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 Sea Stories and Rememberances

These are stories told by men who where there. These are events that can haunt or bring pride for the effort that was accomplished. By any stretch of the imagination, these are human stories.

See also Oddities Page and

Captain Bustard Makes a Bet

There is one story, or incident, that was mentioned by many of our shipmates at the 2002 King reunion. The incident with the loss of the pilot from the carrier Oriskany still sticks in a lot of peoples minds.

In December of 1961 we were on operations with the Oriskany. During daylight flight-ops a pilot had a flame-out and had to ditch his plane. The pilot ejected and landed in the water with no apparent problem. Then a series of instances occurred that caused the problems that resulted in the loss of the pilot. The pilot did not, I repeat did not, disengage himself from his parachute nor did he take his helmet off. He was floating in the water with his life jacket inflated. The King had approached the pilot for pick up and the ship backed down in the water and shut off the propellers. As the pilot drifted toward the King it was noted that his chute was floating toward the ship and was going under water. Still the pilot did not disengage his chute!

As I was a radioman, and not an engineman, I can only repeat that I heard later that the chute was being sucked under the water by the Main Intakes and the pilot was being dragged closer to the ship. Grappling hooks were being thrown over to try and grab the chute, but, none of this worked. Then shipmates went into the water, wearing life jackets, and tried to grab the chute but the life jackets prevented them from going under water after the chute harness cords. Still the pilot did not disengage his chute harness.

I was on the bridge with the Captain and I said that we needed someone in the water without a life jacket so the swimmer could get under water and try to cut the cords of the chute. Capt. Bustard agreed and I grabbed a knife from one of the signalmen and jumped off of the O-1 level into the water. The pilot was now next to the ship where a ladder had been thrown over the side, and the pilot was actually being drawn under and was holding on to the ladder. I managed to cut about half of the chute cords and then, and this I will never forget, the pilot said "don"t let me drown kid". I said I was doing all that I could but then the pressure of the chute pulling was too great and the pilot started going under the ship. Afterwards I had finger nail scrapes on my body from the pilot trying to grab me.

After the incident, approximately two months later, we were shown how to hit a chute harness in the middle of the pilots chest and this would disengage the harness from the pilot. To this day I do not know why the pilot did not get rid of the chute. There was little said about my efforts to save the pilot until the reunion and I'll bet five or six guys talked to me about the accident.

I will never forget the accident nor will I ever believe that the loss of the pilot was a problem with the way the King performed in the rescue operation.

Mike "Shags" Shagena


Crew of the OmyassisdragonDavid A. Nesbitt, STCThe King had a neat routine for downed pilots. When our helo brought them back to the ship, upon landing I took a picture of them egressing the helo, then he was met by the Corpsman, Supply Officer and Stewardsmates that would escort him up to sick bay. The Supply Officer took his flight suit and all undergarments, the Stewards too his flight boots and helmet. As soon as the pilot was checked over, he was given a bath robe and escorted to the wardroom for a steak dinner with all the trimmings. By time he finished that, his clothing had been washed and pressed, his boots and helmet dried and polished, and before he climbed back aboard the helo for the trip back to the carrier, I handed him an 8 X 10 picture of himself. No kidding, one time I was listening to the radio to a pilot that was going down, the Carrier gave him a course to the closest SAR Ship, and his response was " the hell with that, I want a Course to Buccaneer, I want my steak".

Dave Nesbitt

King Motor Whale boat and USS Coontz

USS King motor whaleboat and
USS Coontz (DLG-
Photo by Steve Swintosky

PT Boat Incident

1 July 1966

Tom Mealey, Lt.
(ASW Officer. - 65-67)

Midway Island 1969

The King of the Frigates at Midway Island - 1969

Midway Island reminded me of a Cape Cod beach in places. The gooney birds were a laugh. I found the International date line marker and stood in two different days. One of the things I thought about while there, were the buildings we saw by the pier there for the battle.

The King went past many significant sites in her wanderings. It is too bad that we were not told of the events that occurred there. During a transit from San Diego to Subic Bay, Capt. Jackson took us through "The slot" rather than south of all the Philippine islands. It was at night with a full moon. He sat on his chair on the bridge wing the whole time. I had the mid-watch and he never said a word. It was a long time later that I figured out what he was doing and why we went that way. Passing through those seas we were closer to the battles that happened there than we are to the King today. At the time it was just a significant navigation event during our transit. We did very little coast wise navigation and to be trusted to stand a full watch, alone, in those tight quarters made me feel good.

Bruce Carlsen

David A. Nesbitt, STC
Dave Nesbitt

19 April 2005

I have heard more than one reference to the permanent starboard list that King had. I personally never noticed it, but this AM I came up with a possible cause theory.

In 1961, during Post Shakedown Availability in Bremerton, we all know that King had the NTDS System installed. As part of that installation a 100KW 400 Hz Motor Generator (MG) set was installed. This MG was placed in a previously empty compartment on the starboard side on the 4th platform at about frame 42, it was right next to our SONAR Equipment Room. It was a massive piece of equipment by itself, but there was also the magnetic controller which weighed many tons and that was right up against the starboard bulkhead. My theory is, that is what caused the list.

The reason I remember this is because, to get it onto the ship, they cut a hole in the hull in our berthing compartment that had to be 10 ft wide and about 4 ft high. They did not bother to cover the hole with anything to keep the cold winds from blowing right into the berthing space! Also, in 1966, during my second tour aboard King, the IC Gang was having problems fixing it because they had no one that new about Magnetic Controllers. Since I knew the basic theory of it, the Chief IC (Banks) asked for my help and I spent many hours in that compartment.


27 August 2007

The Accidental ASROC Firing  1966
by Dave Nesbitt

Background : During the WestPac Cruise of 1966 in the Tonkin Gulf it was not uncommon for fighter jets to use King as a target. They would fly just above the water and then pull up just short of hitting the ship. You did not see or hear them until they went screaming overhead; I swear, close enough to touch them..click here to continue


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