Report of the USS Cooper
U.S.S. COOPER (DD695)
||% Fleet Post Office,
||San Francisco, Cal.
||7 December 1944
||Commander in Chief, U. S. Fleet.
||(1) Commander Destroyer Division
||(2) Commander Task Group 77.3,
||(3) Commander Task Force 77,
||(4) Commander SEVENTH Fleet.
||(5) Commander in Chief, U. S.
U.S.S. COOPER (DD695), Report of action the night of
2-3 December, 1944.
(a) PacFlt conf. ltr. 2CL-44 of 1 January 1944.
(A) Track chart of movements U.S.S. COOPER (DD695)
| 1. (a) The U.S.S.
COOPER in company with the U.S.S. ALLEN M. SUMNER (DD692) and
U.S.S. MOALE (DD693), under the tactical command of ComDesDiv
120, approached Ormoc Bay, Leyte, P.I. at about 2330, zone
minus nine, the night of December 2. Course was 020° T, speed
30 knots. Ships were in line of bearing, interval 1500 yards.
The U.S.S. COOPER was center ship, with the U.S.S. A. M.
SUMNER to port and the U.S.S. MOALE to starboard. Guide was in
the U.S.S. A. M. SUMNER. Numerous bogies were encountered up
to midnight, and this vessel took three under fire, one being
shot down in flames and seen to crash; the second probably
shot down, and the third not believed damaged.
(b) At about 0002, December 3,
surface contact was made, confirmed by the division commander,
and at 0003 firing was commenced on the starboard bow at a
range of 12,200 yards. This same target was also under the
fire of the U.S.S. A. M. SUMNER. By 0011 this first target,
which appeared to be a large destroyer (two mounts
forward), with troops aboard, was burning, damaged and
(c) At 0012 fire was shifted to
a second target bearing between 060° and 080° T, range
10,000 yards. This vessel was of a DE size. It was set ablaze
and many hits were obtained on the Jap until the U.S.S. COOPER
sank at about 0017, December 3. This second target is also
believed to have sunk.
2. (a) On December 2, 1944, while operating as a
screening unit of Task Group 77.2 in Leyte Gulf, orders were
received about 1700, zone minus nine, to form on ComDesDiv 120
in the U.S.S. A. M. SUMNER, with the U.S.S. MOALE. Our mission
was to proceed to Ormoc Bay to seek out and destroy Japanese
shipping. Until about 2300, except for observing one plane
shot down early in the evening by unknown vessels, the
approach was uneventful.
(b) Information intercepted by
the U.S.S. COOPER indicated that five vessels of an
unidentified type were standing toward Ormoc Bay on December
2. Also, four other vessels were about thirty miles north of
these but their course upon sighting by search planes was not
towards Ormoc Bay. Channels of approach were reported not
believed mined. Brief instructions were transmitted by the
division commander concerning the operation.
(c) Natural order in column was
maintained until about 2300, when the three ships were placed
in line of bearing (090° - 270° T), interval 1500 yards, and
the approach into the bay commenced.
(d) A large DD carrying troops
(many personnel were seen topside) was the U.S.S. COOPER's #1
target, and a vessel of DE size was #2 target. The surface
vessels were close to the beach in Ormoc Bay. The types of
planes engaged by this vessel are not known.
(e) Wind: North - 6 knots; Sea
- calm; Visibility - 10,000 yards. The moon was rising, and
there were numerous alto-cumulus clouds.
| 1. (a) (1) Air
At about 2330, zone minus nine, December 2, an unidentified
plane on the port bow was taken under fire by the U.S.S.
COOPER's 5"/38's at about 6,000 yards. This plane was hit
on the second or third salvo, burst into flames, and crashed
about 4,000 yards ahead. At about 2335 another plane was
picked up on the port bow and taken under fire by 5"/38,
range 4,800 yards. It is believed that the U.S.S. A. M. SUMNER
also fired on this plane. Hits were believed to have been
attained, however no visual confirmation of the plane's
crashing can be given. Shortly thereafter a third plane,
flying low, was picked up at 3,000 yards on the port bow by
CIC. The gun director had a solution at 2,000 yards, fire was
commenced, but only two salvos were fired as the target could
not be retained on the Fire Control radar. All of these planes
utilized land background for an approach course.
(a) (2) Surface Phase.
Upon arrival at the entrance of Ormoc Bay, the SG radar picked
up a surface target and fire was opened in accordance with
orders of ComDesDiv 120 at about 0003, December 3, range
12,200 yards. The target designated as #1 was slightly on the
starboard bow and was also taken under fire by the U.S.S. A.
M. SUMNER. At approximately the same time, the U.S.S. MOALE
opened fire on a target to the northward of the U.S.S.
COOPER's target. The U.S.S. COOPER's first salvo was about 200
yards short, and the second hit between number one and two gun
mounts. Until 0011, target #1 was hit from stem to stern with
the U.S.S. COOPER's salvos. On several occasions during this
eight minute period time permitted the commanding officer to
have the pleasure of following the tracers to this target and
observing the "ball of fire" as the projectiles
detonated. Target #1 appeared to be a large destroyer with two
mounts forward. There were large numbers of personnel topside.
The enemy ship was in flames, thoroughly wrecked and sinking
when fire was ceased to get another ship.
(a) (3) At 0012 the gun
director and five inch battery were on target #2, which had
been designated by combat, and fir was commenced on a vessel
of DE size bearing between 060° and 080° T, range 10,000
yards. A second target just north of ours was also believed to
be in this general direction. The first salvo hit, and fire
was continued at a salvo interval of about four seconds until
check fire was necessary to clear the bearing on the U.S.S.
MOALE to starboard. This was caused by the target drawing aft
so rapidly due to our speed. The U.S.S. COOPER came right
momentarily, resumed fire, and then swung back left,
paralleling the formation. Just before reaching the formation
course, the ship was hit amidships on the starboard side by
what the commanding officer believes was a large type Jap
torpedo. The U.S.S. COOPER's last salvo ricocheted off the
water close aboard as the ship heeled 45 degrees to starboard.
Two gun mounts somehow reloaded with this list, but they were
never fired as the ship was on her side and broken in two in
less than thirty seconds.
(a) (4) During the surface
engagement, enemy planes were plotted astern of us in the
vicinity, but none are known to have approached close enough
for an attack. Orders were given to the 20mm and 40mm
batteries to take care of any planes that were detected
(a) (5) From 0003 to 0017 the
commanding officer's impression of the battle was similar to
an artist's conception in one of our popular
"picture" magazines. Guns were firing from ships on
both side, two Jap ships were burning, shore batteries were
firing at our ships, planes were in the vicinity, and even Jap
submarines were present. (This was learned later when U.S.S.
COOPER survivors observed two leaving the bay about 0400 the
morning of December 3).
(b) Times utilized in this
report are zone minus nine. They are a combination of memory
by survivors and the records of the U.S.S. A. M. SUMNER and
(c) Bearings are from memory,
and courses were obtained from accompanying vessels and from
(d) The navigational track,
Enclosure (A), is approximate, and is reconstructed utilizing
the U.S.S. MOALE's and U.S.S. A. M. SUMNER's. All records and
our own track chart went down with the ship.
| 1. (a) All ordnance
material functioned perfectly, and no deficiencies due to lack
of training are known or were noted. Fire discipline and
communications functioned excellently. Full radar control was
used at all times.
(b) Approximate ammunition
(1) Air Action - 5"/38 AAC - 56 rounds with flashless
powder. (No Mk.32 fuzed could be used due to proximity of
(2) Surface Action - 5"/38 AAC - 300 to 400 rounds with
(c) Surface gunnery was
excellent, and anti-aircraft was good.
2. (a) Enemy surface gunnery was not impressive
in this action, as no early splashes were observed close by.
Later splashes up to about 5 inch were observed close aboard,
especially on the quarters, but it is not known which were
from shore batteries and which from surface vessels. No hits
by gunfire were sustained by the U.S.S. COOPER.
(b) The single torpedo hit that
sank the U.S.S. COOPER speaks for itself. The commanding
officer feels that with the high speed used, the long torpedo
range necessary, and the frequent course changes made, the
matter of a hit being obtained was luck.
(c) Since DesDiv 120 was under
fire by both ship and shore batteries, it was impossible to
determine which of the numerous splashes close aboard were
from ships and which from shore batteries. The commanding
officer and a number of others observed flashes along the
shore for a distance of several miles or so, and a few gun
flashes from our targets during the first part of the U.S.S.
COOPER's gun phase with each. In general, most of the splashes
| 1. The damage to and
loss of the U.S.S. COOPER will be the subject of a special
2. (a) and (b). The number of hits made by the
U.S.S. COOPER on both target #1 (which was believed to be a
destroyer) and target #2, which was of DE size, is unknown.
Each time there was an opportunity to glance at the U.S.S.
COOPER's gunfire performance, the commanding officer observed
hits being made. This is corroborated by the Gunnery Officer,
Navigator, director crew and bridge personnel. Both enemy
vessels had large fires on board, were wrecked and were very
low in the water when last seen. Several members of the U.S.S.
COOPER's crew saw and talked to a few Japs in the water early
the morning of December 3. On Jap sailor was recovered late
December 3. Many Japs were in the water December 4. Their
presence the day after the rescue of the U.S.S. COOPER
survivors is felt due to the offshore current observed in
lower Ormoc Bay. No onshore current was observed, and all
survivors were carried first south and then west. Since the
U.S.S. COOPER survivors had a four or five mile start on the
Japs, it was assumed that our enemies would not show up in the
middle of the bay until later. The Japs were not seen to make
any attempts to rescue their own personnel.
(c) Enemy personnel casualties
are believed to have been heavy.
| 1. (a) Communications
functioned smoothly, and there were no casualties.
(b) Surface search (SG-1) and
fire control radars (Mks. 12 and 22) operated in a very highly
satisfactory manner, with no casualties. The air search radar
(SC-3) was seriously handicapped by our proximity to land, and
(c) There were no friendly
planes immediately with DesDiv120. A Black Cat conducted
searches for the Division, but its performance is not known
except that the initial search report was that there were no
ships in Ormoc Bay. There were so many plane attacks on the
formation that the loss of records prevents any logical
discussion by the U.S.S. COOPER. The majority of the attacks
were on the U.S.S. A. M. SUMNER, which was best silhouetted by
the moon. As far as is known, none of the attacks were
coordinated ones, but the number of them partially made up for
the lack of coordination. It is believed that the Japs fully
utilized land background in an attempt to come in undetected,
however in most cases it is believed that the SG saved the day
since in general all attacks were low. The three planes fired
on by the U.S.S. COOPER are fully discussed in Part II.
(d) Enemy surface tactics are
not known. Our attack formation chosen and the conduct of the
attack left nothing to be desired. Most of the time, the U.S.S.
COOPER fought "bows on", and it is believed the
accompanying vessels did likewise. The after mount fired
occasionally at Target #1 and some at Target #2 during the
action by this vessel. The interval of 1500 yards was a very
"comfortable" one and permitted freedom of
maneuvering on the part of each vessel. Voice signals were
few, and exchange of information between ships was easily
accomplished direct to CIC.
(e) The only deception utilized
was frequent changes of course.
(f) CIC designated targets
efficiently, and the fire control party functioned quickly and
had rapid and excellent solutions of the problem in all cases.
(g) Navigation was accomplished
by both visual bearings and radar.
(h) There were no engineering
casualties, and no further comment can be made on this
department, for only one man survived from both enginerooms
(i) Fortunately, the supply
department provided hot soup and coffee to all stations about
one hour before the action. This undoubtedly contributed
greatly to the strength of the survivors the next day while
they were still in the water.
(j) Medical supplies in the
rafts were in 5" powder tanks. Morphine was used is a few
cases to relieve pain. The only known survivor from the
medical department is a pharmacist's mate and he was seriously
injured, so the morphine was administered by the
"laymen" from their knowledge gained in first aid
2. The Executive Officer's report undoubtedly
could contribute much to the CIC performance, but he and all
personnel of CIC are still among those missing.
3. (a) The formation chosen for such a foray into
a harbor is believed to have been a wise choice because
additional range in flank searching is possible where land
background is so prevalent and decreases the efficiency of the
radars, and in addition a double check ahead is attainable,
which would not be possible in column. The sea room for
radical maneuvering in the case of air attacks was at hand.
(b) Torpedo targets were not
present or were eliminated before the range closed
sufficiently. No torpedoes are known to have been fired by any
of the ships of the division.
(c) Unfortunately, other
operations prevented "briefing" for this mission.
This should be done where possible.
4. (a) Since all records were lost, the times and
events have been reconstructed as best possible. The
commanding officer realizes in some instances there may be as
much as a five minute error, but has attempted to piece
together information obtained from survivors combined with his
own memory. In some cases the average of a number of times was
(b) For an hour or so after
being in the water, gunfire on air targets by the U.S.S. A. M.
SUMNER and U.S.S. MOALE was observed as they proceeded
southward. Shortly after the U.S.S. COOPER was sunk, one of
the ships passed nearby at high speed in a southerly direction
and may have thrown life rafts to our survivors. Under the
existing circumstances the rescue of any of the U.S.S. COOPER
personnel by either of the accompanying vessels would have
been foolhardy, and undoubtedly would have resulted in another
ship being lost or seriously damaged.
(c) The rescue of the survivors
in enemy-held territory was mainly accomplished between 1400
and dark on December 3 in an outstanding performance by PBY
Black Cats. One officer and twenty-two men who were ashore
were rescued on December 4. The largest load carried by any of
the "Cats" was fifty-six survivors. One other had
forty-eight, and both of the above loads broke all known
(d) All topside personnel in
the U.S.S. COOPER wore kapok lifejackets. After the men became
tired and could not easily hold on to the rubber life rafts,
these jackets were "worth their weight in gold".
There were about four rubber boats, two life rafts and three
floated nets for the survivors. This permitted the wounded to
be out of the water and also allowed rest for "tired
swimmers". Whether the boats and rafts were blown off the
ship or launched in the few seconds available before the ship
sank is not known at this time. The few paddles observed by
the commanding officer had their blades shattered, so
apparently they were lashed too tightly to the rafts. However,
ample driftwood was available for improvised paddles.
| 1. The personnel
performance was magnificent, and the U.S.S. COOPER went down
fighting. The calmness and coolness exhibited by all hands in
their first surface engagement was exemplary. From the time of
the hit until the ship had disappeared in less than one
minute, the commanding officer noted no confusion and heard
not a cry. To date there are one hundred and fifty-eight (158)
enlisted men and ten (10) officer survivors out of three
hundred and thirty-nine (339) enlisted men and twenty (20)
officers on board. Of the survivors twenty-seven (27) enlisted
men and three (3) officers required hospital care and are in
the U.S.S. HOPE. The remaining survivors suffered only from
exposure, cuts and bruises. A detailed survivor list, casualty
report, and instances of outstanding performances will be the
subject of special letters.
||M. A. Peterson.
|Advance copies to: Cominch,
ComDesRon 60 for info.