I had the honor of Commanding the USS Concord (AFS-5) from 17 Feb
Aug 28 1986. As I look back on that time, I am amazed at the many memorable and exciting events that happen in such a short
span of time.
Concord took the USS Nitro under
tow when she suffered a casualty with a storm approaching, rescuing two Turkish fishermen who had been stranded in their boat
for over a week, having a very large H-53 helicopter make an emergency landing on our deck, my representing the United States
at a memorial day service at a veterans cemetery in Draguignan, France, and making numerous (white knuckle) transits of the
straits of Messina. All this in addition to our normal mission of replenishing all the ships of the Sixth Fleet (to include
several embassies as well as the submarine base at LaMadalena, Sardinia) once every month.
However, the most memorable event in my opinion is as follows: We were just to the
South of Sicily, making our way slowly toward the Eastern Med to commence the replenishment of the Carrier battle group, which
was scheduled to commence in about 4 days. I retired to my stateroom around 2200 and was awaken at 2300 by the OOD. We had
received an emergency message from the USS Eisenhower that stated the Carrier was making an emergency sortie to the Eastern
Med for some contingency operations. She was inquiring if there was any way that Concord could somehow provide her with some
of her scheduled replenishment goods while she was in. transit. I quickly put the entire ship on alert and determined that
the USS Eisenhower was approximately 30 miles to our West. I knew the carrier was doing around 31 knots, so I kept Concord
on an easterly course and increased our speed up to our maximum of 21 knots. Under those conditions I knew that Ike would
pass us in about 3 hours since she was overtaking us by a speed of 10 knots. The supply officer informed me that he could
have the majority of Ike’ goods positioned for Vertical replenishment by our embarked H-46s in about one hour. The Helo
detachment manned the two H-46s and we commenced transferring goods to the carrier when she was 20 miles West of us and continued the
transfer until Ike had passed us and was 10 miles to our East. We managed to transfer over 80% of the Ike’s requirements
that night! The entire operations lasted only about 4 hours and was a total success. The fact that Concord could, on extremely
short notice, in the middle of the night, manage to replenish an Aircraft Carrier while she was in transit was a truly a monumental
accomplishment, and required the close cooperation of the entire ship. The efforts of the Supply department, the deck department,
the engineers, and the Helicopter detachment, as well as everyone else on the ship was truly commendable!
My worst experience on The USS Concord was as follows: We rendezvoused
with the USS Vreeland to replenish her while she was transiting to her next Port of call. The weather was poor with a fairly
rough sea state. The Vreeland had requested a specific Romeo Corpen to facilitate her making her port call on time. It was
not the most desirable course or e event but I reluctantly agreed and we started the underway replenishment. The approach
and hookup went well but it became immediately clear to me that Vreeland was having trouble maintaining station alongside
of us so I was watching her very closely from our starboard bridge wing.
Suddenly Vreeland started to close dangerously close to us and I had to order emergency
breakaway. I also had to order left rudder to prevent Vreeland colliding with us. After the ships started separating I noticed
that Vreeland was making a hard starboard turn well before the lines had been disconnected. I was fearful that the line would
part and possibly seriously injure someone. I had to order 30 degree right rudder and literally chase the Vreeland to starboard
to prevent the line from parting. When the lines were finally secured, and we were a safe distance from Vreeland, I was informed
by the Deck personnel that we had come within about 2 feet of hitting Vreeland with the Concorde’s stern. I had to file
and incident report but luckily no accident had occurred.