Sea Stories

Sea Stories
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Name: Steven ‘FRIO’ Donofrio
Rank: EM2
1973 -1974 Med. Cruise
The following piece was forwarded to me from former
EM2 Landis ‘BRIAR’ Cornett. It was written by a then
short-timer IC3 Stephen Gray (who failed to include
himself). It describes a part of my life aboard the Silly
Willy and the shipmates that I am proud to have
served with under then DCA Ltjg. Charles “I Never
Take Off My Sunglasses’ Rodriguez.
Repair Division, an integral part of engineering, is
composed of four rates; Hull Technicians, Electricians
Mates, Machinery Repairman, and Interior
Communications Electricians.
The HT’s are sometimes led by HT1 Maurice Bower
othertimes by mass confusion. Second in command is
HT2 Frank (The Nurd) Trimmer who plays at
Helicopter Fire Chief during flight quarters and whose
ability to clean out stopped-up toilets is beyond
reproach. HT2 Mike Shockey rounds out the ruling
class of HT’s and being “short” there won’t be much
said concerning his naval views since this is a military
and therefore censored publication. Keeping with the
navy pecking order, HT3 Keith Chambers enters the
scene. Petty Officer Third Class (Push-button type)
Chambers’ obsession with the high-speed, good
manuevering, well constructed Volkswagen has made
him a key figure in the toilet cleaning brigade second
only to Frank Trimmer. HT3 Dan Hinkle comes to us
from the Army where he traded ground pounding for
wave riding. For the illustrious strikers (those fools
attempting to become HT’s) there is FA John Berger
who constantly, in port, tries to disprove the theory
that the shortest distance between point A and B is a
straight line. HTFA Mike Baimbridge, the Naval
Reservist in our midst doesn’t know whether he’s an
HT or not. He evidently assumed the title while going
through that tough two week bootcamp. FN Leonard
Baldini, our bird and rabbit murderer of the division,
will gladly tell you the necessity of hunting the vicious
man-eating sparrow with a Thompson sub-machine
gun. FN Mike Carter, a boatswain mate reject, has
really been an asset to the HT’ with his superior knot
tying ability.
Head maladroit of the Electricians EMC Terry (Chief)
McDaniels whose trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly,
courteous, kind, obedient, brave, clean, and reverent
ideas (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha) have sparked the
electricians under him to heights few men have ever
achieved. The manipulator and general enforcer is
EM1 George (Frenchy) Ouellette whose conduct
ashore is in the highest traditions of the United States
of America, Department of Defense, United States
Navy, the USS W. S. Sims, and the First National
Methodist Church of America. Next in line is EM2
Harry (Motor Mouth) Patterson with past adventures
of the USS Saratogo which are, in fact, unbelieveable.
His first and foremost admirer EM3 and a half Oliver
(Briarhopper) Cornett Jr. whose speech and mumbled
wit require constant translation from he other
barefoot, down-home boys of the division, has
brought about the rejuvenation of the now famous
song “Jingle Briar” followed closely by “Sixteen
Briarhoppers, What do you get?” EMFN (at long last)
Don Braun alias BB alias Buddha Belly alias Bubbles
Braun alias ButterBall is one of the comical
electricians with his joint checking account with his
car-wrecking girlfriend. EMFN Vince Sinopoli is from
Louisiana and dreams of going to the Mardi Gras. I’m
sure that he and his go-tee (all twelve hairs) will
make it someday. FN Richard (Ravin’ Richie) Hughes
dreams a little differently. His dreams are of becoming
an OS or a QM or maybe a CS or anything out of
engineering. He’s our gullible fireman who pleases our
sea story tellers by believing every last word as the
gospel truth. EMFN Joseph (Squeaky) Nalli and EMFN
Steven (FRIO) Donofrio both are recent arrivals and
therefore won’t be subjected to verbal abuse this time
Division Officer, Damage Control Assistant and
Division Chief ICC Charles (Chuckie Baby) Miller, is
the ranking babysitter of the ship’s gyro compass and
whose ludicrous inanity on small jobs has given him
the title of Ace Sweatpump aboard ship. Leading Petty
Officer of the IC work center is IC2 Danny Waldrop.
Although new to the ship, his endless stream of
“bubblehead” (submarine) jokes has enhanced the
divisions ever sinking morale. His right-hand man is
IC3 Thomas Davis better known as the old man of the
division. ICFN Daniel Rohde, the other designated
striker, constantly attempts to build non-working
Heath Kit projects. FN Gerald Jenkins, the last of the
IC Men, is TAD to IC “A” School proving the fact that
you can get off the Sims without getting out of the
The Machinery Repairmen section of R Division is by
far and away the smallest segment, Smallest, not in
work load but in number; only two men. The top-dog
of the MR’s is MR2 John Phillips. His ability to produce
precision cribbage boards and pegs (which don’t
work) and his superior (what a joke!) card playing
ability has earned him an unprintable name with
which to live by. The other MR, FN Axel Wittenrood
hails from Chicago, Illinois and lets you know it as
soon as you meet him, so that he won’t be confused
with the “hillbillys” in the other gangs.
All kidding and joking aside, being part of Repair
Division, is a hard-working, thankless job endured by
all the above mentioned men and it was my
priveledge to be associated with those people for the
last year and a half. Just maybe someday, someone,
will realize the importance of this Division and the
individuals who are a part of it.
Name: Walter Carpus
Rank: RMC
The mere mention of a certain “towing” exercise off of
GTMO should remain only in our cranial archives.
Master Chief Hobby was rather restrained in his reply
to my report to him that we would be needing
assistance upon entry to port. He simply replied (as I
remember it) I already know about it! Bring it on.
WOW! Tough time.
Name: Ted Painter
Rank: FTG2
I saw the query about the keel anchor being fouled
while we were in Gitmo in 1970. We had anchored out
using the keel anchor, and when we weighed anchor
we picked up the eye portion of an old mooring line.
The anchor wedged into the housing, but wouldn’t
fully seat. We steamed for several days with it
jammed, and the shaft of the anchor swung back and
forth like a pendelum. Constant BOOM, BOOM, BOOM.
Finally, the Gitmo port services people set a huge
concrete weight in the water and streamed the cable
from a crane through that to the anchor and pulled it
out. What a relief it was to get rid of that booming.
Name: R. P. Turner
Rank: MM3
between 1970 & 1972
Does anyone remember being Anchored to the bottom
of Gitmo bay? By use of a steel beam a wire cable
with a steam hammsr tring to unstick our keel anchor.
Name: Joe Yount
Rank: PN2(SW)
1983 – 1985
Any of the guys remember us being at UNREP and the
5″ gun mount firing? The best I remember, PC3
Laforge, myself and a couple of BM’s (maybe Smiley,
Foster or Beckman) were on the P&D line above the
bridge on the Signal Deck. I was looking over the
forward edge and noticed the gunmount started
moving around and training its gun. I thought boy
thats odd and right in the middle of UNREP. Then
again, Jeff Levi was our weapons officer and he was
pretty unorthodox (boy is that an understatement!).
Just when I was getting ready to call this to the
attention of the Captain on the bridge wing, the
mount 51 let loose a round to starboard. The
concussion nearly knocked med off my feet and
absolutely terrorized the crew of the oiler next to us
(Neosho?). Emergency breakaway was called and all
lines on the oiler to our ship were tossed into the
drink for us to retrieve. At this moment I noticed that
YN1 Hoffecker had his headset buttoned up around his
neck as he was the CO’s phone talker. The phone box
on the other end of our P&D line got caught up with
all the excess line in the water and the drag was to
much for us to hang on the line. Boom, the P&D line is
racing over the side and the line faked out on deck is
paying out. I was screaming at Hoff “Get that thing off
your neck”. He didnt seem to understand the
seriousness of the situation but finally started to
unbutton it while chastising me for screaming at him
in front of the CO. At that moment the line ran out
and jerked the headset out of his hands at mach 5. If
his head had been in there, he would have gone in the
drink at that speed or his head would have popped
off. I remember a lot of people giving me grief for
warning old Hoff. Cant remember if Arje or Schultz
was CO but I know Levi must have really got an ass
chewing for that one!!!
Name: Joe Yount
Rank: pn
Name: larry thorpe
Rank: sk3
I remember one year during national week we where
to take our turn at shooting a drone down . We were
at GQ so the captain went to modified GQ because the
drone nevered showed up.
While we were at modified GQ to use the head and to
have chow . while eating we hear over the 1mc that
this is not a drill General Quarters
this is not a drill General Qauters in bound
uniditifiable aircraft. We set xyz and secured the ship
in record time ,after it was all done we found out that
it was the drone that we had been waiting on.
Name: Steven Donofrio
Rank: EMFN – EM2
Everyone remembers the evaps crapping out and
having to ration H2O with daily 10 minute head
washups, right? (Did they ever fix that problem?)Even
chasing down a storm to give the crew a well
deserved “shower” while in GITMO in ’76(btw- THANX
CDR Williams!). I know various Snipes have their own
stories (especially the MM’s in AUX I), but I’ll share an
R Division secret.
If you didn’t already know, the HT’s controlled the
on/off of the H2O.(They also had the keys to the Food
Freezers, but that’s a story for another time.) So
having the heads up on the times, they took spanking
new 30 gallon plastic trash cans (3?) below the
workshop and tapped into the fresh water line while
they were on and filled them up. Then, at will, tap into
the salt water lines for a shower and, utilizing their
coffee mugs, rinsed off with the fresh water! The
Twidgets, especially during chow time, knew
something was up, but nobody was talking. Not all of
us worked in air conditioned spaces.
I understand that it was good while in GITMO, but
later that year while chasing Russian subs back to
Murmansk in the Arctic Circle, the 28 degree salt
water didn’t freeze and caused record breaking wash
downs. But, I wouldn’t know. 😉
Name: Michael “PC” McCranie
Rank: PC3 at that time

s one of many stories I hope to write.
The Place: Puerto Rico
The Date: 72-73ish
Liberty in Puerto Rico
I had some good friends on the Sims and we had
some good times. One of the most embarrassing
incidents for me that I remember involved Bruce
Jenkins. After a successful night of bar hopping and
hell raising, Bruce and I and several other fellow
shipmates returned to the ship. Bruce was so drunk
he could barely walk. Well, actually he couldn

walk….we had to take turns carrying him. Being the
last man in this chain, I was stuck with the problem of
getting him on board.
As luck would have it, the CO, T.J. Moore and the XO,
F.W. Bouford were standing on the quarterdeck
waiting to leave just as we were boarding the ship.
Bruce was at least able to walk at this point which was
a relief…not so fast! I got him on board thinking my
job was finished and ready to hit my rack. I got no
more than maybe 10 ft. past the OOD when I heard a

Hey McCranie, you better get your buddy!!

Startled, I ran up to the quarterdeck and in my
horror, shocking disbelieve, I see Bruce pointing a
finger, lecturing the CO and the XO on God knows
what. My ears were ringing with shock at this point so
I really couldn

t hear the conversation but I could
clearly see the CO and XO were annoyed and looking
away hoping this would pass in short time.
At first, I didn

t know what to do. Everyone on the
quarterdeck seemed to be passively watching this
lecture and for a brief split second I was thinking
maybe I should let him speak his mind but that

rum logic for you. I was sober enough to know that I
had to do something drastic so while apologizing to
the CO and XO, I grabbed him by the shirt collar and
dragged him off the quarterdeck.
The next day I told Bruce what had happened and we
all had a good laugh. To my knowledge, nothing was
ever mentioned to Bruce or myself by either officers
and it all passed without incident.


Rank: EWCS
The incident with the top portion of the mast snapping
off happened
during the cruise in 1976. During that transit the
superstructure of
the ship broke from the main deck up and over sonar
control. It seems
as if we were traveling with some old Fram2
destroyers that could not
handle the seas at 18 knots, they were taking belly
slaps. The Sims
didn’t handle 14 knots well as our sonar dome came
out of the water and
induced a vibration throughout the ship. That was
determined to be the
cause of the mast problem and with the
When the JFK bumped the Bordelon the Sims was late
getting on station
and the Bordelon took our place. It could have been
At least those are my recollections. The mast incident
was very
memorable as I was almost written up for assisting
the BMC in lashing
the mast to the tower. The BMC went up with some
line and no safety
harness, I donned a harness and tied myself off and
attempted to secure
the BMC. He was nominated for a NAM for the same
action I was
threatened with being put on report. Both actions
were dropped, the
BMC didn’t care much for me after that!!
The Sims was later fitted with an expansion joint
across Sonar Control
as were all other Knox class FF’s
Name: Walter Carpus
Rank: RMC
Challenger Loss
We had been down at the Andros Range, and things
were just quite and peaceful on our journey back to
Mayport. I took the opportunity to tune in some music
on an old(OLD) receiver. I found a real strong station
coming out of Florida. It was within minutes then that
I heard the tragic news of the explosion that took so
many of the wonderful folks on the Challenger. I got a
quick radio check with Cinclantflt on the red phone
and called the skipper up on the bridge with the sad
news. He immediately called Cinclantflt and was
assigned to kick it up to flank (as I remember it) and
get to the scene to assist. We were the first ship on
station, and, subsequent to some super efforts by our
deck/air ops guys managed to only recover a deck full
of destruction. There were a great many of the guys
teary eyed, but worked their tails off nevertheless. I
still cherish the beautiful award certificate we received
for a truly wonderful effort. The ship was awarded the
Coast Guard Meritorious Service Medal.
Every time another shuttle goes up, I, as well as
many of you I am sure, hope it never happens again.
Name: Ted A. Painter
Rank: FTG2
1970 Guantanamo Bay
Since SIMS was the first KNOX class frigate to go
through GITMO, there was apparently a good deal of
interest from the Cubans. One afternoon when we
were inbound after a day at sea a Cuban gunboat
(minesweeper?) came out and rode around us in
circles taking pictures. I was in the 68 Gun director
with (I think) FTG2 Bill Price looking at them through
the director optics. If memory serves, a 50/50
proposition these days, GMG2 Jimmy Holmes was in
the gun mount with rounds loaded to the transfer
trays. It was an exciting little adventure.
Name: Ted A. Painter
Rank: FTG2
1970 Guantanamo Bay – Tug Shooting
I saw a reference to the SIMS shooting a tug by
someone. SIMS was the first KNOX class frigate to go
through GITMO, and none of the prepared scenarios
for MK 68 Gun Fire Control Systems and 5″/54 guns
applied to us, so they all had to be redone. The tug
was the USS PAPAGO ATF 160. We were firing at a
towed target sled when the fire control radar tracked
up the cable towing the sled, and we hit the PAPAGOS
with one round of inert 5″/54. She didn’t sink. There
was an investigation, but what resulted was additional
safety regulations that were still in effect when I
retired in 1985. LT Mike Sweeney was the Weapons
Officer, FTG2 Jerry Cobaugh was the radar operator, I
(FTG2 Ted Painter) was the MK 47 computer operator
in Gun Plot. FTMC Tony Clemmons was the G Division
leading chief. GMG2 Jimmy Holmes was the leading
Name: Walter Carpus
Rank: RMC
With the “skipper” telling about the “Peacemaker”
being the last ship to fire, It reminded me of the many
evenings sitting on the signal bridge with “Smitty” and
Jack Haymes, and Val Hart watching all of the activity
on shore. We made up little stories about just what
we imagined to be in the minds of many of the
participants in that war. None of these thoughts are
so clear as the night we watched the headlights on
the cars coming from the South, going North. They
apparently could see the tracers being fired in the hills
and would stop and wait until it appeared that the lull
would allow them to put the pedal to the metal. We
could just imagine the conversation may have gone
something like this: “Daoud, are you going to fight
tonight?”, Omar, No I fought last night and I am going
to take my wife to the movie tonight!” It did, at times,
seem like this could have been a pretty accurate
scene, as we could, from our close-in position see the
darkness of the Southern area down towards Heifa
become enlightened as we looked North. Through the
“Big-Eyes” we could see just that type of activity in
downtown Beirut, what with people driving around for
the most part as though nothing was to disturb their
enjoyment. War offers unusual moments. There are
always good and bad memories about our lives. This
was both!
Name: Robert Macaruso
Rank: BM3
Excuse the dates but it’s a guesstimate. The Silly Willy
(with affection) had been fitted with the brand new
rubber sonar dome in Philly and had been through the
famous 51 degree roll off Cape Hatteras as told by
Ensign Viscovitch (all true I was on the Bridge and
thought we were going to die) and it was off to Gitmo.
We were all set for Gitmo as we had come prepared.
We had a supply of hooch and other goodies and were
ready for anything that they were going to throw at
us. (So we thought) Well between getting underway
at 0400 and the constant drills and not getting back
until sometimes after midnight took its toll rather
quickly. Our stash was gone the first week and we
were at each other

s throats not long after that.
Those guys grading us on everything we did was a
pain in the Ass. Anyway you get the picture. We were
not happy campers. We were scheduled to do a
highline around noon I think and had a minute to
contemplate everything. I had no clue what the hell
was taking place and everyone is acting and talking
like I do. Well, I was a little nervous to say the least
and figured I better tell someone I don’t know what
the heck is going on. So I pull the Chief Boats aside
and tell him I have no clue what the hell everybody is
talking about. Shooting lines. Heave around
kingposts, small lines go here they get bigger and go
here. Chief what the hell are you talking about?.
Anyway he finally realizes that I am going to be little
or no help so he says, just stand here next to the
kingpost, the inspector is over there watching and
grading us on every little thing we are doing so when
you see him looking make sure you look like you
know what you are doing. Well as green as I was, that
was one thing I thought I got pretty good at, making
it look like I knew what I was doing. Ok, I can do that.
No problem chief. Well we get along side the ship we
are about to do the highline with and they start
shooting lines across and we started heaving around
on them and they get bigger and harder to pull and
then comes the stay wire and as all this is going on
I’m watching these guys on the other ship and they
look like they are ready to all have heart attacks.
They’re pulling but the lines don

t seem to moving
too much. This is where to this day I still don’t know
what the hell was going through my mind, but I figure
I’ll give them a hand from this side and heave on my
end. Well, you would think I would have realized that
the line they were heaving around on had to go
through the metal pulley attached to the kingpost.
Next thing I know, my right hand is stuck in with the
line and the pulley. In that split second I envisioned
my whole arm going through that 2.5″ pulley along
with the line and figured better to loose a few fingers
than my whole arm. So yea, I ripped my hand out of
the pulley and my hand was covered in blood. I was
so sure I had no fingers left. I couldn

t look at my
hand. A couple guys ushered me right off the flight
deck and up to Sickbay. After the Doc cleaned me up,
he assured me I still had all my fingers intact, so I
went to the top or the helo hanger to witness the rest
of the highline. After all was said and done I
meandered down to the flight deck and as soon as the
Chief Boats saw that I had all my fingers, he then
proceeded to go up one side of me and down the
other. Seems that because of my little bout of
stupidity, the inspector took off enough points and
failed us on the whole exercise. We were destined to
do it all over again. Needless to say I was not that
popular with people for a while. After we hit the three
week mark at Gitmo we pulled into Jamaica for the
weekend. We were good to go after that liberty. We
breezed through the last two weeks. We actually did
outstanding. I refer to the whole experience as my
five weeks in hell.
Name: Don maty
Rank: htfn
round about 78
It was a dark and stormy night…actually it was kinda
dark and we were out in the triangle,Bermuda that
is,and lost all power and could not get our aux
generators our sister ship pulled alongside to
give us a’jump’our hulls slammed together and put a
nice gash in our side just above the water line-y’all
remember the fun we had then?
Name: John Griffin
Rank: EW3
I joined the ship out of A school, having to fly to
Gitmo to meet her during Reftra. Soon after i arrived,
we left our scheduled training to go ping sonar for two
weeks off a suspected Foxtrot class sub near Puerto
Rico. The Glomar Explorer was dispatched to the
scene to drop cameras down to get a visual after a
while as it was of course impossible for a diesel sub to
stay down that long. She could not keep station over
it, so the cameras were transferred to us. When they
went down, they got beutiful pics of a huge mass of
seaweed trapped in a thermal current, with lots of
junk trapped in it. It was making a steady course and
speed in the underwater current. We returned to
Gitmo and completed training, arriving at Mayport a
couple weeks later than planned. I can still hear that
sonar pounding off the target no stop for weeks. I
never knew sonar could make so many different
noises as all you hear on TV is the sanitized version.
Name: BM1 Tommy Torrence USN Ret
Rank: BM3 at the time
I beleive it was my 1st Med in 1977
I hope you don’t mind my memory for dates. But I
believe we were somewhere in Spain. Anyway, I’m
going to tell on Ltjg Viscovich (Mr V). We were having
a great port visit(including Mr. V). Well one night Mr V
had been out tasting the local beverages and buying
souviners. He had a thing about pipes. Well he bought
a ceramic pipe as a what-not and on the way to the
brow, he tripped over one of the mooring lines and
dropped his pipe. Having tasted a fair amount of local
beverages he was quite upset. Then after recovering
somewhat, he proceeded up the brow and pulling out
his ID to come aboard, he dropped it in the water.
Well this took the cake, he decided to retreive it
himself and jumped to it’s rescue. He spent quite a bit
of time as the OIC of class C liberty risk.
Name: bobby hall
Rank: em4
jan 28 1986
this was one of the sadest times i had in the navy. we
was on our way back home when we
was told that the space shuttle challenger blew up in
midair. we was one of many ships who was looking for
any parts that was floating. i still have alot of pics of
the stuff that our ship picked up. this is a day that is
hard to forget just like 9-11. i also only had about 2
months left to go before i was getting out of the
bobby hall em3
Name: Ardey Clark
Rank: EN3
1969-or 70
We were in the yards at Charleston. A yard bird
droped a wrench in the reductin gear.We spent
several weeks in the yards while they tried to remove
the wrench.
Name: Bob McKellar
Rank: Lt.jg
Several stories, all Sims!
Name: Bob Servaes
Rank: OS2
Fire mission Target Number Beruit
I was just reading Captain Schultz’s and Mr Crowe”s
accounts of the fire mission off lebanon in I believe
1983. I was the NGFS net talker in CIC. We had the
biggest group of knucklehead afloat in OI division. But
when it came down to it, I would put that group of
guys up against anyone anytime anywhere. I
remember off watch in my rack, we were on port and
report(starboard)duty duty, and GQ sounds. All the
OSs’show up in CIC and the Marines, I think they
were calling from the airport, called us with a Fire
Mission Target Number. I remember the spotter on
the beach talking fast but calmly. the radio reception
was horrible it sounded like a chainsaw running in my
ears while I was copying down all the grid
coordinates. The radar scope was directly behind me
and I took a look at it and was amazed that I think it
was Joe Zdunczyk could even find a point to get a fix
we were so close to the beach the return on the scope
virtually unreadable. Our first fix wasn’t very good
and the first shot went out and we had no reply from
the spotter for what seemed like a few minutes, But it
was probably seconds. then I hear lost. The spotter
never saw the round hit. The next fix was perfect, we
fire a round, “Shot”. The long pause, the spotter
comes back, and I still remember his words like it
happened yesterday, “Your on target keep em
coming, fire for effect”. We didn’t have to adjust fire
one inch. We were all excited. as each shot left the
barrell of the 5″ gun the ship would shudder. then the
unthinkable happened. The tray for the shells
malfunctioned. Thats what the gunners told me later.
this is no reflection on them. they did their best even
after the malfuntion i guess things were kind of dicey
in the mount. Then Counting the lost round I said to
myself, but a little loud due to the headset, great we
just fired a 21 gun salute. I was proud of the Sims
that night. We were far from the newest ship. We
were conventional No NTDS. But none of this
mattered we stepped up.
Name: Steven Donofrio
Rank: EM2
On the evening of September 14th, 1976 about 75
miles northwest of Scapa Flow, Scotland the aircraft
carrier USS Kennedy was doing refueling manuvers
(yes, at night, in the pitch dark). The USS W.S.SIMS
was the rescue ship (aka next in line) as the destoyer
USS Bordelon DD-881 was refueling. As stated in an
earlier story, I was assigned to the Captains Gig and
Whale Boat for this detail and being as the tempeture
was a little, well lets just say, chilly, I huddled up in
the whale boat in an attempt to stay warm. From
there I had a perfect view of the Kennedy with it’s
night running lights gently listing back and forth. The
Bordelon and it’s lights looked like, again for lack of a
better description, a cork being thrown about in a
bath tub. The difference between the two were like
night and day.
All of a sudden the Bordelon disappeared and then
FLASH! The whole side of the carrier lit up like a
roman candle! They collided! The Bordelon (which had
a “steering problem” the official report states) came
away with both stacks knocked down on the starboard
side. The Kennedy had about a twelve foot hole in her
side and her refueling station was damaged. They
quickly put out the fire on the carrier.
We quickly pulled up along the port side of the
Bordelon to offer assistance. She was still on fire. As
we came about, I manned the 2 1/2 inch fire hose on
the bulkhead under the whale boat just as the
Damage Control Party got there. WHOOSH! The hose
filled up and sprayed as I held onto the nozzle with
everything I had. BAM! The fire went out, at least the
topside one in our view.
The SIMS proceeded to swing about and double back
to check if anyone was lost over the side. Thank God
there wasn’t and not one lost soul from that accident.
That ended up being the longest night of the whole
cruise and actually the last for the Bordelon. She
ended up being scrapped because the repairs were
too extensive (expensive, I thought). We ended up
having to wait a few more days for a tanker to juice
us back up then off we went to cross the Arctic Circle.
(Actually chasing after three surfaced Russian Subs
back to Manmursk. But again, yet another story.)
Name: James R. Meehan
Rank: ETN2
1st Gitmo cruise 1970
Target practice with the 5″54. As an ET and a short
timer to boot I didn’t have much knowlege about or
interest in the gun, but I vaguely remember an
incedent in Gitmo involving an ocean going tug pulling
a target sled. All I rememer is the entire wepons dept
being in deep sh*t and not much being said about it.
A few weeks later my Dad sent me a clipping from our
local paper saying that the Sims had sunk a tug in
Gitmo. He being a WWII GM2 he was interested in the
details, but I could not provide them. Does anybody
else remember anything more. E-mail me if you do.
Name: Roy Crowe
Rank: CDR
I recently read Jim Schultz’s story of our night in
action off of Beirut, and well I am afraid it wasn’t the
cake walk that he expressed.
I was the ex-DCA at the time, waiting to transfer and
head home and see my wife and newborn son. We
had in fact just left Ville-Franche a few days earlier to
head back to the monotony and stress of the gun line.
Monotony because we never got to do anything but be
a decoy for the destroyers, cruisers and battleship
that actually fired. And stress because it was hell
standing a night watch on the bridge. Lights out, close
to shore, lots of traffice plus American, French,
British, Italian and Soviet ships running around the
same way.
But back to the night of 28 Feb 1984.
I was blissfully sitting in the well lighted, air
conditioned Main Control as EOOW when the 21MC
(the @#$%^ box, the software won’t let me call it
what it was) asked me to get to the bridge when I
told them I was the EOOW, the solution was to go to
GQ. Up into the dark I went to be the GQ OOD.
Confusion reigned as the QMs, CIC and Gun Plot all
tried to figure out where we were and the Gun Target
Line. Captain Schultz was chain smoking away. John
Roman, the XO, was uttering those colorful coloquism
that only he could in a tense situation. While Jeff Levi,
the Weapons Officer, was trying to get his folks on the
line and the gun on target.
Me, I thought it was the greatest thing to ever
happen. We were finally going to get to shoot,
something every other ship had done but us (and all
the other frigates and most of the destroyers)
Eventually I took the deck and the conn. (I was the
best relay JO on the ship) and we headed towards the
We fired one round for the spotter. On target. The
spotter requested 20 rounds, fire for effect. 5 shells
rang out, then KLUNK. The gun died. Everyone on the
bridge barking orders, demanding explanations. 10
rounds went out then klunk. Minutes that felt like
hours. We fired again then klunk, another round then
klunk, somehow we got all 20 out.
Ashore they reported the target destroyed, Jim and
Jeff were ready to choke each other but we did it.
Then the spotter requested 5 more rounds to knock
out the ambulances coming in to save the attackers.
Luckily the gun was broken big time or we would have
had to deny them for ordering us to break the law of
armed conflict.
With the gun OOC, we steered out to deep water and
were met by the USS Moosbrugger coming in. All
running lights ablaze. Ours were still out. I never saw
such a well lighted ship in my life. She didn’t fire, the
Navy wasn’t needed again that night.
The SIMS was the last ship to fire at Beirut in 1984.
We gave Lebannon a 21 gun salute, not as neat as in
the movies but we got it out.
I left the next day to see my family and head to
Department Head School and the ship headed to
Trieste, but thats another story.
Everything else is as Captain Schultz told it. We need
Jeff Levi to put in his part of the story plus the
Gunners Mates who worked like hell to keep the gun
on line that night.
Name: Jim Schultz
Rank: Captain 1982-1984
By the way, did you know SIMS shot
the last rounds on the Lebanon/Mideast Conflict?
It was in 1983. We had been shotgun destroyer for
the Battleship NEW JERSEY for months. We took over
several of her duties before. But, this was to be
the biggest!
NJ pulled out for a port visit and refueling and
put us in her station, Naval Gunfire Support
Station One (NGFS-1).
Imagine a one-gun 5″/54 frigate taking the place
of a Battlewagon! Then, it happened…one night…
a Call-for-Fire. A chance to shoot? We were
ordered to a gunfire support location.
We had been there for months, and not a whisper.
This was the first and last chance we might have
to shoot! This was our Big Chance!!!
The General Alarm was sounded and Battle Stations
manned. All hands on station, manned and ready in
record time. I knew we
were ready for this. It’s what we drilled for all the
time. Except this
was real! We raced around the northwestern corner of
Beirut in the dark.
Our normal routine was to be at Darkened Ship. We
looked like a Stealth
Frigate. Well, we were almost in the dark. There had
been a huge fire in
a fuel tank in the northern part of Beirut that night, so
one side of
the ship was lighted by the eery glow from the fire. I
didn’t like being
able to be seen from ashore. That could make us a
target. But, we had a
mission to accomplish. A real mission! We continued
in, edging closer to
the beach into a corner of the bay. Almost surrounded
by land and
buildings of the city. We were on station and plotting
our position
every minute. Then, it finally came. A real call for gun
fire from the
troops ashore on a target atop a mountain to the
east, beyond the city.
It seems some of our guys were coming under fire
and needed our
protection. We were getting our chance to help in the
war! We worked the
gunfire plot solution until the gun was pointed at the
target. Then, our
Gunfire Liaison Officer reported over the radio, “Fire
Mission. Ready,
over.” The reply came back, “Commence Fire, over”
Our response, “Fire,
out!” I can hear the Gun Boss yell the order. There is
a pause. Seems
like an eternity. “One Round. High explosive. Will
adjust.” “Commence
Fire!” There are voices yelling inside the gunmount,
clanks coming from
the loader raising a round to the mount. The barrel
was raised to match
the computer. It seemed like it was in slow motion.
Then, Slam. The
round went into the chamber. Loaded. BOOM! A shot
into the dark! “Shot.
Standby, out” was reported to the spotter ashore. My
heart raced. The
flash could bee seen across the bay. Most of the city
of Beirut could
see us. We could be shot at from ashore, we were so
close and so
visible. We got a Spot off our first round and and
adjusted in bearing,
range and height. “Fire!” The yelling, clicks, and
second round went
out. I could hear the commands from the Gun Boss,
LT Jeff Levy. “Shot,
Standby, out.” Then, the report you love to hear, “On
Target.” “One gun,
four salvos, rapid continuous fire.” “BOOM! BOOM!
BOOM! BOOM!” And, more
good indications,that we were on target came across
the radio ….
“Repeat!” Four more rounds went out. “Repeat!” And,
four more rounds
followed. “BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! And, again.
And, again! We were doing
the job that all destroyers want to do. Then, the
glorious words all
good gunners thrill to hear: “Cease fire, end of
mission, target
destroyed.” The crew was overjoyed. A roar went up
from inside the ship.
We had done our job. And, SIMS had done it well! The
Beirut Battleship
SIMS will never be the same. SIMS did the job of a
battleship that
night. After the gunfire mission, we retired to the
Battleship Station
and later that day the patrol ended. The Battleship
NEW JERSEY returned
and took over, but didn’t get a chance to fire again.
No other ship got
to fire, either. We had been the last ship to fire in
Beirut! We won the
war. We had been on station for 78 straight days. I
guess that duration
was to hard to beat, so they called off the war. SIMS
got a port visit
to Villefranche,France. And, we named SIMS the
Name: Steven Donofrio
Rank: EM3
North Atlantic/NATO/Arctic Circle Cruise ’76
While attempting to run from the R division workshop
down the port side pa$$ageway to reach my a$$igned
duty station in AUX II for a Refueling detail, the ship
rolled and pitched so quick that my foot became
wedged under the shoring between the Fire Room and
the Main Machinery Room.
Everyone thought that my ankle was broke because
my foot had swelled so big that my boone docker had
to be cut off. This is where fun began. I was issued a
pair of crutches and escorted to the flight deck! The
next thing I know there’s a chopper hovering above
me and I was to “slip” into (and hold on for dear life I
might add) a horse collar to be air-lifted to the USS.
Kennedy for X-Rays.
Let me tell you, I don’t think too many shipmates
witnessed that view of the SIMS at sea from the air.
dangling in a horse collar! Oh, but it gets better.
After landing on the carrier deck, as I hobbled
towards the super structure to get to sick bay, a
curious site came into view. A U.S. flag was waving to
and fro, very erratically just off the starboard side. It
was about knee high from where I stood on the
carrier deck. I yelled to someone,”What the hell is
that?” and their response was,”That’s your ship
coming along side to refuel.” Totally astonished to his
answer I inched my way over and gazed down over
the side. There she was, the SIMS, appearing about
the size of a long sleek model of about four feet long
and a half a foot wide. I yelled,”I’m on THAT!” They
laughed and quickly hustled me below. All I could
think about was how small she appeared from the
On the way back, the chopper crewman pointed to a
speck on the horizon and said that was my ship. She
was being thrown about like a cork in the bath tub.
Because it was so rough, I was told that they would
only make three attempts the drop me on the flight
deck and if unsuccsessful, would try again tomorrow
when it might be calmer. Yeah, that really set me at
Well the first attempt looked very promising. We
hovered over the flight deck and the guy shoved me
out and began to lower me. I got about ten feet from
the deck when the ship suddenly rolled to the
starboard side about thirty feet! So, back up I went
and they repositioned the helo again. Down I went
and the ship rolled again. Back up I went. What a
On the third and final attempt, and after feeling like a
human Yo-Yo at sea, I said to myself, this is it! If I
get close, it’s all over. Well, within about ten feet
again, I slipped off the horse collar and fell on the
flight deck…instantly remembering why I was in that
prediciment in the first place! My foot hurt more from
that fall than from the shoring.
Everytime I view the photo of the SIMS refueling from
the carrier, these are my memories. After that, I
switched my duty station to be topside during
refueling to the Captains Gig and Whale Boat. But
what happened then is a completely different story!
Name: Paul Viscovich
Rank: ENS
March 1976
We completed W.S.SIMS’s regular overhaul at
Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in March 1976 and got
underway for Charleston to rearm the ship. About the
second day out, the 08-1200 Sounding and Security
watch reported flooding in Shaft Alley #2. The Officer
of the Deck ordered the main engine stopped until the
snipes had a chance to check out and correct the
We were about 40 miles off Cape Hatteras and the
weather was bad, with high winds, intermittant rain
squalls and seas running ten to fifteen feet. With no
way on, the ship soon drifted into the trough and
began rolling badly. We had just piped “Early dinner
for mess attendants and watch reliefs” and the scene
on the Mess Decks was pandemonium. Food, mess
gear and mess cooks were sliding violently from one
bulkhead to the other with each roll of the ship. In the
midst of this chaos, an old first cla$$ had clamped
himself and his tray to a table where he was calmly
enjoying his meal, heedless of the devastation around
Back up on the Bridge, we were hanging on for dear
life. The Bridge Wings were dipping so close to the sea
that water was splashing over and into the Pilot
House, making it impossible to keep your footing.
Someone on the watch team was keeping an eye on
the clinometer and said the bubble went over to 51
degrees. It may well have, but I didn’t see it. I was
latched onto the centerline pelorus and rea$$essing
my belief in The Almighty. As they say, there are no
atheists in foxholes.
Despite these adverse conditions, the snipes soon had
the shaft alley pumped out and we continued our
transit with no more damage than a good “field day”
could fix. The cause of the flooding? Apparantly the
shipyard had incorrectly installed the inflatable seal
that keeps out the seawater where the main shaft
penetrates the hull. In order to get it to pa$$ its
hydrostatic test, they had shoved a welder’s glove in
between the shaft and the seal. Naturally, when the
shaft started turning, the glove worked itself loose
and the shaft alley flooded. The snipes lined up an
eductor and kept it dry until we returned to Mayport
where SIMA repaired the shaft seal.
Enough people claimed to have seen 51 degrees on
the clinometer that it became accepted as fact and we
were still talking about it when I left the ship two and
a half years later.
Name: Keith N. Bradshaw
Rank: ETRSA to ETR3
1970 thru 1973
I flew from NASJAX to Gitmo to join the crew of the
Sims in 1970 while she was in the process of her first
shake-down cruise, and then I left her in Gitmo in
1973 while she was in the process of her second
shake-down cruise. I then flew from there to NASJAX
to become separated from the Navy. Looking back,
that made for an interesting set of “Gitmo” bookends
which helped to define my relationship with the best
d*mned ASW ship in the Navy.
Of course, as an ET, none of those ASW honors can be
traced back to me. I simply tried to keep the surface
search RADAR picking up targets out to the horizion
line so the Sonar gang could perform their magic.
Although not a “plank owner”, given the years of 1970
thru 1973 of which I served aboard the Sims, I was
obviously surrounded by a bunch……… And they
never let me forget about it either!
Guys in the ET shack at the time were Chief Hoolihan,
Robbie (or Lurch), Evil-Immel, Guyer (Hooyer),
Swagger (what a great red beard, Dean) and ETR2
James Meehan (aka Uncle Meat). I was a “20 week
wonder”, an ETRSA, because once in the Navy, I did
not wish to extend 2 extra years to get that pushbutton
3rd cl*ss ET rating. So, as an E-2 I “got” a lot
of extra special a*signments in addition to learning
the craft of ET-ism. These a*signments included
cleaning sh*tters, loading stores, cleaning sh*tters,
painting, cleaning sh*tters, loading ordinance, and of
course, cleaning sh*tters.
I did enjoy the company of one RD1 Stein, who was
given the nickname of “MUG” (you know… stein,
mug…. er, ah… you get it) He later became one of
the first of the new EW rate. He was a h*ll of a sailor,
but to a “short-timer” such as myself, he was also just
a regular kinda guy. He helped me survive the
transition from civilian to sailor and back to civilian.
Thanks Mug! I also kinda hung out with the Sonar
gang, those hard working sons-a-b*tches that made
the Silly Willie the best d*mned ASW ship in the Navy,
and in doing so, kept the rest of us at sea for
extended periods of time chasing and har*ssing those
pesky Russian subs…… I kinda keep in touch with
Barney (now Robert) Muirhead who still lives in
Florida….. Orlando area.
I remember the first captain……….. we called him
“Hand grenade Charlie” because he got a kick out of
throwing grenades over the side whenever he spotted
sharks, just to see if he could make ’em go belly up.
As the years went by, guys would come and go……..
A couple of the other ET’s I remember were Harry
Dean Davis……. He liked to be called Harley
Davidson…….so we that’s what we called him. Then
there was Aggie. That poor guy would get seasick the
moment we left port and would stay sick until a day
after we tied back up. Butch English was a Naval
Reserve guy from Jacksonville. H*ll, serving on the
Sims to him was kinda like an 8-5 job. He surfed
every chance he got….. Had a pretty fun time in New
Orleans, when the Sims tied up at the end of Canal
Street, didn’t we Butch? There were several others of
course, including Richard Swidergal or Spider, Getty,
and then Chief Douglas came aboard after Hoolihan
Other than the 7 months in the Med, when we got to
enjoy the company of a bunch of Russian surface
ships that liked to play chicken with us, I believe the
most “fun” I had on the Sims was when we left the
shipyard in Charleston in the Fall of 1970 for a test
run and ran smack into a hurricane off of Cape
Hetaeras. H*ll, 2/3 of the crew got seasick including
yours truly……… And, guess who got to clean the
heads the next day… Thank God for seniority. Some
poor radioman was newer to the Sims than I was and
so he ‘got’ to do the sh*tters while I got to clean all
the puke out of the sinks. Ah…… the memories.
In 1973, I got called into the XO’s stateroom for a
shipping over speech. He told me about all of the
wonderful things the Navy had to offer and because I
was an ET I could qualify for a $10K reenlistment
bonus, the maximum VRB!!! So after all of the hype,
he said “Petty Officer Bradshaw, just what would you
like out of my Navy?” Quickly I replied, “Sir, with all
due respect, the only thing I want out of your Navy is
ME!” (Meehan, you set a wonderful example for me….
thank you). All the XO said was “Have a nice life on
the outside”…….. So, after that, all this short-timer
had to do was watch the hours tick away for the final
three or four months until my transfer off of the
After flying to NASJAX, it took a week to get me
“mustered out” of the service. So for that final week,
not only did I get the pleasure of guarding the Chief
Petty Officer’s barracks each night from midnight to 4
am, I also got to clean sh*tters one last time!
Turns out, serving on the Sims didn’t damage me too
much. I took advantage of the GI Bill after leaving the
service and got a BSEE from the University of
Utah……. (while being interviewed by IBM as
graduation approached, the interviewer asked me
“son, what was the happiest day of your life?” Any
wonder why I answered “the day I got out of the
I joined Evans & Sutherland Computer Corp in 1978,
upon the tenth anniversary of this good company and
have been designing “the world’s most expensive
video games” ever since. I expect to retire for good
one of these days….. Really, I do……. Oh, and now I
have a housekeeper that comes by the house once a
week and cleans MY sh*tters!
“Those who do not remember the Past are condemned
to repeat it ”
George Santayana 1863 – 1952
Name: Steve Donofrio
Rank: EMFA to EM2
Philly Drydocks 1975
Before reporting for SOAP Team, a couple of us fresh
air snipes decided to see who was awake on the
Qtrdeck one night. What we did was climb out through
the sonar dome (that was being replaced so it was
entirely open), climb up the far side of the drydock
and report back on the fantail Qtrdeck. By the third
time, we were on report! Needless to say, the OOD
was more impressed than Chief Blackshear was!
Come to think of it, that stunt WAS the reason I was
re-asigned to the SOAP Team for the rest of our stay
Name: David Bridges
Rank: ICFN
1975 or whenever we were in Guantanamo
We finally got a break from Getmo and we had liberty
in Ocho Rios Jamaica. I thought I had died and went
to heaven. Anyway we were all getting very drunk
and slightly disorderly when Ensign Viscovich ( I hope
I spelled that right Visco ) showed up as the shore
patrol with 2 other Sims sailors all in dress tropical
whites. I happened to think as an officer that Visco
was a stand up guy so I thought I would send him a
little Jamaican gratitude. I didn’t know what I was
going to do untill a Huge Jamaican women I would say
300 to 350 plus asked me to bbuy her a Coca Cola. I
told her I would if she would do one thing for me. I
pointed Visco out standing between the other 2 sailors
and asked her to go an give him a big hug and kiss
and then come back for her Coca Cola. Well I
definately got my moneys worth because she ran to
him and jumped on him hugging and kissing him as
they fell to the ground. All you could see of Visco was
shoes and a hat as this women hugged and kissed on
him for at least 30 seconds. The
other 2 sailors were laughing so hard that even
though Visco was crying for help they coudn’t do
anything to help him. Well when she finished she
came right to me and asked for her Coca Cola which I
gladly bought her. Once Visco got his self off of the
ground and looked more like an officer he walked to
me and asked me if I had anything to do with what
just happened. Naturally I denied it all and offered to
buy him a beer. Visco was on duty so he didn’t want a
beer, but he said he’d take a Coca Cola. At that point
I almost fell of of my bar stool laughing but I gladly
bought him a Coca Cola. So Visco if you read this I
owe you a beer and I hope you found a good women
that could hug on you and kiss you the rest of your
life. Dave Bridges Served on the Sims 1974 – 1977.