THE UNSINKABLE DERELICT

By Richard White

 

A large, overturned fishing vessel was in the channel and the Minnetonka was diverted to get it out of there thus beginning the story of the ...............

My favorite 255 story is the attempted sinking of a derelict off Santa Rosa Island. We were returning from San Francisco, when our old man, who was trying to impress the Admiral of CG District 11 and would go 100 miles out of his way to take a SAR case, got a message from both CG Districts 11 and 12. When the CG 12 & 11 both contacted us concerning a large derelict floating in the main channel, the old man almost had a brown nose hemorrhage.

We were sent to find the derelict. We found it and it was a large 60(+) foot fishing boat that had overturned . We sent a small boat over to the hulk. The gunners mates put two concussion grenades charges on the hull. Then the small boat backed off and using a draw string, detonated the charges.

Nothing happened!!!!!!!

The old man had a fit. He was going to have report that the Minnetonka could not sink a derelict. The next thing I know we are going to General Quarters. (This was a time when the quad 40 MM were still on 255's.)

We backed off and opened fire with the 40’s. Red tracers were hitting the water and going in every direction. Well let me tell you the residents on Santa Rosa Island were not pleased to see 40MM tracers skipping off the water and landing all over the Island.

We fired about 50 rounds and never did hit the damn thing!!!!!!

Before long a Navy helicopter hovered over us while a flash message from Commander 11th Naval District was received at the same time ordering us to cease and desist further gunfire.

We finally ended towing the derelict out of the shipping lane and a tug took it from there.

When we reached Long Beach there were representatives from CG District 11 waiting. It was not to congratulate the old man.

*****

I was on the Minnetonka WPG 67 out of Long Beach, California. I boarded in September of 1961 and left in June of 1965 and went from SA to QM1. So I knew that 255 intimately and can attest to this story.

The 255 was a interesting ship to serve on. To put it mildly is was not a smooth riding ship. Seaworthy to be sure, but in bad weather, well let’s just say it was an experience. I can remember relieving the Taney on Ocean Station November and she was gently rocking. We on the other hand were taking 20 degree rolls.

This got worse when they put the SPS 29 Radar on in late 1963.

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