The USS Memphis, ACR-10 (ACR meant "armored cruiser") was driven ashore by giant waves on this day in 1916. The captain of the ship, Edward Beach, got a feeling that was something was wrong and he ordered additional boilers lit off in order to weigh anchor and go out to sea.
As it turned out, it was a matter of fifteen minutes between the ship sailing safely and being dashed onto the shore. Captain Beach was court-martialed and found guilty of failure to get underway in a timely manner. His punishment was to be dropped twenty names on the promotion list. That was later reduced to five names and, on further review, his punishment was stricken. Beach commanded the battleship USS New York towards the end of the Great War.
If you want to read a vivid description of what happened about the ship, both in the engineering plant and above decks, I heartily recommend the book The Wreck of the Memphis by Edward Beach (the captain's son and a decorated naval officer in his own right). When he researched and wrote the book, there were a number of survivors still around to interview.
Memphis, which spent most of her life as the USS Tennessee, was a fast, well-armored and well-armed cruiser in the day when all ships were driven by large reciprocating engines. The Navy considered modernizing her three sister ships in the 1920, but the result didn't seem to be worth the cost.
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