The gear off the fresh water pump had worked back, and chewed off some cap screws on the flexible drive gear. So out it came and while working on it at 2:00 a.m., December 19th, we broke a blade off the starboard (that‘s the right side) screw.
We had been breaking ice on 5 main engines and after we backed down after a charge the blade hit a chunk of ice (the ice that broke the screw was 9 feet thick) and that was that, back to Wellington and drydock.
19 December to 31 December 1968 McMurdo Sound, Antarctica to Wellington, New Zealand
The morning of the 19th Glacier left ahead of us to break the channel out, and Burton Island took us in tow. As we neared the edge of the ice we all bunched together, and we began to give Burton Island and Glacier fuel and lube oil.
We headed out to sea on one shaft and started for Wellington. On the way we completed a 500 hour check on Main Engine #5 since the shaft it is on was OOC (Out of Commission).
The trip from McMurdo sound to Wellington was uneventful but a little on the rough side since we had very little fuel and running on one shaft.
We arrived in Wellington on the morning of the 31st, and tied up at Queens Wharf to await entrance into dry dock. That afternoon we proceeded to the dry dock and went in, and liberty was granted about 5:00 o‘clock.
31December1968 to 9 January 1969 Wellington, New Zealand
Wellington was the same as before and I was sick of it. The same old smell, the same noises, and the same weather.
New Zealanders are a little calm on New Year‘s. No noise and drinking, like goes on in the States. Maybe they don‘t celebrate it. They don‘t celebrate Thanksgiving or Valentine‘s Day either. But then Thanksgiving is an American holiday. I tried buying a Valentine‘s Day card in 3 or 4 different stores but they didn‘t know what it was.
The Navy had another ship in when we first got there. The USS Providence, a missile launcher or something like that, just back from Vietnam. About 4 days after they left a couple of Navy guys came aboard and reported in because they had jumped ship. A few more were still out.
While in dry-dock we had all six propeller blades replaced. We had stainless steel blades, but the replacements were standard nickel alloy. We managed to complete a 500-hour check on #4 Ship‘s Service Generator.
The dry-dock is right next to a ferry slip, the ferry running from the North Island to the South Island. The Wahine (excuse the spelling) was the sister ship to the ferry there now. The Wahine sank in Wellington Harbor last year in a storm with the loss of many lives. The news here televised the whole sinking and showed people jumping off the ferry, swimming and drowning, and nobody could do a thing about it.