Flying and landing at sea

(Click the image above)

One of the memories I have of being at sea on a Navy destroyer is Underway Replenishment (UNREP). Often we would steam alongside a big supply ship and take on fuel while steaming 15 knots or so. Often the supply ship would have a couple of giant twin rotor helicopters and they would load of pallets of Ammo or food and drop the pallet of on our fantail where an all-hands working party would stow it all away.

Watching these helicopters was like watching an aerial circus. When they left delivering to our ship, they would often spin around several times on the rear rotor on the way back to get more stuff. It sure looked like those pilots were having fun.


After all these years (1966-2016), I finally met one of those pilots. And yes, it was at sea – this time on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in the Mediterranean.

Fred noticed my Navy hat and we started talking. I soon found out that he was one of those pilots, and “yes it was a blast” he told me.


4 responses to “Flying and landing at sea

  1. I remember those resupply ops well, especially one night in the gulf of Iran and the H46 that was backing back off our deck lost power and settled in the water. everyone got out and were picked up quickly. We were on our way to try and rescue the embassy personnel in Tehran.

  2. Ron Vander Griend

    They were great days unless you had to take the bucket across on the supply line or unless you had to do an emergency break away because some other ship was in your path and did not move out of your path.

    • Hi Ron … good to hear from you. Never had the pleasure of taking the bucket, but a shipmate, Mike Casillas, was badly hurt and went over on a stretcher.
      I remember a breakaway we did once in the late 1960s when I was on my reserve ship USS Shields DD-596. You can read about it in my book starting on page 112. The story of the Murphy was actually the story that started me on my way to the book, because it reminded me of my own collision and how disastrous it could have been. And by the way, the other tin can fueling that day was the Aderholt — were you there?

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