What torpedo

Somebody should help we with this one...remember the time that we were off the coast of California doing torpedo drills (I think in 1971 or early 72).  We would fire a practice torpedo, which would eventually float back to the surface, and as I remember it, the junior officers were using the opportunity to practice manuvering the ship, to use the floating torpedo as a 'parking cone' I guess.

Well, as luck would have it, a mistake was made which resulted in the Towers running over the torpedo and bending one of our screws in the process.  (ever had a tire out of balance?  That's what it felt like, at a certain speed we had all kinds of vibration!)  The very next day we had to go into dry dock to get the screw replaced, and the only dry dock available was a carrier-sized drydock in Long Beach, talk about feeling like a BB in a boxcar!

Anyway, it must have been rather embarrassing for someone, but as always, we learned from the experience; at least we never ran over another torpedo!

A Follow-up from Bill Barry (Missile Officer / Fire Control Officer '70-'72)

Boy, do I ever remember this incident!! I had not thought about it in a long time though. I was the OOD who let the ship drift too close to the spent torpedo. Like most accidents, this one started out uneventfully and was easily avoidable.

We must have been engaged in ASW Ops at the time, but I do not recall. The JOOD and I were the only officers on the bridge. The plan was to place the ship upwind of the torpedo, which floated properly at the end of its run -- its orange tip upright, bouncing up and down, near Mt. 51. There was a slight chop and swell, but it was a beautiful clear day. The ship was supposed to drift down on the "fish" where someone (a guy in a wet suit I recall) was to attach a line and the torpedo would be hauled up by the foc'sle davit. The JOOD had the "conn" and I got distracted by something else while he was making the approach to place the ship properly with respect to the torpedo.

Anyway, as I recall, the torpedo got too far aft. I took the conn. The ship's engines were stopped, and she was virtually DIW, but she did have some relative movement with respect to the torpedo, and the ship was also heaving up and down too. As the torpedo drifted down the stbd side, it must have bounced off the stbd screw. Such a small ding, but what a difference it made in the shaft's vibration. I recall that we went into the old SouthWest Marine drydock at 32d Street, where the results of my screw up were there for all to see.

I thought I would get "axed" for sure, but the Squadron Commander, whose name I should but do not recall, spoke to me in the wardroom shortly afterwards. He said that no action would be taken because he had seen aviators crash multi-million dollar planes & walk off without any sanctions, so he was not going to impose any on me.

Whew!!! Not being one to shy away from a good laugh, Ensign Bob Chadwell, the First Division Officer at the time, doctored up one of those cheezy "Destroyerman" certificates that the PR types used to hand out & awarded me a "Torpedo Destroyerman" certificate at the next junior officer party. Lots of laughs were had all around, but I was glad to have gotten out of that one without any dings. I am still grateful and impressed by the Squadron Commander's call.

Best regards, Bill Barry (Missile Officer/Fire Control Officer '70-72)



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