We were onboard Preble for about a month before the commissioning ceremony in 1960. During this time we in the B and M Divisions were lighting the plant off and securing it each day getting used to the systems and learning our jobs. At the time there were only two BT's that had any experience with ACC (Automatic Combustion Control) boilers. One was BT1 Bryant, the first class in charge of number 1 fire room and the other was the first class in charge of number 2 fire room, I can't remember his name any longer. The rest of us had no ACC experience. On one of these days the after plant was lit off and carrying the electrical load while we (forward fire room) were attempting to light off and transfer the load to the forward generator plant. We were experiencing some difficulties with the burners (I was watching the feed pumps so I don't know exactly what the problem was) and BT1 Bryant was running around the fire room trying to solve the problem. While Bryant was doing his running one of the fireman apprentices (E-2) attached himself to Bryant and followed him everywhere he went. Bryant mostly ignored the FA (his name was Karousic) for the most part but the rest of us could tell that he was getting flustered at not being able to solve the problem. At one point Bryant was looking into the firebox of 1B boiler and Karousic was leaning over his shoulder trying to see what Bryant was looking at. That's when the aft plant dropped the electrical load and we were plunged into darkness except for the battle lanterns. In the dark Bryant backed up and stumbled on Karousic. The only thing he said was "God damn it, Karousic , go get me a bucket of sunshine!!" Well, the lights came back on then and the rest of us kinda snickered at Bryants remark but Karousic was nowhere to be found. Needless to say that didn't bother Bryant as he was still frustrated over the problem we were having getting the boiler lit off. Eventually the problem was solved, we got the plant up and running and the load shifted forward. A couple of hours later Karousic came back down the ladder with an empty bucket in his hand and tears in his eyes........he couldn't find a bucket of sunshine. You know the rest of us had a ball with FA Karousic after that little incident. We even sent him to bridge with a bucket of grease to grease the relative bearing once and the XO (LCDR Peter Stark) caught him there and sent him to DC Central. We almost lost it when we found out that the XO had a sense of humor too.
The actual perpetrator of this incident will remain unknown, I'm positive. It was one of those refuelings in the zone with no running lights and usually during the mid watch. We had done an UNREPS the night before and all were hoping for a nights rest, at least for the time being. Anyway to make a long story short, a BT was supposed to sound the rear fuel tanks every few minutes to make sure we were "topped off" before we pulled away . So he pulled up a chair and fell asleep. When he awoke we had 6 inches of fuel sloshing around in the B division berthing compartment. The fuel had come up the sounding tube and spilled into the compartment. It took almost a week to get it all cleaned up. Funny how you remember those little incidents.
During our gun line period off Hon Gio Island in 1972, I was the Magazine Captain in charge off loading the powder canisters and 5" projectiles. We were pulling 12 hour shifts, working our tails off and occasionally feeling the concussions from the shore fire. You see, we were 2 decks down and you could hear the water hitting the sides of the bulkhead. During one of our down times, most everyone was kicking back and trying to catch a "nooner". One of my seaman apprentice's, who I believe was totally unaware of what he was doing, was sitting on the hatchway between the powder room and the projectile room. I began to catch some flicks of light out of the corner of my eye, looked to see what it was and I see this seaman flicking his zippo lighter. Immediately, I yelled at him and asked him, "What in the hell are you thinking!?" He never really came up with a reason or answer, but he was sent out and replaced. I've always dreaded the thought, what if all of had been sacked out, what then....
"SAR Alert! SAR Alert!" - James Chick
It was Sept. '72 and the Preble was patrolling off the coast of
N. Viet Nam, provided shore gun support and being on alert for any SAR mission.
The lunch hour was winding down and I had just gotten off the bridge watch, so I
figured I'd eat something boiled or just munch on a horsecock sandwich. No
sooner that I had gotten down to 1st Division's quarters, the call went out to
man the whaleboat for pilots down. It was my rotation as boatswain mate to man
the whaleboat and drive our crew to recover the downed pilots. The Preble was on
station in just a matter of
minutes and we got the word to launch. On board, I had a bow and stern man, a corpsman, a gunners mate, an engineman, and Lt. Aldridge. We began our decent from the boat davits into the rolling seas. Trouble began
once we hit the water. What had happened was that we were lowered in between the crests of each wave and these waves were at least 10+ feet high. As we first hit the wave, which were rolling into us from the bow, we immediately took on blue water and the entire crew in the forward section of the boat were slammed down and to the back of the boat. As my bow & stern man were trying hard to disconnect, the engine stalled and we kept taking on more water with each new wave. Finally, we disconnected, drifted back slightly and after a third try the whaleboat's engine fired up. The water pump was going slowly so most of the crew removed their helmets and began bailing water. We slowly proceeded forward, still taking some water on board, so I elected to go over the waves at a slight angle so as to just roll over each while the crew continued to bail. As we stabilized, Lt. Aldridge maintained radio contact with the bridge and directed us to the two downed pilots. It wasn't easy locating the pilots due the heavy rolling seas, but their chutes in the water helped. As we came up to the first pilot and he began to climb aboard, he saw the water and asked, "Who's rescuing who?" A couple minutes later the 2nd pilot was recovered and returned to the Preble. I was amazed at all the sea and air support we had in such a short time once we had launched. Now due to the heavy seas, getting onboard was the next challenge. So, a ladder was placed over the side near the port side of the stern. Each time the whaleboat would rise with the seas, a crew member would grab the ladder to get back on she ship. After most of the crew had disembarked, it was my bow & stern man and myself to get the whaleboat back onboard. The boat davit hooks were lowered to their max, we hooked up on the first try, took a bumpy ride for a while and then we were safely on board. I credit everyone on my boat and those working the boat decks that made this a short and successful rescue. I'd also like to thank Ric Trexell for providing me with some film footage of that rescue. A moment not to be forgotten by all those who were a part of this mission. Well Done Crew!
The Stateroom - Michael Baldwin
I don't know if anyone who was in 1st division during the
1972-73 cruise will remember this but it has always stuck in my mind. Late
one night as the ship was berthed in Subic Bay for a little R&R, at around 2
am, Mr. Berg, the Weapons Dept. Head, turned on the overhead lights and was
asking as to the where about of a certain BM1's rack was. It seems that
the BM1 had been out on the town that night and on arriving back on the ship,
proceeded to "His" stateroom and in no uncertain terms told the
current occupant to vacate the room all the while, thrashing the
contents of the room. Well needless to say, Mr. Burg spent the night in the BM1's rack. Quarters that morning was very entertaining.
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Copyright 1997-2016 Tom Bateman
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