Jerrel Jones, Fireman, Crewman aboard USS Wantuck 1955 to August 1957.|
Jerrel was one of the few who lit off #2 Boiler in spite of imminent danger of sinking, thereby helping keep Wantuck afloat.
Jerrel added a few personal memories to the newspaper account:
A few days before Wantuck was to take a cruise to Japan she had other problems, a bilge fire, no doubt in #1 boiler room, a reflash watch was set but went to sleep. We had the reflash, but contained it anyway.
A few days later we were underway for Japan running on #1 engine room with #2 boiler and engine room secured. About 180 miles out, August 15 1957, Wantuck was running a Zig-Zag course, no lights, and there were no moon or stars. I was on duty when the Lenawee rammed us amidships on the port side, behind #1 boiler and into #1 engine room, almost tearing us in half. Lenawee's momentum and mass were so great we were stopped dead in the water and driven to starboard. Water rushed in to all adjoining compartments, bulkheads were moving, and two men killed and 5 injured. The injured were burned, and one of the dead was scalded to death by live steam, but the other was trapped in #1 engine room and drowned.
Damage control started the P500 portable gas-operated bilge pumps, and they were all that kept us from sinking for a few hours while #2 boiler was lit off and brought steam pressure up. At 150 lbs a miracle happened and our steam-operated bilge pumps kicked in. Normally, Wantuck's pumps came on-line at 250 lbs and normal operation was at over 600. However this time they did come on and the water in-flow was controlled.
With help, Wantuck then made her way back to San Diego. I don't know who was to blame for the collision, but our skipper was on the bridge at the time and it was the Lenawee that rammed us.
Jerrel Jones, Sun, 29 Dec 2002