A very bad day for the U.S. Navy

Just learned about this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_Point_Disaster

All I can say is… yikes. Career suicide for the captains, I presume. Any naval Dopers know about it? Is it still brought up as a cautionary tale in shiphandling or communications classes today?

I guess they call it “dead reckoning” for a reason.

Looks like more than a few saw their career on the rocks.

It’s not really “Dead” Reckoning, though that’s become the corrupted, accepted spelling. It’s Deduced, or Ded, Reckoning, meaning postion is deduced from SpeedTimeCourse. Ded (or ‘Dead’, if you must) Reckoning is still used, and still causes periodic mishaps, though none recently quite so spectacular as Honda Point.

This may or may not be the case; the etymology is under dispute. There does not appear to be strong evidence that the phrase evolved from “deduced.”

Also, this Staff Report by our own bibliophage:

When I was a SIDPERS (Standard Installation/Division Personnel System) clerk in the US Army way back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, many of us 75B typs got a laugh out of the SIDPERS duty status mnemonic for Deceased: DED.

I’ll stand by what I learned in the Navy, from people whom actually used deduced reckoning as a daily part of their duties.

Dead reckoning at twenty knots? Blimey.

Gotta say, ‘ded’ reckoning sounds backformed to me - not that my opinion counts for much - I’ve always understood the meaning of ‘dead’ in this context not to refer to the absence of external input (i.e. dead to the world), but rather to mean accurate/straight/precise/absolute - as in ‘dead centre’, ‘dead straight’ - as well as a shade of very/complete as in ‘dead stop’ and ‘dead slow’.

I don’t know that etymology is a particular specialty of the Navy, though.

Lt me link to a different one. This is not a spoof.


The main site is loaded with accounts of mariners, mostly in government service at the time of the stories.

Anecdotally - from my limited experience of working with ex-navy folks - I’d confirm it’s not really their strongest suit. I remember enduring any number of expositions of dodgy etymologies (including this, this and this) from my work-skates.

Right you are.

I never heard this one, but unfortunately, we have too many examples that are more recent. I was in 1985 to 1989. Shortly before I joined, the USS Ranger (CV61) made a faulty adjustment during an UnRep and collided with her supply vessel, shearing off a sponson and injuring several sailors. By reports, the Quartermaster thought the Captain’s command was off, when told to turn 10º to port, he questioned once as allowed and when told to obey, still hedged and only turn 5º and thus greatly lessened the damage. The Captain was never promoted and apparently finished his time in the USN in charge of the San Diego Boot camp.

The Big “E” (USS Enterprise CVN65) ran aground on a small sandbar. This can happen from time to time (rarely does), however the Captain’s solution to the problem was to try and rock the Super Carrier off the sandbar by having all available hands go up to the flight deck and run side to side to rock the boat. 400 men at an average weight of 180 pounds gives us 720,000 pounds or 360 tons. The Big “E” weighs 93,500 tons. You should be able to understand how well this worked. Apparently, the review board decided the Captain was well suited to pushing boots in the Great Lakes. He was in charge of Great Lakes when I went to Boot Camp there. We were lucky enough to suffer through the coldest day in Great Lakes’ history while I was there.

So yes, career ending is very likely.


Career ending is likely, but not a done deal.

Fleet Admiral (5 star) Chester Nimitz was court-martialed and reprimanded in 1907 for running the USS Decatur aground.


I can’t answer the OP’s question as asked, but here is more info on the incident on this site:


Lots of pictures here:


So much my believing it because I’d heard it on the radio years ago too. Do ex navy fib? :confused:

Cool. I’ve excavated all over that coastline. In fact, we excavated the Southern Pacific’s Honda Section House which you can see in the photo on the Wiki page (it is the structures up along the RR line just above the cove). The Section House figured fairly prominently in the disaster as they were the first responders to the wreck. They spent all night pulling sailors out of the sea and built bonfires while the wife of the head of the Section House (the only woman on scene) treated injuries. Pretty cool stuff.

Ship captains can sometimes be real boneheads.The Queen Mary ran over the British antiaircraft cruiser H.M.S. Curacoa in broad daylight north of Ireland in 1943.

The big troop carriers traveled alone and at high speed while zigzagging in a random pattern. They stopped for nothing except engine failure. The QM was approaching the British Isles and Curacoa was sent out as anti aircraft protection. The latter was relatively old and not all that fast and as the QM zigzagged she kept cutting across the Curcoa’s wake closer and closer. Both ships held their course and eventually QM ran over Curacoa, cutting her in two and killing most of those on board.

QM did nothing wrong but the skipper of Curacoa could see that she was being overtaken by the faster ship and that the crossings during the zigzags were getting closer and he didn’t do a think to avoid the collision.


I just saw this while I was looking at a list of historical events that happened on my birthday. I’d read up on it last year, too.