The heavy cruiser USS Pittsburgh should live in fame as the ship that saved the carrier USS Franklin on March 19, 1945, after a devastating Japanese air strike. The Pittsburgh raced to the Franklin and lashed a tow line to the flaming carrier. The cruiser pulled the Franklin to safety while fighting off Japanese attackers. A brilliant feat of Naval valor.
But the USS Pittsburgh is most remembered as the ship that went to war against a typhoon. In 2015, we interviewed George Jock and Robert McKnight, veterans of that battle against 100-foot waves and 70-knot winds. They described the scene when a wave ripped the bow from their ship.
USS Pittsburgh: George Jock & Robert McKnight from Veterans Breakfast Club on Vimeo.
Quick thinking and good training saved the ship, which limped back to Guam, while its bow floated in the Pacific. A seagoing tug would retrieve the orphaned 100-foot hunk of metal, which the tug crew nicknamed the USS McKeesport after a neighboring city. “Sighted the suburb of Pittsburgh and have taken it in tow,” the tug crew reported.
The USS Pittsburgh would be repaired and go on to serve active duty another 11 years before being sold for scrap. If you visit Pittsburgh, you can see the ship’s anchor in front of the Children’s Museum and its bell outside Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum.