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Mine Planter Richard Arnold Sinks


1942 ACCIDENT OFF ISLES OF SHOALS

WW2 mine-planter L88 in 1942

Has Engine Trouble

Shortly after noon yesterday the L-88 which was coming up the coast radioed that it had engine trouble and needed assistance. Its position was given about 14 miles southeast of White Island off Cape Ann, Gloucester.

Army officials immediately sent out the General Arnold to assist it and the navy tug Yaquima was ordered out. Just outside Portsmouth harbor the ships began to buck heavy seas and take on water which immediately iced up. So serious was the icing that the Yaquima was ordered back but the little top-heavy Arnold continued on, and the mine-planter Absolom Baird was ordered out.

Meanwhile army officials at the Portsmouth Harbor Defenses had gotten in touch with the air base at Manchester and an army plane was sent in search and a coast guard plane from Salem was ordered out. Toward dark, the army plane located the L-88 and dropped a flare directly astern of it.

Using this for a bearing the little Arnold ploughed on and reached the L-88 where lines were put aboard and the two ships side by side started toward Portsmouth about 8:30 pm, Little progress could be made because of the heavy seas.

The Baird, under command of Major M.A. McLamb reached the scene several hours later and took the two ships in tow.

Ice Formed Rapidly

It was bitter cold and a sharp offshore wind drove waves and spray over the two Vessels where it froze at once. A snow squall filled the air with swirling flakes hardly discernable in the pitch dark.

At 12:50 am, Master Chasteen reported the Arnold was taking water by the stern, and men were manning the pumps. But the water continued to rise and 40 minutes later it was over the pumps and fires. At 1:45 the Arnold suddenly plunged to the bottom.

Only quick action of the crew of the L-88 saved that ship from being dragged to the bottom by the Arnold. The Quartermaster’s civilian crews which man these boats risked their lives on icy wind and wave swept decks to cut the lines.

Master Chasteen high on the bridge of the Arnold jumped clear just as the ship went under. Quick action by the skipper of the L-88 who kept his little ship dangerously close to the suction of the foundering Arnold, enabled his crew to rescue Chasteen. Coastguard cutters and navy ships were ordered to the scene where empty life boats and life belts were the only surviving signs.

The L-88 was en route to Portsmouth when the engine trouble developed. When it was found that the little ship was drifting rapidly out to sea, the ensign was hoisted up side down in the conventional distress signal and a distress message sent to the Portsmouth Harbor Defenses.

The 179-ton Arnold had at first planned to tow the L-88, but at 8:30pm, when the Arnold picked up the L-88 the weather was so rough that it tied up along side and used its engines to keep the L-88 drifting until the Baird arrived about midnight and took both in tow.

Portsmouth HeraldTuesday EveningJanuary 8, 1942 Eight men drowned during a heavy storm early this morning about 20 miles Southeast of the Isles of Shoals. Only one man of the crew of nine on the 98-foot Army mine-planter General Richard Arnold was saved when the 33-year old ship suddenly sprang a leak and went to the bottom. Portsmouth HeraldTuesday EveningJanuary 8, 1942 Eight men drowned during a heavy storm early this morning about 20 miles Southeast of the Isles of Shoals. Only one man of the crew of nine on the 98-foot Army mine-planter General Richard Arnold was saved when the 33-year old ship suddenly sprang a leak and went to the bottom. Portsmouth HeraldTuesday EveningJanuary 8, 1942Eight men drowned during a heavy storm early this morning about 20 miles Southeast of the Isles of Shoals. Only one man of the crew of nine on the 98-foot Army mine-planter General Richard Arnold was saved when the 33-year old ship suddenly sprang a leak and went to the bottom.

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