Editor's note: We'll be running first person accounts occasionally from our First Coast News staffers who have friends and family along Hurricane Sandy's path or who are sharing their hurricane experiences. The following is from FCN Floor Director Jim Mayes who shares his memories dealing with a hurricane while in the service.
My USS America CV-66 Hurricane Memories
We had flown down to visit our families for the weekend and got recalled to Norfolk, Va. to take the ship out to sea to ride out a hurricane.
The ship got underway off the coast of Virginia/NC. I slept right below the hospital ward and remember that all the beds upstairs were banging into the walls and each other.
The XRAY machine also broke free from its mountings and was slamming around in the XRAY Department. Up in the Combat Information Center where I worked, a six foot metal cabinet welded to the wall broke free and fell over.
When it fell, a metal desk that was opposite the cabinet was split in half. The desk would have been manned by our Tactical Air officer during combat operations. No one was there manning the desk thankfully. The catwalks along the flight desk (about 65 feet off the water) were ripped off or peeled back for the first 150 feet of the ships flight deck.
I remember walking on the hangar bay toward the back of the ship between elevators 3 and 4 and looking at the ocean and seeing nothing but water when the aft end of the ship was down in a trough. We had to undergo repairs when we pulled back in.
The practice of sending ships to sea came about because it's safer and less costly to have a ship at sea than banging into the pier and possible sinking at the pier. I know that they sank the USS Saratoga (CV-60) at the pier at Naval Station Mayport because they could not get underway.
The crew floods all the voids and fuel tanks to sink the ship at the dock and then triple tie it up to the pier so that it doesn't move. There is still the possibility of screw and rudder damage in doing this.
First Coast News