SINKING OF THE USS FOSS DE-59
A LIVE TORPEDO TEST BY USS SABALO SS-302
6 September 1966
Personal accounts and recollections of the event; links to photos
© Copyright 2005 reserved by Jeffrey S. Owens, Nicholson, PA
Photo of the USS Foss during her active duty days.
   taken by W. Ross Yates from the ship's whale boat while she was at anchor at Palau Island in 1954.
[Jeff Owens wrote: In case you were not aware, I would like to let you know that the Foss was sunk as a torpedo test target by the USS Sabalo SS-302 in about August 1966. ]

Text of email from Ross Yates, former crewman on Foss: 
A few years ago, I discovered in the online National Archives a film of that event, apparently taken simultaneously from two helicopters.  I acquired that film on VHS tape, and have since digitized the relevant parts of it for play from a CD in a PC. Attached are a few still scenes from the tape.  Incidentally, the tape makes it clear that the date of the event was Sept. 6, 1966.  Do you have any info regarding the location?

[Jeff Owens wrote: It is a sad kind of discovery knowing your home for a time was destroyed so quickly.  Sabalo herself met the same fate in 1973. ]

Your are right about this not being easy to take for Foss shipmates who spent so much time treading those decks.

W. Ross Yates
chompersnvearthlink.net
Recollection of Pete Ouellette and Murray Craig:  At some time shortly before the upcoming yard period, Sabalo participated in a live torpedo firing exercise off San Diego.  A Mk 16 torpedo (or maybe two) with a hydrogen peroxide engine was used on a small auxiliary vessel of some type [from photos, the hull number was 59].  The target ship partially sank by the stern, and when Sabalo surfaced the vessel's bow was still above water.  A fleet tug on the scene cut some holes in her with a torch to allow air to escape and facilitate sinking. See Photo  of bow section submitted by "Pete" Ouellette.
Recollection  of Ed Heistermann:  At some time... When we left Pearl (I have film) we went to Acapulco for a couple of days (I have film) then to San Diego. We picked up the two MK16's and headed out for the exercise, sinking hull 59, which I seem to think was a destroyer escort. We probably spent a few days in San Diego then headed to Hunters Point SF(I have maneuvering watch film going under the Golden Gate). Shortly after arriving at the yard the skipper(I guess) posted on the yard barge bulletin board 2 periscope pictures of the ship we sank. They were only up a short time. The first showed just after the first torpedo hit. The fish hit dead center. The bow and stern were in the water but the center of the ship was perhaps 25 or 30 feet in the air. Water from the explosion was way above the ship. The ship was clearly broken in two. The second picture showed the stern section floating with the insides of the ship nearly straight on. After surfacing we went topside and only the bow section was remaining. I have 8mm movies of that. My memory is not for sure but I think we fired the second fish into the stern section. At any rate it was gone when we surfaced.
Recollection of Wiliam Parks:  I was the weapons officer during this period until we got to the yard in SFRAN when I became OPS/NAV. The shoot was to test a new design proximity exploder for the MK16 torpedo. I was in the conn on the TDC for the test. We fired the first torpedo that blew the target into two pieces. After I got a periscope peek, the CO -Art Barke- asked me if I thought we could hit "half a ship" with the other torpedo. I told him I thought the Sabalo torpedo gang could hit anything so we set up the second shot. It hit the target too. The test was judged a great success by the flotilla staff and the photos were spectacular.  Photo (373Kb) of first hit submitted by W.Parks.
These PHOTOS contributed by W. Ross Yates clarify exactly what happened to the Foss. 
They are in two series: 
The first is the view from Sabalo's perspective.
|   1   |   2   |   3   |   4   |   5   |   6   |
The second series is taken from a helicopter overhead the Foss.
|   1   |   2   |   3   |   4   |   5   |   6   |   7   |     |   9   |   10   |   11   |
ANALYSIS- Ross Yates sent me two CD's with the continuous footage from which he extracted the above series.  From the continuous action it is confirmed that Sabalo did fire two torpedos.  While both sections of the ship were still floating, the second torpedo hit the bow section.(see photo #10, 2nd series) While the stern section continued to sink on its own, the bow section, even though hit the second time, sank only until it was pointing with the bow straight up.  This  resulted in the remaining, forward most part of the hull having enough trapped air to hold her up.  This necessititated intervention of the fleet tug as reported.
 -- Jeff Owens

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