Minesweeper Hobson Cut Down In Collision With Carrier
By James Donahue
Among the horror stories within the annuals
of the U.S. Navy is the loss of the minesweeper Hobson when it came in collision with the aircraft carrier Wasp in the North
Atlantic in 1952. The 348-foot-long Hobson was no match for the massive Wasp, was sliced in two and sank so fast it took 176
sailors to the bottom with it.
After surviving active naval battles in both
the European and Pacific Theaters of World War II, including a kamikaze attack, the Hobson was assigned to training duties
off the Atlantic Coast until the Korean War outbreak in 1950. She was then assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, providing support
in amphibious operations and plane guard for carriers.
The Hobson met her fate on April 26, 1952,
while with the Destroyer Rodman and accompanying the Carrier Wasp on route to the Mediterranean. At about 10 p.m. that night
the Wasp was recovering planes from a routine night flying operation while the Hobson and Rodman were steaming about 1000
yards behind to recover any pilots who might have to ditch.
When the wind suddenly changed, the Wasp
turned into it, but the Hobson failed to receive the turning signal and continued steaming forward. She consequently steamed
right across the oncoming bow of the carrier and was struck amidships on the starboard side. The collision turned the Hobson
over on its port side and split the ill-fated ship in two. The stern of the minesweeper swung around and slammed into the
Wasp’s bow, opening a gaping hole in the carrier.
The Hobson sank within minutes, leaving a
big oil slick around the carrier, which now was standing dead in the water. Most of the Hobson’s crew was below deck,
asleep when the accident happened, and never had a chance. There were only 80 survivors out o a crew of 236. The commanding
officer also died. Those who made it grabbed life jackets and rafts thrown out into the oil-slicked waters from the Wasp and
The Wasp was in no danger of sinking and
limped home after the crash. The hole in her starboard bow was 76-feet long.
It was a sad and unexpected end for a gallant
ship. Commissioned in 1942, the Hobson served in every major US Naval action of the European War and then moved to the Pacific
where she survived six bloody engagements in that theater. The ship received six Battle Stars and a Presidential Unit citation.