The Typhoon

 

   The Typhoon

    There is another event in the Western Pacific worth noting. As we sailed South from Japan after our Yokosuka port visit, we were intercepted by a typhoon (what hurricanes are called in the Far East).  Our escorting destroyers had to leave us to seek a course that would avoid the worst of the storm but we plowed straight on. Most of the night we were taking white water (mostly foam) and sometimes green water over the bow and down our flight deck.  A wave has to be very big to rise higher than a carrier flight deck. ORISKANY was pitching and yawing in a way familiar to the crews of destroyers and other smaller ships but rarely experienced by aircraft carrier sailors.

    Seasickness is not common on carriers, because of their size, but there was lots of it on ORISKANY that night.  I wasn’t one of the sufferers because it was not a new experience for me.  I had spent time on destroyers and a couple other small ships on the stormy North Atlantic.  The flexing and stressing of the ship’s hull caused a crack to open in the bulkhead of a black oil bunker.  Oil escaped into a passageway lined with officers’ staterooms before it was discovered.  A crew of shipfitters had to find the crack and plug it. Then an engineering gang had to clean up the oil as best they could.  One of them later described the scene to me.

    They were working in a hot, stuffy space and straining to keep on their feet on the slippery deck as the ship rocked and rolled.  Black oil stinks badly and between the smell and the motion, about half the engineering gang vomited at least once.  Because the vomit was less dense than the oil, it formed puddles on top of the oil and then slid up and down the passageway as the ship rose and fell. The work gang did the best they could under very trying conditions but the unfortunate officers had to move in with other officers and sleep on cots for a while.  When we arrived at Subic, a civilian crew made a more permanent repair of the crack and cleaned up the oil more thoroughly.  I heard those staterooms still had a faint stink of black oil for months afterward.

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 Posted by at 7:24 pm