"CHASE"ing the AWOL'S
by Jack Morrison
The Skipper got sick and tired of sailing short handed and took appropriate steps.
This incident happened on the CGC Chase (WHEC-718)
Back in the early 70's the Guard seemed to attract those who had lost their college deferments or couldn't find a college to accept them. While a good many of these Coasties were a credit to the uniform some were not. Up in the First District (Boston)the white ones were always hurting for personnel. I imagine that the same could be said for all the white ones. The district filled these vacancies with "volunteers" from the shore stations, especially Base Boston. Generally all of these "volunteers" had been in attendance at a "Captains Mast" at their prior units.
It was not unusual for a ship to sail with 6-10 crewmen unaccounted for from their last night liberty. They would trickle into Base Boston about two or three hours after the ship left and would spend the next 35 days on the waiting for the ship to return., They would get a Captain's Mast for missing movement and serve out what ever punishment the was awarded.
The skipper, after sailing short handed for several patrols, decided that something had to be done. Our next patrol was to be a Bravo station with a departure set for 0900. Quarters were held, sea detail set as normal, and the ship departed. Upon clearing the harbor, the Seas Detail was secured and we set an Easterly course until we were 15 miles or so off shore, at which time we commenced drills. Drills over, we then proceeded to go nowhere, we just stayed there.
The usual practice was for Base Boston to send a message whenever a missing crewmember reported into the base, requesting disposition of the wayward sailor. By late afternoon all of our missing crew had been accounted for. The captain sent a message requesting that all of these "wayward souls" be taken by 41 footer out to the seabuoy where we would meet them and take them aboard. The look on their collective faces when we appeared must have been priceless.
One of the deckies had been on the ship for over a year and this was the first time he had ever sailed on it.
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