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USS BUSH (DD 529) - Tragic Accident

July 23, 1944

In Hawaiian waters, the USS BUSH experienced a tragic accident during shore bombardment exercises. A 5-inch shell either hit the ship or exploded prematurely after firing. This incident killed five men and wounded 13 others.

An investigation into the accident was conducted soon after the ship's return to Pearl Harbor. Details from the investigation, and statements from some of the ship's personnel made at that time, can be found by following the link below.

To Accident Investigation

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Sunday 23 July 1944

Watch Remarks
4-8 ..... 0622-Proceeding independently. Commenced simulated anchoring exercises off Kahoolawe Island. Steaming on various courses at various speeds. 0711-Secured from anchoring exercises. Went to general quarters. 0720-Maneuvered for firing bombardment exercises with USS LAMSON. 0738-Conmenced firing on Kahoolawe Island in indirect fire with ship's spots. 0751-Checked firing.
...J. E. Zimmerman, Lieut., USNR.
8-12 ..... 0833-Commenced Indirect Fire with Shore Fire Control Party spots. 0846-Checked fire. 0958-Commenced Indirect Fire with Radar Beacon as point of aim, Shore Fire Control party spotting. 1001-Checked fire. Steaming on easternly courses towards Smugglers Cove, Kahoolawe Island for next phase bombardment. 1014-Plane with sleeve sighted bearing 245o. 1036-USS LAMSON commenced firing reverse slope shore bombardment with change of' fire to anti-aircraft firing on sleeve towed by plane. 1109-USS LAMSON ceased firing. 1139-Commenced firing reverse slope shore bombardment. 1148-Shifted fire to sleeve by plane. AA common 5"/38 projectile fired by #3 5"/38 gun exploded starboard side of after stack. Explosion believed to be caused by hitting antenna yardarm extension on after stack or by premature burst. Explosion caused slight material damage in including shrapnel holes in forward and after stacks, superstructure, and bridge. Personnel injuries were as follows: BERRY, F. D., 654-21-33 FC2c, USNR, killed killed by shrapnel; SKUDERA. D. G., 223-85-43 B2c, USN, killed by shrapnel; LOCKHART, R. B., 664-55-86 WTlc, USNR, killed by shrapnel; CHOTOS, H. Z., 885-84-57 S1c, USNR, killed by shrapnel; LUKOWSKI, E. T., 638-97-8 TM2c, USNR, multiple shrapnel wounds; Lieut. G. B. TREIDE, D-V(S), USNR, shrapnel wounds in back; ROBERTSON, R. G., 554-12-22 WT3c, USNR, multiple shrapnel wounds left leg, left arm, and back; RANKINEN, S. P., 306-11-16, F1c, USN, multiple shrapnel wounds left hand, right wrist, groin, legs and buttocks; PUGH, W. R., 376-13-56 MM2c, USN, lacerated shrapnel wounds in head; JENNINGS, J., 943-63-27 StM2c, USNR, multiple shrapnel wounds head, chest, right forearm, abdomen and left arm; NORDWALL, R.A., 300-12-25 GM2c. USN, multiple shrapnel wounds left leg; TROYAN, P. T., 861-58-51 WT3c., USNR, multiple shrapnel wounds head, arms and back; PETTAY, D. R., 858-98-15 F2c, USNR, multiple shrapnel wounds right heel, right thigh and left buttocks; GARNETT, R. H., 250-24-44 CBM, USN, shrapnel wound in chest; COWAN, H. F. 564-10-76 SM2c, USNR, minor shrapnel wound; TAHEY, F. P. 82l-71-40 F2c, minor shrapnel wounds; LOFTUS, F. J., 249-20-12 S2c, minor shrapnel wound; FARLOW, W., 651-40-87 EM3c, minor shrapnel wound. Checked fire immediately. 1152-Unloaded loaded guns to seaward. 1153-Ceased firing having expended 90 AA common projectiles and 90 smokeless powder cartridges, 5"/38 ammunition of various lots and indices and 50 rounds 4OMM service projectiles, mixed lots and indices. 1159-Secured from general quarters.
...J. E. Zimmerman, Lieut., USNR.
12-16 .....1200-Secured from bombardment and other scheduled exercises. On course 304oT., 285opsc, at speed of 25 knots(262 rpm) enroute to Pearl Harbor, T.H., to deliver wounded men to shore hospital. 1208-Changed speed to 27 knots (287 rpm). 1228-Proceeding independently. 1300-Slowed to 20 knots(203 rpm), to facilitate getting other two boilers on the line..... 1306-With all four boilers on the line, changed speed to 30 knots(325 rpm). 1317-Changed speed to 33 knots(367 rpm). 1400-LUKOWSKI, E. T., 638-97-88 TM2c, USNR, died of shrapnel wounds received at 1148.....1511-Steaming in conformance with Pearl Harbor channel. 1546-Moored port side to dock M-1, Pearl Harbor, Oahu, T.H.....
...J. E. Zimmerman, Lieut., USNR.
16-20 .....1615-Pursuant to BuM&S form G....men were transferred with bag, hammocks, records, and transfer papers to U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 10 for treatment.....1730-Pursuant to BuM&S Form N. the remains of ....... men were transferred to U.S. Naval Base Hospital, No. 8 for further disposition, effects and records to be forwarded...... 1930-Transferred to NAD Pearl Harbor, T.H., 36 Star shells, 6 AA common projectiles and 121 smokeless powder cartridges of mixed lots and indices.
...N. P. Foss, Ensign, USN.

Above day's log was examined by the Executive Officer, P. A. Lilly, Lieut., USN and approved by the Commanding Officer, R. E. Westholm, Lt. Cdr., USN.

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