On Sunday, May 6, 1956, at approximately 3:14 PM the USS WISCONSIN BB-64 collided with the USS EATON DDE-510. This happened off the Virginia Coast during heavy fog. Click on the following: Deck Log 6 May 1956 to read what happened that day. This Deck Log was obtained from the National Archives in College Park, Maryland. The USS EATON almost lost her entire bow. Her forward engine room was flooded and she was towed stern first to Norfolk. On a subsequent Deck Log it was noted that the injury report on Mr. Clarence E. Humphrey, Jr., civilian, stated it was a very minor abrasion to his right leg when he was thrown from the bridge. Treatment was administered by the Wisconsin’s Medical Officer. Our Deck Log states, USS Eaton reported, ” no casualties, except one”. Actually there were two. George Wickham, a crewmember of the Eaton was injured , following is his account as to what happened to him. “I WAS ON THE USS EATON. AT THE TIME OF THE COLLISION I WAS IN THE REEFER GETTING VEGETABLES FOR THE EVENING MEAL. MY INJURIES WERE TO MY HEAD AND FACE. I WAS HANDED OVER TO THE WISCONSIN TO THEIR HOSPITAL. I RODE TO NORFOLK ON THE WISCONSIN. UPON ARRIVAL I WAS TAKEN TO THE PORTSMOUTH NAVAL HOSPITAL. I WAS HOSPITALIZED FOR 30 DAYS. I THEN RETURNED TO THE EATON ON LIGHT DUTY AND LATER RETURNED TO PORTSMOUTH HOSPITAL FOR SKIN GRAFT. GEORGE WICKHAM. P.S. I FINISHED MY ENLISTMENT ON THE USS EATON”
Norfolk Naval Shipyard workers fitted a 140-ton, sixty-eight-foot bow section from the unfinished Iowa-class battleship Kentucky to the Wisconsin in record time. Since the Kentucky lacked the famed bull nose of the Wisconsin, her original bull nose was recovered from the damaged portion of the bow and placed on top of the Kentucky portion.
Wisconsin was ready for service 16 days later and she departed for Spain on July 9th. Do you think that the crew from the 1940’s had an inclination that something like this would happen when they nicknamed the Wisconsin, WISKY?. WIS (Wisconsin) KY (Kentucky). It is something to think about. Our thanks go to the U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE for permission to use the following copyrighted story on our website. Click on the following; R. L.Taylor story The following pictures need no explanations. A picture is worth 1000 words. Photo credits: #18 & 20 submitted by Otis Osborne #19,23,26 & 27 National Archives The remaining pictures were submitted by Dom Menta.
The following PDF is a copy of the “Shipyard Bulletin” magazine, May-June 1956 featuring “Operation Bow Transfer” In photos and captions you will see the replacement of our ship’s bow. Click here.
Two ways to view photos: Left Click on thumbnail and photo will fly up. You can now click the arrows to go forward, back or return to the index file. Viewing photos this way also displays photo captions if available. Or you can watch a Slideshow without photo captions.
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