YE Beacon discussion

Tom Clarke fclarke at EROLS.COM
Thu Oct 28 09:08:44 EDT 1999

The following is an excerpt from a letter describing the Battle of Midway by
Commander Stanhope Ring (later Vice Admiral), the Air Group Commander of the
USS Hornet (CV-8) in June of 1942.  The letter was recently discovered in
his personal effects and published in the Naval Institute Proceedings for
August 1999:

"great reliance was placed on the YE homing beacon.  I switched radio at the
time to the homing frequency, but Enterprise was all that could be heard.
The letter signal received, compared to the YE letter chart furnished us by
Hornet prior to takeoff, convinced me that something was wrong.  It later
developed that Enterprise and Hornet were on different YE homing codes and
that the change in code prescribed by CTF in Enterprise had not been
received by Hornet.  Because of the obvious discrepancy in Enterprise YE as
applied to the YE homing chart of Hornet,, I disregarded the  YE signal and
attempted to change course of the group toward the dead reckoning position
of Hornet.  "

Ultimately Ring's Air Group became split as he was unable to contact all
squadrons to warn them.  VS-8 safely recovered aboard Hornet, VT-8 was lost
in the attack on Japanese carriers (Ens G. Gay was only survivor), VF-8 had
all aircraft ditched at sea due to fuel exhaustion, and VB-8 had two
airplanes ditch and the rest recovered at Midway Island.

Poor communications and the inability to copy the YE on Hornet resulted in a
major loss of Air Group assets.  Today with Satcom, Satellite images, GPS,
Inertial Nav and all the other "gee whiz" things, this problem seems


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