SERIAL 0538   1 NOVEMBER 1944

File NO. BB48/A16-3
Serial (0538)
U.S.S. West Virginia (BB48)
c/o Fleet Post Office,
San Francisco, California.

1 November 1944.
From: Commanding Officer.
To: Commander in Chief, United States Fleet.
Via: (1) Commander Battleship Division FOUR.
(2) Commander Battleship Division THREE (Commander Battle Line).
(3) Commander Cruiser Division FOUR (Officer in Tactical Command) (Commander Task Group 77.2).
(4) Commander Seventh Fleet. (5) Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Subject: Action in Battle of Surigao Straits 25 October 1944 U.S.S. West Virginia -- Report of.
References: (a) Article 712, U.S. Navy Regulations, 1920.
(b) CincPac Letter 2CL-44.
Enclosures: (A) CTF 77 message of 24 October paraphrase..
(B) CTF 77.2 message of 24 October paraphrase
(C) Track Diagrams. (C-1 Battle C-2 Navigation).
(D) TBS log extracts.
(E) Report of Casualties to Mk 1 Mod 0 Shell hoist Drive Gear in Turret I.
(F) Report of Casualty to the right Mk 1 Mod 0 Shell Hoist in Turret III.


  1. In accordance with references (a) and (b) it is reported that the West Virginia participated in the victorious action against a portion of the Japanese fleet in the Battle of Surigao Straits on 25 October 1944. This vessel was at the head of the battle line and delivered accurate main battery fire to the largest target observed for about ten minutes at ranges around 20,000 yards until the target disappeared. no injury was suffered by this ship or her personnel.

  2. Preliminaries.

    1. Having been operating in Leyte Gulf, Philippine Islands, since 19 October, bombarding and awaiting call fire, at 1515 I, 24 October, 1944, this command received ComTaskFor 77 message, enclosure (A), directing preparation for a night engagement.

      Shortly thereafter, CTG 77.2 message, enclosure (B), giving his battle plan, was received. The crew was mustered and informed of the situation and all preparations were made for a night surface engagement. The ship's planes were launched and directed to secure at the landing beach. The battle line of six ships was formed about 1800 and at 1948 started patrolling east and west across the northern part of Surigao Strait. The crew was sent to general quarters at 1940 and then put in readiness condition one easy.

    2. The mission of the combatant vessels on the night of 24-25 October was to protect our forces and shipping by denying entrance of enemy forces into Leyte Gulf, and to destroy any enemy forces encountered. The doctrine, as expressed by the O.T.C. (CTG 77.2), was to engage the enemy at medium ranges of about 20,000 yards. The Task Group Commander's plan was to patrol across the north entrance to Surigao Straits in battle disposition in the vicinity of Latitude 10°-40' N prepared to engage any force attempting to enter Leyte Gulf. Two groups of enemy forces were approaching the Leyte Gulf area -- one from the South consisting of 2 BB's, 2 Cruisers and several DD's via Southern Surigao Straits -- and one consisting of BB's, CA's and DD's approaching from the North via San Bernardino Straits. it was calculated that these two s would arrive in Leyte Gulf about dawn on October 25, 1944. Apparently CTG 77.2 deployed his forces to protect the gulf against the enemy southern force, at the same time being not far from the eastern entrance to the gulf in case the enemy northern force was not stopped by the Third Fleet and our light carrier forces in that vicinity.

    3. Our forces at the outset of the action consisted of a conventional battle formation deployed in an east-west direction.

      Left Flank Center Right Flank
      6 DD
      CA Shropshire*
      2 CL
      9 DD - Desron 56
      R.R. Leary
      6 BB
      West Virginia
      DesDiv. 47
        [* HMAS]

      At 2000, our position was Latitude 10° 33' 30" N, Longitude 125° 14' 45" E, course east. From then on until after the battle we pursued generally easterly and westerly courses, each course change being made as a ship turn maneuver. This kept our broadside trained in the direction of Southern Surigao Straits.

    4. Enemy forces encountered were not definitely known, but from plane reports, and by information gleaned from reports of the PT Boats that night, it is believed that the force arrayed against us consisted of 2 BB's, 2 CA's, 2 CL's and about 10 DD's -- standing up Surigao Straits on a generally northerly course, zig-zagging, and in column. They are believed to have been in two groups, about 3,000 to 4,000 yards apart.

    5. The wind was from 120° about 6 knots, sea smooth, very dark, visibility 12,000 yards except with land background. Atmosphere clear, clouds overhead at 3,000 feet with occasional squalls overhead. There was a current of about /2 f north. All times used herein are zone minus nine, (Item) time.



24 October 1944.
1708 - Underway upon signal in San Pedro Bay.
1745 - Catapulted planes in order to clear turrets arc of fire, and sent them to secure on beach.
1830 - (about) BB's formed column. Proceeding to position in Leyte Gulf.
1948 - Went to General Quarters and set readiness condition one easy.
2329 - Received message to set condition one easy.
25 October 1944.
0001 - On course 090 in battle disposition, this vessel leading the battle line.
0026 - Received report from MTB 127 that 3 enemy DD's 2 large ships were ten miles off the southeast tip of Bobol heading north. That position is 200° 89 miles from us. Search radars were focused on southern part of straits with negative results.
0041 - Received contact report ten miles 310° from Camiguin Island which is 85 miles away.
0108 - Flares or starshells were reported by MTB 53 18 miles SW of Panoan Island.
0130 - Saw three starshells to NW of us, perhaps over land and fired in connection with troops operation. Wished they would stop as light might silhouette us.
0144 - DesRon 54 reported contact 10 miles SW of Panoan Island.
0152 - Ships right to 270° True.
0204 - MTB 134 reported contact abeam PANOAN Island.
0205 - Received report enemy large ships under attack by our PT boats -- results undetermined. Saw a light over horizon to southwest.
0206 - Saw starshells to southeast far distant
0208 - Gunfire sighted bearing 180° True.
0209 - Same.
0210 - PT boats report target they are attacking is trying to drive them off with gunfire.
0232 - Went to General Quarters upon signal.
0239 - Starshells to N.W. Probably same as 0130 note.
0241 - Surface contact reported 184° True 18 miles.
0246 - DD reported surface contacts 4 in column 184° distance 15 miles.
0301 - DD's report they had fired torpedoes at enemy.
0303 - Saw gunfire to south.
0304 - Enemy appeared on scopes of SG-1 RPPI -- 20 mile scale. The pip was visible at extreme edges of the tube on bearing 164° range 44,000 yards. Several groups of friendly pips appeared on the scopes as our DD's closed to attack from east and west. Two DD's patrolling to north of Dinagat and our cruisers a few thousand yards southwest were showing on the scopes. However, in the dark, and from CIC reports only it was difficult for the Captain to be certain just where our forces were.
0305 - Changed course to 090 by turn movement.
0307 - Destroyers report two large and one small enemy. Enemy is straddling them.
0310 - Main battery plot reported Spot 2's Mark 8 radar had the target. (It never lost it until after cease firing).
0311 - Saw gunfire to south.
0313 - Surface contacts 2 large 2 small were in strait heading north speed 20.
0314 - DD reported 5 targets 2 may be hit slowing down and dropping behind some.
0315 - CIC reported two groups about 39,000 yards, one of 3 small pips, the other of a large and medium pip preceded by several smaller pips.
0322 - DD report enemy 2 BB 2 cruisers and 1 DD.
0330 - CIC reports 1 group 174° 36,00 other group a little closer by about 4000 yards.
0331 - Notified all stations of fighting light code.
0332 - Received orders from Commander Battle Line to commence firing at 26,000 yards.
0332 - DD's report they have attacked.
0333 - 4000 yards to go. Gunnery officer reports range 30,000 and has solution with a large target.
0345 - Saw explosion in target area. Talked with gunnery officer to be sure our target was not among our own DD's. Fire control stated he had been on target for some time. CIC stated our DD's were clear.
0349 - Starshells in target area. Can't tell if our DD or enemy is firing them. Our range 24,000. Am hesitating to fire until certain target is enemy. ComBatDiv 4 directed open fire.
0351 - Our cruisers on our right flank opened fire. Our gunnery officer says he has had same big target for a long time and it is enemy. Commanding Officer ordered commence firing.
0352 - Notified Commander Battle Line we were opening fire.
0352-10 - First salvo 8 guns range 22,800 yards AP projectiles.
0353 - Could hear gunnery officer chuckle and announce hit first salvo. Watched the second salvo through glasses and saw explosions when it landed. [Note: target later identified as Yamashiro.]
0354 - Salvos very regular about 40 seconds interval. Other BB's opened after our second or third salvo.
0356 - See explosions in target.
0358 - Gunnery officer reports target is stopped and pip is getting small.
0402 - BB turn 15 on signal. Ordered cease fire. Have to think about small amount of ammunition on board. (110 AP left). CIC reports targets turned left and reversed course.
0405 - CIC reports target speed 0.
0411 - Pip reported to "bloom" and then fade.
0412 - Target disappeared. Can see ships burning -- one is a big fire.


Performance of own Ordnance Material and Equipment.

  1. (a) (1) Extensive refitting and modernization of this vessel's ordnance, fire control,, and radar equipment was completed on 15 July, 1944. the general efficiency of the equipment and the state of training of the personnel was amply demonstrated by the fact that the first salvo was a straddle with numerous hits, on which a "No Change" spot was made and applied. Of the thirteen full salvos fired all were straddles. The general excellent performance of the material was marred by the temporary failure of the forward Mk 8 Mod 2 radar, and shell hoist casualties in turrets 1 and 3. The right gun of turret 1 missed 3 salvos, while the right gun of turret 3 missed 7 salvos. The shell hoist casualties are being reported under separate correspondence to the Bureau of Ordnance. Copies attached, enclosure (E).

    (a) (2) Fire was opened with full radar control, with after radar, director 2, rangekeeper 2, and Stable Vertical 2 controlling. All spotting was by radar. Turrets were in full automatic. Rapid salvo fire was used after the second salvo. Computed ballistic plus arbitrary of UP 100 and UP 100 cold gun correction was used. After the 1st salvo the cold gun correction was removed. Opening gun range was 22,400 yards. Average gun range was 20,880 yards.

          Radar Spot Spot Applied
    Salvo Time Shots Range Def. Range Def.
    1 0352:10 8 NC NC    
    2 0352:45 8 NC NC D100 NC
    3 0353:37 8 D200 NC NC NC
    4 0354:26 8 NC NC D200 NC
    5 0355:11 8 NC NC NC NC
    6 0355:49 7 NC NC NC NC
    7 0356:32 5 NC NC NC NC
    8 0357:19 6 U100 NC NC NC
    9 0358:12 7 NC NC U100 R03
    10 0358:53 7 U50 NC NC NC
    11 0359:42 7 U100 NC NC L2
    12 0400:24 7 NC NC U100 NC
    13 0401:05 3 NC NC NC R03
    14 0401:25 2 D100 NC NC NC
    C.F. 0402:10          
    15 0410:32 1 U100 NC D200 NC
    16   1 U100 NC    

    There were no errors in deflection observed on the MK 8 screen. Because of the known possible error in bearing of the MK 8 Mod 2 radar the 7th, 9th, 11, and 13th salvos were "rocked" in deflection. Range patterns were noted to average about 300 yards. Average salvo interval for the first 13 salvos was 41 seconds.

    (a) (3) Previous instruction from Commander Battle Line were that H.C. projectiles were to be used against cruisers, carriers, or any unarmored vessel; A.P. projectiles against battleships and armored vessels.

    To be prepared for either type of firing, two H.C. projectiles were arranged on each side of shell table in the gun chamber, with the space between the cradle and ramming tray left empty. Also the shell hoists were empty. A.P. and H.C. projectiles were arranged on each shell deck so as to permit loading of either type. Orders to load the shell hoist and shell tables were not given until it was definitely established that heavy ships were included in the enemy force. This was not known in time for the turrets to rearrange projectiles on the shell deck, therefore, all turrets experienced difficulties in projectile supply after the 12th salvo. Due to the angle of train of the turret and the H.C. projectiles on the shell deck, the A.P. projectiles in the pockets were inaccessible.

    (a) (4) As in previous firings, ventilation of the lower handling rooms and magazines again proved entirely inadequate. The ship had been in Condition I Easy from 1940 the previous evening and ventilation was maintained up until the time for breaking out powder. With the men lying down and resting as much as possible they were exhausted due to the extreme heat and lack of air and would not have been able to continue the ammunition supply without reliefs many more minutes. When the ammunition train is filled and all ventilation is shut off the situation is greatly aggravated. A more adequate ventilation system is essential. An additional supply blower in the wing pockets, venting to the lower rooms seems feasible. This plan was suggested by the USS Maryland's letter to ComInch BB46/S38-1/S72 (of 90) (0147) of 18 July 1944. Also additional supply ducts to the magazines are required.

    (b) A total of 89 A.P. and 4 H.C. projectiles were fired, all with service charges. Due to shell hoist casualties in turrets 1 and 3 and the lack of supply in turret 4, the Gun Captains loaded H.C. projectiles, which were available on the table, when there were no A.P. available. Turret 3 fired one H.C. on the 6th salvo. Turret 1 fired one H.C. on each of the 9th and 10th salvos. Turret 4 fired one H.C. on the 15th salvo. Turret 2 was slow on loading after the 12th salvo and missed the 13th salvo. Turret 4 had two projectiles rammed at cease firing and was ordered to continue the load. The left gun misfired on the 15th salvo necessitating a 16th salvo.

    (c) The gun fire from this vessel was very effective. There were possible and probable hits in all salvos. Three pronounced flareups were observed on the target at the splash time of our 1st, 2nd, and 6th salvos. The 4th salvo seemed to be particularly concentrated on the target. The MK 8 radar operators had no difficulty in identifying or spotting our salvos. Splashes from other ships were observed but did not interfere except on the 5th salvo. It was possible to distinguish between our own and other ship's salvos by the size of the individual splashes.


  1. No battle damage from the enemy was received by this vessel.

  2. Enemy Battle Damage --

    At the time of the splash of our 6th salvo when a distinct flare up was seen there were three officers and three enlisted men who saw the silhouette as a Japanese battleship by the characteristic construction of its foremast but could not definitely determine her class. Due to the fact that she was heavily pounded with 16 inch projectiles and that she disappeared from all radar screens at 0412, it is certain she was sunk. Later reports verified the sinking of one or more battleships.


  1. (a) Our communications were by T.B.S. No enemy forces interference or deception was noted. When enemy forces came within about 26 miles of this vessel, enemy transmissions in JAPANESE were heard on 37.6 M.C.S. In general, communications were good.

    (b) (1) Fire Control Radar. The range and bearing of the enemy was given to the after MK 8 Mod 2 radar at 44,000 yards. This radar picked up enemy and started tracking at 41,000 yards. As at this time, the forward MK 8 was out of tune due to variable voltage. It was adjusted and was back in operation at 27,000 yards and could have been used. As the pip was large and clear and rangekeeper solution was good on the after MK 8, a shift to the forward radar was not made. Both worked satisfactorily and were not affected by the shock of gunfire. In fact neither has ever gone out to gunfire.

    (b) (2) The Mk 27 Mod 0 radar installed in turret 3 as experimental installation performed well. Neither the antenna or set was affected by gunfire. Using precision, targets were tracked in with antennas set in deflection, as indicated by Plot on the deflection indicator. Targets were picked up at 36,000 yards. Splashes were spotted at the firing range with no difficulty, splashes being one fourth the size of the target pips. Considerable interference was experienced at times on the scope but no indications of jamming. Pips of DD's faded at 20,000 yards. Projectiles which crossed the antenna beam appeared on the scope.

    (b) (3) The Mk 2 radars on the sky directors were able to pick up the enemy at 31,000 yards and track but were not used for control of fire in this action.

    (b) (4) Search radars consisted of 2 SG-1's and one SK. The antenna of all search radars were kept rotating continuously; plotting (both Short Range Summary and DRT) being done from R.P.P.I.'s. The forward SAG-1 was set on the 75,000 yard scale for long range search, and the after SG-1 on the 15,000 yard scale for short range search.

    (b) (5) Three R.P.P.I.'s in C.I.C. were set on the following scales on the sets indicated:

    (c) (1) There were no air operations, either own or enemy, observed during this action. Our planes were sent ashore the preceding evening.

    (d) (1) Tactics. The enemy had been fighting through day air attacks and night destroyers and MTB attacks but kept doggedly on. He appeared to be in two groups in column, 3,000 to 4,000 yards apart zig zaging. heavy ships appeared to be in each group. Speed was about seventeen knots, course north. Searchlights were used briefly several times and firing was rapid and brief. Apparently the enemy had no information of the fleet interposed in his path. our f was spread nearly across the straits in a crescent shaped disposition crossing the T. The plan was to open fire on the battle line at about 20,000 yards, and the battle line commander ordered opening fire at 26,000. When 26,000 yards was passed without being sure of the target, the CO felt no compunction about delaying, as such action agreed with the plan. In fact, with our preponderous of force, even if the enemy opened fire first the range would soon be enough to assure blowing him out of the water quickly. Also we were short of ammunition and wanted every shot to count.

    (e) No attempt was made to use smoke camouflage or deception as none was considered necessary.

    (f) (a) C.I.C. went to general quarters at 1940 on the night of 24 October. All search gear had been tuned and calibrated and was in optimum operation condition. BK was not on. No difficulty with land echoes despite the proximity of land, on the scopes of the SK was experienced. it is felt that the SK-2 did away successfully with such echoes. Procedures for search radars was as follows: (1) Radar I: "A" Scope 75 miles; "PPI" 220 miles; continuous sweep. BL energized but not keyed. no air contacts were made immediately prior to or during actions.

          (b) Radar II (SG-1-1): Continuous sweep on 75,000 yard scale.

          (c) Radar III (SG-1-2): Continuous sweep on 15,000 yard scale. Every effort was made top the antenna of the SG-1's in continuous rotation. When it became necessary to use BN's (which were energized but not keyed except when actually challenging) the antenna of Radar III was stopped momentarily for target identification, if the target appeared on its scopes. Only when Radar III was unable to challenge, would the antenna of Radar II be stopped for challenging.

    (f) (2) There are 3 (VC-1) R.P.P.I.'s located in C.I.C. Of the three, two have been converted and have 12-inch scopes. These three R.P.P.I.'s were found invaluable, and were set on the following scales:

    Each RPPI has a sound power phone selector switch and each was manned by a radar operator. Plotting, both DRT (enemy force) and short range summary (own forces -- station keeping), was done from the RPPI's, without stopping the sweep, thus not interrupting the continuous search. RPPI Sound Power selector switched phones were turned to the same circuit as the master PPI from which the RPPI was operating.

    (f) (3) Intelligence was excellent. The Division Commander, Commanding Officer, and the Gunnery Officer were kept fully informed at all times on which were friendly and which were enemy pips, even when light forces were in comparatively close to target making their attacks. Evaluator, Assistant Evaluator, and C.I.C. watch officers had been provided with copies of all despatches and intercepted despatches; thus they had an excellent idea of the tactical situation. The Division Commander was kept fully cognizant of the location of all forces at all times.


  1. Personnel Performance.

    Enough cannot be said regarding the sterling performance and behavior of the officers and crew before and during the action. Only a short three months ago the ship left the Navy Yard -- new equipment, newofficers, and new crew. The greater percentage of officers and men had never been to sea before. Only twelve enlisted men had ever had previous et expereince. Two of the turret officers had never been to sea before, the third came from submarine duty, and the fourth from small craft. yet, in a short three months, these ad gone through a gruelling shakedown period and had joined the fleet as a fighting unit. Their first assignment was the bombardment of Leyte Island. Several air attacks were successfully participated in. Then shortly afterwards they were in action against heavy surface units of the Japanese fleet. Their conduct was exemplary. They lifted themselves by their "bootstraps" to be competent and battle tried veterans, cool and calm under fire and extrtemely efficient.


cc: Cominch US Fleet (advance)
     CincPac (advance)

Enclosure (A)

Paraphrase of message from CTF 77:


Enclosure (B)

Paraphrase of message from CTF 77.2 on October 24, 1944.


Enclosure (C)

(C-1 Battle)

(C-2 Navigation)

Enclosure (D)

Extracts from the TBS Log during the period from 2000, 24 October to 0538, 25 October 1944, minus nine time.

Time To From Text
1952 CTG 77.2 CTG 79.11 In case of surface action to stbd I plan to make immediate attack with fish then retire to clear you. 19501.
1957 TG 77.2.2 CTG 77.2 285 Turn
2010 CTG 79.11 CTG 77.2 Your 19501 approved x retire to cover of Dinagat Island and pass between Hibuson and Dinagat x Bojangles x inform me if enemy is in more than 1 group and composition if possible.
  CTG 77.2 CTG 79.11 R x My plan would be to attack from 2 sides 1 of two and 1 of 3 that would leave 1 group well to westward and 1 to eastward for retirement.
2014 TG 77.2.2 CTG 77.2 075 Turn
2015 CTG 79.11 CTG 77.2 Affirmative your last Trans x Keep close to shore and keep info CTG 77.3 who has left flank x Bojangles as usual 20161
2016 CTG 77.3
CTG 77.2
CDS 56
CTG 79.11 If surface attack is made to stbd CDS 54 will form two attack groups, western group CDD 108, McDermuts and Monssen eastern group C take spd 30 knots X McNair and Mertz will remain off station 1 and 2 x will use individual target plan intermed spd plan X . . . . . . . . . . and then to northward near coastline. 2020L.
2021 CTG 77.2 CBD 3 Designating Battleships Affirm Post.
2130 TG 77.2.2 CTG 77.2 Turn 1 ans.
2150 TG 77.2.2 CTG 77.2 Upon receipt heavy cruisers and light cruisers form 18 on Louisville in natural order x Destroyers take station for battle position. 21501.
2151 DesRon 56 CDR 56 Rendezvous 2000 yds north of CA's and CL's on guides north and south.
2158 Battleships CBD 3 9 turn.
2205 BB's CBD 3 Speed 2
2216 BB's CBD 3
DesDiv X
8 turn speed 1.
2228 TG 77.2.2 CTG 77.2 9 turn.
2243 TG 77.2.2 CTG 77.2 urn.
2244 CTG 77.2 Columbia Skunks brg 178, dist 21
  Columbia CTG 77.2 Believe you have geography check for motion.
2256 CDS 54
CTG 77.3
CTG 79.11 Post attack rendezvous point western group at western and station 7 eastern group at western and screening station 3.
2320 DS 56 CDS 56 Post attack rendezvous point 3 miles north of Hibuson Island.
2321 CBD 3 CTG 77.2 INT Corpen.
2321 CTG 77.2 CBD 3 M corpen 280 M form 270
2329 TG 77.2 CTG 77.2 All ships set condition 1-E.
2338 BB's CBD 3 turn 17.
0009 TU 77.2.2 CTG 77.2 turn 18.
0021 CTG 77.2
--------- Contact relay from PT 127 thru quote contact with enemy DD's and 2 large unidentified ships at 2300. 23 miles off SE tip BOHOL Island headed north.
0026 CTG 77.2 CTG 79.11 Contact repetition made by PT 127 and relayed x Contact with 3 enemy DD's and 2 large units ships at 23101 10 miles off SE tip of BOHOL is heading north.
0028 Battleships CBD 3 1 turn
0031 CTG 79.11 McGowan Skunks several 193 dist 8 time 00301.
0032 CDD 108 CTG 79.11 Form your group in vicinity station 6 and await further orders.
0041 CTG 77.2 CTG 79.11 Contact report from PT 127 x 2 contacts Bearing 310 true 10 miles from Camiguin Island now closing in.
0050 CTG 79.11 McGowan Skunks 178 7 miles (faded) (believed friendly) Confirmed 0104
0100 TU 77.2.2 CTG 77.2 070 turn.
0143 TU 77.2.2 CTG 77.2 050 turn.
0147 CTG 77.2 CTG 79.11 Contact Brg 140 dist 18 from Taancan Pint was made 01231.
0150 BB's
DesDiv X
CBD 3 16 turn.
0200 CTG 77.2 CTG 77.3 PT 134 reports an undetermined target proceeding up the strait abeam of S point of Panaon Island about 4 min ago.
0207 CTG 77.2 CTG 77.3 PT 134 now reports very large ship and that he has taken him under attack with undetermined results.
0210 CTG 77.2 CTG 77.3 The target being attacked by PT boats is trying to drive them off with gun fire.
0212 TU 77.2.2 CTG 77.2 Speed 2.
0215 TU 77.2.2 CTG 77.2 280 turn.
0222 TU 77.2.2 CTG 77.2 Speed 1.
0229 CTG 77.2 CTG 77.3 PT 134 reports he hit a heavy object with his screw in deep water he thought it was a submarine coming up the channel with what targets may be with them.
0232 BB's CBD 3 General Quarters.
0234 TU 77.2.2 CTG 77.2 270 turn. (cruisers)
0235 TU 77.2.2 CTG 77.2 Set Condition of readiness One.
0237 BB's CBD 3 1 turn.
0240 Remey McGowan Skunk 184-18.
0242 BB's CBD 3 Speed 2.
0243 CTG 79.11 McGowan Now see 3 more skunk in column 184 range 15 course 000.
0244 DesRon 54 CTG 79.11 Speed 4. 25 knots.
0255   Denver Just saw blue flash toward target.
  Monssen CBD 108 Captain McDermut is taking first target you take the one farthest north.
0256 ----- CTG 79.11 Make smoke.
  ----- CTG 79.11 We are coming full left now.
0258 CDR 24 CTG 77.3 Proceed to attack x follow down with the shore line follow other group in x then with others x make smoke.
0302 TU 77.2.2 CTG 77.2 Turn 18 Speed 2
0304 BB's CBD 3 Turn 18
0307 CTG 77.2 CTG 79.11 1 group 2 large 1 small we are being straddled now.
0309 TU 77.2.2 CTG 77.2 Speed 1.
0313 CTG 77.2 CTG 79.11 Spot 5 Targets 2 may have been hit slowing down and dropping behind some.
0318 CTG 77.2 CTG 79.11 Will try to get a check think there were 2 BB.
  CTG 77.2 CDR. 108 Just scored a big flare on 1 of them.
0322 CTG 77.2 CTG 79.11 General consensus of opinion 2 BB 2 cruisers and 1 DD X we saw definitely 2 hit.
0328 BB's
DesDiv X
CBD 3 Speed 3
0330 CTG 77.2 CTG 77.3 The group firing are retiring the other group are getting ready to fire and will report when fish are away.
0331 BB's CBD 3 Open fire at 26,000 yds.
0332 CTG 77.2 CTG 77.3 Fish away from my western group X reports enemy appears to be retiring.
0334 CDR 56 CTG 77.2 Launch attack hit big boys.
0340 CBD 3 CTG 77.2 Enemy seems to be retiring close battleline (this transmission cancelled)
0343 CBD 3 CTG 77.2 Do not close battleline.
0345 CTG 77.2 CCD 2 PT 525 reports 5 DD and 1 large ship passing up strait heading north X one of enemy appear to be dead in water has been hitting them with 5 inch fire.
0347 CTG 77.2 CBD 3 I have a of small ones followed by a group of large ones when the large ones reach twenty-six thousand yds. I will open fire.
0349 TU 77.2 CTG 77.2 About to open fire.
  Cruisers CTG 77.3 Open fire.
0350 ----- CTG 77.3 Be those 3 little ones in front are friendly trying to get to shore line.
0352 CBD 3 West Virginia Ready to fire.
    CBD 3 Roger.
0355 BB's CBD 3 Turn 3.
0354 CTG 77.3 CTG 77.2 Open fire.
  DesDiv 112 ----- Make smoke.
      Emergency 000 turn X turn for the beach.
0359 CTG 77.2 Edwards Third Section Torpedos away.
0402 BB's CBD 3 Turn 15.
0403 Section 1 CDD 56 Get ready to fire torpedoes, fire when ready and retire with smoke.
0405 CTG 77.2 CCD 2 Splash dead ahead and stbd beam of Denver.
0407 ALL SHIPS CTG 77.2 Look out for California she apparently did not hear turn signal.
0406 ----- CDD 56 You are firing at DesRon 56.
0410 ALL SHIPS CTG 77.2 All Ships cease fire.
0412 BB's CB 3 All BB's having hot loaded guns may fire at enemy and unload.
0413 TU 77.2.2 CTG 77.2 18 turn.
0414 BB's CBD 2 Tennessee is going ahead to take station on Pennsylvania X take station astern of Tennessee.
0417 BatDiv 4 CBD 3 Turn 9
0421 CTG 77.2 Denver Large target has disappeared from sight target referred to Bearing 205 distance 11.
0424 TU 77.2.2 CTG 77.2 Open fire when you have solution.
0424 CTG 77.2 CCD 2 Four additional targets at 184 14 to 17 miles.
0425 BatDiv 4 CBD 3 9 turn.
0428 BatDiv 2 CBD 2 00 turn.
0429 TG 77.2 CTG 77.2 Grant is hit and lying dead in the water X all ships take special precaution.
0430 DesDiv CTG 77.2 Proceed south intercept enemy.
0433 Cruisers CTG 77.2 Turn 190.
0434 CTG 77.2 CCD 2 3 enemy ships 190 near ship 12 miles 270 turn Speed 2.
0437 CBD 3 CBD 2 BatDiv 2 on course 270 at speed 10 X ships Pennsylvania, Tennessee, California.
0450 TU 77.2.2 CTG 77.2 Execute on receipt 183.
0455 BB's CBD 3 18 turn.
0534 TU 77.2.2 CTG 77.2 Corpen 192.
0524 CTG 77.2 Minneapolis Report from PT X 3 large targets east of Tamona island 2 heading north 1 heading south.
0525 CTG 77.2 CTG 77.2 Open fire when target bears.
0526 CBD 3 Tennessee Skunk few 129 Dist 17 apparently on reverse course.
0538 TG 77.2 CTG 77.2 Cease firing.

BB48/S72 U.S.S. West Virginia
c/o Fleet Post Office,
San Francisco, California.

From: Commanding Officer.
To: Chief, Bureau of Ordnance.
Via: (1) Commander Battleship Division 4.
(2) Commander Service Force, Pacific Fleet (FMO).
Subject: Casualties to the Mark 1 Mod 0 Shell Hoist Drive Gear in Turret I during shore bombardment of Leyte Island, and the Battle of Surigao Strait, Philippine Islands, October 20 and 25th, respectively -- report of and recommendations concerning.

  1. OCCURRENCE: (a) On the next to the last salvo of the shore bombardment, power was lost in Turret 1. At the moment, the left shell hoist was full and under a working load, the piston being in the raised position approximately 30 inches. power came back on almost immediately thereafter, but not until the hoist piston had dropped, allowing the last shell in the hoist to drop back down to the shell deck. Attempts were made to again raise the hoist, but operation was noisy, and an intense vibration was noted in the drive motor and speed gear, causing even the bod plates to chatter. Repairs were effected (covered under "Ship's Action", paragraph 3 below), and tests made satisfactorily. (b) During the Strait action, and Right shell hoist motor cut out after the 2nd salvo, due to overload. The electric Yale & Towne chain hoist was immediately placed in operation, and the overload re-set on the main motor. The 6th, 7th and 8th salvos were missed by the right gun before the supply of shells to the gun was resumed.

  2. ANALYSIS: (a) During the shore bombardment breakers on the forward distribution board tripped out, reason unknown. They were pushed back in almost immediately, apparently before the line contactors in the turret had a chance to fall out. Loss of power, therefore, was momentary. In the meanwhile, when power was lost, the weight of the shells caused the hoist piston to drop. Interposed between the drive motor and speed gear is a ratchet wheel (Dr. 93102-1) and a ratchet pawl (Dr. 93115-1) whose function is to prevent the piston from dropping in just such a case. Apparently, however the pawl did not engage in time to prevent the casualty. The heavy of the falling shells caused the speed gear shaft to rotate at high speed in the opposite direction. At this moment the power motor again began to drive and the opposite torque caused the shafts of both the electric motor and the speed gear to become misaligned, the motor shaft by .090. The armature of the electric motor was replaced with a spare on hand. The hoist was tested under load, and although operation was not entirely satisfactory due to the misalignment of the speed gear, the hoist was able to operate. Alignment will be effected at the first Navy Yard availability. (b) The only reason known for the casualty to the right hoist during the Strait action, is that the overload had not been set high enough, when tested on the previous day.


    1. Electrical personnel have been instructed that breakers are not to be pushed in until it has been determined that control buttons are in the "Off " position

    2. Turret operating personnel have been instructed that when power is lost they are to immediately press their "Off" buttons, and neutralize all controls.

    3. Overloads have been readjusted.

    4. A similar casualty to (a) above occurred several years ago on this vessel, at which time counterbalance arms and adjustable nuts were added to the end of the ratchet pawl to give the pawl a more positive engaging action. Apparently this added precaution is still not the final answer to the problem.


    1. Replace with a flexible coupling, the present motor and speed gear shaft flanges and coupling disc (Dr. 475440-1, 2, & 3) between the drive motor and speed gear. Provide suitable shipboard spares. The brunt of reoccurrence of the incident (a) would be taken up by the coupling, which could easily be replaced.

    2. Improve the action of the ratchet and wheel, or replace with an installation which is a more positive check against the reversal of the hoist under these conditions.

    3. The shell hoist motor controllers in Turrets I, III, and IV, are equipped with manually operated drum type controllers. Turret II is equipped with full automatic starting panels, with remote control push button stations. The Turret II equipment has proven to be very satisfactory. The manual controllers carry the full starting and running current thru moveable contact fingers, being usually used with variable speed motor with direct connected load. The shell hoist motors are constant speed, operating at full rated speed and connected to the load by means of Waterbury speed gears. In case of momentary failure of power supply, damage is done to motors and associated equipment due to the inability of the controllers to return to a neutral position automatically. In addition, considerable trouble has been experienced due to burning, pitting, and wear of the contact fingers and tips caused by: (1) high current values when starting the motors; (a) improper accelerating rate of the motors, inherent in all manually operated equipment. Several controllers have burned out complete

      In view of the above, it is recommended that full automatic equipment, similar to Turret II, be installed in Turrets I, III, and IV.



Enclosure (E)

BB48/S72 U.S.S. West Virginia
c/o Fleet Post Office,
San Francisco, California.

2 November 1944.


From: Commanding Officer.
To: Chief, Bureau of Ordnance.
Via: (1) Commander Battleship Division 4.
Subject: Casualty to Right Mark 1 Mod 0 Shell Hoist in Turret III during Battle of Surigao Strait, Philippine Islands, October 25, 1944 -- report of.

  1. OCCURRENCE: After firing four salvos, the right shell cradle jammed after the 5th shell was dumped. A shell remaining on the shell table was fired for the 6th salvo. The auxiliary motor was immediately cut in on the main shell hoist, but due to the cradle being jammed, would not operate the hoist. The Yale & Towne auxiliary chain hoist was then placed in operation. The trouble with the main hoist located, and the supply of shells resumed. However, "Cease firing" was given just as shells from the chain hoist and main tube reached the gun chamber. A total of eight salvos were missed on this gun.

  2. ANALYSIS: When it was found that the shell hoist would not operate in auxiliary, the Chief Turret Captain was sent below to investigate. On the Electric Deck, he found that the pin thru the universal joint which joins the vertical control shaft (Dr. 54983-1) to the horizontal control shaft (Dr. 54983-12) had fallen out, allowing the horizontal control shaft to drop out of place, and hang free. Since the shell hoist piston was in the raised position, the cradle jammed and would not operate.

  3. SHIP'S ACTION: The shafts were connected and the pin replaced. Shell hoist resumed operation, total time of six minutes elapsing from the time of the casualty to the resumption of service of the hoist.


Enclosure (F)

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation