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Hobson-Wasp Collision Collection, 1952-1953: Finding Aid

Published in 1990

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
  • Call number: MS 245
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Hobson-Wasp Collision Collection
  • Dates: 1952-1953
  • Size: 2.59 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 2 flat boxes containing 2 items
  • Creator: McCaffree, Burnham C, 1903-1966
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: The Hobson-Wasp Collision Collection, compiled by Captain Burnham C. McCaffree, commanding officer of U.S.S. Wasp, consists of a photograph album and a scrapbook. The collection pertains to the April 26, 1952 collision between aircraft carrier U.S.S. Wasp and destroyer U.S.S. Hobson, which resulted in the sinking of Hobson.

History of the Hobson-Wasp Collision

In April 1952, U.S.S. Wasp (Aircraft carrier : CV-18) was operating with the destroyers U.S.S. Hobson (DD-464) and Rodman (DD-456) as Task Unit 88.1.1. On the night of April 26, 1952, U.S.S. Hobson, commanded by Lieutenant Commander William J. Tierney, collided with U.S.S. Wasp, commanded by Captain Burnham C. McCaffree. The Hobson, struck on her starboard side amidships, split in two and sank within four minutes of the collision. According to the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, 176 men, including Hobson's commanding officer, died as a result. Due to speedy rescue operations by Wasp and Rodman, 52 men survived. (Other sources give different fatality-survivor figures). The Wasp sustained a jagged 75 foot-long tear to its bow, but suffered no casualties.

The two vessels, in addition to U.S.S. Rodman, were part of the twenty-five ship Task Group 88.1 on route to the Mediterranean. At the time of the accident, U.S.S. Wasp was conducting night flying operations under simulated war conditions. The resulting Naval Court of Inquiry determined that the sole cause of the accident was an "unexpected left turn" executed by U.S.S. Hobson on the order of Lieutenant Commander Tierney.

Following the accident, U.S.S. Wasp was repaired at the Bayonne, New Jersey shipyard, where, in a record ten days, she was refitted with a new bow section taken from her sister ship, U.S.S. Hornet (Aircraft carrier : CV-12).

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Description of Contents

The Hobson-Wasp Collision Collection, spanning from April 5, 1952 until October 31, 1953, concerns the April 26, 1952 collision between the destroyer minesweeper U.S.S. Hobson and the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Wasp. The collection consists of a photograph album and scrapbook compiled by Captain Burnham C. McCaffree, commanding officer of the Wasp at the time of the collision. The scrapbook consists of newspaper clippings, U.S. Navy dispatches, extracts from the Wasp's deck log, press releases, and photographs.

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The Hobson-Wasp Collision Collection is organized into the following two boxes:

  • Box 1: Photograph Album, 1952 April 26-May 19 (approximate)
  • Box 2: Scrapbook, 1952 April 5-1953 October 31
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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Hobson-Wasp Collision Collection is the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Gift of Rear Admiral Burnham C. McCaffree in January 1988. Accession No. 88-03.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

The Papers of Burnham C. McCaffree, 1926-1997 ( are available at the Operational Archives of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Hobson-Wasp Collision Collection, MS 245

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1990. Finding aid written by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1990 and revised by David D'Onofrio in February 2014.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Collisions at Sea
  • Hobson (Destroyer : DD-464)
  • McCaffree, Burnham C, 1903-1966
  • Wasp (Aircraft carrier : CV-18)

Genre Terms

  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Dispatches
  • Manuscripts
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
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Contents List

Box 1

Photograph Album, 1952 April 26-May 19 (approximate)

Images of U.S.S. Hobson debris stuck in U.S.S. Wasp, damage to Wasp's bow, Hobson survivors, rescue operation, temporary repairs to Wasp damage while at sea, Wasp anchor chains, Wasp's crew, press interview, Wasp in dry dock at Bayonne, New Jersey, Captain McCaffree, Lieutenant William Hoefer, Jr. of U.S.S. Hobson.

Box 2

Scrapbook, 1952 April 5-1953 October 31

Includes extracts from smooth deck log, operation orders, dispatches, press releases and interviews, Captain McCaffree's speech to Wasp's crew, list of Hobson survivors, news clippings, collision route diagram, narratives of events, statements and arguments of witnesses, judicial note, commendatory and appreciative communications. Also included are photographs of Captain McCaffree and Francis R. Drake (Executive Officer of U.S.S. Wasp.

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