John - I'd forgotten about this incident until reading your post. I read about the disaster many years ago, and it came up in conversations while I was at Argentia.
I'm not a hard core church going guy, but events like this one bring to mind a hymn (I'm almost CERTAIN it was #198 in the Armed Forces Hymnal) - "Eternal Father, Strong to Save." There were many verses, dealing with mariners, Seabees, and aviators. But the line I will never forget is "Oh hear us when we cry to thee, for those in peril on the sea." I have to wonder if such things as an "Armed Forces Hymnal" are even allowed in today's military.
On a brighter note, your comment on Lanier Phillips was most interesting. Imagine what he must have gone through in the unreconstructed southernmost point in the US. The movie "Men of Honor" gave us an idea, and similar stories must have unfolded in scores of ratings, MOS's, and ranks throughout the military. In 1967, at FSS Key West I saw a black CPO for the first time. He wasn't a commissaryman (CS) or a steward (SD). He was a sonar tech! We HAVE come a long way!
Jack - You are right in that those who paved the way for todays military service have some very interesting tales to tell.
When I first met Linier, I was in the company of two other WW11 vets. One was a retired AF Sgt who was stationed at Hickman Field during the bombing of Pearl and then walked across Burma with Merrills raiders to join up with the Chinese. The other one was a Newfoundlander who had served with the RAF, was stationed in Singapore when it surrendered to the Japanese and was in a POW camp in Nagasaki when we dropped the bomb. This along with Lanier who I sarcastically say went swimming in Placentia Bay in the middle of Feb. For once I kept my mouth shut and just listened to them talk about their experiences. It is a moment I will never forget