USS Klondike (AR-22)
Homeport: San Diego , CA
June 1963 - February 1966
WestPac Cruise 1963 . . . .
I was transferred to the USS Klondike AR-22, a repair ship out of San Diego, in June of 1963. In July, we left San Diego on a 6 month Western Pacific (WestPac) cruise (my first) with our first stop in Pearl Harbor, HI. During this cruise, we had port-o-calls in Sasebo Japan, Subic Bay P.I., Manila P.I., Hong Kong B.C.C., and Yokosuka Japan. We spent 3-4 days steaming through Typhoon Bess, looking for the Greek freighter Cryssism with loss of steering. We never found her, so we got out of it and steamed to Sasebo Japan. I’ve never been sea sick before, but I swear if we had stayed in that typhoon another day, my stomach would have said “all bets are off!” I took my first 3rd class rating exam during this storm, I PNA’d (passed but not advanced), but, I might have done better if the guy across from me had not been so sea-sick and kept up-chucking into a bucket! Earlier, a couple of days into this storm, the cooks prepared some oysters for a small group of young officers, being green around the gills they refused them and ran out of the place. Nobody else wanted them, so I said “I’ll eat them!” I ate them and in doing so, I almost had one section of the mess decks all to myself!
USS Klondike AR-22, Pier One, 32nd St. Naval Station - San Diego, CA USS Evans DE-1023, USS Bauer DE-1025, USS Brigett DE-1024, and USS Hooper DE-1026 alongside.
Ironically, my shipboard career started at Pier One on the Klondike
and ended on Pier One on the USS Robison DDG-12.
CO - Captain James Campbell
CO - Captain Jack Scapa Nov 1963.
XO - CDR William Finley
Top - The start of rough seas.
Bottom - Everything tied down for Typhoon Bess
The pop song Sukiyaki . . . .
In 1963, one of the top tunes was Sukiyaki (by Kyu Sakamoto) and it reached number one on our charts in the good old USA. Well, during port visits in Sasebo and Yokosuka, Japan any place that had a juke box/radio/stereo, etc., this song was playing. And, I mean playing! They would play it over and over again. We got so we hated that song. Just now, in my later years, can I stand to listen to that song again.
USS Klondike At Anchor In Subic Bay, P.I.
USS Klondike - With USS Taussig (DD-746), USS John A. Bole (DD-755), USS Lofberg (DD-759),
and USS John W. Thomason (DD-760) along side, Subic Bay, 1963
USS Klondike - Moored In Subic Bay, P.I.
Kennedy assassination . . . .
We were at sea off Okinawa, when we got the news about the assassination of President Kennedy - a very sad day.
USO tours . . . .
During this cruise, I went on numerous USO tours (which I have done on several cruises). The most interesting was the H Bomb museum in Nagasaki Japan (I went back again on a later cruise). The destruction caused by that bomb was amazing, and it was a small bomb as compared to today’s bombs. One member of our tour group (a crusty boatswain mate or gunners mate, I believe) didn’t help to reverse our reputation as ugly Americans any. One little Japanese guy was tailing along behind us and was getting more and more upset and kept glaring and snarling at us as we progressed through the exhibits. At one exhibit, he was particularly upset and glared up at the Boatswain. The Boatswain looked down at him and said “Boooooooooommmmm!” His eyes become the size of saucers and he took off!
Intra-mural softball . . . .
During our 3 month stay in Subic Bay P.I., the ship’s CO dictated that the ship start up an intra-mural softball league to keep everyone out of trouble (in town particularly). Every division had to provide a team to participate. The ship ended up with 26 teams. We just barely mustered enough personnel in our tiny division to make a team. During the games, the ship’s cooks cooked up hot dogs and hamburgers, and they sold cold San Miguel beer for 5 cents a bottle (we couldn’t drink beer if we were playing). The games were played in the afternoon, during working hours. To make a long story short, our division won the whole shooting match. We only lost one game, and that was primarily due to it’s ending early because of rain. That loss was to the CPO’s. It was primarily fast pitch softball, but we had no one who could pitch fast. So, our division chief became our pitcher and he threw a real slow pitch, with a mean spin on the ball, which very few people could hit well. We also had a couple power hitters that could pretty much belt anything out of the park. For winning, we all got 20 days basket leave upon arrival back in the states. I used that leave to get married. We arrived back in the states in mid-December and I went on leave in January. We got married and settled into a small one bedroom apartment on Kalmia Street in the North Park area of San Diego.
Nice Form Tom!
Me, trying for a base hit
Me - trying for another base hit
Unknown, SHC Dillard (our pitcher), and SH1 Smith
enjoying a cool one during a beach party
Here are a few WestPac 1963 photos:
Going Ashore In Hong Kong
Mary Soo And Her Crew Painting The Sides - Hong Kong, BCC
USS Klondike - Moored, Hong Kong Harbor
Water Taxis Shuttling Sailors (Klondike In Background) - Hong Kong, BCC
The Peace Statue At Ground Zero - Nagasaki, Japan
Shubert & Carlton (And Me) On Liberty - Yokosuka, Japan
Me & Tom Everett On Liberty - Hong Kong, B.C.C.
(Note Tom’s Wallet - Not The Safest Place To Carry A Wallet In WestPac)
Me, In Nagasaki, Japan
Taking A Canoe Ride Up To Pagsanjan Falls - Manila, P.I.
Moored At Alava Pier - Subic Bay, P.I. Naval Station
Fellow Ship-Serviceman Jessie Watkins Entertaining Us At An On Board Talent Contest
This ship was a feeder . . . .
This ship was a feeder too. I believe she won the Ney Award for the crews mess at least twice while I was on board. This ship was the second feeder I served on, the other was The L. Mendel Rivers SSN-686. Also, the wardroom cooks on the Robison DDG-12, could cook up the best liver - cooked just right, nice and rare in the middle.
Standing Shore Patrol . . . .
Shortly after sewing on my SH3 crow, I got my first Shore Patrol duty assignment in San Diego. I was assigned (along with three other PO’s) to one square block area on 4th Ave (between F and G streets, I believe), which was a rough part of town back in those days. I remember that every time we came across a potential fist fight situation (between some sailors), we would talk them into going across the street to do their fighting. Then, we would watch them duke it out while that beat’s shore patrol tried to break it up - we had a relatively quiet beat that night.
Ship Store Operator . . . .
While on the Klondike, I worked in the barber shop (as the chief’s & officer’s barber, also the Admiral’s barber one time, when he was aboard), I operated the soda fountain and the ship’s store. At the time, you were only allowed two consecutive quarters as an operator of the ship’s store, before mandatory rotation to another job. I ended up with additional quarters because every time I was rotated, the new operator would go AWOL and take off with the money. When I first became the Ship’s Store Operator (as a SH3 - almost unheard of at the time), I made several salesmen take back many items that weren’t selling and replace them with more popular merchandise. One item was Gruen watches, buy a Gruen and get a screwin’ I always said. I also refused to take merchandise under the table, as a bribe, a favorite (and illegal) ploy at the time.
Conflict with the Master Chief . . . .
During one of my many Ship’s Store duty tours (three, I believe), I had a conflict with our leading Chief (a SHCM - whose name escapes me). During one of our major shipyard overhauls, a new walk-in style of Ship’s Store was being built and they installed Plexiglas display cases. Upon stocking the new store, I refused to put any merchandise in these display cases, because you could pull open the cases very easily (due to the lack of rigidity of Plexiglas). This infuriated the Master Chief, but it was my call because I’m ultimately responsible for the bottom line. So, a lot of additional work had to be done to reinforce all the display cases. The Master Chief held this against me the rest of the time I was onboard. During every inventory (surprise inventory or otherwise), and after the first count, I would be short and over the allowed limit. From this he would relish the thought of making that the final count and thus hang me. I could call as many inventories as I deemed appropriate, so I kept making him go back in and re inventory (with me) numerous times (which made him mad as hell) - until we got it under the allowable shortage limit. It was my one small way of getting my digs in against him. He also said that he would give me a bunch of time off if I could go 30-days straight, coming out right on the money on the money count, at the end of the day. I went something like 40+ straight days, right on the money, but he reneged on the deal. No surprise.
My Old Liberty Card
Soda Fountain Operator . . . .
Onetime, while working in the soda fountain, a staff officer (full Commander, I believe) read me the riot act over a box of Cheeze-it’s he had just purchased - it seems it had a few cockroaches in it (cockroaches are a fact of life on some of these older ships). I closed the soda fountain and escorted him up to the Ship Store Office to discuss it with my boss. My boss, a crusty old Ship’s Clerk Warrant Officer CWO4, was at his desk with his back to us. The Commander stomped into the office, threw the box of Cheeze-it’s onto the desk beside him and says “this box of Cheese-it’s is full of cockroaches”. That old CWO4 never even looked up, he just bellered “so what’s the problem, they eat too much”? I had to leave as I was laughing so hard.
Haircut Or Shine? Picture Of Me and Bob Ratley (in the chair) Taken From The Navy Times
(January 26, 2023 Issue)
More Softball . . . .
The picture here is interesting, mainly because of the other individual (besides myself, on the left) depicted in the photo. The photo was taken for a PR article in the Navy Times (January 26, 2023). The other individual, in the photo, is Bob Ratley. He was a cook and had been in the Navy about 12-years at the time. What was unique about him was that he was an awesome softball pitcher. It’s difficult to ascertain in the photo, since you can’t see his left arm, but his right forearm was easily twice the size of his left forearm. At the time, the Klondike softball team was trying to compete locally with the USS Sperry as the dominate softball team. Bob Ratley was past his prime, but awesome to watch. He could do some amazing things with a softball. He would warm up pitching from second base and could throw a perfect strike across the home plate. He could get rattled easily at times though. During one of these episodes, he became agitated with an umpire and threw a perfect strike across the plate after pitching the ball behind his back. This rattled the umpire so much that he charged out to the mound and threatened to eject him if he did it again. Well, as you might guess, his next pitch was exactly the same pitch, from behind his back, only faster. The pitch was so fast that the umpire never noticed that he pitched it from behind his back. We all sure noticed it though and cracked up. He was amazing to watch and I would have loved to have seen him in his prime.
Bob Ratley - Pitching Behind His Back
[Photo Courtesy of Tom Christensen]
1965 Klondike Softball Team
[Photo Courtesy of Tom Christensen]
Some additional photos I ran across recently. These were taken just before I left the Klondike in 1966.
Barber Shop. That’s me in the center.
Self-Service Ship’s Store
Basic Battery Tests . . . .
When my initial enlistment was almost up, I was becoming worried about getting out on the outside and being a barber the rest of my life. Fortunately, my division officer (LTJG Hobbs, I believe was his name) took an interest in me. He noticed that my basic battery test scores were fairly high and said I should be in a technical rate, such as electronics. So, I re-enlisted under the SCORE program. This was a program where you could cross rate and were guaranteed class A and B schools for the new rate. I also took the High School GED test while on board the Klondike and passed with flying colors. I also got a little cocky and took the college GED test, but I failed two sections.
Capt. B.D. Gaw Swearing Me In - My Re-up In 1966
I was selected for the SCORE conversion program, upon re-enlisting for 6-years. I was then slated to attend Electronics Technician Class “A” school on Treasure Island, San Francisco, CA.
Petty Officer 3rd Class (Ship Serviceman - Barber)
Petty Officer 2nd Class (Ship Serviceman - Barber)
(Actually I didn’t find out that I made it until arriving at Treasure Island).
History of the USS Klondike (AR-22)
Flag Hoist/Radio Call Sign: November - Bravo - Victor - Oscar
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons
Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row - American Campaign Medal - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal - World War II Victory Medal
Bottom Row - National Defense Service Medal - Vietnam Service Medal (1) - Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
Arcadia Class Destroyer Tender AD-22 Displacement 8,165 Tons Standard Full Load 16,900 Tons Length 492 Ft. Beam 69Ft.8In. Draft 27Ft.3In. Guns 1-5in. 4-3in. 4-40mm.AA. 20-20mm Machinery Geared Turbines. S.H.P. 8,500 =18.4 knots Boilers 2 Babcock & Wilcox Complement Accommodation for 826 General Reclassified as repair ship on Feb.20, 1960
Designation changed to AR-22
1945: Klondike AD22 was launched Aug. 12,1944 by Todd Shipbuilding Corp. San Pedro, Calif. Sponsored by Mrs.Dorothy J. Diirck.and commissioned at San Pedro July 30, 2023 Comdr. M.E.Hatch in command. After shake down, Klondike loaded hundreds of tons of spares and stores in preparation for the important task of supplying and maintaining the speedy, hard-hitting destroyers.
Designed as a mother ship for the greyhounds of the fleet, she departed San Pedro Oct.19 for Pearl Harbor, arriving the 25th.Recalled to the west coast, she sailed from Pearl Nov.7 with 500 homebound veterans embarked and arrived at San Diego Nov.15.
1946 - 1955: On Nov. 21 she became the flagship for Commander, San Diego Group 19th Fleet; Placed on an inactive status (in commission in reserve) Nov.30,1946. Klondike was placed in service in late summer,1948. She served as flagship until May 11.1955.
1959: USS Klondike recommissioned on July 15. at Long Beach, Comdr.F.F.Mullins Jr. In command. Returning to San Diego Dec.4 she provided repair facilities as a unit of SerRon 1.
1960: On Feb,20 USS Klondike was reclassified as a repair ship AR-22 and she repaired vessels in San Diego, Long Beach and San Francisco until July15, 1961.
1961 - 1962: USS Klondike (AR-22) departed San Diego for the Far East. She was assigned, to SerRon 3, and arrived in Yokosuka, Japan Aug. 4. Up and until Feb. 23,1962 she provided repair facilities at Sasebo and Iwakuni,Japan and Subic Bay P.I. for the peacekeeping ships of the powerful 7th Fleet.
Returning to the west coast March 11 she resumed her duties out San Diego.
1963: Departing San Diego July17, USS Klondike (AR-22) steamed via Pearl Harbor for the Western Pacific. While in route to Sasebo, she offered assistance the 6 through the 9th of Aug. to the distressed Greek freighter Cryssism during a raging typhoon (120 mph winds). Reaching Sasebo on Aug.11, she proceeded to Subic Bay Aug. 15 for repair ship duties. Klondike operated in the Far East until Nov.30; then she returned to the United States arriving in San Diego Dec.14.
1964 - 1967: During 1964 she continued servicing ships while operating out of San Diego and San Francisco. Klondike continued to repair ships of the Pacific Fleet into mid 1967.
USS Klondike AR-22 Reunion - Oct. 2004
Gold Coast Casino, Las Vegas, NV
2004 USS Klondike Reunion Group Photo - GoldCoast Casino, Las Vegas, NV
1963 Crew Year Group Photo
USS Klondike Association Business Meeting - 2004
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