Meet the ship girl: Edsall

Oh dear, where are my manners. Commander! Hello!

Shaw’s been having nightmares, so I’ve been tucking her in. Mahan wants someone to help her annotate. Maury’s going to need someone to run with. I’m pretty sure O’bannon messed something up again. You know the saying, “ask me not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country?” I think that’s how I feel. You can swap out country for “family” or “friends,” and that’ll work too.

Sure, it’s tiring at times. Dolphin can relate. She jokingly calls it babysitting. But you know, commander, it’s not like they couldn’t go without me. Part of the duty as a ship girl, here, is that we pick each other up and keep each other going. The very least I can do is to pitch in a bit and help wherever I can. It’s the legacy that Edsall left me with. The Asiatic sailors were some of the bravest men ever to enlist in the navy, commander, and I want to carry on their legend, to be more like them.

When the war started, commander, the odds were against us. Our opponent was well trained, well armed, technologically proficient, and united in their goals. We were well trained – that’s about it. Against the cutting edge of the IJN we had nothing more than a handful of cruisers and destroyers, most of which were WWI-era or early interwar models. But still, we fought. Camaraderie. Friendship. That’s what kept us fighting.

I may not have much, but my friends have made me who I am today. Their hearts and their love will always be with me. So long as I have my friends, I will continue to fight. For them. For us.


 

STEC notes that while it’s only natural that a ship girl bearing Clemson-class equipment show up, STEC did not anticipate Edsall being the first to appear. The USS Edsall was a veteran destroyer that spent much of her pre-war years in the Mediterranean and Far East. When war broke out, Edsall joined DesDiv 57. The Clemson class destroyers were old, and largely served as ASW patrols – a duty the venerable destroyer carried out with distinction, sinking I-124 with other allied ships in January of 1942.

When the ancient tender Langley was ordered to the defense of Java, USS Edsall was one of her escorts. She picked up 177 survivors when the Langley was sunk. With another destroyer, USS Whipple and the oiler USS Pecos, the battered little fleet was carrying over a thousand allied survivors. When allied high command ordered USS Edsall to continue her mission of  transporting the surviving fighter pilots from the Langley to the defense of Java, the Edsall dutifully complied. After turning course at 8:30, March 1st, she was never seen again by allied forces.

Nearly sixty years later, the fate of the Edsall finally became known as evidence from many sources were pieced together. When the USS Pecos split up from what was left of the allied fleet, the oiler was soon under attack by Japanese bombers. USS Edsall picked up the distress signal, and en route to her rescue of the Pecos ran into Admiral Nagumo’s entire Kidou Butai. Already damaged previously, the Edsall nonetheless frustrated the pride of the IJN. Coming under fire by two battleships (Hiei and Kirishima) and two new cruisers (Tone and Chikuma), the Japanese spent thousands of shells and scored only a glancing hit. The normally collected Nagumo, seething with rage, ordered 26 Type 99 divebombers to launch from Kaga, Hiryu, and Soryu. The Edsall was thought to be immobilized by repeated air attacks, and some sources believe it is Lt. Kobayashi from the Hiryu who landed the critical blow. Moments later, the stubborn USS Edsall was finally sank as the rest of the Japanese surface warships closed the distance and fired on her for the last time. She had managed to lead the mighty Kidou Butai on a wild goose chase to the north, away from the survivors of the Pecos engagement. With her final action, the Edsall indirectly managed to save many lives.

While the fate of USS Edsall’s survivors (if there were any) remain largely a mystery even to today, STEC notes that the shipgirl Edsall is an altruistic young woman who values friendship above all else. She has a growing collection of photos that she frequently add to her messenger bag “so to have something to remember everyone by.”

In battle, however, she seems to be something of an anomaly. Field reports have noted a number of instances where  “ghostly” fighter planes – up to thirty-two in all –  piloted by fairies of an unknown origin protecting Edsall from the air. These mysterious planes do not match units available in STEC’s databases, though they could plausibly be P-40s based on visual identification.


What’s funny about Edsall’s design was that she almost didn’t make the cut in the first place. There were many brave destroyers fighting or sunk during this period, and the rather explicit nature of what happened to her survivors – in a remarkable case of brutality – could invite controversy.

That being said, however, I sat and thought about this whole thing for a bit. You know what. The story of the Edsall was kept away from the public eye for nearly seventy years. It is only thanks to an officer on the Chikuma with a conscience that we even managed to cobble together details in the first place. This story deserves to be told!

This is a case where the sources of access – should our audience members be interested in looking stuff up – becomes readily apparent. None of the Japanese sources that are easily accessible would talk about what happens after, and we still don’t know why (or by whom) the Edsall’s survivor were murdered in the first place.

However, by mentioning the fate of her survivors being an unknown (which – in Pacific’s timeline, is still true. Details only begun to emerge sometimes around 2000s our time, and Pacific takes place in the early 90s), it is my hope that more people would go look up the story of this heroic ship. Maybe folks will get curious. Maybe folks will wonder, hey, what happened to the survivors?

And then they’ll know.

Now, as for the actual shipgirl herself, I’ve made a string of Gundam analogies before. If Maury’s an ace pilot in a prototype mech and O’bannon’s an ace pilot in a mass produced, but powerful mech, Edsall’s the Ramba Ral of our setting. Her torpedoes are markedly worse in performance, her gun is archaic by comparison (though still pretty high tech by every other standard), but she makes up for it by her skill, the experience of her fairies, and of course, sheer heroism.

Yes. Heroism. You’ll find that as a whole, the Pacific girls are well-adjusted, mature, and generally someone you’d want to bring home to meet your parents with. This is intentional given the theme of our work and the lore behind our ship girls in the first place.

Additional notes:

  • The photos that she hangs on her bag are all “real” historical photos from what we know of the Edsall’s crewmen. You should be able to distinguish most of their sources with a tiny bit of googling, and I’ve posted an example in our forums.
  • The detail on her sword reads “Si vis pacem, para bellum”. This is the motto of her historical destroyer division. “If you want peace, prepare for war.” While this has been used by a number of countries and leaders, the context here is closer to Roosevelt’s “speak softly and carry a big stick” than any of its more aggressive interpretations.
  • Given the Clemson classes’ unusually large rudders in contrast to their previous counterparts, you can see that Edsall’s “speed” attachments on her shoe is different from the other DD girls.
  • 32 USAAF pilots from the Langey transferred over to the Edsall when the Edsall split up with the Whipple and the Pecos.
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