Whaleboat Rescue
by David Fickle FT2 58-60

On the summer cruise to the Mediterranean in 1960 we had a stop in Naples Italy. The Fred T. Berry was tied up to a quay that was under construction on the west side of Naples harbor. Alongside us was another destroyer in our squadron. Our whaleboat was tied to the stern of the ship and was used to go back and forth across the harbor to the main drag of Naples.

I was the "Petty Officer of the Watch" and it was probably the 1200 to 1600 watch. With me was Ed Teagle the "messenger" and the "Officer of the Deck". The OOD left the quarterdeck for some reason, I can't remember why. Anyway, he gave me the "long-glass" which sort of made me in charge of the quarterdeck. Shortly after he left, an Italian Destroyer left it's mooring on the north side of the harbor and proceeded south to the opening in the breakwater to go to sea. Ed and I were watching all this as it was a lazy day and there was little or no activity on the quarterdeck. When the ship got just to the east of us we noticed their crew was manning the rail. Ed said, "Hey a guy just fell off the bow of that destroyer". I looked at where he pointed and saw a man in the water.

I thought it would be a good idea to help in some way if we could so I left the quarterdeck and went to the after compartments hatch and hollered for a boat crew. I think a boatswains mate named Marlette (not sure of the spelling) responded. He came up on deck and I asked him to get a crew together quickly and go pick up the guy. He ran to the engineering quarters and returned a couple of minutes later with an engineman. They then jumped in the whaleboat and took off for the rescue.

I returned to the quarterdeck. I was gone for not more than five minutes and the OOD had not returned. We watched as the boat crew went to the Italian crewman. The Italian Destroyer had come to a stop about half a mile south of the crewman. It was about this time that the OOD came back and saw us watching the event. He said, "Whose whaleboat is that"? I said, "It's ours, I sent it to pick up that man in the water"! He was not pleased and began to chew me out saying I had no authority to send the boat away. It was obvious to me that he felt he may have some responsibility as he was away from the quarterdeck for some time. He continued to harangue me for a few minutes while I stood there and shrugged my shoulders.

Marlette and company picked up the man and returned him to his ship. They then returned to the Fred T. Berry. After tying up he came to the quarterdeck with one of the Italian ships life rings (it had the ships name on it). Our Captain then arrived at the quarterdeck and asked what was going on. Marlette stated that the Italian ships Captain had come and personally thanked him and his crew and given him this life ring. The OOD kind of hemmed and hawed and gave some sort of explanation. Our Captain then told the OOD "Very well, good job", and left. There was a long awkward silence followed by a longer awkward silence. Ed and I are still waiting for our "Very well, good job". We later learned that the Italian ship's Captain sent a message to our Captain thanking him for the rescue. I wonder if Marlette still has that life ring.

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