The unfortunate career of L. Ron Hubbard

l rON hUBBARD

Most people will associate the name of   L. Ron Hubbard with the Church of Scientology and his work as an author of science fiction books. Although one may not fully understand the concept of the Church of Scientology or agree with its teachings, you would have to agree it is a successful venture, and the same can be said about his work as an author.

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But as the title suggests this blog is about his lesser known career. A career which wasn’t as  fruitful.

During WWII L. Ron Hubbard served in the US Naval and had actually commanded 2 naval vessels, the USS YP-422 and the USS PC-815. It is  the latter one I will be focusing on

The USS PC-815 was a PC-461-class submarine chaser built for the United States Navy during World War II.

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In November 1942, Hubbard was sent to the Submarine Chaser Training Center in Miami, Florida for training on submarine chaser vessels. He then went on a ten-day anti-submarine warfare training course at the Fleet Sound School in Key West .On January 17, 1943 he was posted in Portland, Oregon,where he took command of USS PC-815.

While he was in command of the vessel, Hubbard was involved in two bizarre naval incidents. In May 1943, he reported that his vessel had damaged and sank two Japanese submarines that surfaced off the coast of Oregon.

Over a duration of  68 hours, the ship dropped 37 depth charges in a “sea battle” that also involved the U.S. Navy blimps K-39 and K-33, the United States Coast Guard patrol boats Bonham and 78302, and the sub chasers USS SC-536 and USS SC-537, all were called upon to  to act as reinforcements. PC-815 was finally ordered back to base on 21 May. His superiors couldn’t find proof that any submarines had been sunk anywhere near the place which Hubbard indicated; his claims were dismissed.

In an eighteen-page after-action report, Hubbard stated  to have “definitely sunk, beyond doubt” one submarine and critically damaged another. The  submarine he claimed to have sunk was the I-76.

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However that submarine was still operational in April 1944.

Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher a decorated Navy officer, was assigned to investigate Hubbard’s sinking of a Japanese submarine.In his report dated June 8, 1943 to the commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet, Fletcher writes, “An analysis of all reports convinces me that there was no submarine in the area.”

Admiral Fletcher’s investigation suggested that Hubbard mistakenly read a magnetic iron ore deposit on the ocean floor as two enemy submarines on their sonar.

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The second incident nearly caused a diplomatic conflict between the US  and Mexico.In June 1943, the PC-815 traveled to San Diego, which was to be the new home port  for the vessel . She arrived there on the 2nd of  June 1943, and at the end of June was ordered to sea to join an anti-submarine training exercise.The exercise, held on 28 June, ended early and Hubbard took the opportunity to order an unscheduled and improvised gunnery exercise while anchored just off the Mexican territory of South Coronado Island to the south-west of San Diego.He mistakenly believed that the islands were uninhabited and situated within U.S. territory, so he carried out gunnery practice close to the islands.The islands were actually a base to  Mexican Navy personnel during the war.The Mexican government sent an official protest to the U.S. Government, as no gunnery operations had been scheduled.

The Mexican government filed a complaint  and two days later, Hubbard had to appear before a naval Board of Investigation in San Diego. He was found to have disregarded orders by carrying out an unsanctioned gunnery practice and violating Mexican waters. He was reprimanded and removed from command, effective July 7.

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The official incident report stated that he was “unsuitable for independent duties and lacking in the essential qualities of judgment, leadership, and cooperation,” and he was forced to perform administrative tasks for the rest of his years in service.

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Sources

Vintage News

Business Insider

NavSource Online

 

 

 

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The USS Indianapolis- When the sinking wasn’t the worst that could happen.

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It was shortly after midnight—on the 30th of July, 1945—when disaster struck.

After delivering Hiroshima-bomb components to Tinian Island, the USS Indianapolis and her crew of 1,196 sailors were sailing west, toward Leyte (in the Philippines).

 

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At 00:14 on 30 July, she was struck on her starboard side by two Type 95 torpedoes, one in the bow and one amidships, from the Japanese submarine I-58, under the command of Mochitsura Hashimoto.

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The explosions caused massive damage. Indianapolis took on a heavy list, and settled by the bow. Twelve minutes later, she rolled completely over, then her stern rose into the air, and she plunged down. Some 300 of the 1,196 crewmen went down with the ship. With few lifeboats and many without life jackets, the remainder of the crew were set adrift.

As the sun rose on July 30, the survivors bobbed in the water. Life rafts were scarce. The living searched for the dead floating in the water and appropriated their lifejackets for survivors who had none. Hoping to keep some semblance of order, survivors began forming groups—some small, some over 300—in the open water. Soon enough they would be staving off exposure, thirst—and sharks.

The animals were drawn by the sound of the explosions, the sinking of the ship and the thrashing and blood in the water. Though many species of shark live in the open water, none is considered as aggressive as the oceanic whitetip. Reports from the Indianapolis survivors indicate that the sharks tended to attack live victims close to the surface, leading historians to believe that most of the shark-related causalities came from oceanic whitetips.

The first night, the sharks focused on the floating dead. But the survivors’ struggles in the water only attracted more and more sharks, which could feel their motions through a biological feature known as a lateral line: receptors along their bodies that pick up changes in pressure and movement from hundreds of yards away. As the sharks turned their attentions toward the living, especially the injured and the bleeding, sailors tried to quarantine themselves away from anyone with an open wound, and when someone died, they would push the body away, hoping to sacrifice the corpse in return for a reprieve from a shark’s jaw. Many survivors were paralyzed with fear, unable even to eat or drink from the meager rations they had salvaged from their ship. One group of survivors made the mistake of opening a can of Spam—but before they could taste it, the scent of the meat drew a swarm of sharks around them. They got rid of their meat rations rather than risk a second swarming.

The sharks fed for days, with no sign of rescue for the men. Navy intelligence had intercepted a message from the Japanese submarine that had torpedoed the Indianapolis describing how it had sunk an American battleship along the Indianapolis’ route, but the message was disregarded as a trick to lure American rescue boats into an ambush. In the meantime, the Indianapolis survivors learned that they had the best odds in a group, and ideally in the center of the group. The men on the margins or, worse, alone, were the most susceptible to the sharks.

As the days passed, many survivors succumbed to heat and thirst, or suffered hallucinations that compelled them to drink the seawater around them—a sentence of death by salt poisoning. Those who so slaked their thirst would slip into madness, foaming at the mouth as their tongues and lips swelled. They often became as great a threat to the survivors as the sharks circling below—many dragged their comrades underwater with them as they died.

 

After 11:00 a.m. on their fourth day in the water, a Navy plane flying overhead spotted the Indianapolis survivors and radioed for help. Within hours, another seaplane, manned by Lieutenant Adrian Marks, returned to the scene and dropped rafts and survival supplies.

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When Marks saw men being attacked by sharks, he disobeyed orders and landed in the infested waters, and then began taxiing his plane to help the wounded and stragglers, who were at the greatest risk. A little after midnight, the USS Doyle arrived on the scene and helped to pull the last survivors from the water. Of the Indianapolis’ original 1,196-man crew, only 317 remained.

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Estimates of the number who died from shark attacks range from a few dozen to almost 150. It’s impossible to be sure. But either way, the ordeal of the Indianapolis survivors remains the worst maritime disaster in U.S. naval history.

The USS Indianapolis, led by Captain Charles McVay, was ordered to head toward Guam by going through the Leyte Gulf. What the U.S. Navy didn’t tell him was the Leyte Gulf at the time was a haven for Japanese submarines, and that ships passing through should do so with extreme caution.

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Lacking the intel that he was in unfriendly waters and exercising his order to perform evasive maneuvers “at his discretion,” McVay told the crew to just head straight forward, and bid them a good night. Unfortunately the Japanese submarine I-58, captained by Mochitsura Hashimoto, noticed the Indianapolis heading straight toward it and immediately sank it.

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McVay survived and World War II ended, but soon thereafter he found himself in a court martial for negligence in the sinking of his ship (probably as a scapegoat to cover for the other Navy guys who completely botched the Indianapolis’ travel instructions and subsequent rescue.

In the trial, the U.S. Navy made the fairly unprecedented step of bringing in Hashimoto as a witness . He was brought in as a witness for the prosecution, expected to talk about the gross incompetence of the American captain, hoping he would seal McVay’s fate. Rather unexpectedly, when Hashimoto took the stand he outright defended McVay, stating that no matter what he had done, the Indianapolis still would have been hit by his torpedoes.

The U.S. Navy still found McVay guilty regardless of what Hashimoto said, demoting him and basically ruining his naval career. Though Admiral Nimitz would wind up promoting McVay back to his old rank soon thereafter, the trial decision still stood — that is, until Hashimoto decided to help McVay out again. Hashimoto sent a letter to Senator John Warner, an action that helped lead to McVay being exonerated.