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USCGC Southwind: The Good and the Bad!

By EN2 Ronald A. Henderson, CWO2 (ENG) USCG (Ret.) (October 1966 to June 1968)

Note: The two trips that I made on the USCGC Southwind (Arctic East 67 and Deepfreeze 68) were fantastic adventures for me. I have expressed the good and bad as I remember and most of it centers on my personal happenings and the people I had experiences with. I‘m not sure everything is factual but I will stand by every single word. I have told these stories too many times to change them now. I have always said: Show them red and go ahead!

Deep Freeze 1968, the Uncharted Pinnacle!

We were underway and heading home. We had just secured from special sea detail and had set the watch. I just relieved myself as my duty station for special sea detail was in B-2 and I also had the first watch as throttleman along with my fireman as oiler. As I recall we had B-1 and B-2 engineroom‘s on the line and B-3 was on standby. I was an EN2 at the time and B-2 was my regular assignment under ENC Duckworth.

I had my headset on and was sitting in a metal arm chair in between the two main engines and was watching the main gauge board when we hit. I remember the impact as three distinct hits with a lurching motion and a lot of intermingling loud crunching and grinding noise. The first hit made my chair slide and the second impact almost threw me as the chair hit the metal framing at the edge of the deck plates. I remember momentarily thinking that we must have entered the ice but quickly dismissed that. I had grabbed a hand rail and was out of the now flipped over chair and crouched for the third impact which I would describe as more of a heavy thud and a more severe grinding, crunching noise. Simultaneously we had huge gushers shooting up from the rear of the engineroom. Over the headset I thought I heard ―fire and flooding B-1 engine room‖ and I reported ―flooding B-2 engine room‖. I was between the main engines holding onto the hand rail with one hand and operating the headset with the other. I was facing the rear of the engineroom observing the two huge gushers that were shooting from the lower deck plate level to the overhead on the upper level.

Sometime during this same period the GQ alarm was sounded. My oiler went running back to the flooding and I watched as his legs flew into the air as he hit the slick wet deck plates. He landed on his back with one heck of an impact. It had knocked the breath out of him and he just laid there; I don‘t think I reported him down. I started back and my feet began to slide out from under me. The like ice slippery deck with the sudden realization of a heavy fuel oil smell, made me realize that it was fuel and not entirely water flooding. I helped the fireman up and together we secured the two open fuel oil sounding tubes.

Other reports of flooding had started coming in but the one I remember most was B-1 reporting that they ―did not‖ have a fire. I don‘t know if that was in response to being asked from main motor or the bridge. I‘m not sure what generated the original fire report from B-1. It could have been some sparking from water hitting the main generators or a ―steam off‖ smoke look from water hitting hot spots. It may have also just been a false report in the excitement of reporting the original flooding. I do know we had a vapor mist from atomization of the under force liquid hitting the overhead in B-2 but it did not have an appearance of smoke.

I had reported my flooding was fuel and not water and that we had it secured. I have read another report on this stating it was all water and can tell you for certain that we had fuel oil coming into B-2


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