COB  Overboard
by  Kenneth  DeKing
29  May  2006
We were starting out on some kind of NATO exercise, heading south toward Florida, when
a header cracked on one of the engines in the after engine room. I'm sure Pat Gurr can tell
us more about that incident. We went into Port Everglades and a new header was flown to
us. The header was loaded via the after torpedo room torpedo loading hatch. We had to
remove the cabinets in the center of the maneuvering room so the header could be rigged
through the compartment. Then the cracked one was rigged back aft and onto the deck.
Once the new header was in the after engine room we had to leave port because a
hurricane was coming. We headed out to sea and it was getting rough. As soon as
possible, a crew went topside to push the old header overboard. I was on duty as
starboard controllerman when we got an alarm "Man overboard, this is no drill". We must
have had those diesels really smoking to get turned around and get the man picked up. We
learned later that the COB had caught his ring on a stud and got pulled over with the
header. When he pulled the cord to inflate his life jacket, nothing happened. He had to
inflate it by mouth while he was trying to swim with his shoes on. The rescue was
successful, and as soon as the COB got his wind back, he ordered every lifejacket on the
boat inspected to see if they had CO2 cartridges, most of them did not. The Chief was a
little embarrassed because it was his duty to see that this had been done. No one ever
knew why the cartridges were gone or how long it had been that way, but we were all
happy that we didn't lose our COB.
We rode out that hurricane for many days, and I don't remember when the enginemen
actually got to install the new header.
Note -- there are photos on the Photos page of the enginemen working on removing and
replacing the header.
This is a continuation of the COB overboard story I wrote about a few years ago. As I am
writing this, Hurricane Irene is churning toward the outer banks and it reminded me of our
experience with Gracie in October '59. I remember snorkeling on the surface because the
main induction kept flooding. We tried to change course to get clear of the storm but Gracie
kept following us wherever we went. Storm trackers on shore were very happy to have a
ship on station in the storm for several days and we heard they got a lot of valuable
information from us. We had a home made inclinometer in the maneuvering room that
registered some 65 degree rolls.
If anyone is interested you can look up the stats of that storm on line. We had 140 MPH
winds and they describe how the storm kept changing directions for 5 days, and we were
in it the whole time.