USS Pope DD225 Aug08

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USS Pope DD225

The USS Pope (DD-225) was a Clemson-class destroyer in the United States Navy that served during World War II. She was the first ship named forJohn Pope.

The battle occurred in the Makassar Straits. The message received was to “Defend the Isle of Java to the Last.” Receiving that message from the Commander in Chief, the crew knew that engagement with the enemy was eminant. The night of February 26, 1942, under the command of Dutch Admiral K. Doornan, the Pope left Surabaja, Java to engage the enemy fleet in the Java Sea.

Following repairs of a leak in the hotwell (evaporator to make fresh water), without which a ship cannot operate, the next evening the Pope returned to duty patrolling the minefields outside of the entrance of the Surabaja harbor and escorted the HMS Encounter and HMS Exeter into the harbor for temporary repairs to the Exeter. Following these repairs, the Pope and Encounter were assigned to escort the Exeter to Ceylon, India for more extensive repairs.

Steaming north, then west, the three ships encountered enemy forces on March 1, 1942. Enemy fire interrupted the men’s breakfast, and an enemy destroyer was sighted as it went down bow first. Shortly after, the crew found they were surrounded by enemy ships – 13 to be exact. The Exeter was hit first and was immediately out of commission being hit in her boiler. Essentially she was dead in the water. A message was sent to the Pope and the Encounter to “Make a run for it and do not pick up any survivors”. Under heavy enemy fire, the Pope circled the Exeter hoping to give the men a smoke screen to aid in the safety of the men abandoning the ship. An enemy salvo to the Encounter, in what possibly was the ammunitions magazine, caused her to blow up and sink immediately.

The Pope was now on a run to freedom and was hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned by the enemy. The ship was slower than the Japanese ships, and yet attempted to outrun the enemy ships to no avail. The Pope’s depth charges were released to lighten the ship, and the 4-inch guns were blazing.

The Japanese closed range to finish off the Pope with continuous bombing, shelling and strafing. Bombers appeared on the horizon completing runs at the ship. The men were in a battle to save their own lives as well as their ship. After a bomb narrowly missed the ship, the Pope’s stern was split and water began pouring into the aft section. Listing heavily to the port, the ship was taking on water faster than it could be pumped out.

Ten minutes later, the word came to abandon ship. Twelve Japanese dive-bombers attacked the ship thus sealing her fate. The “Abandon Ship” order was given. As many of the crew were abandoning ship, the executive officer asked for help to blow it up. Four charges of TNT were set and blown. Water poured into the Pope and speeded up the sinking.

All crew were alive except one man that had been killed by shrapnel.  For about 20 hours – adrift in rafts and lifejackets, or clinging to floats, many coated in oil and some blinded, Lt. Commander Shaunsaku Kudo placed his own ship at risk and rescued some 442 survivors from the Pope and Encounter.
– The Sinking of the USS Pope and  USS Pope

World War II

During the Second Battle of the Java SeaPope and HMS Encounter were directed to escort the severely damaged British cruiser HMS Exeter away from the action. In the evening of 28 February 1942, Exeter and the two destroyers left Soerabaja and proceeded north. Japanese surface and air forces launched an attack the next morning, midway between the islands of Java and Borneo. As they sought to escape the three Allied ships fought four Japanese heavy cruisers and four destroyers throughout a fierce three-hour action, and they damaged a number of enemy ships. Pope fired all of her torpedoes and 140 salvoes of naval gunfire.

Fate

USS Pope in February 1942.

Shortly before noon 1 March 1942 the two British ships were destroyed by gunfire, and an hour later, Pope was attacked and sunk by 12 dive-bombers – after sustaining many bomb hits. The wreck of USS Pope, DD 225, was located and identified in December 2008 by the dive vessel MV Empress, approximately 60 nautical miles (110 km) from the wreck of HMS Exeter, which Empress discovered in 2007. Unfortunately commercial salvage divers had discovered Pope previously and save for a skeleton, little now remains of her wreck. With her location/identification now being finally confirmed, all ships lost during the Battle of the Java Sea and subsequent engagements have now been discovered/located and positively identified.

The following day, Ikazuchi rescued 442 survivors from Pope and Encounter. The survivors had been adrift for about 20 hours – in rafts and lifejackets, or clinging to floats, many coated in oil, and some blinded. This humanitarian decision by Lieutenant Commander Shunsaku Kudō placed Ikazuchi at risk of attack, and it interfered with her fighting ability, due to the sheer load of rescued sailors. The action was later the subject of a book[3] and a 2007 TV programme.[4][5]

Pope was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 8 May 1942. She received two battle stars and the Presidential Unit Citation for her World War II service.

– Source:  Wikipedia