A COLD WAR ENCOUNTER
While moored at Adak, the CGC BALSAM got a call to transfer a badly injured Russian seaman from a fish factory ship at sea near Dutch Harbor. He had been caught between a boat and the ship’s structure resulting in broken ribs and possible other internal injuries. We moored alongside the Russian ship using their big “Yokohama” fenders, (floating inflated bags). There was a moderate sea running, so there were no problems staying alongside. There was a long delay before the patient was ready to be moved to our ship. At first during this hiatus, our crew just stared at each other. Then, I told a messenger on the bridge to go down to the wardroom and bring up all the (well-thumbed) Playboy magazines. I had them bundled and tossed them over to the other ship. Well, that started a remarkable exchange between the two ships. Ball point pens, caps, watches, all manner of small items went back and forth. One item caused a little concern. A can of soda was tossed over from the BALSAM. Apparently the other crew had never seen canned soda and thought it was a grenade. Anyway, we had a fine time trading stuff, even though we could not communicate. Then everything came to a halt when a stern looking man appeared on their bridge and made an announcement to their crew. I suspect it was their political commissar protecting them decadent western culture. It was fun while it lasted. Finally the man was sent over to the BALSAM on a stretcher. Our corpsman had no way of determining what medication the man had been given, so we just took him to Dutch Harbor, where he went to an Anchorage hospital by airplane. I never did find out how he fared.
Photo Courtesy of Fred's Place
Commander Doan was the Skipper of the Balsam at the time of this incident.
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