ABOUT THE FILM
Directed by Lee Abbott
A century ago, on September 8th 1923 human hubris and natural phenomenon conspired to create the single greatest U.S. Naval tragedy before Pearl Harbor.
On a black moonless night shrouded in fog so thick the sailors said the seagulls were walking on it, Destroyer Squadron 11 of the Pacific Fleet was hard-charging from San Francisco to San Diego aiming for a speed record. Post WWI the Navy had grown lax due to fuel rations and the public happier to roll into the roaring 20's of Prohibition, but on this fateful night Commodore Edward Watson and Captain Donald Hunter felt they had something to prove.
The Central Coast of California is no place to tempt fate, and this area known to locals as Honda Point, and to sailors as "the Graveyard of the Pacific" had been known all the way back to Spanish explorers as
"La Quijada del Diablo" - the Devils Jaw.
The elbow of California, and the Santa Barbara Channel Islands present a small eye of the needle to thread on a clear day, but on this sightless night navigating only upon the stopwatch and speedometer of "Dead Reckoning" Captain Hunter made the fatal decision to turn East into the channel about a mile and a half too soon. The squadron smashed into the teeth of the Devils Jaw...and each other.
7 Ships went down in the cold waters, and so did 23 souls.
How could this immense a blunder happen? Could it have been due to the Kanto Japan earthquake and tsunami that had just occurred? Could other experienced navigator's voices have been squashed by the chain of command?
Were there paranormal omens?
Join us on this journey to explore history, and to hopefully learn from our mistakes, as we watch...
The Disaster at Devil's Jaw
LT WILLIAM MORS
Executive Producer & Benefactor
Director Lee Abbott
As a 7th Generation Californian, Lee Abbott has quite the personal connection to the events of that fateful night. His Grandmother was 16 years old at the time of the incident, and well remembered bouncing out to the disaster site in the family's old Ford. His Great Grandfather an engineer for the Southern Pacific most likely assisted in the rescue efforts, and his Uncle SCUBA dove the wrecks in the 1970's.
An avid SCUBA diver himself, with a History & Art History degree from UCLA, Lee deeply connected with the film's benefactor, WWII Veteran Bill Mors. It is with sadness mixed with happy memories that Lee could not finish this film before Bill's passing at the age of 99.