Book Review of Sea Cobra by Buckner F. Melton Jr.

Sea Cobra: Admiral Halsey’s Task Force and the Great Pacific Typhoon by Buckner F. Melton Jr.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you want to understand the power of a Mother Nature when she comes at you with the fury of a Typhoon, then this is the book that really sets forth the whole picture in a well laid-out fashion for those of us who are not hardened sailors as well as for those who may have captained or voyaged on their own ships through major storms. Admiral Halsey was already a seafaring legend by the time he took his task force 38 north from the East Indies to support General Douglas McArthur in his 1944 invasion of the Phillipine Islands. Yet weather predictions during that time in history were hardly much better than they had been back at the time of Admiral Nelson, some one-hundered and fifty years previously. In fact, the addition of modern radio transmissions and the infantile profession of weather predictions in 1944 actually put Halsey’s military task force at a disadvantage with regard to some foul weather because reliance was placed on distant transmissions of fragmentary information from Hawaii and Guam, to Admiral Halsey more than a thousand miles away. Thus, instead of relying on the local wind direction and the fact that the local barometer reading was falling very rapidly, the weathermen aboard the Admiral’s fleet chose to predict that a major typhoon was hundereds of miles away when their old fashioned charts would have indicated a severe storm in under 24 hours. Consequently, the efforts of the fleet to avoid the storm resulted in their passing almost directly into its center. The descriptions of the damage that was done to Admiral Halsey’s destroyers, battleships and aircraft carriers and their superstructures is almost beyond comprehension. Author B.F. Melton Jr. has taken original reports from the commanders of the various ships, the survivors of sinkings and the final navil inquiry into this naval disaster and let the facts speak for themselves rather than trying to be an armchair admiral. Totally engrossing reading and lessons for the modern world about remembering how to use old fashioned technology when the modern techno-world fails us.

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2 Comments on “Book Review of Sea Cobra by Buckner F. Melton Jr.

    • This has chapters on each phase of the disaster. I loved the one on how typhoons actually form, the naval inquiry at the end, and the decision making aspects as well as the actual descriptions of what happened on each ship. The author doesn’t have to jazz up the story. Also the chapter on kamikazi attacks and the story behind that particular phase of the Japanese of part of the war. Enjoy!


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