1st Korean Cruise (1951-52)

“Typhoon!” Part II

Memory from: Bill Wells

Setting the Scene

We related in an earlier story from Bill Wells, one of the KIDD's damage control assistants during the Korean War. Bill told of how the KIDD ran into a typhoon off the Korean coast while returning to port in Japan for repairs with only one propeller operating. This next story comes from Richard Springer who was a corpsman aboard ship at that time. Here, Richard relates his experiences in the midships passagewayóBill was on the bridgeóduring that same typhoon. As you can see, while the bridge crew was busy keeping the ship from being swamped, Richard and his shipmates farther aft were busy trying to keep the ship from being torn apart.

The Recollection

I don’t remember whether it was before we went to Hong Kong or after, but it was in the month of December when we encountered a typhoon. I realize the art of predicting the weather then was not as sophisticated as it is now, but one would think that we could have been forewarned by some method to be able to avoid a typhoon. Being a corpsman, I was located in the midship’s passageway. There were several of us there, and we were listening to the 40mm gun [ammunition] boxes sliding all over the deck above us. They had been torn loose from the deck by the terrific waves hitting the ship. Someone volunteered to go up and try to secure them in some manner, so we tied a rope around him and sent him out into the fierce typhoon. I don’t know where the rope came from. It was somewhere close by. Five or ten minutes passed when there was a banging on the hatch. It was our man who had volunteered. When we opened the hatch and let him in, all that he was wearing was the rope that had been tied around him. He was suffering from exhaustion and exposure.

Outside of sickbay, there wasóor isóa clinometer [device used to measure the roll of the ship]. I was standing there looking at it, and at one point, the ship took a 59-degree roll. I thought we were going to go over. Somehow we managed to survive the typhoon. I was told that there was another ship in our division or nearby that had its 5-inch gun mount taken right off the fantail as though it was cut with a sharp knife. There was some new ensigns that had come aboard prior to our going on Formosa patrol, and they were laying in the passageway near sickbay doing the “vomitus projectus.” They were not feeling too good. With the modern technical equipment that we have today, I am sure that we would not have been in harm’s way.

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