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The CHAIRMAN. Colonel Breckinridge was appointed by the committee as counsel to aid in the investigation. A quorum of the committee is now present, including Colonel Breckinridge, and the committee will call upon Colonel Breckinridge to proceed, and we will ask him to present to the committee such information as for the moment he has ready to bring to our attention.

Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. Mr. Chairman, I offer for the record a communication from the Judge Advocate General of the Navy to the chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee to investigate the Akron disaster. This letter transmits copies of findings of facts and opinions of the U.S.S. Akron court of inquiry, with endorsement and final action of the Secretary of the Navy thereon.

The CHAIRMAN. Is it your opinion that they should be incorporated, in extenso in the record?

Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. Simply the findings and the recommendations of higher authority; it is not so extensive. The vast record of nearly 500 typewritten pages I do not offer, because, for all practical purposes, we have that incorporated by reference, any time we wish to refer to it, but I think that this is a succinct report.

The CHAIRMAN. It will be received.
(The report is as follows:)

Navy DEPARTMENT,
OFFICE OF THE JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL,

Washington, D.C., May 17, 1933.
Hon. William H. KING,
Chairman Joint Congressional Committee to Investigate AkronDisaster,

United States Senate, Washington, D.C. MY DEAR SENATOR: In accordance with the direction of the Secretary of the Navy I am forwarding you herewith copies of the findings of facts and opinions of the U.S.S. Akron court of inquiry with endorsements and the final action of the Secretary of the Navy thereon.

A complete copy of the record of testimony adduced before this court of inquiry has been furnished Mr. William M. Galvin, assistant to Col. Henry Breckinridge, counsel for your joint committee. The papers forwarded herewith will make this record complete. Sincerely yours,

0. G. MURFIN, Judge Advocate General.

NAVY DEPARTMENT,

Washington, May 17, 1933.

(Fifth endorsement] From: The Secretary of the Navy. To: The Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. Subject: Court of inquiry convened by order of the Secretary of the Navy to

inquire into all the circumstances connected with the loss of the U.S.S. Akron off Barnegat Inlet, N.J., on April 4, 1933.

1. From the evidence adduced in the attached case, the deaths of all officers and enlisted men of the United States Navy, whose names are listed in paragraph 23 of the findings of facts, are held to have occurred in line of duty and not to have been the result of their own misconduct.

2. The injuries to Richard E. Deal, boatswain's mate, second class, United States Navy, referred to in paragraph 24 of the findings of facts, are held to have been sustained in line of duty and not as a result of his own misconduct.

3. Subject to the above remarks and to the remarks of the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics and the Chief of Naval Operations, the proceedings, findings and recommendations of the court of inquiry in the attached case are approved. 4. Return record to the Office of the Judge Advocate General.

CLAUDE A. SWANSON. Copy to: Chief of the Bureau of Navigation.

5. Subject to the foregoing, and to the remarks of the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics in his second indorsement hereunder, the Chief of Naval Operations

recommends approval of the proceedings, findings, opinions, and recommendations of the court of inquiry in the attached case.

W. V. PRATT. [Fourth endorsement]

MAY 15, 1933. From: Chief of Naval Operations. To: Judge Advocate General. Subject: Court of inquiry convened by order of the Secretary of the Navy to

inquire into all the circumstances connected with the loss of the U.S.S. Akron off Barnegat Inlet, N.J., on April 4, 1933.

1. The Chief of Naval Operations considers that opinion no. 5 and opinion no. 8 of the court of inquiry are not consistent and concurs in opinion no. 8 rather than opinion no. 5.

2. Opinion no. 5, briefly, is that the commanding officer committed an error in judgment in not setting such courses as would have kept him in the safe semicircle. Opinion no. 8 very well suggests the viewpoint that the court, lacking more than slight direct knowledge of the considerations on which the commanding officer's decisions were based, cannot assume that the information available to him did not justify his actions; therefore, opinion that judgment was erroneous is actually based almost entirely, if not solely, on the light of subsequent events.

3. The Chief of Naval Operations concurs with this latter viewpoint. In tracing the course of events that have led up to any disaster, it is usually true that analysis after the event will indicate some point at which a different course of action would have averted the catastrophe. In this case, in the light of information now available after the event, it appears probable that the course of action suggested in Opinion No. 5 would have done so. It does not necessarily follow, however, that the commanding officer failed to exercise good judgment in the light of the information available to him at the time.

4. The Akron was ably built and unquestionably ably handled to the full limit of present knowledge and experience in rigid airship operation. No reflection, therefore, should attach to her commanding officer for his choice, in his best judgment, of the course of action that was followed under these particular storm conditions during the natural and normal military operations of a rigid airship. (Third endorsement)

May 12, 1933. From: Chief of the Bureau of Navigation. To: Secretary of the Navy (Judge Advocate General). Via: Chief of Naval Operations. Subject: Court of inquiry convened by order of the Secretary of the Navy, to

inquire into all the circumstances connected with the loss of the U.S.S.

Akron, off Barnegat Inlet, N.J., on April 4, 1933. 1. Forwarded, recommending approval of the proceedings, findings, opinion, and recommendation of the court of inquiry in the attached case.

F. B. UPHAM. [Second endorsement]

MAY 11, 1933. From: The Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics. To: The Chief of Naval Operations. Via: The Chief of the Bureau of Navigation. Subject: Court of inquiry convened by order of the Secretary of the Navy, to

inquire into all the circumstances connected with the loss of the U.S.S.

Akron off Barnegat Inlet, N.J., on April 4, 1933. 1. Forwarded in accordance with the first endorsement. 2. The Bureau of Aeronautics

(a) Concurs in the foregoing findings of fact, but notes the uncertainty of the evidence as to compliance with the requirements regarding life-saving equipment.

(6) Concurs in the foregoing opinions, and singles out for special notice these opinions which deal with the decisions made with regard to courses steered and the consequent placing of the Akron relative to the unfavorable weather conditions:

(1) Whose existence and location were first known on board the Akron at about 8:30 p.m.

(2) Whose character and development were definitely indicated shortly after 10 p.m. from the partial weather map compiled on board the Akron.

(3) And for confirmation of which there was available at all times visual observations from the Akron herself.

(c) Concurs in the recommendation that no further proceedings (in inquiry) be had in the matter.

3. To sum up, it clearly appears: (a) That the design, construction, and maneuverability of the Akron were adequate to the point of excellence.

(6) That the material condition of the Akron was excellent at the time of takeoff on April 3, 1933.

(c) That the personnel were competent and efficient in their capacity to handle the airship.

(d) That there is need to recognize the fact that it is essential, in their present state of design, construction, and operation, that airships should avoid bad weather (storm) areas, and,

(e) That there is need to increase the capacity of operating personnel to obtain, recognize, and interpret bad weather (storm) conditions and the consequent proper placing of such ships relative to bad weather (storm) areas, not only from weather data supplied to the ship, but from first-hand observations on board the ship herself.

4. The Bureau of Aeronautics has definitely in mind measures suitable to accomplish the matters set forth in paragraphs 3 (d) and (e) above and will, in separate correspondence, make suitable recommendations in regard thereto.

E. J. KING,
Rear Admiral United States Navy,

Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics.

DEPARTMENT OF THE Navy,
OFFICE OF THE JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL,

Washington, D.C., May 10, 1933.
From: To the Judge Advocate General.
To: The Chief of Naval Operations.
Via: (1) The Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics. (2) The Chief of the Bureau

of Navigation. Subject: Court of inquiry convened by order of the Secretary of the Navy to

inquire into all the circumstances connected with the loss of the U.S.S. Akron off Barnegat Inlet, N.J., on April 4, 1933. 1. Forwarded for consideration and recommendation.

2. The proceedings, findings, opinion, and recommendation of the court of inquiry in the attached case are, in the opinion of this office, legal.

0. G. MURFIN.

FINDINGS OF FACTS

1. The U.S.S. Akron was designed by the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation of Akron, Ohio, the design having been selected as the winning design in an open competition of the Navy Department.

2. This airship was built by Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation, Akron, Ohio, was completed and made its first flight on September 23, 1931, and later commissioned as the U.S.S. Akron.

3. The design of the Akron provided larger factors of safety then were provided in any previous rigid airship and lessons learned from the destruction of the U.S.S. Shenandoah and the British R-101 were incorporated in its final structure.

4. The Akron had, prior to her last flight, suffered casualties on three separate occasions, namely, February 22, 1932, damage to tail structure including lower fin; on flight to West Coast in June 1932, two intermediate ring girders slightly buckled; and in August 1932 damage to the lower fin while being handled on the field. The ship was thoroughly and effectively repaired after these accidents.

5. The last flight of the Akron was regularly authorized and was for the purpose of training and of calibrating radio compass stations in the first naval district.

6. At time of take off on April 3, 1933, the Akron was fully and properly manned and equipped, in material readiness for flight and with no unauthorized persons on board.

7. Prior to January 3, 1933, the Akron made 58 flights totaling 1,274.3 hours, including a flight to the west coast of the United States. Since the late Comdr. Frank C. McCord, United States Navy, assumed command on January 3, 1933,

the ship made 15 flights totaling 421.5 hours, including flights to Guantanamo, Cuba, and the Canal Zone.

8. Before leaving the Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, N.J., the commanding officer of the Akron, the late Commander McCord, obtained and considered, in consultation with the aerological officer of the ship, the latest weather maps, reports, and forecast based on data supplied by the United States Weather Bureau, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce personnel and from commercial airways stations.

9. The Akron left the Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, N. J. at 7:28 p.m., April 3, 1933.

10. The 8 p.m. weather data broadcast by radio by the United States Weather Bureau, were partially received on board the Akron, mapped and studied by the aerological officer by 11 o'clock p.m.

11. Only about two thirds of this broadcast was received due to abnormal static conditions.

12. At about 8:30 p.m. sufficient data were received to indicate a depression somewhere in the vicinity of Washington, D.C., and the presence of thunderstorms in that vicinity at 7 o'clock and the captain so informed.

13. Lightning was observed to the southward at about 8:30 p.m., the Akron then being in the vicinity of Wilmington, Del. The ship then proceeded in an easterly and northeasterly direction. At about 10 p.m., she crossed the coast line on an easterly course. Shortly after this time lightning had become general all around and the captain, after examing the partial 8 p.m. weather information, decided to continue on an easterly course.

14. At the time of take-off from Lakehurst there was a light surface wind force 6 knots from the northeast. The sky was overcast, ceiling about 300 feet. This cloud layer extended about 20 miles to westward of Lakehurst. After 8:30 p.m., as the ship headed toward the coast line the ground became intermittently obscured by low clouds. When the ship crossed the coast line at about 10 p.m., the ground was completely obscured by a cloud layer extending to an altitude of about 1,500 feet; above this the sky was obscured by a cloud layer the bottom of which was estimated at between 5,000 and 6,000 fee from which rain was falling. The ship at this time was flying in stable air at an altitude of about 1,600 feet, from which altitude the upper cloud layer could be observed.

15. At about 11 p.m., the ship was completely surrounded by intense lightning both vertical and horizontal and the course was reversed to the westward by the captain.

16. Upon arrival at the coast line in vicinity of Barnegat Coast Guard Station at about midnight April 3-4, 1933, the course was changed to 120° true. At this time at the Barnegat Coast Guard Station the wind was northeast about 40 knots with rain, light fog, heavy thunder, and lightning all around.

17. Shortly after midnight the ship lost altitude rapidly and was checked by the executive officer, Lt. Comdr. Herbert V. Wiley, by dropping ballast, including the forward emergency water ballast bags at an altitude of about 800 feet.

The ship was then brought back to a flying altitude of 1,600 feet, weighed off, and found to be in trim and about 5,000 pounds heavy.

18. About 3 minutes after this, the air having become very turbulent, the ship again started to descend, and when this fall was still unchecked Lieutenant Commander Wiley sounded “landing stations," followed by the order, “Stand by for a crash.”

19. The following sequence of events in the final destruction of the ship is the most reasonable indicated by the evidence.

During the second descent efforts were made to check the fall dynamicallythat is, the engine speed was increased and by the use of elevators. As the descent continued for about one half minute, Lieutenant Commander Wiley became alarmed and sounded “landing stations”, Lieutenant Calnan, the first lieutenant, then relieved Lieutenant Commander Wiley at the ballast controls and dropped ballast under the direction of the captain. The descent still continued at a rate estimated by Lieutenant Commander Wiley to be about 14 f.p.s. The ship was inclined upward by the bow, and as the descent continued the lower fin struck the water under the influence of the ship's air speed, the rate of fall of the ship, and probably a quartering wind on the ship's tail of about 40 knots. The immediate effect was to shear the after part of the lower fin, carrying with it the lower rudder. This impact probably caused the collapse of the tail portion of the ship and through a combination of bending and shear forces caused breaks in other parts of the ship's structure particularly in bay 7 where two of the survivors observed the parting of the longitudinals. The tail portion having collapsed in the water, the resulting drag and the forward momentum of the upper structure carried the forward portion into the water, causing the final collapse at a position about 19 miles east-southeast from Barnegat Inlet Light at about 12:30 a.m., April 4, 1933.

20. The broken ship then drifted on the water until buoyancy was lost, when she sank.

21. The wreck of the Akron was located in about 105 feet of water, the top of the wreck being about 80 feet beneath the surface of the water, about 27 nautical miles 140° true from Barnegat Inlet Light.

22. The loss of the Akron was complete and represents the loss to the Government.

23. The following-named officers and men lost their lives through the destruction of the U.S.S. Akron:

Rear Admiral William A. Moffet, United States Navy.
Commander Fred T. Berry, United States Navy.
Commander Henry B. Cecil, United States Navy.
Commander Frank C. McCord, United States Navy.
Lt. Comdr. Harold E. MacLellan, United States Navy.
Lt. Joseph H. Severyns, United States Navy.
Lt. George C. Calnan (CC) United States Navy.
Lt. Richard F. Cross, Jr., United States Navy.
Lt. Herbert M. Wescoat, United States Navy.
Lt. (Junior Grade) Hammond J. Dugan, United States Navy.
Lt. (Junior Grade) Charles H. Callaway, United States Navy.
Lt. (Junior Grade) Robert E. Sayre, United States Navy.
Lt. (Junior Grade) Charles F. Miller, United States Navy.
Lt. (Junior Grade) Morgan Redfield, United States Navy.
Lt. (Junior Grade) Wilfred Bushnell, United States Navy.
Lt. (Junior Grade) Cyrus T. Clendening, United States Navy.
Chief Machinist George C. Walsh, United States Navy.
Lt. Col. A. F. Masury, United States Army Reserve.
Anderson, Victor C. L. (AMM3c).
Angeles, Maximino (Mattic).
Arthur, Wellington K. (ACMM).
Austin, Wilton G. (BM2c).
Ballard, Henry A. (BM2c).
Barnhart, Bennie (Cox).
Baughman, Harold R. (F3c).
Boelsen, Peter (AMM2c).
Boswell, Henry LeR. (CBM).
Carlson, Arthur E. (CBM).
Carr, Stewart S. (CEM).
Cooper, Fred (AMM2c).
Copeland, Robert W. (CRM).
Cridlin, Stanley L. (AMM3c).
Dean, Carl C. (CBM).
Duncan, Lester G. (F2c).
Engler, Ralph F. (Cox).
Eschette, Horace P. (SC1c).
Fahey, Lawrence E. (AMM2c).
Fennessy, Edward (ACOM).
Fink, Elmer E. (CTM).
Graves, Hilbert N. (AMM3c).
Hackett, Earl P. (CAerog.).
Hill, William T. (Ph M1c).
Hoover, Paul S. (SC3c).
Hulting, Lewis 0. (Cox).
Jandick, Paul A. (ACMM).
Johnson, Rufus B. (BM2c).
Lamkin, Harold B. (Csmthlc).
Latham, Wilbern R. (CBM).
Liles, Leon D. W. (CAerog.).
Lipke, Donald H. (AMM2c).
Magnuson, Fridolf R. (AMM3c).
McLellan, Benjamin C. (AMM2c).
Morlen, Herschel L. (RM1c).
Ordonez, Mariano (Mattlc).
Quernheim, August C. (ACMM).

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