ALMOST SAVED 'EM
Hey Bill, here is a little trivia on Bennington which might not be in the archives. We departed San Diego on October 12, 1956 enroute to Pearl and a WestPac cruise. About two or three days into the trip, we had an early heave out and trice up at about 4:00 AM followed by a talk from the Captain. We could tell they had kicked up the speed as the tell tale vibration was evident. Seems that a Honolulu to San Francisco bound Pan Am Clipper (a piston engine airliner) was going to ditch and was waiting for daylight to do so. Benn was steaming towards the location to assist in anyway it could. There was great excitement among the crew to be involved in something like this. We had early chow and waited for the action. Shortly after daylight the Captain came back on and said that Bennington was no longer going to assist and was in fact heading on to Pearl. Seems the Coast Guard ship "Pontchartrain" was there on the spot and the clipper had in fact ditched and everyone was safe. The crew of course was dissappointed, not that everyone was safe, but that we didn't get to go help. I read about this incident some years later in some paper back book on air disasters. The clipper's pilot was a captain Ogg. According to the book, while the clipper circled to burn up fuel, the ship and the clipper captain maintained lighthearted conversations. At one point the Pontchartrain captain told the clipper captain that an aircraft carrier was on the way and would he like to try landing on it. I forget what exactly was wrong with the airliner that it had to ditch. Anyway Bill, just another little incident in the life of the USS Bennington, at that time, CVA-20.