As part of its monthly lecture series, the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is pleased to present Disaster at Devil’s Jaw, a new film about the Naval disaster at Honda Point. The film screening will take place at SBMM on Thursday, September 21, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. Producer and Director Lee Abbott will speak about the film, which is 115 minutes, while also sharing photographs and stories, and answering questions. Learn more about the film and see the trailer. The cost is free for SBMM Navigators Circle members; $10 for all other members; and $20 for the general public. SBMM members will enjoy a pre-lecture reception from 5:15-5:45 p.m.
“Honda is the largest tragedy that very few people know about,” said SBMM Executive Director Greg Gorga. “But while many mistakes were made, once wrecked on the rocks, our sailors displayed amazing acts of courage and bravery. And we have a lot of local connections to this disaster.”
Just up the California coast from Santa Barbara, north of Point Conception, there is a location known locally as Honda Point. To mariners, this area has been known as “the graveyard of the Pacific” and to 16th-century Spanish explorers it was known as “La quijada del diablo”…. the devil’s jaw. It was here, 100 years ago this year, that the largest peacetime disaster of the U.S. Navy occurred on September 8, 1923.
On a cold moonless night, in thick coastal fog, 14 new ships of Destroyer Squadron 11 were sailing at a record pace from San Francisco to San Diego under radio silence and in close formation. The ships turned hard east into the Santa Barbara Channel – or so they thought. Seven destroyers, and 23 sailors were lost to the jagged shore. Was it human hubris? Natural phenomenon? Foreboding omens? This film is their story.
“I’d really like to thank Greg Gorga and SBMM for their incredible contributions to getting this film made and made right,” said Lee Abbott. “Greg’s knowledge and introductions to key interviews was absolutely invaluable to the final quality of the film.”
This event is generously sponsored by Marie L. Morrisroe.
About Our Speaker
Producer, director, cinematographer, editor, writer, and food network chef, Lee Abbott is a seventh generation Californian and Santa Barbara native. His grandmother visited the site of the wreck and his great grandfather may have provided assistance because he was a conductor on the Southern Pacific Railroad with a route along that area. His uncle also made several SCUBA dives on the wreckage in the 1970s. World War II Veteran Bill Mors, who was the benefactor of this film, also made several dives of the wrecks. Mors unfortunately passed before the film’s completion, but Abbott is honored to be the one to share his legacy with the world, and a portion of the proceeds from the film will go to The Gold Coast Veteran’s Foundation in Mors’ name.
In addition to Disaster at Devil’s Jaw, Abbott’s work has ranged from producing live on the red carpet at the Oscars, Emmys, and Golden Globes to shooting in Borneo drinking rice moonshine with the Iban tribe of headhunters. He is also a former pro water skier, which he turned into his first show “Shreddin’ H2O,” on ESPN. Abbott has directed makeover reality shows, commercials, music videos and a speedy gourmet recipe series that passed the six million views mark, as well as comedy film and tv, documentaries, and food and wine tv. In a different vein, his children’s favorite effort of his was Abbott’s ability to do all the voiceover work in the Dr Seuss App for “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.” Yes, even Cindy Lou Who!