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  USS Mount Hood AE-11
USN
Mount Hood-class ammunition ship

13,910 Tons
459' 2' x 28' 3" x 28' 3"
1 x 5"/38 gun
4 x 3"/50 gun
2 x Twin 40mm AA
10 x 20mm AA
Cargo 7,700 Long Tons

Click For Enlargement
USN July 1944

Click For Enlargement
Click For Enlargement
USN November 10, 1944
Ship History
Built by North Carolina Shipbuilding Company in Wilmington, North Carolina. Built under Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 1356) as Marco Polo configured as a cargo ship. On November 10, 1943 renamed Mount Hood after Mount Hood in the Cascade Range in Oregon. Launched November 28, 1943 sponsored by Mrs. A. J. Reynolds.

On January 28, 1944 acquired by the U. S. Navy (USN) on a loan-charter basis then converted into the lead ship in the Mount Hood-class ammunition ship (Type C2-S-AJ1) by Norfolk Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company at Norfolk, Virginia, and at the Norfolk Navy Yard. Painted in camouflage pattern Measure 32, Design 18F. Commissioned July 1, 1944 with Comdr. Harold A. Turner in command and had an abbreviated fitting out and shakedown cruise in the Chesapeake Bay area.

Wartime History
On August 5, 1944 assigned to ComServFor, Atlantic Fleet and Assigned to Task Group 29.6 (TG 29.6). After being loaded with cargo at Norfolk, departed August 21, 1944 and six days later transited the Panama Canal and steamed independently across the Pacific via Finschafen then proceeded to Manus. On September 22, 1944 arrived at Seeadler Harbor off Manus and was assigned to ComSoWesPac to provide ammunition and explosives for warships.

Sinking History
On November 10, 1944 at 8:55am anchor in Seeadler Harbor, her cargo of explosives accidentally detonated in a massive explosion. Aboard, the entire crew was killed, except for eighteen who were ashore to pick up the ship's mail. Moored alongside and destroyed in the blast were nine Landing Craft, Mechanized (LCM) and a pontoon barge.

The massive explosion caused a huge fireball that damaged and casualties on 36 other vessels in the anchorage including ships anchored as far as 2,000 yards away. Other vessels damage from the explosion or debris included: USS Abarenda (IX-131), USS Alhena (AKA-9), USS Argonne (AS-10), USS Aries (AK-51), USS Cacapon (AO-52), USS Cebu (ARG-6), USS Kyne (DE-744), USS Lyman (DE-302), USS Mindanao (ARG-3), USS Oberrender (DE-344), USS Petrof Bay (CVE–80), USS Piedmont (AD-17), USS Potawatomi (ATF-109), SS Preserver (ARS-8), USS Saginaw Bay (CVE-82), USS Talbot (DD-114), USS Walter C. Wann (DE-412), USS Young (DD-580), USS YF-681, USS YMS-1, USS YMS-140m USS YMS-238, USS YMS-243, USS YMS-319, USS YMS-335, USS YMS-342, USS YMS-39, USS YMS-49, USS YMS-52, USS YMS-71, USS YMS-81, USS YO-77, USS YMS 293, USS YMS 286, USS YMS 340 and USS YMS 341.

USS Mindanao (ARG-3) was anchored 350 yards away. Topside 82 of her crew were killed by the blast and shrapnel. Moored alongside her starboard quarter were four motor minesweepers including USS YMS 293, USS YMS 286, USS YMS 340 and USS YMS 341. Afterwards, a photograph of salvage efforts showed the ship severely damaged with large holes in the port side from shrapnel that impacted the hull. Afterwards, it was under repair until December 21, 1944.

USS Cebu (ARG-6) was anchored 800 yards away and the deck was hit by shrapnel and debris that killed five crew and wounded six others. The ship also sustained damage.

USS Argonne (AS-10) was hit by 221 pieces of debris and recovered 1,300 pounds of wreckage during the search for survivors. The explosion results in 327 missing 45 dead and 371 injured. Officially stricken from the Navy register on December 11, 1944.

AEN1C Michael Kunz, CASU 49 adds:
"I was there on a Navy transport ship when the Hood blew up. we were at anchor about a mile from where the Hood was. We all ran for cover and waited about three minutes and then the oil came raining down on us. We were never told what had caused the explosion."

Steve Nazzise adds:
"A troop transport USS Chateau Thieery (AP-31) was tied up and ready to depart about 300 yards from the Mt. Hood when she exploded. She was one of the troop transports bringing the PT Boaters back home along with other troops from the battle fields of the Pacific."

Memorial
After the explosion, no remains of any of the crew were located. The entire crew was officially declared dead November 10, 1944. All remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA) and are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

Shipwreck
The explosion destroyed the entire ship. The largest piece of wreckage recovered was only 10' x 16'. Underwater, divers discovered a trench roughly 1,000' x 200' and roughly 40' deep created by the shock wave underwater caused by the explosion.

References
NARA War Diary, Manus Naval Base - November 1944
NARA USS YMS-293 "Amplifying Damage Report - U.S.S. YMS 293 November 29, 1944 pages 1-2
Navy History and Heritage Command - Mount Hood I (AE-11) 1944
Navy History and Heritage Command - H-029-5: A Brief History of Major U.S. Navy Ordnance Accidents
"1944, Mount Hood (AE-11): On 10 November 1944 in Seeadler Harbor, Manus Island, Admiralty Islands (near New Guinea), the new ammunition ship Mount Hood (AE-11) spontaneously exploded with 3,800 tons of ordnance aboard, obliterating the ship and every one of her over 300 crewmen. The largest piece of the ship found was 16 by 10 feet, and no human remains were recovered. All personnel topside on the nearby repair ship Mindanao (ARG-3) were killed and the ship was perforated by shrapnel, killing 82 of her crew. Twenty-two small craft and boats were sunk. Eighteen larger ships were damaged to some degree, including the escort carriers Saginaw Bay (CV-82), Petrof Bay (CVE-80), a destroyer, and four destroyer escorts. In total, 372 were killed (including 327 missing) and 371 were injured. The board of inquiry was unable to determine an exact cause. The only survivors of Mount Hood’s crew were a shore party of 14 men (a different report says 18) and another six men who left by boat shortly before the explosion. Two of these men were being taken to the brig ashore for court martial; their charges were dropped."
USS Mount Hood (AE-11) -- Explosion, 11 [sic 10] November 1944 via Wayback Machine November 13, 2014
Navy Historical Center - USS Mount Hood (AE-11), 1944-1944 via Wayback Machine November 24, 2014
USS Mount Hood explosion and official investigation and Eyewitness Accounts by Survivors via Wayback Machine January 15, 2017
NavSource - USS Mount Hood (AE-11)
HullNumber - USS Mt. Hood (AE-11) crew roster
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Marvin L. Edwards
FindAGrave - S1 Marvin L Edwards (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Marvin Lee Edwards (memorial marker)

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Last Updated
November 10, 2019

 

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