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  #1  
Old December 30th 06, 01:19 AM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
Greasy Rider[_1_]
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Posts: 15
Default Interesting read

SEA STORY - A true one experienced by Frenchy Corbeille USN(Ret)

It was Sunday afternoon, early in the month of August, 1968 when USS
Forrestal (CVA-59) was making her way through the Western
Mediterranean during the first days of a 7-month cruise. I was Officer
of the Deck (OOD) on the 1200 - 1600 bridge watch, there were no
shipís evolutions ongoing, and things looked like a ho-hum Sunday
afternoon at sea.

We were hosting the Prospective Commanding Officer (PCO) of USS
Independence and our CO had gone with him to the Captainís In-Port
Cabin. Prior to departing the bridge, the CO and I had conversed
briefly and one of the subjects breeched was that we had been in the
Mediterranean for more than a week now and we had not yet seen one of
those pesky Russian trawlers. Our Navy had come to hope not to see one
because they had a way of getting in the way whenever we had things to
do, such as flight operations, or underway replenishment. This lack of
encounter was about to change.

At about 1500 I called the CO to advise him that we had picked up an
unidentified surface contact on radar, range 22,000 yards (11 nautical
miles). It appeared to be on our reciprocal course at a speed of 8
knots and in the absence of any changes, the closest point of approach
(CPA) would be 6,000 yards on our port beam.

"Very Well" and the customary "Thanks, Frenchy" constituted the COís
response.

I had no more than hung up the phone when the contact changed course.
I could identify 2 sticks (masts) over the horizon, looking through
the 7X50 OOD standard equipment Bausch & Lombís, but could make out
nothing of the vessel. However, the two sticks bore a strong
resemblance to the pictures we had on the bridge of known trawlers
that had frequented these waters.

I called the Captain back to advise him that the unidentified contact
had indeed made a 90-degree course change, was still doing 8 knots,
and his present course/speed would take him across our bow at 6,000
yards (3 miles). We were doing 20 knots, on some kind of a sustained
speed exercise for the engineers, and preferred to alter neither
course nor speed unless absolutely necessary. I advised the Captain
of my suspicions concerning the vesselís identity and advised him that
I had ordered the Intelligence Sighting Team to the bridge.

It being a Sunday stand down with little to occupy the idle time, we
soon had the entire Intelligence staff scattered about on the bridge
and the signal bridge, with a few photo types thrown in. The contact
was still hull-down over the horizon but the visible masts more and
more took on the resemblance of our Russian trawler pictures. I also
advised the Captain that, in accordance with the International Rules
of the Road, Forrestal was the privileged vessel; the vessel crossing
our bow was coming from our port side and was therefore the burdened
vessel. In accordance with the Rules, the privileged vessel is
REQUIRED to maintain course and speed. The burdened vessel is
responsible for maneuvering as necessary to avoid collision.

The Captain said "Very Well, call me back if he does anything funny,
and let me know what the intelligence folks come up with."

Only moments later I was back on the phone, advising the Captain that
we had positive ID on a Russian ELINT (Electronics Intelligence)
trawler, and he had indeed done something funny. He had reached our
intended track at a range of 6,000 yards, and had then executed
another 90-degree turn to port; he was now on the same course as
Forrestal, dead ahead, at speed 8 knots. So we had a 12-kt speed
advantage, and 3 miles to contact. That meant that in 15 minutes one
or the other of us must turn or he, the Russian trawler, would get run
over.

I advised the Captain that in accordance with the International Rules,
he was burdened when he came in from our port bow. Now that we are on
a course to overtake him, he would like us to believe that Forrestal,
as the overtaking vessel, is the newly ordained BURDENED vessel. I
reminded the Captain of another clause in the rules that says once a
vessel is burdened, it may not maneuver to shift the burden to the
other vessel. He stays burdened until danger of collision is past.

The Captain agreed with my assessment and asked what I recommended we
do. I recommended we hold course and speed until In Extremis that
sketchy point at which somebody has to do something or thereís going
to be a crunch, then order up All Back Emergency Full, Right Full
Rudder, and we would miss him. I had identified that point as 400
yards astern but threw in 100 yards for cushion.

The Captain once more came back with his cheerful "Very Well" and
added, "If heís still there at 1,000 yards, give me a call back"

"AYE AYE, Sir!"

Now weíve eaten up about 1/3 of our cushion and the squawk box came to
life.

"Bridge, Flag Bridge . When does Forrestal intend to maneuver to avoid
that privileged vessel ahead?"

There was no race by other members of the bridge team to answer that
one, so I got it myself.

"Flag Bridge, Bridge -This is the Officer of the Deck speaking. That
vessel ahead is not privileged he approached from our port side,
therefore is the burdened vessel, and he can no longer maneuver to
shift his burden to Forrestal.

" Flag Bridge Aye!"

I could envision some hot shot flag watch officer digging the
Admiralís shoe out of his ass, and smiled inwardly. I didnít hear the
Admiralís voice, but I knew he was watching from his favorite perch.

Somewhere about then I had the Signal Gang close up flag "Uniform" on
both halyards U is the international signal that says"You are standing
into danger."

Then our Navigator got into it. First he told me I was going to have
to turn the ship and he was working on our new course. Since he was a
commander and I was a lieutenant, I explained as tactfully as I could
that we were not going to turn, leastways not to a pre-planned course.
We were the privileged vessel, and as such, were REQUIRED to hold
course and speed.

Next thing I heard from him was, Mr. Corbeille, Iím ordering you to
turn this ship.

With no attempt at tact, I advised him, Commander, you cannot order me
to turn this ship. If you believe the ship to be sufficiently
endangered, you, as Navigator, can summarily relieve me as OOD. Then
you can turn left, turn right, or come dead in the water. But you
cannot order me to turn. Do you want to relieve me?

Rather truculently, he then asked if the Captain knew about all this.
I told him yes indeed, and at contact range of 1,000 yards, I was to
notify the Captain again.

You better call him again right now!

No Sir, we still have a few hundred yards to go.

At this stage, I donít recall the exact time, the bridge relief crew
was coming on deck, but no one was ready to be relieved. I spied my
relief OOD waiting in the wings and he wanted nothing more than to
stay out of the way.

Admittedly, I got a bit nervous, and I called the Captain back when
the trawler was 1,100 yards ahead. His only response was, Iím on my
way up. He arrived momentarily with the PCO of Independence following
in his wake. He hopped up in his chair and said, Boy, he is pretty
close, isnít he? Then he asked, And when do you plan to make your
big move? I told him that if it closes to 500 yards, we can order up
All Back Emergency Full, Right Full Rudder, and we will miss him.

He asked: "Is that what the book says?"

I told him, "No Sir, The book says 400 yards, but I was leaving in a
little cushion."

He said, "We need only to maneuver in extremis to MINIMIZE DAMAGE."

That is a slight departure from international rules, but was our
standing order, arrived at specifically to contend with harassment
vessels. This is kind of a delicate point here because International
Rules of the Road says the privileged vessel must maneuver when in
extremis to avoid collision. The USSR ( Soviet Union ) was not
signatory to the International Rules of the Road, therefore her
vessels were not bound by them. It must be pointed out that Russian
ships, merchantmen and men-of-war alike, followed the international
rules of the road anyway, and knew them well enough to play chicken
with U.S. ships, mostly to our embarrassment. That was a game that our
Navy had long since tired of, hence the new guidance to maneuver only
in extremis to minimize damage.

Naturally, it behooved one to be absolutely certain that he was
absolutely right, if he were going to take a Navy man-of-war down to
the wire in a potential collision situation. Iím sure there are
readers who have more background concerning our maneuvering
instructions, but we believed we understood them perfectly. I still
believe that we did.

Having thus indicated his intentions, the Captain then asked, So how
close can we take her? I told him 400 yards would provide a grazing
situation, and then ordered the engine room to stand by for Emergency
Backing Bells.

We were still closing and had reached the 500-yard mark when the
trawler put in left full rudder. His rudder was not the size of a barn
door it had to have looked like the side of the barn itself! That guy
turned 90 degrees left in a heartbeat! We never flinched, never
wavered, and the trawler passed close aboard to port so close, if
fact, that the hull was not visible alongside our flight deck. All
that was visible from the vantage point of our bridge were the two
masts as they went rapidly down our port beam. Then we launched a
helo for some photo work and a big sigh of relief went up from the
bridge.

The Navigator started lobbying for us to file a harassment report, but
since we had altered neither course nor speed to accommodate the
trawler, it was hard to make a case for harassment. I wanted to make
out a harassment report on the Navigator but the CO calmed me down on
that score. The Prospective Commanding Officer (PCO) of Independence ,
bless his soul, took in the whole affair after arriving on the bridge
with our Captain, and never interjected one word. When it was all
over, he moved directly in front of me and said, loud enough for
almost everybody on the bridge to hear,No one could have done better.
Our CO joined right in and said Frenchy, you handled that perfectly.

At that point I realized I wasnít going to be a lieutenant forever, my
advice to the Captain had been sound, and I knew our Captain
appreciated it. My breathing gradually returned to normal.

For his part, Captain Hill, for that, as I recall, was his name, went
on to become CO USS Independence. He assumed command while anchored
in some Sicilian Bay , and when Independence stood out to sea under
new management, there was a Russian ELINT trawler, just outside
territorial waters, making slight way on Independence ís intended
track. A friend serving on that fine vessel told me that the new COís
order to CIC was Combat, give me a collision course on that trawler at
30 knots! I heard the same refrain from several other people and I
believe it to be what happened.

For our part, we spent the remainder of our cruise unhampered in any
way by any Russian flagged ship. We continued to see an occasional
trawler, but when we came into the wind to launch and recover
aircraft, they vanished as if by magic. The word seemed to have leaked
out that this carrier has an attitude problem heíll run right over
you! And the Chief Engineer was happy because he got his
uninterrupted 4-hour sustained speed run at 20 knots.

Life was not the same for me after that. Our Captain made me Command
Duty Officer Underway. I was already the General Quarters OOD and Sea
and Anchor Detail OOD, so I wasnít sure what this new designation
would lead to. I soon learned that I was to be on the bridge whenever
Forrestal was in formation with other major combatants, (destroyers
didnít count, but cruisers did), and that I was to provide training to
all prospective Command Duty Officers. Anytime there was underway
replenishment, there was a formation, so I got to spend a lot of
valuable time on the bridge, learning all I could absorb. Our great
Captain, nameless up to now, was Robert Bemus Baldwin, born in
Bismarck , North Dakota . He was promoted to RADM upon leaving
Forrestal, and the last time I spoke with him he was Vice Admiral
Baldwin, COMNAVAIRPAC. I believe he lives in or near San Diego , and
remains the most admired man of my 30-plus year Navy career.

CAPT R. CLAUDE CORBEILLE, USN (RET) Castle Rock, WA


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  #2  
Old December 30th 06, 02:17 AM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
Mike Weeks
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 61
Default Interesting read


Greasy Rider wrote:
SEA STORY - A true one experienced by Frenchy Corbeille USN(Ret)


For the more-recent members, this was posted back on 11 March 2005 as
"A Sea Story ..."

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.a...a57f90c?hl=en&

Still a good read.

MW

  #3  
Old December 30th 06, 03:17 PM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
Greasy Rider[_1_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 15
Default Interesting read

On 29 Dec 2006 17:17:30 -0800, "Mike Weeks"
postulated :

For the more-recent members, this was posted back on 11 March 2005 as
"A Sea Story ..."


Should have Googled it. Thanks,
  #4  
Old December 30th 06, 03:47 PM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
John[_1_]
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Posts: 101
Default Interesting read

Wow. a great sea story, a pointer to know the rules of road in a solid
manner and a parable in leadership rolled up all into one . . . that
was great.

I suggest you cross post this to rec.boats and rec.boats.cruising.
Yes, there will be a few will make nasty remarks about Americans and a
few more that may attempt to sharp shoot the application of the rules
of the road, but my experience is that darn few know them well enough
to make a competent challenge.


John
Greasy Rider wrote:
On 29 Dec 2006 17:17:30 -0800, "Mike Weeks"
postulated :

For the more-recent members, this was posted back on 11 March 2005 as
"A Sea Story ..."


Should have Googled it. Thanks,


  #5  
Old December 30th 06, 04:07 PM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
Greasy Rider[_1_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 15
Default Interesting read

On 30 Dec 2006 06:47:08 -0800, "John"
postulated :

I suggest you cross post this to rec.boats and rec.boats.cruising.


I abhor cross posting but feel free.

Yes, there will be a few will make nasty remarks about Americans and a
few more that may attempt to sharp shoot the application of the rules
of the road, but my experience is that darn few know them well enough
to make a competent challenge.


The post was an education for me. I simply rambled the flight deck
working on aircraft electronics and thinking the guys up in the island
were a bunch of pussies in their air conditioned environment. I didn't
have an appreciation for their problems.
  #6  
Old December 31st 06, 03:46 AM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
J.McEachen
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Posts: 17
Default Interesting read

I was an Air Group jo on Forrestal for two Med cruises. I qualified as
JOOD and on our return to Norfolk in August 1961 we came across the 34th
parallel, off shipping lanes to do high speed runs. I had the afternoon
JOOD bridge watch. CIC came up on the comm saying target identified
bearing 260 distance 60 miles (I am estimating now, 45 years later.) The
CO was notified, we continued on our high speed run, and 1/2 hour later
CIC again called recommending a course change as we were on a collision
course with the target ship. It still amazes me that when you see
another a/c while flying, you immediately think of evasive action as,
chances are, it will come close. Here, we hadn't seen another ship for
over 24 hours and the one ship we came across was reportedly on a
collision course.
Joel McEachen VAH-5


Greasy Rider wrote:

On 30 Dec 2006 06:47:08 -0800, "John"
postulated :

I suggest you cross post this to rec.boats and rec.boats.cruising.


I abhor cross posting but feel free.

Yes, there will be a few will make nasty remarks about Americans and a
few more that may attempt to sharp shoot the application of the rules
of the road, but my experience is that darn few know them well enough
to make a competent challenge.


The post was an education for me. I simply rambled the flight deck
working on aircraft electronics and thinking the guys up in the island
were a bunch of pussies in their air conditioned environment. I didn't
have an appreciation for their problems.

  #7  
Old December 31st 06, 03:07 PM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
[email protected]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 50
Default Interesting read


J.McEachen wrote:
I was an Air Group jo on Forrestal for two Med cruises. I qualified as
JOOD and on our return to Norfolk in August 1961 we came across the 34th
parallel, off shipping lanes to do high speed runs. I had the afternoon
JOOD bridge watch. CIC came up on the comm saying target identified
bearing 260 distance 60 miles (I am estimating now, 45 years later.) The
CO was notified, we continued on our high speed run, and 1/2 hour later
CIC again called recommending a course change as we were on a collision
course with the target ship. It still amazes me that when you see
another a/c while flying, you immediately think of evasive action as,
chances are, it will come close. Here, we hadn't seen another ship for
over 24 hours and the one ship we came across was reportedly on a
collision course.
Joel McEachen VAH-5


Heavy 5, in my airwing when I was onboard Independence(I think), in
1975/6. Yer right, 'constant bearing, decreasing range', and you are
taught early on the change course to get the target 'moving', either on
your canopy or on the radar.


Greasy Rider wrote:

On 30 Dec 2006 06:47:08 -0800, "John"
postulated :

I suggest you cross post this to rec.boats and rec.boats.cruising.


I abhor cross posting but feel free.

Yes, there will be a few will make nasty remarks about Americans and a
few more that may attempt to sharp shoot the application of the rules
of the road, but my experience is that darn few know them well enough
to make a competent challenge.


The post was an education for me. I simply rambled the flight deck
working on aircraft electronics and thinking the guys up in the island
were a bunch of pussies in their air conditioned environment. I didn't
have an appreciation for their problems.


  #8  
Old December 31st 06, 03:44 PM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
Greasy Rider[_1_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 15
Default Interesting read

On Sun, 31 Dec 2006 02:46:22 GMT, "J.McEachen"
postulated :

VAH-5


VAH-5 flew A3D s ... correct?

  #9  
Old December 31st 06, 08:39 PM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
Diamond Jim
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Posts: 23
Default Interesting read


"Greasy Rider" wrote in message
...
On Sun, 31 Dec 2006 02:46:22 GMT, "J.McEachen"
postulated :

VAH-5


VAH-5 flew A3D s ... correct?

I believe you are correct. IIRC they started switching to RA5C's in '64?


  #10  
Old December 31st 06, 09:07 PM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
J.McEachen
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 17
Default Interesting read

Correct, when they were nuclear bombers. The tanker package only arrived
in 1961-2, A4D/A-4's did all the tanking for CVA's with two wing
mounted fuel tanks and a centerline "buddy package." VQ had a few
A3D-1Q's, the A-3 versions (TA-3B, VA-3B, RA-3B, EA-3B) came in in 1960,
and the bomber conversions (KA-3B, EKA-3B, ERA-3B) started about 1965.
The Forrestal class carriers were built as strategic platforms (remember
the "Revolt of the Admirals"?) until 1963 when the nuclear triad of
ballistic missile subs, B-52's, and ICBM's took over strategic missions.
CVA's had nuclear missions in Sixth and Seventh Fleet, with A-3's,
A-4's, and A-1's. The high level bombing that the A-3 was designed for
became low level missions, with all three Navy attack planes proficient
in pop-up and loft bombing maneuvers. We used radar bomb scoring sites
(RBS) in Jacksonville (navy) and Charlotte (usaf) as well as portable
usaf rbs units that moved around to give us a real challenge with
different targets. We had practice bomb sites (mk 56 (?) iron bombs with
phosphorous charge in nose) and practice -larger- bombs at Lake George,
FL (a semi-sunken LST in the center was the aim point) and Stumpy Point,
NC. In the Med we dropped the practice bombs on a target at RAF El Adem,
Libya; RBS was a navy site at Naples. Heavy Attack Wing ONE at NAS
Sanford, FL (I think it was the last 'type' command left then)
maintained bombing scores and posted the top ten B/N's for the prior
month on a "totem pole" outside the Navy Exchange. Under 200' (our
ASB-1A - an electro-mechanical analog computer with radar and optic
sights - based on the WWII Norden bomb sight had a mechanical tolerance
of 1200', under that we figured was real good,) got us a patch for the
"Bulls Eye" club, with strips for second and subsequent awards. Whidbey
Island was the west coast counterpart (how they flew off 27-C Essex
class carriers amazed me!) and in 1962 - with the last A-3B's 147xxx
BuNo's - got the digital ASB-7 bombing systems I figured because the
A3J/A-5A was arriving at NAS Sanford. It is interesting to note that
Bombardier/Navigators in the A3D/A-3B up to 1961 could be nugget Naval
Aviators, NAO(B)/Naval Aviation Observer B/N (prior to NFO's,) or
enlisted air crew bombardier/navigators. The third crewman who sat
facing rear immediately behind the plane commander was an enlisted
aircrewman, trained as a gunner/navigator. Heavy Attack had to be the
best opportunity for aviators (largest plane, single pilot,) NAO's (best
seat and duties for NAO's,) and enlisted aircrewmen (who could be
gunner/navigators or bombardier/navigators.)

The rest you know. The Vigilante wasn't a good bomber but it got
converted to the recce RA-5C which in Viet Nam had the highest percent
loss rate along with the F-8. A-3's were too valuable/risky for bombing
so became highly cherished tankers, active ECM, and recon planes. The
A-3A first flew in 1952, had no ejection seats (which is probably why so
many survived, no one wanted to jump out of one,) and retired from Naval
service in 1993. Several still fly for Hughes Aircraft in California.
USAF bought a Douglas derivative a/c, the B-66, and the Army flew one
(with a Naval Reservist crew) for missile testing. It was the largest
plane to fly regularly from a carrier, and it holds the record for
catapult shot weight, thirteen at 84,000# from Independence on August
25, 1959.

It was quite a plane.
Joel McEachen VAH-5 Mushmouths

Greasy Rider wrote:
On Sun, 31 Dec 2006 02:46:22 GMT, "J.McEachen"
postulated :

VAH-5


VAH-5 flew A3D s ... correct?

 




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