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The Hedge Hog Incident, 1951

What a Shot!

Ens. Rudy Phillips Korea 1951


Rudy Phillips was a WWII veteran who served a total of three and a half years in "both oceans". As Sonarman 1st Class he spent eighteen months in Coco Solo Panama Canal Zone, instructing in anti-submarine warfare. In 1949 he graduated from Kent State University and received his commission as Ensign USN.
At the outset of the Korean war he was ordered to the USS Whitehurst which was being recommissioned. His recall to active duty was to be "six months to a year". He served as ASW officer of the Whitehurst from 5 September 1950 until September 1951 when he was released from active duty.

Radarman Laurence McKenna

Larry McKenna went aboard the USS Whitehurst when it was Recommissioned for duty in the Korean war. He now makes his home in Kailua-Kona Hawaii. He is active in the Navy League and participates in the training exercises of nuclear submarines at every opportunity.

Details from the official report of the Commander Fleet Training Group and Underway Training Element, Pearl Harbor, to Commanding Officer, USS Whitehurst, 8 February 1951:
"From 18 December 1950 through 2 January 1951 and 17 January thru 6 February 1951, the Whitehurst was given anti submarine refresher training. During this period the ship received marks of EXCELLENT in performance, interest, and condition of sonar equipment.
On 6 February Battle Problem DE-1-PH (Rev) was used. This involved activities with a Tame submarine.

Quoting Rudy Phillips who was the supervising ASW officer in the CIC: "Sonarman First Class, Frank Swadley was on the sonar unit when we shot a [single] hedge hog that we dropped on our Tame submarine's conning tower. The skipper of the sub sent it over to us by way of a jeep with the comment that he and the crew were grateful that we are on the same side.
Incidentally, we were equipped with 24 hedge hogs on the main deck forward of the bridge but we only fired one hedge hog on our training exercises."

Radarman Laurence McKenna's recollection of the event:
"Whitehurst was in single ship anti submarine mode being conned from the Combat Information Center (CIC) under Ensign Phillips. I remember him smoking a pipe. He had a very calming and relaxing effect on the attack team.
Whitehurst had the old WWII type of CIC where we plotted all targets on an old 36" round table called a VJ Repeater/Plotter. The center of the plot was our ship.
I believe SO1 Swadley was on the sonar track with sound powered phones. I had phones on and maneuvered the target sub by moving the paper as he directed me to do. He could hear the doppler effect of the sonar and told me how the sub was maneuvering.
RD1 Mueller was on the JA phone giving course and speed, plus firing info to the bridge. I think the "O" division Lt was actually running the con. The Quartermaster from Maine, Harold Osgood, was on the helm, I think. Joe Champaigne and Rockhold were plotting on the paper as I moved it. Ens Phillips and Swadley made it work. The hedge hog struck the sub and my recollection is it scared the crap out of the sub guys. No one had ever done that before. I'm pretty sure it stuck on the conning tower. The sub captain sent it back to by jeep with the name Whitehurst stenciled on the hedge hog. I vividly recall the ice cream he sent along with it.

From the report quoted above concerning this specific battle problem:
ASW: ...The sonar contact was correctly reported and the attack efficiently conducted...
The overall mark assigned for the battle problem was GOOD.

"Harold Osgood was indeed on the helm as it was his GQ station. I was the Quartermaster of the watch. As I remember the incident, the hedgehog lodged in the deck grating."
Al Crawford..QM1 on Whitehurst
Master Chief Quartermaster, Ret

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