Diary of U.S.S. Canopus

9 April 1942

Continued evacuation operations during the night. Pumped remaining CANOPUS fuel into lighter for further transfer to Corregidor, wrecked all machine tools, radio equipment, etc. on board, and removed breach-blocks, sights, etc. from guns. Placed remaining provisions and personal effects in lighter. About 0410 backed CANOPUS out of Cove into 14 fathoms of water, anchored, and started flooding by opening condenser manholes and all magazine and warhead locker flood lines. Ship was opened up as much as possible to allow water access to all compartments.

The vessel took a list of about ten degrees to port very quickly, then settled slowly at the same angle, finally
sinking about 1300.

The Dewey Dry dock was destroyed by opening flood valves to sink the dock completely, and at the same time exploding ten 155 m.m. shells which had been placed in suitable locations in the various compartments in order to wreck machinery and blow holes in the sides of the dock.

The BITTERN was scuttled by demolition of a dynamite charge in her bilges, and the NAPA was sunk by opening flood valves.

The harbor craft, including the SAN FELIPE, MANAPLA and six 680 boats, with two lighters, were loaded with small arms, ammunition, provisions, personal effects, etc., from the Section Base after which most of the personnel boarded these vessels and proceeded to Corregidor at about 0410.

Various demolition squads blew up with dynamite construction equipment, power houses, utilities, and entrances of all tunnels which had been used for shelter or storage during the past month, also destroying any valuable equipment in the tunnels. This work was completed before personnel evacuated.

About 0430 when three CANOPUS boats which were taking off last remaining Navy personnel had just left the dock, a very heavy secondary explosion occurred at one of the tunnels, the entrance of which had been blocked by explosion of dynamite. Apparently gasoline drums stored in the tunnel had been broached by the shock of the
dynamite explosion, and escaping gasoline built up an explosive mixture in the tunnel which ignited and blew off
a large section of the hillside, throwing huge boulders out into the bay for a distance of about half a mile. One
of these boulders sheared off the stern of a CANOPUS motor boat, sinking it almost immediately. The Commanding Officer and boats crew, which were the only occupants, swam to an uninjured motor launch and were picked up. The other motor launch had been hit by a boulder which came through the canopy, killing Machinist Weeman and three enlisted men and wounding 9 others. When it was found that this boat could be kept afloat, the two motor launches proceeded together to Corregidor.

The SS “Yu Sang” (loaded with bombs) blew up during the day as a result of bombing attacks by Japanese planes.

Most of the CANOPUS personnel which reached Corregidor were immediately transferred to the 4th Marines for duty in beach defenses. Three officers and about 20 enlisted men of the repair force were designated as passengers to be evacuated by submarine during the coming night. All remaining CANOPUS personnel, as well as personnel of the Section Base and Harbor Craft activities were transferred to the District Headquarters detachment on Corregidor.

– END –