I reported aboard Southwind on about 11 June 1970 with LCDR Ralph Giffin, LT George Ellis, LTJG Fred Kent, and the enlisted members of the aviation detachment. My roommate was LTJG Mike Macie. I kept a daily log of the flights of HH-52A‘s CGNR 1356 and 1395, etc. as I did the previous summer. We visited Goose Bay, Labrador Air Force Base on 24 June and made an abrupt departure the next day. We were asked to leave after some dubious behavior by one of Southwind‘s crew. We struck bottom as we were leaving Melville Bay on 25 June but didn‘t run aground. GQ wasn‘t even sounded!
On 9 July, I almost spent an unplanned night ashore with CAPT Cassidy. We flew him to do an ice reconnaissance in the vicinity of Kap Seddon, Greenland. We were about 10 miles northeast of Southwind when we noticed a fog bank approaching Southwind from the south as she was steaming south through the ice. We decided to return to Southwind before she entered the fog bank. The fog bank won the race to the ship. We had Southwind come to all stop. We then made an approach to the edge of the fog bank in Southwind‘s wake through the ice. We air taxied about 500 yards into the fog bank in about 125 yards visibility while following the wake and were glad to finally sight the stern. We then made an uneventful landing on the flight deck.
I was promoted to LT on 29 July. I held my ―wetting down‖ promotion party at the Thule AFB Officer‘s Club. Mixed drinks at Happy Hour were 10 cents! I brought an electric blanket with me on my first Southwind trip, but I didn‘t need to use it. I left it home for my second trip to save some space in my footlocker for other things. Of course, both of our boilers broke down at once on the second trip and we had no hot water or heat for a week. It was 40o in our living spaces! During that same week, we lost excitation to the starboard shaft, cracked two cylinder casings on #1 main engine, and burnt up the generator on #4 main engine. Our longest time at sea on this trip was 31 days straight.
On 15 August, exactly one year after our grounding off Greenland, we reached 83o 01‘N, then a record for northernmost penetration of the Arctic Basin. A few of the hearty souls aboard went swimming, in wet suits, to commemorate the occasion. The water temperature was 31.9oF. We also lowered a Nun buoy in place that LTJG Ken Riordon had found earlier in the Barents Sea. It said
8/15/70 CGC Southwind 83o North.‖ Attached to it was a watertight container with our sailing list
and a Coast Guard pennant. One of the crew tried to attach a Confederate flag to it but the Captain declined and told him to save it for when he had to blow his nose.
While we were operating north of Russia in the Barents and Kara Seas, we were ‗escorted‘ for quite a while by a Russian icebreaker ‗Vladimir Kavraysky.‘ On 22 August at 0355, she collided with us! She drifted down on us dented and our hull on the port side where it joins the main deck and also bent two railing stanchions with her bow. There was no internal damage. We secured from GQ after one hour and 15 minutes. One of the aviators had donned his wetsuit; he was ready for anything. I never heard of any news coverage or formal complaints between countries about that event.
On 5 September, we began one of the most amazing experiences a person could ever have, a visit to Murmansk, Russia for two nights in the middle of the Cold War! CAPT Cassidy had requested permission from the U.S. State Department for the port call. The request was granted because it was a homecoming for Southwind! How can that be? After World War II, the U.S. had a ‗lend lease‘ program with our ally, Russia. Southwind, then U.S.S. Atka, was lent to the Russians as part of that program and homeported in Murmansk. It was returned to the U.S. several years later and eventually given to the Coast Guard. Following are excerpts from my log of that visit: