Today in Military History: Dec. 18, 1944, Typhoon Cobra

A view of USS Cowpens (CVL-25) starboard side flight deck facing aft from the island. Photo taken around the time Typhoon Cobra hit the Third Fleet on 18 December 1944, US Navy

On December 18, 1944, Admiral William “Bull” Halsey’s Third Fleet encounters a typhoon northeast of Samar. Destroyers USS Hull, USS Monaghan and USS Spence sink, while 21 other ships are damaged.

The ships of Task Force 38 were trying to refuel after heavy raids on Japanese airfields, when the small but powerful typhoon hit. Approximately 790 officers and men were lost or killed, with another 80 injured. Fires occurred in three carriers when planes broke loose in their hangers and some 146 planes on various ships were lost or damaged beyond economical repair by fires, impact damage or by being swept overboard.