In Dire Straits of Gibraltar

I had never taken the ship through the Straits before as the OOD.  Now I was expected to do so while the rest of the ship—including the Captain—was fast asleep.

The OOD briefed me quickly on the situation.  No surprises, just ships, lots of them.  When the brief was over, I gave the required salute and uttered the words which gave me legal authority—and personal accountability—for the rest of my watch: “I relieve you, Sir.”

“I stand relieved,” he replied and announced that “LTJG Connors, has the deck and the conn.”  The Quartermaster duly noted the fact in the log.  The ship was mine and he handed me the “badge of authority,” a pair of binoculars which I quickly adjusted to my eyesight.

He left immediately to prepare his log entries.

I quickly surveyed the light show all around me, then glanced at the status board.  All the lights agreed with the grease pencil X’s on the board.  None of the X’s were tracking into the center of the board—on a collision course with us.  So far, so good.
Half an hour later, things were about the same, but even more ships.  We were right in the middle of the Straits and what seemed like hundreds of white, red and green lights were in constant motion all around us.

I was just beginning to relax a little when something interrupted power to the bridge.  We “lost the load” on the generator supplying power to virtually all the equipment on the bridge.  No radar, no status board, no anything.  Just hundreds of lights all around us.

In seconds our busy status board was useless, history, “toast.”  There was no way to enter new data.

Inside, I was in a state of panic.  Here I was, 23 years old, responsible for a multi-million dollar ship, 90 aircraft and nearly 5,000 men, most of whom were sleeping soundly below, and I was steaming at nearly full speed through the Straits of Gibraltar at midnight—without radar.  It was one of my worst moments.

Continued on Page 5 below…

© Copyright 2018 BelleAire Press

Other works by Dr. Connors

Baited Trap, the Ambush of Mission 1890

Now Available As E-Pub

Baited Trap, The Ambush of Mission 1890 is the story of helicopter rescue Mission 1890, one of the most heroic—and costly—air rescues of the Korean War. This harrowing Air Force-Navy mission is explained in compelling detail, creating a detailed personal account of what five incredibly brave and determined Air Force and Navy airmen achieved on June 25, 1952 in the infamous “Iron Triangle.”

The Korean War’s Greatest Love Story

Baited Trap is much more than a heroic war story from the “forgotten war.” It is also the Korean War’s greatest love story, following Wayne and Della Lear, Bobby Holloway, Ron Eaton and Dolly Sharp, and Frankie and Archie Connors as they tried to put their lives and families together even as the Korean War was reaching out to engulf them.

Truckbusters From Dogpatch: the Combat Diary of the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing in the Korean War, 1950-1953

Truckbusters from Dogpatch is the most comprehensive Korean War unit history yet prepared–over 700 pages summarizing squadron histories and first person accounts—and includes over 1,000 never before published photographs and images, highlighted by the 8 ½ x 11-inch format.

Arguably, Truckbusters From Dogpatch is the most authoritative unit history ever prepared on the Korean War. In addition to consulting formerly classified squadron histories filed monthly throughout the conflict, the author was in touch with hundreds of veterans of the 18th—pilots and ground crew—whose personal recollections add vivid detail and emotion to the facts recounted in the official documents.

Recent Log Entries by CAPT Connors…
Carrier Captain’s Night Orders: “Call Me…”

After reading these Night Orders you can better appreciate what training, attention to duty, and vigilance was required by underway watchstanders in those days. What has changed since then that has resulted in the recent tragic collisions between U.S. Navy ships and other vessels?

“We do it all!” (USS Saipan LHA-2 motto)

Saipan CO, CAPT Jack Renard, was not exaggerating when he noted that “without exception, SAIPAN is the most versatile instrument of peace or war on the seas today.” Like its motto pointed out, SAIPAN could do it all.

About Tracy Connors

Tracy D. Connors graduated from Jacksonville University (AA), University of Florida (BA), the University of Rhode Island (MA), and Capella University (Ph.D. with Distinction, human services management, 2013). Ph.D. (Honorary), Leadership Excellence, Jacksonville University, December, 2013. Designated a "Distinguished Dolphin" by Jacksonville University, Feb. 2, 2010.