Letter from the commanding officer of Hull at the time of this incident, Jim McConville Captain USN
Hull was Senior in command of three ships
returning from deployment. Once directed to conduct search and rescue from shore
we set up search patterns and were later joined by a Coast Guard plane which
spotted the lifeboat. Hull sent the other two ship on to San Diego
while we picked up the survivors.
Marge Lasrsen was the one female, of the three rescued, and the crew
brought all sorts of things to her such as perfume and dainties etc.. Since
HULL did not have huge fuel storage tanks a tanker was sent to
refuel. We played a couple of great jokes on the tanker crew: Marge had taught
navigation as a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. While we were hooked to the
oiler the word was passed for the navigator to report to the bridge. We arranged
for her to be in khakis and she exited from the main deck aft while coming to
the bridge. She got on the phone talking to the oiler's navigator in proper
terms and said she was one of ten females aboard as an experiment and quickly
left the bridge. You could almost see the word being relayed on the oiler.
Remember this was before we had women aboard our ships. Next we put the captain
of the tug on the phone and he explained to the oiler skipper that Admiral Z had
directed him to look at civilianizing oilers. The tug skipper gave his fake
credentials as a ship builder and a personal friend of Admiral Z.
The tug was on it's way to Indonesia and the skipper had intended to
replace the lines on the life boat but time did not permit. How fortunate in
that the weak lines permitted the boat to surface as the tug went down and it
went down in short order of less than two minutes. Marge got the SOS out and
HULL, which I'm sure participated in many search and rescues, was
able to help some fellow seaman.
Jim McConville Captain USN (ret)
Account of rescue supplied by Doug
Hisey xMM2 ‘71-‘74
I recall the rescue as being 12/20/73 starting at about
1130 after being diverted to search the afternoon before. We answered all ahead
FLANK @ 223rpm for 25 kts. to intercept the life boat. Don Ward and I were the
respective Tops in Aft Fire and Enginerooms. Rescue and Assistance detail was
called shortly after we were relieved at 1145. I went back down with a “whatever
I could get” sandwich in my teeth to relieve John Lee MM2. John was the
Captain’s 1JV Talker from April 1972 until we entered the yards in 1974. I saw
both my cruises through John’s eyes and commentary from his excellent vantage
point. The 1JV was always on the Aft Engine room amplified SP phone speaker,
except when we were eavesdropping on the X1JV. The rescue was completed with the
sinking of the waterlogged lifeboat using “the 50’s” when we were unable to
hoist it aboard. We turned again for San Diego by mid afternoon. Unfortunately
at only 18 knots … but that’s another story – oil embargo politics and the 945
class’ notoriously short legs.
Less than 24 hours later at precisely 1135 12/21/73 as I logged it, #2B
boiler suffered major tube ruptures. At least one of the survivors of the
Marpole was in the passageway above the Fire room as well as 30 or so people
queuing in the noon chow line. The smoke and concussion from the rupture filled
the passageway immediately as all ventilation and power dropped out aft. MMCM
Page was EOOW at the time of the boiler explosion and recovery. BTCM Putnum was
not on watch and jumped (inadvisably) from the Chiefs’ Mess into the fireroom as
Ward, Strauss, Tafoya and Rupert successfully evacuated the fireroom and
promptly secured Main and Auxiliary steam from the “remotes” on the main deck.
After reporting status to Main Control the fireroom Watch remotely operated the
Aft Fireroom cross-connect valves to promptly and safely restore steam aft.
The watchstanders knew that the valves that needed to be secured were
inaccessible in the fireroom (the main steam valve was only a few feet from the
ruptured tubes) and that the best and quickest way to isolate and recover was to
leave the space. Very fortunately there were only minor injuries. Tafoya was
unlucky enough to have been jumping the “hump” ladder above the starboard
propeller shaft and was launched into the booster pumps. The fantail watch was
scalded by the some of the 125,000 pounds of steam and water that went out the
stack and into the fireroom in about 5 seconds. Ward had some great bruises from
being launched from the burner front of #2B boiler into #2A boiler. The
professional actions of the fireroom watch and leadership of chief Page (and
others) very likely saved BTCM Putnum from being cooked at “1275 at 950”. I
don’t know that he ever knew how close he came to “Buying it” by jumping down
the “hole” with nothing but his trusty “snipe’s rag” to breathe through. There
was not much to be done in the fireroom … it was “already blowed-up” as they say
It worked out OK (like the old ropes holding the lifeboat to the Marpole).
The chief didn’t become a casualty and Hull again was making
“Liberty-turns” for home in about half an hour. Lots of Liberty-turns btw… we
were a day late and a day out.
At just after midnight on 12/23/73 we dealt with the hole in the bottom,
flooding and “water cooled” spring bearing damage in the starboard shaft alley.
Mike Riley (DCA) and I dove through 4 feet of water and 35 gallons of 2190 TEP
to (eventually) find the hole and attempt to find and fix the bilge suction
obstruction. My ’73 crew included Lee, Young, Meincke, Evans, Panke, Scotty,
Base, Baker, Bisson, Crosby, and apologies to the names that will come to me
after I hit send. The last 72 hours of that cruise proved that it’s never over
until it’s over. It was good to get that one behind us. There was plenty of work
to be done in the upcoming yard period.
We finally arrived in San Diego 12/23/73. I relieved EMCS Straley (who had
flown to SD from Hawaii and missed all the fun) as Duty Engineer on the morning
of 12/24/73, Christmas Eve. I remember it well, the shaft alley was flooded
again and it’s hard to get a “doughnut” at 32nd St. on Christmas Eve.
Regards to Hull shipmate! Doug Hisey xMM2 ‘71-‘74