THE HIGH SPEED APPROACH
BY Floyd Stormer
Sometimes the FTG*** folks at GITMO* became dogmatic in their operational techniques and training methods. A classic example of this was the incident of the ...........
In the late fifties we were undergoing refresher training at GITMO*, CGC DUANE, Captain Paul Trimble was CO, and Commander Dick Hoover was the XO. Prior to underway fueling the Navy requested we try the new "high speed destroyer approach." In this maneuver the tanker holds a steady course and speed of about 12 knots. The destroyer approaches at an angle and a speed of something over 20 knots. At a specified distance she backs her engines full. This slows the destroyer and theoretically at least, throws a wall of water between the two ships. When slowed to the tanker's speed, the destroyer then goes ahead about 2/3 and is in a position to pass the fueling hoses.
Captain Trimble objected rather strenuously against trying this maneuver as the DUANE was somewhat heavier and larger than the destroyers of the time and had far less astern power. Never the less, he finally agreed to do so if the Navy would put the request in writing.
At the specified time and place the engines were backed full. Apparently this did not do the job as a few seconds later emergency astern was rung and GQ sounded. Seconds later we struck the tanker a glancing blow. During the approach I was the EOW** but after GQ was sounded I became the Damage Control Officer.
About ten minutes later I reported to the bridge on damage. We had approximately 20 frames stove in starboard in the forward crews quarters and the starboard boat davit had been moved inboard about a foot or two. I was the only personnel casualty with two cracked ribs trying to get a port light closed.
Both ships were dead in the water about a mile apart when I came to the bridge. The tanker's signal light was blinking furiously. Captain Trimble was sitting on the pelorus stand very calm and relaxed. Commander Hoover handed him a message from the tanker which he read and handed back without comment. Finally Dick asked, "What do you want me to tell him Captain? ('Him' was a Navy four striper) ... Jesus Christ he's mad."
"Tell him to brace himself," Captain Trimble replied, "I'm gonna try it again." Five minutes later the tanker was hull down for GITMO.
Shortly thereafter the Navy abandoned the "high speed approach." I've often wondered if the DUANE wasn't part of the reason.
* Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
** Engineering Officer of the Watch
*** Fleet Training Group
From "This - *?#!@*? Was The Coast Guard" by Esther Stormer ©1985 -- Reprinted by permission.
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