Sea  Stories & Memoirs


The articles posted on these pages were provided by crew members or others who had direct knowledge of the events they wrote about.  These articles are provided for all to enjoy.  The Association is not responsible for their content or accuracy.

F1c James F. Mockerman, October 1945 - July 1946:   I was a member of the original crew of the U.S.S. Great Sitkin (AE-17)  moored to pier #2, birth 1 starboard to pier at naval  ammunition depot, Earl  N.J. Leonardo pier.  Stern towards U.S.S. Solar D-E-221 a destroyer Escort.
    On 4/30/1946 at 0832, I was standing on main deck at #2 hold just forward of our super structure.  I heard a small explosion aft that sounded like a 3.50 gun. fired.  I noticed the ammo handlers on the pier pointing aft down the pier toward the U.S.S. Solar, moored to north end of pier #1, Stern to South, port to pier.  I ran through the weather deck to the ladder rail aft of super structure.  I saw black smoke curling upward from the center of the focsle to a height of about 100 feet and climbing.  About a minute later a 2nd explosion, much greater than the 1st, with flames, debris and smoke erupting skyward.  The executive Officer appeared at the rail beside me and shouted "Whats happening?" I responded,"I think that ship is in trouble"  Just after I said that, a 3rd explosion occurred, a giant blast that lifted the ship out of the water, and wrenched the ship apart,  taking everything from the  super structure forward before dropping it back into the water,  while rocketing all kinds of debris, including a large rectangle flat piece that seemed to float and tumble slowly, as well as a gun mount, (possible a 3 inch 50) tumbling end over end,   up and outward to the west.  The debris and smoke seemed to settle down over the ship and I lost sight of her. 
    I never saw the Solar again until later when we moored at pier 3.  What was left of the Solar was being towed across Sandy Hook Bay toward New York,  no bow or super structure left.  I believe that all 3 blast came from the same point on the focsle.                                                 


ENS John Snyder, 1948 - June, 1949:  I reported aboard early in 1948, the Commanding Officer was Captain Joseph A.E. Hindman, USN. The ship was engaged in hauling overage ammunition from Vieques, PR to NAD Earle, NJ. 
  We participated in Fleet Exercises shortly before Thanksgiving in the Davis Straits, between Labrador and Greenland in support of the Navy's evaluation of the ability to operate in northern waters. Rolling more than thirty degrees most of time for ten days, no material problem but all hands very tired from need to brace oneself 24 hours a day.
  Captain Hindman was relieved by Captain Vilhelm K. Busck, in June of 1948. We then underwent Refresher Training at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,  including a real main throttle valve casualty.  Our new skipper, on probation in the minds of all Officers and crew, makes a spectacular one bell landing at the pier.  Then back to the Vieques to Earle routine again, with a trip to Argentia, Newfoundland in there someplace.   I detached in June, 1949.  

EMFN Domenick Indelicato, 1951 - 1955: Proud to have served my country. As I was growing up, I always had the love of the sea.  I guess it was in my blood.  My father served in the Italian Navy during the first World War, and my grandfather was a mariner.
    My first day in Boot Camp was my greatest thrill.  I could not believe I was in the U.S. Navy.  When I was handed my first blue uniform, I was happy beyond belief.  I went in as a boy, and two months later I left Boot Camp a competent young man.
    My first tour of duty was serving aboard an ammunition ship called the USS Great Sitkin.  I will never forget the first time I seen her tied up to a pier in Earle, New Jersey.  As I walked up to the gangway, I was awestruck by her size.  She was to be my home for the next three and a half years.
    I served first as a seaman and then as an Electricians Mate.  The food was great at atimes.  We had a great bunch of cooks aboard who fed us very well.  In general, I served with a great crew.
    My first bad experience was the crows nest watch at sea.  I has to climb eighty feet up a ladder while the ship was rolling.  I had always been afraid of heights.  It took me about 15 minutes to make it to the top.  I was scared, but I conquered my fear.
    During my tour of duty, we visited many ports in Europe and Africa.  We were disliked by many foreign sailors because everytime the US Navy came into port the prices would go up for everything, and I mean everything.
    In closing, I just want to say I am very proud to have served aboard a great ship and the greatest navy the world has ever seen, the US Navy.


BT3 Gerald Nelson, October 1956 - September 1958:  I reported aboard the USS Great Sitkin (AE-17) at Leonardo, N. J. in September of 1956.  The sleeping racks in all of the living compartments consisted of an aluminum frame and a piece canvas attached to the frame on all four sides with cotton line.  Of course our mattresses were placed on top of the canvas.
  A short time after reporting aboard we left Leonardo and ended a short cruse docking in Bayonne, N. J.   To my surprise the USS Enterprise (Decommissioned) was also docked there.  I remember wishing I could take a tour of this historical ship.  I got my wish, but it was as a member of a working party. 
  The sleeping racks on board the Enterprise were constructed of a aluminum frame with, approximately, 3" X 4" wire mesh (in place of canvas) attacked to the frame with metal springs. 
  Our task was to remove the aluminum racks from the Enterprise and install them on the Great Sitkin to replace the old canvas racks.
  The new racks were not like my bed back home, but they were a lot more comfortable than the old canvas racks.  I don't know how long the Enterprise racks remained on the Great Sitkin or if they were ever replaced, but they were still there when I was transferred from the Great Sitkin in September of 1958.
  Captain Brock was our "Skipper" and I remember him explaining to some of us on the working party that the USS Enterprise was his first ship. 
  By the way, the only tour of the USS Enterprise we were given was straight to her living quarters and back to the USS Great Sitkin. 


PN2 Leandro Rios-Rivera, March 1958 - July 1960:  I remember the time when we were departing Bayonne for Europe. Charles Collins and Rafael Cirino used to travel together from Brooklyn to Bayonne. They arrived late and the ship was already leaving, no ropes, no gang-way and it was already separated from the pier. The guys from the ship dropped a big net overboard. Collins and Cirino jumped and grabbed the net.  They had a hard time climbing up but did not miss ship’s movement.
  The funny part was that Cirino, had already passed the PN3 promotion board and in a week he could use his stripes. Collins told me that the only thing that Cirino said all the time was: OH SHIT MY STRIPES, OH SHIT MY STRIPES, OH BOY MY PN3...

ETR3 Tony Fernandez, April 1961 - January 1963:  November, 1961 I’d reported aboard the USS Great Sitkin (AE-17) in April 1961, shortly after the ship had completed an overhaul at the Monte Marine Shipyard in Brooklyn, New York. (Don’t bother checking the yellow pages for a phone number, the company went belly up in 1961.) During our shipyard availability period, ALL of the ship’s electric motors had been overhauled, and various valves in the ship’s fire main system had also been removed and repaired/replaced.
    Now deployed to the Med, we were allowed for once, to join the more “glamorous” warships of the US Sixth Fleet in a port visit; among them, the Sixth Fleet Flagship USS Newport News, (CA-148). As was typical for ammunition ships  we always had to anchor out, but in Genoa, so did all the other US warships.
    At the forward end of Sitkin’s CIC was the navigator’s chart table. Before entering port, I’d made a routine tour of CIC to ensure the AN/SPS-10 surface search radar and its associated AN/SPA-4A radar repeater (PPI scope) were operating correctly. Assuring myself that they were, I passed the chart table, and noticed that the posted chart of Genoa’s harbor had a number of circles drawn on it. A Quartermaster told me that each ship in company was assigned one of those circles, and that a radius line from the circle’s center represented the length of the respective ship’s “swing” around its “hook.” The presumption was that each ship would drop its hook dead center in its assigned swing circle.
    Through some glitch, we dropped the hook a bit off-timing, thereby missing the center of our swing circle by several yards. Since all ships in company had dropped their hooks simultaneously (such precision), and all were therefore pointed in the same direction... things looking fine.  Of course, the tide’s flow eventually changed, and each ship rotated around its hook to correspond to that change in tidal direction. Someone noticed that if we continued our swing, our stern was destined to impact the Flagship’s mid-section in the vicinity just aft of their port side’s twin five-inch mount.  Apparently, someone on the flagship noticed that too, and sent us a “blinker” message to hoist anchor, get underway, and correct our positioning. Being anchored out, we of course had a boiler lit off and steam available to get underway....the problem we soon discovered, was in hoisting the anchor. The anchor windlass motor, so recently overhauled by that now out-of-business shipyard, fried itself immediately after it was lit off to perform the task for which it had been designed. We were stuck and still swinging our fantail toward its destiny.  I don’t know how it was explained to the good folks aboard the cruiser, but I watched as they set sea and anchor detail, hoisted their anchor, and relocated to another anchoring berth well out of our way. I remember thinking, “Wow! That cruiser might have had us out-gunned, but we sure out-maneuvered her!”
    Our anchor was later raised through the ingenious expedient of lowering the forward cargo booms to deck level, tying off the hoist cables to the anchor chain, and then lifting the booms back towards the vertical.  As the anchor chain came aboard through this method, it would be “stopped off,” and then the process  repeated. I can’t say for sure that the hoist motors were actually powerful enough to obtain “anchor’s aweigh,” but they probably were strong enough to remove all the slack from the chain. Once the ship got underway, it was able to “pop” the anchor free from the bottom and ready for hauling aboard as before using the hoist and booms.
    After leaving Genoa, the Newport News came alongside for re-arming. Our ship, the hull of which had been fully painted in the shipyard not eight months before, evidently looked pretty shabby to the three-star aboard the cruiser. As punishment for the shame our appearance was now bringing him, compounded by the dishonorable anchoring we’d sprung on him in Genoa, he “exiled” us to the western side of Sardinia, outside of normal shipping lanes, where we could “heave-to” and paint ship. In actuality, it proved futile since we didn’t have sufficient fresh water to “prep” the hull’s surface before applying the fresh coat of haze gray, and the first sea that we encountered thereafter, just sloughed off all that fresh paint.
    I started this article by mentioning that all of the Sitkin’s electric motors had been overhauled. Not surprisingly, every one of those “overhauled” motors got fried before we returned to the States. And those fire main valves? Yep, you guessed it. A Damage Controlman told me that either through incompetence or as a way for the shipyard to cut corners during our overhaul, “fresh water” valves had been installed in place of the correct sea water valves; consequently, every one of those replaced valves eroded, leaked, and had to be replaced.

SH3 Wayne Agee, September 1959 - September 1962:  One of the funniest things I saw happen was during the "Med Cruise" of 1961.  We were operating with the Greek Navy.  The ship we were operating with was an old LST we had given them back in the late fifties.  Anyway our skipper invited the Captain of the LST over and he brought his XO with him and both had their wives with them.
  As most of you know when we were over seas there was a small white box with a red cross on it on the Quarterdeck of the Sitkin.  This box contained some "necessary equipment" (condoms) for visiting the ladies of the night in whatever port we happened to be in (uhhhh.... if you went for that sort of thing). 
  I had Petty Officer of the Watch on the Quarterdeck (01 level) when their boat came alongside.  They all climbed the ladder and I sent the Messenger of the Watch for the Captain.  As it happened they got to the Quarterdeck a minute or two before our Captain.  About the time our Captain got there one of the ladies casually flipped up the top on the box and looked in.  Her face turned bright red.  They were all speaking Greek and the two men were laughing.  I have no clue what they were saying, but I think it was as funny to them as it was to me.  I still had a grin from ear to ear when they left the ship and the lady who peeked wouldn't even look at me.  I do know that shortly after we moved the box to the bottom of the ladder on the main deck.
  That's my story and I'm sticking to it! 


 The Broken Radar Antenna Gear - 1962

ETR3 Tony Fernandez, April 1961 - January 1963: 
Reading the reminiscences of former shipmates in the AE-17 newsletter has brought back a flood of memories of my own tour of duty aboard the USS Great Sitkin (AE-17).  We had reached the end of our Mediterranean deployment period and were two days out on our long transit back across the Atlantic to Bayonne when CIC reported that the antenna wasn’t rotating! Troubleshooting soon revealed that the cause was a stripped bull gear in the mast mounted antenna gearbox. Needless to say, no spares were carried on board for such an item.
    Since the radar transmitter and receiver themselves were both still operational, one of the ship’s officers suggested locking the antenna in its centerline position, and zig-zagging the ship under the fixed antenna. At least that way we’d be able to spot any ships that were off our bow, although the spotting arc would necessarily be rather shallow. We tried this and of course it worked, but was inefficient since it impeded our already slow transit advance. We had to devise another method.
  The ship’s XO was a “mustang,” LCDR J. B. Hurst.  I soon found myself seated with the XO and the ship’s LDO Ltjg Bosun, trying to come up with a way to get better performance from the antenna. We’d all been aloft to view the damaged bull gear and had further discovered that several gear teeth had failed so that any powered rotation was impossible. I was asked about the possibility of rigging a set of falls consisting of spare signal halyards, some pulleys, and additional hardware, to the antenna. I racked my brain to think of all I knew about electro-magnetic radiation hazards, and recalled that it mostly pertained to being in the main beam of the antenna. If an individual were to stand far below on the 04-level and worked a set of lines through the pulley system we were proposing, he should be reasonably safe from radiation. Just as a precaution against static electricity, I suggested adding two large insulators to the lines several feet above where an individual would be holding them.
   The CO slowed the ship to a speed sufficient to maintain headway, and the XO, the Bosun, and I went up the mast after securing all power aloft. The three of us packed ourselves onto the platform on which the radar antenna was mounted. I still have a vivid memory of the XO leaning way out over the platform railing to attach small shackles to the outboard ends of the antenna the Bosun literally holding on to the XO’s pants belt. We ran some spare signal halyards through a set of falls which the Bosun had attached to the antenna platform, and we snaked the bitter end of the lines down to the 04-level where I attached the large ceramic insulators and the additional short pieces of line.
     In-hauling on the starboard line caused the
antenna to pivot right; in-hauling on the portside line caused the antenna to reverse direction, and still pointing forward, to pivot left. We lit off the radar and performed the evolution successfully with CIC and the bridge both reporting the radar functioning “normally” through an arc of about 60° on either side of the bow.  Speed was increased and we transited the Atlantic with a radarman going from the relative comfort of CIC to the 04-level to haul on the halyards sequentially port then starboard, for five minutes every 15 minutes all the way across, day and night.
    About two weeks later, we safely arrived in CONUS and here my memory gets shaky. I do
remember clearly that the entire antenna assembly was replaced in Norfolk, VA by civilian techreps and yard workers, but I can’t remember if we stopped there first after transiting the Atlantic and before returning to Bayonne. Perhaps the deck logs for 1962 would reveal that. I do remember that this episode and our “jury-rigged fix” was mentioned in the COMSERVLANT magazine, according to the OPS Boss soon thereafter; unfortunately however, I never obtained a copy for myself.


The Bent Screw Incident - 1965

SM3 Mike La Fauci, October 1964 - May 1967: 
This is a story about the infamous “bent screw”. It’s taken me a while to put it on paper, but to the best of my recollection I think I have most of the facts straight. Now, I understand that there might have been TWO bent screw episodes and I mention this so as not to confuse the issue.  The episode I remember was during my time aboard the USS Great Sitkin, which was late 1964 until mid-1967.
  The event I recall occurred while the ship was being docked at the ammunition pier in Crete. It was a blustery, cold morning and the ship was conned by a junior officer. As the ship made the approach to the pier the stern moved towards the pier (which was constructed of concrete). I think the wind might have been the culprit; in any event the stern swung into the pier while the screw was still turning. This resulted in the loveliest curved edges to the ship’s screw. There was a big “to-do” over who was to blame but in the end I believe the Captain took responsibility. In any case, we were out of the ballgame as far as the 6th Fleet was concerned.
  A new screw was sent to us and was secured to the fantail. I was a young kid at the time and thought the screw was huge. It was pointed out to me that if the screw were melted down in MIGHT make enough metal to become a nut on an aircraft carrier’s screw.
  It is my recollection that we made our way from Crete to Rota, Spain, where we off-loaded everything aboard and then got towed to Gibraltar, where repairs were made. I might be wrong about which leg we did under our own power and which leg we were towed. I do remember that the emergency power on the ship went out during the tow and I had to signal the towing ship of this with a battle lantern  Upon completion of the repair work we returned to Rota, onloaded all our ammo and then rejoined the Fleet and continued the usual operations of rearming and replenishing.
LCDR Sam Gath, USN (Ret), Naval Station Rota, Weapons Department: I was stationed at Naval Station, Rota Spain from Sep 64 to Sep 67 and recall unloading USS Great Sitkin AE-17 during the period of April 1965 (Easter Week).  Great Sitkin collided with a pier and had damaged a screw. In order to get back on station and change the damaged screw, Great Sitkin had to be off loaded and reloaded. This was accomplished at U S Naval Station, Rota.
  Working from dawn to dusk, Great Sitkin’s crew and Weapons Dept. Rota personnel accomplished this in record time by offloading approximately 3,000 tons of explosives in approximately 7 days.
  Great Sitkin proceeded to Gibraltar to be dry-docked. Repairs were made and the ship returned to Rota in 3 to 4 weeks to be reloaded.
  The re-load was also accomplished in record time. In addition to the afore mentioned personnel, we hired Spanish blockers and bracers from the port of Cadiz, Spain which is right across the bay from Rota. Those guys did a great job for us which facilitated the reload. We were also assisted by having the loading plan supplied by NAD Earle NJ where the ship was originally loaded. NAD Earle said this job couldn’t be done at Rota and the ship would have to return to the “States”.
  During this operation a few “Firsts” were accomplished:
1. It was the 1st AE completely offloaded in Rota.
2. It was the 1st AE completely loaded in Rota.
3. Both operations were completely done in record time  as compared to NAD Earle’s time. No safety regulations
    were violated etc.
  The skipper of Great Sitkin was so happy he threw a beer party for the ship and Rota’s personnel at completion of the reload. The beer party was great and we even found a few disoriented people sleeping on the baseball diamond the morning after. I can neither confirm or deny it, but the rumor was that another record was set: for drinking the most beer in the shortest possible time. I do not recall the score of the baseball game or who won. Guess it doesn’t matter.

 ENS Richard Hatfield, January 1962 - July 1965:  This is how I remember the "Bent Screw Incident".  Keep in mind that I am an old man now but very proud to have been the Engineering Officer aboard Great Sitkin Jan 1962-July 1965.
  Suda Bay, Crete. We were attempting to tie up to the pier when the stern swung in and the bow swung out and since the propeller is 19 feet 6 inches in diameter you can see from the pictures in your book what could and would happen. The screw was still turning when the stern closed with the pier and the result was 4 blades bent at an identical angle.
  I believe it was the next day when the 6th Fleet staff engineer arrived on scene and he and Captain English went into the water with snorkel gear for a close inspection. The inspection revealed what we all knew "all four blades are bent", now what do we do about it. In a very short time and lot's of message traffic the decision was made that we would have to have a new propeller installed. The staff planners determined that a propeller was available at Gibraltar and the Spanish Navy dry dock at Cartagena would be available and could accomplish the task.
  When we got under way from Suda Bay we all expected to have severe vibration from the damaged screw but to everyone's surprise no vibration occurred at slow speed so we got bold and increased speed, within 4 or 5 hours of leaving Suda Bay we were at flank speed and still no vibration or unusual heating of the spring bearings or leakage at the stern tube.  We reduced speed to "Full" and came all the way down the Med that way.
  We got to the Gibraltar Straits and made a right turn and headed to the Naval Base at Rota, Spain to offload our cargo. When we arrived at Rota I flew over to Cartagena with our docking plan so the yard could have the dry dock prepared for our arrival.
  During our trip down the Med there were several planning meetings of the Officers, Chiefs and Leading Petty Officers concerning the offload, these meetings paid off because when we arrived at pier side everyone knew what to do and what was expected. To see an entire AE's load laid out on the pier is indeed impressive and to think that it was accomplished by the ships force is almost unbelievable. Except for the special stuff that went into Rota's magazines the entire load remained on the pier until we returned from Cartagena.
  After the offload we proceeded to Gibraltar to pick up the new propeller and had it secured to the deck on the fantail and set a course for Cartagena. On our arrival the dock was already flooded and we were warped in. Docking overseas is a little bit different than in the US in that they use shoring between the wall steps of the dock and the hull to keep the ship centered on the blocks rather than hull blocks. After the dock was dewatered the yard workers went to work and continued working around the clock for the next five days.
  As you can see from the picture on our web site the rudder is in the way of removing the screw by pulling it off the tail shaft. To remove the screw on the C2 Hull it is necessary to remove the soft patches in #5 hold and open up the overhead of the shaft alley then remove the bolts from two couplings so that a section of shafting can be removed to allow the tail shaft to be pulled in far enough to remove the screw from between the hull and the rudder post. To remove the coupling bolts the yard workers used a 6" round bar about six feet long and hung on the end of a wire from the dockside crane, they would pull this bar back about 3 feet and allow it to swing forward striking the coupling bolts to force them out of the bolt holes, whenever this thing would strike a bolt the whole ship would shudder and the echo from the empty holds was awesome.
  As I said the job was completed in just 5 days by experts that gave the impression that it was just a routine job.
The engineering department took advantage of the docking to clean the sea chest and repair a few valves. Back to Rota to back load and then back on station with the sixth fleet.
  I do not remember how long we were away from the fleet but I do know that the whole operation impressed a whole bunch of very senior people. Captain English was the type of Commanding Officer that you wanted to give your very best effort for and I know that all hands were extremely tired but proud of what they had accomplished.

PN3 Paul Carlson, August 1964 - September 1967:  Some additional facts on the Bent Screw Incident, as I remember them.  There was a local pilot on the bridge directing us as we backed up to the pier at Suda Bay.  Captain English saw that we were getting to close to the pier and took the con, but it was too late.
  When we were steaming along the African coast I remember comments being made about what great time we were making. (Maybe we should have kept the bent screw).
  My recollection of the off-load in Rota was that we accomplished it in about 24 hours.  And the on-load in about the same amount of time.  That was a record, and yes we were tired.
  I am not sure that we were in dry dock for five days in Cartagena.  I just remember not being able to use that slit trench of a head we enlisted had to use for a "shitter".  I thought it was 3 days, but however long it was I was one happy sailor to get back underway.  I knew I was the first one to flush in the forward head.


Collision During UNREP
SM3 Mike La Fauci, October 1964 - May 1967: 
We had many different things happen in those couple of years I was aboard. Three fires, a collision at sea during replenishing, a runaway anchor (which we lost), a bad storm where the inclinometer read an amazing 34 degree starboard roll, a crack in the hull from the waterline to the main deck starboard side, playing “chicken” with a Russian guided missile cruiser....the list goes on and on.
  I remember the collision with one of our ships very well. I was on the forward deck, helping load skid boxes and nets full of ammo for a ship that was alongside us to port. I noticed the ship seemed to be getting closer and closer and took a quick peek at the phone cable, which, if you remember, was marked with different colors to be a quick reference guide of the distance between ships. I seem to recall we were inside the 60’ mark, so I went over to BM1 John Homick, who was leaning on the port rail drinking a coffee. I said to John, “Boats, that ship is getting pretty close, isn’t it?” He said to me (in his typical salty style), “Kid, I’ve seen them a lot closer than that.” Just then the ship began moving away from us and I was feeling a little better about things. But the ship kept moving away at a rapid pace and we were still hooked up to them! Then the ship began turning again and ran right at us until we collided. I was just in time to see John Homick complete the fastest port-to-starboard sprint I have ever witnessed. His coffee cup sat there on the port rail and he was gone! I yelled after him, “Hey John....Have you ever seen one THAT close?”. I don’t think he heard me....John, if you DID hear me, now is the time to ‘fess up. Although I never heard an official story about what happened, it was rumored that the ship we were rearming had lost steering on the bridge. A call went down to aft steering to take over....but the people aft were either snoozing or couldn’t be raised. In any case, I was a happy chappy to find us still floating and with only minimal cosmetic damage to the port side. A big dent and some red lead showing through a big scrape in the hull was all we had to show for that scary event.


The Broken Screw Incident - 1969 

 WO2 Charles Stephanski, Jan 1969 - July 1972:  0931hrs, 22 April 1969 Engineering Log: MMC J.R. Tomlinson logged abnormal noise coming from ship's screw and excessive stern tube cooling leakage.
  0950 hrs, Ch Eng LT Bob Holt and my inspection revealed that about 2/3 of a blade of our prop had broken off. We limped the rest of the trip to Rota Spain where we off loaded ALL of our ammo in preparation to go to the shipyard in Gibraltar to have a new prop installed.
  NAVSEA (technical designers in Philadelphia) determined that a prop in storage in Rota would fit if a "distance piece" were bolted to the aft end of the prop. So we on loaded the prop. BUT wait: There is/was a 16' bolted plate in the overhead of the shaft-alley to allow access to replacing of spring bearings/shaft. But the bolts (about 150 of them) were not visible from the deck in #4 hold). The Gunnersmates pulled up a couple of the dunnage boards in the bottom of #4 hold and BEHOLD there was a full load of 2000# bombs that did not show on any inventory. Needless to say there was much embarrassment to go around in the cargo/gunnery people. Unload the bombs, load the replacement prop plus 16 lignum-vitae logs (underwater bearing stock) and away we went. The shipyard in Gibraltor replaced the prop (with the distance piece) and back to Rota we went.


The  Bearing  Sightglass Incident - February 1971 

WO2 Charles Stephanski, Jan 1969 - July 1972: 
I guess us old folks have a lot of time to relive old memories. Fact 2nd or 3rd day out of Earle NJ someone unscrewed the sightglass assemblies from all the the bearings, thus letting the oil drain from the sumps. We were heading towards Roosevelt Roads, where it was determined that no damage was done to the bearings or the shaft. As I remember, we could not prosecute anyone, as we could not prove who actually did it. As I further remember, a FN was subsequently transferred from the ship.


February 1972 Storm off  Spain

GMM3 Tom Ollom, October 1971 - February 1973:  I have an 8mm movie of the storm that gave us hell when we got that SOS call off of Spain.  We almost lost GMG3 Luck and GMGSN Files when a wave broke over the bow and they were getting ammo out of the forward 3"50 magazine.  Luck was in the pipe of the magazine ladder and Files was on deck.  He got washed around the gun tub for Mount 32 and had a hold of the trainers seat when we got to them.  We had to pump over 300 gallons of water out of the magazine.  That was also the wave that messed up Director One and some of the rigging for #1 Hole.  We had water over the port holes in the cargo office and had to wait for the water to run off so we could open the hatch. 


Watching the WTC being built

DC3 George Kaiser, November 1969 - July 1971:  With all the attention on New York City and the attack on the World Trade Center towers, many of us I’m sure are able to think back at how we watched them going up in the late 60's and early 70's. One memory of how we observed the progress is this. In the after head on the port side, just above the urinals ( hey, sorry if I gross anyone out, but they served a function) there was a 2 ˝ “ overboard discharge port for a submersible pump. In the morning, while we answered natures call, we would look out that port to see what the weather was like. Due to the fact that we always moored port side out, the towers rising above the skyline would greet us as well, as long as it was a nice day!


Last updated on: 11/01/07