A VETERAN’S DAY TRIBUTE:
TO A NAVAL OFFICER, A TYPHOON SURVIVOR, AND THE GRANDFATHER I NEVER MET
Task Force 38 Meets Typhoon Cobra
Admiral William Halsey was operating off the Philippines and refueling when his weather operators failed to properly track the Typhoon Cobra east of the Island of Luzon. As a result, the Task Force sailed right into the brunt of the powerful storm.
60-knot winds tossed the ships and scattered the task force for 3,000 miles. The destroyers Spence, Hull, and Monaghan were lost, while several other ships were severely damaged, and over 1,000 sailors were killed.
Two carriers were nearly lost, the USS Monterey and the USS Cowpens. Aircraft on the carriers were sent slamming across decks after breaking their triple-tie downs. Fires began as a result, one of which was later related by Gerald Ford, the U. S. president. Ford said aircraft were thrown around in the hangar deck “like pinballs”.
Admiral Halsey had ordered Captain Stuart H. Ingersoll to abandon ship, but considering how that would be accomplished, Ingersoll may have thought he and his men had a better chance of survival in fighting the fire that had broken out. He was right, and their heroic actions saved the carrier.
On the Cowpens, another fire had begun, and planes and heavy equipment battered the ship as it broke loose in the swirling and heaving seas.
Halsey had seven additional ships nearly wrecked while the death toll soared, leaving only six survivors from the Monaghan.