USS Forrestal CV-59 with the 6th fleet.

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USS Forrestal CV-59.  I was aboard this ship when this picture was taken. My time in the US Navy was almost entirely about the Forrestal. Apart from training and a very short stint working in the shipyard in Charleston, this was the bulk of my time. The FID was the nickname that the crew used; it was derived from the Forrestal’s motto, First In Defense.

When I was aboard, I served mostly in the engineering department. The ship was aging and the Navy was short staffed at the time. The duty was very long hours, very little sleep for 7 days a week at sea. Additionally, the ship was dangerous duty in engineering, due to the aging of the ship and the limited budget at that time.

We lost engineering crew members on almost every cruise to serious injury or death. However, it was a great adventure for me as a young man.

I directly fought two fires, one very serious, and the other potentially serious but it was put out very early.

The 6th fleet deployed to the Mediterranean Sea. We dealt with the beginning phases of the conflicts in the mideast. Additionally, the USSR was still around, although in its final years.

I had several occasions where we had cold war conflicts with Soviet forces. Bomber and fighter faux attacks with our fighter coverage intercepting them. Cat and mouse games with Soviet submarines were numerous. And the ever-present Soviet spy vessels, small fast  boats with crews of 20 sailors, were frequently  in our midst.

One morning in the Mediterranean, one of those ships kept cutting across our bow to stop us from turning into the wind so that we could launch our aircraft. Our captain, kept maneuvering until they were off our port stern, then he ordered the release of our raw sewage holding tanks. These tanks held the human excrement of 6000 sailors and generally had several days worth.

The entire mass of this present from the USS Forrestal was sailed through by the Soviet boat. The aroma must have been very pleasant aboard the boat. Further, all of its intake of seawater for cooling systems would have been fouled, causing their engineers to have to disassemble pumps and clean away the social gift.

David deBoisblanc

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