"As the typhoon began its eastward movement we went west down through the straits and then back towards Okinawa to the Circle." Pete Rector - Chart Author.
Dennis English (SO2)
We were at White Beach, Okinawa, and the 'Gater' Navy pulled out before we did. I can't remember which carrier we were with, but we pulled out of Okinawa to avoid the typhoon. It had flattened Guam, and was headed our way. Our group went into the Taiwan Strait to use the shadow of Taiwan as a shield. It was the first time I had ever seen 3 carriers at sea in the same area. It was also the first time I had ever seen a carrier take water over the bow. The swells were huge. The guys in CIC said the Chinese radars were going nuts because of all the Navy in the Strait.
Pete Rector (CWO4)
Her name was Karen. She was categorized as a super typhoon, and flattened the island of Guam. We emergency sortied from Buckner Bay with 12-foot swells in the harbor. If you remember the cans were nested at the pier and we were rubbing the paint off the sides of them because of the swells.
The carrier was the USS Kitty Hawk on her first westpac. The Admiral figured the typhoon would turn and head into China or turn out to sea but they weren't sure, so the only thing to do was to head toward the typhoon and then when it turned, we would go the other way.
It had some of the biggest waves I've ever seen. When the Duncan dropped into the trough, all you could see was water everywhere, with a bit of sky at the top of the waves. Then the bow would bite the next wave and the old girl would shudder until we hit the top of the wave. There you could see for miles, the Kitty Hawk was taking green water over the flight deck and when her bow came up you could see daylight between the keel and the water. An "E" ride for sure. Now, I'd be scared to death.
The first night out while on watch in comm, we heard the carrier ask how the small boys were riding, and LCDR Mollison (OPS) for COMDESRON 9 answered that the small boys were riding fine. Almost immediately, the Mansfield came up and said they were changing course, they were taking 50 plus degree rolls and their maximum was 55 or 56.
Then all night we pitched and rolled big time because of the course changes. In communications, we had an operating position break the steel straps holding it to the bulkhead. The operator sitting at that position cleared the chair without touching it. I yelled grab the receivers, and he said you grab em!
Dennis English (SO2)
I remember seeing those carriers rock n roll, and like you said we'd go up and down, but the swell period was great enough to keep us out of trouble. Yes, I remember putting some kind of rig on the boat davits, and that rig was suppose to hold the module in order to bring it out of the water.
I remember one night we took a 48-degree roll according to scuttlebutt, and the Mansfield reportedly took a 59-degree roll and came back. When you hear this stuff 2nd or 3rd hand all you could do is listen, but we certainly did a lot of rolling around at times. The typhoon track was white east of 135 degrees, but it looked pretty good.
Jim Mead (DK2)
I also remember the typhoon. I have told this story to many sailors over the years and they all said it never happened. It is and was the only time in my 24 years in the Navy that I sat in the Disbursing Office with a life jacket on. It was the worst ride of my life, and I remember the skipper getting on the 1MC and saying that we just took a 48-degree roll. Sailors have told me that no Destroyer could take that kind of a roll, but we did also. I was in Taipei a few years later, and you could see the watermarks on buildings that were 15 feet high, and we were told it was from Typhoon Karen. How well I remember her. Never thought we would make it through the night. I have never been sea sick, but boy was I sick of the sea after going through Miss Karen.