All posts by Romondo Davis

About Romondo Davis

I am an internet marketing consultant and content developer with a passion for creating online communities. Because I am a proud veteran of the US Navy and USS Conserver crew, I consider developing and maintaining this website pure joy.

Frank Knox on the Rocks

Provided by David Griffin

USS Conserver on USS Frank Knox salvage operation 1965 image11 October 1965

The message and letters quoted below indicate the esteem and Pride which the Conserver has earned from her superiors as a result of your successful efforts in refloating the U.S.S. Frank Knox (DDR-742) on 24 August 1965.

During the period of 24 July through 26 August, which included the task towing the Knox stern first to Kaohsiung, you willingly worked long arduous hours against seemingly insuperable odds with no though of reward other than seeing the Frank Knox float again.

Your devotion to duty, diligence and continued demonstration of professional skill aided immeasurably in seeing this mission through to its successful conclusion. Your indomitable spirit and outstanding performance were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Fm: SECNAV 251122Z AUG 65
TO: COMSEVENTHFLT

Salvage operations on grounding of USS Frank Knox imageI have followed with great interest the salvage operations on USS Frank Knox. It is apparent that the operations were successfully completed only though the perseverance, skill, and ingenuity of the officers and enlisted personnel involved. Please extend my personal well done to all concerned.

Paul H. Nitze,
Secretary of the Navy

Commander Task Force 73 Letter serial 1603 of 13 September 1965

U.S.S. Conserver participated in this successful operation and CTF 73 desires to commend the Commanding Officer, Officers and Enlisted men for their significant contribution, From the time of arrival at the salvage scene on 24 July until arrival Kaohsiung with Frank Knox in two 26 August, Conserver provided maximum support by applying all phases of salvage technique both prior to and during the vital foaming operations. Conserver may be justifiably proud of the role she played in salvage of Frank Knox. Well Done!

J.W. Williams Jr.

Commander Service Squadron Five letter serial N1/1041 of 24 September 1965

Without the “Can Do” attitude, devotion to duty, spirit of cooperation and outstanding performance of the Officers and Men of Conserver, the successful salvage of Frank Knox well have been Jeopardized.

M.E. Draper Chief of Staff F.A. Hilder, LCDR, USN Commanding Officer

Cruise Memorabilia and Memories of Danang

I wrote this for the first version of the USS Conserver website over 12 years ago.

Do you own a collection of Navy memorabilia? Do you sometimes wonder why the heck you held onto it for all these years? My wife, bless her heart, has been on my case for 21 years to dispose of the uniforms, white hats, belts (a good 6 inches too short to fit around my 48 year-old waist), and a variety of shipboard paperwork and Westpac souvenirs.

S A Bar Card KeelungI didn’t know until recently that saving this junk would pay off in a big way. You may or may not agree that seeing some of this stuff on this website is fun and brings back fond memories. I may be providing a small degree of enjoyment for my visitors. Regardless, if I’m the only one who gets a charge of seeing scans of special request chits and bar cards from liberty ports, keeping this stuff on hand for all these years is justified.

How many of you bought one of those custom-made stainless steel watch bands in Subic? How many of you still wear it? I am still wearing mine. I’ve worn it every day since I got it back in 1973, except for maybe a year or two when I was between watches that would fit it. I don’t remember seeing any quite like mine. I chose to not have my rating or any other insignia applied to the band because I just preferred the look. And I guess I was looking ahead to when I was out of the Navy and might have to explain to a perfect stranger what the Engineman’s cog on my watch band meant. Besides, I never was excited about being an Engineman, even though I seemed to enjoy operating and maintaining those big Caterpillar D-399s.

One of the subjects I think about now and then is our time in and around Danang Harbor in the summer of 1972. I remember entering the harbor early in the morning and seeing that waterfall high on the hill off to the starbord side as we steamed into port. We anchored in the harbor by day and got underway every evening after dinner to steam up and down the coast as part of Operation Market Time, trying to intercept gun runners.

I remember long hot days anchored there in that big harbor. I was a mess cook at the time and had a lot of free time during the day between meals. I was fascinated by the jellyfish that drifted by, so much so that I tried to catch them with a makeshift sein. I took a number 10 tin can from the galley trash and punched holes in it with a marlin spike. Then I strung a piece of that orange line used to shoot a mooring line to the pier to the top of the can. Then I’d lower the can over the fantail and pull it up just when a jellyfish floated over it. I remember catching a few of the slimy critters, but even though comissaryman Diego told me jellyfish stew was a Filipino delicacy, I just threw them back into the harbor.

FA Davis on Repel Swimmer Watch in DanangAnother recollection I have of Vietnam was the watch we had posted on the weather decks for hostile swimmers. Someone from deck force was assigned the watch to roam the deck with an M-16 looking for saboteurs carrying explosive charges to attach to the hull. None were ever sighted, but I remember some of the watches firing at floating debris. The CO eventually put a stop to that.

On a couple of occasions we tied up to a pier in Danang to take on stores and water. Durning those short periods of time, concussion grenades were dropped over the side every 20 or 30 minutes to discourage swimmers who might wish to put Conserver on the bottom. I remember being in the engine room and being showered with pieces of rust when those concussion grenades were detonated.

I went ashore twice, as I remember. The first time was in Danang to get food stores. Gunner Ralston and some of the divers lead the working party, wearing their greens and carrying 45s or M-16 for protection. To this day I have this strange sense that I could hear projectiles whizzing past my head as if snipers were trying to pick us off.

In the workboat to China Beach image
Kitchen, Beach, Rickard, Davis Knutson
The other time I went ashore there was at China Beach, outside the harbor, for a little bit of liberty. The work boat took us in and dropped us in jellyfish infested water. I remember being with EN3 Kitchen on the beach for maybe an hour or so. Then we caught a ride to the exchange or possibly just for a drive around the base. While I was riding in the back of this pickup truck, a motorcycle pulled up along side between us and the curb. The passenger on the bike grabbed my watch band and tried to rip it off. I pulled my arm back and the riders immediately went down a narrow alley. It’s strange that I don’t remember if they got my watch or not. I think they did.

After the ride, and it’s funny that I don’t remember where we went or who was driving, we returned to China Beach to meet the work boat for our ride back to the ship. We stopped at a pier on the way and got off the boat for some reason. Later that evening, as we were weighing anchor and getting underway, I was preparing to drag a swab. Unfortunately, I was playing out the line as the Pilot house issued an all back full to the Master Control. The swab and line got caught in the screw and was pulled under. It was a good thing my foot was not fouled in the line or I would have gone under, too.

One of the few times we tied up to the pier in Danang, we got a call to get underway immediately to assist the USS Lang which was dead in the water in the Gulf of Tonkin. It was mid-afternoon when we got underway. The next morning at sunrise I went to the fantail to see what seemed like a hundred ships there. I was over-come with amazement by the sight of the force those ships represented. I was impressed to see so many ships, not only in one place, but underway and operating together. I would love to have been part of such a task force. Meanwhile, the Lang, underway on one engine, beat us into Subic by a half a day.

Unofficial 1972 Westpac cruise log

I kept this log on my first Westpac cruise. The last several dates who question marks because I left the ship in Subic to fly home on leave.

Month Date Time Entry
April
22
1000 Left Pearl Harbor for Guam
May
5
0700 Arrived Guam
 
7
0800 Left Guam for Subic Bay
 
12
1330 Arrived Subic Bay
 
26
1600 Left Subic for Mindoro Straits job
 
27
0900 On station – Mindoro Straits
 
28
1900 Underway for Subic
 
30
0800 Arrived Subic Bay
June
8
1510 Underway for Danang
 
9
2100 Changed course for burning ship – V/M Galinda
 
10
1600 Arrived on scene V/M Galinda – 10 dead, 38 rescued by ?
 
11
0200 Left Galinda for Danang
 
13
0830 Anchored Danang Harbor
 
30
0800 Left Danang for Triton Island for salvage job on beached ship
July
1
2200 Arrived Triton Island – Falcon Lady
 
3
1700 Left Triton Island – Reclaimer pulled her off
 
6
1000 Arrived Kaoshiung, Taiwan
 
10
0800 Left Kaoshiung for Hong Kong
 
10-13
  Rode out Typhoon Susan.
 
14
1600 Moored to buoy in Hong Kong Harbor
 
18
0800 Left Hong Kong for Subic Bay
 
20
0800 Arrived Subic Bay
August
3
0900 Left Subic Bay for Danang
 
4
2340 Class "C" fire on #4 Main Engine – no casualties
 
6
0800 Anchored off Tan My – LST aground up river
 
7
0900 Second LST ran aground
 
10
1600 Both LSTs are free
 
1900 Underway for Danang
 
11
0800 Anchored Danang
 
26
1130

Left Danang for Gulf of Tonkin to take USS Lang DE-1060 under tow.

 
2200 Arrived at Lang – underway under own power. Followed her to
Subic.
 
29
0830 Arrived Subic Bay
September
1
0800 Left Subic Bay for Singapore
 
6
0900 Arrived Singapore
 
14
0800 Left Singapore for Bangkok via equator
 
15
1800 Crossed equator going south
 
16
1000 Crossed equator going north
 
18
1300 Arrived Bangkok – anchored in river
 
23
0900 Left Bangkok for Danang
 
27
0800 Arrived Danang
October
1
1800 Underway for Kaoshiung
 
5
2000 150 miles away from Kaoshiung, rerouted to Subic Bay
 
7
1740 Arrived Subic Bay
 
23
0800
Left Subic Bay for Midway
 
?
  Arrived Midway after riding heavy seas
 
?
  Underway for Pearl Harbor
November
12
1000 Arrived Pearl Harbor

Conserver Caps

USS Conserver Ball Cap imageTaking a head count (sorry) to see how many crew members would purchase one of these. The vendor I’m looking at describes them like this: “5 panel wool blend cap. Has adjustable plastic strap closure. Made in the USA. ”

I’m pricing them out at various quantities to get the best price. The more we order, the lower the price. The preliminary price I got for a quantity of 100 is $18.70. Whatever price I get will only be marked up to cover my shipping and handling costs, first class USPS.

Please comment below with a “yes” or “no” if you would order at least one.

 

Short Timers

Romondo Davis short timer imageI was flipping trough my Navy photos when I came across this gem — that of the unshaven face of a serious short timer. I’m posing showing the open door of my locker in the engine shop where I kept my tools, geedunks, audio cassettes, etc.

On the inside of the locker door, along with a full page magazine ad for my dream car— a British racing green Triumph Spitfire — was the face of a discarded oil pressure gauge that I had repurposed and labeled with a dymo gun as, “Davis’ Handy-Dandy Short Timers Gauge.” Each day I would decrement the red gauge hand one day closer to my discharge, and then taunt my buddies with it.

Assuming most of us were as anxious to move on as I was, I open up discussion here for stories of how we counted down the days to departure or discharge. Let the fun begin.