On 12 June 1942, a Curtiss SOC "Seagull" Floatplane, CS-13, from the USS Salt Lake City CA25 took off from the Brisbane River, in Brisbane, Queensland for a routine patrol. It was piloted by Ensign J.D. Taylor with Don Rholl, ARM3c, radio operator.

They flew out to sea for their patrol and when they returned to the coast they could not locate their known landmarks. Based on the prevailing wind, the pilot thought they were south of the Brisbane River. As a result he turned northwards and flew along the coastline. They eventually broke radio silence and attempted to contact USS Salt Lake City without success.

As they were running low on fuel they decided to look for a place to land. They eventually spotted a long jetty jutting out in a small bay with a soldier standing guard. At approximately 5.30pm they landed and taxied close to the jetty and asked the solider if he thought it would be okay for them to taxi to the shoreline. The soldier said it would be okay, however they struck the bottom after only moving a few yards.



 Curtiss SOC "Seagull" Scout-Observation Plane


Don Rholl took of his shoes and socks and waded ashore. He cut his feet on the barnacles while climbing one of the jetty's pilings. He rang the authorities and explained what had happened and where they were located. When Don returned to the beach the "Seagull" had disappeared. Then he noticed the aircraft appear out of nowhere being towed by a small fishing boat. Apparently it had refloated after he had left the aircraft. With assistance from the locals they brought the aircraft up on to the beach and made it safe for the night.

At 6:15pm, USS Salt Lake City received notification from USS Chicago that "Seagull" CS-13 had made an emergency landing at Hervey Bay, many miles north of Brisbane.

After some well earned enjoyment in the local Cafe and hotel, they slept in a nearby Australian Army Camp for the night and were able to order two drums of fuel from the RAAF at Maryborough airfield.

The RAAF delivered the two drums of fuel the next morning and with a large crowd of locals watching, they refuelled the aircraft and eventually took off an returned to Brisbane.


Curtiss SOC "Seagull" Floatplane
on the deck of USS Salt Lake City CA25


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This page first produced 10 April 2004

This page last updated 02 February 2020