|USS FRED T. BERRY
SHIP'S HISTORY ADDENDA
September 11 and 12, 1960
One of my memories of the USS FRED T. BERRY days was Hurricane Donna that hit Newport on September 11th and 12th of 1960. Initial preparations were made to move us from Pier 2 into the bay to weather out the storm on Sunday evening, Sept. 11th. We were moored to USS NORRIS and a tug took us out to a buoy in the bay. Since we left the pier on Sunday night, many of the crew were ashore on liberty and missed the departure. The captain and XO were aboard though.
The storm hit in the middle of the night and the two ships started rolling in the chop in the bay. Eventually the ships stopped rolling in unison and started coming together very hard, despite the bumpers between the two ships. It was decided to part with the NORRIS and anchor alone in the bay with engines running to maintain position. That was the way the situation played out until the storm abated. I remember having to take an axe to the hawser on the fantail to cut it, as it was almost impossible to handle it with your hands due to the roll of the ship.
The storm eventually abated and we returned to the pier with minimal damage although I believe there were some buckled areas so the hull.
That was the way I remembered the event until I had the opportunity to discuss the event with Capt. Sharp during one of our many email communications during the period from April 2003 to his death in January of 2006. His email follows, completely unedited. I also received an email from John Vantol, XO at the time. His email is also included here, totally unedited.
One of the things about Capt. Sharp was his total candidness when
talking about Navy matters. I learned a lot of protocol and the captain's
obligations to his superiors. Unbeknownst to most of us enlisted crew, he
was always under scrutiny from the Squadron Commodore as well as
COMDESLANT himself. More than once, he received criticism for actions of
the ship. After all, he was the captain and ultimately responsible, even
though the running of the ship was the duty of the XO.
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