Hampton Roads, VA Navy Launch Sinks, May 1948

22 Men Drown When Navy Launch Swamps

Norfolk, Va.--(AP)--Twenty-two men--nine marines and 13 navy men--perished in Hampton Roads last night when a Navy launch swamped in choppy waters while returning 90 men to their ship after Memorial day liberty.

Rear Admiral C. A. F. Sprague, commander of a 12-ship task force whose sailing for the Mediterranean was delayed by the tragedy, issued this statement to newsmen at 9 a.m. today from his flagship, the aircraft carrier Kearsarge:

"Preliminary report of loss of life or missing personnel may be placed at 22, nine marines and 13 navy.

"Report considered accurate and includes best estimate of possible stragglers" (men absent over leave.)

Wind and Rainstorm

"Further checking now in progress."

The 50-foot open launch was swamped in a wind and rainstorm at 8:45 p.m. as it was returning a liberty party to the Kearsarge, anchored two miles off the Norfolk naval station. The launch, which was attached to the carrier, was swamped when only 200 yards off the Kearsarge's port beam.

Sailing of the task force was delayed indefinitely and its ships were placed on four-hour sailing notice.

The Kearsarge has a complement of 200 officers and 2,100 enlisted men, exclusive of the 1,000 marines.

Other ships in the task force are the cruisers Fargo, Huntington, Juneau; the destroyers Putnam, Henley, W. Keith, J. C. Owens, Zellers, Massey and Stormes, and the attack cargo ship Marquette.

Winona Republican-Herald, Winona, MN 1 Jun 1948