From day one I was asked if we had any "BIG ONES" on board. I can only tell you we were "nuclear capable" was my answer. Remember when they were called "flying purple people eaters"?
Probably one of the hardest things to get use to was the badges and two-man rule. Practically nothing could be done when you didn't follow the two-man rule. No access to the launcher, control room or magazine without a second man. You couldn't go inside the red circle either. I was told by the ASROC sentry that I would only be warned so many times and then____?____ would happen. I never found out what ____?_____ was. I don't think anyone wanted to find out or carry it beyond that point.
Magazine and control room alarms were another thing. How many times in the course of doing your job did someone open the control room or magazine door before the alarm was de-energized? Remember shutting the door really fast hoping the sound would go away? Also the P.O. of the watch showed up with his hand on his 45. Remember how stupid you felt?
Remember the ICT2PA air monitor? We stuck it's black hose inside the magazine to check for odorless, colorless and tasteless gas. We had no radiation badges. If that would help, I don't know. Too young and dumb to ask.
My favorite memory was painting the inside of the launcher cells that had just fired. It always seemed to be the one you just painted. My back still has the impressions on it from laying on those pipes and snubbers. Remember the joy of climbing into the cell, crawling on your back half way into it only to have to crawl back out when your number two man had to leave the red circle? The launcher never seemed to lack for painting. You just got finished and would start all over again. Remember how when the launcher was put together that the steel and the aluminum would eat away at each other?
We also had the MEST tests. I wanted to thank Allan Walters, my 2nd Class P.O. who supplied me with the wordage for the test over the sound powered phone. "One in common. Two in common, One and two". I sure impressed my Chief that day who was standing beside me and heard me go through the test flawlessly.
Many hours were spent getting ready for the NWAI's and NTPI's. It was during this time that we all worked together and became a team.
At last, the rare day came when we were able to launch an ASROC. During one practice shot, due to some mix-up in communications, one of our torpedoes hit the conning tower of a sub. As for the nuclear tipped ASROC, only one to my knowledge was ever fired. On May 11, 1962, 370 miles from San Diego one was launched from the U.S.S. AGERHOLM (DD-826). The blast was approximately the size of the blast that destroyed Hiroshima.
I wonder how many times the ASROC crew wondered about the power that was at their fingertips?
Check it out at: www.destroyers.org/Ord-Articles/Asroc.htm
from the 1967 Cruise book
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