|USS FRED T. BERRY
SHIP'S HISTORY ADDENDA
It was on the Fred T. Berry's summer cruise to Quebec Canada in 1959 when the incident occurred. Although it has been forty some odd years ago I still remember it well. We were steaming up the St Lawrence toward Quebec City and had been all night. As I walked up the port side towards the chow hall for breakfast I noticed that we were at anchor and there off the port side was our whaleboat. I fell into the chow line as usual and asked someone what the whaleboat was doing out there. Whoever it was I asked said the whaleboat was fishing. I asked, "for what"? He said, "our anchor"! I said, "but aren't we anchored already"? He explained that during the night the ship had dropped our starboard anchor and paid out too much chain and that we had lost it. For as long as I had been aboard we had always used the port side anchor and apparently the First Lieutenant decided that it was time to switch to the starboard anchor. Well it turned out that the markings on the chain had become obliterated over time and the anchor detail was unable to see how much chain had been let out. The bridge checked our position several times and determined that the ship was dragging the anchor so they kept asking for more chain. By and by the end of the chain just went over the side. Oops! Later it was determined that the weak link that attaches the bitter end of the chain to the bulkhead in the chain locker was inadvertently not fastened. So they immediately dropped the port anchor and that's how we got to this part of my story.
After breakfast I watched as the whaleboat acquired the chain using a grapnel. As the whaleboat moved alongside to feed the chain up the hawse pipe the grapnel punched a hole in the side of the whaleboat. Oops again! Well the "powers that be" decided to mark the chains location with a buoy and have a tug come out and recover the chain and anchor. So the boatswains tied a five-inch powder case to a small line and attached it to the chain and let everything fall back into the water. The powder case floated for about a second until the current pulled it under. Double oops! Anyway, we then proceeded into Quebec City. It must have been a lovely sight, several destroyers in line entering port then a straggler trying to catch up!
Well, we all had a lovely time in Quebec. Even walked in a parade. Yes, we were supposed to actually march in the parade, but most of us adhered to the idea that we only marched in boot camp.
Oh, by now you may have the answer as to why I call this story "Anchors Away" instead of "Anchor's Aweigh".
So after a couple of days we left Quebec and went down the St Lawrence to the spot where we had left out anchor. There we pulled up to the port side of an ocean going tug. The tug had anchored at the location and had found our chain, which they had faked down on the tugs fantail. They had not lifted our anchor onto their deck but had their tow cable attached to the chain and the bitter end of the chain was ready for us to take up through our hawse pipe. It was a lovely day and several of my FT buddies and I were sitting on top of the main battery gun director to watch the show. The starboard side bow of the "Freddie T" pulled up to the port side fantail of the tug and the deck crew fed a line through the hawse pipe to the tug where the tug people attached the line to the bitter end of our chain. It was about this stage of the action that I blurted out " aren't they going to tie up to the tug". I had seen the future and I saw the ships coming apart with the chain "running". As the main battery gun director is immediately above the bridge one of the officers on the bridge gave me a dirty look and put his finger to his lips to indicate that I should shut up. I was thinking "but, but" however I did see the wisdom of shutting up, which I did. Well guess what? I was right! After a few minutes winching the chain aboard, the ships began to move apart and indeed the chain started to "run". What happened was that the chain began to droop between the ships and very quickly it increased speed as it fell back into the water. This action moved the ships further apart and in a matter of a few seconds it was chewing the wooden rails of the tug as it plunged over the side. It began to rise up off the deck of the tug as it swept back and forth and soon the arch of the chain was as high as I was. There were two deck crew on the fantail of the tug and they literally ran for their lives. The deck crew on the bow of our ship ran for cover too. In a matter of maybe twenty seconds or so all the chain on their deck was over the side and the chain came to the end where it was attached to the tow cable of the tug's towing boom. Did I say boom? I guess it boomed! It pulled the tug over at least 45 degrees. I was amazed that everything held together and the tug soon righted itself. After a short while everyone calmed down and the chain and anchor were recovered.
We then returned to Quebec and continued our visit. At the end of the squadrons visit we were all supposed to steam out of Quebec in line. As the "Freddie T" backed out of our birth we ran over a buoy and damaged our starboard propeller. We then limped back to Newport with a locked propeller. All in all quite a cruise!
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