Thomas "Rosey" Rosenberg, GMT2 (Ret)
W Division - 1968-1971
U.S.S. HANCOCK (CV-19)

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A run in with the USS Camden AOE-2
(Fast Combat Support Ship)
November 26, 1968

Uss Camden AOE-2 Picture Courtesy of
Navsource.org

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I have read some of the other entries about the collision with the USS Camden so thought I'd add my memory of that day. I was a GMT3 in "W" Div at the time and on occasion we would "volunteer" to help with the un-rep, especially if there were lots of stores, bombs and other miscellaneous supplies coming over.

Since our division was fairly small, I and another seaman were put on a detail with some folks from, I believe, "G" Div. I remember we had made at least a few trips taking stores below (after 44 years it's hard to remember the minor details) and when I returned to the hanger bay looking out one of the doors all I could see was a wall of grey! I was thinking to myself "that does not look right" and also wondering if they decided just to start throwing the supplies onto our deck or, as they were close enough, just handing them across to our crew!

About that time I heard just about the loudest horn ever and sailors came running into the hanger bay! Some covered with black oil and their eyes as big as half dollars; others running and laughing while looking back at what was happening, but basically getting the hell out of the way just as fast as they could! I was also hearing the very loud ka-boom, clang, bang, bam and the terrible ripping, tearing and screeching sound of metal- it was something I had never heard before or for that matter since.

There seemed to be sailors running and shouting all over the place, most heading to the safety of the hanger bay and some coming to the starboard side to aid and assist if needed. There was oil, hoses and lines flying around and as I started to head to the starboard aircraft elevator I could see bits and pieces of other things in the air too. Of course all this took about a minute or so, maybe a little less or maybe a little more as the two ships began to separate.

I then decided I needed a better view so kept heading toward the elevator and could then see about the same thing going on over on the Camden with sailors yelling and scrambling on their deck. About that time I realized I was seeing a most amazing sight- there was an F8 sitting on her deck wrapped up in oil and transfer lines! It also looked like a couple of men were getting someone out of the cockpit or off the nose of the fighter.

As I looked forward I could also see "wrinkles" on the Camden about 30-40 feet aft of her bow, maybe 8 to 10 feet long. Kinda like a fender bender between two cars (older model real metal cars that is) but much bigger of course!

About that time a chief started yelling at us to "get the hell out of here unless you are damage control or corpsman as there would not be any more Un-rep today!!" (Those are not exactly the words he used but knowing others besides old salts might read this….) I hurried down to our spaces and to the Magazine where most of our guys were working on a couple of weapons and told them the story- but of course they would not believe me as they had not felt or noticed anything! About that time the 1MC started squawking and they knew then something had happened and they started pumping me with questions. I did not get a long look as when a chief barks, you move, but do remember there was quite a bit of damage to the Camden and I do believe a few sailors on the Camden were injured but none were serious.

I also remember that the scuttlebutt was the plane captain of the F8 was in the cockpit and went over with it. (I think that's what I saw - them pulling him out). It was also put out that our Captain was going to write him up for going UA but that in his defense he did "stay with his ship "and that the Camden had taken him by force!! ha!

The Hanna sustained some damage to the starboard elevator and along the catwalk area but again, I can't remember for sure if we had to pull off the line, but I believe our repair crews (what divisions or who did flight deck repairs?) got out their bubblegum, bailing wire, hammer, pliers and screw drivers and using their own initiative, innovation, elbow grease and sweat, kept us flying just like most times. It was hard to keep our ship from flying our missions! Our flight days were many and our down times were few, if any. This was my first cruise and quite an experience for a simple country boy from the Siskiyou Mountains!!

Thomas "Rosey" Rosenberg, GMT2 (Ret)
Ships Company- June 1968-May 1971

Comment: You can find more on the USS Camden Collision (this was a true Collison and not a 'near-collision' as often reported) - go Here.


Submitted 9/16/2012
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