Sea Stories

Welcome to the Sea Stories section. What do you remember about the Somers? How about places that you have been on the Somers? Please share them here. Do you have sea stories of your own? Send 'em to me, and I'll put them up.


Charlie Harte:

A small piece of SOMERS history.  In 1968 a Tartar missile (short range AA missile SOMERS carried, if memory serves) was modified for surface to surface.  I'm guessing that was an early cruise missile development effort, and the test was to target a scrap Chris Craft.  As the MK 68 director officer I had a wonderful view as the missile did indeed hit the boat, with impressive damage.  As a relatively jr officer at the time--I think I was the gunnery officer--I didn't get included in the details, but that might have been an important step in weapons development.

Charlie Harte:

I reported aboard in Nov '67 as LTJG Charles R. Harte, and became the gunnery officer during the conversion at the Hunter's Point shipyard. I served aboard until Dec '68, including the move to the Long Beach Shipyard in May, '68.

Robert Bresnahan:

This letter was emailed to the Somers website by the son of Robert Bresnahan:  Robert passed away the winter of 2000. "Click here to read".

Bob Pecoraro:

I was one of the original crewmembers back in June of 1959 also the youngest crewmember on the Somers at the time of the commissioning in Boston. I was a striker for ET under Chief James J Hajney. I went on the shakedown cruise to Northern Europe and sailed through the Panama Canal to San Diego, our homeport. I also sailed to West Pac on our first tour over there. I left the Somers after returning from our West Pac tour.

Edward Calhoun:

Great to see a web site on the Somers.  I was on recommissioning crew for DDG-34 Somers.  I graduated boot camp summer of '67, assigned to San Diego where I met ships' company, transferred to San Francisco (Hunter's Point) when she was in dry-dock.  Was ships' company during recommisshing ceremony at Hunters Point.  Did shakedown cruises out of San Francisco, went to Bremerton, Washington for munitions, then onto Long Beach for home port.  Did West Coast local cruises, training, training, training.  Promoted to DC2 while on board.  Left for a swap to the east coast in '69.  Proud to be a plank owner of DDG-34.

Robert Siebert:

My dad just found a box of letters I sent home 38 years ago and is copying them to a CD to send me. He sent me this letter first and it is a good one.       "The Delemma of a Somers Sailor"

Earl Robbins:

My first day as Coxswain of the Captain's gig.

The story unfolds sometime in the summer of, I think, 1961.  My first day as the Coxswain of the Captain's gig.  To make matters more interesting, we were Flag ship for the Commodore.  We were at anchor in Manila bay.  Anyone who has been there knows how rough Manila bay gets.  Bad rough.  My first run by my lonesome and crew was to take the Commodore to the carrier.  Can't remember the carrier at this time, could have been the Kitty Hawk.  Anyway, I picked up the Commodore and we were on our way, no problem.  The Commodore came top side as we approached the landing.  He realized how rough it was and the landing at times was taking waves over the top.  He instructed me to get in as close as I could and he would "go for it."  Well, I did and he did.  He landed and I'm trying to keep control of the gig and all I heard was a loud snap.  I didn't have time to do much else but back out of there.  When I cleared landing I was able to see the Quarterdeck personnel running down the gangway and helping the Commodore up the stairs.  When I got back to the Somers, I learned that the Commodore had broken his leg.  I figured my time as Coxswain was over before it got started.  He later sent a message to me not to worry, it wasn't my fault.  What a day.

Harold Murphy:

I served on the USS Somers from Oct '64 - Nov 67.  I was a YN2 and remember one night at see while watching a movie, the lights came on and we were told to keep our heads down.  Glancing up, I saw Commander Martin (I think) escorting this tall lanky gentleman in civilian clothes through the mess hall.  Later on we were informed he was a Russian who defected (yes, jumped into the Pacific) and was fortunate that one of our watch guards heard him yell.   A few years later, I ran into Commander Martin in the Pentagon and he told me the Russian provided extremely valuable military secrets to the US.   I believe the guy gave his watch to the lookout who heard him.

Michael Zemaitis:

I was on the Somers for the WESTPAC 1972 cruise and the WESTPAC 1973 cruise.  In 1972 we were sent early to WESTPAC because of the NVA using MIGs.  One MIG hit the after gun mount of the USS Higbee and killed about 8 men.  Because the Somers was a DDG, we could give air support with the TARTAR missiles. We did many hours on the gun line and shot hundreds of 5" 54 ammo.  The NVA also shot back at us and thankfully missed.  It was Ken Delk that took that famous shot of a salvo going off the port side while we were going up the Qua Viet River.  Our mission was to draw fire so USAF fighters could knock out the heavy guns.  We drew the fire and called the USAF about their hunting.  They replied that they never left ground, too cloudy.  We also met up with the Ticonderoga to hunt for a Russian sub.  I went over via helo to the Tico with 2 other Sonarmen to fly with the air crews because so many air sonarmen were in the brig for pot use.  I always remember watching the B-52's carpet bombing because the concussions made the ship rattle.  On this cruise we earned the Combat Action Ribbon and a Unit Citation. WESTPAC 73 had us off of Cambodia and into the Indian Ocean due to the problems boiling up in Iran, Israel, and the Mideast countries.  Our only stop was Karachi, W. Pakistan.  It was filthy, fly stricken, and Muslim.  You would be wandering the streets when call to prayer echoed and everyone around you fell to their knees.  Many sailors while on liberty smuggled on board several hundred pounds of hashish.  The ship was torn apart 3 times and dogs were flow out to us from Pearl Harbor on cruise end to try and find all the hash.

Mark Green:

While on our last WESPAC we had a little fun with the "sea bat". As some of the crew were not in the know, they would line up and try to see what was under the box, they would get swatted with a broom. Then wonder who it was that hit them while trying to get a look  at the "sea bat".

Mark Green:

We were on station after a nighttime unrep when a "zero" fell overboard from the Connie. I was one of the crewmembers that was on the motor whaleboat. Once lowered into the water, the deck ape that was in control of the forward raymond release hook lost the hook and it swung around and hit me in the head. I think that the only thing that kept me going was the fact that we had to get the officer out of the water. What seemed like hours, we finally found the officer and fished him out of the water, and returned to the ship. That officer sure was glad that we had found him, otherwise who knows what would have happened. Of course, my supervisor was awarded a medal for finding the man.

Robert Siebert:

The trip to the Red River in Haiphong harbor was classic missile destroyer tactics using three DDGs. At the ships meeting on R&R in Hong Kong when Commodore Brown sat at the head of the table we were told about a big mission coming up in six or eight weeks in the future. Somers was promised to lead the fleet and it was huge in scope and meant to humiliate the enemy near the end of the war in their New York City harbor. Commodore Brown assembled a fleet of ships that included every type of ship you could imagine including a full blown carrier (Ranger I think), heavy cruiser (Newport News) and a line of ships that stretched to the horizon. The fleet was assembled in the middle of the Tonkin Gulf and proceeded toward Hainan Island (Chinese) in a line with Somers leading, a second DDG following and a third DDG following it with the fleet in tow. After we reached Hainan Island the fleet wheeled west and headed straight for Haiphong Harbor with Somers leading. Twenty miles or so before we reached Haiphong Harbor, Somers was ordered to take third position. The crew became highly irate and some were saying over the sound powered phones that I refuse to fire but we were not privy to the maneuver that was about to unfold. As we entered Haiphong Harbor the lead DDG stopped, turned and pointed the missile system toward the Red River (the Red River leads to Hanoi), the second DDG passed it and turned and stopped and Somers passed both of them and turned and stopped so we were the nearest as the Commodore promised. We were the first in and the last out. With three DDGs guarding the fleet the fleet turned in front of them and headed South. We had to wait for the whole fleet to pass and then the DDGs left with the the furthest out leaving first, the second second and lead ship 'Somers' was the last to leave. We received a small amount of fire but it was only 20 or 40mm that only made little splashes.

Rob Browne:

I joined the crew of the USS Somers DD947 before the commissioning. Charlie Fatum ran across my name and dropped me an email. I remember Charlie and hung around with Carl Posey and a couple of other guys, worked with Bill Kilcline and John McLean in the Radio Shack; seem to recall an Ensign Karas and of course, Capt. Cummings who was bringing the ship into port (I thought it was Norfolk) in a jaunty fashion, hit a camel, rupturing the hull below the waterline and causing a fuel leak. It was more than a little embarrassing for the newest ship in the fleet to be tied to the pier for weeks, with a serious starboard list until repairs were made to the hull.

Thomas Mayberry:

I served aboard the Somers from 1963 to 1964, she was a great destroyer. I served with the 1st division, I believe BM1 Cary was our bosem in charge. It seemed to me I was assigned to dept. cleaning forever on the Somers. On our Westpac cruise during refueling with the Coral Sea CVA 43 the Somers lost steering control and ran into the USS Coral Sea while on Operation Yellowbird off the coast of Japan.  It tore a hole in the aft. part of the ship. I was stationed on the forward station phone line and distance line when the Somers lost steering control. The Coral Sea's elevator hit the 2nd deck on the aft part of the Somers, it almost knocked the mount 52 over side. The Somers went back to Japan for repairs. On our way back to San Diego was when JFK was assassinated.

The Somers was the best time of my Navy career. I severed on 7 different ships and the Somers brings back the most fondest of memories. Someone stole my cruise book from my locker. I wish I could find a replacement one. Back in them days we would come and go in dress uniform.  I had left for brother duty in Key West Florida when I heard about Jimmy Stinnett accident. Jimmy and I were from Virginia, I was sadden to hear about his death.

John C. Snell:   

I was a member of the crew from it's precom until October 1960.  I did not go to precommissioning school with the rest of the crew because I had just gone thru the school with the crew of the USS Edson DD946.  I got sick and went in the hospital and when I got out the ship had left on it's shakedown cruise.  I was sent to Boston to inventory stores with Tom Long, a storekeeper, and met the ship there. I had a rate of SFP3 during my tour on the Somers.

Alan Cantu:    

I originally joined the Navy in July of 1980, and after Boot Camp and "A" school, I joined the Somers in January of 1981. During my tour, I had many great experiences with the Somers. In April of 1981, we invited family members of crew members aboard for a cruise to Hilo, on "The Big Island" of Hawaii. We enjoyed 5 days of Big Island hospitality and scenery while we took part in Hilo's annual Merrie Monarch Festival.

In May/July of 1981, Somers took a cruise to the West Coast, visiting San Francisco and San Diego. (With many of the crew making a liberty visit to Tijuana. ) After San Diego, we were supposed to travel to Stockton, California to join the crew of USS Somers (DD-381) at their ship's reunion. Stockton even had a big Fourth of July celebration planned around our arrival. Unfortunately, boiler problems prevented this from happening.

Boiler problems continued to dog the ship, and we were delayed on Westpac for several months. Our deployment with the USS Coral Sea battle group was cancelled. However, in early November 1981, we headed Southwest with the USS Constellation battle group for what turned out to be the ship's final WestPac.

Upon return from Westpac, we were preparing for more local operations, when we were informed that the Somers was to be decommissioned. The Navy felt that the newer ships in the fleet could do the job of the Forrest Sherman/DDG-31 class more efficiently. Somers was decommissioned on 19 November, 1982.

Raymond Scott:   

I Was Stationed on the USS SOMERS DD947 10/64 thru 6/66, I was in fire room #2, made EM3 then went to the USS PROETUS as 19 in Guam.

Robert J. Terhune:

I was Operations Officer as a Lieutenant from January 1972 to June 1973 on the Super Somers out of Long Beach.

CDR Charlie Ulrich was first Captain and he was relieved by CDR Bill Vollmer.

LCDR Jerry Anderson was the first XO, relieved by LCDR Dick Wyttenbach.

LT Rod Rempt was WEPS. He made flag and was President of the Naval War College as a Rear Admiral and Superintendant of the Naval Academy as a Vice Admiral.

We went thru Reftra in San Diego, pre-deployment exercises and then, on short notice, we deployed to Vietnam where we did Naval Gunfire Support (NGFS) as well as Task Force 77 Carrier Escort ops.

I was relieved in mid-1973 by LT Chuck Davison, with whom I still exchange Christmas cards.

I am also a member of the USS BASILONE (DD-824) Association, the USS JOUETT (DLG/CG-29) Association (Plankowner) and the USS ORLECK (DD-886) Association.

Robert J. Terhuneall
Captain, U.S. Navy, Retired

David Kaley:   

I served aboard the Somers from approximately November of 1964 until the fall of 1965. As we were told she was going into the yards for conversion to a missile destroyer and none of the crew would be kept, I secured a transfer to a cruiser. During my time aboard I served on the 1965 Westpac that included the death of Jimmy Stinnett while firing on the enemy.

I have many wonderful memories (and the sad one) while aboard the Somers and would love to hear from others that served on her.

David Kaley MM
now living in Las Vegas

David (Dave) Anderson:   

I was a Sonar Technician and was aboard Somers on the day that Mount 51 exploded killing one of my best friends, Jimmy Stinnett. My workspace and sleeping quarters were just aft and below one deck from the Gunners Mates quarters and the entrance to Mt.51. It was my understanding that after Mt.51 was locked down, a projectile was still in the fire position and that if it accidently exploded it would cause a chain reaction igniting all the projectiles that were nearby causing horrific damage to the bow of the ship. Since us Sonarmen were so close to the above, it was like waiting for a bomb to go off. At least, that is how I perceived it. I was scared to death and it has affected my whole adult life. Additionally, we weren't allowed to grieve for our fallen shipmate and friend.

We also lost our captain who died during the investigation of the explosion. He was like a father figure to all of us young men, a lot of us far from home for the first time and this was a great loss for the whole crew.

Prior to this event, I remember being topside and seeing a village burning. We were so close to shore I could hear people screaming and this was traumatizing also. I have had nightmares about this and in the nightmare I see the ship blowing up.

Because of the above I have a claim with the Veterans Administration for Vietnam related  service-connected  P.T.S.D. and I am seeking contact with my fellow shipmates who were aboard when this tragedy happened. I know that I wasn't the only one affected by this. It is hard to exactly describe everything concerning the emotional distress that this caused me, but I believe that just about everyone aboard the ship during this time was affected in one way or another depending on their own life experiences and training and also where their workspace and sleeping quarters were located. Also, I think that their reactions, as well as mine, depended upon the information or miss-information that they might have received or not received during these events.

Alan Cantu:   

Proper 1MC etiquette: I remember one day I was on quarterdeck watch, and was making a 1MC announcement and screwed up. However, instead of saying "Belay my last" I said "Oh, S&%*." Needless to say, I got to have a talk with the OOD about proper 1MC etiquette. Another time, we were on westpac, (Singapore, I believe, and it was after quiet hours (2200.) The quarterdeck was on the Tartar deck, so the 1MC was one deck below. Being the low seaman on the totem pole, I was given the honor of polishing the 1MC station. a "slightly inebriated" sailor came by, grabbed the 1MC, and to my horror, pushed the button and started yelling that this was "Radio station" something or other. I tried to pull the 1MC from him, when he pushed down the button again, and notified everyone that "The request lines are now open." and then toddled off. EVERYONE who was everyone came running down to find out what the hell was happening..... I just pointed, and said.... "He went that a way." He *really* got to have a chat with the Command Master Chief about 1MC etiquette, and also got the honor of polishing the 1MC station for some time to come.

Mike Proctor:   

I was on the Somers from '77 to '80. One bright, sunny day the ASROC gunners mates had laid down a brand new layer of paint on their deck with fresh, black non-skid. We were about to get underway and they were standing proud at having their deck looking so good in time for casting off. As the lines were pulled in, the ship's whistle sounded with a muffled mmpphhhhttt. We all looked toward the whistle to see what might be amiss. What I saw will live in my memory till death. A cloud of white pillow feathers had blown out of the whistle and was drifting aft on a gentle breeze! The bulk of the feathers began to alight on the ASROC deck as its crew stood transfixed in absolute horror. As the initial shock wore off, curses from the ASROC deck mixed with hoots and cheers from all other weather decks. Rumor had it that a signalman from Vermont was one of the culprits. Stand by for more.

Mike "Doc" Proctor

Alan Cantu:   

I was on the "Helo Crew", so whenever "Flight Quarters was called, I was there. The Somers, being so small, of course had to do personnel transfers via the helo hovering over the back of the ship, and the person being raised or lowered. I remember one new crewmember, being lowered to the ship, clutching a guitar next to his chest. He did *not* want to let that thing go. But the most interesting helo transfer was when the CO, (I believe it was Kennealy) was being transferred to the Connie for a C.O.'s conference. They started to raise him from the deck, when a sideways gust of wind caught him, and *BOING* he went bouncing against the lifeline. He wasn't hurt, but I'm sure he got the wind knocked out of him. The OOD on the helo deck *RAN* over, grabbed him, and held on to him, to make sure he was stable until he was clear of the ship.

One other thing I will always remember is "breakaway songs." Usually, when breaking away from an UNREP, we'd play the "Superman" theme. However, there were a few exceptions. "On the Road Again...." the theme from "Hawaii 5-0", but there are two that I will always remember. Our last unrep before we started to head east back toward Hawaii, they played "Eastbound and down" from Smokey and the Bandit." We did one last refuel the night before we returned home to Pearl from Westpac, and the breakway song was "Honolulu City Lights", as we could see the lights of the city in the distance. That song will always have a special spot in my heart.

Carl Posey:   

My name is Carl H. Posey. I am a retired Senior Chief Signalman. I was attached to the USS Somers DD-947 as ship's company from Precom school until 31 Mar 1961.I was a seaman deuce trying to be a signalman. I was part of the "Battling Hose Crew" against the HMAS Queenborough while we were tied up alongside her in Singapore, (I think in 1960). We won the water hose fight because of higher water pressure in our water main, and literally swept them off their feet. Then during the night we stole their brass kangaroo "Harvey" from atop their pilot house. We hid it while a massive search went on, and we went to sea for allied ops and the Queenborough had no "Harvey". When, during the ops, went alongside the Queenborough for hi-line, we proudly displayed their "Harvey" on top of the Somers pilot house. You talk about Pissed. It all worked out well in the end, and the Queenborough presented the Somers with "Harvey,II" My memories of the Somers and my shipmates are the best and was instrumental in my decision of making the Navy a career. After retiring from the Navy I moved to Charlotte, NC (MY HOMETOWN) and taught Naval JROTC for 17 years and retired again. 41 years in the Navy uniform, of which I have no regrets.

Russel Hartley:   

I remember going for Breakfast one morning and there were 2 sailors sitting in the mess deck with signs around their necks. They were from a ship tied up with us. (I don't remember it's name.) The signs spoke of their love and admiration for The Somers and that they promised never to try to stealing Harvey again. If I remember, They had it unbolted and were at the Quarterdeck when they were caught. If any can ad to this story, please do so. Hartley mm2

Leon Cakowsk:   

I served on the Somers from May 1969 until July 1973 just before I was separated. A few of the memories I have: 1) Three West-Pac cruises 2) Restricted to the ship while in Bangkok for falling asleep on watch in after-steering 3) I was in Gun Plot the first time we were shot at - it sounded real close. I still have a picture someone took from on deck of the "hole in the water" from the shell hitting off the fantail 4) Being in the gun director during the time we returned fire - the time that earned us the Combat Action Ribbon 5) Snorkeling around Grande Island, Philippines with a LTJG and I believe Eddie Halligan when Eddie cut his hand on coral. Blood gushing out of his hand when we look up and see a school of about a hundred barracuda swim past us no more than fifty feet away. We got out in a hurry 6) Manilla Rum 7) A Bar B Q on deck off the coast of Nam with our special guests - the artillery spotters from shore. They donated a couple AK-47's to be put on display, one I believe ended up in the officers mess the other in the crews mess. 8) Two Equator crossings, still have a scar on my leg from falling trying to get away from the "pre game activities" - Does anyone else remember the Captain sending an Ensign to his room "to calm down" when he made a stink about how he shouldn't be picked on during his initiation from pollywog to shellback? I won't mention names 9) We were the first US Naval vessel to visit British Columbia in I forget how many years when we made port in mid 1969 (with a couple other ships ). 10) Skeet shooting off the fantail 11) Even though I wasn't a Plankowner, I was bonged off the ship when I was separating - I guess 4 years 3 months on board was close enough, I didn't miss the commissioning by all that much. There are many more memories but they can come later.

Derek Govaert:   

The last west-pac...what a blast! Served under Cdr. Thomas "Touchdown" Keneally...and X-O Lcdr. Payne...on the final voyage. Watch sups were: OS-2 Erick Wachter and OS-1 Steve Brennerman, also in my division were Tijerina, Smiley, Cook, Scott, McCallister, Maschino, "Big Bird", Dwight Carter (later dubbed "Major Tom" when we served together on the Cochran). What ever happened with Lt. Kouri? Did he ever open that sports bar he always talked about? He was gonna name it "Zachary's" in Auburn Al.? Hey! I got a kick outa seein' 'ol Harvey, Cantu, and the Royal Baby! (gawd! I think I'm still pullin' griddle grease and belly hairs outa my nostrils!) I'm alive and well, livin' in Honolulu.. EX-OS out....

Rudy Santiago:   

We were in transit from Guam to the P.I.'s on our 69-70 WestPac. On board we had a boatswain by the name of Bob "Gab" Gabrielson who loved to play golf. He was a big guy and won't play another sports because he didn't want to injure his hands and not be able to golf.

One afternoon, as I was up in my perch in the signalshack, Gab was out on the ASROC deck hitting golf balls off the port side into the ocean. All was going fine until one of the first classes came up to him and they had a small conversation. Being up in the shack, attached to the forward stack, I couldn't hear what was being said. But Gab kept shaking his head. Finally, he slowly hands the club to the first class and takes a few steps back. The first class grabs a ball, tees up, and swing......out into the ocean goes the ball.......and the club. I wish that I would have taken a picture, because from my view, Gab just stood there with his mouth open. The first class stood there with his jaw on the deck staring out to sea, waiting for Gab to send him after the club.

By the way, did I happen to mention the they were brand new clubs, matching set and very expensive?!

Mike Tull:   

It was about 28 may 72 when I was on the port wing of the signal bridge with Clifford Reutsch, when we saw approx. 200 rvns receiving incoming fire on the beach and they went right into the south china sea. A BMP (soviet built APC) flanked by two T54 tanks came out on the beach. Cmdr. Vollmer came out on the port wing of the bridge and was looking through his binoculars, but a ov10 "bronco" came flying in and didn't hesitate. He fired his white phosphorus rockets hitting the BMP and three F4 "phantoms" dove on them the first one getting a direct hit on the BMP. It was still burning 10 hours later. We were approximately 800 yards from all of this , that's within machine gun range not to mention range of the tanks 100mm gun and our five inch gun, and we never fired a shot at each other.

Charlie Fatum:   

Typhoon Olive: We were in Hong Kong and the SP's roamed the streets getting us back to the ship. The Typhoon was headed to Hong Kong and the ships had to get outta there. We left the harbor and ran smack dab into Olive and couldn't shake it for I believe 3 days. Course changes were in the hands of the waves as the ship had to hit them at a slight angle so as to slice through rather than hit straight on and have the waves stop our forward motion. Capt Cummings stayed on the Bridge in his chair the whole time in order to make slight course changes with the wave direction changes. We had horsecock sandwiches as no cooking with the ship pitching 45 degrees. I was helmsman and got to stare at the inclinometer. Word was that at 55 degrees, the stacks were designed to snap off to relieve some of the top heavy weight so the ship wouldn't keep going over. We didn't get much sleep. It was an exciting time. When we returned to Hong Kong, We learned that the Olive did not go there.

Russell Hartley:   

I never will forget the time we were refueling from the Coral Sea. We were heading home after a 7 Mo. West Pac cruise in 1963. It was after it had been announced " We are now leaving the Land of sliding doors and slant eyed whores and going to the Land of wide eyed whores and slamming doors."

I was at the after fueling station, fuel was being pumped. the band on the Carrier was playing, California Here I Come, everyone was relaxed and excited about going home. Suddenly we lost our steering and ran into the Coral Sea. I don't know if something happened to our steering engine or if whoever was at the helm got his port and starboard mixed up. I suspect the last, because it worked fine after it all happened. We hit the starboard side elevator on the Carrier right at the after refueling station.

People scattered like a flight of birds. The band disappeared from the edge of the flight deck. People on the elevator took off running . The after fueling station was on the 0 1 deck and when I saw the elevator coming at me I just knew as it was going to hit us up high and it would flip us over. I thought " I got to get to the fantail where this thing won't tip over on top of me. I did not use the ladder to get to the main deck, I dropped down to it.

When I dropped the last thing I saw on the 01 level was LTJG Andrilla spread eagle face down and the Coral Sea's elevator over the top of him. When I got to the fantail I was blowing on my life Jacket with a great effort. Oil was pouring every where . It was a mess. No one was hurt in any way but our feelings, because we had to go back to Youkuska for repairs. We come to Calif later. Only one guy I know of did good with this deal. Everyone had spent their money before we left Japan and we went back broke. This guy ran a slush fund. However I do know he was not at the Helm.

Vito "Balut" Baltutis:   

I was on the U.S.S. "Never Sail" between 1978 and 1980. Yeh, we flunked a few boiler inspections too before going on WestPac.

I enjoyed my time on the Somers. First, I would like to thank the C.O. who replaced CDR. Schillingsburg (can't remember his name) for dismissing charges of "disrespecting an officer" brought on me by Lt. CDR. Moses. I guess he thought he was the C.O. or something because I said," good morning sir" without saluting him while swabbing the deck after morning colors and no hat (on we didn't need one). I hope after all these years he figured out what the UCMJ has to say about that!

Since the captain laughed that one out of mast, Moses didn't like me(I enjoyed the look on his face). He promised he would make my life miserable onboard, and believe me he did. I never did get a chance to go TAD to try out for UDT/SEALS, but I did manage to get into NAVY BAND at Pearl. I even managed to prove him wrong and get a Teaching Degree. See, X.O.'s don't know as much as they think they do.

(Editor's Note: The next C.O. was CDR. Siepel.)

Vito "Balut" Baltutis:   

I'll never forget when I first came aboard the Somers: 18 years old and fresh out of seaman apprentice training in Orlando. I had only been on board for two weeks and I had duty the second weekend, starting Saturday morning. I went to a local nightclub with a few other guys from deck division. Does the name "Lil Orphan Annie's" ring a bell, along Nimitz Highway, next to the Airport? You older Somers bros might remember it as "The Sandbar."

We had gotten there around 1800, just in time for their three hour happy hour. It was like 5 or 10 bucks for all you could drink. Anyway, we were partying it up until about 0100. My buddies and I were supposed to start duty that weekend. So, we wanted to get our money's worth. Me and about 2 or 3 other dudes were hittin' on this fine Hawaiian/Philipino chic. You know, the kind married or engaged to an officer on WestPac? With my buddies calling me by my nickname, "Balut," which they so affectionately bestowed upon me since my first day on the ship, I was surprised she chose me for her prey for the evening!

Anyway, what was supposed to be a quick and enchanted evening, turned out to be a weekend AWOL from the ship. The other guys warned me to go with them while I could, but me and two jar-heads from Kaneohe ended up leaving with this girl and her two friends. Now, I'm not gonna cheapen this webpage by getting into kinky details. If I wanted to do that, I would've at least sent it to Penthouse and took twenty dollars. Instead, I'll skip to what happened when I got back to the ship on Sunday morning, one day late for duty.

I get back to the ship and the same guys that were with me at "Orphan Annies" swamped me with all sorts of questions and asked if I realized I was AWOL. I said,"yeah" and proceeded to tell them this wild story of these kinky chics with handcuffs, whipped cream and Guava Jelly. Needless to say, no one believed me. They all thought I must have been rehearsing my story for my division officer(who was supposed to report me missing and eventually send me to Captain's Mast) and the 'Ole Man Himself.

Well, I got up the nerve to knock on my division officer's door. Believe me Lt. JG Andy Buschak was not a man you just walk up to and say, "hey dude." This guy was about 6'4", all-American fullback for the Academy, and ate half a roast in the Officer's Mess and still walked away hungry. When he told me "it had better be good," I managed to squeak out,"you ain't gonna believe it, sir." When I told him the same story I told the guys, he said, "what?!'re right...even if I did believe you, if I told the Captain what you told me, he would laugh both of us off the ship and courts-martial. I tell you what- you're restricted to the ship for two weeks and don't you even tell that story to anyone! I'll tell the captain there was a mix up."

With a big "yessir, thank you sir," I took off and got into my uniform real quick and didn't go anywhere near Buschak for about a month. The funny part about this story is that it was so wild and unbelievable, my division officer wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole because he valued his rank and reputation. I just want to say, twenty years later, thanks Mr. Buschak and yes, it's true and it wasn't a tall-tale to keep me out of trouble.

Alan Cantu:   

We had a young O.S. onboard, who was obviously not cut out for sea duty. The very first time he went out to sea.... *BWWAAAGHHH....* Here came lunch!

Before too very long, it was obvious that he was not long for the ship, as every at sea period it was the same thing. The poor kid just couldn't get his sea legs, and was eventually transferred from the ship.

In true Navy fashion, his division gave him a going away gift. The gift? A toilet seat!!!

Dan "AJ" Ward:  

I served on board as a BT from 73 - 75, through the WESTPAC and OVERHAUL . Arrived on board in Long beach two weeks before we changed home ports, Just out of boot, reported to ship after my 30 days leave.

Durring my leave I got a new girlfriend, I mean REALLY IN LOVE , or so I thought. It's a 5 day crossing to HI. and I have to get off this ship! I had heard that if you're a sleep walker they give you shore duty, THAT'S IT!!! So I got up the 2nd nite out and " sleepwalked" all over that damn ship. NO ONE EVER SAW ME!! She married some guy before the WESTPAC was over,. Thank God.

Kurt Heinen:   

I was working on an old "Bell and Howell" movie projector one evening in the "IC Shop" and Bill Walker relieved me for dinner. Approximately 20 minutes later I was on the messdeck and saw the Chief Corpsman and I think the XO running down to the IC Shop.

I went down to the shop to discover that Walker had been seriously electrocuted. Apparently he had been unconscious for a length of time and had stopped breathing. He was working on the projector that I had been working on. We were on operations off the coast of Hawaii at the time and a helicopter was sent to evacuate him to the hospital. He never returned. I don't know if he fully recovered or not.

(Editor's note: If anyone has any information on Bill, please pass it on. Thanks!)

Tom Alexander:   

During the 1970-71 Westpac cruise we had a navigation officer (JG) who was not too popular with the enlisted men. I forget his name. It's probably just as well. He was an Annapolis man. he seemed to act as if he were God's gift to the world. His wife met him at several ports of call and it was rumored that she was motivated out of because of jealously.

Near the end of our cruise we had a ships part at Little Grande Island in Subic Bay. We snorkeled, played softball, and had a bar-b-que. There were also some girls there to dance with and talk to. As far as I knew they wern't bar hogs. Just girls to dance with. This JG was dancing--just dancing-- with one of the girls. Being ship's photographer I thought that I'd get a picture. I wasn't thinking any nefarious thoughts. Just a sailor relaxing and having a good time. Period. When I pulled my Nikon up to shoot, he spun around to avoid being caught on film. Now, the hunt was on. The was now a predator and there was prey. I slipped a wide angle lens onto the camera body an walked across the room. As a passed my victim I shot a picture from my hip.

This JG had never given my the time of day before. I was below him. Well he came over to my table and smiled and said "Say Alexander, that's a pretty nice camera you have. May I see it? I replied, "No Sir." He said "I'm not kidding, let me see your camera!" I replied, Sir, I respectfully refuse to hand my camera over to you. there is official Ship's business on that roll of film." We were deploying the very next day. He then told me "I want that negative as soon as it is developed!" to which my reply was "Aye-aye, Sir!"

We were out for quite a while. I ended up going to the Hancock by chopper for a few days to spend time in the darkroom there. it turned out that the negative never really turned out. When I was flown back to the Somers, the chopper dropped me off. Within minutes this JG confronted me wanting this special negative. I could honestly look him in the eye and smile ( a bit wickedly, I must admit) and declare, "sorry Sir, it didn't turn out." I may have imagined it but it did seen that he was kinder to me and my buddies after that. Less apt to hassle us for petty reasons.

Dennis Griffin:  

Reading the story about Pabst not being able to take the Somers anywhere without hitting anything, reminded me of Cdr Vollmer's helmmanship. I referred to him as driving this boat like it was sports car. He wouldn't let tugs push us up to piers, bouys, and I believe didn't like having pilots on board either.

On time as we returned to Long Beach, we pulled up to one of the piers out on on Destroyer alley, and the yard tug came alongside to mooch (beg) some chow off the duty cooks. I happened to be in the galley at the time and stuck my head out the porthole in the scullery to hear what the BM on the tug wanted and remember the Capt standing out on the port bridge yelling, something to the effect that "that SOB didn't do anything to warrant free handouts from this crew!"

Dennis Griffin SK2

Herm Engelhardt:   

Perhaps one of the most memorable experiences that I can I recall was during the Westpac Cruise of 1961. The Somers visited Hobart, Tasmania and the Australian ports of Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane.

There were local citizens lined up for blocks waiting for the opportunity to take a tour of our ship. Needless to say, the greatest percentage of these visitors were the local Australian girls who were quit anxious to take members of the crew out for a night on the town.

I remember while on duty one evening and unable to leave the ship, a person on the quarterdeck announced over the PA "If there is anyone on still on board who is not on duty and would like to be escorted around town by two young ladies, please report to the quarterdeck."

Everyone truely enjoyed that visit downunder and wonderful hospitality of the Australian people. Bags of mail kept coming for weeks following that visit.

Herm Engelhardt, SN. 1960-1962

Robert Jenkins   

In June 1972, I remember it well. I was standing in the aft head taking a whiz, the hatch was open, and it was really hot on the gun line.

All of a sudden, I hear this explosion and about 15 feet off the side of the ship, the water flew about 30 feet in the air, then "G.Q., G.Q., all hands man your battle stations!!!"

Boy, I about pissed all over the place.

Dennis Sireen:   

I was on board during the 72 Westpac cruise in the gun gang. One nite during a stop in Subic Bay some of the Boatswain's Mates snuck some beer aboard and were drinking it in the boatswain's locker. Somebody said to me, "Hey there's some beer up forward". Like a dummy, I went up and had one.

Well the next morning we were underway and somebody squealed to the old man. Before you know it, several others including myself were up in front of a captains mast held on the tarter launch pad. I ended up with 30 days extra duty, suspended to the ship for 30 days, and loss of Asroc roving watches (which were gravy watches) for 30 days. I was only a seaman, so they didn't bust me any lower. That was the most expensive beer I ever had during my 2 year stint in the USN.

Vince Salamoni:   

During the Somers' 1972 deployment to the Gulf of Tonkin, we spent many a day something like 900 yards off the demilitarized zone doing Naval Gunfire Support. Working very long hours in the Combat Information Center, I didn't get to see much of the outside, but I will always remember how we knew the coastal batteries off Quang Tri were trying to hit us:

We'd hear the Signalmen running to find cover in the signal shack after they'd seen flashes of hostile fire on the shore. Moments later, the Boatswains Mate's voice would be heard on the 1MC: "Now General Quarters, General Quarters; all hands man their battle stations; this is not a drill; now General Quarters!"

Bob Coon:   

There was a "mutiny" on our Somers in the shipyard. The engineers had a sit down strike (aka mutiny) because Pabst demanded incredibly long hours of them endlessly in pursuit of being the first ship in eons to meet the shipyard due date. As I recall, it made the Honolulu news as a modern day mutiny.

Besides the long hours, our barracks were too old and condemned to be improved. We had a hobby in the barracks, Knife throwing, (Really!) which worked fine until one went through the wall into the 'head'. Luckily, no casualties.

Philip Rakowski:   

Somers Wake Up Call.

What follows is clearly one of my most memorable experiences on the Somers. I will never forget the incident described below, it is one of my great sea stories revolving around the Somers.

One morning in 1978 the electrician mates from "E" division were grouped together for our morning muster (Quarters) on the fantail. It was early on a clear warm morning and the seas were calm. Our position was a few days off Hawaii and the Somers was smoothly making way at 10 knots or so

The Chief and the First class were facing us with their backs about an inch or two from the rail on the starboard side. As our Chief was droning through the plan of the day he occasionally looked up at his bunch of bleary electrician mates. The group was facing the chief and over his shoulders the ocean on the starboard side.

As we stood there in silence listening to the Chief, a porpoise suddenly jumped up out of the water and popped into view directly behind the Chief and the First class electrician! The porpoise was so close the Chief could have touched him had he simply turned around. As the porpoise flew past the Chief, the porpoise's head turned and he was looking straight at us over the Chief's shoulder at the peak of his arc. Well we all exploded from our bleary dispositions in an instant, yelling and pointing (straight at the Chief) and generally roaring with surprise. This all came as a huge surprise to the Chief and the First Class. They both leaped back in horror with wide eyes and slammed into the lifeline. They hit the lifeline with such force that they both lost their balance and started to fall backwards over the line. The whole bunch of us rushed at the two of them (which really completed the terror) as their feet left the deck and pulled them off the line and back on board. Neither man saw the porpoise initially, just the bunch of us reacting to the porpoise. Needless to say it took several minutes for the Chief and the First class to start breathing again. We were all laughing so hard I thought my sides would burst and the shocked look on the Chiefs face didn't help.

The porpoise continued jumping several more times along side the ship but nowhere near as close as that first pass he made directly behind the Chiefs head. Other porpoises soon joined the rebel porpoise and the school of them swam with the ship for a few minutes before heading off to start trouble elsewhere.

The following morning the Chief and the First class walked out to a new position to conduct the morning muster and stood in the center of the fantail. As we all stood there grinning, we occasionally looked over our shoulders hoping the porpoise would somehow appear again.

Philip Rakowski (EM3)

Tyrone Martin:   

We had been underway about 24 hours out of Yokosuka in June 1965, when I stepped from the bridge to my sea cabin for a moment. When I stepped back into the foyer outside the sea cabin, I found myself in a fog. Groping my way into the pilothouse, I was informed that a small pipe had burst in the forward fire room, rapidly filling the forward part of the ship with condensing steam.

In charge of that fire room that morning was BT1 William Carter. He recognized what had happened and promptly overrode the automatic controls that wanted to increase the firing rate in the boilers in order to respond to what they sensed was a demand for more power. Bringing things quickly under control, Carter insured that damage was minimized, and -- more importantly -- saw to it that no-one was injured.

It was one of several memorable moments during my brief command of SOMERS. I was glad to find Carter's name among those in the shipmates list.

Tyrone G. Martin CDR, USN (Ret)

Kurt Heinen:   

As an IC-man it was one of my jobs to show the evening movie on the mess deck. Prior to show time I had to rewind the movies, (by hand) and place the reels (usually three) back in the box in the correct order, 1,2,3.

Well on one night, somehow the reels got put in 1,3,2. We had an unusually large turn-out this particular night because the movie was a John Wayne "classic", RIO LOBO. I showed the first reel. When it ended, I put on what I thought was reel 2 and was actually the last reel. Amazingly the movie seemed to make sense and NO ONE NOTICED ! The total length of the movie was about 55 minutes.

After the movie ended, I looked in the box to find reel 2. Someone turned on the lights, everybody got up and left, and I didn't say a damn thing. (Till now !)

Kurt Heinen:   

I have so many memories of my time on the Somers that I could fill a book. I was aboard around the same time as Bob Coon and also thought Singapore was a neat place and also share his dislike for Karachi, (Crotchi). Even the beer sucked!

One time we were steaming along about 20 knots off the coast of Hawaii and the Captain was going to hold a mast on the asroc deck. I was on the fantail talking to the XO and all of a sudden his jaw just dropped open. I spun around just in time to witness a guy, awaiting mast, dressed in dress whites doing a perfect swan dive off the asroc deck into the ocean. The XO said something like "Holy Shit" and ran up to the asroc deck. Even in calm seas it was difficult getting that dumb SOB back on board. The Captain wanted to kill him and he was kept locked in sick bay till we got back in port. Never saw him again after that.

One other thing, when we ran aground at Ford Island in Hawaii, I went to the enlisted man's club that night and " Somers on the rocks " was the big hit that night.

Tom Kegley:   

Sea stories? Oh yea! I remember the liquor locker incident. (See below.) I also remember the availability of the sodas which were kept in the barber shop. I recall lifting many from there and then some poor sap from the engine room got caught which put an end to their availability.

I recall the hazing ( greasing ) of many a boot. The best was when we caught the sea bat. I don't recall the count. I do remember there were a few officers which got their first glance and not to happy about it.

I always felt strongly about the Somers. Her keel was laid January 4,1959. The same day and year I was born. The last ship I served on was DDG 43 out of Norfolk. Odd how my Navy experience started with DDG 34 and ended with DDG 43. I still say If I could live it all over again I would without hesitation. You are doing an awesome job with this site. Keep it up. Someday maybe we all could get together and reminis.

BT1 Kegley

Alan Cantu:   

I wouldn't call this a "fond" memory, but I do remember the fact that there was a sewage treatment plant right at the entrance to Pearl Harbor. When passing it, there was no mistaking the smell. As such, it became a landmark.

If you were below deck, and you smelled that smell, you knew that you were at the mouth of the harbor and were either A: At sea, or B: Just about home.

Patrick Bartkus:   

I served on the Super Somers from 1971 to 1973. I left when she changed home ports from Long Beach, CA to Pearl Harbor. I was aboard for the 1972 WESTPAC cruise. I still cherish my '72 cruise book.

We did lots of plane guarding, North SAR, and of course - the gun line. We even took some counter-battery (the bad guys shot artilery back at us for you non-military types) on a couple of occasions.

The first time, we just hauled-a** off the gun line. They discovered that since we didn't fire back, we didn't qualify for the Combat Action Medal. So the second time we had incoming, the gun division officer happened to have the watch in the gun director. He said he saw some "puffs of smoke" on the shore, took manual control of the 5" 54 mount and fired back. We got the Combat Action Medal. Great web page! Keep up the good work.

Patrick Bartkus - FTMSN

Daniel Jackson:   

We were underway from Hong Kong with a locker full of duty free booze. Well, you put 5 thirsty sailors in the area with a hacksaw and that lock came off.

I was on sound&security watch at the time When I came on the fantail, there was some guys drinking and hanging out like we were on the love boat. The thing that still gives me chills is one of the guys was hanging over the sides with his feet dangling in the surf, one slip from a watery death. That was all for me. I did like a good sailor. I took me a shot of rum and split.

The next day when the locker was found open and those idiots came to muster pissy drunk, well...Johnnie Cochran couldn't save their asses.

Alan Cantu:   

It was the early eighties when the Navy got serious about drug use. On one morning, they brought the drug dogs on the ship. Within a few minutes, almost every pepper shaker had disappeared from the mess decks! Another time, out at sea, the ship got the movie "Cheech And Chong's Next Movie." The XO not only wouldn't let us watch it, he kept it secured in his stateroom.

Not too long after the "Cheech and Chong" incident, the ship got the movie "Private Benjamin." We were watching it one afternoon, and the film came to a scene where Goldie Hawn and her army buddies are out in the woods, passing a joint around the campfire.

As the joint in the movie made it's rounds, someone up in front yelled... "THE XO DIDN'T GET THIS ONE!" Everyone just *roared* with laughter.

Bob Coon:   

I was on the Somers from January 74 (found her in Hong Kong) through December of 75. Joined out of ET school at Great Lakes. Spent the early times on WestPac - Hong Kong, PI, Singapore, Karachi, back to PI & on to Pearl Harbor. Was in the early Operation Eagle Pull run (cancelled a trip to Australia for it).

Somers was one of the few ships in Pearl during that time to consistently be able to take part in exercises around the islands. She went into the shipyard in '75, for a major overhaul, and my last time out was attempting to pickup ammo & do a shake down. Unfortunately, she ran aground in Pearl while waiting for the barge. She was towed back to the shipyard and had divers blow off one of her damaged props. Shortly after that, I was transferred to Subic, and got out of the Navy in February '77.

The running aground was kind of my Somers send off & fitting in so many ways. I was on forward watch at the time and I recall all the other watches telling the bridge we were inside the channel buoys and being ignored. So we hit bottom, tipped about 15 degrees, & took pictures...

I remember the previous captain - PABST - having two nicknames...Bligh for his general attitude & treatment of the crew (but it kept us all with a common feeling) & Captain Crunch for his inability to take the ship to port without shearing off anything that stuck out from the ship we were docking next to...always wondered what he ended up doing. Lots of stories relating to him I won't often mention.

One thing I have always wanted to get a hold of is a Somers ball cap...I always regretted leaving without one.

The photos on the Somers site appear to be of my westpac I said, I joined it in Hong Kong...lovely spot. Singapore was the best though. Karachi was the absolute opposite...the hole of the world...

Joe Pierce:   

I had the pleasure of being part of the first commissioning crew of the USS Somers DD947. While we were on the first shake down cruise 1959 which was in the North Atlantic, we had an interesting encounter with the Russian Navy.

It started with the approach of a patrol ship about the size of a small D.E. (Frigate.) It's approach was head on and at first I thought it was playing chicken with us. It passed close to starboard and turned to follow us but the Skipper had a different idea and called for more speed . As I recall we were cruising with one boiler on line which is not ideal if you want speed. However, we had enough steam to move away from this unwelcome visitor.

About an hour or so later, it became visually apparent why we had the visit from the patrol boat .The horizon looked like a scene from Victory at sea. Only this was the real thing, and I knew those weren't our ships.

Seems we were in the Russians back yard and they were playing their war games when we happened upon them.

While talking to Capt. Cummings lately he mentioned how humorous it was approaching a surfaced sub of theirs that thought we were one of them. The crew members that were on deck were waving to us and we waved back. Then when we were a side of them they finally woke up. Bells ,horns and whistles filled the air as the crew headed for the hatches and the sub started to crash dive. There must have been some explaining to do for those on watch that day.

I was told shortly after that we were being shadowed by their subs on three points. About a half hour later a PT Boat showed up just skimming the top of the waves. It kept circling us until it got enough pictures of the crew giving them the "high sign" We weren't very good ambassadors that day.

Once the PT. moved away everything turned back to normal. That North Atlantic cruise was the best. The crew of the Somers was treated like royalty every where we went. More on that later.

Jim Grebe:   

Anyone on bridge watch remember the reaction of the O.O.D. to a pair of wonderfully embellished (uh.., so the rumors have it at any rate…) long johns flying proudly from the forward masthead before entering Pearl Harbor after the 1973 Westpac?

Two creative Somersmen from WM Division were reputed to have run up these "colors" one night after a BS session in the 48 radar room. Man, was it dark that night at the foot of the mast…so I'm told at any rate....

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