USCG CABLE SHIP PEQUOT - UNITED STATES HARBOR DEFENCES
 

The Great North Atlantic Hurricane of 1944

As if living in U-boat infested waters wasn't enough, the men of the Pequot also had to deal with mother nature.
 

196. For days the storm moved in a northerly direction wreaking havoc along the entire Atlantic Coast of North America.
(NOAA Graphic)
197. "The Loss of the USCGC Jackson” by CG Artist Dick Levesque based upon his interviews with survivors. Courtesy of the artist.  See: http://www.levesque-art.com/id24.html 198. The hurricane caused 46 deaths and $100 million in damage in the US, yet the worst effects were at sea where it sank five WWII Coast Guard and Navy ships causing 344 deaths.
(NASA / National Hurricane Center)

In September of 1944 one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the Eastern Seaboard chewed its way from Florida all the way up to Canada. This Category-4 storm produced hurricane force winds over a diameter of 600 miles. Without the aid of today’s weather satellites many ships were caught at sea with deadly consequences. The Navy destroyer Warrington (DD-383) sank off the coast of Florida with a loss of 248 sailors, and the minesweeper USS YMS-409 foundered and sank with all 33 on board lost. It also claimed the Lightship Vineyard Sound (LV-73) and 12 lives. Two Guard Cutters, the Jackson (WSC-142) and the Bedloe (WSC-128), also were sunk with a loss of 48 men.

199. The Navy destroyer Warrington (DD-383)
(NARA Naval Historical Center Photographic Section)

200. The Coast Guard Lightship Vineyard Sound (LV-73). (US Coast Guard)

201. A YMS Class minesweeper (this is the 419...it was the 409 that sank).
(US Navy / Naval Historical Center
)

The Pequot was off the Coast of New England and made it through the worst of it. “The bow would plunge into those big waves and the whole ship would shudder and shake as she pulled up through each wave,” Roger Calamaio remembered. “We didn’t have water tight doors and that was no fun since half the ship seemed to be underwater at times.”

In a 1988 letter to Jim Hudlow Pequot Quatermaster George Simmons wrote how he used to envy crewman Bob Livingston during the storms. “He’d dress for the weather and go up on the Halyards and just plain enjoy the whole scene. I would spend my time amidships with a box of crackers I got from the Galley and I’d be seasick for the whole time!”

Seaman Mike Luongo said his worst memory of his WWII time in the Coast Guard is when the whole crew was seasick. “It was terrible. 90% of us were sick but you just had to do what you had to do. The whole ship was just going up and down constantly. They’d hand you a bucket. You’d get sick, then you just had to go on. It seemed like it was never going to end. And for some reason anybody talking about bacon made us sick the most. The guys who didn’t get sick teased us all the time. The dry heaves were the worst part of it.”

Lou Carhart has vivid memories of the Pequot riding out very rough seas. “I didn’t like being in those big 100 foot waves. While I was aboard we toughed it out through four or five very big storms. It was very scary. Once I was going up a ladder in the fo’c’sle and the ship dropped out from underneath me and I landed hard on the deck and was almost washed overboard. That North Atlantic could be a very nasty place.”

Pequot Fireman Joe Davy and Roger Calamaio rode out the hurricane down on the floor of the crew’s shower. “We were so seasick and it seemed to go on forever,” Roger said. “We were just miserable. I asked Davy while we were lying there on the deck getting tossed around, ‘So, do you think we’re gonna die?”  “Oh, Guns, I’m really going to be disappointed if we don’t.”


Every effort has been made to trace and acknowledge copyright. The authors would welcome any information from people who believe their photos have been used without due credit. Some photos have been retouched to remove imperfections but otherwise they are true to the original.


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If you have comments or queries specifically about the Pequot or her Escort Ships, please contact
 Chip Calamaio chipaz@cox.net, 938 E. San Miguel Avenue, Phoenix, 85014, Arizona, USA. (H) 602-279-4505.

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Research and design: Chip Calamaio and Richard Walding