The American aircraft carrier USS Yorktown was no stranger to pain and suffering. She had been officially “sunk” by the Japanese three times in the last month – once with the “Lady Lex” in the Coral Sea, but against all expectations, she managed to limp back to Pearl for repairs. And twice more the day before after the Japanese got over their initial surprise at her appearance north of Midway. Admiral Yamaguchi and the planes from the Hiryu were sure they “sunk” her in their first counterattack after the devastating American attack that sank the Akagi, Kaga, and Soryu. However the repair crews did such a good job that when the Japanese returned, they mistook her for the Enterprise and “sunk” her again. Each time her repair crews and damage control parties brought her back from the brink of death to fight another day. And they were determined to do so again.
The damage from the last attack was so extensive that Captain Elliot Buckmaster even ordered an “Abandon Ship”. But when she stubbornly refused to sink, he and his crew re-boarded the ship to continue repairs. A tug, the USS Vireo, was summoned from Pearl Harbor. A destroyer, the USS Hammann, pulled alongside to pump out water and provide electricity to the Yorktown’s repair crews during the long tow back to port. The crew worked all night and into the afternoon of 6 June.
However, at 3:30 pm, the Japanese submarine I-168 fired four torpedoes which sank the Hammann and damaged the Yorktown: this time fatally. Still, she remained afloat for another 15 hours, but with a terrible list to port. At 7:01 am, 7 June 1942, the list became too great and she rolled over. A submarine finally did what the full weight of the Japanese surface fleet and naval air arm couldn’t do: sink the Yorktown.