Engine Room Flood, 5 September 1967

Part One


Photos and text by Gene Wiehagen

Tuesday, 5 Sept 1967
According to the log:
Early that morning the ship had rendezvoused with the USS Pollux (AKS-4) for replenishments. We completed replenishing at 0706 and returned to our OP Area supporting Battalion Landing Team 2/3 in the contingent waters of South Vietnam. The crew was mustered on station at 0730 and the ballast detail was set at 0807. At 0816, all engines stopped. General Quarters was sounded at 0838 and condition zebra was set. The after engine room was flooding due to a ruptured rubber expansion joint between the main condenser and the main scoop injection valve. The engine room was evacuated at 0843. Two LCMs made up to the bow with 400 feet of tow line. The water level was now 6 feet from the overhead in the engine room. At 1119 crews commenced pumping the ballast tanks with portable pumps. The divers did not complete patching and plugging all the hull openings in the after engine room until 1919.
Wednesday, 6 Sept 1967
The USS Duluth LPD-6 was standing by to provide assistance. The dewatering of the engine room continued until 0425. At 0558 the starboard engine was set ahead 2 knots to test the shaft. At 0620 the starboard engine was set ahead for 5 knots while maneuvering off Hue River inlet. At 1045 we set course to Da Nang, South Vietnam dropping anchor in anchorage 21 at 1648.

The ship departed Da Nang for Subic Bay a few days later where repairs were conducted.
The ships log contains no record of the actions taken and long hours put in by the entire crew to deal with this accident. Every shipmate has a story to tell. Some of the pictures I took that day were from on board and others were taken from the ships’ PL. I had volunteered to be the radio operator for a few hours. The next few days the ET gang helped with the removal of small motors and other electrical equipment from the engine room. We cleaned them as best we could and brought them up to the flight deck to dry out. I had no idea how complex an engine room was as I had never been down there before.
I was very fortunate to be able to capture a portion of my experience in these photographs and hope that other shipmates will enjoy seeing them.


Operations Division/ET gang that served during the Vietnam Cruise. From left to right: ENS Oretel, Chief L. Rosa, D. Gross, H. Sann, W. Anderson, R. Collier, G. Wiehagen, R. Thompson, and J. Gross.

  • Port wing wall - diver in well deck

  • UDT on PL with mattresses

  • UDT on PL with mattresses

  • Hermitage listing to port

  • Hermitage listing to port water being pumped

  • “34” half way under water

  • Crew using pumps

  • UDT in PL off port side

  • Crane lowering bumper

  • Landing craft alongside to help
  • Water being pumped out

  • PL alongside with divers

  • Bow raised but not quite out of water

  • View from a distance

  • Two swimmers in well deck

  • Crew manning pumps

  • Swimmers in water

  • Crew manning pumps - USS Duluth in distance