Today marks the 70th anniversary of the intersection of the infamous Typhoon Cobra and the ships of Task Force 38 and service ships of TF 30 (tankers and support vessels) east of the Philippine Archipelago. The following is excerpted from Frank Studenski’s War Diary:
December 17, 1944: Today we left the area and tried to refuel, but the weather was too bad, we are running into a typhoon. The weather is getting bad, the sea is very rough and the wind is picking up. We have all loose gear lashed down and an inboard life line was put up on the main deck. For lunch we had sandwiches and coffee. By late this afternoon the wind picked up to 60 knots. Some of the ships, especially destroyers are having trouble keeping onn ststion. I had to secure myself with bunk straps to keep from falling out of my bunk. I did not get much sleep because of the rolling nd pitching. Wea re making rolls of 30 degrees or more. The waves are twenty feet high. I am not getting any sleep and most of the other people are not getting any sleep either.
December 18, 1944: This morning the weather is really bad. Some of the destroyers are low on fuel and the sea is so bad they can not fuel from the tankers. The CVE’s are having a lot of problems, planes are breaking loose in the hangar deck and starting fires. The carrier Independence reported two men overboard. The carrier Monterey has a fire in her hangar deck and can only make five knots. The sea looks like mountains; no one can walk straight. Quite a few men were hurt by the rolling of the ship. Sandwiches and coffee were served for dinner and supper. We made a roll of 46 degrees, which is past the danger point. We lost one of our planes over the side from the force of the wind. No one is allowed on the main deck – it is under water every time we roll. The battleship Massachusetts is dead in the water. The winds picked up with gusts of 93 knots. Some of the destroyers report they are in danger of capsizing. Besides the loss of one plane, we also have 20mm gun tub damage. We were pretty lucky. The height of the waves must be 30 to 40 feet. About 35 men were washed over the side, most of them from the carriers. We received some bad news, two destroyers were lost in the storm, Spence and Hull, two other destroyers are missing, some survivors were picked up. The winds picked up by late afternoon to over 100 knots. The sea is a little calmer and by 2400 then winds died down. I did not get to sleep tonight. I want to stay awake in case the ship rolls over.