US Navy destroyer Porter - a ship that fortunately did not change the course of history

By the number of various "unwritten rules", beliefs and signs, including, among other things, many prohibitions and "taboos" that seem to outsiders the wildest prejudices, sailors can argue only with pilots. Well, what can you do - for people who have long been accustomed to entrusting their fate to circumstances in which a great many cases and accidents play a huge role, such an attitude towards some aspects of life is perhaps natural. And some of their “prejudices” sometimes turn out to be not so “far-fetched” ...

Take, for example, the firm conviction of the sea wolves that the name given to the ship when launching can turn into a true curse both for itself and for its crew. Yes, yes - the very “whatever you call the yacht, so it will float”, which sailors perceive not at the level of a children's cartoon song, but in all seriousness. There is definitely something in this - I recommend to those who doubt to inquire about the fate of domestic ships, which had the misfortune of being named in honor of Admiral Nakhimov. And not only in the military, but also in the civilian fleet. However, today we will talk about American ships - or rather, about one of them, which almost altered the entire history of World War II and the twentieth century. And it’s very good that he didn’t alter ...

Destroyers "Porter" - not a glorious "dynasty"

To be honest, this article was born, one might say, almost by accident. Just being interested in the "glorious combat path" of the USS Porter (DDG-78) destroyer, which is now on everyone's lips, has been blatantly annoying for the missilemen of our coastal defense and, in general, is demonstratively wandering around the Black Sea with clearly provocative goals, I decided to find out - but did not this ship have, so to speak, a "predecessor" of the same name? As it turned out - it was! And what kind. We can say that all predecessors have a predecessor. Destroyer USS William D. Porter (DD-579) is firmly imprinted in the history of the US Navy as the most "unlucky", problematic and ridiculous ship in almost the entire existence of the "Stars and Stripes" Navy.

I'll make a reservation right away - the destroyers I mentioned belong to different types of ships (the current one belongs to the Arleigh Burke series, and the "historical" one belongs to the Fletcher family), and they are named after different Porters. Modern - David Dixon, and plowed the seas and oceans during the Second World War - William David. These Porters were brothers to each other and, according to the all-knowing Wikipedia, "made an outstanding contribution to the formation and development of the US Navy." This is about the differences. But about the similarities ... Here it is already horror. It is very likely that Porter, the "youngest", has fully inherited from his "namesake" an unmatched ability not only to get into trouble, but to get into situations when, as they say, the fate of the whole world hangs in the balance. However, let's not get ahead of ourselves, and before drawing parallels, let's get acquainted in detail with the history of the incredible adventures of the destroyer USS William D. Porter. Really, she's worth it.

This ship was built during the Second World War, one might say, at the most "Stakhanovite" pace: it was laid down in May 1942, launched in September, and in July 1943 it was already fully commissioned. The beginning of the "recruit" service was not marked by any special events - the usual naval routine, exercises and combat coordination. Perhaps, precisely because the Porter's crew simply did not have time to demonstrate to the command their absolutely phenomenal abilities, this ship was entrusted with a highly important and top secret mission literally four months after it was “operational”. Presumably, the admirals regretted this immediately after the destroyer began to fulfill the assigned task - the departure of the Porter from the place of deployment, the port of Norfolk, was truly epic. Just think, did not raise the anchor to the end before cutting in "full speed ahead" ...

True, as a result of such a peculiar maneuver, the anchor chain of the hurry-up went sideways across the deck and superstructures, to the misfortune of a destroyer of the same kind that happened to be nearby, sweeping away boats, rails, spasplots and all other equipment that turned up along the way. The scale of the destruction was not critical, but also not small. However, "Porter", hurrying to the open sea, did not block the way for the arrangement of "showdowns". The nicest thing is that from the ship leaving into the sunset with horror, the colleagues who were looking at the destruction committed on their ship, sounded something like: “Sorry! The mistake came out ... "Yeah:" I won't be anymore! " - "And no more!" However, the crew of the "Porter" clearly should not have given such a rash promise. As subsequent events showed, there will be! And so it will be that little will not seem to anyone.

Kill the President? Yes, easily!

It's time to remember what kind of archival mission was entrusted to USS William D. Porter. It was truly historical - the battleship Iowa, to the connection with which the destroyer was going, carried on board US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was heading through Algeria and Egypt to Tehran, to the place of the first meeting of the Big Three, which was to decide the fate of the Second World War. war, and issues of the subsequent world order. The ships for this truly extraordinary mission, apparently, were selected according to the principle: "the newer, the better." This was done due to the fact that a convoy of a battleship and three destroyers had to cross the entire Atlantic and not become victims of the underwater hunters from the Kriegsmarine. Speed ​​and the ability to follow your destination without stopping for repairs were paramount. For example, the battleship, which became a temporary residence not only for the head of the White House, but also for many senior military and naval ranks, entered service just a few months before this campaign. However, both he and two more destroyers were manned, apparently, by more or less experienced sailors. But the crew of the "Porter", it seems, was recruited not even from the port rabble, but from among the patients of the nearest clinic for the insane.

It would seem that after the incident in Norfolk, the captain had to give the command to double-check all the ship's equipment and weapons a hundred times, and drive the duty shifts, as they say, to a sweat. Where there! This hop-company showed what it was capable of literally on the very first day of the campaign - November 13, 1943. In broad daylight, in the course of the convoy, a "sultan" of snow-white foam suddenly rose up with a roar, signaling a powerful underwater explosion. A general alarm was immediately declared, the ships began to carry out anti-submarine maneuvers, and then to drop depth charges, hoping to "pinch" the German submarine that had sneaked up unnoticed.

What kind of Germans are there! As it turned out, the cause of the emergency was that the wave washed overboard the "Porter" not properly fixed depth charge. Moreover, it was at the same time, contrary to instructions and common sense, on a combat platoon. It crashed so notably that a stream of water raised by an explosion swept over one of the steam boilers of the most unlucky destroyer. Having left the convoy, the Porter's crew began to urgently restore the normal course. It is not known what kind and heartfelt words the captain found for his minders and mechanics, but the Porter caught up with the Iowa quite quickly. But it would be better if he did not do it. The next day, the naval commanders who were present on the battleship decided to entertain the president by conducting, so to speak, express maneuvers. Well, okay - a demonstration of the actions of the air defense forces, during which anti-aircraft guns fired at the balloons fired as training targets - that was still far from it. But here is an imitation of a torpedo attack, in which the role of the target of the attack was played by the "Iowa" ...

In principle, nothing terrible should have happened - no one had any thoughts of firing deadly torpedoes. For safety reasons for the duration of such exercises, expelling charges were simply removed from the torpedo tubes, sending the projectile to the target. Delov something. However, for some reason everyone forgot that among the participants of the action there was an unparalleled destroyer "Porter". Well, you probably guessed it already. For some reason, the local torpedo operator did not remove the charge from one apparatus. I probably forgot. The worst thing was that the convoy initially went in complete radio silence. The captain of "Porter", freezing, watched as a real combat torpedo rushed to the side of the battleship, on the deck of which the President of the United States was sitting in a wheelchair with a happy smile of a boy playing at war ...

"The most unlucky ship" or the most careless crew?

By the way, according to the memoirs of contemporaries, Roosevelt during the entire incident showed incredible composure and courage - even in those moments when everyone knew about the death flying into the Iowa. Desperate to convey information with the help of light and flag signals (especially since the signalman, who was scared to a stupor, semaphored the devil), the captain of the Porter spat on all orders and went on the air, yelling: “Lion, turn right! Lion, torpedo in the water! " Fortunately, at the helm of the battleship there were professionals who managed to perform the necessary maneuver literally in the last moments. The torpedo shot up three hundred meters from the Iowa, the guards barely had time to catch the president, who nearly flew out of his chair. Subsequently, when a military court "rolls in" for unprecedented negligence the idiot-torpedoist Dawson has a full-fledged 14 years in hard labor, Roosevelt will pardon the idiot personally. Truly great people show greatness, first of all, in mercy ... However, this will be later.

In the first minutes after the incident, the chances of going to the bottom of the sea were high for the entire crew of the Porter. What do you want? The war is all the same - and a torpedo attack on the ship with the president. One can only guess what prayers the destroyer's sailors whispered, seeing how the battleship turns in its direction every single battery of its monstrous guns. However, nothing happened. It also carried over later - when the entire crew of the "Porter", immediately expelled from the convoy and sent home for investigation, was taken into custody in Bermuda and subjected to the strictest inquiry. As the saying goes, "you should not look for malicious intent where everything is explained by the usual carelessness." However, this approach, in my opinion, does not explain why the captain of the Porter, Wilfred A. Walter, was not subjected to any penalties at all. And they did not flood out of office, which is typical!

True, at the same time, the destroyer who managed to earn the most notorious reputation in the shortest possible time was sent to hell. That is, to the Pacific Ocean, where at that moment there were heated battles with the Japanese. Yes, he was there and needed more. The "Porter" fought and its crew seemed to be quite worthy, but in their own "corporate style". So, during the battles for Okinawa, his anti-aircraft gunners shot down five Japanese aircraft and ... three American ones. In addition, a little earlier, the same "snipers" managed to hit the destroyer Luce instead of enemy bombers, significantly damaging its superstructures. Apparently, the sailors of the destroyer were the most ardent adherents of the principle "Hit your own, so that strangers are afraid!" Well, and already quite an egregious case took place right at the site of the "Porter", a military base located on one of the Aleutian Islands. One of the sailors came on board from leave in such an ugly drunken state that he decided to celebrate this outstanding event with a shot from a main battery gun. And they shot! At the same time, a shell of considerable caliber (127 mm) landed not just anywhere, but straight into the courtyard of the base commandant, where a crowded party was taking place at that moment. How there were no casualties is a complete mystery.

After that, all the talk about the "Porter" being "the most unlucky US Navy ship of all time" sounds, you must agree, not very appropriate. What bad luck is that ?! Sheer slovenliness, lack of discipline and disgusting training of personnel. The only thing that can be said in defense of USS William D. Porter is that he died in battle. True, it is also somehow ridiculous. Struck many times by naval anti-aircraft gunners, the Aichi D3A kamikaze bomber, of course, crashed into the water. But it was so "lucky" that both the fuel tanks and the bombs detonated exactly under the bottom of the destroyer. The ship sank very quickly. True, none of the crew died in this accident.

Today it is difficult to say what consequences could have come if the torpedo from the Porter reached the Iowa and led this attack to the death of Roosevelt. The Tehran meeting might not have taken place at all. Or have completely different consequences - let's not forget that the final decision to open the "Second Front" was made by the stubborn Churchill under the pressure of the American president. And in general, of the two partners in the Big Three, he was perhaps more acceptable to the Soviet Union than the British prime minister. However, all these are just abstract moments. Everyone knows the relation of history to the subjunctive mood.

Another concern is that the current USS Porter looks too much like a "namesake". At least one ridiculous collision (with the Japanese oil tanker Otowasan), which happened in 2012 in the Persian Gulf, is already on his account. And as for the shelling of Syria by Tomahawks, which was carried out on April 7, 2017 from this ship, it could also change history - hit by a missile or two out of six dozen launched across the territory of our military facilities. Fortunately, Porter fired with his usual "accuracy", sending more than half of the Tomahawks to who knows where. However, finding this far from glorious ship with a clearly visible "bad heredity" near our borders and near the Crimea is somehow, you know, annoying. They would take them away from sin - otherwise it will not all end well.
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  1. What disgusting pipes this S-mints has! Does he drive on wood, or what?
    1. Igor Berg Offline Igor Berg
      Igor Berg (Igor Berg) 15 November 2021 18: 32
      The main thing is that he didn't smoke like Kuzya tongue
  2. steelmaker Offline steelmaker
    steelmaker 15 November 2021 20: 47
    the firm conviction of the sea wolves that the name given to the ship upon launching can turn into a true curse both for itself and for its crew

    Agree. Such signs are tested by blood.

    They would take them away from sin - otherwise it will not all end well.

    If our rulers had political will, and not just concern, it might not even exist in the Black Sea at all.
  3. viktortarianik Offline viktortarianik
    viktortarianik (Victor) 21 December 2021 12: 01
    Isn't this a fairy tale? But I read it with pleasure.