Second World War: Minesweeper in Buckner Bay, Okinawa

Officer of the watch remembers fighting a storm while serving on a wooden-hulled minesweeper off Okinawa during the second World War.

| Good Old Days

A lasting memory will be the typhoon at Okinawa in October 1945, during the second World War. I was engineering officer aboard the USS YMD 291, a wooden-hulled minesweeper, anchored in Buckner Bay. 

As predicted, the storm steadily increased. I was officer of the deck and in charge of the watch; at 1600 hours I checked the anchor and assessed the wind velocity.

By observing the surrounding vessels, it was apparent that the force of the wind was affecting a major supply ship that was anchored near our YMS. The supply vessel was dragging anchor, and we were quickly being forced into a precarious position in relation to the much larger supply ship.

I immediately alerted our captain, proceeded to order anchor aweigh and put our ship underway to prevent a mishap. Now we had to ride out the storm by evading and preventing collision with other ships, some firmly anchored, some fighting it out.

Visibility was nearly zero for the next 12 hours; wind velocity peaked at 153 miles per hour; heavy seas crashed thunderously and salt spray went over the flying bridge where we stood in control of our small minesweeper.

During the siege of the storm, our skillful captain was on the conn, and everyone was on watch for fear of collision, aground or capsize. The typhoon roared and raged at ships and men.

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