class had a new sonar put on the bow and the captain of that ship said it made
it ride better in bad weather. So they loaded both ships with instruments and
sent us into the North Atlantic in the winter looking for storms.
You don't have to look hard to find storms in that part of the world to find storms in the
winter. We spent a lot of time up around the ice pack and dogging icebergs. The
sky was steel gray. The sea was steel gray and you could not tell where they
came together. We got into swells of 150ft several times. Ice was forming on
the deck and masts. We took 35 degree roles often and had several of 50 and 55
We chased a sonar contact three days that the XO thought was a sub. When we saw it
it was a whale as big as a sub.
We ran no drills and did as little work as possible and still we were exhausted.
With a ship rolling around like that you get no rest. You sleep but don't rest
because your body is still fighting just to stay in your bunk.
Our sleeping quarters were all the way aft and you could
hear and feel the screws come out of the water. When you were on watch you had
to be alert because with all the icebergs you never knew what was coming. After
30 days they had found out what they needed to know and we went home. 37 days at
sea in port a week then on the way to Porto Rico. It sounds boring but today
after almost 50 years I can close my eyes and still see those giant rollers crashing
down on the ship. I can feel it shudder all over as it comes from under the
water back on top again until the next one crashes over. I can smell that cold
cold sea air and the heat from the turbines mixing together. The sounds of the
storm and the ship straining. I have a friend that was there and he doesn't
remember it at all. How could you forget?
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