Please Join & Support the USS Gregory Association!    

Shipmate Memories - Rough Seas

by Ted Curtis

One incident remains very clear to me while serving on the Gregory and it involved a storm, a real whopper. In those days the Navy periodically would invite all of the top military brass of the countries in the Far East to witness a fire power demonstration by one of our carrier air groups. If you have never seen one full blown believe me it is very impressive, with bombing and strafing runs, etc. At any rate on this particular occasion we had 1 carrier with the visitors embarked, 2 or 3 cruisers, 2 or 3 submarines, and a gaggle of tin cans. Unfortunately the weather went sour to the point that the Admiral in charge dismissed all ships except the carrier, and hoping to salvage something from the operation, he wanted to keep 1 destroyer if possible for plane guard duty. He asked the senior DD Commodore embarked on the Gregory what he thought. The Commodore in turn asked me if I thought the Gregory could pull it off. I told the Commodore we could do it, but we would suffer considerable superficial damage top side, and I didn't want anyone questioning my judgment as to whether or not I should have come in out of the rain. He assured me that he personally would handle all complaints.

Well, it was one rough ride. At first the Gregory tucked up tight to the carrier's deep quarter so that the carrier caught the brunt of the waves, wind, etc, - all the time heading for fairer climes. Items like the spud lockers, which were only spot welded to the main deck, were among the first things to go overboard, followed by life rafts, etc., 2 and 3 inch risers coming out of the main deck were twisted 180 degrees. I remember bracing the last pane of glass in the windshield on the bridge with both hands before it crumbled. It was the only time during my career that C.P.O.'s came to me on the bridge and asked me to come below to see how the ship was riding. Water was pouring into the handling rooms through the gun mount's roller path/ring. Steel plates were rippling and girders were threatening to buckle. Of course, we had rigged for heavy weather long before the action started, with no one allowed on the main deck or O-1 level, and I was glad that I had served on 3 other DD's before the Gregory and thus had a fair idea as to a destroyer's capabilities and limitations.

To shorten a long story, after many hours, we finally found a relatively calm spot where we executed a modified fire power demonstration. Subsequently the Admiral sent the Gregory a message congratulating her on her snorkeling ability. Water under that kind of pressure gets into everything, so it took some time in port to dry out. Most importantly, we suffered no personnel casualties with no one being lost over the side. The only thing worse than "man overboard" that I can think of is "FIRE".

From a purely personal standpoint nothing compares to ship handling. Coming alongside a pier, gauging the wind and current, using the fewest course changes and engine orders, etc. is pure pleasure. While small, a destroyer has a lot of power, and you can extricate yourself from a tight spot if you know how to use that power.