Garbage Lighter YG-17 Fights Fires on USS West Virginia (BB-48)

Fighting fires on the sunken battleship West Virginia (BB-48). The garbage lighter YG-17 is at right, with her crewmen playing two fire hoses at the flames. Assisting or standing by are a motor launch and an officer's motorboat. USS Tennessee (BB-48) is inboard of West Virginia. A sailor who jumped overboard has been blotted out by the censor. Considerable progress was made in repairing ships which had only minor damage, especially by furnishing small craft to fight fires and supply pumping equipment. "Honey barge" YG-17 had a large pumping capacity. She tied up alongside West Virginia to fight her many fires and was successful in her work though beset by Japanese aircraft and continuous strafing. YG-17 won commendations from the Commander of Battleships. YG-17, commanded by Chief Boatswain's Mate Lenard M. "Swede" Jansen, won commendation for bravery following the attack. In USS West Virginia's After Action Report, R. H. Hillenkoetter wrote, "Chief Boatswain's Mate L. M. Jansen, the Commanding Officer of YG-17, was first to place his barge alongside the West Virginia, and until the fire was completely extinguished, he kept his barge alongside regardless of the danger from fire and exploding projectiles, maneuvering to direct his streams of water to the places where they would be of most advantage. After the job on the West Virginia was completed, YG-17 went alongside the Arizona and again displayed the most praiseworthy qualities of courage, initiative and skill until that fire, too, was extinguished." Commander of Battleships, Battle Force, Vice Admiral Walter S. Anderson (October 4, 1881 - October 24, 1981) concurred: "The conduct of Chief Boatswain's Mate L. M. Jansen on this occasion was personally observed by Commander Battleships who desires to add his high commendation of Jansen's conduct. Upon his own initiative and with a promptness commensurate with the great urgency of the need, Jansen placed his barge against the West Virginia with his bow largely enveloped in dense billows of oil smoke and with the burning oil on the water around his bow…These dangers and at time apparently untenable conditions did not prevent Jansen and his gallant crew from playing their hoses upon the fire and thereby rendering signal service. They were later joined by other craft. Commander Battleships fully concurs with the report of the Commanding [actually the surviving] Officer of the West Virginia and recommends that Chief Boatswain's Mate L. M. Jansen receive suitable commendation and recognition for his gallant conduct."
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
National Archives and Records Ad
Archival Identifier: 
Date Photographed: 
Sunday, December 7, 1941
Pearl Harbor
United States of America