USS Holt (DE-706) Under Tow
The following is an exact copy of the report submitted by BOS’N C. L. Carl, USN, who was the officer-in-charge of the Riding Crew when the USS HOLT (DE-706) was under tow. BOS’N Carl sent the carbon copy of the original report to Bill Morgan back in 1963, prior to the first ship reunion. He had read about the proposed reunion in “ALL HANDS” Magazine and very generously shared this incident with us. HOLT was under tow from the reserve fleet, Stockton, CA, to Seattle, WA to be overhauled and refitted for loan to the Republic of Korea.
INCIDENTS RELATED TO THE TOWING OF THE USS HOLT (DE 706) BY THE USS TATNUCK FROM 1300, 27 SEPTEMBER 1962, UNTIL ARRIVAL OF THE TOW AT PIER 90, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON.
USS Tatnuck ATA-195
USCGC Wachusett WPG-44
27 September 1962
1300 – Security Patrol reports all secure. Made communication contact with USS TATNUCK. Conditions satisfactory. Position report from 1200 position:
Latitude – 46.55 N.
Longitude – 124.50 W.
ETA at Seattle, 1624, 28 September. Speed 7.5 knots. The below decks security watch reported every hour to the bridge, as to the condition of security in the engine room spaces, voids and bilges. No water was ever found in any of the below deck spaces.
Throughout the afternoon, the wind picked up slightly, the sea conditions were normal and due to a following sea, we were riding exceptionally well. At times, we would take a 10 or 15 degree roll which I would say was normal for a destroyer escort and present sea condition.
Conditions of the air seemed to give me the feeling that we were due for some rain, and with the build of the wind and the sea, I passed the word for all hands to keep clear of the main deck. I passed this word about 1600, and all hands readily complied with this order.
The vessel was constantly being checked by myself, a first class shipfitter and a boatswains mate second class for any loose gear, cleanliness of the galley spaces and strain of the towing bridle.
At 1700, we made our communications check and reported conditions satisfactory. This was the last communications check prior to the tow parting. At 2050, we passed Umatilla Reef Lightship about five (5) miles to starboard.
About 2100, I was finishing bathing my face when I heard a loud thud, and knew that it was the tow either parting or whipping because of a sudden strain. Almost immediately, the bridge watch came below and reported “the tow broke” and the first thing I did was “set Zebra” then I let TATNUCK know we have a broken tow. I then had all hands put on lifejackets. The signalman contacted the TATNUCK and I had him ask for instructions. They asked if all hands were in lifejackets and I sent back affirmative reply. Communications were made with the TATNUCK and I was told that they would shoot a line with her line throwing gun. The TATNUCK shot from her port side to our starboard side on the bow with no success. The wind was so strong that the shot foretold did not go the distance. I estimated the TATNUCK being about 200 feet away when firing the first shot. The TATNUCK made another approach and tried a second shotline to our vessel and this was also unsuccessful. During this time, I noticed a merchant vessel maneuvering in the area and a 50 foot Coast Guard Cutter approaching.
I understood that the TATNUCK expended her shot line or shot missiles. This point I couldn’t ascertain. We, on the HOLT, succeeded in shooting a line aboard the TATNUCK on her next approach. We shot from the 40MM tub forward of the bridge into their “A” Frame on the port side. They tied on a messenger and we proceeded to retrieve the line. In the process, the small Coast Guard boat passed between the HOLT and the TATNUCK, accidentally cutting the line. The position of the TATNUCK was dead ahead of us with winds of 50 or 60 knots. I kept only five (5) men on the forecastle during this operation. Two (2) men were on the bridge. One acting as messenger and the other as signalman. The remaining personnel I had stayed in the wardroom area of the ship and were informed that I would call them if needed. Whenever we weren’t needed on the forecastle, I had all hands take cover and I would go to the bridge for a clearer picture of the operation.
We reported the line had been cut, and almost immediately the Coast Guard boat approached within fifty (50) feet of the HOLT and shot a line through the forward chock on the starboard side of out bow. We heaved the shot line within a few feet of the chock when it parted because of the weight of the 4′ nylon attached. The sea at this time was heavy and the HOLT took several excessive rolls. Another line was put aboard by the Coast Guard by passing a heaving line to the HOLT. The cutter approached within 20 or 30 feet and this was the most outstanding display of boat handling during this operation. The line was heaved aboard and a 4″ nylon line was secured to the forward bitts. The Coast Guard attempted to pass this line to the TATNUCK with no success. The Coast Guard acted as a sea anchor throughout the night and we were told that the TATNUCK would try to pass us a line at first light.
Myself and four of the crew remained on the bridge throughout the night. We made checks continuously throughout the ship during the night to check watertight integrity and security of the vessel and men. I had all men remain in lifejackets in the wardroom area. The HOLT, during the night, rolled at times to forty (40) and forty-five (45) degrees. The seas began to calm about 0400 and the wind had eased to about 20 or 30 knots, About 0330, our portable generator went out of commission and we used battle lanterns and flashlights to continue our security checks. The crew’s morale remained high throughout the night and we waited for first light and for further orders. About 0600, we noticed that the 4″ nylon line to the Coast Guard Cutter had parted because of chafing on the HOLT’s bow. The sea had abated by 0630 to such an extent that the Coast Guard cutter came within shouting distance and told us that the CG Cutter WACHUSETTS would be in the area about 0930 to pass us a line and tow us to Neah Bay. I had five men on watch with me at all times and let the remainder stay in the wardroom to rest or sleep. The TATNUCK remained about 300 yards off our port side. At first light, I had three men check the generator. The heavy seas had evidently loosened some sediment from the fuel tanks and as a result plugged the fuel line.
At 0925, the CG Cutter WACHUSETTS approached our port side and made an attempt to shoot a line aboard. Three (3) shots were unsuccessful and the WACHUSETTS made another approach and two (2) more shots were attempted with no success. The small 50 foot cutter went astern of the WACHUSETTS and took aboard a 2 1/4 inch messenger and carried the messenger to the HOLT where we passed a heaving line to the small cutter and proceeded to pass the line through the bullnose of the HOLT and heave in on a 10″ manila tow line. All hands were used to heave in the tow line. One man was left on the bridge for radio communications. It took maximum effort to heave in the tow line, but once it was aboard, we led the line to the starboard bitts aft on the forecastle and secured the line for towing. The WACHUSETTS slowly paid out the tow line and by 1100, we were underway for Neah Bay at an estimated speed of 2 or 3 knots.
About 1205, our generator was put back in commission and we made a thorough check of the ship to ascertain any damage. Conditions throughout the ship were all secure. About 1330, the WACHUSETTS bent on another 600 feet of line to lengthen our catenary and to expedite our arrival at Neah Bay.
We arrived Neah Bay about 1800. Neah Bay had a slight swell running with winds about 10 or 15 knots. At 1830, the TATNUCK tied up to our port side forward and connected up a wire towing bridle from the TATNUCK. While alongside, the TATNUCK banged our port side resulting in five or six dished plates. At 1855, we slipped our towing hawser from the WACHUSSETS and taken in tow by the TATNUCK at 1856. The ship was inspected for security and any dents in the side produced by the TATNUCK showed no major problems. We continued in tow for Seattle arriving at pier 91 about 1430. At 1425, YTB-512 tied up starboard side aft. At 1432, YTB-537 tied up port side aft. The civilian pilot aboard was Captain Owens. We moored port side to pier 90 at 1544. The Commanding Officer of the TATNUCK came aboard and LT MILLER of Port Services signed for the custody of HOLT.
The Commanding Officer of the TATNUCK, LT MILLER and myself went to the TATNUCK where we saw the open link which had parted. The link parted at the forged connection in the center. The TATNUCK kept the link. On Monday, I related the same incident to CDR DAVERN, Operations Officer for COM13.
BOSN C. L. CARL, USN
Officer-in-charge, Riding Crew