Engine Room Flood, 5 September 1967

Part three

By Jack Pusel

On September 5 while ballasted down We suffered a total flooding of After Engine room . The main Sea intake rubber expansion joint in #2 engine room ruptured. I was in Ballast control at that time. We heard the Boiler Tender release  all steam then General quarters .  We had many sea valves open as we were still filling ballast tanks. All power to the rear of the ship was lost so we had to send people to after control / valve room in the very bottom of the ship to hand close the valves . This was quite a process and took time.  Third Deck tanks started back filling from the sea through the valves that were used to drain the tanks . In Ballast Control we noticed the water level coming up in these tank and had to send personal around to close them. There were cross connection valves in #2 engine room that would allow us to pump the tanks with the forward engine room ballast pumps , but they could not be used as no power to open them and they were under water.  Several ships came to our help . We had to open the ballast tank by hand by removing about 36 nuts and removing the covers to the tanks then pump the water out with P 250 and P 500 gas powered water pumps this was a many hour operation . 

Being A Shipfitter Pipe, I was given a blue print of the bottom of the ship and the graded cover of the sea intake.   We took a 1/2 piece of steel about 3 1/2 feet by 6 1/2 feet that weighed about 400 pounds. With the blue prints I knew just where and how the grading on the bottom of the ship was. We drilled holes in the steel plate . We inserted threaded big J bolts in them. We put a rubber sealing gasket around the outside of the plate. We then welded on 4 places where we put CO2 life jackets on. We took the plate and lowered it over the side to waiting divers . The divers then inflated the life jackets as I said the plate weighed about 400 pounds. They then worked it under the ship and over the sea intake grading. They then pushed the J hooks up through the grading and tightened them up to hold the plate in place.   The gasket sealed all the water out. We then could start pumping out the Engine room with the p500 gas water pumps. When it got pumped out I was one of the first to go into the engine room with a Machinist Mate. Our job was to close the valve below the expansion joint. Our plate really worked good as no sea water was coming in. We could then open the cross connection valves by hand and finish pumping the lower ballast tanks with the forward engine room ballast pump. These  steam driven pumps could pump over 10,000 gals of water a minute.  An all hands effort the engine room was cleaned so that we could save as much machinery as possible. We then Steamed to the Philippines arriving on Sept 10.   They cut a hole in our well deck as to get machinery down into the engine room to make necessary repairs. We stayed at Subic till October 6 then departed to Vietnam . 

I received A Meritorious Performance Citation from Captain Matthews for the work I did during the flooding. 

The Engine Room Flood is reported in the Vietnam Cruise Book. Click below to read the log. These materials were contributed by Jack Pusel.

Hermitage Log One

Hermitage Log Two