USS St. Lo Explodes After Kamikaze Hit

USS St. Lo (CVE-63) explodes after kamikaze hit. After surviving the frenzied battle of Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita's Center Force (four battleships, eight cruisers, and twelve destroyers) on "Taffy 3" (Task Unit 77.4.3) under US Navy Rear Admiral Clifton Sprague, St. Lo and the surviving Casablanca class escort carriers began moving south, away from the retreating Center Force. At 1050 Hours, the task unit came under a concentrated air attack; and during the 40 minute battle with Japanese suicide planes (Lieutenant Yukio Seki's Shikishima squadron of the 301st Hikotaki (air group), 201st Kokutai (wing), five A6M5 Model 52 Zeros, each carrying a 550-pound (250 kg) bomb, with an escort of four A6M5's flown by legendary ace Hiroyoshi Nishizawa, Misao Sugawa, Shingo Honda and Ryoji Baba). all escort carriers in Taffy 3 except Fanshaw Bay (CVE-70) were damaged. One plane crashed through St. Lo's flight deck at 1051, and exploded her torpedo and bomb magazine, mortally wounding the carrier. Seki himself was credited by Nishizawa with the hit on St. Lo. At first, the damaage appeared minor. St. Lo's action report states "There was a hole in the flight deck with smoldering edges which sprang into flame. Hoses were immediately run out from both sides of the flight deck and water started on the fire....smoke soon appeared on both sides of the ship, evidently coming from the hangar. Within one to one and one-half minutes an explosion occurred on the hangar deck, which puffed smoke and flame through the hole in the deck and bulged the flight deck near and aft of the hole. This was followed in a matter of seconds by a much more violent explosion, which rolled back a part of the flight deck bursting through aft of the original hole. The next heavy explosion tore out more of the flight deck and also blew the forward elevator out of its shaft." The magazine had detonated, and St. Lo was gone by 1120.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
United States Navy
Date Photographed: 
Wednesday, October 25, 1944
USS St. Lo (CVE-63)
Battle of Leyte Gulf