The Last Hours
of USS Whitehurst DE-634
USS Trigger SS-564 Successfully Tests Mk-48 Torpedo
The story as told by veterans of USS Trigger. i.e. The "Men
Who Were There"
Wayne and Max;
I was on board Trigger the day she sank
the Whitehurst (it was my birthday).
Trigger, along with USS Trout, were
providing support for Westinghouse and
Clevite for the development of the MK 48
torpedo. The testing took place near
Bangor, Washington and Nanaimo,
British Columbia on Vancouver Island. It
was a great experience -
beautiful countryside, good beer and gracious
especially the PPCLI (Princess Patricia's Canadian Light
provided us with barracks. Your e-mail brought back some good
Whitehurst was one of three live war shots made by Trigger off the
Washington. I have photos of the MK 48 used and the Whitehurst,
before the war shot and one taken through the periscope as she was going
down. ... The 48 being loaded is the one actually fired at the Whitehurst. The
artist painting the silhouettes on the sail is me (in preparation for our
return to San Diego). Photo #4 was taken in San Diego.
The man crossing the
brow is Tim Shull... Hope you guys enjoy the photos. Ed Rivoire QM2(SS)
photos supplied by Ed Rivoire
The Mk 48 Torpedo that
sank Whitehurst being loaded aboard USS Trigger SS-564
Ed Riviore's Mk. 48 Test Participation Certificate
Ed Rivoire paints "Kill Credits"
USS Trigger SS-564
photo supplied by LCDR R.J. Hansen
I was aboard the USS
Trigger SS-564 when we fired the first "live" MK-48
Torpedo at the
Whitehurst. We could hear the breaking up sounds, on Sonar,
just like the
movies. I'm fairly sure there were pictures of the ship broken in
sinking. But I have no idea of where they might be. I do have a
Award Certificate that is signed by the CO of the Trigger, the
Westinghouse, and the acting CO of the Whitehurst.
Ref your request of
photos of the Whitehurst sinking...here are three of the event.
I was a TM3 on board the
Trigger during the Mark 48 Torpedo Test and Evaluation
firing in 1971. I
was part of the torpedo gang that loaded it up, fired it, and waited
demise of the Whitehurst after a nine minute run.
It was a Westinghouse
Mark 48 Mod 0 that sunk the Whitehurst. We were testing
48's. The Mod 0 and Mod 2 by Westinghouse and the Mod 1 by
Cleveite. It was a shoot out of sorts between the two companies and
the contract. But, the one that sunk the Whitehurst was the
first Mark 48 war shot
The torpedo detonates
under the ship and the upward force breaks the vessel in
two. The stern
sunk first and then the bow. We were able to get close enough to
photo of the bow just before it went under. Each crew member was given a
copy of the photo taken through the periscope. Many official photos were
through the scope.
Also the whole event was
photographed from a helicopter taking 16mm movies.
They took movies of us
on the surface and of the detonation and sinking of the
bow. I know because a couple of months later, I had the job of
down a copy of all that film footage from two big reels down to a small
presentation that the CO used at various presentations related to the
we went through.
note: I submitted a request for
the photos but the National Archive
personnel could find no photos of Whitehurst's sinking. They gave no
reason. It would seem the pictures should have been declassified since
almost 40 years had passed.
max crow, webmaster
The other two photos
attached are of me sitting in front of the tube that we fired the
third shots from (see the American flags on the tube door - a take off of
the subs keep score during WWII) and of the "Kills" painted on the
Unfortunately, that is
all I have reference the Whitehurst, except that I do have the
gravy bowl from the ward room (and you are not getting that). The
hurst was tied up in front of us just prior to leaving port of the
shoot. Since it was a
target ship, we were given permission to go onboard
and collect any "souvenirs".
As I was rummaging through the
ward room, I pulled open a drawer and there was
a badly worn and
tarnished gravy bowl
(I had it replated and it looks good).
We also disassembled the
barber chair that was in the after steering room and huffed
and puffed the
thing up, out and over to the Trigger as we thought it would look good
of the after torpedo tubes. But, after all that work, it would not fit
hatch. The base was an inch wider in diameter that our hatch
LCDR R.J. Hansen
USS Trigger SS564
TM2(SS) RJ Hansen
Whitehurst being towed to her final
USS Tawasa ATF-92 towed Whitehurst
I was the periscope photographer on TRIGGER when we sunk your ship and have
a copy of that picture. I can email it to you when I return from the
east probably towards the end of September. I believe my photo is
National Archives as well. I can also tell you about the event especially
the towing of WHITEHURST to Bangor and the night before we sank her when
Trigger's crew stripped her portholes and other stuff. Please keep my
and email handy.
Tom Boyer, ex-RM2(SS)
I was a TM on
the Trigger when we tested a war shot Mk. 48 torpedo that sunk the
Whitehurst... Also, I believe R.J. Hansen was on board then.
R.J. is now an officer
in the reserve, I think, and I believe regularly
attends the Trigger reunions. R.J. was
a TM3 at the time. I'm
certain he would have a copy of the photo. That was the only
photo I saw
of the sinking. There was a tin can that accompanied us on the shot,
though I do not recall the name. They tried to finish up the Whitehurst
with a deck
gun, though it sank too quickly for them to get in range .
I Hope this
help. Sure, you can use my comments. The photo of Henry's is the
was thinking of. It was weird too, because we had a copy of the
film "The Enemy
Below" on board which I believed used the Whitehurst
and was sunk (on film) at
the end of the movie. The tin can that tried to
finish it off with her deck gun I believe
was the USS Fox, a DLG, but I could
involved with the Mk. 48 torpedo evaluations - we spent about 6 months test-
them in the Strait of Georgia off Vancouver Island. When we cleared the
Juan de Fuca to conduct the war shot, we ran into a huge storm.
It didn't bother me,
but about 1/3 of the crew was sea sick. The storm
passed and we completed the war
shot. It was really strange to hear the
detonation under water. I remember surfacing
and watching the tin can try
to shoot down the bow of the Whitehurst, walking out
the shots to find the
recall sinking any other ships. I think we only conducted one war
also planned on using a scrap decommissioned sub as a target
as well, but it sank
on the tow up from San Diego. Terry
I was on the
Trigger (SS-564) from early 1970 until June 1972. During my tour, we
tested the Mark 48 torpedo system. I even still have a
"Participation Award" signed by
CDR Flather who was the skipper
of the Trigger, a fellow named G.R. Thomas who was
the program manager for
Westinghouse, and D.A. Kohl, C.O. USS Whitehurst (Acting).
during those tests, as I recall, we sank the Whitehurst and 2 Liberty ships,
all specially prepared for the tests in Bremerton, WA and towed
out to sea for the event.
The attached photo is the bow of one of
those three ships in its last moments. It looks
like a destroyer bow to
me, but I'm really not sure if it's the Whitehurst or one of the
ships. Maybe you can tell for sure*. The photo was taken through
cope, as you can see by the cross hairs. There wasn't much time
detonation and sinking, so from the Trigger's point of view,
this was all the photos we
could get, I think. Good luck!
(SS), USS Trigger (SS-564)
I am sure this is
Whitehurst. Why? The hawse pipe is in the correct
chocks for the mooring lines are also correct. The
markings for the water line just aft
of the stem also appear to be
correct. Lastly, Whitehurst had a strait bow (no rake)
and the keel was
flat and joined the bow at right angles. I recall this from the time she
was in dry dock. I look forward to your write-up.
Good luck , Roger
From Roger Ekman Capt. USN Ret. who served
as Gunnery and Operations Officer
Sure, you are welcome to
use what I sent. I wish I had more for you. It's been a long
ago and memory fades!
I do remember that the
"target" ships were all fitted with various sensing gear to mea-
the effectiveness of the weapon. I also remember that the Mark 48 did not
trate the hull of the target. It detonated under the keel. The
effect was devastating.
Each target broke into two pieces which sank
independently. We shot from 5,000 yards
at 500 feet, so by the time we
could surface and close the range for a good look, it was
too late. Henry
Engineer, Neil Thomas, July 2017
Max, after a long, long time I decided to
look back on my history. I was the Westinghouse Engineer aboard Trigger that
loaded the MK 48 for Whitehurst. If you would like discussions, I would be glad
to oblige. Neil Thomas
For whatever reason, there needed to be an
acting Commanding Officer or Officer in Charge during the tests. Keyport chose
the Diving Officer, Lt. Commander "Moose" Kole.
We were weathered out the first scheduled
day of the test. The next morning it was still a little rocky at firing depth.
The ship’s crew placed the weapon onto the skids for the designated launch
tube. I straddled the weapon, facing aft on the warhead and was assisting a
Naval Lab engineer with the installation of the firing exploder. Then quickly,
he hand me the exploder and heads aft due to sea sickness. What memories!
Installation continued, the weapon was loaded, I connected the guidance wire and
the "attack" continued.
To continue the launch sequence, we put the
unit into the selected launch tube, hooked up a bit of local site monitoring
equipment and turned the weapon over to the launch party. The target was
tracked, a firing solution obtained, and the Commanding Officer of USS Trigger
ordered the unit launched. Part of the monitoring equipment attached was the
ability to monitor the feedback from the Weapon via the guidance wire. We
watched as the weapon entered the search phase, and the saw target acquisition
and the initiation of homing. There was no loss of acquisition and the unit
continued to perform. At a point in time when detonation should have occurred,
we lost wire continuity. Can you imagine the initial feeling of a live weapon
on the loose with no control capability! It was just a few seconds, but your
mind can play a lot of games. Then the undersea thunder of a large explosion
hit us. It was one hell of an example of the difference in speed of an
electrical signal and the speed of sound in water.
I asked Neil for more information on the monitoring circuit. His answer
As far as the guidance wire, let see what I
can remember. The MK 48 torpedo is a wire guided weapon. That means that there
is a wire that connects to the control system within the torpedo what feeds out
from two sources. There is a coil of wire within the torpedo and there is a
coil of wire within the wire dispenser, attacked to the launch tube. This wire
attaches via the tube to the ships fire control system. During an actual
firing, there are a few parameters that the fire control party can change, such
thing as search depth, search mode, passive search or active search, shut down
and some others.
I am almost certain that it is a single wire
system because upon loading the unit into the tube, one of the last things done
is to splice the torpedo wire with the dispenser wire and it is done with a
single splice. The dispenser contains about 100 feet of flex tube, a stainless
conduit that is attached to the torpedo with shear screws. The purpose of the
flex tube is to protect the guidance wire out the tube and away from ship
movements. I connected the wire on the warshot. The company was very nervous
about a proper connection with the first warshot and the ability to shut it down
at the first sign of possible malfunction.
As far as our torpedo room monitoring, we
built a little test box with an ohm meter and recorder. The wire changes
polarity when searching or homing.
Others have correctly described the coming
to periscope depth, siting of the destroyed target and surfacing. I waited for
ship’s company to go to the bridge and then went up to observe. The,
referenced, video really did show the picture.
If you correspond with any of the torpedo
gang, please ask the status of the first class TM who was right out of central
casting for a WWII Torpedoman with half a dozen war patrols under his belt. He
was my main point of contact and presented me with a Trigger plaque. Neil
Neil Thomas Credentials
I was in the submarine service for 10 years, getting out of the Navy in January
1969. My last three years was shore duty at Keyport. As an electronic
Technician, I was sent to a newly established test range near Nanaimo, B. C. I
first went up as a computer operator and quickly became the assistant range
officer. There is nothing like a group of mustang Torpedo Officers to pass the
buck to the kid.
I lived in Nanaimo with the Navy and then
went to work for Westinghouse and the Test and Evaluation Engineer for ranging
all MK 48 Torpedoes and MK 27 Targets. Met and married my bride there.
I was assigned to that test by Westinghouse
and rode during the test. If any of you were in the torpedo room during the
actual preparation and the loading of the unit, I was the guy in the white
coveralls, sitting backwards on the torpedo and taking the exploder when the NOL*
rep got sea sick. I’d like to hook up and relive a great event in my life. Just
as a side, my point of contact was a crusty First Class TM. Do any of you
recall his name and status? He presented me with my Trigger plaque which I
cherish today. I Hope to hear back. Thanks to you all, Neil W. Thomas.
To contact Neil, write to
Webmaster this site.
following is from the USS Trigger Deck Log
account is official. mc
Sunday 25 April 1971... 1425
USS Tawasa (ATF-92) underway with ex USS Whitehurst (DE-634) in tow.
Whitehurst precedes Trigger, enroute to her final rest, by
nearly 24 hours.
Monday 26 April 1971 0930 Stationed the maneuvering watch.
1008 underway... the captain is on the bridge. The navigator is in control
the OOD has the deck and the conn. Steering various courses at various speeds to
clear the pier...
1019 Secured the maneuvering watch...
1035 Stationed the modified maneuvering watch steering various courses and
various speeds to clear the Hood Canal Bridge.
1054 Secured the modified maneuvering watch...
ss-564 is now underway, on her mission to test the new Mk 48 Torpedo with the
Ex Whitehurst serving as the target. The aging Tin Can will be sacrificed
to prove the effectiveness of the new weapon. From this point until the
appointed rendezvous, each log entry consists of the words
"Underway as before" followed by course change entries. mc
Wednesday 28 April 1971
1420 Fired one Mk 48 Mod 2 war shot torpedo serial #11 at the ex USS Whitehurst
1427 Torpedo detonation heard.
1442 Surfaced on course 320°T speed 8 knots with the bow section of the ex USS
Whitehurst bearing 060T, Range 8000 yards. Using various speeds and
courses to close the hulk of the Ex USS Whitehurst for observation and
16 - 20 Log entry Underway
as before. 1600 c/c to 340° maneuvering various courses and speeds while
remaining near the hulk of ex USS Whitehurst. 1629 set course to 080° speed 12
knots. (late enter)
1609 hulk of ex USS Whitehurst sank.
20 - 24 Underway as
before. 2305 c/c to 077°.
2320 sighted various aids upon entering the Straits of Juan de Fuca.
authors note: It is not surprising that some of the e-mail accounts differ
slightly from the log entries.
37 years is a long time to remember details. mc
The following pictures of a MK-48 Torpedo and
a target very similar to Whitehurst were supplied by Neil Thomas,
Westinghouse Engineer, who was onboard Trigger for the test.
28 April 1971 Whitehurst quickly slides beneath
the waves. This photo was taken by the Periscope
Boyer. Although Henry's copy was first to arrive, several Trigger vets sent it to
She grew old and
And was put to sleep with grace.
The Pacific Ocean was her home
And now her final resting place.
Above is the last verse of the poem "Buried at Sea".
It is a fitting epitaph to the life of a good ship.
Ray Plumb is A Whitehurst WWII vet.
Click to read
Buried at Sea
Link to USS Trigger SS564
USS Trigger SS-564
Link to Mark 48 Torpedo on Wikipedia. The
photos are NOT Whitehurst
Info on the Mark 48 Torpedo
A Sinking Exactly Like Whitehurst's
Note: The ship sunk in this video is only slightly heavier than
The narrator refers to the ship as "Battleship" and "Giant". It is
USS Trigger Website
Various Trigger associated Links
Trigger in Wikipedia
Trigger on Military.com