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Historic Feature: The wreck of the USS MACAW ASR-11

The wreck of the USS MACAW ASR-11.
The wreck of the USS MACAW ASR-11. Photo Credit: Robert Schwemmer, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

MACAW ASR-11 received her commission on July 12th, 1943. Poised for the invasion of the Marshall Islands, the ship was transiting back to Honolulu due to contaminated water tanks when she stopped at Midway. Suddenly on January 18th, 1944 the MACAW received orders to rescue a submarine from a nearby reef. Headed out on patrol, 20-35 knot winds from the west and rough seas had pushed the FLIER SS-250 onto the coral reef. Attempting to get a line to the stricken sub, the MACAW herself, under the command of the Midway harbor pilot, ran aground. Very soon the motor room and generator room were flooded with diesel oil and sea water. Breakers began striking the stern of the ship. Approximately 25 feet of MACAW's stern projected into the channel which, though not an immediate obstruction, threatened to further restrict passage. Keeping the channel clear was a high priority. Midway could not afford to be closed to submarine operations in 1944.

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