MEMORIES ABOARD THE USS MULIPHEN (AKA-61)
Bob Curry, Personnel Man 2nd Class
While stationed aboard the USS Muliphen, I had the privilege to serve with a Marine Warrant Officer, and I believed he either served as our Cargo Officer or Embarkation Officer. He was a highly decorated officer and had received the Navy Cross. He was someone that has stood out in my memory for all of these years.
A Cuban adventure still comes to mind. I think we went into Guantanamo Bay, Cuba at high alert stations because of threats of sabotage by Castro against American Naval Vessels. We were informed that the threats were due to some French Ammunition Ship blowing up in Havana Harbor. Castro was blaming the American CIA. He wanted to get even. Took precautions against sabotage by having lights all around the ships water line for potential frog men or underwater mine laying attempts, etc.
Some very exciting times where had by all riding out several severe storms at sea aboard the MULIPHEN. In those days we slept four deep and four more right beside us. Three specific storm adventures stand out in my mind: On one adventure one of the young men in the Ships Office put a Wind Scoop in the porthole to bring in some fresh cool air since we had no air conditioning on-board. Well, it caught a wave… which came through the Wind Scoop like a blast off of a six-inch Fire Hose, knocking him clean off of his chair and blasting several others in the office throwing men and furniture like toys.
I also remember getting very seasick after about four days of getting thrown out of the rack and smelling nothing but diesel oil, also the cooks could not fix much of anything to eat and I was turning green. I knew I just had to get air. Of course all of the weather decks were secured, and we had those old individual dogs on the hatches that had to be almost pried open. I forged ahead. However, no sooner did I get out into the weather deck and look up and all I could see was a huge wall of water coming down on the ship. I could not even see the sky, just water. I grabbed onto one of the steel cable wires holding one of the two Mike Boats on the forward part of the ship, just forward of the Main Super Structure (arms and feet wrapped around it). The wave crushed down around me and it took everything I had to hold on. I was instantly cured of my sea sickness! You can not believe how quickly I got back inside the interior of the ship, and not to venture out onto the secured weather deck again.
On another occasion, we had entered into a busy channel during the early morning hours. Without any warning we lost all power in the last contact via radar and there was a merchant vessel steaming directly in to our path. Some time around 2:00 in the morning Boatswain Davies came running down through the sleeping Quarters yelling “Collision Quarters – Collision Quarters. Only the dim red emergency lights where on and none of the crew had ever had a drill for Collision Quarters, so they mustered on the deck awaiting instructions until someone yelled out to man General Quarters and Button Down the Ship. I went to my battle station as one of the Captain's Talker on the Gun Batteries on the Bridge and found that the individual responsible for the Telegraph to the Engine room was not at his assigned General Quarters station. I was instructed by the Chief on the Bridge to find him. I went back down into the sleeping quarters thinking that the ship was going to be hit any minute by this merchant ship steaming directly at us. I kept telling myself the whole time that if hit I had to remember to swim downward to escape out of the ship. I find this individual by his locker holding a flashlight and looking into a mirror while combing his hair. (My reaction can’t be printed....I was furious and let him know it!)
Most importantly, someone using common sense took Battle Lanterns and continually flashed them into the sky to bring attention to the lookout on this Merchant Ship and it turn away from striking the Muliphen. It worked!
I also cannot forget the one occasion when a few of us happen to be on the forward part of the ship when the Captain made a decision to have a man overboard drill with the man overboard dummy “Oscar”. There was a young officer trying to steer the ship close enough to “Oscar” for us to snag him via a boat hook or some other means without lowering a rescue boat of any kind. All of us where from “X” Division except for one man. What a comedy of routines this ended up being. Needless to say “Oscar” is still out there somewhere!
There are many other funny and serious stories I remember. Such as, Captain’s Mast (many stores here), General Quarter’s, All Hands Turning-Two, One-Alfa Stations, fishing, cleaning the fish in the office, the XO walking in having a few word with me about that, and when we had Dependent Day Cruises, the time we all got shots for Asian Flue and I passed out from a very high fever then woke up in Sick Bay packed in Ice in a Body Bag!