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

Sea Stories: John Moyer

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I, John Moyer was onboard Hart only for 1976 Unitas Cruise, and Dave Neimeyer's Sea Stories brought back lots of memories - I will intersperse a few of my own comments into what he already posted with my comments in RED



8 July 1976:  depart Norfolk; meet up with USS McDonough DDG 39; USS Davis DD937, and USS Gato SSN 615

**CT Staff comes aboard TC Hart from Key West as "ship-riders" for the South American ships - myself, CTI-1 Bill Carter and CTR-1 Gary (sorry Gary, forgot your last name)



12 -14 July: Port Everglades, Florida.

** I take up residence on Brazilian Destroyer "Sergipe," WW II vintage former US Ship - Meals often included flying fish picked up from the deck by the cooks - Rode her to Rosy Rds, then back about Hart for a while



 
19-22 July: Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico.  A traffic accident during our short stay took the lives of several Hart sailors.

** I had forgotten about this but seem to recall that between Roosy Rds and Equator stopped in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela for a few days - "Zulia" beer!!



1 July: crossed the equator at longitude 41-51W, with the express permission of his Davey Jones.  (Please don't ask the latitude.)

** (Should be 1 August, methinks) Vivid memories of the Shellback ceremony - I was a "royal dog," got to eat table scraps in officers' mess, owned by one of the few shellbacks on board. The Royal Baby was truly disgusting!!! (So were the "Royal Roosters with their blue lipstick) The certificate hangs prominently on my office wall with other "lesser" papers (degrees, licenses, etc.)



2-3 August: Fortazela, Brazil

** Ahhhh - introduction to Brahma Chop and Brazilian women (who began following the ship)



4-6 August: Recife, Brazil

** More Brahma Chop, more Brazilian women



9-10 August: Salvador, Brazil

** More of same, plus interesting historical stuff



16-19 August: Rio, Brazil; The statue of Christ on Corcovado, Copacabana beach, Sugarloaf, gorgeous women, great food.

**Ditto - I got a ride around Rio with a young Brazilian officer in a VW - He had just recently gotten his drivers' license (and car) and was possibly the only sane driver in the city, which is not good news for the passengers!! Still more Brahma Chop


23-24, 28-30 August:  Montevideo Uruguay.  Sort of like Philadelphia in the 1930's, but not as vibrant.  Great prices on leather jackets, though.

** The Uruguayans claimed that Montevideo had the ugliest building in the world - they might be right. Road Uruguayan Destroyer escort for the short period of ops - entire Uruguayan Navy (both ships) participated - remember drinking Yerba Mate on board - Nasty stuff!!



5-7 September: Puerto Belgrado, Argentina.  Tours of the Argentine ship "General Belgrano", previously a US heavy cruiser from WWII.  Later sunk in the Falklands War.   One of our officers did find that German worked better than English for ordering in restauraunts.  Go figure, mein herr.

** Somehow I don't remember this at all - might be the effects of Brahma Chop overdose



9-11 September:  Puerto Madryn, Argentina.  The city stopped abruptly, and the pampas started immediately.  Only real entertainment was going a few miles out of town to see the sea lions basking at Bahia Blanca.

** Missed the sea lions but not the bars!!



14-15 September: Punta Arenas, Chile. 

16-17 September: traversing the straits of Magellan, followed by a transit up the Chilean inland waters on the Pacific coast, 17-18 Sept.

           
** - I think I was riding Davis for this, but the description brought me back instantly - thanks, Dave
 

19 September: brief stop in the Bay of Linao, Chile.  No liberty, but we traded chocolate milk and other goodies for hand knitted sweaters and caps from small boats that came out to us. 

 

** Remember this one, don't think I bought anything, though 

 

21-23 September: Talcahauno, Chile

** Main Chilean Navy base - toured the "Huascar," a 19th-century ironclad captured by the Chileans in the War of the Pacific (in which Bolivia lost its coast and Chile occupied Lima) - not a good subject in Bolivia or Peru to this day, but the ship was fascinating. Got onboard Chilean ship, then new and british-built, perhaps the "Williams" or "Lynch," memory a bit hazy due to the most excellent Chilean wine served in the NCO mess ( in unending quantity)



27 Sept - 1 October:  Vaparaiso, Chile:  we did open ship visiting here and were absolutely swamped with visitors, including some professional ladies who courteously handed out their business cards to anyone they could. 

** Yep - also visited Vina del Mar, the Chilean high-end seaside resort adjacent to Valpo - reported onboard my second Chilean Ship, the Serrano, a WW II era destroyer escort that sailed with a relatively permanent 5 degree list to port - great crew, more great wine.



3 October: anchored in Puerto Aldea, Chile.  No liberty

** My hangover is coming back - partied on the Serrano that night, reported back aboard Hart before fleet departed following day - climbed cargo net after jumping off launch in less-than-calm seas - somewhat inebriated salute gave rise to response from OOD "Aren't you CT's ever sober?" Next morning, Chilean Fleet (11 ships, I believe) announced that they would salute us by "trooping the line" - As our crews scrambled to dig out dress uniforms, most having no idea what was going on, everything that floated in the Chilean Navy appeared out of a fog looking like the Royal Navy coming out of Scapa Flow or the Great White Fleet, sailing past our three ships led by their WW II Heavy Cruiser "O'Higgins" (ex Brooklyn class, I think), band playing on deck, sailers manning the rail, and followed by the rest of the fleet in order of size. "My" former home, the Serrano, was at the tail end, waves breaking over her bow as the crew hung onto the rail for dear life. Still brings shiver!



8-13 October: Lima, Peru.  Quite an interesting mood, since the Peruvians and the Chileans were arguing about some major land issues resulting from a war 100 years earlier.  The Peruvians had Soviet "friends" on board their ships during several of the exercises.  Earlier, when we were approaching Valparaiso, the Chileans asked if our sub was anywhere near that city's harbor.  When the answer was "no", the Chileans depth-charged a suspicious contact.  A few days later the Peruvians announced that a Peruvian sub that had been scheduled to do some operations with us would not be joining us after all.  A few lucky sailors got to take a special tour to Machu Pichu in the Andes.

** Funny thing - I remember this same story - not sure if I heard if from the Chileans or the Peruvians - Chileans, I believe.


** I could kick myself for missing the trip to Cuzco and Machu Pichu - think it was $180 (a lot of $$ in 1976) - instead spent too much time in the bars in Callao and Lima drinking Pisco Sours. Reported onboard B.A.P. (Buque Armado Peruano) Almirante Grau, formerly a Dutch heavy crusier for next leg. Switched from Chilean wine back to beer in the NCO mess. The Peruvians at the time had recently purchased the ship from the Dutch, and were still translating the manuals - - from Dutch to English to Spanish by Peruvian NCO's who spoke only Spanish!! Didn't do much to up my comfort level



- 19 October:  swim call at Paita, Peru (offshore anchorage)

** Back onboard Hart



- 20 October:  crossed the equator again.

- 21-26 October: Rodman, Panama

- 26 October: transited the Panama Canal

- 29 Oct-3 November:  Cartagena, Columbia.  Half of the city was old, picturesque, run-down, dusty.  Other half was new, high rise, glittering hotels.  Great old fort, Castillo de San Filippo, one of the outposts of the Spanish main.

** Some of us went out with a volunteer group went out to a village to paint a local school. Seem to remember olive green - must have been army paint!! Also road a rather decrepit Columbian destroyer, "Santander," I think



- 9-13 November: Caracas, Venezuela

**Somewhere around here I got on a Venezualan frigate - "Almirante Clemente" - just saw the other day that she is still in service, albeit with the Venezuelan Coast Guard



- 16-17 November: St. Eustacius, Netherlands Antilles.  St. E. rendered the first salute to a United States ship back in the 1770's.  Only limited liberty (one night in port), so best part of the visit was when STG1 Mallow went fishing off the fantail and caught a four foot shark. 

** That would have been the "Andrea Doria on Nov. 17, 1776 - Hart visited for Bicentennial of that event, with a Dutch Navy ship also in port - think the sailers outnumbered the local population - good time, Heinekin flowed freely till things became somewhat of a blur.



- 21 November: Norfolk, Virginia.  Natives still friendly.

Thanks for staying with me as I reminisced about the voyages of the "Tommy Chuck".  Hope I haven't bored you.  When we get to the reunion we can tell further stories of the Unitas Commander who insisted that trash be neatly disposed of, "Bongo Bucks", the sailor who married the Argentine maid (without telling his US wife) and proceeded to bounce bad checks on both sides of the continent, and other fun stuff that sailors do to pass the time.

**Thanks, Dave, for your memories and jogging mine. I ran into my former "shiprider," Bill Carter, about two years ago - retired and living in East Texas. Between the two of you, brought back things I hadn't thought of for many years.



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USS Thomas C Hart (FF 1092)