Sail HO

Pat Winship

May 8, 2001
On the "Submarines" thread??! No, I'm not nuts. A thread on yielded this story of the USS R-14


With Fuel Exhausted Diver Rigged Sails From Mattresses and Canvas.

Rigged out with jurymasts built of steel bunk rods and(missing text) sails made out of Mattre (missing text) and canvas hammocks (missing text) Submarine (missing text) arrived at Hilo yesterday afternoon out of oil but still with electrical power in her storage batteries. As a cross between a three masted windjammer and an undersea boat she made a weird appearance.

The R-14 was one of a flotilla of submarines sent out to search for the missing navy tug Conestoga, long overdue here from San Diego and virually given up for lost. In turn she herself has been on the missing list for the last five days.

Reserve Tanks Empty

On the night of May 10 in lat. 18 north, logitude 153.33 her fuel oil gave out it was found out that the reserve tanks when called on were empty. Lieut. A. D. Douglas, in command, sent out a general wireless call, which Rear Admiral Shoemaker, commandant of the Pearl Harbor Naval station, said today had been received by the R-12 and relayed to Pearl Harbor. But no answer was ever recieved by the R-14. Lieutenant Douglas today told the Star-Bulletin's correspondent at Hilo that he was unable to account forthe reserve fuel tank being empty and could not understand why his call for help had not been answered. The sub carried 10,000 gallons of fuel when she left Pearl Harbor.

Not knowing whether his call for help had been heard or not the commander of the helpless submarine rigged two jurymasts and with their aid and that of the wireless mast managed to spread enough canvas to make headway toward land. On the slow voyage to Hilo he sighted the Matson liner Enterprise and mistook her for a SHIPOP bringing succor, but no other vessels were seen.

Food Supply Low

Within five miles of Hilo the storage batteries were switched on and the R-14 rounded the breakwater and came into port on her own power. She had left only suficient rice and bully beef to last her crew of 27 men and two officers four days more.

This morning the R-12 also arrived at Hilo to give the R-14 fuel. Informed by the Star-Bulletin this morning that the R-14 was at Hilo, Rear Adimeral Shoemaker said he had been expecting news of her arrival there at any moment. No anxiety had been felt, he said, because from her reported position it was evident that she would have enough power left in her storage batteries to make Hilo. The power he supposed, had been held in reserve in case the vessel got into difficulties on a lee shore and needed it to work into safe water again. Why the reserve tank was empty he did not know."


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