The Battle Is Nearly Over - June 6, 1942
Background Sound: "Battle Hymn Of The Republic"
- Japanese submarine spots the Yorktown and destroyer escort.
- Midway PBY Catalina aircraft search the area of the battle and pick up survivors.
- Japanese submarine (I-168) torpedoes Yorktown and the U.S. destroyer Hammann. The
was beside the Yorktown aiding the salvage efforts.
Unbeknownst to Yorktown and the six nearby destroyers the Japanese submarine I-168 had achieved a favorable firing position. Remarkably - but perhaps understandable in light of the debris and wreckage in the water in the vicinity - none of the destroyers picked up the approaching I-boat. Suddenly, at 15:36, lookouts spotted a salvo of four torpedoes churning toward the ship from the starboard beam.
Hammann went to general quarters, a 20 millimeter gun going into action in an attempt to explode the "fish" in the water. One torpedo hit Hammann - her screws churning the water beneath her fantail as she tried to get underway - directly amidships and broke her back. The destroyer jackknifed and went down rapidly.
USS Hammann, a 1620-ton Sims class destroyer built at Kearny, New Jersey, was commissioned in August 1939, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Arnold E. True. Her service over the next thirty months included active participation in 1941 "operations short of war" in the Atlantic. Transferred to the Pacific in January 1942, she took part in operations in the South Pacific in February-May 1942 including the Battle of Coral Sea. During the Battle of Midway in early June 1942, Hammann screened USS Yorktown (CV-5). While tied alongside Yorktown on the afternoon of 6 June 1942, assisting in her salvage, Hammann was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-168 and sank in a few minutes. Casualties among her crew were very heavy.
Two torpedoes struck Yorktown just below the turn of the bilge at the after end of the island structure. The fourth torpedo passed just astern of the carrier.
Approximately a minute after Hammann's stern disappeared beneath the waves, an explosion rumbled up from the depths - possibly caused by the destroyer's depth charges going off. The blast killed many of Hammann's and a few of Yorktown's men who had been thrown into the water. The concussion battered the already-damaged carrier's hull and caused tremendous shocks that carried away Yorktown's auxiliary generator, sent numerous fixtures from the hangar deck overhead crashing to the deck below; sheared rivets in the starboard leg of the foremast; and threw men in every direction, causing broken bones and several minor injuries.
Prospects for immediate resumption of salvage work looked grim, since all destroyers immediately commenced searches for the enemy submarine (which escaped) and commenced rescuing men from Hammann and Yorktown. Captain Buckmaster decided to postpone further attempts at salvage until the following day.
Vireo cut the towline and doubled back to Yorktown to pick up survivors, taking on board many men of the salvage crew while picking up men from the water. The little ship endured a terrific pounding from the larger ship but nevertheless stayed alongside to carry out her rescue mission. Later, while on board the tug, Capt. Buckmaster conducted a burial service, two officers and an enlisted man from Hammann were committed to the deep.
The second attempt at salvage, however, would never be made. Throughout the night of the 6th and into the morning of the 7th,
- Further attacks by U.S. on Japanese fleet occur.
- Yamamoto orders all-out battle on U.S. Fleet, but air search fails to find it, plan given up.
- Japanese withdrawal begins.