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Gitmo


Gitmo, about 1970, one of the first Knox class DE's (pre-FF name change) makes it to operational training.




We're shooting our new super whiz bang 5"54 caliber main (and only) gun at a target sled towed by one of the Gitmo tugs. As the junior Chop, my GQ station is Gunnery Liaison Officer in CIC, standing over a radar repeater about the size of a standard issue patio table in order to designate targets for the guys in the director. I'm on the sound powered phones with the director, the FT's down in the bowels of the ship tweaking the fire control computer and the Weaps Boss on the flying bridge getting a tan. Since I'm in CIC, I can also hear the radio circuits.

So we're steaming along, shooting holes in the sled, when over the phones suddenly comes the call from the director "Cease Fire! Cease Fire!" Five seconds later the tug skipper is on the radio: "Cease Fire!! Cease Fire!!", followed shortly by "You hit me, Charlie!".
I lit up the phones right away.
Me: "Hey, we hit the tug!"
Guys on the phones: General humming and lack of interest, as usual

I resorted to universal sailor code words.
Me: "Hey, this is a no-shitter! We hit the tug!
Guys on the phones: Longest utter silence of my life

Weaps Boss (While rapidly visualizing promising career vanishing): "Really?"
Me: "Yeah, no shit, we hit the tug."

Our new wonder weapon had been getting direct hits, kicking up a lot of water, and the director radar lost lock on the target. Finding a nice metal cable nearby, the director had promptly followed it and slewed smartly over to zero in on the tug. The way the rapid fire gun worked, pulling the trigger started a sequence of events which picked up a round several decks down, whooshed it up to the mount, loaded and fired it. When the director officer saw the shift to the tug, he immediately hit the cease fire switch, but the firing process had already begun for three rounds.

We were firing a 50 yard rocking ladder pattern. As the tug guys told us later, "Well, one round went about 50 yards over there, the next one went about 50 yards to the other side, and the third round nailed us."

Well, we rang up flank speed and went over to inspect the newly ventilated paint locker on the tug and make sure they didn't need any help. They didn't seem to appreciate the free SHIPALT too much, but nobody was hurt and they made it back OK.

Aftermath and addenda:

1. Nobody got hung from the yardarm, but the rules and procedures for that type gun exercise were changed.

2. The pilot who towed the sleeve for our AA shoot the next day was VERY respectful and careful.

3. The stateside media reported we had torpedoed a submarine.

4. (This ain't funny.) We were firing BLP shells. These are sand filled with no explosive content. However, the rules for the exercise said that if you were out of BLP, you could use AAC (regular anti-aircraft shells) with the fuses set on "Safe". However, we shuddered to think what would have happened to the tug had we gotten that direct hit with an AAC round.

All Hands! Secure from Special Sea Stories Detail! Set the Normal SMN Watch!