from one or both sounding tubes. The fuel oil king had just made rounds. I‘m told the flooding in B-1 was water.
I can still remember the distinct and eerie sounds of all the hatches above us being slammed shut and dogged down. Engines were at an idle and forward motion stopped. I had definite feeling that something was terribly wrong in the hull area under my engineroom. The hull was still making a loud grinding crunching noise and the ship was no longer underway. You could feel the vibration from the grinding in the engineroom decking. Later, I found out we were pivoting on the pinnacle and it was directly under me. I felt we had B-2 secure but took comfort as EN2 Shue made ―under control‖ reports from B-1.
Sometime during this same period Captain Dolber announced over the PA exactly what had happened and that the flooding was controlled. His manner had a real calming effect. After that I‘m not sure what came first but I remember watching the tank tops under the main engines as we were attempting to back off. Once we did, we used divers to estimate the damage and related the damage by frames to the location under the hull. We estimated the big hole to be under the main bulkhead between B-1 and B-2. Later at the ship yard we found out that the sea chest to B-2 was totally mangled as seen in the pictures already contributed. We could not run B-2 for fear the vibrations would crack the tank tops. The only thing between us and major flooding of the ship was the double bottom tank/void tops. For the entire return trip we maintained a live watch in B-1 and B-2 for leaks or cracking.
Ironically I believe we made the entire run back on B-3 engineroom. We use to kid the snipes in B-3 about their cold iron engineroom but had to eat our words after that. I also remember that we were delayed several days at the Panama Canal while they evaluated the ship for safe passage through the canal.
Notes: I faintly recall having some discussion later about the main propulsion generators on the back of the engines in B-1 getting some water into them from the flooding spray. The old inspection plates on the generators fit poorly and were not sealed. Water and generators don‘t mix. They looked at why B-2 did not have the same problem. The electricians had sealed ours with duct tape and a rubberized gray paint as a preventative measure. I believe they did so because the evaporator was on the upper level of B-2 over the main generator and the BT‘s would start filling the expansion tank and frequently would let it run over.
My oiler/fireman had gotten the breath knocked out of him when he fell. To this day I can‘t picture his face or remember who he was but he certainly headed for the source of the flooding without delay.
I was actually relieved to get orders for the CGC Atka. I was the class leader in Engineman school and had choice of duty and took a little buoy depot in Owensboro, Ky. Shortly thereafter the warrant officer captain on the river tender there (CGC Lantana) pulled strings and got me transferred on his boat just because I could spray paint. This guy was a little dictator. After about two months onboard I had developed a bad hernia and the doctor had to force him to send me to the Public Health Hospital in Detroit Michigan for an operation. He wanted the doctor to issue me a jockey support strap. When I arrived in Detroit they were having a change of staff and actually put me out on 30 days sick leave to return there. When I reported back in they operated, kept me a week and then gave me