NAQUIN, Oliver, RADM

Deceased
 
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Last Rank
Rear Admiral Upper Half
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1954-1955, Major Commands
Service Years
1921 - 1955
Rear Admiral Upper Half
Rear Admiral Upper Half

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Home State
Louisiana
Louisiana
Year of Birth
1904
 
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Contact Info
Home Town
New Orleans
Last Address
Arlington National Cemetery.

Date of Passing
Nov 13, 1989
 
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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Last Known Activity

Rear Admiral Oliver Francis Naquin

Rear Admiral Oliver Francis Naquin, United States Navy (March 24, 1904-November 13, 1989) was born in New Orleans, and was a 1925 graduate of the United States Naval Academy. He was one of 33 men rescued by the McCann Rescue Chamber when the submarine USS Squalus sank in 240 feet of water during routine sea trials in the Atlantic Ocean  off Portsmouth, New Hampshire on May 23, 1939, and was rescued in a two-day rescue operation.

USS ''Squalus'' disaster

Twenty-six men (one officer, Ensign Joseph H. Patterson; 23 enlisted men; and two civilian technicians, Donald M. Smith and Charles M. Wood) were trapped in a flooded aft compartment and died. The remaining 32 naval personnel and a third civilian, naval architect Harold C. Preble, spent up to 39 hours in the sunken vessel before they were brought to the surface by the McCann Rescue Chamber which was used for the first time. Survivors of the USS Squalus were brought up in four trips as the diving bell rode a cable attached to the forward escape hatch of the submarine. A naval board of inquiry concluded that “a mechanical failure in the operating gear of the engine induction valve,” had caused flooding of the aft compartment. The USS Squalus was later salvaged, repaired and returned to sea as the renamed USS Sailfish, receiving credit for sinking seven enemy vessels in World War II.

   
Other Comments:
Oliver Francis Naquin, a retired rear admiral who was one of 33 men rescued by an experimental diving bell when the submarine Squalus sank in the Atlantic Ocean in 1939, died of a pancreatic disorder Monday at the medical center at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. He was 85 years old and lived in Arlington, Va.

Admiral Naquin, who retired in 1955 after a 34-year career in the Navy, was commander of the Squalus when the two-day rescue operation off Portsmouth, N.H., captured worldwide attention.

He was a 35-year-old lieutenant when the Squalus sank in 240 feet of water during routine sea trials on the morning of May 23, 1939. Twenty-six men, including two civilian technicians, were trapped in a flooded aft compartment and died.

The remaining 32 naval personnel and a third civilian spent up to 39 hours in the sunken vessel before they were brought to the surface by a rescue chamber being used for the first time. The Squalus was later refloated, repaired and returned to sea as the Sailfish, receiving credit for sinking seven enemy vessels in World War II. Survival at Pearl Harbor Survivors of the Squalus were brought up in four trips as the diving bell rode a cable attached to the forward escape hatch of the Squalus. A naval board of inquiry concluded that failure of an intake valve had caused flooding of the aft compartment.

Admiral Naquin, born in New Orleans, was a 1925 graduate of the United States Naval Academy. He also survived Pearl Harbor while aboard the battleship California, which sank in shallow water after being struck a bomb and two torpedoes in the Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941.

He later served as navigator of the heavy cruiser New Orleans in the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway. In the Solomon Islands in December 1942, when the cruiser was struck by a Japanese torpedo, blowing off 120 feet of the bow, he guided the ship to an American base for repairs and was awarded a Bronze Star for his role in saving the vessel.

Naquin played two roles in the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. His first role as Port Director was to not inform Capt. Charles Butler McVay III of enemy submarine activity along the route from Guam to Leyte and to refuse a request for escort, making this the first time a cruiser had traveled the Philippine Sea unescorted. The trip was approximately 1,500 miles; when the USS Indianapolis sunk it was 300 miles from land. The second role Naquin played was to not follow through on being notified of a distress call from a ship in the approximate area where the USS Indianapolis would be, even once he was made aware that the USS Indianapolis was seriously overdue. His justification was that it was Navy policy to confirm a distress call and his Office sent out a reply message but did not get a return message. The reason for this policy was that the Navy wanted to be sure that the call was not an enemy trap. There were many high-ranking officers who had knowledge of the route and schedule of the USS Indianapolis voyage from Tinian to Guam to Leyte and were anticipating word of the ship's arrival in Leyte. There are many scenarios where, under proper Navy procedure the survivors could have been found at least approximately 24 hours before they were, and as soon as twenty-four hours after the sinking of the ship, which would have been forty-eight hours earlier. They were not found until a pilot on routine patrol spotted them by accident approximately seventy-one hours after the incident. It took another two days for everybody to be rescued. The crew consisted of 1,196 young men in their late teens and early twenties. Approximately 300 went down with the ship and 317 survived. That means approximately 550-600 were lost at sea, mostly to the sharks. The twenty-four or forty-eight hour difference would have saved hundreds of lives, and, of course, if there had been an escort with submarine detection capability, perhaps, all could have been saved.

Admiral Naquin held several high staff positions after the war and at his retirement was the chief naval officer in the Military Assistance Advisory Group in Britain.

He is survived by his wife, the former Frances Davis; a daughter, Lorraine Tyler of Washington; a son, Christopher, a retired Navy captain, of Zanoni, Va.; five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
   
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USS Squalas (SS-192)US NavySchool Assignments - Staff
  1938-1939, USS Squalas (SS-192)
  1941-1941, USS California (BB-44)
  1942-1943, USS New Orleans (CA-32)
  1945-1945, Port Director Operations
  1951-1954, Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG)
  1954-1955, Major Commands
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1941 World War II
  1941-1945 World War II
  1942-1942 Guadalcanal Campaign (1942-42)/Guadalcanal-Tulagi landings
  1942-1942 Guadalcanal Campaign (1942-42)/Battle of the Eastern Solomons
  1942-1942 Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Battle of the Coral Sea
  1942-1942 Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Battle of Midway
  1942-1942 Guadalcanal Campaign (1942-42)/Tassafaronga (Fourth Savo)
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  Oliver Francis Naquin
  Sinking of the USS Indianapolis
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