One very important happening, was
our ship's battle with Hurricane Carol in August, 1954. CortDesRon 6, the Berry, McCaffery, Norris, Thomas, Keppler and Harwood, along
with a Carrier (I can't recall which one) and two submarines were returning
north from exercises in the Caribbean when we were overtaken by
"Carol" off the Carolina's.
I was a radioman on the FTB and recall a message coming from the admiral on
the carrier saying that the anemometer on their ship, which measured the wind
velocity, blew off at a gust of 147 MPH. In that message all ships were
advised to maintain maximum distance from one another with the final
statement that "it was every man for himself."
One of the submarines was unable to submerge in time and rode the storm out
on the surface, with many serious injuries to crewman, including broken
limbs. I recall coming out of the radio shack and looking out at the storm in
all it's fury. I vividly recall saying to myself, "Paul, if you survive
this in time you may not believe it but the height of these waves is the
height of 3 telephone poles, one atop the other." In the final death
scene of the fishing boat in the movie "The Perfect Storm" the
killer wave that flipped the boat was no exaggeration. That was exactly what
they were like. I recall watching the carrier disappear from sight in the
trough of two waves. The main passageway had footprints half way up the
bulkheads. Upon returning to Newport, while
off Block Island, it was not unusual to see
whole cottages out in the ocean. In fact, we had to post lookouts on the bow
to avoid hitting telephone poles and other heavy debris. Coming home, Point Judith, Rhode
Island never looked so sweet.
If you go to Wikipedia, on the
internet, you can find the story of the storm. The information printed
relates to the land observations. I will never forget that message saying the
winds were at 147 mile per hour. Who knows how much higher they might have
reached. A couple of other things that come to mind re the storm; The eye
passed right over us. Inside it was very calm. the
wall of the storm resembled a huge circular gathering of billowing dirty
cotton, that rose thousands of feet into the sky. When we passed thru the wall we were
greeted by thousands of birds that had been captured in the eye when the
storm originated over the Bahamas.
All those birds collapsed on our decks as well as the other ships, I am sure.
Their rescue was short lived because the eye was very defined and not that
big. I always felt bad for those birds. They were so exhausted; you could go
right over to them and pick them up. They did not attempt to evade you. They
were too tired. Soon, we passed back thru the wall again and they were all lost.