Collision with the carrier Kennedy
I was on board the Bordelon from spring '75 thru decommissiong... I was an MSSN straight out of MS "A" School in San Diego. The Bordelon was my first ship..
One night that will forever be etched in my mind is the night we were along side the USS John F. Kennedy (Or if you prefer, USS JFK...Underway Saturdays and Sundays just for kicks). It was a fairly mild night; the wind was stirring enough to send a chill down your back, especially at night. Out of the black night appears this behemoth of a ship. Being fairly new and naive to the Navy, I had not been this close to a carrier. Anyway we were along side taking on fuel. I was a bit curious about this ship after hearing that she had already collided with a couple of other ships.
There were three of us on the top of the Signal Shack handling the Distance Marker as it stretched between the ships. Myself, a SN and the BM3 (whom I thought must just be a couple steps from God. I already met god himself I thought, when I met the Command Master Chief.
All was going good and then for whatever reason, the USS JFK started getting closer. I remember we were calling out the numbers as the marker was hauled back onboard. Not knowing any better it was my job to keep that line tight and to let the OOD know how far, or for that matter, how close we were. Anyway, it got down under 50, I can remember hearing the collision alarm and then hearing the BM3 tell me to get the hell down. Here I was, 6'6" tall and standing there watching the underside of the carrier Island closing in on us. I got down next to the signal locker and held on. While I was lying there on my back I was wondering why the heck they were trying to get so close.
They were so close that in my mind I reached up and tried pushing the carrier away... like I was superman or something or it would even matter. I can remember we bounced countless times. Then started to pull back away from the Kennedy. I looked around and found the SN was pinned by the fallen masts. Doc, the HM3 was already there tending to him, it was as if he appeared by magic. I remember looking forward to the bow, then aft to the fantail. It was if someone had came along with a big saw and cut us from the bow up to the deck I stood on and then along a straight line aft to the fantail.
We had suffered some damage. I remember seeing a bulkhead patch up fwd. and masts were gone but the mighty Bordelon kept running and going. She may have been hit and hurt but she could still function. I remember everyone checking on everyone else to make sure we were all accounted for. Of course we all went into our GQ stations and stayed there till everyone was accounted for and every space had been checked. Mine was the repair party amidships, right next to sick bay so we got to see when they brought the very few injured people in. I think they only had to evacuate the SN from the signal deck. I counted my lucky stars that it was not me, it had been so close.
We were damaged enough that we pulled into Davenport, Portsmouth, England for some temporary repairs. They welded a patch up forward to close the hole where our anchor got us when we were underneath and along side. We also got a new Radar so we would be able to see a few miles, at least. We would be traveling with another ship headed home so we only needed to be able to see it. We were traveling with them as protection. While we were in the yard we found out what damage we had done to the USS JFK. The Bordelon had gotten in a few licks with the forward anchor. It seems we had crippled the fwd elevator so it would not work. We had also torn a gash in the carrier's side.
Well, as you all know this is what finally brought the Bordelon down. We decommissioned her and her hull went to Iran for spare parts.
Hope you all enjoy reading this. It was kind of nice reliving the past a bit and thinking of old shipmates and such.
David Taylor MSSN