The West Loch Disaster

The West Loch Disaster

A few days ago a car carrying two civilians tried to enter the Naval Station at Pearl Harbor. The security guard noticed what appeared to be a mortar round in the car. The two people in the car were taken into custody, EOD was alerted, and the base was locked down. Subsequent investigation showed that the device was inert and the people were released. This incident brought the little known story of the West Loch Disaster which, it is believed, was caused by a mortar projectile.

The West Loch Disaster was a maritime accident during World War II at the Pearl Harbor U.S. Naval Base in Hawaii. The incident, which occurred just after 1500 hrs. on Sunday 21 May 1944, began following an explosion in a staging area for Landing Ships, Tank (LSTs) and other amphibious assault ships in West Loch. A fire quickly spread among the ships being prepared for Operation Forager, the invasion of the Japanese-held Mariana Islands. Over the next 24 hours, six LSTs sank, 163 naval personnel died and 396 were injured.

A subsequent Naval Board of Inquiry never determined the exact cause of the disaster but concluded that the initial explosion was caused when a mortar round aboard LST-353 detonated during an unloading operation because it was either dropped or went off when gasoline vapors ignited. The incident – together with the Port Chicago disaster two months later – led to major changes in weapon handling practices within the United States Navy.

The LST wreckage was quickly cleared in a salvage operation and dumped at sea 3 mi (2.6 NMI; 4.8 km) south of Hawaii. Only the hull of the partially beached LST-480 was left in West Loch. A press blackout was enforced and naval personnel were ordered not to talk about the incident. The disaster was classified until 1960 and is therefore not well known.

During the salvage and removal of the wrecks from West Loch, the U.S. Navy found remains of a Japanese midget submarine. Researchers now believe this to be the fifth Japanese midget submarine used in the attack in December 1941.


Raising the Flag

Raising the Flag

Raising the United States flag at Yokosuka, Japan on August 30, 1945, as U.S. Marines and Sailors assume responsibility for the base. Brig. Gen. William T. Clement, USMC, presided over the ceremony. In this view, the flag is at the bottom of the mast, ready to be hoisted. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.


At Quarters




By Mister Mac

I share them with all who have gone through the same crucible. They (like us) were forged in pressure. They were quenched in the waters of the darkest parts of the ocean. They symbolize a tradition that is shared by only a few. Fire, flooding and the crashing of the waves above us only strengthened their character. They cannot be given, they must be earned. They cost little but their value is immense. They are silver and they are gold. But they are bonded together in shared sacrifice and duty.


Makin Island


Semper Fi

Makin Island

A true story about 19 marines killed on an island defending against the Japanese. They had to retreat, so the survivors asked the islanders to please bury them for us. Years later, they checked and found a man who had been a teenager then and remembered where the marines had been buried. They sent a C130 and an honor guard over there and found all 19 had been buried with their helmets on, their rifles in their hands, in perfect condition. The islanders had really done a wonderful job.

As they were loading the bodies, a voice from out of nowhere started singing The Marine Hymn”……….gave everyone goosebumps. Turns out, the voice was from a man who spoke no English but remembered a song the Marines taught him when they landed. Very touching. They got all 19 and their photos are at the end. This of course was WW2!




Two tiny little anchors

of bright and shiny gold.

Few know of their significance

or the treasure that they hold.

To civilians, they’re just little pins

to put on Sailors’ collars.

And in boot camp they just signify

the ones who always hollers.

To a Seaman these two anchors

have power and control.

To a Navy Petty Officer

these anchors are a goal.

But ask a Chief who’s been there

what those anchors signify.

And they’ll get a lump swelled in their throat

and a tear will fill their eyes.

These anchors have traditions

and history of beliefs.

They’ve been passed for generations

like a torch amongst the Chiefs.

They signify the people

who has helped with their career?

And the Chiefs who guided them along

and somehow got them here.

They’re a symbol of a brotherhood/sisterhood

a fraternity of pride.

Worn by those who fought for freedom

they shine bright for those who died.

They’re a feeling you get inside

And it’s one we Chiefs have known.

That no matter where you go in life

If a Chiefs there….you are home.

Now these tiny little anchors

worn by Active Chiefs.

And for many Chiefs that has retired

active Chiefs will be left to fill their shoes

So wear these shiny anchors

let your heart fill up with pride.

Earn respect, not for the uniform

but for the Chief, you are inside.

Take good care of the younger Sailors

be a Chief who truly cares.

And someday they will think of you

as the Chief “who got them there”.

And those shiny little anchors

will continue to be passed.

To the many Chiefs who come and go

in the Navy big and vast.

They will shine there on the collars

of the ones with strong beliefs.

That once you pin those anchors on

You will always be…..



Naval Air Station Cubi Point


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This is an aerial view of NAS Cubi Point in the Philippines (now Subic Bay International Airport).

During the Korean War, Admiral Arthur Radford, the Chief of Naval Operations, wanted a naval air station close to the Navy’s base at Subic Bay.

This bit of land was only 3 miles away from the fleet anchorage. Civilian contractors were initially given the job of building the base, but they said it was impossible due to the local rugged terrain, so Admiral Redford handed the job to the Seabees.

Three Seabee units worked for five years building the base which at the time was the largest earth-moving project since the construction of the Panama Canal.

The Seabees completed work on the air station in 1956.

Admiral Arthur W. Radford made the inaugural landing himself on the new runway.

In honor of the Seabee battalion that constructed the base, Construction Battalion One (CUB 1), the base was named CUB1 Point but over the years became better known as “Cubi Point”.

NAS Cubi Point became the Seventh Fleet’s main aircraft repair/overhaul depot.

During Vietnam, the base’s engine shops were turning out 2-3 overhauled engines a day to support carrier operations in the Tonkin Gulf.

The eruption of Mount Pinatubo damaged the base and in 1992 it was handed over to the Philippines as part of the withdrawal of permanent-based US forces from the islands.