“The seas were cresting at well nigh eighty feet when the beast attacked,” says Captain Nate Turner of the USS Lawrence Mason. The ship, a heavy cruiser from the American sector of the Allied Nations, had been practicing maneuvers in the Aegir Ocean when a freak hurricane poured out of the Southern Mists. The hurricane brought with it more than one hundred knot winds and high surf. It also brought an unknown sea monster of titanic proportions.
“It moved like a Water Dragon,” explains the Captain, “but it wasn’t one. This thing was far too big and stupid to be a Water Dragon.”
The creature struck quickly. The aft lookout called to the bridge to warn of something large in the water. Before the message could even be confirmed the creature had grabbed the side of the deck and caused her to list thirty degrees.
“I called for battle stations and the whole ship jumped to. Some of the men grabbed firearms and tried to scare the creature away. The bullets just bounced off of its thick scales. Enraged, it started swatting at the crew, flinging some of them into the cold water while devouring others whole.”
In the chaos that followed, Anti-Aircraft gunner Joseph Adkins managed to score the first real hit. Training the three inch, fifty caliber gun on the thrashing form, he opened fire at point blank range. Striking the creature multiple times, he forced it to release the ship and slink back into the sea.
“I knew it would come back,” continues Captain Turner. “I ordered the ten inch guns to be loaded with high explosives. Unfortunately, it knew how to hunt us. We could watch it on our sonar, but we couldn’t get a visual. It kept circling us and hiding behind the crests, moving in a little closer each time. We fired three of our six main guns, but with no results.”
When the creature finally did attack, it dove deep into the water and then charged at the USS Lawrence Mason from beneath. The ship lurched and the hull cracked, opening a bus-sized gash in the side of the ship.
“The thing started climbing onto the bow of the ship, forcing it under as it clawed at the hole. It tore the steel plating like a lumberjack rending a tree.”
Meanwhile the forward gun battery swung into place and targeted the creature. Knowing the hazards, the captain ordered the guns to fire. Two of the three rounds were direct hits, blowing the beast apart and killing it instantly. The third round fell short and destroyed the bow of the ship.
It was dead but the creature’s bulk still lay on deck, forcing it down and allowing water to pour into the ship. “We knew we had to get rid of the body,” the captain recalls. “With the hole in the side and the hole in the bow, it would have dragged us down in minutes.”
Fortunately the Engineer’s Mate, Howard Forsyth, quickly came up with a solution. Rigging heavy chains to the forward gun turrets, the crew was able to hook the chains onto the creature’s carcass. The captain turned the ship’s bow into the next crest. When the wave hit, the body lifted with the swell and the gunner turned the turrets to starboard. The creature was pulled free and sank to the ocean’s depths.
“It was a terrible gamble,” Captain Turner admits. “We had already taken a lot of water, and turning our shattered bow into the waves could have done us in. The fates were kind to us that night. The fire and repair crews set to work while the hurricane raged around us. At one point we were listing by almost fifty degrees. If our repair crews hadn’t been able to patch the holes, or the helmsman hadn’t steered her true, we never would have made it.”
While Captain Turner did face a Court’s Martial for firing upon his own ship, he was later cleared of all charges. Indeed, he and gunner Joseph Adkins won the Legion of Merit award. Meanwhile, Engineer’s Mate Howard Forsyth earned a Silver Star for his quick thinking and ingenuity. Everyone on the ship earned the Combat Action Ribbon, the first battle-class vessel to do so in over forty years.