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Home > Former Crew Members Corner > September 2008 > An Event I Remember
An Event I Remember
Intrepid Teens Blog
Posted: 9/15/2008 4:05:18 PM

It was a cold day in January, a month before our departure for a 7 month cruise to operate as part of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.

For some unknown reason, we sailed out of Norfolk one day and while off the Virginia coast went to flight operations, launching a number of A4D’s. Then, later in the day we proceeded to perform a refueling exercise with the USS Canisteo, a large Navy oil tanker. We pulled along side the oiler, got our lines across, and start the refueling operation. The ocean looked rough, icy cold and ominous. Many of our personnel scratched their heads and wondered, what are we doing out here refueling in rough seas one month before we have to leave for the Med. Parking a 42,000 ton aircraft carrier along side of a 553 ft. long oil tanker is no small feat , let alone doing it in rough seas. Things were going well enough when all of a sudden the oiler veered to port and slammed into the Intrepid! The two ships were locked together scraping alongside and causing damage to both ships. The general alarm sounded “ collision at sea” which was the equivalent of going to General Quarters, closing all doors and hatches, and personnel going to their assigned damage control stations. For what seemed to be an eternity , the ships were stuck together! Then finally they became separated. Any kind of spark could have started a fire either with the fuel oil or aviation gas that had spilled or was stored aboard. We were thankful and relieved that nothing worse came of it. No one was injured nor was there any loss of life. Our B&A crane punched a hole in the tanker revealing the after crew berthing quarters. For the Intrepid, many of the gun sponsons, rails and ladders on the starboard side were torn up or damaged. We sadly made our way back to port and headed for Portsmouth where shipyard crews assessed the damage and proceeded to make repairs.

There was a Board of Inquiry, and our Captain, Capt. Masterton, kept his job. Speculation was that the other Captain’s naval career came to an end. In accidents like this, someone will be held accountable as in this case. We left for the Med on February 13th, 1959 with everyone on the ship wondering, “did we really need to go to sea in January and do a refueling exercise?”