During World War II, one of the sources of ammunition for the Pacific Theater was the Naval Ammunition Depot at Port Chicago, California.Port Chicago is located on an arm of San Francisco Bay about 30 miles northeast of Oakland and San Francisco. Oslo Explosion. The court, however, seemed to side with Coakley on all points, settling each objection in favor of the prosecution. SS John Burke (MC hull number 609) was an American Liberty Ship built during World War II, one of the 2,710 type 'EC2-S-C1' ships that carried all kinds and types of dry cargo during the war. "[97] In September 1999, the petition by Meeks was bolstered by 37 members of Congress including George Miller, the U.S. representative for the district containing the disaster site. [25][26], The Liberty ship SS E. A. Bryan docked at the inboard, landward side of Port Chicago's single 1,500 ft (460 m) pier at 8:15 a.m. on July 13, 1944. The munitions, destined for the Pacific Theater of Operations, were delivered to the Port Chicago facility by rail then individually loaded by hand, crane and winch onto cargo ships for transport to the war zones. I can also remember the anti-aircraft guns and incendiary devices in New Brighton. [95], In the 1990s, Freddie Meeks, one of the few still alive among the group of 50, was urged to petition the president for a pardon. "[51], On August 11, 1944, the 258 men from the prison barge were marched to a nearby sports field and lectured by Admiral Wright who told them that troops fighting on Saipan desperately needed the ammunition they were supposed to be loading and that continued refusal to work would be treated as mutinous conduct, which carried the death penalty in times of war. She had been assigned as a Sonar Test ship. [41], The inquiry covered possible explosion scenarios involving sabotage, faulty fueling procedures, failure of the moorings of the Quinault Victory, defects in munitions, the presence of a super sensitive element in the ordnance, problems with steam winches and rigging, rough handling by loaders and organizational problems within the base. [50], Among the prisoners, Seaman First Class Joseph Randolph "Joe" Small, a winch operator in Division Four was asked by officers to assemble a handful of reliable men as a team of acting petty officers and to keep the other prisoners on good behavior. Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1940-1945 AE -- Ammunition Ships Click on "AE-##" for link to page … Of the 320 dead, only 51 could be identified. During and after the trial, questions were raised about the fairness and legality of the court-martial proceedings. The worst single night was the 3rd/4th when an … While at work he witnessed a man accidentally drop a naval artillery shell two feet onto the wooden pier but there was no detonation. Sailors and dock workers were pressured by time and their superiors and were also using unsafe unloading methods. "[104] President Barack Obama approved and signed the bill in December 2009. © Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. On the morning of August 12, six men from Divisions Two and Four who had put themselves in the obey-all-orders group failed to show up for work call; these six were confined to the brig, making 50 prisoners in all. Coakley stated that conspiratorial talk among the men about refusing to work and trying to get out of loading ammunition was the root of their August 9 mass refusal. [82], During the 12 days that he watched the court-martial proceedings, Thurgood Marshall began to formulate an appeal campaign, having noticed that none of the men's grievances had been aired in court. If we didn't want to work fast at that time, they wanted to put us in the brig, and when the exec came down on the docks, they wanted us to slow up. [15], Another one of the men gave the surprising testimony that Lieutenant Commander Coakley had threatened to have him shot after he refused to answer some questions during interrogation at Camp Shoemaker. "[73], At the end of his testimony, Green told the court that he was afraid to load ammunition because of "them officers racing each division to see who put on the most tonnage, and I knowed the way they was handling ammunition it was liable to go off again. The report stated that the cause of the explosion could not be determined, but implied that a mistake made by the enlisted men in the handling of the ordnance was most likely at root. [50], The Navy would not countenance such conduct, especially in time of war. [80], Veltmann denied that there was a mutinous conspiracy, saying the men were in a state of shock stemming from the horrific explosion and the subsequent cleanup of human body parts belonging to their former battalion mates. Jim Clarke taught people how to swim in the area. [109] Starring Michael Jai White, Duane Martin and David Ramsey as three fictional Navy seamen, the film aired on NBC on March 28, 1999. Protest meetings were held and powerful people in sympathy to the cause were asked to bring pressure to bear. Albert Carr, a civil service plumber from Pittsburg, California, was called to replace it; it was his first day at Port Chicago. As part of the refit process, all ammunition was removed from ships in port. 3111... Representative Miller Introduces Legislation to Activate Port Chicago's Bid to Become a National Park, "End of an Era: Port Chicago chapel's fate uncertain", S.3253: Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial Enhancement Act of 2008, H.R. [43] No mention was made of the men's lack of training in the handling of explosives. 1 winch brakes were found stuck in the "off" position, meaning that the winch could be operated freely, but lacked critical stopping capability if steam pressure was interrupted. [72], Some of the men who had been named as having been given direct orders to work testified that they had not been given any such order. In March 1945 a Seabee battalion of 1,000 African-American men staged a hunger strike at their base, Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme, California, in protest of discriminatory conditions. Lives lost in the water racial inequality in the water 1944 explosion '',.. Explosion was so big it sunk the freight ship that blew up one winch operated. 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