The Case Of The Missing Motor
The Cutter Chase
left the lights
of the “Down East” coast of Maine off the stern and headed on a northerly
course towards the
Grand Banks and “Bravo” station. Five days north, 21 on station and then
five days south, maybe a trip into St Johns if we were lucky on the backside of the
patrol, but for now it was a slow steady 15 knots as we headed for southwest
corner of Bravo to offer relief.
The need for the ocean station vessels was not as great as it had been in the past and rumors flew that the day was nearing when they would be no more. But for now a ship had to occupy the 10,000 square mile section of the Atlantic know as Bravo Station.
Ships assigned this duty could only offer relief if they were operationally capable to perform the task at hand; we had been when we left Boston.
The evening before
relief was scheduled the air search antenna on the main mast had ground to a
halt; it rotated no more. The motor would not turn. As was generally the case in
situations such as this, the spare parts list did not include the defective part
nor could the snipes come to the rescue with a miracle repair. No air search
I woke the EMO(*) with
the news, he went to wake up the OPS Boss, who decided that the Exec should also
be wakened. The four of us went up to the cabin somewhere around 0200 to let
the Captain know. The Captain took the news a lot better than I thought he
would. He had us send off a CASREP(**) on the radar and a message to the Area
that we were still enroute Bravo. Within an hour of sending the CASREP we had an
offer from the ship we were to relieve that they would pull their motor at first
light and have it ready transfer to us when we met.
The seas had been
running 6-8 feet, first light showed them to be 10-14 and by the time we
rendezvoused they were every bit of 18-20. Needless to say the motor stayed
where it was, we exchanged mailbags and movies and then we headed towards St
Johns where a motor was supposed to meet us.
On arrival at St Johns we discovered no motor at the dock. Supply obtained the services of a taxi and left for the airport to locate the motor. This being Sunday evening not too many people were to be found at the St Johns International Airport; neither was the motor. The next day was spent fruitlessly searching the airport and not finding anything for the CGC Chase much less a motor. On Tuesday a phone patch was made to the Brooklyn Supply Center to locate the motor. "What motor? We never received the CASREP," was their reply.The CASREP was sent classified required; classified traffic for the Supply Center received on weekends was held for delivery on Monday. The CASREP had fallen into a crack.
Have no fear we
opinined, we will get
a message off to the Coast Guard Yard for them to ship a motor tonight. The motor
left the Yard Tuesday evening, making its the way to Boston where it
got held up due to fog in Montreal. By Thursday the motor made it to
Montreal but had arrived to late for the flight to St Johns. On Friday the
motor arrived in St Johns.
When the crate was
openned instead of a new shiny motor we got just the opposite, a motor that had seen
better days. Quickly it was checked out, all to quickly it was determined that
this motor was as bad as the original. Compounding the problem was the defective part in this motor was the same as the one in ours. Needless to
say more messages flew, more phone patches were made, this time the replacement
would arrive on the Ice Patrol C-130 Aircraft from Elizabeth City. Great idea but nobody informed E City. The C-130 arrived Sunday sans motor.
All of this waiting
time was having an impact on the crew, the first night in port was treated as
though it were the last, as was the 2nd, 3rd, 4th.
By the fifth day the unplanned liberty was having a toll on the crew. By the
weekend everybody was hoping that the motor would drop out of the sky, so we
could get on with life, stand our station and return to Boston.
Monday morning arrived; we had been in St Johns for seven long unplanned days. Even the hardiest of the steamers looked forward to Bravo. That evening lady luck finally smiled down on us. The airline called saying the motor would be in on the first flight the next morning. The next morning we awoke to bright sunshine, no fog and a message on the quarterdeck that the motor was out at the airport. By noon we had the motor installed, the system tested out and at afternoon quarters the word was passed “set the special sea detail”
We cleared the rocks
that mark the entrance to St Johns and
set a course towards Bravo.
It was not my first
visit to St Johns or my last, but it was certainly the longest and most
EPILOG -- The ship we were to relieve had to depart station without relief due to a suspected appendicitis victim.
(*) Electronics Maintenance Officer
(**) Casualty Report
Return To Coast Guard Stories