A look at the video of “Iron Bottom Sound”

The following is a reprint from the Raven DeHaven newsletter Vol 2, Issue 1. The unknown author of the following story was afforded the opportunity to view some of the video of the DD-469 taken as part of the expedition to Guadalcanal. Mr. Kenner, from the National Geographic Society was his gracious host. Here are his remarks.

Surrounded by numerous shelves loaded with videos of the underwater exploration of Guadalcanal, they allowed me to sit at one of the assistant's desk, and view the video of the DeHaven on the two TV screens.

Having been told that it would not be much to see, thinking that any moment it was to end, I stared a the screens to glean all that I could.

It began, with a long jagged piece of flat metal sticking out of the sand towards the camera, perhaps all that was left of the hull or the decking at the front of the ship. The camera advanced toward the jumbled mass of white line on a dark background. There, coming into view, was one of the twin 40 mm antiaircraft guns which my uncle may have been controlling on that day. Those guns may have smeared the sky with flak. Those six dive bomber tore through that curtain. The camera moved to examine the guns, now crest fallen as it were, facing down. Perhaps when the power was lost after the first bomb hit, or the last movement of the hand of the fire control man caused them no longer to face skyward.

The camera was skillfully moved on along the side to an object in the sand beside the ship. I asked Mr. Kenner, "what is that, some type of basket?" Then the camera moved up and over and there appeared to be railing around the front half of it. There one could clearly make out portholes. Could that be the bridge? Mr. Kenner, who had stopped by for a moment, as duty kept him on the run, replied, "it appears so." I recall, W.R. Stevens, one of the survivors had reported that the third and final bomb to have hit the DeHaven "had moved the bridge off it's base and left it upside down about fifty feet away." Now, if I am not mistaken, she appears somewhat upright, though tilted.

The camera continued on down the ship. I could not help but wonder if what had once been the fire control room, or the radio room, now lay there with the remainder of the bridge.

The sea is slowly healing this scar of war. Some marine plant life creatures appear to have attached their roots to her. Perhaps filtering some of the tiny organisms that you see floating past the camera as it travels over unrecognizable parts of the ship.

The picture was more fuzzy now, but there stood a somewhat rectangle object. Could it be one of the 5-inch gun turrets on the aft part of the ship? It was these guns that brought down three of the six attacking "Val" Dive Bombers. Slowly, appearing out of the murk, on the opposite side of this object, one began to make out a cannon barrel, reaching to the sky. Forever locked in that position facing the danger from above.

Mr. Kenner stopped by again. I commented that one of the men responsible for splashing the three dive bombers operated one of these turrets. They had lost a number of men from the strafing of the bombers, and he was looking forward to seeing the pictures off this ship.

I mentioned that a lady back east had lost her kid brother, a radioman on the DeHaven. He had lied about his age to join the Navy. He was just sixteen.

The camera was now directed over the stern of the ship. There, coming closer into view, one could discern a propeller. The sand of the ocean floor appeared to be almost halfway up it. Had this propeller had all the power that the DeHaven's engines could have given her, it may have carried her out of harms way, and brought her crew back to their loved ones.

Going down her hull, on could clearly make out her roll chock, a protruding strip running along each side of the ship near her bottom. That helps prevent her from rolling uncontrolled in rough seas.

It appears that the camera may have stopped on the torpedo tubes, which I did not recognize. There also was something that looked like the frame of one of the DeHaven's large life rafts, or floater nets. Perhaps, like the one which one of the survivors had to cut free from the ship, with his little fingernail knife, allowing him and other to cling to before help arrived an hour later.

The picture was not real clear, but it appeared to show a massive bomb crater in the ship. Twisted metal., possible pock marks form the near misses also. We'll have to wait and see what the book shows. This about all the I could glean.

 

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