Saturday, June 30, 2012

My Father's WWII Diary: Chapter 3


March, 1945 I boarded the S.S. Sacketts Harbor for what turned out to be the trip of a lifetime. We were scheduled for a six week trip to the island of Ulithi and back. We were gone 13 months. We sailed all over the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, China Sea, Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf and Caribbean Sea. We made port in the Carolina Islands, the Philippines, Singapore, Iran, Japan (twice), Panama (3 times), Curacoa, Panama Canal (both ways), Aleutian Islands, Alaska.

The ship was a T-2 Tanker. It was a good ship with a good crew. The skipper was Capt. Albert Morse. You couldn't ask for a better one. The First Mate's name was Parr. I had a lot of good friends in the crew. My best buddy was Dick Cloud from Santa Monica, CA. We stayed in touch for years.

The trip was so long we had to go into Dry Dock in Curacoa for repairs. On a routine run from Japan to Panama to pick up more oil, a little excitement occured. On March 1st, 1946 at about 10pm I had just gone to bed when I heard a loud crash and I was about shook out of my bunk. I thought we had collided with another ship. I ran out on deck to find that the ship had broken in two.

A tanker has 29 seperate compartments that can be sealed off. We were empty so they were full of air so we didn't sink. I was on the back half as were most of the crew. Ten people were on the front half. We had the engine and the steering on our half so we could manuever. The front half just bobbed like a cork. We could not see the front half. We sent out distress radio messages and waited for sun up. We were about 600 miles south of Adak, one of the Aleutian Islands. The Navy sent out a rescue ship.

I don't remember how long it took them to find us. They went to the front half first and took the people off.

They were all OK. The front half was deemed a hazard to shipping so they took it out with gun fire.

They sent out a Tug Boat to tow us into Adak. But it didn't work out.

[The story he told me was the Captain of the rescue ship was in some big damn hurry to get the to Adak as fast as possible. It caused so much turbulence that everybody and everything aboard what was left of the Sacketts Harbor were being tossed around like rag dolls. The Captain of the Sacketts Harbor told the Captain of the rescue ship to slow down but he refused. So the Captain of tha Sacketts Harbor ordered his crew to cut the tow line and fire up the engines.]

We ended up backing half a ship several hundred miles under our own power. It was miserable, sleet was the worst.

While in Adak, I met a friend from home, George Chronister. He was in the Navy. He helped me get some winter gear to keep warm.

We were on Adak about a month waiting transportation home. I don't remember the name of the ship but we landed in Seattle, Wash.

Went home for 30 days.


kcmeesha said...

wow, half a ship!

Xavier Onassis said...

Thank you! But there is more! The aft half of the ship was later towed to Anchorage, AK where it was one of the city's first major electrical power sources.'s_Harbor

It was later rebuilt and set sail under a variety of names until it drifted into mystery.

kcmeesha said...

that's truly amazing

I Travel for JOOLS said...

He sure kept his cool when he was writing about it but I sensed that he probably kept his cool during the disaster as well. Wow.