Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Letter from Henry Nelson
The following is a word-for-word copy of a letter from Henry Nelson, Master, SS President Coolidge to Captain Roberts, Commanding Officer, Naval Forces Base "Button" (Santo) sent on 28 October 1942 regarding the Loss of SS President Coolidge. See Main Coolidge Page for more information on the ship and the sinking:
|Captain Henry Nelson|
- Sailing from White Poppy for Button on October 24th, we arrived at a point called "Hypo" off the island outside of the port of Espiritu Santos and not having had any instructions as to any mines or other dangers to this port, proceeded on a course as I thought to the harbor of Button.
- We contacted two destroyers prior to the entry where the ship struck the two mines. No information was given to us and no challenge was made by either of the two ships, and the first intimation was from a signal station further in the harbor telling me to stop, that we were approaching danger. I in turn stopped the engines and backed the engines, but with the speed that we were carrying, we still went too far and we struck two mines. I immediately, with the speed we had left, headed the ship for the beach, and ordered "Abandon Ship", which was done and completed in forty-five minutes of 5,000 personnel for which there is only a loss of one crew member.
- Sailing from White Poppy, no one mentioned to me, no one informed me, that there was a mine field at Espiritu Santos. Had there been some knowledge of mines, I never would have approached anywhere within miles of the port. There was no guard boat anywhere visible.
Master, SS President Coolidge"
Return to the Investigation into Sinking Page.
Return to the Main SS President Coolidge Index Page.
References:Copies of original papers from the Court Martial given to me by Kevin Green of Aquamarine Diving, Santo
The Lady and the President - The Life and Loss of the S.S. President Coolidge by Peter Stone