USS THOMAS C. HART (DE/FF-1092) VETERANS ASSOCIATION

Sea Stories: Neal Jefferis

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Enter subhead content here "The Persian Excursion, 1983"

TCH deployed May 1983 headed for duty in the Persian Gulf.  During this six month deployment TCH conducted:
  • a brief stop at NavSta Rota (inchopping),
  • multiple stops in Bahrain, a brief visit to Mombosa (Kenya),
  • a Brief Stop for Fuel (BSF) in Djibouti (Home to the French Foreign Legion Boot Camp),
  • a stop in Palma de Majorca (Spain),
  • a stop in Rota for Outchop (and to get swallowed into ComCruDesGru Two's clutches under Adm. Chang ("Chang the Merciless") as he was bringing most of the IKE Battlegroup (less the carrier and the VIRGINIA) home, 
  • and a stop in Bermuda on the way home to pick up Tiger Cruisers. 
We deployed with the USS DEYO for the six month deployment.  We ALMOST lost the Tiger Cruise on the way home, but because HART and DEYO had people flying to Bermuda to meet us, we were detached to complete this important "family commitment". 

Sea Stories from the deployment include:
  • Contaminated Potable Water: Treatment chemicals (the wrong ones) were placed into the potable water tank (by accident).  In the middle of the summer heat of the Persian Gulf, we were without potable water for the better part of two days.  Every canned beverage on the ship was consumed (we were  down to the little Bluebird cans of pineapple juice by the end).  When we had flushed, and pumped, and flushed the tanks enough, we pulled into Bahrain for one more time with a water barge.  A hose was run from the barge to a splitter, with one line feeding the potable water tanks and the other run across the flight deck for crew showers (on the fantail, at anchor, in port).  I was standing OOD Inport, in shower shoes & shorts, and I was one of the better dressed crew members at the moment!
  • While conducting an UNREP with the USS TARAWA (LHA-1) in the Red Sea, the refueling probe from TARAWA stuck in our receiver.  We had to uncouple the receiver, tie it off to the probe, and send the whole package to TARAWA for dis-assembly.  The receiver was later returned to us.
  • While conducting (Naval Gunfire Support) NGFS off Somolia, we hosted a USMC Cobra on the flight deck, and hosted the pilots to a bit of lunch.  Unusual aircraft for our flight deck.
  • Memories of port visits to Bahrain always include the wonder of "beer on the barge".  In a time when the Navy was still "dry", even after an extended period at sea, was would anchor out in Bahrain.  Some of the crew could hit the beach (one duty section for a few hours).  A second duty section enjoyed beer (limit 2 per) and burgers on the garbage barge along side (after all, it wasn't a USN ship) while the section that had duty had burgers and soft drinks.  Beer, burgers, and garbage in the summer heat ... what a picnic!
  • While in port in Mombosa, several of the crew (including the Captain) enjoyed a brief overnight safari.  Things started heating up in Lebanon, and we got orders to get underway to escort the Pacific Fleet ARG (Amphibious Readiness Group) that we had worked with in Somolia as they headed for the Suez Canal "in case".  The Persian Gulf (COMMIODEASTFOR) flagship USS LA SALLE was in port with us as well, and COMMIDEASTFOR's Chief of Staff came over to offer to sail with us "until the Captain can rejoin".  Our XO (LCDR Dave McCullough) informed the C of S that he (the XO) was qualified for Command at Sea and would take the ship out if the Captain was not able to rejoin in time.  (The CO made it back, just in time.)
  • We steamed around the Persian Gulf at slow speeds, in a station, observing what was going on.  A lot of fishing was conducted off the fantail.
  • We made the transit home with six watch sections, including an all ESWS (Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist) leadership team for one section.  The Senior Enlisted Advisor (OSCS) was the OOD, the BMC was the JOOD, the ETCS was the CICWO, and the BTCS was the EOOW.
  • We had some experimental sight glass gauges down in the main spaces, one of two or three ships in the fleet with them.  One of the other ships determined they leaked, and tech reps arrived to pull / replace them.  They had a radioactive content in them and the sealed containers with the now-removed sight glass gauges were locked in the Deck Division office (port side, aft) for the transit home.  We joked that we were an FFN, or nuclear Frigate! 

SUMMER 1984:  
  • We conducted a short, three day visit to Bermuda in June 1984.  Some of the wives flew over for a short visit.  My wife reported the experience of being alone on a plane full of newlywed couples was interesting, especially when she told them she was meeting her husband in Bermuda!

Late Summer 1984:
  • TCH was preparing for a complex overhaul.  The folks from SIMA Norfolk were assisting the preparation, including the removal of the 5"/54 Mk 42 Mod 9 gun mount, ASROC Launcher, and Mk. 68 Fire Control Director (all headed to Naval Ordnance Station Louisville for their own overhauls).  When the gun barrel was pulled and being lifted, it pitched out of the sling it was in (error on the play by the SIMA rigging crew) and punched, breach end first, into the forecastle deck. It came to rest with about a 70 degree angle (to the horizon). The threads of the barrel were not damaged, and that barrel (after some clean up of both the barrel and the skivvies of the sailor in the berthing compartment below where the barrel punched through) was eventually re-installed and used following the ship's overhaul.  The day after the barrel incident, the ASROC launcher was being prepared by the ship's crew according to SIMA directions.  When the port side guide (cells 1 & 2?) was elevated for the removal of some bolts, it continued back / up / off the launcher base, slapped the face of the superstructure (the blast doors), and landed on deck.  Within two days we became the only frigate on the waterfront with a fixed 5" gun, and the first ship in the fleet with a Vertical ASROC launcher! 

GTMO 1985
  • We conducted a number of Low Visibility Navigation practices, backing down from the pier at GTMO to the channel bouy that started the navigation exercise.  This practice came in handy when we did our overnight R&R trip to Ocho Rios, Jamacia where we tied up to the Boxiute (sp?) Pier (used in one of the early James Bond movies with Sean Connery).  No tugs available, so we dropped the keel anchor coming into the pier, then used it as a kedge anchor to help us get away from the pier.  With no room to turn in the port, we actually BACKED through the break water and put to sea stern first! 

OPERATION DESERT SHIELD / DESERT STORM (1990/91):  
  • While conducting boarding operations in the North Red Sea (under the wonderful, excellent guidance of the staff of Destroyer Squadron 24 from Mayport, FL), the HART was called upon to provide assistance to the USS BIDDLE (CG-34) after the BIDDLE's rudder fell off!  Seems the BIDDLE belonged to the only class of US Cruisers with two shafts / one rudder.  While BIDDLE's crew was boarding and inspecting a ship, the BIDDLE rudder proceeded to the bottom of the sea.  HART got the call to tow BIDDLE to the south end of the Suez Canal so an ocean going tug could take BIDDLE through "the ditch" and into the Med for a dry docking and new rudder.  With the BIDDLE in tow, HART claimed to be a New Threat Upgrade Frigate (FFG?).

Respectfully,

Neal Jefferis, LCDR USN (Ret.)

1LT / Gunnery Officer (and Conning Officer backing out of Ocho Rios) Sep.82 - Sep 85  --- and DesRon 24 Staff Combat Systems / Material Officer during Operation Desert Shield / Storm

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Jamie Harr (ET2 83-85) adds "

I seem to remember a show for a Russian trawler that the state dept. might not consider politically correct as well as some Yemeni blubber."




 

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USS Thomas C Hart (FF 1092)