Wartime typhoon isn’t a metaphor for the whirlwind of fighting that engulfed the Pacific and Europe. It refers to an actual typhoon, specifically the one that claimed the USS Hull (DD-350) on December 18th, 1944.
The Farragut-class destroyer served her nation well before becoming one of three destroyers to perish not at the hands of the Imperial Japanese Navy, but under the destructive force of Mother Nature.
The History of the USS Hull
A Commodore of the U.S. Navy, Isaac Hull was known for commanding iconic early American vessels including the USS Constitution, USS President, and the USS Chesapeake. For his dedicated service in the US Navy, Hull was recognized as an American hero, specifically for his actions at the War of 1812 battle between the USS Constitution and HMS Guerriere.
On January 31st, 1934, a new Farragut-class destroyer was launched into the waters of the New York Navy Yard. A year later, she was commissioned into the United States Navy and given the honor of being dedicated to the heroic Commodore. DD-350 was the third ship to be named after him and the first to not survive her service.
The Hull and the Harbor
During the December 7th, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the USS Hull was moored alongside the USS Dobbin (AD-3), undergoing repairs. Miraculously, amid the constant fire of bombs and torpedoes, the Hull survived the attack unscathed, and immediately departed to escort the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) on her trip back to Pearl Harbor.
Service in the Pacific Theater
As a part of Task Force 11 alongside the carrier USS Lexington (CV-2), the Hull took part in strikes on the Solomon Islands before returning to Pearl Harbor and serving for three months on convoy duty between the Hawaii and San Francisco. She spent much of her time in service assisting with battle preparation, including the assault on Guadalcanal and the bombardment of Makin Island during the American push for the Gilbert Islands.
After taking part in multiple raids and bombardments of Pacific islands controlled by Japan, the Hull joined a refueling group of the 3rd Fleet. In November of 1944, she left Pearl Harbor to join the carrier strike forces in the Philippine Sea.
On December 17th, 1944, when fueling operations began, the group—including the Hull—braced for an approaching typhoon. Known as Cobra, the typhoon altered the plans of the refueling group as the Hull quickly became entrapped. The ship was in grave danger, listing at an 80-degree angle, and some of the officers aboard started contemplating removing the captain, James A. Marks, from command, in order to attempt to steer the ship into safer waters.
The crew never had the opportunity. When the Hull finally did capsize, the crewmen aboard were forced into the water. By the time the USS Tabberer (DE-418) could get to the men stranded in the rough waters, 202 officers and men of the Hull had perished.
Her wreckage was never recovered or found.