I know not when nor if the disaster was de-classified, but
I can say from independent research that some documents
were marked SECRET.
And the transcript of the TBS (Talk Between Ships),wherein
it was determined that these low flying planes weer FRIENDLY,seemed to disappear.
Its clear that authorities feared the outrage if parents were made aware OF HOW and WHY their sons died.
In brief, these bad judgement calls, if known, would cause a stink. Just hunker down - and tell the folks "Killed in Action"
1. A No No To transport over 500 troops on a ship laden
with 7000 tons of explosives.
2. A judgement call defying common sense, a flight of
planes incoming dead ahead, just skimming the water,
were deemed to be Friendly, and let into the convoy
unmolested to sink the troop transport.
Gunners were told "Friendly Planes - Do Not Fire."
3. Gunnery doctrine limited to firing only at seen
target, and only when satisfied own ship position is
known by the enemy plane. Since the torpedo planes
were skimming the water, this doctrine resulted in
Escorts and Armed Guards firing at each other.
However, nobody was killed by friendly fire.
In later convoys (UGS-40), gunnery doctrine allowed
a barrage of firing when the low flying torpedo planes
were first sighted. 19 planes were downed with no loss
In summary, if not for bad judgement, UGS-38 Convoy
would have had no judgement at all.
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