The Ship - All Hands - Decorations - Remembrance
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On 24 August 1942, planes from Enterprise and Saratoga made contact with a large Japanese force of combatant ships. Planes from the American carriers attacked this force at the same time the carriers were being attacked by Japanese planes. A Japanese carrier, a destroyer and a transport were sunk; 90 enemy planes were destroyed; a small carrier and a light cruiser were damaged. The Japanese retired without a surface engagement being joined. Enterprise was the only U.S. vessel damaged.
About 5:12 PM on 24 August, Enterprise underwent a heavy five-minute attack from more than 30 Japanese dive-bombers during which she received three direct bomb hits and four near-misses. The first bomb struck about two minutes after the start of the attack, piercing No. 3 elevator at the flight deck and detonating 42 feet below, between the second and third decks. Half a minute later a second bomb struck the flight deck at frame 179, close to the same elevator, detonating 8 feet below. A minute later a third bomb detonated on impact with the flight deck near the No. 2 elevator.
At 5:17 a bomb detonated in the water about 12 feet off the port quarter, causing permanent deformation of the hull and several decks, including the flight deck. Three other near-misses, which caused minor fragment damage, occurred during the attack.
The second bomb detonated 8 feet below the flight deck, close to the starboard edge of the No. 3 elevator. The flight deck was deflected upward a maximum of 18 inches between frames 173 and 186. The No. 2 arresting gear deck sheave was loosened and the yielding element control cable cut.
The third bomb, released from a 60° dive at an altitude of about 1500 feet, struck the flight deck at frame 127, 28 feet to starboard of centerline, and detonated instantly. A hole approximately 10 feet in diameter was blown in the flight deck by the detonation. The yielding element of No. 9 arresting gear was blown overboard, and fragments cut or damaged the purchase cable sheave bracket, purchase cable, yielding element control cable and barrier cross-deck cable of No. 9 arresting gear and the purchase cables of Nos. 7 and 8 arresting gears.
The third bomb disabled No. 2 elevator leaving only No. 1 elevator able to handle aircraft. Both No. 2 and No. 3 elevator plungers were scored and burred by fragments. The torpedo elevator adjacent to No. 2 elevator was also rendered inoperable. Repair of this damage was beyond the capacity of the ship's force.
The blast from the second bomb blew an 18 feet by 8 feet hole in the gallery deck. Instruments on 5-inch guns Nos. 5 and 7 were wrecked and the guns rendered unsafe for use. The ammunition hoist for No. 7 gun was torn loose and pushed inboard and the scuttle completely destroyed. The hoist for No. 5 gun was damaged and disabled. The splinter shield between the guns was torn loose at the bottom and bent aft.
The ready service powder room for gun No. 5 was demolished and a severe fire broke out as 40 rounds of 5-inch 48 cal. propellant powder were ignited. Although the ready service locker for No. 7 gun was also distorted, the powder in it did not ignite.
Hatch and scuttle 02-174-1 were blown in and wrecked and the upper half of door 1-174-1 was blown off and twisted.
The first bomb, released from a 65° or 70° dive at an altitude of about 1500 feet, passed through the starboard bulkhead of the No. 3 elevator well, the inboard forward corner of the Group II gun gallery, the hatchway on the flat below, the hangar deck at frame 172 and the second deck in D-203-1LM to its point of detonation between the second and third decks in D-303-1L, frame 171, about 12 feet from the starboard side.
The bomb detonated high order. The main deck was bulged up symmetrically between frames 157 and 173 between the port and starboard boat pockets to a maximum height of 16 inches at from 165. Stanchions between the main and second, and second and third decks were torn loose at their base but remained attached to the overhead.
The detonation of the first bomb bulged the second deck up 4 to 12 inches over its entire width between frames 157 and 173. Nearly all bunks and lockers in D-203-1LM, D-303-1L and D-305-L were demolished. The crew's washroom, D-203-2L and the carpenter shop were wrecked. Numerous longitudinals, frames and vertical stiffeners were severed, cracked or buckled.
Fragment damage was extensive. Stiffeners, cables, ducts and piping under the main deck above the explosion were riddled, though only a few fragments perforated the deck itself. The second deck was peppered with holes and the third and fourth decks were also penetrated.
Diagrams derived from Bureau of Ships, Navy Department, blueprints provided courtesy Arnold Olson, Public Affairs Officer, USS Enterprise CV-6 Association. Narrative derived from War Damage Report No. 59, "U.S.S. Enterprise (CV6) War History", Bureau of Ships, Navy Department.