MTB TORPEDO ATTACK
1351 [LOG:] 3 SMALL SURFACE CONTACTS HELD ON RADAR 32,000
YARDS BEARING 082T - REPORTED TO BRIDGE AS 3 SURFACE
1424 [LOG:] 3 MTB'S SIGHTED ABAFT STARBOARD 1BEAM DISTANCE
[CAPT. McGonagle:] In the latter moments of the air
attack, it was noted that three high speed boats were
approaching the ship from the northeast on a relative
bearing of approximately 135 at a distance of about 15
miles. The ship at the time was still on course 283 true,
speed unknown, but believed to be in excess of five knots.
At no time did the ship stop during the air attack. It is
believed that the time of initial sighting of the torpedo
boats, the time was about 1420. The boats appeared to be
in a wedge type formation with the center boat the lead
point of the wedge. Estimated speed of the boats was
about 27 to 30 knots. They appeared to be about 150 to 200
[CAPT. McGonagle:] It appeared that they were approaching
the ship in a torpedo launch attitude, and since I did not
have direct communication with gun control or the gun
mounts, I told a man from the bridge, whose identity I do
not recall, to proceed to mount 51 and take the boats
[CAPT. McGonagle:] The boats continued to approach the
ship at high speed and on a constant bearing with
1426 [LOG:] NOTICED NORMAL STEAMING ENSIGN SHOT AWAY
DURING AIR ATTACK HOLIDAY SIZE ENSIGN HOISTED ON PORT
[CAPT. McGonagle:] About this time I noticed that our
Ensign had been shot away during the air attack and
ordered DAVID, signalman, to hoist a second Ensign from
the yardarm. During the air attack, our normal Ensign was
flying. Before the torpedo attack, a holiday size Ensign
was hoisted. ? ??????? ??? ???? ?? ????? I could to
standby for torpedo attack from starboard.
[CAPT. McGonagle:] I did not have an accurate ship's
position at this time, but I knew that to the left of the
ship's course at that time lie shoal waters and by turning
to the left I would be approaching land closer than had
been given me in directives which I held in that instant
in time. I realized that if I attempted to turn to
starboard, I would expose a larger target to the torpedo
boats. I elected to maintain a heading of 283 at maximum
1428 [LOG:] MTB SIGNALLING BY FLASHING LIGHT FROM STBD
QUARTER. LIGHT OBSCURED BY DENSE SMOKE FROM BURNING MOTOR
[CAPT. McGonagle:] When the boats reached an approximate
range of 2,000 yards, the center boat of the formation was
signaling to us. Also, at this range, it appeared that
they were flying an Israeli flag. This was later
verified. It was not possible to read the signals from
the center torpedo boat because of the intermittent
blocking of view by smoke and flames.
1430 [LOG:] ONE ROUND FIRED BY MACHINE GUN 51. C.O.
ORDERED HOLD FIRE.
[CAPT. McGonagle:] At this time, I yelled to machine gun
51 to tell him to hold fire. I realized that there was a
possibility of the aircraft having been Israeli and the
attack had been conducted in error. I wanted to hold fire
to see if we could read the signal from the torpedo boat
and perhaps avoid additional damage and personnel
injuries. The man on machine gun 51 fired a short burst at
the boats before he was able to understand what I was
attempting to have him do.
1431 [LOG:] MACHINE GUN 53 OPENED FIRE. C.O. SENT ENS
LUCAS AROUND PORT SIDE OF BRIDGE TO GET MACHINE GUN 53 TO
[CAPT. McGonagle:] Instantly, on machine gun 51 opening
fire machine gun 53 began firing at the center boat. From
the starboard wing of the bridge, 03 level, I observed
that the fire from machine gun 53 was extremely effective
and blanked the area and the center torpedo boat. It was not possible to get to mount 53 from the starboard
wing of the bridge. I sent Mr. LUCAS around the port side
of the bridge, around to the skylights, to see if he could
tell QUINTERO, whom I believed to be the gunner on Machine
gun 53, to hold fire until we were able to clarify the
situation. He reported back in a few minutes in effect
that he saw no one at mount 53.
[CAPT. McGonagle:] On further recollection of the event
involving machine gun 53 firing, the effectiveness of the
firing leads me to believe that a person, whom I believe
to be QUINTERO, Boatswain Mate Seaman, to have been on
station at machine gun 53 and took the torpedo boats under
fire. It is possible that he evacuated his station as a
result of the fire and flames from the motor whaleboat
prior to Ensign Lucas' arriving to determine who was on
the mount. 
[CAPT. McGonagle:] As far as the torpedo boats are
concerned, I am sure that they felt that they were under
fire from USS LIBERTY. 
1431 [LOG:] WORD PASSED TO STANDBY FOR TORPEDO ATTACK TO
STARBOARD. MTB COMMENCED STRAFING STARBOARD SIDE OF SHIP
1434 [LOG:] TORPEDO PASSED 75 YARDS ASTERN OF SHIP.
[CAPT. McGonagle:] At this time, they opened fire with
their gun mounts and in a matter of seconds, one torpedo
was noted crossing astern of the ship at about 25 yards.
The time that this torpedo crossed the stern in believed
to be about 1426.
1435 [LOG:] TORPEDO HIT STARBOARD SIDE AMIDSHIPS. TWENTY
SIX MEN DIED AS A RESULT OF THE TORPEDO HIT AND MTB
[CAPT. McGonagle:] About 1427, without advance warning,
the ship sustained a torpedo hit starboard side forward,
immediately below the waterline in the vicinity of the
coordination center. The ship immediately took a 9 degree
list to starboard. Oil and debris were noted coming from
the starboard side following the explosion. There was no
major resultant fire from this explosion.
1435 [LOG:] LOST ELECTRICAL POWER THROUGHOUT THE SHIP.
1436 [LOG:] LOST STEAM PRESSURE - SECURED ENGINES AND
BOILERS MANY GUAGES AND METERS IN FIREROOM AND ENGINE ROOM
WERE KNOCKED OUT. TORPEDO HIT IN RESEARCH COORDINATION
CENTER WHERE APPROXIMATELY TWENTY MEN WERE AT G.Q.
STATIONS. THESE SPACES FLOODED INSTANTLY AND MOST
PERSONNEL IN THIS SPACE DIED OF EITHER BLAST OR DROWNING.
NO SIGNS OF LIFE EMINATING FROM COORDINATION CENTER AND
ADJACENT SPACES WHICH COULD NOT BE OPENED WITHOUT DANGER
OF FLOODING OTHER SPACES. [130-131]
[CAPT. McGonagle:] The explosion caused the ship to come
dead in the water. Steering control was lost. All power
[CAPT. McGonagle:] Immediately, I determined that the ship
was in no danger of sinking and did not order the
destruction of classified material and did not order any
preparations to be made to abandon ship.
[CAPT. McGonagle:] It was my intention to ground the ship
on shoal areas to the left of the ship's track to prevent
its sinking, if necessary. I believed that, if the ship
was in a sinking condition, we would not be able to reach
sufficiently deep water to avoid recovery of classified
material on board.
1440 [LOG:] MTB'S STANDING AWAY FROM THE SHIP. ONE MTB
HAS HULL NUMBER 206-17 [CAPT. McGonagle:] Immediately
after the ship was struck by the torpedo, the torpedo
boats stopped dead in the water and milled around astern
of the ship at a range of approximately 500 to 8?0 yards.
1503 [LOG:] ONE MTB RETURNED TO SHIP AND SIGNALLED "DO YOU
NEED HELP" IN ENGLISH C.O. SIGNALLED "NEGATIVE"
[CAPT. McGonagle:] One of the boats signaled by flashing
light, in English, "do you require assistance"? We had no
means to communicate with the boat by light but hoisted
code lima india. The signal intended to convey the fact
that the ship was maneuvering with difficulty and that
they should keep clear.
[CAPT. McGonagle:] Reports received from damage control
central indicated the location of the torpedo hit and that
flooding boundaries had been established and that the
flooding was under control.
[CAPT. McGonagle:] During the strafing by the torpedo
boats, and immediately prior to being hit by the torpedo,
quartermaster third BROWN, who was acting as helmsman at
the time, was felled at his station.
[CAPT. McGonagle:] The mess decks were designated casualty
collection station and casualties were taken to the
collection station by repair party personnel and other
members of the crew able to assist. Following the torpedo
hit, those personnel from the research area who were able
to so, left their stations.
[CAPT. McGonagle:] One of the torpedo boats was identified
by a hull number of 204-17. Pictures were taken of the
torpedo boats prior to and subsequent to the attack.
1505 [LOG:] MTB'S RETIRED TOWARD SHORE
1507 [LOG:] HELICOPTER BEARING STAR OF DAVID MARKINGS
APPROACHED SHIP. PORT SIDE, HOVERING AT ABOUT 500 YDS
1508 [LOG:] SECOND HELICOPTER APPROACHED SHIP. MARKINGS 0N
HELICOPTERS ARE 04 AND 08 OR D4 AND D8 HELICOPTER MADE
REPEATED PASSES AROUND AND OVER SHIP. THEY WERE NOT
OBSERVED TO PICK UP ANY BODIES, PERSONS OR DEBRIS.
[CAPT. McGonagle:] About 1515, two helicopters approached
the ship and circled around and around the ship at a
distance of about 100 yards. The ensignia the Star of
David was clearly visible. Hull number on one of the
helicopters was 04 or D4. The other had a hull number of
08 or D8. It was not known whether these helicopters
intended to strafe the ship or not. However, they did not
approach the ship in a hostile manner, but kept pointed
parallel to the ship as they continued around and never
made a direct approach as such. They were not taken under
fire by Liberty, nor did they fire at us.
1519 [LOG:] POWER RESTORED TO BRIDGE BUT RUDDER DID NOT
ANSWER - CONTINUED STEERING FROM AFTER STEERING.
1536 [LOG:] MTB'S APPROACHING SHIP STARBOARD SIDE 7-8
MILES DISTANT. DURING NEXT HOUR AND A QUARTER THE MTB'S
RETURNED TO THE SHIP ____?____HOVES AND BY 1713 THEY HAD
RETIRED OUT OF SIGHT OVER THE HORIZON.
[CAPT. McGonagle:] The torpedo boats left the general area
of the ship at about 1515. About 1537, after they had
departed the ship and gone to a range of about five miles,
they again headed toward the ship at high speed. Their
intentions were unknown.
1615 [LOG:] TWO UNIDENTIFIED JET A/C APPROACHED SHIP FROM
THE STEB SIDE AND RECONNOITERED FROM A DISTANCE.
[CAPT. McGonagle:] At about this same time two
unidentified jet aircraft were also noted approaching the
ship from our starboard side, in similar fashion to that
which preceded the initial attack. All hands were again
alerted to the possibility of repeated attacks. No
attacks occurred however, and the jets disappeared from
[CAPT. McGonagle:] At about 1637, the torpedo boats
commenced retiring from the area without further signal or
[Ensign Lucas:] To the best of my knowledge,
when I did return to the bridge, the only people present
were the Commanding Officer, one phone talker, who was
lying on the deck in the chart room, quartermaster BROWN
on the helm and myself. Before I went back to the bridge,
we had received word over the phones that were working, we
had very little communication as such, the 1MC was hit and
not functioning. The only communications we had were via
sound-powered phones. We had received the word "standby
for a torpedo attack". It was very shortly after I
returned to the bridge the Commanding Officer hollered in
to pass over all circuits, "standby for another torpedo
attack, starboard side".
[Ensign Lucas:] The torpedo hit and it seemed like within
a matter of seconds we had a ten degree starboard list.
Shortly after that the Commanding Officer called me to the
starboard wing, asked me to get some glasses to try to
help him identify the patrol craft. He had been using his
binoculars and was also taking photographs of the aircraft
and of the three patrol craft. I did not actually see any
of the aircraft. I was able to read the hull number on
one patrol craft as it passed abeam to starboard, going in
exactly the opposite direction that we were going, and it
was at this time I told the Commanding Officer what the
number was. He said, "log it". Which I did, in the
quartermasters notebook. At that time, there was no
[Ensign Lucas:] This was the first entry that I made in
the log. I continued to make entries for approximately
the next 45 minutes. There were still just the four
people on the bridge. This was the Commanding Officer,
third class quartermaster BROWN on the helm, and seaman
LAMAR on the sound-powered phones, and myself.
[Ensign Lucas:] The captain warned us to take cover, the
shelling started again. Everyone took cover as best we
could. There were shells, or fragments of shells, flying
in through the starboard hatch, which no one had been able
to secure. A quartermaster, when these shells started
flying, stepped back from the helm to get as much
protection from the corner of the chart room as possible.
He still had his hand, one hand on the wheel. I was two
paces to his left, and two paces behind him. A fragment
hit him, I think from behind. It must have come through
the bulkhead in the chart room. He let out a gasp, fell
backwards into the chart room, and within say a minute,
[Ensign Lucas:] I grabbed the helm, noticed that I had no
power at all, the gyro repeater was not functioning, the
rudder angle indicator was not functioning. None of the
instruments there were working. We had been attempting to
get away from the area as fast as possible, on an
approximate course of 000. The Captain asked what the
current heading was. We were turning in a fairly good
sized arc at that time. I had no indication of how much
rudder I had on. I could not correct it to steer
something close to 000 magnetic. We get the phone talker
to contact after steering and shifted control to after
steering. Even after control was shifted, the people back
there were having a difficult time. I think to start
with, they were steering by hand. [Ensign Lucas:]
There was some firing from the patrol boats. They had
periodically fired at us. There was now a lull in the
[Ensign Lucas:] And yet, it sounded as if the men at
mount 53, this would be the 03 level starboard side aft of
the pilothouse, it sounded as if they were firing at the
patrol craft who at that time were within a thousand yards
at an approximate relative bearing of 120. The Commanding
Officer was on the starboard wing and had these patrol
craft in view. He ordered me to tell the men on mount 53
to cease firing. A fire had started at this time on the
starboard side. The hit had occurred somewhere in the
vicinity of the bridge. The flames had gone back to the
motor whaleboat, and it was burning rapidly at that time.
I could not see mount 53 from the starboard side. I went
out the port hatch. The first thing I noticed was mount
54 was vacant. The flames from the liferaft and the P-250
fuel had reached mount 54 and chased everyone out of
there. I ran back to mount 54, looked over the skylight
from the engineering spaces. Had a clear view of mount 53
from, say the waste level up, and there was no one on
mount 53. The flames from the motor whaleboat were coming
over the lip of the mount. I assume that the bullets that
were in the gun, or bullets that were in a ready service
ammunition box, very near there, were cooking off and
firing. I ran back, reported to the Commanding Officer,
that there was no one firing from mount 53, that the
flames must be causing the bullets to cook off.
[Ensign Lucas:] Mount 51 and 52 on the forecastle had
been long silent by this time. Many of the men, there
were three assigned to each mount, many of the men were
killed on the first strafing attack. When I first did
look forward at the mounts, there was one man cut in half
on mount 51, and it looked as if there were at least two
men in mount 52 who were severed.
[Ensign Lucas:] After that time, I believe there was just
one more shot fired. A seaman, LARKINS, was told to man
mount 51, either told or he volunteered to, and he got off
one shot, the Commanding Officer hollered for him to cease
fire, which he did. I can recall no further firing from
either side after that time. The Commanding Officer
hollered "cease fire", and it was approximately at this
time the patrol craft were bearing approximately 160
[Ensign Lucas:] One of them was trying to signal us. The
smoke from the motor whaleboat almost completely obscured
the patrol craft from us. There was a second class
signalman, DAVID, on the starboard wing. None of us were
able to determine what the signaling was - the smoke was
[Ensign Lucas:] Shortly after that, another patrol craft
approached us from the starboard side and did manage to
get clear of the smoke. The signalman took the message,
"do you need help? ". The Commanding Officer told
signalman DAVID to give a negative reply.
[Ensign Lucas:] We still did not know the identity of
the patrol craft itself other than the fact than we had
gotten the hull number earlier. This appeared to be one
of the same three boats that had attacked us earlier. The
patrol craft then appeared to rendezvous at two to three
thousand yards astern of us, a relative bearing of 200.
[Ensign Lucas:] A helicopter was sighted, and then a
second helicopter. Signalman DAVID who is very
knowledgeable on aircraft and who had also been looking at
Janes Aircraft several days prior to be attack, stated,
"those aren't ours, they're Russian made, Sikorsky
models". One of the helos came close to the port wing,
came down to our level, and we tried to communicate with
each other, but had no success. I was told to go to the
forecastle to see if I could aid in a sling drop. It
appeared as if they wanted to lower someone on the ship.
We still could not get our signals straight. When I did
get on the forecastle, I saw the Commanding Officer waving
his arms in a negative sign. We waived the helicopter away
from the area of the forecastle. It went back to the port
wing again. Eventually, someone in the helo wrapped up a
package of some sort and threw it to the people on the
bridge. To the best of my recollection the people on the
bridge were the Commanding Officer, signalman DAVID and a
Chief petty Officer THOMPSON. The package had a calling
card attached to it and it either said, "U. S. Naval
Attach‚, Tel Aviv", or merely, "Naval Attach‚, Tel
[Ensign Lucas:] We did get the numbers of both
helicopters in the quartermasters log. They were either
"04 or D4" and "08 or D8". There also appeared to be a
"Star of David" on the side of the helo. The helo was
waved away shortly after the calling card was thrown over,
we saw no more of the helos.
Q. Did the motor torpedo boats fire on you with ordnance
other than torpedoes?
[Ensign Lucas:] Yes, they did. This we could easily
hear. I can recall it coming from the starboard side on
several occasions. At the time quartermaster BROWN was on
the helm, the fragment that caught him came from the
starboard side and I can't be sure if it was from the gun
boats or from our own shells baking off. I'm pretty sure
it was from the gun boats. And there were several other
occasions of obvious shelling from the torpedo or motor
[Ensign Lucas:] At one time, while the torpedo boats were
firing at us, my man in charge of mount 53, seaman
QUINTERO, hollered to me, "should I fire back?", and I
gave him an affirmative on that. This was before he and
the other men in mount 53 had been chased away by the fire
and flames from the motor whaleboat.
Q. Do you recall that the patrol boats strafed the ship
after the torpedo attack, and if so, how many times?
[Ensign Lucas:] Sir, I cannot honestly answer that. Q.
Let me put the question a little bit differently - earlier
in your statement you observed that the patrol boats were
attempting to communicate with flashing light?
[Ensign Lucas:] This was definitely after the torpedo
Q. The flashing lights from the boats were after the
[Ensign Lucas:] Yes, that is correct.
Q. I also understood from you that the ship was unable
to respond to the flashing lights from the boats?
[Ensign Lucas:] To the first signaling, that is
affirmative, because the smoke that was between the patrol
craft and us.
Q. And I believe, also, the starboard wing 24-inch
searchlight had been shot away earlier in the action. Is
that not correct?
[Ensign Lucas:] The only signaling light we had available
was a small portable light, the face of which was
approximately six inches in diameter.
Q. I believe that is called an Altis Lamp and the
intensity of that light, from personal knowledge, would
probably be completely inadequate to penetrate the smoke?
[Ensign Lucas:] Yes sir. All power to all of the other
lights was off. Even if it had been on, there was only
one operative light on either the 03 or 04 level. The
only one that had not been hit.
Q. To the best of your recollection, after the motor
torpedo boats signaled, were there any further attacks
[Ensign Lucas:] No, there were not. After this first
signaling, I don't believe so. After they signaled "do
you need help?", and we answered in the negative, I am
positive there were no more attacks after that time.
Q. With regard to the signal from the torpedo boats, when
did you first observe the signaling, with respect to the
[Ensign Lucas:] The first signaling that I observed was
the unsuccessful attempts to determine what they were
signaling us, and of course, we did not have a chance to
answer back to them. This was after the torpedo attacks.
The only other signaling that I recall seeing is when we
did successfully receive their message and sent a negative
answer to it Q. A question if you please - would you
be kind enough to expand on the performance of duty of a
young man mentioned earlier in your testimony, named
[Ensign Lucas:] Seaman LARKINS helps man mount 54, 03
level, port side, as his general quarters station. He was
on that mount, and stayed on that mount, until the fire
coming from the 01 level chased him away. He did recall
seeing a plane approaching from the port side and lobbing
a cylinder that was attached under the wing. A cylinder
five to six feet long, approximately ten inches in
diameter. This cylinder approached the 01 level port side
in an end over end fashion. After it hit, and the fire
started, he climbed over the skylight to mount 53 and
helped the gun crew there until the fire from the motor
whaleboat drove all people away from that mount. I later
personally saw him helping to extinguish the fire on the
port side and still later, he, by himself, manned mount 51
and fired one shot before he received a cease fire from
the Commanding Officer. [LT. Golden:] Within a few
minutes we were doing 86 rpms, until there was a hit and I
lost electrical power. We went dead in the water.
1435 [ENG. LOG:] lost electrical power due to hit
believed to be torpedo. There was a vibration from this
hit that knocked two people in the engine room off of
ladders from the upper platform to the lower platform. It
vibrated a light out of its socket. It knocked both
generators off the line. Also lost communications to the
bridge at this time.
1450 [ENG. LOG:] put number three generator to
1453 [ENG. LOG:] generator on the line. During this
period of time, there were both 20mms and two other
smaller caliber bullets coming through the bulkhead from
the starboard side from approximately frames 80 to 95.
[LT. Golden:] The last entry in the engineer's bell book
was for 1405 when the bridge rang up for flank speed.
There were no more entries in the engineer's bell book
President: Tell me again, Lieutenant GOLDEN, how long your
records or your memory indicates that you were without
power after your circuit breakers tripped out and you lost
[LT. Golden:] From 15 to 20 minutes, I think sir.
Q. And your record shows that you lost the load at what
[LT. Golden:] Lost electrical power at 1435 and regained
electrical power at 1453.
President: Let the record show at this point, as a matter
which is germane to all of the testimony wherein
sequential and accurate times are desirable but
unavailable. That the early rocket attack against this
ship shot and stopped, in some cases permanently and in
others only temporarily, ships clocks through the ship.
This fact has become increasingly evident throughout
testimony received as well as in informal discussions with
LIBERTY personnel. [Chief Lamkin:] I don't remember
any of the time lapse during that time but I do remember
them announcing to prepare for a torpedo attack starboard
side. I told the men to brace themselves, to lay down on
the deck if at all possible. The torpedo hit, it seemed
like it was quite a while before the torpedo actually hit
and the time we were told to prepare ourselves. The
torpedo hit, there was an explosion, immediate smoke and
immediate list. Again we sent parties forward to
investigate the resulting damage, so on and so forth, and
any assistance that was needed. At this time I went back
up, I was going to radio central I asked the men there if
any kind of message had gotten out and they said it had.
I asked them if they had means of communication there and
they said they hadn't a voice transmitter they could key
there in the blind. They weren't keying it at the time.
I told them to keep keying it in the blind as often as
possible. They immediately did so. From this time on I
just spent most of my time from repair three and the radio
transmitter room. There was quite a time lapses, I don't
remember exactly how long. The thing I do remember is I
started out the door and I could hear the motor torpedo
boats or at least one of them to our port side. I looked
out, but all I could see was the top of it. I immediately
came back in and told the men to hit the deck. There was
no firing or anything like this which surprised me,
because at the time I figured they were just coming in to
finish us off. Again, I say I don't remember the time
lapse, but I was in there quite awhile when I heard
aircraft. They first announced that an aircraft was coming
in our area. I told all men to stay inside and keep low.
Q. How did your men react to this?
[Chief Lamkin:] The men reacted fantastic as far as I'm
concerned in the repair party. We had men that had never
had experience before. There was one occasion where a man
panicked on me, he started crying and screaming. I gave
him a hit, and he came out of it. I remember seeing one
boy throwing up. He had evidently seen one of the bodies
that they had brought down. Other than that the response
was excellent. There seemed to be naturally the fear that
you would expect, but no panic.
Counsel for the Court: Very good, are there any questions
from members of the court?
President: What can you tell me with a little more
detail, chief, about this keying the transmitter? Who was
in there in charge?
[Chief Lamkin:] I can't remember his name sir, our
second class radioman. I'm sorry, I can't think of his
name. I remember the man explicitly, he was in there,
there was a couple of radiomen in there, there was also an
ET in there, working with the different transmitters. They
told me they had them transmitting and a message had
gotten out. The ET was doing everything possible checking
the various transmitters. They only had one that was
capable of transmitting voice at that time. I did tell
them to keep keying it regardless. Each time he was
keying it he noted that he was keying in the blind.
Q. But no receivers? [Chief Lamkin:] Yes sir, no
receivers. He did keep trying it continuously.
Q. What was he transmitting?
[Chief Lamkin:] The exact words, I can't remember but he
was transmitting, I don't remember the call, he was
transmitting that we were under attack, we had been
attacked by aircraft, we had sustained a torpedo hit, and
the list I believe of the ship.
Counsel for the Court: Did you hear any report of the
possible jamming of the transmitter?
[Chief Lamkin:] Yes, sir I did. I heard this later from
Radioman Chief SMITH. He said that definitely that he had
notice that the jamming was so loud that, the jamming was
so loud that he thought at first that it was our
transmitters which were malfunctioning but he noted,
regardless of frequency, this loud jamming noise. At that
time we weren't aware of what they were transmitting at
radio central. This is one reason I stressed the fact
that the men keep transmitting.
Mr. Feingerscnh: Do you know Chief what circuit they were
trying to transmit on, which net they were on?
[Chief Lamkin:] No sir I don't, all I know is that it
was voice transmission and I really couldn't say. I did
ask them if they had receiving capability and they said no
they were transmitting in the blind.
President: What repair party has the responsibility of
buttoning up up there in the research spaces?
[Chief Lamkin:] The research spaces up forward, I
believe that is repair two sir, But at this time there
were men dispensed all over. I had repair three men up
there, also repair three alpha, which is an assist party.
They were dispensed. We were also fighting this fire.
President: What outfit was up there after the torpedo
hit? Would that have been repair two?
[Chief Lamkin:] We dispersed repair three then,
immediately, I was trying to think because right after we
sustained the hit, I believe it was petty officer Neece,
which is one of damage control petty officers. I have two
damage control petty officers, petty officer Neece and
Smith, and to my recollection it was Neece who grabbed the
men and went up there. [LTJG Painter:] So I left and
went back to Repair Three, and, I don't know how long,
time was slipping by so fast at this time, after that we
had our first torpedo attack. It came over, well the 1MC
was out, it came over the sound powered phones, "prepare
for torpedo attack starboard side." So, we prepared for a
torpedo attack starboard side, which we received in
midships. I can't say exactly what time it was, maybe
1435. Well, the ship at this time as soon as the torpedo
hit midships, we began to develop a starboard list very
quickly. So quickly that I felt as though we were
probably going to lose it.
[LTJG Painter:] At this time, the DC central passed the
word to prepare to abandon ship. We then filed out to our
life rafts which were no longer with us because they had
been strafed and most of them were burned, so we knocked
most of them over the side.
[LTJG Painter:] At this time the torpedo boats, three of
them, that had torpedoed us, were laying off, waiting for
us to sink, I believe. Anyway, they didn't come near us
at this time. However, we were able to maintain the ship
and stablize it. It didn't sink.
[LTJG Painter:] So the Captain said that everyone could
go back to general quarters stations. At this time I went
back to Repair Three on the mess decks along with the rest
of my repair party. All during this time in Repair Three,
my men were fighting fires and knocking burning liferafts,
etc. So we were kept fairly busy down in Repair Three the
whole time. Also they were checking bulkheads and shoring
where needed. After I went back there, after the torpedo
attack, we waited for what seemed like many, many hours
but I imagine it was only 20 or 30 minutes; and in that
time we were checking out the torpedo hit midships and
doing what was necessary to prevent further flooding.
[LTJG Painter:] About 30 minutes later we had word from
the Captain that torpedo boats were approaching us again
and to prepare for another torpedo attack starboard side.
And I know that if another torpedo had hit us, it would
have sunk us, so I told the men to standby to abandon
ship. We prepared to abandon ship in case we were hit the
[LTJG Painter:] At this time we were dead in the water
with no steerage. However, we were able to regain our
steerage by manual means and able to make approximately
five to six knots. The pit log was out, we were just
guessing by the number of turns that were being made. We
tried to maintain a course, this time, I'm not really
sure, it was either 300 or 320 to take us out of there.
[LTJG Painter:] After we had gotten underway, an Israeli
helicopter came out and asked us if we wanted aid; well,
they didn't ask us, they just came along side and acted
like they wanted to help, but we waved them off. [LT.
Pfeiffer :] A message while I was in the main battle
dressingstation, they had announced to be prepared for a
torpedo attack, and the torpedo hit and suddenly the ship
started listing to starboard, rolled, becoming 9 degrees
in a matter of a few seconds. At that time, Van Cleave
and myself and as many people as we could get, we went
down to the mess decks to try to evacuate anyone that we
could from there in case the ship started going down. We
were told that the destruction bill had been put into
effect. The ship was stabilized after a couple of minutes
and then I got the word to go to the wardroom and to the
bridge. When I got to the bridge, the Captain had put a
tourniquet on his own leg. He had lost a large amount of
blood, but there was nothing I could do at this time. He
was the only officer aboard at that time. The only other
officer that I could find was Ensign O'Malley. I told him
of the situation on the bridge, where the Captain had been
injured and was the last officer I could find up there and
suggested that he be prepared to go to the bridge if
[LT. Pfeiffer :] We then returned to the main dressing
station, just in time to have a rocket land on the
overhead near the clean room, and at this time the lights
in the main dressing station went out. We decided at that
time that we certainly couldn't care for the wounded in
the situation that we were. We were told to brace
ourselves for a second torpedo attack, and the only thing
we could do was go inside and find a couple of the wounded
on the floor to find places where they weren't wounded and
lay across their bodies so in case the torpedo did hit
they wouldn't be thrown around. I could hold on to one of
the uprights, but they certainly couldn't. We decided at
that time, that the only place where we could take care of
the men was on the mess decks. The ship had stabilized.
We went to the engineroom to find out what had happened,
if the engines had been damaged, or, if it would be a
point of moving the men to the mess decks and then having
the ship go down than having them die there. We found
that as far an it went that the damage had been brought
[LT. Pfeiffer :] We evacuated the men to the mess decks.
We had just that morning finished resterilizing supplies
in the forward battle dressing station. They were still
in the autoclave. When we went to the autoclave, we got
as many men who could walk as possable, took them to the
main dressing station and gave them supplies, it was dark
and we couldn't really see what we were handling then, and
they took it to main deck and piled it on the table. At
that time was the first time we could evaluate the
condition of the wounded. There was no question of our
ability to keep records or anything at that point. We
just couldn't. The only way we could tell if someone had
been given morphine, when we gave it to him, we stuck a
needle through an article of clothing on him. We got some
gauze and hung the bottles from the lights in the mess
decks. At that time it became evident that many of the men
were going to require further surgery, but we established
in a major hospital surgery is something that is done by
three doctors, two nurrses, and a support team outside,
and that here we would be able to have myself and one
corpsman. We obviously weren't going to do any unless it
was a life or death emergency. So we went on with it and
tried to stablize the people who were in shock, giving
fluids. Then I organized a couple of teams of men. At
that time we still had not found out what had happened.
The men were confused, they couldn't understand where was
the Sixth Fleet or where was the Air Force. Someone
had told us that there was an Israeli helicopter outside,
and it bolstered our morale a little bit, but we tried to
find out the answers to the question, "is anybody going to
help us?" "Or can we got messages out?" Does anyone know
we're hit, and how badly?" At this time, sir, we had
organized teams to start from one end of the mess decks,
we'd gotten surgical soap and water, supplies of sterile
dressings, and started cleaning the wounds again as best
we could. I went up to the bridge to see the Captain.
The Captain had lost a tremendous amount of blood and was
showing symptoms of early shock. The men who were showing
symptoms of shock, the people that we couldn't get fluids
to had just overrun the medical facilities for the while.
We had been giving out water, salt pills, bicarbinate
soda, just to replace the fluids with anything that we
[LT. Pfeiffer :] Now we had intravenous fluids that we
were able to give them, but the Captain was showing the
early symptoms. He said that he was feeling weak every
time that he got up and was perspiring and was beginning
to show one of the earlier signs of shock which is
excessive anxiety. It's hard to think of how anxiety at
that point could be described as excessive, but he had
been talking about medical things that he had ascribed as
a tremendous urgency to, and I just had interpreted this
as a sign of shock. I told Mr. Lucas, the First
Lieutenant, who was at the bridge about this and told him
to be on the watch for this, dress the Captain's leg,
remove the tourniquet, and went back below.
Q. Did you see many burns?
[LT. Pfeiffer :] We had a moderate number of burn
injuries. None of which were major burns.
Q. Was there any substance similar to naplam causation?
[LT. Pfeiffer :] Some persons may have been. I never
inquired of anyone because again we had burns of hands, a
few flash burns of face. But I didn't treated anyone that
I would think of as having a napalm burn.
Q. What would you say about the morale subtribution on
the ship during that trying period of the action and
person of the Commanding Officer?
[LT. Pfeiffer :] The Commanding Officer at that time was
like a rock upon which the rest of the men supported
themselves. To know that he was on the bridge grievously
wounded, yet having the con and the helm and through the
night calling every change of course, was the thing that
told the men, "we're going to live." When I went to the
bridge and I saw this, I should say that I knew that I
could only insult this man by suggesting that he be taken
below for treatment of his wounds. I didn't even suggest
it. [Ensign Scott:] The next thing, we were told by
the bridge to stand by for torpedo attack starboard side.
The torpedo hit at approximately, somewhere between 1425
and 1445. As soon as the torpedo hit, I called main
control. I don't keep a damage control log as such, my
repair parties do. They log messages they receive in a
book. Neither one of them, as soon as the attack started,
kept a log. I kept message blanks coming into repair
parties, but they were not timed. I had about ten or
twelve message blanks prior to the torpedo hitting. I had
the main damage, I had the large hole in the back berthing
compartment, I had the hold in the diagnostic room, I had
the two fires, the fires under control and one of them
logged as out. But when the torpedo hit, the logroom in
damage control central was in a shambles, the safe door
blew open, logs went flying off the shelves, we were
knocked on the deck, and shortly thereafter the order was
passed down to set the destruction bill. And with that, we
didn't bother to write down our messages anymore. Myself,
my 1JV talker, and my 2JV talker commenced burning all
confidential messages and pubs in DC central.
Q. That's fine. Tell me a little about your shoring.
[Ensign Scott:] It was necessary, after we investigated
the diagnostic room, which is directly above the vicinity
which the torpedo hit, I went in, it was next to DC
central, I went in with the DC investigator from repair
two. We saw the level of the water rising. I stuck my
hand in the hole. It came out with black, black oil.
With that I said, "It's still rising, we're going to have
to shore-it." We brought shoring in and mattresses from
the engineering berthing compartment and commenced
shoring. We found another rupture out in the passageway
and it was bulged out, but we had that area pretty well
Q. To establish the watertight boundary after the torpedo
attack, was there any question about anyone being left
alive in the spaces below?
[Ensign Scott:] No sir. When I saw the black oil coming
up, I knew it had ruptured the fuel tanks. I went down to
main control. I called them first and told them I had
ruptured tanks up here, and told them not to take
inspections from these tanks. Later on in the morning, I
went down to main control and told them to take
inspections from starboard tanks but not those two to
correct the list. We went over to twelve degrees, and
came back to ten. About 0500 in the morning we were down
to about a 6 degrees list. [Chief Thompson:] Time is
difficult to recall. Then I was alone and word was passed
over sound powered phones to DC Central to standby for a
torpedo attach. This was passed two or three times, and I
believe it was on the first time it was passed that we got
hit. It seemed to take quite awhile for the torpedo to
hit. The explosion wasn't too loud where we were. The
deck lifted about a foot I'd day, and then we settled
right way to a starboard list to about ten degrees.
Although at the time it seemed a little greater. Then we
were strafed at about the same time. I couldn't say
whether it was before or after by the patrol boats. At
first I thought it was the ammunition box over the repair
locker where the ammunition had gotten hot and was
exploding, then we determined that it was a strafing
attack. The sound would coupled with my sighting of the
torpedo boats later would indicate 50 caliber and 40 mm.
There were several holes in the forecastle and the area
around the repair locker. Nobody was hit inside. Later
on the bridge asked for signalmen from various places on
the ship. Nobody seamed to be available so I said I
couldn't read flags but I could read light. They said
they didn't need me at this time and that they wanted me
to stay in the repair locker.
[Chief Thompson:] Word was passed again to standby for
torpedo attack starboard side and again the word went out
for signalmen. Once again I told them I could not read
flags, but if I could be of service. I was asked to
report to the bridge, which I did. When I got up there,
signalman David was attempting to rig a hand light. I
assisted him. We went to the starboard wing of the bridge
and one torpedo boat was making a run straight at us off
the starboard beam while the other two stood off. At the
Captain's directions, David sent "US Naval Ship" ''US
Naval Ship." When they were about 500 yards off, the
torpedo boat turned astern and came up on the stern on the
starboard side and flashed, "do you need help?''
Q. Was this before the torpedo hit?
[Chief Thompson:] This was after the torpedo hit us, and
we were surprised by the attack. The Captain was giving us
word. He said, "no, thank you." We sent this back to the
boat, and our steering was somewhat erratic and they came
up on the port side then. David went across, I followed
him, and saw on the last part of that message, David said,
"Do you want us to standby?" I passed this word to the
Captain. He said, "no, thank you." We sent this to the
patrol boat. They came up along port side, I say roughly
100 yards off, flashed "good luck" and dropped astern
along with the other two which had come up to the stern,
to a mile or a mile and a half back, just about out of
sight. Then they made one high speed run directly astern
and somewhere between a quarter and a half mile back made
a U-turn and disappeared. That was the last we saw of
20. Motor Torpedo Boat attack on LIBERTY. Twenty minutes
following air attack, MTB's closed ship to a position 2000
yards on starboard quarter and signaled ship by flashing
light. At this time ship had been making turns for FLANK
speed for 9 minutes (Estimated SOA 15-17 knots). Holiday
ensign was flying from the starboard yardarm for at least
five minutes before torpedo attack was launched. LIBERTY
50 cal. guns opened fire while the MTS was signaling. The
torpedo attack was launched shortly after the MTBs were
fired upon, and MTB's strafed the ship with machine gun
fire as, at least, one MTB passed down the starboard side.
25. PT attack first developed from starboard side and was
identified as a high speed run in. Center and lead PT
began flashing signal light and very shortly thereafter
the Commanding Officer identified the Star of David flag
on this lead boat. LIBERTY's signal light had been shot
away requiring dependence upon an Aldis lamp to try and
penetrate the smoke on the bearing of the PTs.
26. The Commanding Officer had passed word to stand by
for torpedo attack and the forward starboard 50 cal. fired
a very short burst in the direction of the boats on the
gunner's own initiative. Having seen Israeli flag on the
PT, the Commanding Officer waved to the forward gunner to
cease firing. The after starboard gun, opened up at this
point, with apparently no one pulling the trigger. The
bridge could not see this gun for smoke and flame on the
starboard side, so the Commanding Officer sent a runner to
tell him cease fire. Before this runner could reach the
after starboard gun, effective high volume fire from this
gun was peppering the water around the middle PT. It
appears as though 50 Cal. ammunition was cooking off from
intense fire. The gun was seen to be firing with no one
5. The immediate confusion milling around astern followed
by peaceful overtures by the attacking surface forces
after launching only two torpedoes of the six presumed
available (two on each PT boat), indicate these craft may
well have identified the colors for the first time when
they got in close enough to see clearly through the smoke
and flames billowing, at times above the mast head.
27. The reaction of all three PTs immediately after
launch, when they stopped and milled around close aboard
LIBERTY and then offered help by signal light, combine to
indicate this was the first time the U. S. large colors
flying were actually positively identified. Not having
signal lights available, the Commanding Officer then made
the international flaghoist meaning, "Not Under Command."
24. Offers of assistance. Post air attack signaling by
MTB's (before torpedo attack), may have been an offer of
Thirty minutes after attacking LIBERTY the MTBs signaled
in English, "Do you need help?"
Two hours and 10 minutes after torpedo attack (2 hours 40
minutes after air attack) an Israeli helo apparently