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How 21 Men Of Uncle Sam's Under-Sea
Navy Met Death In Honolulu Harbor? Sunken Craft Had Every Known Safety Device And Distress Signal But No S. O. S. Reached the Surface After Her Fatal Plunge "Evidences of the heroism with ?which the 21 members of the crew of the United States submarine F4 must have gone to their death when the boat plunged to the bottom of the sea in the' harbor of Honolulu recently are accumulating in dis patches from the scene, quoting div ers at work in an attempt to rescue the sunken vessel. That every man remained a hero to the last is indicated by the re port of Diver Agraz who descended far enough to peer into one of the portholes. I The dim light to the men dying of suffocation must have reminded them of the surface above where the sun was shining, and of that space three hundred, feet above where there was fresh air. the lack or ?which they were slowly dying from. With the exception of this one rfimpse into the interior of the F4 by this daring diver, the manner in which the entire crew met its death will never be known in detail. How those brave men went to their death can only be surmised from their positions in the cramped interior of the submarine. All went to their deaths as heroes though there might have been the bark of an automatic pistol as some man. crazed by lack of air. his lunsrs paining and his blood almost burst ing from his ear drums, took th^ shorter course to inevitable death? The F4 was one of the modern submarines of the United States navy and had been pronounced in perfect order a month before. Less than a month ago with other sister vessels of a submarine fleet she skimmed over the water of the har bor of Honolulu with" her periscope and just a part of her deck showing. Her crew were in their neat uni forms and her captain stood on the slippery deck as they sailed away from the cruiser that acts as their protector when they are above sur face and at rest. The F4 and her sisters were well equipped with gasoline for the en gines and tanks of oxygen, provis ions and water for the crew, it was known by previous test that sh< could remain nndcr water a week on the air supply she contained al though her provision stock would not last that long. fJOOH T? THEIR DOOM. At a command from the captain the men descended down a ladder to the dark interior and took their positions in the cramped quarters, each man at his post. The port holes were closed, the pcriscope ar ranged satisfactorily, and the cap tain took his place on the little nar row bridge. At his signal the gaso line engines turned, the propeller turned. aU valves were tested and the engineer reported to the bridge through the speaking tube: "AH O. K." The captain gave the signal to descend. The compartments on the 8id"s were opened, the sea poured in and the vessel slowly settled. When she was so far below tlie sur face that only a half foot of the periscope was above water, the captain gave a signal to stop de scending and full speed ahead. The F4 sped out into the harbor one of the most graceful of crafts that Uncle Sam possessed. Sailors watching her from the decks of her cruiser saw her sud denly plunge and disappear. This was a part of the maneuvers in the Honolulu Bay that afternoon. When the F4 did not reappear no alarm was felt. It was believed she might be trying to break a record. It was known that she could remain beneath the sea for at least three days without the least discomfiture to her crew. When she did not appear the second day the crew of the cruiser became alarmed and sister subma rine* were sent to search for her. STREET SCENE IN HONOLULU Down into the depths they plunged but they gained no sight of her for two more days. At last a black hulk was seen lying on the bottom of the sea. three hundred feet from the surface. That ship gave no signs or life. As far as observers were concerned it might have been some old Spanish galleon, filled with gold and sent to the bottom many, many years before. After several hours maneuvering a submarine came close enough that the captain through his periscope could observe the "F4" mark paint ed on her bow. The submarine quickly sped to the top and called for help. The captain of the cruis er wired the secretary of the navy for help and through th^ United States was flashed the information that a submarine of our navy had sunk and is crew of 21 brave souls was in peril. "WIRELESS FLASHES S. 0. S. Th?? wireless was put in use and all of the vessels in that part of the world were sent to aid. Subma rines arc provided with rings on the side so that in an emergency such as the one the F4 experienced, oth er vessels might lower grapling hooks and raise her to the surface. The rescue work was started with that dispatch that any member of the United States army or navy uses in going to the assistance of one of their number in danger. It needed no playing of "The Star Spangled Banner" to urge these men to work fast in their efforts to raise the sunken submarine before her crew should di*' of suffocation. But their efforts were in vain. Several"?imes it is believed the grappling hooks of cruisers on the surface caught in the deck rings of the sunken sub marine but always an accident pre vented the lifting of the vessel. Several times the prongs of the grappling hooks broke for the F4 was in a position at the bottom of the sea with a water pressure of approximately 18.000 pounds to the square inch and she could not be budged. More powerful craft with clcctric hoisting apparatus, heavy BOATS IN HONOLULU HARBOR cable and grappling liooks were sent to the rescue. They succeeded in drawing her several hundred feet nearer the shore but not in raising her. \V. C. Parks, a civil engineer, started the construction of an im mense divine bell. It is doubtful if any such bell, unless of the heaviest metal obtainable, can possible re sis! the water pressure at the depth at which the F4 rested on the bot tom of the sea. It was feared that the bell would be crushed in by the pressure. Before the bell was oc cupied by iU builder iu his at tempt to rescue the sunken ship, it was lowered to the bottom and then raised again to see what effect the water pressure had on it. At that depth even tbe fishes have to have great protection against the pres sure. It is a knefwn fact that when fish from such a depth are brought to the surface they burst because the great pressure to which they are accustomed and for the resist ance of which their bodies were particularly provided, has been re-, duced. While the pressure of air on the surface is 16 pounds to the square inch, water pressure in creases at the rate of 60 pounds per inch for each foot descended. ALWAYS A XYSTERY. Whether the engines of the F4 re fused to work when she got to the bottom of the sea. whetfier her sides caved in under terrific pres sure. or the exact nature of the in cident that left her helpless at such a depth can only be surmised. When a week passed without any chance of lifting the vessel all hope for her crew was given up. In fact there had been grave doubts as to anyone being alive within for no U.S. SUBMARINE F-4 sound had been heard from any of her apparatus for communicating ?with other vessels.. Perhaps her iron sides were crushed in on some shelving rock or corral on which she struck, the water rushed in and her crew was subjected to death by drowning, far more painless and merciful at the time than the slow, agonizing death by suffocation. However, it is feared that death by the latter means resulted. The F4 rested on the bottom of the sea. Her engi neer struggled vainly with all pow er od. but the whirring propeller with all the force of the powerful gasoline engines, failed to move her. Imagine that silent crew huddled about, each man so near the other that their shoulders touched, yet each man with the certain knowl edge death faced him. pretending all was well and even trying to cheer up the man beside him. Thoughts of the mother or sister, or perhaps the sweetheart at home, must have passed through their minds as they sat huddled there in the dim light of the deep sea. Fishes flashing by the portholes must have been the most serious reminders of their fate for those fishes meant life?free life in the open?the principle that every man recognizes as his greatest boon. To the human under, such circum stances the approach of death is by far more agonizing than to an ani mal in such circumstances, even than to the proverbial rat in the trap as it slowly drowns. To the beasts it is but a question of preser vation of life?that instinct that makes it struggle until the last gasp. To the man and especially to a member of the United States navy, trained to bravery in emergencies and taught to expect possible death as his possible reward for the de fence of his country in times of war. death?death by such a means ?brings a great mental agony. ' Above him. he knows, are other United States ships, with their hap py care-free crews. Far -away on shore or hundreds of Americans enjoying themselves in freedom. THE But there at the bottom of the sea were 21 stalwart sons of Uncle Sam doomed to a terrible death and des tined to face death like the iron men the United States navy produces. If it had been on shipboard with national airs playing and a foe in sight these men would have rushed into a thousand dangers and gladly gone to death for the defense of their country. But here they were prisoners with not even a glimpse of the sun to liven them, to cheer them in their last hours. If they had been in battle line ashore or behind the big gun aboard ship they would have been contented for a whistling steel shell, a death scream and all would be over. But now hours of agony faced them. For several days they had lived on scanty rations in the hopes they would not starve and that they might be rescued at any time. If they were still alive what joy must have possessed them when they heard the grappling hooks pass over the deck of their vessel. That sharp pronged hook was as if the whole United States were lifting out its hand to aid them in their rescue. What disappointment must have possessed them when the book fell to the sea. having failed to catch their deck rings. By this time the air in the oxy gen containers must have been quite exhausted. Breathing would be dif ficult. The air laden with no nitro 'gen and carbonic acid must have pressed heavily on their lungs. Imagine them tearing open the bosom of their shirts as if to relieve the great pressure. Seated about with swollen lips, distended eyes and lungs paining as if a knife had been thrust through, these men must have sat about praying for the end. The captain can be 1m- . agined still at the bridge, standing as an officer must stand while on duty, yet with bis head bent on bis chest, his breath coming heavily % and his mind a blank. On him had rested the responsi bility of the lives of those 21 men. While they sat helpless in their places beside the shafts of the pro pellers. he thought'or all the ways ever employed by mecnantcs in such circumstances. The engineer backed him up in an efTort to raise the vessel. But there came a time when orders ceased to come from the bridge and when the engineer was not prepared to heed them. The latter long since had sunk into a coma and was dreaming happily despite the heavy pressure of his lungs. Death was showing mercy.* The tired captain, his head sunk on his breast, still stood half uncon scious and also in a coma. His work was over when the hand of death took charge of the wheel of that vessel, but death was slow, al though it bad kindly given him the anesthesia of unconsciousness. Thus the crew of F4 went to its death. Historians may add another chapter to the history of the United States when that hulk is raised and the bodies recovered.