I happened to see a post about a sailor from my old ship saying the USS Dixon had a severe corrosion issue. No kidding! I remember the ship being caught in Pacific storm that busted a hole in the hull.
We were on a Western Pacific 6 month cruise out of San Diego California. I had met the ship in Honolulu, the first port of call. I was directly out of Nuclear Power School and had never been on a ship before…what an experience. Not being at sea, but being on a ship full of crazed sailors! Command wouldn’t let them off the ship the first day, so when I arrived they were in a frenzy. I heard that ‘the ship was welded to the pier’ ‘We would never go on Westpac’ so many times, but somebody must have changed his mind because I met it in Hawaii, already underway.
I toured Oahu with some of the guys from my Division and they treated me to my first hard liquor, a Tiki Liki (souvenir cup in the header) from Trader Vic’s…Gee Wiz, enough of that!
The Dixon had a rounded hull, as it was a repair ship and we needed all available space for machinery and supplies for fixing up the submarines at sea. After Hawaii, we went to the Philippines, a whole book in itself. From there we had to cross the mighty South Pacific to reach Australia, passing through the Straits of Malacca at night to see the lights of Singapore. Far from any island, we rammed smack into a vicious storm, with swells so high all you could see was a midnight blue wall of water all around, electrified with thick and close lightening bolts; could be terrifying unless you were brave and stalwart like me.
We would ride a swell up, the entire ship would rise from the water and shudder (yes, actually shudder) from prow to stern, then whammo ! We bammed down, over and over. Then suddenly it felt like a detonation. All our guts fell to our boondockers (boots). Alarms! Flashing lights! All hands shut those watertight hatches! Run Dammit! The ship was sinking! Honestly, I never found myself worrying. There was only one other person I knew on the ship of 1300 that wasn’t barfo seasick, and we went around with forks asking green sailors for the big chunks. We passed the word around the Psychic Jean Dixon had predicted a ship with her name on it would sink. It’s a wonder one of them didn’t throw us overboard.
Right after the storm they put divers over the side to keep us from actually sinking, with guys aiming rifles at them, ready to kill the hungry Great Whites. They put an emergency patch over the gaping rusted hole so we could carry on.
The ship laid on it’s side all the way to Sydney, where they wouldn’t let us dock close because we couldn’t confirm or deny the presence of nukes. I loved Rushcutter Bay where I had fish and chips for the first time. Maybe I should write a book on all this?