Puslapio vaizdai

Divers had been requested from Newport and U. S. S. S-8 which had left Provincetown earlier in the day was turned back by dispatch. The Falcon proceeded through the Cape Cod Canal and arrived off Provincetown earlier on Sunday, the 18th. Normally, the Falcon has about 70 men abroad, with five officers. For several days the number was nearly doubled and there was generally 10 or more additionl officers. These included what was thought to be the best available talent in the Navy for such work. The Bushnell was there, also the Lark and Mallard and a number of other naval vessels, together with some vessels of the Coast Guard.

"When the Falcon arrived, the S-4 had not been located, though there were buoys in the vicinity. The small boats that were dragging located some heavy object and the Falcon anchoraged near the spot. A grapnel thrown from the stern of the Falcon caught on what proved to be the S-4, and the Lark and Mallard were anchored off the Falcon and preparations made for diving. Conditions of wind and sea were such that diving would not have been undertaken except for the possibility of saving life.


The procedure to be followed in the rescue attempts had been fully discussed by all officers present, including myself, and in every case the decision reached was unanimous. I took active part in discussions and made final decisions. I see no grounds for criticisms of the fact that the decisions were made after receiving opinions from officers who were expert in their line and who were at the scene because of being experts.

"A period of nearly four weeks elapsed before I testified at the court of inquiry. During this period my time and attention were fully occupied with the work at hand. Under the existing conditions I feel that it is natural, that due to press of circumstances, some details may have escaped my memory. When the court asked questions that I could not answer with absolute certainty I said that I did not know, rather than give answers more or less vague, although at the time of the operation I was fully conversant with the work going on and could have answered technical questions regarding it. This procedure saved time and I know that some of my assistants soon to follow me on the witness stand would be able from their records to give details that might be required. In my opinion such action on my part does not warrant the findings of the court or its recommendations concerning me."

12. Rear Admiral Brumby was appropriately called upon for testimony as to the minute details of the salvage operation which had been going on for more than a month and was asked to give exact times of certain incidents in the operation and may readily have been mistaken in his testimony. If he had been advised, either by being made a party to the proceedings, or in any other way, that in the opinion of the court his testimony was being considered to its effect upon his professional career or professional intelligence, it is obvious that he could and probably would have answered some questions which he felt might be more appropriately answered by those having more direct and first-hand information. He was not advised at any time that the court considered his conduct such as to require investigation or action of any kind. If his attention had been called to his mistake with reference to the delay in getting air into the torpedo room he would have been in a position to correct such mistake. It is probable that the court failed to do this because at that time the facts had not been fully brought to their attention. Rear Admiral Brumby not only had charge of the operation but he remained on board the Falcon in constant contact with all of those engaged in the work and he states that in his conferences the decisions were unanimously arrived at and carried out. There is nothing in his conduct in connection with the rescue or salvage operations which is considered blameworthy or other than commendable, and under all the circumstances any errors or oversight or failures in his testimony are insufficient to overcome his splendid record of achievement covering more than 31 years of service in the Navy, approved as it has been by his superior officers and also by the selection boards whose recommendation resulted in his recent promotion to the rank of rear admiral.

13. It is directed that the record of the court of inquiry in this case be referred to all material bureaus of the Navy Department as well as the Chief of Naval Operations for considerations and such recommendations as appear to be warranted.

14. Subject to the above, the proceedings, findings, opinion, and recommendations in the court of inquiry and court of inquiry in its first and second revisions and the remarks and the Judge Advocate General, the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, and the Chief of Operations are approved.


Washington, May 8, 1928.


Chairman Senate Subcommittee Investigating S-4 Disaster,

United States Senate.

MY DEAR SENATOR: A copy of the proceedings and findings of the board appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury for the purpose of determining what responsibility, if any, rested upon the commanding officer of the Coast Guard destroyer Paulding, or upon any officer or man aboard that vessel, for the collision resulting in the loss of the U. S. submarine S-4, has been furnished Captain Hooper of the Navy Department, pursuant to his request. It is understood that Captain Hooper is acting as technical adviser to your committee.

Very truly yours,

OGDEN L. MILLS, Undersecretary of the Treasury.



Monday May 7, 1928.

Secretary Mellon has just made public the findings of the board appointed by him to inquire into all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the loss of the U. S. submarine S-4, which occurred off Provincetown, Mass., on December 17, 1927. That board was appointed by him for the purpose of determining what responsibility for the collision, if any, rests upon the commanding officer of the Coast Guard destroyer Paulding or upon any officer or man on board that vessel. The board of inquiry consisted of Capt. Aaron L. Gamble, United States Coast Guard, as president; and of Capt. William J. Wheeler, United States Coast Guard; Engineer in Chief Robert B. Adams, United States Coast Guard; and Commander (engineering) Charles S. Root, United States Coast Guard, as members; also of Commander Russel R. Waesche, United States Coast Guard, as member and recorder.

The findings and recommendations of the board have been approved by Rear Admiral F. C. Billard, United States Coast Guard commandant, and by Secretary Mellon.

It will be recalled that Secretary of the Navy Wilbur, in announcing the findings of the Navy Department, stated that the matter of the responsibility of the Paulding for the collision was being referred to the Treasury Department for attention.

The complete findings of the board are set forth below:


The board finds that—

THE U. S. S. "S-4"

1. The S-4 left Provincetown Harbor at about 12.30 p. m., on December 17, 1927, to commence her submerged standardization trials in obedience to lawful orders of the Navy Department.

2. The submarine course used by the S-4 was the inner trial course on the approach to Provincetown Harbor, marked by white buoys designated as CAA, CBB, SCC. Neither Coast and Geodetic Survey Charts 1208 nor 341 (Provincetown Harbor) carries any notation indicating that the course used by the S-4 is an official trial course maintained by the Navy. The Buoy List published by the Lighthouse Service, referring to four white trial-course buoys on the outer course (not the one used by the S-4), carries the following remarks: "United States Navy trial course. In fairway from Race Point to Provincetown Harbor; masters of vessels must keep clear of them." The same Buoy List, referring to three white submarine trial-course buoys along the line of course that was used by the S-4, contains the remark: "Maintained by the United States Navy." It does not contain any injunction relative to keeping clear of these buoys.

3. It appears from the testimony taken before the naval court of inquiry that this trial course was established by the Navy in 1909, and that standardization trials for 49 submarines have been held there, or an average of one submarine in approximately 42 months. It also appears from the testimony taken before the naval court that none of the officers and men on board the Paulding had ever seen a submarine operating there submerged.

4. The United States Coast Pilot, Atlantic coast, section A, under "Directions, Provincetown Harbor," contains no reference whatever to either of these trial courses. It directs the mariner bound into Provincetown Harbor to follow the trend of the shore between Wood End and Long Point lighthouses, giving it a berth of three-eighths mile. The trial course that was used by the S-4 runs parallel to the stretch of beach between Wood End and Long Point and about half a mile from the beach. Therefore the mariner who carries out the instructions contained in the Coast Pilot while entering Provincetown Harbor would proceed in close proximity to this said trial course. It is a matter of common knowledge that all shipping coming into Provincetown from around Race Point, or bound out of Provincetown around Race Point, will pass closely adjacent to this trial course, there being no inhibitions, whatever, against such action, but, on the contrary, such action being suggested by the Coast Pilot.

5. According to the testimony of the officer in charge of the Wood End Coast Guard Station who quoted from official records, there came in and out of Provincetown Harbor in the years 1925, 1926, and 1927, approximately 33,000 boats of more than 5 tons, and approximately as many boats of less than 5 tons; that schooners, destroyers, ships, barges, and, last summer, the battleship Texas, anchored there, and quite often large freight steamers came in and anchored from stress of weather.

6. Since 1907 the monthly pilot charts published by the Hydrographic Office of the Navy have borne a United States submarine warning flag with the following legend: "The submarine distinguishing and warning flag is hoisted on the tender or parent ship of the United States submarine to indicate that submarines are operating in that vicinity. It consists of a rectangular red flag with while center on which is the profile of a torpedo in black. Launches accompanying submarines also fly this flag. Vessels seeing this signal should give the escorting vessel a wide berth and keep a good lookout for submarines."

7. The Navy Signal Manual, 1920, Navy Department, C. S. P. 293, page 125, section 661, has the following: "The submarine warning flag is hoisted on the tender or parent ships of submarines or on launches accompanying them to indicate that submarines are operating submerged in that vicinity."

8. No submarine warning flag was displayed anywhere in the vicinity of the trial course during the trials of the S-4.

9. The Navy tug Wandank was at Provincetown during the trials of the S-4, under the orders of the representatives of the board of inspection and survey, and was available to display the submarine warning flag.

10. According to testimony given before the naval court of inquiry, owing to modern developments and improvements in submarine constructions, particularly since the World War, enabling these vessels to look out for themselves, the use of special warnings regarding the proximity of submarines has not in recent years been considered necessary or desirable by officers of submarine experience. However, the fact that the submarine warnings were no longer regarded as necessary by the Navy was not published, nor was the fact that practice had been discontinued communicated to the Coast Guard.


11. On the day of the collision the Paulding in the usual course of her duties of inspecting a large area, including Provincetown Harbor, for violation of customs and other laws, rounded Cape Cod shortly after 3 o'clock in the afternoon. strong wind was blowing with heavy swell and white-capped waves, the sky being overcast. The destroyer followed the course prescribed by the published manuals for approaching Provincetown Harbor, using the fairway indicated and in regular use by all vessels bound for Provincetown.

12. On the bridge of the Paulding were the commissioned officer of the deck, the junior officer of the deck (the latter a chief quartermaster of 10 years' experience, mostly on Navy destroyers), the quartermaster, and the man at the wheel. Moreover, the commanding officer was on the bridge at the time of the collision, although he had stepped into the chart inclosure for an instant to consult the chart a few seconds before the presence of the submarine periscopes was observed. The officer of the deck, junior officer of the deck, and quartermaster were actively and vigilantly maintaining a lookout in the direction in which they were proceeding. The lookout maintained was a proper and sufficient lookout under the circumstances.

13. The Paulding followed a course parallel to the outer trial course buoys at a distance of two to there hundred yards. She passed the buoy CD on the port beam, at a distance of 500 yards, and changed course to 94° true at 3.33 p. m.

14. While on course 94° true, between buoy CD and CAA and to southward of them, making speed 18 knots, at about 3.37 p. m., the Paulding sighted two periscopes of a submarine, one point on her port bow distant about 75 yards from the bow of the Paulding.

15. The periscopes were moving toward and across the Paulding's bow and rising.

16. Immediately before sighting the periscopes, the officer of the deck had given orders to the helmsman to change course 5° to the left, but before the destroyer had started to swing to the left the order was given "right full."

17. As a result of commands given on the bridge, the Paulding was given "full right rudder" and backed at full speed.

18. At 3.37, when the superstructure was showing about one third of its height above the water, the S-4 was struck just forward of the 4-inch gun on the starboard side by the United States Coast Guard destroyer Paulding and sank with all hands on board, going down by the bow.

19. The Paulding at once lowered a boat to search for and rescue possible survivors, dropped a buoy to mark the spot of sinking, and took cross bearings. 20. At this time the visibility was excellent for surface craft, a fresh breeze was blowing, the sea choppy and considerable white caps.

21. The Paulding was damaged to the extent of $19,765, but able to proceed unassisted to an anchorage in Provincetown Harbor and later went to the Boston Navy Yard for repairs.

22. The testimony indicates that the S-4 was completing certain standardization runs between buoys on the trial course and was accustomed to swing out into fairway at the end of each run before circling on the return run. The runs were being made at prescribed depth, which means that the periscopes, painted in war colors and designed to make them invisible, were from two to four feet above water in a choppy sea. At each periscope there was supposed to be an observer on watch, one of them especially charged with the duty of scanning the horizon for approaching vessels. Under the conditions named the destroyer would be visible to this officer at a distance of about 5,000 yards.

23. Experts have testified that it is the duty of a submarine running at periscope depth to keep clear of surface craft. The S-4 had the Paulding on her starboard bow at all times prior to the collision, and in this situation was also required by the International Rules for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea to keep clear of the Paulding.

24. The collision occurred approximately 400 yards southeast of the extension of the line of buoys and was approximately 440 yards 174° true from buoy CAA, indicating that the Paulding was following a course well clear of the line of buoys and outside of the course prescribed by the United States Coast Pilot for vessels entering Provincetown Harbor.

25. The Coast Guard district commander and the warrant officer in charge of the Wood End Station knew of the operations of the submarines simply by personal observation. Neither of them, and, indeed, nobody in the Coast Guard, was officially informed by anyone in the Navy of these submarine operations, or when they would begin or conclude, or at what hours of the day they would operate, or, indeed, anything about the matter.

26. The commander of the Conyngham, also commanding the Coast Guard division to which the Paulding was attached, and the commander of the Paulding testified that they had no knowledge that submarines were operating in the vicinity of Provincetown during those days.


The board, in summarizing the foregoing facts, finds that:

1. On the afternoon of December 17, 1927, the S-4 and the Coast Guard destroyer Paulding were in collision while the submarine was on a submerged run over the measured mile course off Provincetown, Mass., resulting in the sinking of the S-4 with loss of all on board.

2. The Paulding was keeping a sharp and efficient lookout, as required by law, Coast Guard Reulations, and the practice of seamen; but, owing to choppy sea, the extreme difficulty of picking up an object purposely designed and painted to avoid detection, and the fact that no notice had been given of the operation of submarine in that vicinity, the periscopes were not identified in time to avert the collision.

3. The doctrine of the naval submarine service as testified to by naval expert witnesses is to the effect that the responsibility rests upon a submerged submarine to keep clear of all surface craft.

4. It was the duty of the S-4, under the International Rules for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea, to keep clear of the Paulding.


The board is of the opinion that:

1. Eighteen knots in this fairway, in the open sea, and in the daytime, is not a high rate of speed for a destroyer, the testimony showing such speed to be normal and usual for Coast Guard destroyers on patrol duty.

2. The officers of the submarine had every opportunity by observations to see the destroyer at a considerable distance and seek immediate safety at a greater depth. A destroyer on the other hand, approaching a vessel admittedly designed to see and not be seen, and evidenced only by two periscopes a little above water in a choppy sea with considerable whitecaps, and those on the bridge of the destroyer having no reason to anticipate the presence of a submarine, can not be held to be negligent in failing to observe the periscopes in time to avoid collision as they approached slowly through the water.

3. The cause of the failure of the S-4 to sight the Paulding and take action in time to avoid collision must remain indeterminate since there are no survivors to testify. It is the experience of the members on the board that no mechanical appliance is infallible. It appears to be impossible to determine whether or not there was a failure on the part of the mechanical appliances of the S-4 prior to the collision.

4. The action of the Paulding in swinging right full rudder and backing her engines was the correct one as giving the greatest promise of passing clear.

5. When the S-4 was sighted by the Paulding upon its emergance 75 yards on the destroyer's port bow, collision was inevitable notwithstanding the immediate and correct maneuvers undertaken in accordance with the orders of the officer of the deck.

6. The failure to recognize the periscopes at a greater distance than 75 yards did not indicate an inefficient lookout since the difficulty of picking up and distinguishing small objects was greatly enhanced by the choppy sea and strong wind that covered the surface with whitecaps.

7. Had a submarine warning flag been displayed as shown on the Hydrographic Office Pilot Charts and in the Navy Signal Manual, or had the commanding officer of the Paulding knowledge of the operations of submarines in this vicinity at that time, no collision would have occurred.

8. The conduct of Lieutenant Commander Baylis in a most trying situation, attending and following the collision, not knowing whether his own vessel was in a sinking condition, was highly commendable in that he neglected no precautions for rescuing possible survivors of the S-4.

9. (1) The Paulding was maintaining a proper lookout. The Paulding was navigating in the open sea, in the daytime, in a fairway, with good visibility. The chief petty officer (junior officer of the deck) and the quartermaster were on the bridge, and were regularly assigned to act as general lookouts, and they were actively and vigilantly maintaining a lookout in the direction in which the vessel was proceeding. The officer of the deck was also vigilantly maintaining a lookout.

(2) Furthermore, the position of the lookouts, though not on the forward deck, was a proper one for the observation of all vessels which might pass and of all obstructions to navigation; the bridge of the Paulding being located well forward. On this clear, cold December day, with a strong breeze blowing and a choppy sea, with spray coming over the bow ocasionally, the bridge was the most favorable position on the destroyer for a lookout to effectually perform his duty. (3) The bridge of the Paulding afforded the lookouts a clear and unobstructed view of the direction in which the vessel was proceeding.

10. The submarine is a distinctly unusual type of vessel, and if the person in charge of a surface vessel cruising on the open sea in the daytime in clear weather, with the sea choppy, were held to have incurred serious blame if he fails to sight the periscope of a submarine operating at periscope depth, he not knowing of the presence of the submarine in the vicinity, and there being no warnings displayed of any kind, and collides with such submarine as she suddenly emerges under the bows of his vessel, then, indeed, are the masters of all surface craft subject

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