER INFORMATION AND SOURCES, AND SHOULD HAVE A PLACE OF ITS OWN. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO HAVE PARTICIPATED AND SPECIAL THANKS TO THOSE WHO CONTRIBUTED - ADMIN
THE MOVE TO THE NEW TOPIC THREAD IS NOW COMPLETED. I TRUST NO ONE HAS BEEN INCONVENIENCED BY THIS - ADMIN.
I'm waiting for the hotel bus. But here's a last thought or two...
Well said, EXO. And a great idea to put this topic into its own thread, too.
Very good explanation, johneakin, about the chines. I hadn't thought about that and will have to scratch my noggin some more. And if the ship was very overloaded, I wonder how much deeper she sat in the water.
* * * * *
To all: we shouldn't discount the simple possibility that the SS Corregidor indeed made a right turn but then stabilized on a straight heading (say SW), and next hit the mine. Also, mine group six comprised nineteen mines any of which could have done the ship in. As the Corregidor approached the group it may very well have had mines on both sides.
Last Edit: May 10, 2012 11:48:33 GMT 8 by chadhill
Hey Xray....Yes, the Captain IS the master of his ship and his arse should have been strung up on the Mast upon arrival in Cebu or where ever he was bound, but, methinks, he was taught a rather severe lesson for his disobedience of standing procedures. No question about the rashness of his actions, but don't you think the penalty (leaving the mines armed) that was dealt as being rather severe??? Had he been going thru the minefield, solo, in an open rowboat, then, by all means let Bunker's order be carried out. Since that was not the case he could have been justly crucified in short order, just as soon as he arrived at his southern destination. I have beaten this dead horse for the final time. Cheers.
Okla, to answer your question, I don't think Bunker was out of line, at all. I'd like to think I would have done the same thing. Unless properly cleared, or unless ordered to SAFE the mines by higher authority, he was doing his job correctly. These schedules are made for a reason, and 1,000's of captains the world over adhered to them throughout the war, even though they may have thought that they have a better idea. The coordination of movements inside a fortified harbor under constant threat of enemy attack is vital, there is almost no margin for error. The vessel, sailing without proper clearance, could have just as well been jumped by a PT boat, or blasted out of the water by fire from the Rock. The captain took a rash, unwise chance, and paid the price. As for his [Bunkers] motivations, that [implying underlying disdain/racism] is pure speculation. I know he says some disparaging things about the Filipinos is his writings. He was well within his rights to do so, he has seen and done many things which we cannot imagine, and I might add, he is not the only one to have recorded such negative impressions. Any man on the Rock would be in no mood for sugar coating, in order not to offend future generations. He called em as he saw em, and that is a big part of which makes his writings a joy to read. That does not mean that he was motivated by spite, in my opinion.
The majority of the Filipino fighting force were largely untrained, unarmed, apt to bug out during hostile fire, and were not considered warrior stock by career military men such as Bunker. I don't in any way mean this to insult our Filipino friends here, or disparage the memory of the many brave men who fought and died in defense of their nation. It is a well known historical fact, and if they had a couple more years of training, things would have been different. But form purposes of historical examination, that was simply the way that it was.
As far as I know, the mines were tethered by cables/chains from anchors on the sea bed. Your possible explanation is quite interesting but I think a slack tether cable would be required for this scenario to happen. To keep the mines at the correct depth, which is important, a tight cable would be required. Since the mines were submerged 15’ below the surface and the mine has positive buoyancy, I expect the cable to always be tight with only current affecting the position a bit. An underwater bow wave is quite likely but would the mine swing enough to hit the stern, I cannot say.
The ship may or may not have hit a mine at the stern but there is no real evidence to support any opinion we might have. If we think for a moment, how many people would know such a fact? It was very dark, it was only minutes before she sunk and bright searchlights illuminated the opposite side of the ship. It would take quite a few minutes to get PT boats under way and across from Sisiman Bay. The ship would already be on the bottom by the time they arrived so no Navy person saw it. (ok. PT-41 again) ;D
A diver could quickly solve our question.
Unsupported comments in a book are worthy of note but not the gospel in my opinion. Actually, it doesn’t make any difference as we have said, just interesting.
You make very good points regarding where the mine may have struck depending on being inside or outside the last mine. Considering the depth of the mines, a keel hit makes sense too. Since the SS Corregidor was said to be overloaded, it is possible she sat even lower in the water presenting more of the hull to a possible hit. A low tide would make the mine two to three feet closer to the hull than at high tide.
To all: EXO summed the situation up quite well. For me, it is time to end the fun and realize that too few details are known to deduce any accurate account of events that night. “What ifs” can go on forever. Thanks to everyone for the effort.
One more point about Captain Calvo's decision to leave earlier than scheduled. He probably was very concerned about the munitions of war being carried aboard his ship, a civilian liner now made into a legitimate target because of the cargo aboard. The weapons and ammo were probably loaded in full view of any curious eyes. There was a fifth column movement with sympathizers in Manila. It would not be unreasonable to worry about sabotage and reporting the ship to the Japanese.
Calvo probably assumed (apparently wrongly so) that the Inshore Patrol and Harbor Defense Command was aware of the weapons his ship carried for the war effort. When they realised his early departure, he may have thought there would be little problem arranging for safe passage thru the minefields.
Fots, there were nearly 300 survivors from the sinking. Some of them must have known which part of the ship exploded. I would imagine that crew members numbered in those lucky few, too.
It's too bad no one has a copy of the September 1953 article by A.V.H. Hartendorp (see Reply # 72), which I suspect was heavily referenced by Gordon. Hartendorp may have interviewed survivors for his article from the then-recent tragedy.
I, for one, hardly look upon Gordon's work as "gospel" and have pointed out an error or two of his in another thread. But overall, it is one of the best researched books I've read on the campaign.
Artem: I use to work in that shipyard. Heard of D. Cleland through my uncles who were previous generations that worked there. Saw a photo or two of D.Cleland in the shipyard library. If my memory is correct I saw his grave out in the city's protestant cemetery.
May 11, 2020 8:24:25 GMT 8
faulkvi2: Hi! My name is Vickie. I am here to learn more about the Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor and to honor the life of my Uncle, Pvt Eugene Mott, who has not been returned to us after his death on the Oryoku Maru.
Jun 20, 2020 10:59:59 GMT 8