Friday, December 4, 2015

Haze Gray, Definitely Destroyers

HMS Havock in 1893, the first modern destroyer (Source)
...Then I read in the comments from Tuna's post a heart rending plea from Skip, one of the long time friends here at Sarge's place. He'd like more Destroyers. Now, as Readers are well aware, I'm an AF Fighter Pilot (Ok, I was, when I was young, skinny and had hair). Sarge is an AF Aircraft Maintainer, and Tuna is a Navy NFO. Where are we gonna get Destroyers? Quote from Juvat - 30 November 2015
I have been aboard a number of ships of the haze gray variety, some still on active service, some not. Those of the "not" variety include two battleships, USS Alabama and USS Massachusetts. I have been aboard two old WWII submarines, USS Drum and USS Lionfish, which, unlike modern subs, are painted gray. So it's all been gray ships that go to sea to make war upon the Nation's foes. (Oh yeah, one destroyer, USS Joseph P. Kennedy and one former Soviet/East German/West German missile corvette, Hiddensee, are on the list of non-active service warships whose decks I have trod.)

I have been to sea on two aircraft carriers, both courtesy of my daughters. My first ride was out of Norfolk, aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike), CVN-69, courtesy of The Nuke, her ship at the time. The second ride, underway under nuclear power - again, was out of Sandy Eggo, aboard the USS Ronald Reagan (Gipper), CVN-76, courtesy of The WSO, whose old air wing used to be assigned to that ship.

But today's post is not about aircraft carriers, submarines or corvettes, nope, it's about destroyers. A warship near and dear to the hearts of Skip and other old timey tin can sailors.

I have been (or am) associated with a number of destroyers, either through the job or through the progeny. Two of the three were tin can sailors at one point in their lives. These greyhounds of the fleet are worth their weight in gold. Sometimes (as in the newest class) they seem to cost as much as their weight in gold. (Not really, though Zumwalt costs roughly $150 a pound. Which at 14,564 tons is not chump change! About half the price of silver...)

So let's get to it, here are, what I like to call, the family's destroyers.

All of the following are U. S. Navy photos in the Public Domain.
USS O'Bannon, DD-987
USS O'Bannon (DD-987), a Spruance-class destroyer, was the third ship of the United States Navy to be named for Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon (1776–1850), an early hero of the US Marine Corps.

O'Bannon was laid down on 21 February 1977 by Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Miss.; launched on 25 September 1978; and commissioned on 15 December 1979, Commander Marshall R. Willenbucher in command.

Originally scheduled to remain in service through 2010, decommissioning of the Spruance-class destroyers was accelerated as a cost-saving measure, and by June 2005 O'Bannon was the last Spruance destroyer in service in the Atlantic Fleet.

O'Bannon was decommissioned on 19 August 2005 and struck from the Naval Vessel Register the same day. In 2004 O'Bannon was to be sold to Chile, but in 2005 she was scheduled to be transferred via FMS to the Turkish Navy. In the end she was sunk off the coast of Virginia at 3:23pm on 6 October 2008 in a training exercise by the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier group, using missiles, guns and finally a Mk 82 bomb. Wikipedia

I never had the pleasure of going onboard the O'Bannon, or seeing her, but I do have the ball cap as worn by the crew! My son collected one of those during a midshipman cruise. Might have been between his freshman and sophomore years at CORTRAMID (Career Orientation and Training for Midshipmen), I don't remember. Seems like it was a long time ago.

O'Bannon was the first of three Spruance-class destroyers "in the family," as it were. These ships, as a class, were affectionately known as "Sprucans." "Spru" being short for Spruance and "can" being short for "tin can," an old name for a destroyer.

USS Arthur W. Radford, DD-968
USS Arthur W. Radford (DD-968) was a Spruance-class destroyer in the United States Navy. She was named for Admiral Arthur W. Radford USN (1896–1973), the first naval officer to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Arthur W. Radford was laid down by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries at Pascagoula, Mississippi and launched on 21 March 1975, sponsored by Mrs. Arthur Radford, the admiral's widow. Radford was commissioned on 16 April 1977, and decommissioned on 18 March 2003, after serving 26 years.

Arthur W. Radford was decommissioned in 2003, then stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 6 April 2004 and eventually assigned to the Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On 8 June 2010, the ex-Radford was transferred to the State of Delaware for eventual sinking as an artificial reef onto the Del-Jersey-Land Inshore Reef site (38°31'N 74°31'W), about 30 nm southeast of Cape May, New Jersey and northeast of Ocean City, Maryland.  On 10 August 2011, her hull was scuttled off the coast of Delaware, to form part of the largest artificial reef on the east coast, and the longest vessel to be used for this purpose in the Atlantic. Wikipedia

The Radford was The Naviguesser's second destroyer he rode as a midshipman. This was in the summer between his junior and senior years, that would have been his "officer" cruise. The summer before that was his "enlisted" cruise. He was in the Gator Navy for that one. Perhaps I should write about the Gator Navy some time. The Naviguesser came back from that cruise determined to be a gunner's mate or a bosun's mate. Until I pointed out the pay disparity between enlisted and officer.

I understood though, being enlisted is way more fun than being an officer. DAMHIK.

This was another ship I never saw, though again, I have the ball cap. (Okay, technically the ball caps for O'Bannon and Radford are my son's, but I am in possession of those. I also doubt he wants them back. At least he hasn't asked, yet...)

Now about that funky looking mast, ya know, this one, that futuristic looking thing aft -

USS Arthur W Radford mast detail.

The US Navy's Advanced Enclosed Mast/Sensor (AEM/S) system fully integrates advanced materials, structures, and manufacturing technologies with sensor technology, electromagnetics, and signature reduction.

Ship masts, with the complex antenna geometries mounted on them, as well as the latticework of the mast structure, contribute significantly to a ship's radar cross section. The AEM/S consists of a faceted radome that provides a cleaner exterior profile, with internal platforms on which antennas and sensors are mounted. The radome material is designed so that the antennas can transmit and receive through the material. The base of the mast is constructed from fiber reinforced composite skins encasing end-grain balsa core. The upper (radome) section consists of structural foam and fiberglass.

In May 1997, USS Arthur Radford received the first-ever shipboard installation of the AEM/S System, to serve as a proof-of-concept or advanced technology demonstrator. Sailors reported an unanticipated benefit of being able to work aloft in bad weather, increasing the efficiency of scheduled shipboard maintenance.

Using lessons learned from the Radford, the Navy designed the AEM/S into a new class of ships, the first being the USS San Antonio (LPD-17) amphibious transport dock. Wikipedia

Basically, think stealth mast. I always did. Here's what a standard Sprucan pair of masts looked like -

Masts on USS Fife, DD-991

USS Briscoe, DD-977
USS Briscoe (DD-977), named for Admiral Robert Pearce Briscoe USN, was a Spruance-class destroyer built by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries at Pascagoula, Mississippi. She was laid down 21 July 1975, launched 28 December 1976 and commissioned 3 June 1978. The ship operated out of Norfolk, Virginia during her entire 25-year career. When decommissioned, she was part of Destroyer Squadron 22.

Briscoe was decommissioned 2 October 2003. She was disposed of in support of a fleet training exercise on 25 August 2005. She lies at 34°49’N – 72°31’W at a depth of 2,252 fathoms. Wikipedia

Now Briscoe was The Naviguesser's penultimate ship, the ship he first went to sea aboard as a newly minted ensign. She was the ship in which he went to war at the opening of the second Gulf War. For, you see, my son was commissioned in the spring of 2001. We all remember what happened in September of that year. (Shame on you if you don't!)

When they returned from the Gulf, we met them at the pier. On a very cool, very wet morning in Norfolk. The carrier had come in the night before, the rest of the group came in the morning after, as The Naviguesser put it, "steaming in effing circles all night!"

We went aboard after the mob at the pier had thinned out a bit, I got to see my son tell a certain officious young Seaman, "No, I don't have to effing wait for the electrical lines to go over. Those are my guys doing that job. I am the effing ELO and I'll go aboard when and where I wish. Are we clear sailor?" Much like his Dad, the boy can blister paint (and idiots) with his vocabulary.

So Briscoe was the first active duty warship I ever went aboard. Yes, I have the ball cap. Once, years later, as I was going through the security gate at work, the guard waved me down. After I stopped and rolled my window down to inquire as to the reason for the stop, the guard, a rather large black gentleman, started laughing...

"Well, if it ain't Disco Briscoe! I haven't seen one of those caps in years! I used to work in the 'Yard down south, many's the time I've seen Briscoe pull in. Were you assigned to her?"

After a long, and very jovial, conversation, I went on into work. Made a friend that day, that guard was a really good guy. So that's my Briscoe story. Pouring rain, an overly officious sailor and an affable gate guard. I have (somewhere) a small piece of fiberglass from one of the missile cells on Briscoe. My son, again like his Dad, collects things. When he was shown some of the pieces of the shrouding which protects the missile after the hatch opens, he asked for one, "For my Dad." Pretty cool.

Those particular missiles had been lofted at Saddam Hussein, if you must know. In the opening salvos of Gulf War 2.0. The mustachioed one escaped that volley.

USS Oscar Austin, DDG-79
USS Oscar Austin (DDG-79) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the United States Navy. The ship is currently part of Carrier Strike Group Ten.

Oscar Austin is named for Private First Class Oscar P. Austin, USMC, a recipient of the Medal of Honor. His mother, Mildred Austin, was the matron of honor at the commissioning. Wikipedia

This ship I visited for work. As part of a project we were on, a retired Navy fellow decided it might be a good idea if the younger crowd actually saw what a real warship looked like. So he arranged a tour...

Your Humble Scribe: "Hey Mark, can I go too?"

Mark, retired Commander: "Why's an old Master Sergeant want to see a ship. You've got kids in the Navy and..."

Your Humble Scribe: "I'll drive some of the young'uns to the pier, I have access to the base."

Mark, retired Commander: "Cool, be here in the morning at 0800."

Your Humble Scribe: "Roger that."

So I had the opportunity to tour an Arleigh Burke class destroyer. It was awesome, especially the Mark 41 missile launchers (if you look aft of the 5-inch mount in the next photo and just forward of the helo deck you can see the Mark 41 launchers, there are two). Those launchers extend three stories from bilge to hatch covers. We got to crawl around inside as there were no missile canisters loaded. Really neat.
 
USS Nitze, DDG-94
USS Nitze (DDG-94) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. She is the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for Paul Nitze, who served as Secretary of the Navy under president Lyndon B. Johnson and as chief arms control adviser in the administration of President Ronald Reagan. Wikipedia

Nitze was my son's last ship, he is a plankowner** and was the ship's navigator (hence his cognomen, The Naviguesser, and yes, he doesn't like that tag. As with callsigns, if you don't like it, it sticks.)

The Missus Herself and I had the honor of being at Nitze's christening up at Bath Iron Works, Secretary Nitze and his wife (and loads of relatives) were all there. As was the Secretary of the Navy at the time, Gordon England, and one of the Maine congressional delegation, Susan Collins. Yes, lots of speechifying, Secretary Nitze (who was in his 90s at the time) fell asleep in his wheelchair. I would have fallen asleep myself except that a cold breeze had begun to blow out on the Kennebec River. A warm spring day in April of '04 (with me in just a sport coat) had begun to get rather cold. Kept me awake it did.

Eleven months later we headed down to Norfolk for Nitze's commissioning ceremony. Secretary Nitze had passed away prior to the event, so the herd of relations was a lot smaller. His widow was present as was a former SECNAV, John F. Lehman, Jr., who was the keynote speaker.

His speech was superb, I wish I had a copy.

As for the commissioning ceremony itself, it was awesome and inspiring. The weather? Horrible. Cold and rain, even saw some snow on that day in March of 2005. Brrrrr!

As invited guests we actually had seats. Which were covered in plastic due to the rain. Everyone pulled their plastic covers off and sat down, huddling under umbrellas. There we sat until the National Anthem began.

You guessed it, now the seats were drenched. Sigh...

Next time I wait until after the National Anthem to sit down.

We did get to go aboard after the ceremony. You know that "new car smell"? New ship smell is just as awesome. The Missus Herself actually managed to send her umbrella down a ladder, fortunately without skewering anyone. Still have haze gray paint on that umbrella.

"Throw it out? Honey, it's a souvenir!"

Yup, I got the "You're an idiot" look.
USS McFaul, DDG-74
USS McFaul (DDG-74) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the United States Navy. She is named for Chief Petty Officer Donald L. McFaul, a Navy SEAL who was killed in action on 20 December 1989 while serving in Panama. McFaul was awarded a posthumous Navy Cross for attempting to rescue a platoon mate at the cost of his life. Wikipedia

McFaul was the last destroyer I have visited to date. She was The Nuke's first ship. She was the Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer, so she was known as ASWO to the crew. When I visited McFaul for the second time, the crew started calling me "ASWO's Dad," much to The Nuke's chagrin. Yes, I loved it.

Now I mentioned that I had at least two visits to McFaul. Both were at the pier down in Newport, right here in Little Rhody.

The first time I visited McFaul was for work, another tour which Mark arranged and for which I again volunteered to drive and escort. That was pretty cool. Got to see a lot more of her than I did the Oscar Austin.

Now the second (and third, fourth, fifth and sixth) times was also for work. But this time The Nuke was a member of the crew and the ship was in Newport to support one of the Surface Warfare Officer courses at that base. She would be in port for a week and my daughter let me know that I could come visit, maybe bring a friend or two...

Your Humble Scribe: "So Nuke can I bring sixty friends?"

The Nuke: "You're sh!tting me, right?"


Your Humble Scribe: "No, actually I want to bring some of my fellow engineers onto the ship so they can see what one looks like, maybe talk to the crew. Ya know, for work."

The Nuke: "Sigh, alright, I'll see what I can do."

As it turned out, it all came together. Security clearances were checked at both ends (my employer and the ship) and I was able to tour USS McFaul with roughly "sixty of my closest friends." A bunch of the ship's officers were able to tour my work place and see a demo of the project I was working on.

Which leads me to the last destroyer (so far) that I have been associated with.
PCU Zumwalt, DDG-1000
PCU* Zumwalt (DDG-1000) is a guided missile destroyer of the United States Navy. She is the lead ship of the Zumwalt class and the first ship to be named for Admiral Elmo Zumwalt. Zumwalt has stealth capabilities, having a radar cross-section akin to a fishing boat despite her large size. Wikipedia

Those who know a thing or two can probably guess where I work. Now my involvement in that project is starting to wind down and I'll be moving on to other things at my place of work. One thing I have to say about the place I work, it has been interesting and educational.

Though The Nuke accuses me of putting on airs and acting "salty."

What can I say? I love the Navy. As I've said before, they put all three kids through college and provided me interesting work for nigh on 17 years. What's to complain about?

Before I go, The WSO is also associated with a few ships other than Reagan. She did a midshipman cruise on the USS Curts, a frigate out of Sandy Eggo back in the day and her college roommate spent her first sea tour on USS Taylor, another frigate, this one home ported in Norfolk. I was able to tour Taylor when she came to Little Rhody for the Fourth of July. The WSO and her former roomie were both brand new ensigns, they were at the house that day along with a number of their freshly commissioned classmates. The party was epic, epic I tell you. The WSO was very impressed with my beer pong skills. As were all the other newly minted ensigns.

Yeah, like an old Master Sergeant was going to let himself be embarrassed in a drinking game by a bunch of butter bars.

Like I said, the party was epic.

Yup, I love the Navy.

BTW...


Go Navy, Beat Army!



* PCU = Pre Commissioning Unit. A ship does not become a United States Ship (USS) until she has been commissioned. When a ship is commissioned it has been formally accepted into the fleet and is ready for operations.
** A plankowner (also referred to a plank owner and sometimes a plank holder) is an individual who was a member of the crew of a United States Navy ship or United States Coast Guard cutter when that ship was placed in commission.

42 comments:

  1. Great post. I was fortunate to serve on two destroyers during my active duty service and a fast frigate during my reserves service. After reading this post and doing a quick list I realized that after eight years active duty, seventeen years active reserves, and thirteen years as a shipyard worker, only one ship that I was stationed on, worked on, or went to sea for sea trial on, was still in commission. But it cannot be me that is getting old. (denial is not just a river in Eqypt)

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    1. Thanks John.

      Maybe it's just me, but my old uniforms have all shrunk. Must be something in the closet causing that...

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  2. I concur, great post. I've always been a little bit in awe of Destroyers and Tin Can sailors. Samar and Taffy 3, Johnston and Roberts, etc. Then there was Jarvis, disappeared shortly after Savo, and a mystery until Japanese records were studied after the war.

    Always loved watching the Destroyers and Frigates and even learned to enjoy refueling from them, although HIFR was always a bit more sporty than I really liked.

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    1. I will, someday, get to sea on a can. It almost happened once, it will happen, someday.

      "Wind abaft the beam," I know a certain navigator for whom those words will still illicit a grumble.

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  3. Great post. As an old Tin Can sailor, I very much appreciate the homage!! Beat Army indeed.

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    1. Thanks Cap'n, thought you might like it.

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  4. I thought you'd rise to that implied challenge and you did. Quite well, by the way.

    "Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors" was consumed while on Vacation on the recommendation of someone commenting on this blog. Whomever that was, Thanks. Excellent book.

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    1. Hahaha!

      I need to read that book. Time to trot out the Amazon gift card again.

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  5. IIRC, nobody likes being called the Naviguesser.
    Now it is a much simpler task what with GPS.
    Back in the day it meant going out on the bridge wing or up on the signal bridge at noon with a sextant to shoot the Sun, or at night finding the right star and shooting that.
    Of course, if the ship was close enough to shore, there was the opportunity to use charts and visual land marks from which to take bearings.
    Some Skippers even trusted the CIC gang enough to rely on radar navigation.

    Great post, Sarge.
    The Zumwalt just doesn't look like a can.
    It looks a lot more like the CSS Virginia (nee USS Merrimac).

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    1. My son actually received instruction in using a sextant, not sure if he had the chance to use it at sea. The Navy discontinued that training for a number of years, now, from what I understand, it's back.

      No, Zumwalt does not look like a can. Concur with your assessment though she has a lot fewer guns than CSS Virginia.

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  6. Very interesting. Nice to see the new toys kids get to play with today.

    The Sprucans were just coming on when I retired, so my point of reference is more along the lines of "When you're out of FRAMs, you're out of cans." That was back when destroyer ran on steam made by burning NSFO black oil (although later the use of DFM [diesel] fuel was a tremendous improvement. Two or three twin 5"/38 gun mounts, a pair of MK 32 SVTT torpedo tubes, usually an ASROC launcher, and a seldom used deck for DASH drone helicopters. But, boy, were the FRAMs fun to drive, much like a sports car, with plenty of power (thanks, snipes!) very responsive helm, and the 390 foot length and 2,600 ton displacement was "just right" for seamanship.

    Good times, good times.

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    1. USS Joseph P Kennedy at Battleship Cove in Massachusetts would be to your liking methinks. She actually has a DASH (or two) in her hangar.

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  7. Thank you, Sarge, for those pics. Even though my tin can was decommissioned before most of these keels were laid, it does my heart good to see 'em. Made my day!

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  8. just to drop my Polish 2 cents:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ORP_B%C5%82yskawica
    must visit if you ever be in Gdansk (aka Danzig) area, where she is museal ship now
    in action since first shots of the war to the last ones, During the war, she logged 146,000 nautical miles (270,000 km) and escorted eighty-three convoys

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    1. Excellent stuff Paweł, your two groszy are most welcome.

      Once again, I learn from my readers. I think another post is in order.

      We'll introduce the readers to ORP Błyskawica. A fine ship!

      (Editor's note: "ORP" is analogous to the U.S. Navy's "U.S.S." and stands for Okręt Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, "Warship of the Republic of Poland." I like it. A lot!)

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    2. IIRC Błyskawica was the fictional name Ned Beach gave to Rich Richardson's first boat -- the S-16 -- in "Run Silent, Run Deep," when it was transferred to the Free Polish Navy around the time of Pearl Harbor. Once the boat was turned over Richardson and Bledsoe (and part of or most of the rest of the crew?) went to Walrus and on to greater glory. Just a goofy bit of trivia.

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    3. Another old book I need to find my copy of and read again!

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  9. Sarge, another great post and trip down memory lane. I was still enjoying the F-4 Phantom write-up and now a piece on destroyers? I was a Second Class Gunners Mate on the USS Southerland, DD 743 and while the Spruance, Burke and Zumwalt classes are certainly capable destroyers they don’t have the presence that made Fletcher, Sumner and Gearing emote the term “tin can”. I still search YouTube for video of the action inside a 5”-38 twin gun mount during gun shoots and I remember how well trained and proud we were. Thanks again, you bring value to the blogosphere.

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    1. Thanks Lou.

      Fletcher, Sumner, Gearing are names which every tin can sailor should know. Proud fighting ships!

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    2. Lou, did you know that if you slew Mount 52 all the way to starboard and forward, then depress the muzzle about dead level it will put that muzzle not very far from M division berthing. And when you open fire against some target, the muzzle blast is enough to shake the racks loose from their slightly trussed up position and dump six snipes in a pile on the deck. Adding to the general discomfort level in M div berthing on the starboard side aft you will continue to shoot while the six snipes pretty near need clean skivvies. I know this 'cause I was in the middle rack against the hull and ended up in the dogpile.

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    3. Sounds like a bad place to bunk!

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    4. Usually a pretty good space to have your rack. It was a dead end in berthing, so not a lot of traffic passing by, the middle rack was OK for we of short height, and when at sea you would lift the part of the rack held up by the chains, and take a few turns in the chain. This would angle the rack so even when fairly rough you were held in place against the hull. (except for that one time!) And no double hulls in most places, the skin of the ship had the wet stuff on the other side. The 714 was in Newport News and we were having a hard time keeping the bilges pumped down in the after engineroom. We got the bilge water low and divers went under the ship to look at the hull. Pretty weird feeling to see dive lights shining up through the network of cracks in the hull. Years later I wrote the story and saw it published in the William R. Rush association newsletter. One of the replies from from a diver and it was his light I saw shining up through the cracks. Small world.

      I was part of the decommissioning crew when we turned it over to the ROK Navy. (kinda like a reverse plank owner) She served for around twenty more years in the ROK Navy and is museum ship in The Republic of Korea. Look for Kang Won DD-922.

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    5. The former USS William R. Rush (DD-714). Great story John.

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    6. John, on my Spruance class DD, every time we fired MT 52 on any bearing, it tripped the #3 Gas Turbine Generator offline. We learned to line up the plant with #1 and #2 online prior to commencing any gun shoots using the after gun mount.

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    7. And to think my biggest problem was the guy next door and his overly loud stereo.

      Well, that and the Phantoms roaring over at all hours of the day.

      Heh, Air Force problems.

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  10. Tin can sailor EARN their money... I keep wondering how stable Zumwalt is going to be without a tumblehome to right her and keep her head up in a following sea though...

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    1. Most likely fin stabilizers. I went on sea trials at the Philly yard aboard a modern ship, either a can or a FF, she had an active stabilization systems and the ride was pretty gentle when it was turned on and working correctly. The name and hull number is not coming up in the memory bank.

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    2. @Old NFO - they've done a lot of testing with models. They claim she's stable. We'll find out real soon Alpha trials are coming soon.

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    3. @John - you're probably right about the stabilizers.

      Working correctly is the operative term...

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  11. Two cousins were on destroyers. Lots of sea stories,especially about extreme rolls. I'll try to find out what ships they were on, circa early 1960's.

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  12. Ok, Skip got his Christmas wish. More jets please.

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    1. More jets? But we have jets all the time. Let us Air Force guys play with boats now and again.

      (Yes, I know they're not boats unless they're submarines. Or aircraft carriers... Tee hee hee!)

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    2. Hhmm, I sense a disturbance in the force.

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  13. John, the William R. Rush is a sister to the Southerland and THAT is a tin can! Also, did I know what mount 52 did to the snipes berthing area? Oh yea. I once had a Damage Control guy come up into the mount from the handling room during a shoot to yell that I was tearing the boat apart. When we secured from the shoot we found that we had blown rip in the fantail deck plate about 6 feet long and I could see the racks below. It was a bit of a mess down there but then I berthed forward under the torpedo deck.

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    1. I went through an INSURV on the Willy R, and shortly thereafter she was sold to the ROK Navy. Try telling the ROK MM1 that was taking over the forward engine room there was a blank flange on the main drain between the forward engineroom and the after fireroom. And because of the language barrier, do it all in pantomime.
      And yes, the whole time we are communicating, (kinda) I could not get the phrase "main steam stop walve" to stop running through my head.

      And when the after engineroom noticed there was water pouring into the space from where the the forward shaft left the after engineroom it got a little exciting. The sounding and security watch had sounded the starboard shaft alley and when the brass weight got to the end of its travel it punched right through the hull into the ocean. By the time he got somebody there the water had rising high enough to start passing through the worn out shaft seal into the after engineroom. The First Class Hull Technician had been on a lot of Sumner and Gearing cans, so as far as he was concerned, no big deal. He stuck a bunch of DC plugs into his belt, (think a bandoleer of plugs) grabbed a large hammer and went underwater in the shaft alley just holding his breath. As he said later, the first DC plug just made the hole bigger and vanished into the ocean, but the second plug knocked enough rust off to get to good metal and that plug stopped the water from coming in.

      And in general terms, and even though it was the seventies, don't do the bump dance with the oiler.

      My two years on the Willy R were the best part of my active duty time.

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    2. Amazing story John. I could listen to real sailors talk for hours.

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  14. nice coverage. BTW my nephew is underway with the Zumalt as a Propulsion Engineer for the sea trials.

    Msgt USAF WCS RET.

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    1. No kidding, I saw some photos of Zumwalt headed down the Kennebec River. Pretty sweet to have your nephew aboard for the sea trials.

      You were a WCS gorilla? Small world.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)