Who remembers November 21, 1983?
Taiwanese merchant vessel Dai Lung was sinking. She put out an SOS. Kirk was ISE in route to Hong Kong from Yokosuka, Japan. OS2 Bruce Katz stopped by radio to pick up message traffic before relieving the watch. When he arrived in CIC he plotted the LAT & LONG of the distress signal and notified the bridge that it was 90 NM north of our position.
The bridge set flight quarters and launched Sea Snake 19 to get a visual confirmation. The seas were rough and upon return from locating the Dai Lung the LAMPS was landing on deck when the ship took a roll. Both chocks were on but only one chain. The helo rolled with the ship while the prop was still spinning and propeller parts were flying everywhere. The deck was ripped to shreds and the aircraft was out of commission. Luckily no major injuries. One boatswains mate was smacked in the face by part of the prop. Rung his bell but no permanent injury. The helo was secured on its side on the flight deck and we headed that way.
If memory serves we arrived at the scene right around dusk. The Dai Lung was indeed sinking and all the crew were in the water. The head count was 24. All were retrieved safe and sound, but one who had already perished. I don’t recall why but we stayed on station until the following morning. Maybe to await the complete sinking. I recall they had a load of logs, which were a hazard to our navigation.
After we departed the area, we headed to Subic, PI to turn the Dai Lung crew over to embassy officiials and get them back to their homeland. We continued on to Hong Kong
Later, the master of the Dai Lung sent us the following plaque:
If I remember correctly, i was told at the time we waited for a certain amount of time, which was required by some law due to the one person that was lost at sea and having to stay on station for so long. I still have a photo of that guy drifting away. Never forget that day.
Lots of memories of that day. I was on the helo refueling JP-5 riser getting ready to do a hot pump on the helo. I saw the port side chock and chain guy signal he was hooked up and tthe starboard side chock and chain guy was still working on his. We took a big port roll and the helo came up and hit the point of no-return. I saw it going over and the port and starboard side chock and chain guys were running off the flight deck. I was tied down by the sound powered phones so I hit the deck tried to get real thin. I heard pieces of blade hitting the hangar door. The port side monitor (EM3 Robinson) activated the AFFF station by aft by the wardroom and covered the flight deck with foam. I jerked the sound powered phones out of the socket and ran to my GQ station, Repair V, by Aux 1. I checked in and went down to Aux 1 and smoked a cigarette to help me calm down.
I remember that clearly. I saw several crew members in later years and they had some pretty good memories too. Hole in the barber shop overhead, blading on the forecastle. IC2 Jerry Ockwig where are you with your pictures? Went topside later to see helo chained into the nets and the deck secured. Big hole in the side of the helo where it had broken open. That is where the crew got out as doors were not functioning.. More to the story but I will tell it at the reunion.
I remember that day, still have the plaque. I remember carrying survivors down to the forward crew’s lounge. I remember Ice Cream on the mess decks that night because they had to clear out the freezer for those that didn’t make it.
As an EMFN I worked on rigging floodlights on the forecastle for the rescue as it grew dark. I went to the bridge for something, maybe to get a permit signed, and the Captain was conducting some really intense ship handling to get in close and pick people up. I remember feeling really proud that I was on such a badass and capable ship. It was really fortunate that we had Meng Bare as a crewmember and he spoke Chinese so that the Dai Lung crew could communicate.
I was BT3 on the flight quarters DC crew stationed on the monitor AFFF station above the helo deck. I still have my plaque also. I remember that day well doing some bulkhead walking and down in the fireroom racing on buckets with the deckplates all soaped up. I remember Steve Miller and Ming Bare very well. One hell of a day.