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Senator KEAN. Admiral, I think all of us think that Commander McCord
The Chairman. Don't say “all of us”, because I don't know just exactly what you are going to say. Senator KEAN. I think
think too. The CHAIRMAN. I will wait and see.
Senator KEAN. I repeat that we all think that Commander McCord made a lot of grievous errors which caused the loss of the ship. Do you agree with that?
Admiral BUTLER. One of them, as we stated in our findings, in not keeping in the safe semicircle. You see, Senator, I do not know what all of the things are that you have in mind.
Senator KEAN. He made a mistake, in the first place, when he was ordered to Newport, Admiral, in going west instead of going northeast, did he not:
Admiral BUTLER. He was going to Newport to be there the next morning on certain duty which he found could not be performed at that time. Therefore he knew that that arrival up there would have to be delayed, and he decided to kill his time in the vicinity of Lakehurst and arrive at Newport later. There was no object of his going to Newport immediately.
Senator KEAN. This is the first time we have had any testimony of that, is it not?
The CHAIRMAN. He could have gone north, and, as the Senator stated to one of the witnesses, he could have gone up the Delaware River instead of going down to Wilmington and then going out to sea.
Admiral BUTLER. Yes; he could have.
Senator KEAN. This is the first time, Mr. Counsel, that we have had testimony that when he left he knew conditions were such that he could not perform his duty at Newport.
Was that your statement, Admiral?
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. They knew that it was foggy around Newport. To carry on this calibration they had to be able to see the station.
Senator Kean. They hoped that next morning it would be clear? But this is the testimony that we have, that he did not intend to go to Newport for some time. Is that your testimony, Admiral?
Admiral BUTLER. That is what I said; yes, sir. He was going to stay around in the New Jersey area until the conditions cleared so that he could perform his duties upon arriving at Newport. I think I have seen that testimony here. That is my recollection.
Senator KEAN. In compliance with that, when he got to Philadelphia, where he had the reports of doubtful weather, he turned south to run right into it. That was mistake number 2 wasn't it?
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. I don't think he got those reports from Wilmington
Senator KEAN. He saw them at Wilmington. He saw the flashes of lightning. But he had the report from the morning. And the testimony here was that it was evidently loaded with dynamite.
You will remember that testimony.
Senator KEAN. He had those reports. Then we have testimony here of the report at 8 o'clock of the Newark station; and he was equipped in the same way that the Newark station was to receive these hourly reports. At 8 o'clock they knew there were thunderstorms all over that region. Yet he turned directly south.
Admiral BUTLER. I do not know that he had all of those reports,
Senator KEAN. Why didn't he?
Senator Kean. Here is a voyager just 15 minutes behind him, with nothing but an airplane, nothing but these things in his ears, who heard all of it. Now, here is a great ship equipped with all of the modern appliances. So why not? We do not know that he did, but there is every reason to believe that he did, is there not?
Admiral BUTLER. The testimony, as I remember it, indicated that he received only part. I am not quite sure of the percentage of that 8 o'clock report, but he could not get all of it because of the static.
Senator KEAN. If this other man, who was just 15 minutes behind him, could get it on the ordinary flying machine, I can't see it. At all events, he went south right into the storm, did he not?
Admiral BUTLER. Yes, sir.
Senator KEAN. And the storm is catching him, and he turns around and runs away from it and goes north, and then he goes into it; then he goes out to sea; then get the worst of the storm out at sea and comes back to the shore.
Admiral BUTLER. He does not get the worst of it out there; he gets some of it.
Senator KEAN. Then he comes back to the shore and he sees the lights on the shore, and he was beginning to get out of the storm and was pretty nearly through it on the shore. You can look at the map right there. Admiral BUTLER. But he did not know that. Senator Kean. There it goes out [indicating on map). Admiral BUTLER. Yes; I know what you are talking about. Senator KEAN. You see the 2,300 there, do you not? Admiral BUTLER. Yes, sir.
Senator KEAN. Now then, he goes back to the shore and he sees the lights. Then he is getting out of the storm, so he turns and runs into it again. Is that right?
Admiral BUTLER. Perhaps an error in judgment.
Senator KEAN. There have been errors in judgment—1, 2, 3, and 4? Is that right?
Admiral BUTLER. I cannot say that definitely because I do not know all of the testimony you have had.
Senator KEAN. That is the map. Look at the map. Doesn't it look to you as though he made a mistake and mistake after mistake? And here was his second in command who, every time he was asked, said, “Go west. Go west. Go west”, and he turned around and went just the other way. Now, that is the testimony we have had here.
Admiral BUTLER. I remember only the one time.
Senator KEAN. At least twice.
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. I do not believe our record sustains the direct consultation more than once.
Senator KEAN. Twice when he first saw the lightning down at Wilmington and when he got back to the shore on that leg coming back from the sea.
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. That is not my recollection of the matter, Senator.
Senator KEAN. That is my recollection.
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. My recollection is that there was only one conference in which Commander Wiley made his suggestion to go westwardly. Commander Wiley stated, however, that he himself up there would have gone west.
Senator KEAN. He was asked twice, and on both occasions he said just that.
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. I have no further questions. (Witness excused.) Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. Will you please swear Captain Hooper?
TESTIMONY OF CAPT. S. C. HOOPER, DIRECTOR OF NAVAL
The CHAIRMAN. You do solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Captain HOOPER. I do.
Captain HOOPER. S. C. Hooper; Director of Naval Communications.
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. I am going to ask you about the radio installation and service on the Akron.
Captain HOOPER. I have a short prepared statement which I have drawn up, bearing in mind the questions I thought the committee might have in mind. With your permission, I will proceed with it.
The CHAIRMAN. Please, proceed.
The Naval Communication Service consists of a number of short-distance and long-distance radio telegraph stations for communicating with the fleet. Shortdistance communication is furnished on intermediate frequencies and long-distance communication on high frequencies. On the east coast Navy radio Washington does most of the long distance work, while on the west coast most of the long-distance work is done by Navy radio San Francisco. Intermediate frequencies have certain characteristics which make them valuable for short-distance work. These characteristics are:
There is no fading throughout the distances which can be worked and these frequencies are such that radio bearings can readily be taken on the transmitting station. Their principal disadvantage that static affects them somewhat more than it does on high frequency. High frequencies are used for long-distance work and have the advantage that static is seldom as bad on the high frequencies as on the intermediate and low frequencies. However, fading is worse on high frequencies than on intermediate, and it is necessary to use three or four frequencies throughout the day to communicate throughout the 24 hours with a distant station. At short distances the so-called "skip” effect occurs, rendering communication difficult. A further disadvantage of high frequency is that magnetic storms sometimes occur which render communication impossible. This has been known to blot out communication for hours. Magnetic storms have much less effect on the intermediate and low frequencies than they do on the high.
The Akron had several transmitters and receivers capable of both high and low frequency, which were manufactured by some of the most prominent radio companies in the country under competitive bidding and in accordance with specifications drawn up by the Radio Division of the Bureau of Engineering. She also had a skip radio direction finder and, in addition, batteries available to furnish power independent of the ship's generator. The radio officer was a lieutenant who was a practical skilled operator and a pilot who had been in lighter-than-air service for many years. The radio personnel had been associated with lighter-than-air ships for a number of years. The Akron was equipped with both trailing-wire and fixed antennas. The fixed antennas could be used for transmission and reception on both intermediate and high frequencies at times when the trailing-wire antenna was reeled in. In addition to permitting the Akron to communicate with naval radio stations with the same facility as a surface ship, the equipment furnished permitted communication to and from her planes and gave the Akron the ability to intercept all weather broadcasts made by the radio stations of the Airways Division of the Department of Com
A short-distance radio set permitted the Akron to use radiophone to communicate with Lakehurst when effecting a landing. In addition, communication could be had with Lakehurst by radio telegraph on intermediate frequency. It was felt that the Akron, from a communication point of view, was an excellent ship, and pride was had in the fact that at all times she could readily communicate with some naval radio station. The report of Captain Rosendahl subsequent to the flight from Sunnyvale to Lakehurst, shows that communica' tion was good. A dispatch from the Akron at 9:50 p.m., central time, June 12 read as follows:
"Request Weather Bureau forecast and opinion as to movement of thunderstorm area shown on tonight'3 map over Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, with particular reference to Akron's route from Dallas to Parris Island near Savannah.'
This was received in the Navy Department 10 minutes later, with the ship over Texas, and was taken up with the Weather Bureau and answered at once. The report of Captain McCord on the flight to and from Panama in February 1933 shows that distant communication on high frequencies was good. Due to limitation of living quarters on the Akron, only three radio operators were aboard the night she was lost. This was inherent due to the necessity for saving weight
The CHAIRMAN. Necessity for saving weight and safety?
The CHAIRMAN. Was it necessary to save weight when you were just going a little ways and with not so much fuel?
Captain HOOPER. It was the standard installation. She might go a little ways on one trip but on another trip she might need all of her fuel. But our requirements as laid down by the Bureau are to have everything as light as possible, standard equipment.
The Chairman. You are referring now to the equipment rather than the general material which would be carried on the ship?
Captain HOOPER. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Obviously, there would be less material, less fuel and other things, bedding, cots, and what not, where you are just going two or three hundred miles than if you were making a trip of a thousand miles or two thousand miles?
Captain HOOPER. The ship carries the standard equipment and the standard complement of operators whether she is going on a long trip or on a short trip. If the commanding officer for any reason desired to take temporary equipment or additional operators, no doubt the Department would approve of it. In fact, we might initiate the suggestion if he did not make it.
However, the equipment provided for listening in on the voice broadcasts of airways radio stations permitted these reports to be received by the aerologists which did not require a trained radioman. On the night of April 3-4 a severe electrical storm occurred on the Atlantic coast. I noticed this in using my broadcast radio receiver in Washington. It was practically impossible for me to receive one of the local radio stations.
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. May I interrupt? How, if at all, is that different from the reception set carried by the normal commercial plane?
Captain HOOPER. One of those sets is the same thing:
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. Is there any reason to believe that a commercial plane under the same weather conditions could receive, if this set could not?
Captain Hooper. No, sir; except that a big ship would ordinarily pick up more static than a little ship. It would be hard to tell whether there would be very much difference or not. It would depend entirely upon the conditions at the time.
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. Are you familiar with the testimony given by the air-mail pilot in this same general vicinity to the west coming down from Newark through New Brunswick, Trenton, and Philadelphia?
Captain HOOPER. No, sir.
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. In which he stated he received his weather reports?
Captain HOOPER. No, sir.
Representative DELANEY. While on that point, I recall that on our visit to Akron somebody said about the set on that ship that it was just an improvised set and was not the set they were going to use permanently. Do you know of that?
Captain HOOPER. No, sir. We had permanent equipment on it. I am leading up to that, I believe.
On the night of April 3, 4 a severe electrical storm occurred on the Atlantic coast. I noticed this in using my broadcast radio receiver in Washington. It was practically impossible for me to receive one of the local radio stations.
We have received reports from the commandants of the naval districts whose headquarters are, respectively, at Norfolk, Philadelphia, and New York. These reports indicate the progress of the storm up the coast. For exmple, Norfolk's radio log shows that static was at its worst about 9:45 p.m. The radio log at Washington indicate that static was at its worst between 9:10 and 10:45 p.m. At Philadelphia the worst static condition was at about 10:35 p.m. At New York static was worse apparently between 12:14 and 12:25 a.m. The report from Philadelphia states that static was bad even up to the 4,000-kilocycle band. The log at Washington shows that a station on the Pacific coast was worked on 4,205 kilocycles at about 11:07 p.m. That is high frequency. That is, Washington worked with the Pacific coast about 11:07 p.m. on high frequency.
On the night the Akron was lost two dispatches were received in the Department concerning her. One dispatch sent at 7:25 reported her departure with the Chief of Bureau of Aeronautics aboard, and another from the commander, Rigid Airship Training and Experimental Squadron granted permission for the Akron to enter the first, third, and fifth naval districts. The time group of this dispatch was 6:05 p.m., showing that it was originated prior to her departure.