Discussion in 'Naval Warfare in the Pacific' started by USS Washington, May 6, 2015.
As the title says, did the "Lady Lex's" sinking lead to better damage control procedures?
By the end of the war, ships were surviving much more severe damage due to the lessons learned earlier in the conflict with the loss of Lexington as well as others.
Since she was lost to a fuel air explosion due to a lapse on the part of damage control I would say so. I believe the system of clearing the fuel lines with CO2 evolved as a direct and documentable consequence of her loss. The details are in another thead on this board I believe.
The US was very conscious of learning from battles
Was CO2 used even before Lexington's loss?
I've seen - Shattered Sword? - the idea credited to a chief machinist on Yorktown who did it at Midway. Of course Yorktown had been with Lex at Coral Sea, which may have given him the idea.
Another point, filling the gas lines with CO2 was a measure to get through an attack, but as soon as it was over you would presumably want to resume flight operations, including pumping gas. Lexington resumed landing and launching aircraft after being hit and continued to do so for several hours, even after the first explosion IIRC. I believe the damage and leakage was in the tanks, low in the hull.
My guess is that the Navy believed leaving the gas in the pipes lead to the venting of fumes and the explosion.
Don't know what they learned concerning damage control, i think, they learned from every damage.
Coral Sea was the start of the carrier battles, when both sides made a lot of mistakes, the biggest american mistake was to attack Shoho with all available aircraft and they learned from it as quick as possible.
Maybe the hole sytem of fuel tanks/pipes was older and more vulnerable on Lady Lex compared to the newer carriers, so there wasn't much to learn from the battle. With the exception of the Saratoga-Crew.
I wonder how much influence the Coral Sea battle could have had as the Essex class design predates Pearl Harbor.
None of the Essex's were near completion by the time of the Coral Sea fight, so I figure that there was plenty of time for them to make adjustments that could be incorporated as a result of the lessons learned. The first carrier laid down after Coral Sea was the USS Franklin (CV13) of the Essex Class. It's keel was laid in December of 1942, so there was plenty of time for adjustments to be implemented. Just an idea though. I'm not much on maritime or naval engineering.
More likely it was Machinist Oscar W. Myers of USS Yorktown that thought this might have contributed to her loss.
The Navy knew better, as can be seen from reading through the many reports concerning the USS Lexington and her loss at Coral Sea.
For instance, we have
Which will also answer USS Washington's question concerning prior use of carbon dioxide...Yes, but not in the AvGas lines.
Moving on, popular literature has taken up this banner that it was the CO2 in the gas lines that prevented catastrophic fires aboard Yorktown. However, this is a somewhat simplistic description, that overlooks the fact that the use of CO2 in the gasoline tank compartments was also part of Machinst Myers system, and it was this and not the use of CO2 in the AvGas lines that prevented those fires from occurring, as per the USS Yorktown's Action Report from Midway.
Further along those lines, it would appear that putting the pressurized CO2 in the drained lines was more to serve as the easiest and best way to check the gas piping system for leaks after an attack - as opposed to using the Mark 1 eyeball while filling possibly damaged lines with AvGas and then looking for leaks. As we have this from the USS Yorktown's Action Report from the Coral Sea
The USS Wasp's Loss in Action Report expounds upon this on page 18
As to what the US Navy had learned on carrier fire protection, see the above Wasp link, and go to page 15, and read through "G. Improvements in Gasoline Systems of Aircraft Carriers."
Those Loss Reports, Damage Reports, and Action Reports were a veritable gold mine of "Lessons Learned." Although, it would, and did take some time to implement some of them.
The USS Essex(CV-9) was close to launching, and would be launched at the end of July, 1942.
The first major carrier laid down after Coral Sea would be USS Hornet - ex USS Kearsarge (CV-12) laid down on August 3, 1942. With the USS Bataan(CVL-29) being laid down at the end of August, 1942.
Some of the changes could be made while these Essex class were under construction or while they were fitting out. However, a few would be made only to the new construction. Although I am not sure if they would be added during an Essex's overhaul period or not.
Blew that one again. Thanks for the assistance.
You hardly blew it, your point that there was time to make the war-time adjustments during construction and fitting out was essentially quite correct.
Still, to finely tune things, we should remember that the Essex class carriers were laid down out of hull number order, with the short hull & long hull Essex carriers being constructed simultaneously. With CVs 9, 16, 17, 10, 11, and 18, all being laid down before CV-12.
That's a lot of help, thank you Takao!
Yeah, like do you live in a library or something like that? You and USMCPrice always seems to have just what is needed at your fingertips.
I am interested in why the IC generator was left unsecured even though gas fumes had forced the evacuation of that and adjacent compartments.
It looks like some shortcomings were known and fixed before Lex was lost.
As I imagine everyone reading this knows, Bunker Hill CV13 and Franklin CV17 would probably have sunk with mid 1942 damage control procedures in effect. And Lexington CV2 would have been saved with 1945 damage control, and Yorktown CV5 and Hornet CV8 probably would have been also. Wasp CV7, with her smaller more fragile hull and immediately devastating damage, was a goner either way.
I've always felt that the biggest American mistake at Coral Sea was to attack with forces immediately available, rather than waiting a day or two to greater concentrate force.
A better plan, I imagine, woulc have been to have (1) not raid Tulagi on May 4 (and thereby alert the Japanese that a US flattop was in the neighborhood), and instead to (2) have Yorktown and Lexington remain undetected, hopefully having the IJN have little inkling that US CVs were lurking nearby, then (3) given up on the intention of stopping the Japanese from landing at Port Moresby, (4) waited the couple days until the Enterprise and Hornet arrived from Pearl after the Doolittle raid, (5) ambushed the presumably little suspecting Shokaku and Zuikaku, and then (6) air raided the hell out of Japanese beachheads and troop positions around Port Moresby, and also any transports and warships anchored off shore.
Unfortunately, while I can see holding off on the Tulagi Strike, waiting for Halsey would not have been an option. The objective of stopping the Invasion of Port Moresby required swift action and that is the mission. If Port Moresby goes, so does New Guinea and MacArthur is shut up nicely in Australia while Guadalcanal becomes a US disaster since the IJA will be in a position to decisively use the troops that historically were tied up in New Guinea.
But yes, in hindsight, the Tulagi strike tipped the Americans' hand and not incidentally cost Yorktown 3 valuable F4F-3s and 2 TBDs