National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors Summer 2010 by dfgh4bnmu


									National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors   Summer 2010
USS Seneca ATF 91
TOWLINE                                                                         National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

                                                                     Reunion Info                  2010 and 2011      3

    Chairman of the Board               Submit stories to:           Oops!              USS Apache photo update       4
        Bob Campbell
        Jim Wassmuth                                                 Kiowa Tales          Two quick ATF stories       6
                                      (or via the mail to)
       Vice President
                                      Rich Tetrault
         Ted Hillman
                                      Towline Material               Aircraft Down           1st Person Account       8
          Nick Radke                  216 Nesmith St.
          Secretary                   Suite 4                        Aleutian Nuke Job         1969 atomic tale     10
         Rodger Dana                  Lowell, MA 01852
          Directors                   (978) 459-5334
        Neil Bjornsen                 (east coast time please)       Rickover Retires        Adios to a nuke sub     16
       Mike DeCesare
          Ray Evans
           Ed Ford                                                   Update                  Info on past stories    21
       Joe Giangrosso                 Submit Membership
         Harry Jaeger                 dues or questions to:
      Clyde Longerbone
                                                                     Oldies                 Early 1900 photos       24
        Ned Lundquist                 Rodger K Dana
      Allen MacPherson                Membership Chairman
      Craig Rothhammer                221 Buland Drive
         Ralph Smith                  Castle Rock, WA 98611
          Jack Sweet                  (360) 274-6739                                Departments
          Hal Tenney
                                      (west coast time please)
         Rich Tetrault
                                                 2 Editor’s Notes     26 In Memoriam
         Pat Winston
          Bob Yates                                                  2 President’s Corner 27 Membership Matters
NAFTS is the National Association
                                                                     26 Chaplain’s Corner 28 NAFTS Ship’s Store
of Fleet Tug Sailors. A non-profit
veteran’s group made up of the men                                   Color photographs:
and women who served in the tugs
and salvage ships of the United
States Navy, Coast Guard, and         Cover: USS Sagamore ATA 208 towing APL 42 across Atlantic to Scotland circa
Army any time since the first mili-   1961 from George Antellas EN3
tary tug was commissioned in the
war between the States until the
                                      Inside Front Cover:        USS Seneca ATF 91 photo from Dependant's Cruise.
present. The Towline has a circula-   Contributed By Harvey Naeser
tion of approximately 1,400 and is    Inside Back Cover:        USS Tawakoni ATF 114 stopped in Sasebo harbor on
published on a quarterly basis by     way back from WestPac for a Change of Command from R. R. Mulhearn to W. R.
NAFTS. The subscription is in-
                                      Heinecke. Circa 1971. Contributed by NAFTS member Lt (jg) Steve Day USS Tawa-
cluded in the annual membership
dues paid by the members. Inquir-     koni 1970-71.
ies can be directed to:               Back Cover:       USS Opportune ARS 41 Real nice photo taken at anchor, Augusta
 Rich Tetrault                        Bay, Sicily March 1991 Contributed By Don Knock
 Towline, 216 Nesmith St. Suite4
Lowell, MA 01852
           (978) 459-5334

TOWLINE                                                                        National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

                  Greetings Shipmates                            have made a promise to myself that we will get new
                                                                 members in on my watch. The one thing that I need
                     The Wozette and I are already               more than anything is your help. We need people
                   packing and getting ready for the             with hints on how to contact veterans, and we need
                   upcoming cruise. I took a cruise              people to do some leg work rounding up new recruits.
                   with some Nipmuc crewmen in
                   April, and as good a time as we had,             The word has gone out that the 2011 reunion will
it is going to be even better with all you other tug sail-       be in Hawaii, and I hope you are all looking forward
ors. I have to admit that as many times that I have              to it. I haven't been to Hawaii, and I know that all
gone on cruises I always wake up at 2330 (11:30 PM               you ServPac sailors will give me tips on the best and
remember?) and try to find some food before I think              worst places to go. I have also discussed having the
that I am going onto the mid-watch. Even though old              2012 reunion in Virginia so that we can visit the Zuni/
habits are hard to destroy I enjoy the food a lot better         Tamaroa. That isn't set in stone because Harry Jaeger
on cruise ships than I did on the Nipmuc.                        needs to get the old girl spruced up for our visit, and
                                                                 we know Harry is not a person to be rushed.
   One of the things that we will be discussing on the
next reunion is how to bring new members into                      In the meantime I wish you all fair winds and fol-
NAFTS. I understand that there is a limited number               lowing seas.
of tug sailors out there, but I want to make sure that                           Jim (the Woz) Wassmuth
they know about us, and give them a chance to join. I

              Ahoy Tuggers,                                      As President “Woz” said above, we need you to do
                                                                 your part in finding some new members for us so that
              Yeah, the last cover photo had a little            we can keep this organization afloat. We haven‟t
              mixup. The location/date got mixed up              raised dues for well over a decade now and the best
              with another USS Missouri photo of a               way to keep that going is to bring in some new mem-
              grounding. Hmm, how many times can                 bers. So if you know of a tugger who lives down the
              a ship that big run aground?                       street, or maybe a former shipmate that you‟ve stayed
                                                                 in touch with, tell them about NAFTS. Better yet,
We could use some fresh stories so sit down and put              why not give them the membership as a birthday or
your pen to paper and tell us your tale. We still have           Christmas gift?
some “stuff” in stock to fillout the pages but some
nice first-person tales are always appreciated by our            That‟s it this issue. Have a safe summer and we‟ll see
members.                                                         you in the Fall.

This issue comes out as we prepare for our West
Coast Cruise to Mexico. I sure hope you signed up
because this is going to be a fun trip. And start mak-
ing plans now for Hawaii in 2011. Ideal weather.
Ideal beaches. More “Navy stuff” than you can shake
a stick at. Hawaii is gonna be a legendary reunion.

TOWLINE                                                                      National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

So did you signup for the cruise? The deadline for payment was July 1 so we hope to see you aboard Royal Car-
ibbean‟s “Mariner Of The Seas” this October 24th. We‟ll be having some fun in the sun and venturing out on
the Pacific Ocean during our reunion cruise to Mexico. We‟ll give a full report of the cruise in either the next
TOWLINE or later in the Winter Edition (all depends on the publishing date). So, because of the early payment
requirements, this edition has no typical upcoming reunion info concerning the cruise.

We‟re off to the Aloha State in 2011. A Hawaii Re-             Craig was aboard the ARS 24 USS Grasp and the
union has been kicking around our meetings for a few           ARS 38 USS Bolster in the late 1970s. His bio sez he
years. In the past couple of years, after polling mem-         was an OS2. I gotta look that one up.
bers at the reunions, Hawaii wins hands-down. Once
again, we‟re attracted to the deals out there because of       Since we‟re talking October/November 2011 its still a
the continuing economic downturn and we are fortu-             long way off. So the details will all be nailed down
nate to have two of our NAFTS Board Members                    as we start building up steam on this project. Pat
spearheading the effort on-site on the Island of Oahu.         promises us some great values with possibly an offer-
                                                               ing of condos and/or extended length stay values for
NAFTS Board member Pat Winston has been active                 those who want to make the long trip worth their
in the hotel/condo industry in Hawaii for years                while and stick around a little longer. Craig is reach-
(                       ing into his barrel of contacts and lining up some vis-
Pat has his hand on the pulse of the industry and he‟s         its to some of the most historical U.S. Naval areas in
always looking for a deal for our members. By the              the country. Pearl Harbor. The USS Arizona Memo-
way, if you‟re thinking of heading to Hawaii on your           rial. The USS Missouri BB 63. Punchbowl National
own be sure to check out Pat‟s website and contact             Cemetery (in an extinct volcano). The list goes on
him and let him know that you‟re a NAFTS member                and on.
and he will do his utmost to save you a buck. Pat was
a Yeoman on the Hitchiti ATF 103 and Reclaimer                 And the tourism and natural beauty of the islands is
ARS 42 back in the late 1960s.                                 second to none. The beaches are among the best in
                                                               the world. The climate is consistently warm with
NAFTS Board member Craig Rothhammer is the                     cool breezes. The mountains and scenery are spec-
other half of our dynamic Hawaii duo. Craig is an              tacular. I left Hawaii in 1969 when I walked across
avid collector of ship “stuff” and has a collection that       the USS Lipan‟s brow for the last time and have been
the Smithsonian would envy. He‟s in business for               yearning to go back for decades. Apparently there‟s
himself and relocated to Hawaii many years ago since           been a few changes.
he deals mostly with the military (Shhhhh!) So Craig
is in the unique position to get us some ringside seats                                      Rich
at some special Navy events while we visit the island.

TOWLINE                                                       National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

I got an email from NAFTS member Jim Mohn concerning the USS Apache photo (below) that
was on the inside color cover of the last edition of TOWLINE. Jim was an EM2 aboard Apache
from 1967 to 69. He was happy to see his photo but when he read the photo credits it was attrib-
uted to another Apache crewmember. Sure enough, the photo does indeed belong to Jim. We get
photos by the thousands and sometimes the photo’s credits get their wires crossed, especially out
on the Internet. So, a thousand pardons to Jim for the errant misrepresentation. If you have any
nice photos of your ship, why not send along a copy to us for publication in a future TOWLINE.
We’ll do our best to give you credit for them!

TOWLINE                                                                    National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

       More Apache Photo Remarks:
The photograph of the USS Apache ATF67               Dallas, TX. He asked me to step over to the hatch. They say
moored to the pier at Panama Canal Zone on the       President Kennedy has been shot and sounds like the place is
inside cover page of the spring 2010 Towline         in a turmoil and a manhunt is in motion for the person that is
brought back memories of the tragic event that       thought to have shot him.
happened on 22 November 1963 during my
watch as the ODD. The Apache with ARD 11 in          After listening to the chart room radio I called the Captain
tow, had departed from Mare Island, CA on the        who was in a pinochle game. When I relayed what I had
12th of November. On the 22nd we were over           heard I still remember the long pause and his words, “Chief
half way to our destination at Rodman Canal          do you know what you are saying?” My answer was yes sir,
Zone and the first day of observing tropical hours   if I wasn't I wouldn't be calling you. In a few minutes he was
in the ship's daily routine.                         on the bridge and a few minutes later the radioman was on
                                                     the bridge with up to the minute reports on the assassination
It was a beautiful day, sunny, few clouds, the sea of President Kennedy. I might note that for at least an hour
calm. The tow couldn't be riding any better. It      communication was interrupted.
was going to be a nice quiet afternoon, until
about halfway through my watch, the radioman We arrived in the Canal Zone on 29 November and moored
handed me a four word message, “The President probably to the same pier as in the picture. I remember the
is dead”. Which one I asked? Not sure but I am bridge in the background.
trying to get more details he said. It actually took
several minutes before radio communication           Arnold L. McLain BMC
could be resumed. In the meantime the quarter-       USS Apache ATF 67
master had been in the chart room playing with       1962-63
the shortwave and had tuned in a station in

                                                                                  Left: That’s Chief McClain in the
                                                                                  middle and on the left was a 1st
                                                                                  class gunner's mate and a 1stclass
                                                                                  boatswain mate to the right . Both
                                                                                  of these men were outstanding lead-
                                                                                  ers and I hate to admit I have for-
                                                                                  gotten their names. I would appre-
                                                                                  ciate it if anyone knows their names
                                                                                  and whereabouts to please contact
                                                                                  me. (Ed’s note: contact Towline if
                                                                                  you know)

TOWLINE                                                                      National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

           Bend the Rules

Bill Grant is no stranger to TOWLINE. He’s the source of many of our tales. He was a Lieuten-
ant (and Navigator) aboard USS Kiowa ATF 72 from 1942 to 1945 and here’s two quick little sto-
ries he sent us. Both have to do with rules and how we sometimes bend or break them.

Rules are meant to be broken (or at least bent)!               and the rescue began: (1) they threw a dog onto our
                                                               deck. (the poor pooch had its paw-nails outstretched,
The recent spate of inclement weather has caused me            but they were useless on our steel deck). (2) next they
to read my aneroid barometer several times a day so            threw over a woman! (Captain‟s wife? Cook?) (3)
that I can get a personal incite into the „up-coming           lastly the 6 man crew jumped co-ordinating with the
storms‟.                                                       relative rise and fall of the waves.

Clearly inscribed on the face of this instrument is “US        When all were aboard, the small tug scurried towards
Navy”. I did not “lift” it. I received it many years ago       St. Johns. We deemed the drifting barge a “menace to
from a business/social friend, Sidney Silver. His Dad,         navigation” and put a couple of rounds of 3”50 into
in Maine, stocked this type item in his General Store.         the hull and rushed back to Argentia.

A crude „rule of thumb‟ in the reading / recording             When we were moored at a berth and our passengers
data from this instrument is: “If readings differ as           and their dog were landed, we received a dispatch
much as ± 4/100 of an inch in one hour . . . batten            stating we were to go out again tomorrow on another
down the hatches!                                              mission . . . so get fuel and necessaries, etc.

[THE BROKEN RULE]                                              During that mission the working parts of our barome-
                                                               ter had „slipped‟. The dial did not show a proper read-
In the winter of 1943 the North Atlantic Ocean was             ing . . . since we were already ordered-out a.s.a.p. I
often plenty rough. (nothing unusual, there) One dark          took the faulty barometer to the supply building the
night, we, the USS Kiowa (ATF72), were dispatched              exchange it for a working one. The supply officer, a
on an emergency job by the CO of the NOB Argentia,             Commander, personally escorted me to the bin hold-
Nfld.,Canada towards the Denmark Strait. A barge,              ing barometers. In that building was an optical repair
with no means of propulsion, was being towed North             shop, so fixing our instrument was just a matter of
from Chesapeake Bay laden with anthracite; the tow-            time. He was about to give me a working barometer
line broke, the small towing tug radioed for help, stat-       when he noticed that the bin was marked “50% of
ing that the laden barge was en route to Europe, being         the bin contents was to be maintained at all times”.
caught drifting in the Gulf Stream. About 6 people             Since there was only one spare, he couldn‟t issue it to
were aboard and that they, the little tug, were unable         me! I tried to reason with him that we were about to
to assist further, but would stand by!                         go to sea and a barometer was a necessity. He refused
                                                               the exchange of instruments!!!!!!! I phoned the Admi-
Upon arrival at the rendezvous we made an assess-              ral commanding the NOB and plead my case. In 20
ment that we would come alongside the barge near               minutes we had a working barometer!
0200h Atlantic Time, that being the interval , by ob-
servation, that the sea/wind usually abated in the             Bend the rules when necessary for sea-goers!
Strait. At that time, we would take the people off the
barge… as we rose on a wave and the barge fell, rela-
tively…. We went close aboard with fenders fixed

TOWLINE                                                                   National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors


                                                            Normandie beachhead towards the Bar Fleur penin-
One cold night in the winter of 1943, the Mighty K          sula in France. We were proceeding West-North-
(USS Kiowa, ATF 72) arrived off Halifax, Nova Sco-          West outboard of a large (double turreted . . .
tia, Canada on a hush-hush mission from the US Na-          4.7”rifles) British Destroyer inboard of us which was
val Base, Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada. (The              steaming East-South-East, when her light threw a
weather was cold, really cold…., the night was dark,        challenge at us. We replied correctly. The destroyer
and all navigational assistance devices were unavail-       then demanded our name. Not have learnt too thor-
able to ships.) The whole East Coast of North Amer-         oughly from our Halifax experience, we answered
ica was “blacked-out” as a partial deterrent against        “KIOWA”[in plain English towards the shore for
the Nazi U - boats.                                         anyone to read] They replied “Queen Mary, here!”
                                                            The destroyer thought we were properly confusing
We must have „touched a nerve‟ for the Port had             the enemy. . . they must have misinterpreted the “K”
awakened and lit itself. A light slashed through the        in “KIOWA” for a prosine meaning go-ahead reading
darkness and challenged us; we answered the chal-           the name “IOWA”, a US Battleship, which was meant
lenge correctly. Then the light demanded to know the        to confuse the snooping enemy”
name of the offending intruder, we answered, “USS
Kiowa”. We proceeded through the gate and were
assigned a berth on the South side of the harbor.

Early the next morning, we were boarded by the Port
Director. He admonished us for our not following
security; in that we sent a message (our ship‟s name,
see above) in clear un-coded English towards the
beach, where anyone who could read the light would
know who was entering Halifax harbor! We smarted
from the reprimand, as we felt entrapped by the shore
establishment. Conversely, anyone snooping, might
just as easily have seen us moored to a public pier.

The next two days were a great break to our routine.
We were invited to the clubs,
F.W.Woolworth‟s store on the „main drag‟ was
forced to close early…our crew had commandeered
all the sales ladies before normal closing hours.
---------                                                   Above: USS Kiowa in an undated photo from Douglas
It is our experience that the Brits are more security       Soel.
conscious then Americans. Early July, 1944 we were
tested again, but this time, unconsciously, we were
the victors. We had another mission further from the

TOWLINE                                                                      National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

NAFTS member CDR Roger Aydt was the skipper of the USS Cree ATF 84 from 1964 to 1966.
We recently received an online inquiry at the NAFTS website from a woman who was seeking
information about her brother who was lost in the crash of a P3-A Orion sub-hunter aircraft on
4 December 1964. Cree happened to be on scene during the crash and Commander Aydt was
able to provide valuable insight to her about the accident. He gave us permission to include his
remarks here.
  I was the Commanding Officer of the USS Cree                toward the crash site. The USS Morton, which was
(ATF-84) on 4 December 1964 when a P3A Orion                  perhaps approximately 16,000-18,000 yards (8-9
was lost off the Philippine Islands coast near Subic          miles) from the crash site changed course directly for
Bay/Cubi Point, P.I.                                          the crash site. The USS Cree was limited in speed
                                                              due to having the target in tow and arrived at the
  There were three Navy units operating in a night            crash site in approximately 25 minutes. The USS
gunfire exercise. The units were the USS Morton,              Morton arrive shortly thereafter. While enroute, USS
USS Cree and a P3A Orion aircraft. The USS Cree               Cree prepared its skiff (rubber boat) for launching and
was towing a target 1500 ft astern. The P3A Orion             upon arrival at the crash site launched the skiff with
mission was to drop flares at designated times to illu-       swimmers and divers on board. The partial remains
minate the target and the USS Morton was to fire at           of three P3A Orion crew members were recovered
the target.                                                   (hopefully, I am remembering this correctly). USS
                                                              Morton joined in the search upon its arrival. After
   During one of the passes near the target, the P3A          searching for a period of time, an expanded search
Orion was to drop a flare to illuminate the target. As        was commenced with USS Cree remaining in the im-
it passed down the port side of USS Cree, members of          mediate area. If I recall, two other ships were sent to
the Cree crew and I noticed that there appeared to be         assist in searching for the crew members and any
some flames coming from near the midsection of the            floating debris. The search continued into the next
aircraft. While the aircraft was passing down the port        day. The search area was covered multiple times to
side of USS Cree, I directed the radar operator to get        ensure that a total effort was expended in the search
a range (distance) and bearing (direction) to the air-        for survivors. As you know, there were none.
craft. I also ordered the Quartermaster to get a bear-
ing utilizing the port wing polaris (gyro compass re-           Upon returning to port, the remains of the crew
peater). The aircraft crashed into the sea off of the         members and debris recovered were turned over to
port quarter of the USS Cree at a range of approxi-           the USS Morton. The USS Morton was charged with
mately 6,000 yards (3 miles).                                 making the required reports concerning the crash.
                                                              The USS Cree had no further involvement in the inci-
   I radioed the USS Morton which was the control-            dent.
ling ship for the aircraft and asked if they could see
the aircraft on their radar. The USS Morton replied              While I cannot verify, in any way, there was specu-
no and then I reported that it had crashed. The reason        lation that one of the flares became hung up in the
I asked the USS Morton if the ship still had the P3A          launch tube from which flares are launched from the
Orion on its radar was because there could have been          aircraft. I have not seen the final report which was
other aircraft in the area even though there should not       filed.
have been. I call a FINEX (end) to the gunfire exer-
cise, gave the range and bearing of the crash site to            I deeply regret the loss of your brother and the en-
the USS Morton, changed course and headed directly            tire crew of the P3A Orion that crashed that evening.

TOWLINE                                                                       National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

                                                             Above: USS Cree ATF 84 in a nice circa 1969/1971
Please be assured that every effort was made to lo-
                                                             photo from NAFTS member LT (jg) Bob Meckley
cated any survivors of the crash. In the end, I do not
believe there were any. The information above is to
the best of my recollection of the incident.                    The US Navy Historian has Cruise
    Although it has been more than 42 years, hope-
                                                                  Books for the following Tugs:
fully, the above will give you some more insight into        Clamp, WW2
the night of December 4, 1964 and comfort you, a
little more, as you grieve for your loss.                    Cree, 1973

                     Sincerely,                              Hitchiti, 1978
                         Roger Aydt
                          Commanding Officer                 Munsee, 1968
                          USS Cree (ATF-84)
                           Sept. 1964-Aug 1966               Petrel, 1970

                                                             Serrano, 1967

                    Send us                                  Sioux, 1968 & 1972

                                                             Tawasa, 1968

                    your story                               The Internet link for the Cruise Book Listings is:

                                                             (note that there are no spaces in the Internet address)

TOWLINE                                                                    National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

                                             Alaska                           by Rich Tetrault

I figured that it was about time that I wrote a story for TOWLINE. As Editor, I see many tales
cross my path but I never wrote my own so here goes. I boarded USS Lipan (rhymes with pie
pan) ATF 85 at her home port, Pearl Harbor Hawaii, 16 August 1966 as a Seaman Apprentice. I
was sent to Deck Force and told it was a lifetime assignment, so I made the best of it and studied
my way up to Boatswainmate Second Class by April 1968. I left Lipan on 3 October 1969 just
after returning from the most “unique” mission I could have ever imagined.
When I boarded Lipan there were 4 Boatswainmates             During our prior cruise to Adak Island we mostly
on Deck Force. A 3rd Class, a 2nd Class, a 1st Class,        pulled SAR Duty (Search And Rescue) and delivered
and a Chief. By the time I had made 2nd Class, I was         the mail to nearby Atka Island once a month. This
the only Boatswainmate on the ship. That left me             time we would be picking up a lot of gear before we
with the sole duty of running all the equipment (the         steamed north and securing it on our fantail. A huge
10-ton boom, the anchor windlass, the towing engine,         LCVP landing craft. A large snow-cat tractor that
the two boats, etc, etc). Deck Force had dwindled            could carry four or five men and sleds to tow behind
from 15 sailors to half that amount. I was 22 years          it. A Boston Whaler. And pallets of equipment and
old, wet behind the ears, but managing to keep it all        gear that didn‟t look like any we‟d seen before. We
together. I had already made two WESTPAC Cruises             also took aboard a handful of civilians. Scientist
to Vietnam where we shadowed the Soviet intelli-             types . . . and they worked for the AEC, the now de-
gence trawlers, participated in some salvage ops,            funct Atomic Energy Commission. What the heck
searched for downed aircraft, and towed things               was going on here?
around the South China Sea. Then we went on a 3
month NORTHPAC Cruise to Adak Alaska out in the              Then the crew was given a briefing. We were going
Aleutian Islands. There is no place colder, rougher,         to assist the AEC with the testing of a nuclear device
and more foreboding. It‟s the region where the real-         on a remote island in the Aleutians. What? We?
ity based TV show “Deadliest Catch” details the life         Lipan? A nuclear “device”? In Alaska? We were
of crab fishermen. The Navy tried to keep the cruise         told a cover story that the government is testing the
short because of the harshness and we counted the            possibility of using nuclear devices to dig canals and
days until we were sailing back to our warm Hawai-           assist in other large earth-moving exercises. It all
ian waters. Ahh, the warmth.                                 sounded plausible to us. So off we went.

It was great to be back home. Winter in the Alaskan
Aleutians was horrible but now it was behind us. Or
so we thought. The word spread through the ship
quickly. We were relieved in Adak by another ATF.
I forget which one. One of their main engines had
just blown and they would have to return to Pearl
Harbor for repairs and “somebody” from SERVRON
5 was going to have to go to Adak in their place. We
figured that they‟d never send us. We just came
back! The skipper and the XO were shuttling back
and forth between headquarters and Lipan and then
they confirmed what we all feared. We were indeed
getting underway and sailing back to the hinterlands.
Lipan was going North again but this time it would be
different. Very different.
TOWLINE                                                                        National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

This time we noticed that the weather did not change
as harshly as our last trip. Spring was springing and
although it was still cool and the waters were still
relatively cold, it was much better than our last trip. I
sat with Bos‟n Ray many times and we went over the
mission. There was an island named “Amchitka” in
the Rat Island group of the Alaskan Aleutian Islands
and the Atomic Energy Commission intended to deto-
nate a nuclear device there in a shaft thousands of feet
deep. Lipan was to assist the scientists in setting up
their monitoring devices on all the surrounding is-
lands. The LCVP would be used to transport the
snow-cat and it‟s sled full of gear to the islands.
Hmmmm . . . Now it makes sense.

                                                            Above: At the pier in Adak circa 1969

                                                            Left: The LCVP returns out of the constant fog after a run

                                                            Below: Sea otters in the pen

We had “nuke” guys aboard Lipan and we had some
guys from the Fish and Game Department. They had
penned some sea otters and would monitor their con-
dition after the blast. The Fish and Game guys got to
demonstrate their expertise when Lipan‟s crew was
fishing one day during a lull in operations. Gunners-
mate Ben Fuentes and Electriciansmate Ben Siebels
both hauled in two huge bottom-feeding Halibut. The
two Ben‟s fought the monsters for quite a while so we
knew they‟d be a good size. When the fish finally
reached the surface we could see that they were in-
deed huge and two of the Fish & Game experts imme-
diately looked them all over. One of them produced a
knife and began incising a small circular bone from
the head of one of the fish. It had rings on it, like the
rings on a tree section and he was able to estimate the
age of the fish. It was born around 1929. 40 years
old! And the two fish fed the entire crew. They
tasted much younger.
TOWLINE                                                                       National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

Amchitka is surrounded by other islands. Kiska, Lit-            The LCVP weighed about ten tons. Lipan‟s boom
tle Sitkin, and Semisopochnoi, to name a few. It‟s              was rated at ten tons. The boom strained mightily but
way out there on the Aleutian Archipelago, much                 managed to pick up the LCVP. I swung the boom out
closer to the Soviet Union than to mainland Alaska.             over the side and ever so gently eased the brake to
Adak, our base of operations, was the site of our               lower the boat into the water. Instantly it plummeted
DEW radars (Distant Early Warning). They were to                uncontrollably and slammed into the water. It sur-
detect ICBM launches from the Soviets coming over               vived. Next I lowered the snowcat into the LCVP,
the North Pole. It was a highly “sensitive” area at the         then the sled, and then the equipment going on the
time and the Soviet intelligence gathering trawlers             sled. We were ready and the landing zone had been
that we faced off Vietnam‟s shores were back again,             picked out. We clambered aboard. A few of the nuke
constantly peeking in at us as we scurried about per-           guys and a dozen or so line handlers to help stop the
forming our mission. They‟d typically lay dead in the           LCVP from broaching once we‟d beached. There
water just outside our territorial waters snooping,             were some pretty strong and constant waves in the
eavesdropping, and watching our every move. Some-               region and extra line handlers would be needed. We
how they always knew where we‟d pop out and                     pulled into the island. I dropped the bow ramp and
whenever we‟d come around an island they‟d be sit-              the nuke guys drove off in their snowcat, towing the
ting there waiting for us. This nuclear stuff is serious        sled full of equipment, up to the mountain top. These
business and the Soviets were well aware of what we             were all pristine islands. Few humans have ever been
were doing. We were ready for our first of many mis-            on them and there were no roads, no trails, not even
sions making amphibious landings in the LCVP on                 pathways. So it was no picnic for the nuke guys
those surrounding islands. The idea was to transport            heading up there. We‟d watch from the beach as they
the nuke guys and their equipment, the big snowcat, a           traveled higher and higher and then they‟d be out of
large sled full of monitoring equipment and deposit             sight. Hours later they‟d be spotted coming back
them on an island‟s beach and they‟d haul it all up the         down and we‟d load them up and head on back to
mountain tops and set it up. But first we had to put            Lipan to repeat the procedure again at another loca-
the LCVP in the water.                                          tion on another day.

                                  Left: EM1
                                  Ben Siebels
                                  and his
                                  prize Hali-

Right: Me
and my Russ-
kie. The Sov-
ets (near my
right shoul-
der) watched
our every
                                                           Above: Our cook, Mike “Ma” Spegal, playing with his food.
                                                           Fresh Alaskan King Crab courtesy of one of the local boats.

TOWLINE                                                                        National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

                                                                                            Left: It was foggy just about
                                                                                            every day. In this shot
                                                                                            that’s me with my back to
                                                                                            you steering the LCVP with
                                                                                            Paul Silman SM2 on the left
                                                                                            of the photo and Doug Had-
                                                                                            land FN on the right sitting
                                                                                            atop the engine hatch. This
                                                                                            is Doug's photo. In the
                                                                                            boat’s welldeck is the snow-
                                                                                            cat and the monitoring gear.

                                                                                               the surf was so treacher-
                                                                                               ous. I forget the amount
                                                                                               but there was at least 18
                                                                                               guys in the LCVP. We
                                                                                               made our approach.
                                                                                               Bos‟n Ray had the helm
                                                                                               and I was at his side and
                                                                                               we were doing decently
                                                                                               and then astern of us
                                                                                               came this huge combing
                                                                                               wave and it picked us up
                                                                                               like a toy, spun us side-
                                                                                               ways in a second flat and
                                                                                               then the next subsequent
                                                                                               giant wave tipped us over
                                                                                               on our side. The snowcat
                                                                                               and gear miraculously
                                                                                               stayed put but sailors
The LCVP was just too heavy for our boom so we                  were everywhere in the ocean and doing their best to
decided to leave it in the water. If the next island was        not get crushed by the heaving boat and somehow
distant we‟d tow the LCVP astern of us but if the trip          make it into the island. We all did. I recall being in a
was fairly short and the sea forgiving then I‟d drive it        body-surfing position and being swept into the beach
along with a few mates to the next stop. It was a               when a shipmate was thrown against my back and
brand new boat and we “babied it” so the engine                 down I went. I finally made it to the beach but I had
could break-in properly but it handled great. We per-           about two tons of beach sand imbedded up my nose.
formed the same mission over and over. Some land-               After clearing it all out I looked down and saw that
ings were tougher than others. Some islands had                 one of my boondocker boots was missing. Somehow
rougher terrain for the nuke guys to cross. It was all          it got ripped off my foot. We helped each other
pretty much routine and then the island of Semi-                ashore, waves still crashing and the LCVP still side-
sopochnoi (semi-so-pawch-noy) was next. It was a                ways. A quick check of everybody showed that we
gorgeous island. Volcanically formed, it rose sym-              were all accounted for but that SN Danny Weymouth
metrically like Mount Fuji in Japan with a snow-                had a broken arm. We immobilized it as best we
capped peak. But the island‟s beauty was surrounded             could. The LCVP righted itself and floated on into
by a fierce surf. This would not be routine. After              shore and we grabbed it and secured it, although it
deliberations and consultations with the skipper and            wasn‟t going anywhere because it had tons upon tons
the bos‟n, it was decided that it wouldn‟t be fair to a         of soaking wet sand in it. I grabbed the portable radio
snotty-nosed kid like me to have to shoulder the re-            from the boat and, lo and behold, it still worked.
sponsibility of making a landing in that surf. The              Lipan had seen the accident and the bridge gang said
bos‟n would take the boat in. I was off the hook. We            later that I was so excited over the portable that “they
grabbed extra shipmates to be line handlers because             could see my lips coming through the speaker.”
TOWLINE                                                                       National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

Above: Bos’n Ray looking back at the now upright LCVP and the snowcat in the water next to it on Semisopochnoi.

Unbelievably, the snowcat engine started up. The                walking on hopelessly tangled masses of straw two
head nuke guy pulled it out of the LCVP and coura-              feet deep. We hiked as far up as we could. We fig-
geously tried to use it to push the LCVP back into the          ured that no tidal wave would ever reach us. It never
sea and refloat it. The LCVP was rising and falling             did. In fact it never even occurred so Lipan was back
with each wave and the snowcat had to scurry back               within hours. It was comical watching from the is-
out of harm‟s way repeatedly. We abandoned the                  land as the messcooks tried to drop anchor. All the
attempt. Suddenly our portable radio harkens us.                qualified deck force personnel were trapped on the
Lipan tells us that they just received a flash message          island. They darn near ran the entire anchor chain out
alerting them that there was an Earthquake in Japan.            before they figured out how to brake it. That thing
We figured that we had enough on our mind than to               was smokin‟! Now they tackled the problem of get-
worry about a Japanese Earthquake but then Lipan                ting us off the island. A diver tried to swim in with a
drops the other shoe. The Earthquake could generate             line so that we could then pull over an LBRB (Little
a Tsunami and Lipan had to weigh anchor and head                Bitty Rubber Boat, as they say). He damn near
immediately out to sea to ride it out. Say What!                drowned but we got the boat and they tried to haul us
What about us? We were told that we were to climb               back out with a line attached to the warping capstan
the mountain and seek higher ground and if every-               on Lipan‟s fantail. I was in the first load because they
thing worked out alright that they would return for us          desperately needed me back aboard. Fat chance. The
in due time. This isn‟t happening, we all thought.              line strained and stretched and we shot like a rocket
We were already in dire straits. We were soaked.                toward the waves, which picked us up and dumped us
We were cold. There were injuries. And the way to               right back where we started. A little wetter. A little
the top was through thick Tundra grass that we‟d                sorer. And convinced that this method would not
been told was full of Tundra Spiders and was like               work in the still strong surf.

TOWLINE                                                                       National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

After a series of radio messages with the “higher              lowed by the Internet, and the information was all
ups”, Uncle Sam decided to contract out to a nearby            right there in cyber black and white. The biggest
helicopter to rescue us. They radioed us of the pro-           source of information was at the website of
gress and in due time a civilian helo appeared and             “Greenpeace” but there are also multiple websites
settled down in a flat clearing near us. The pilot said        with more information. The basic story is that we
he could only take two or three of us at a time so he          conducted three nuclear tests on the island of Am-
shuttled back and forth from his ship. The flight was          chitka. The first was codenamed “Longshot” and was
the culmination of the entire ordeal. The pilot looked         an 80 kiloton test in 1965. Lipan participated in the
like a little old man with a small handlebar moustache         second test codenamed “Milrow” and it was a one
and the helo vibrated tremendously when revving up             megaton blast buried almost 4,000 feet deep. Two
to liftoff. It vibrated just as badly when it touched          years later, in 1971, the third detonation codenamed
down on a wooden platform that was constructed on a            “Cannikin” was a gigantic 5 megaton blast detonated
vessel about the size of Lipan. We never knew what             over a mile beneath the surface that caused geysers to
the ship or the helo was doing up there but we were            shoot up around the island and knocked off a huge
glad they were doing it near us. The crew of the ship          bluff from the side of a cliff into the ocean. It is the
treated us great when we debarked from the helo.               largest underground test ever conducted by the United
They gave up some of their own clothes so that we‟d            States. Why were the tests conducted? I‟ve seen nu-
have something dry at long last. They fed us. All the          merous explanations around the Internet. One simple
while Lipan was steaming in our direction to rendez-           theory is the testing of a new Spartan interceptor mis-
vous. We transferred over to Lipan and we sure                 sile warhead to be used in shooting down incoming
looked like a motley crew. Nobody‟s clothes fit him.           ICBMs. Another theory says that we were using the
Some were much too big. Some were much too                     tests to simulate nearby Soviet underground nuclear
small. Many of us used a hunk of rope as a belt.               tests so that we could calibrate monitoring devices
Danny Weymouth‟s arm was in a sling at last and                back in California. Maybe it was a combo of both?
he‟d soon be getting a cast, courtesy of doc. The mis-         At any rate, it was a mission I‟ll never forget, nor will
sion was over. We had spread enough monitors                   my shipmates. Within weeks of arriving back at Pearl
around the region to conduct the test. We were long            Harbor I was discharged two months early, courtesy
gone and back in Pearl Harbor when they touched off            of Richard Milhouse Nixon. Vietnam was winding
the nuke. Years passed and I often thought about the           down and I was headed back home again.
mission. I wondered what had happened. Why did it
happen? How did it happen? Did anybody else know
about this? Then computers came into being, fol-

                                                                Left: Lipan shipmate Stanley Blaskiewicz visited with
                                                                me just a year ago and one of the photos he had brought
                                                                with him was this shot of the rescue helicopter sitting on
                                                                the makeshift wooden landing platform of it’s ship, the
                                                                Sea Tender. We transferred back to Lipan aboard the
                                                                boat alongside. Shipmate Ben Siebels gave me the photo
                                                                on the proceeding page of the LCVP. I never knew the
                                                                two photos existed and it was a pleasant surprise after all
                                                                these years to find two more pieces of the puzzle.

TOWLINE                                                                     National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, the father of the nuclear navy. He sure was a surly character. He
commonly wore civilian clothes just to irritate the other brass. He was a 4 Star Admiral and did-
n’t take any guff from anybody. USS Hyman G. Rickover SSN 709 was named for him in 1984,
two years before his death, an honor typically bestowed posthumously. It was deactivated 22
years later in 2006 and was towed from Maine to Washington state by an MSC Tug and an MSC
Salvage Vessel in 2008. I gathered this info on the Internet.
So just who does the towing for the navy
these days? The duty now belongs to the
MSC, the Military Sealift Command.
It‟s a civilian branch used by Uncle Sam,
taking over the chores of non-combat
ships. MSC vessels don‟t have guns, so
there‟s no gun crew need. Few snipes
are needed below deck because the en-
gines run themselves pretty much. The
USNS Sioux T-ATF 171 crew size has
been trimmed to a bare minimum of 16
with a small 4 man Navy contingent to
man the Radio Shack. USNS Grapple T-
ARS 53 fares a little better with a crew
of 24 and 4 Navy. All civilians are civil
service qualified mariners. How do they
get by with so few? Well, as mentioned
above, they don‟t have the requirements
of a warship so they don‟t need man-
power for anything related to that potential. But they        Grapple (above) found the Rickover sitting in the
also run these vessels into the ground, or more appro-        Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery Maine. The
priately, the sea. There‟s little maintenance done by         360 foot long sub was awaiting transfer to the Puget
the crew. There‟s no deck apes with a can of red lead         Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance
to chase down the running rust. Minimum work is               Facility in Bremerton Washington. She was the 22nd
done on mechanical gear. Almost all the work that             of the USS Los Angeles Class submarine and the only
needs to be done is done in dry dock when the ship            one not named for a city. Commissioned in July
pulls in for overhaul. That causes more extensive and         1984. Inactivated in March 2007and decommis-
expensive repairs when the time comes to enter the            sioned at the end of that year in December. She had
yards. It‟s a cost saver in the long run for the navy         her nuclear reactor de-fueled in Portsmouth and dis-
but the other side of the coin is that they lose the          mantling will be done in Bremerton sometime in
value of these ships for military missions. Think of          2016. On 8 April 2008 Grapple took her under tow
all the non-towing and non-salvage missions that Sea-         and started the trek down the eastern seaboard to the
going Tugs performed through the years that now               Panama Canal. It‟s a 3600 mile jaunt and the 255
must be accomplished by another warship. That                 foot long ARS handled the sub with ease. The
spreads our 260 ship (guesstimate) navy pretty thin.          weather and the seas were superb and the sleek shape
Here‟s how they towed the USS Rickover SSN 709                of the sub‟s hull made for an easy tow.
from Maine to Washington State.

TOWLINE                         National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

The Guided Missile
Frigate USS Carr es-
corted Grapple and the
Hyman Rickover all the
way from Maine to the
Panama Canal. USS
Grapple arrived in Pa-
nama on April 24th
where two Panamanian
tugs took over the tow
for transit through the
canal. Grapple accom-
panied the vessel arriv-
ing on the Pacific side
on the 25th. That was as
far as she was going.
Awaiting her was the
USNS Sioux T-ATF 171
and she would resume
the tow on the Pacific
side, accompanied by the

TOWLINE                                                                     National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

Guided Missile Destroyer USS Pinckney. USS Sioux              23 May. She picked up a new escort, the Guided
(above) had an easy time with the tow as well. Calm           Missile Frigate USS Rodney M. Davis to accompany
seas and fair weather followed them all the way. The          her on this last leg. Again, this leg of the tow was
first stop was to be in San Diego and the 226 foot            uneventful and traveled through calm seas and fair
ATF pulled in on May 13th and said goodbye to her             weather. Sioux chugged into Bremerton on 30 May.
Destroyer escort. Sioux and Rickover would hang               The entire odyssey took seven weeks to complete and
around San Diego for ten days before getting under-           a total of 10,000 miles was traveled.
way again and resuming the journey to Bremerton on

                                     I didn‟t know that
Ahoy! - This old traditional greeting for hailing other vessels was originally a Viking battle cry.

Between the Devil and the Deep - In wooden ships, the "devil" was the longest seam of the ship. It ran
from the bow to the stern. When at sea and the "devil" had to be caulked, the sailor sat in a bo'sun's chair to do
so. He was suspended between the "devil" and the sea — the "deep" — a very precarious position, especially
when the ship was underway.

Head -The "head" aboard a Navy ship is the bathroom. The term comes from the days of sailing ships when the
place for the crew to relieve themselves was all the way forward on either side of the bowsprit, the integral part
of the hull to which the figurehead was fastened.

Mayday - "Mayday" is the internationally recognized voice radio signal for ships and people in serious trouble
at sea. Made official in 1948, it is an anglicizing of the French m'aidez, "help me".

TOWLINE                                                        National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

  USS Alabama SSBN-731 being moved "Dead-Stick" south bound in the Puget Sound by; on
  the port bow the N/V Pokagon YTB-836 Made-up Power with the N/V Wenatchee YTB-808
  transferring another pilot to the Pokagon. Made-up Power on the port quarter is the M/V
  Mitchell Hebert. Made-up Power on the starboard quarter is the M/V Andrew Foss. (Note: The
  Andrew Foss is a "True Tractor Tug," that is the Cyclonical Propulsors are directly below the
  pilot house, which means the Andrew isn't going backwards. Instead the Andrew is providing
  100% thrust "astern.") When all tugs were Made-up Power the speed of advance was approxi-
  mately 7.4 knots against a Winter Ebb Current. Not too shabby.

  Photograph by Anthony Medina who was on the Bremerton to Seattle Ferry at the time and cap-
  tured this awesome photograph. Mt Rainier,14,680 ft, provides the backdrop. NAFTS member
  Ray Longaker, who provided this photo, is Skipper of the M/V Mitchell Hebert.

TOWLINE                                                                       National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

                            TOP GUN
                            TIMES THREE
NAFTS member Jim Perkins was an EN2 aboard the Coast Guard Cutter USS Tamaroa WMEC
166 back in 1964—66. He’s sent us scores of charts, tables, stories and info throughout the years
and has compiled a stack of books regarding Salvage Vessels. If you’re interested in some books
that are glistening with information then Jim’s the guy to see. Here's a neat little list of the three
“Top Gun” tugs of WWII/Korea.

If three ships of World War II and/or Korea era service        Their Battle Star totals read as follows:
ever deserved recognition for a job well done, the                    Ship                  Pacific        Korea
Conserver (ARS-39), Mataco (ATF-86) and Quaw-
                                                               Conserver (ARS-39)                0             9
paw (ATF-110) would find their names at the top of
                                                               Mataco (ATF-86)                   5             4
the list.
                                                               Quawpaw (ATF-110)                 4             5

Hence the title: Top Gun.                                      In addition to having been awarded 9 Battle Stars,
                                                               Quawpaw (ATF-110) earned the added distinction of
Built during WWII, these floating workhorses sailed to         earning a Navy Unit Commendation as a participat-
the far reaches of the South Pacific for extended peri-        ing member of the Ship Salvage, Firefighting and
ods of duty. For services rendered, each ship earned           Rescue Unit, Service Force, 7th Fleet. Service period
an impressive total of nine Battle Stars, more than            20-Oct-44 thru 24-Nov-44.
any ocean going tug or salvage vessel of their class.
                                                               Jim Perkins
                                                               Source: Battle Stars and Naval Awards (727) 392-8843

Be who you are and say what you feel . . .

Because those that matter . . . Don't mind

and those that mind . . . Don't matter!
TOWLINE                                                                       National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

                   Some further info on some past TOWLINE material
You‟ll recall that we had some discrepancies in a              Also got a letter from NAFTS member Herschel
story about the rescue of the survivors of the sinking         McCoy who is also a Sarsi Survivor. Herschel is a
of the USS Sarsi ATF 111. Sarsi sank after hitting a           “regular” at our NAFTS Reunions and says he‟ll be
mine off Korea in 1952. NAFTS member Jack                      going on our upcoming cruise so it‟ll be good to see
Nicholls EN2 (ENFN at the time aboard Sarsi) sent              him once again. Herschel recently traveled up to
me an email with his recollections of that fateful Au-         Topeka Kansas from his home in El Dorado to visit
gust night when five Sarsi sailors lost their lives and        with Morris Underwood. Morris, who is a young 92
scores other were injured. Jack wrote:                         years of age, was a plank-owner aboard Sarsi and
Rich:                                                          Herschel was aboard when she sank so it was like two
                                                               “bookends” meeting. As for the discrepant views
I was on the Sarsi when she got sunk. I was 19 at the          about the rescue of the survivors, Herschel had this to
time and was sound asleep when we hit the mine. A              say:
long time ago!
                                                               “When we Sarsi Survivors get together we sometimes
I remember the sinking as follows:                             remember things differently. I think that was due to
                                                               the fact that for about 40 years we tried to forget that
1. She hit the mine just before 2400 hrs on 27 August          night in 1952. When we did start to recall the memo-
and went clear under shortly after 0000 28 Aug..               ries they were a little cloudy and murky.”
(Took two days to sink her!)

2. We were in the water until shortly after dawn and
were picked up by two mine sweepers and a de-                  Here‟s a photo of Herschel McCoy on the left with
stroyer. (Those of us who were still in the area.)             Morris Underwood and his wife.

3. We were transferred to the LST based off Yodo
Island and spent the night, 28 Aug, aboard her.

4. We went aboard the Platte on 29 Aug. I did not
see the Platte until going aboard the day after we
were picked up.

5. We were taken to Sasebo by the Platte.

6. If the Platte was involved picking any of the crew
out of the water it's news to me.

That's my input.

Jack Nicholls
ENFN at the time

TOWLINE                                                                        National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

         Two USS Monssen Updates                                 scot was never in trouble or needing assistance. We
In the last issue we ran a tale of the grounding of the          did radio that the tow had broken loose. There was a
tincan USS Monssen DD798 in March 1962 and sur-                  Notice to Mariners broadcast saying that there was a
mised that the ATA Penobscot was probably the tow-               destroyer on the loose. A second one, canceling the
ing vessel. Here‟s two letters that I received con-              first, was sent out when the Monssen landed. After
cerning the story.                                               we knew that we could do nothing to remedy the
                                                                 situation, we headed for Philadelphia Navy Yard, our
I read with great interest the article in the Spring 2010        original destination. My diary of the time says that
Towline about the USS Monssen DD 798. I had                      there were a lot of messages coming in - a new show -
wondered what the rest of the story was as I was the             ATA 188 where are you? (After Car 54 where are
executive officer on USS Penobscot ATA 188 when                  you) DesLant sent out a destroyer to assist but we
the Monssen changed the landscape of Beach Haven.                never made direct contact that I remember. I do re-
NJ.                                                              member making radio contact with the Philadelphia
                                                                 Navy Yard. This was a unique experience as we
Until I read the article and did a little research, I had        could never raise them under normal circumstances,
not realized the extent of the storm - the Ash Wednes-           but that night, they were apparently listening for us.
day Storm or 1962.                                               We arrived in Philadelphia around midnight on Tues-
                                                                 day/Wednesday, March 6th and stayed until Friday
I wanted to respond to the comment that "The details             when we headed back to Brooklyn.
of the tow and the salvage mission are sketchy." I
will try to fill in some of the details of the tow. We           The Navy never did determine what had happened to
were told (ordered) not to go near Beach Haven and               cause the cable to break and the Monssen to go
not to mention the situation unless we had to. Need-             aground. The lab in Philadelphia did tests on the bro-
less to say, the Navy was not very happy with the                ken ends of the cable with no new insight. At the
whole situation.                                                 Board of Inquiry a question was raised as to the
                                                                 course we took from Bayonne to Philadelphia be-
To put in the biggest piece of the puzzle as to who              cause the track showed that we crossed over "a possi-
was towing Monssen when she went aground, it was                 ble wreak". I, as navigator, explained that the track
indeed USS Penobscot ATA 188                                     line was drawn between two points and that we did
                                                                 not necessarily follow that exact path. We had done
This trip started out very routinely. Penobscot was              the run a number of times, using the same planned
home ported at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and a trip to              course, so there was no way to say that the "wreak"
Philadelphia was fairly routine. We made the run                 was involved. We were all cleared of any misdeeds
quite often. Monssen was at Bayonne, NJ when we                  and the matter was closed.
picked her up on Monday, March 5th. I don't know
when Monssen was transferred from Boston to                      It was very interesting to read of the salvage opera-
Bayonne, but as I remember, there were quite a few               tion. We knew that it was a major operation and that
destroyers at Bayonne as we towed a number down to               the Monssen had been pretty well cut up in order to
Philadelphia. We left the pier about 1130 for a rou-             get it off the beach. It was unfortunate that it hap-
tine trip south. The weather picked up a bit as we               pened to this particular ship as the Monssen was in
went along, but I don't remember it being particularly           much better shape than many of the destroyers that
bad. I remember sitting in my stateroom that evening             we moved from one reserve fleet to another.
when the captain stuck his head in the door and said
"I think we have lost our tow." I went up to the                 The article brought back a lot of memories, of good
bridge and looked at the radar scope where someone               friends and of good times. Thank you for writing it.
had plotted the course of the Monssen as it headed
towards Beach Haven. We knew that with a broken                  C. William (Bill) Stamm
tow cable and with the condition of the seas that night          LCDR USNR Ret.
and the tow making a bee line for the beach that we              Former Exec on USS Penobscot ATA 188
could not do anything but wait.

I have to contradict the comment that Penobscot was
in trouble and that she radioed for assistance. Penob-
TOWLINE                                                                    National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

NAFTS Member John Stafford was a BMCM aboard                 heard a snap and felt a surge. I jumped from my
a fistful of tugs. Two of them were ATAs, the USS            bunk and ran to the stern but it was covered with high
Keosanqua ATA 198 and the USS Penobscot ATA                  water from the sea. Our radio was out and we
188. Chief Stafford confirms the Monssen incident            headed for Philadelphia. When we arrived they told
in a letter sent to me recently. In it he states:            us that they had thought we had sunk. Our CO called
                                                             Brooklyn to tell them that we were ok. The CO, the
“I received the TOWLNE Spring Edition 2010. I read           XO, myself, and the QM of the Watch (an SK1) all
the story in it about the USS Monssen DD 798 and             had to go before the green table. They decided that it
the ship that was towing her. It was the USS Penob-          was an Act of God but requested that the W4 retire.”
scot ATA 188. I was the BMC on board Penobscot.”
                                                             Master Chief Stafford continues with some interesting
“We had three officers and two chiefs. The CO was a          bio information; “I retired in August 1972 with the
Lieutenant and we also had a W3 XO and a W4 Engi-            rank of BMCM. I obtained my Coast Guard Master
neering Officer. Officer of The Deck duties were             License in 1974, as a Master of up to 100 tons. I
shared by myself, A Chief Engineman, and the two             gave up my license when I turned 70 and am now 85
Warrant Officers”                                            years old and not in the best of health . I set at home
                                                             and think about the good days in the Navy. I served
“I had the watch before the tow was lost. The W4             from August 1942 to August 1972, serving during
Warrant Officer who relieved me was the OD when              WW II, Korea, and Vietnam. Thirty years is a long
we lost the tow. I gave him the information about the        time but I don’t regret any of it.
rough seas and that the towing winch was hitting the
stops and that he should call the Captain and see
what he wants to do.”

“The ocean was shallow and the tow was out to 1,000
feet. I went to my cabin and it wasn’t long before I                    Tugs in Mystic Connecticut

                                                             In May 2010, a brand-new exhibit in the R.J. Schae-
                                                             fer Building will bring the fascinating story of Ameri-
                                                             can tugboats to Mystic Seaport members and visitors.

                                                             Every day tugboats move millions of tons of cargo,
                                                             escort cruise ships, save lives during maritime disas-
                                                             ters, conduct environmental clean-ups, and salvage
                                                             wrecks. Yet, many people still think of tugs as the
                                                             cheery, coal-smoke bellowing little ships from chil-
                                                             dren's storybooks. This exhibit will explore this
                                                             "invisible industry" of maritime towing, a key compo-
                                                             nent of every cargo port in the country, from Port-
                                                             land, Maine to Portland, Oregon. It will introduce the
                                                             kinds of work that tugboats do and how they've
                                                             changed over the past 150 years in their design, op-
                                                             eration, and use. Visitors will also learn why today's
                                                             tugs are stronger, safer, and more efficient than ever,
                                                             and how tugs might change in the future.

                                                             Should be running 6 or 7 months
Above: A photo sent by BMCM Stafford showing a subma-
rine tender under tow from USS Penobscot ATA 188.
                                                             Thanks to Peter Littlefield ATA 185 for the info

TOWLINE        National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

TOWLINE                                                             National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

            NAFTS Ships Store has ships caps for sale at $20.00 (including shipping):
ROA (WMEC-166)

    NAFTS Ships Store also has the following cap patches at $8.00 each (including shipping):
(They have the same ship silhouette and number as on the caps) CREE, LIPAN, TAWASA, ARIKARA, CHAWANO,

                   Following are single caps at $12.00 each (including shipping).
 These hats were on display:
SAIPAN (LHA-2) standard, SAIPAN (CHA-2) new logo, NASHVILLE (LPD-13), GUNSTON HALL (LSD-44), KEAR-
(SSBN-736), PROTEUS (ASS-19) and KANE (T-AGS-27)

TOWLINE                                                                         National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

                                                                                   NAFTS Chaplain Bob Campbell
             I‟m back on my soapbox.

                As far as I‟m concerned there is no more pressing need for our great NAFTS organization than the need to
                recruit new members. While I‟ve never heard of someone who wished to join being turned away, I am always
                on the prowl for former salvage and rescue sailors and soldiers, who actually served aboard our ships, that
have never been asked to join NAFTS. By my rough calculation there are somewhere between 25,000 and 75,000 folks
who served aboard tugs, and I am including the whole gamut of our ships, ARS‟,ASR‟s, ATF‟s, harbor tugs, et. al, that are
already qualified for membership. That‟s a lot of men.
           Okay, so what can I, you, do? There are many basic things. When I travel I always where my Arikara, ship‟s hat.
The names of our ships are generally unusual. The hull number and designation ATF frequently opens conversations. Let‟s
face it if you‟re not from Massachusetts or the northern Great Plains who the heck ever heard of the Nipmucs or the Ari-
karas respectively. At Hoover Dam last year the elevator operator asked what an ATF was. Some smart aleck (that would
be me) answered “an Atomic Towing Frigate” which is what we called our ships in the 60‟s. It is just a little frustrating
trying to explain the functions of our ships in a 30 second elevator ride. You might as well leave them smiling. So, okay
wear your hat. If you don‟t have a hat contact Harry Jaeger at the ship‟s store or me. Harry can get you a hat and I can
hook you up with a supplier if he can‟t.
           If you belong, as most of us do, to the VFW, AmVets, American Legion, DAV or whatever, put up a notice on
your organization‟s bulletin board. If you can‟t think of anything to say contact me and I‟ll email a copy of my notice or
snail mail you a copy. With the Internet access we have it is becoming easier and easier to find old shipmates. If you need
help with this contact me either through NAFTS or at I‟ll help you anyway I can in your search.
I‟ve been lucky enough to find five old shipmates in the last two months if I can get at least two to join NAFTS I will be
           We‟ve always had good membership chairmen. Tom Thomas did an excellent job for years and there is every in-
dication Rodger Dana will be just as effective. Let‟s put Rodger to work. To my way of thinking it should be the goal of
every NAFTS member to bring one new member aboard in each calendar year. Like any living thing, when it stops grow-
ing it starts dying. No matter how old we are individually, we continue to grow new tissue and new brain cells. Let‟s use
our God given gifts to keep our wonderful organization strong.
                                                         God bless you all. I hope to hear from you soon.

                                                                                         Bob Campbell

   Our Shipmates Who Have Crossed the Bar Since Last Publication

Gary Williams SMC                            USS Opportune ARS 41                                        17 May 2010

Joseph Albin CWO                             USS Florikan ASR 9                                   21 December 2009
                                             USS Keosanqua ATA 198
                                             USS Macaw ASR 11
                                             USS Grasp ARS 24

                     Chaplain Bob can be reached via e-mail at

TOWLINE                                                                        National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

                  1-800-293-3587 (when asked to enter PIN enter 73 and leave message)
 Shipmates and Mates,
 Our membership has grown the last few months. Here are the names:

 EM2 Ed McNeal, USS Hitchiti 1968-71
 Capt. Cliff Bekkedahl, Skipper of USS Utina 1961-63
 Dudley Thomas, USS Hitchiti 1959-63
 Roger Bly,
 BM3 Don Monchino, USS Hitchiti 1966-69
 Phil Weiler                                                                              Rodger K Dana
 EM2 James Bartley, USS Quapaw 1961-63                                                 Membership Chairman
 EM2 Pat Roberts, USS Hitchiti 1969-72                                                   221 Buland Drive
 Robert Wohleb, Owner of ex-YT-371                                                    Castle Rock, WA 98611
 Larry Schaufert, YTB-779 Plank Owner, 1966-67                                                Email
 EN3 Ray Diekmann, USS Bolster 1959-62
 EN3 Robert Hauert, USS Sarsi 1952
 BM1 Marvin Stegner, USS Chowanoc 1961-64 Welcome aboard, shipmates!

 Please check your records at home to see if you are paid up. There are too many shipmates too far behind in their dues.
 We are carrying them on the TOWLINE mailing list, but without the members dues to support TOWLINE production
 costs, we will have to start dropping names from the list later this year.
  The members data base, accessible from the NAFTS website with your members log-on and password is being slowly
 updated so don‟t count on it to be exactly true as far as members dues status is concerned. Check your records at home,
  Dot and I are preparing to cast off in October on the 2010 Reunion cruise. We hope to see you on-board the Mariner of
 the Seas in our exclusive NAFTS Hospitality Room.

  Name: _______________________ Rate/Rank ___________ Date: ___________
  Address: ________________________________E: Mail ____________________
  City: _________________________ State: _________ Zip: ________________
  Tel: ( _______) _________________ Spouse‟s Name: _____________________

                                      NAFTS Qualified Ships Served on

        Ship name & Number: _________________ Years served on: _____________
        Ship name & Number: _________________ Years served on: _____________
        Ship name & Number: _________________ Years served on: _____________
 For additional ships and comments please use additional sheet of paper! Print clearly. Use address label if available.
          Call for more information 1-800-293-3587 (when prompted for PIN enter 73) .
      Mail to : Rodger K Dana Membership Chairman 221 Buland Drive, Castle Rock, WA 98611
               Annual Membership $25                       “544” Membership (5 Years) $100

 Ver 1209

TOWLINE                                                                                  National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

                                                     Adult T-Shirt with White Logo

                                                                         See additional Items on
                                                                               the Web at
 Your Own NAFTS Coffee Mug         Baseball Style Jacket
NAFTS Ship Stores Order Form Below:                                                                           Blue or White Polo Shirt
Adult Sweat Shirt, Blue Logo on White, Size ... S, M, L, XL   $24.00              Embroidered Official Emblem, 3 inch Diameter -----    $4.00
                                       Size .. XL, XXXL       $26.00              Embroidered Official Emblem, 5 inch Diameter -----    $6.00
Adult Sweat Shirt, White Logo on Blue, Size ..S, M, L, XL     $24.00                                Logo, Window Decal, Square -----     $1.75
                                       Size ....XXL, XXXL     $26.00                                         Tugboat Lapel Pin -----    $10.00
Adult T-Shirt, Blue Logo on White,     Size ...S, M, L, XL    $16.00                                          Official Logo Pin -----   $6.00
                                       Size ...XXL, XXXL       $18.00                                           Bumper Sticker -----     $2.00
Adult T- Shirt, White Logo on Blue,    Size ...S, M, L, XL     $16.00                                               Coffee Mug -----     $10.00
                                       Size ...XXL, XXXL       $18.00                         NAFTS Cap, Blue with Gold Logo -----       $13.00
Polo Sport Shirt, White Logo on Blue Size.. M, L, XL          $25.00                         NAFTS Cap, White with Blue Logo -----      $13.00
                                       Size .... XXL, XXXL     $27.00              Baseball Style Jacket      Size S, M, L, XL          $38.00
Polo Sport Shirt, Blue Logo on White Size.... M, L, XL        $25.00                                          Size ....XXL, XXXL        $40.00
                                       Size ...XXL, XXXL       $.27.00
Child's T-Shirt, Blue Logo on White,   Size ...S, M, L, XL     $14.00
Child's T-Shirt, White Logo on Blue,   Size ...S, M, L, XL    $14.00               No shipping charges
Item Description                                                         Size Quantity Price                  Total Price

Name___________________________________________            Grand Total
ADDRESS______________________________________ Make checks payable to NAFTS and send with order to:
City_________________________________ State______      Harry A. Jaeger, NAFTS Storekeeper
Zipcode____________ Tel No.(___)__________________      3914 Forestford Road
                                                            Richmond VA 23294
*Note: If you prefer use a blank sheet of paper                Phone 804 273-0247

USS Tawakoni ATF 114
                                   USS Opportune ARS 41 Sicily Sunset
                  Towline                                                   Non Profit
National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors                                  Organization
216 Nesmith St. Suite 4                                                    U.S. Postage
Lowell, MA 01852                                                              PAID
                                                                            Permit #4
                                                                        N. Chelmsford, MA

                              Online at

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