John Francis remembers the Great Alaskan Cruise, also:

I remember the cruise to Alaska and the launch ride back to the Bennington, As Richard says the launch was overloaded with sailors who had too much to drink(myself included). As we headed back and the coxswain hit the rock we kind of sat on it for a few minutes swaying as the waves went underneath us. The boat captain fired off 2 or 3 flares but no one on the Bennington saw them. I was in the stern and we thought we should lighten up the boat a little so we threw over the Admirals crab that must have been on the menu for the next day(too bad). There weren't enough life jackets going around but we(myself and 2 friends) got ours. An officer(LT) standing next to one of my friends started telling him that he couldn't swim, my friend told him "tough s___". There was a Filipino messcook standing in front of me trying to put on his lifejacket as fast as he could, took me a couple of minutes to show him he had it upside down. The other of my friends held onto his life jacket but wouldn't put it on because he was afraid if he let go of the clean laundry he was bringing back to the ship he would lose the laundry. Strange things go through peoples heads at a time like lthat.

I was with VS-38 and had some knowledge of sea conditions in Kodiak, with water temp you could probably last 5 to 10 minutes before you passed out from exposure, but only thing going through my mind was this boat hit a rock, that rock is shallow in the water, "THAT ROCK IS MINE!!"

We finally slid off the rock and motored out to the Bennington, OOD said " what flare??" They wouldn't use the whale boats any more and they contracted a TUG to bring out the rest of ships company, as I remember it they brought out the Marine guard and dropped the landing nets over the side because the TUG couldn't use gangway,,, That story has always been a favorite one of mine...

John Francis


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