The Seaweed

USS Champlin DD-601  

Winter 2001

Ship's Bell USS Champlin DD-601

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Monday, September 17: At sea - still riding out typhoon. K-rations for breakfast and dinner. Had a hot supper as it calmed down quite a bit, the worst is over. We've been in our sacks most of these last 48 hours with the radio full blast, nobody can sleep anyway. We're rolling like a match box. Expect to return to Buckner Bay tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, September 18: At sea - entered Buckner Bay at 0730, refueled and anchored. Received some mail. Movie on the fantail.

Raymond G. Dinklocker CQM, remembers it this way: "This was the scariest thing we ever ran into, more so than any of the invasions or incidents we got ourselves into. No one else realizes how close we were to our Maker than the people who were on the bridge that day. . . .I believe the option of riding it out (at sea) was the better one after seeing the APLs and what happened to the other ships (that stayed in Buckner Bay). I know I was on the wheel for how many hours I can't remember. We were at General Quarters and no one could go anywhere without being washed overboard. I know my instructions were to steer without any definite compass direction with the waves so high and deep. I was told to use my judgement and the best I could judge was to hit the waves obliquely and keep the speed at flank to counteract the tremendous affect (of the waves). We had to have headway.

As it was, once in a while the wave pattern would briefly cease and our speed interrupted. That happened once and caught me off guard. We got stuck in a trough and heeled way over. The ship shuttered and I couldn't tell whether she was coming back to an even keel again. I told the Quartermaster on watch at the time, Seth Swain, to enter on the log the exact degree of list to show for posterity. I knew somewhere else on the ship there would be damage.

After that time we were never out of control and kept hitting the waves obliquely to keep headway as best we could, under the circumstances, until the storm died down. Other than those on the bridge, not many of the fellows knew much about what happened - except those falling out of their bunks and possibly criticizing 'that drunken Quartermaster for not staying on track'. The typhoon was worse than anything else I experienced in my six years at sea."

James R. Robertson S1c recalls that: "I didn't understand the seriousness of the events connected with our stay in Okinawa until I read material you have been giving us the past few months (in the Seaweed). I remember that the Chief Commissary Steward suffered a severe bout of seasickness that forced him to his bunk during the storm. When things were calm again, he made an appearance at the galley. He looked terrible. He must have lost several pounds. His eyes were set in dark circles. He looked into one of the great steam kettles and said to the cook who was sitting on the meat block reading an old Saturday Evening Post, 'Lawson, there's a cock-roach in the soup.' 'He won't eat much,' Lawson said without looking up. I know it's an old joke, but it really happened."

Gerald M. Cruthers RdM3c in a letter home written on September 17, 1945 said: "I'm writing this on the seventeenth on an old scrap of paper.

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The night before last we started to get warnings that a typhoon was headed for Okinawa. It got a little windy and the bay became choppy, some of the landing craft started to move in to shore.

The next day the wind had increased and the bay was really getting rough. When I came up from breakfast a LST (Landing Ship Tank) was drifting around helplessly. It just missed hitting two ships, it seemed that God was at the wheel and avoided a collision. Pretty soon we got orders to get under way because the storm was on its way. I guess they'd rather have us fight it out at sea than have a big pileup in the harbor. Out at sea it really was rough, the main deck was under water most of the time. It was just like taking a ride in the country, riding through valleys and looking up at mountainous waves and then being on top of those mountains and looking down the slopes. We were taking some rolls of forty-five degrees and that is way over. When you see transports practically stand on end so you can see under the bow or see her bow dip way under water, it's pretty rough. At times you could feel every part of the ship shimmy and shake. Naturally they weren't able to cook anything so we have been eating K-rations. Today it has calmed down quite a bit, although the water is pretty rough the wind has subsided somewhat. We didn't suffer too much damage but other ships were pretty badly hit."

Powell M. Morris S1c(SoM) says, "The typhoon that hit Okinawa was a real experience! Apparently we must have been short of guys for standing wheel watches because I stood four on and four off quite a few times. It became very exciting as the bow of the Champlin dug into the waves. We took green water over the bridge. As the bow came up the fantail and screws of the ship in front became exposed. Not sure what ship it was. As I recall we were taking the waves off our port bow and making just enough headway to maintain steerage. My eyes kept a close look on the instrument registering our roll (not sure what it was called) which was located above me. As the storm increased it was measuring in the forty degrees and if I am not mistaken, maybe ten degrees higher, if that was possible. Once I was not sure if the shp was coming back. Seems like it would roll to the maximum and stay and shudder before coming back. I kept a firm grip on the wheel just to maintain my balance. Fortunately I was never seasick. Tried to sleep in the compartment just aft of the bridge with my feet against one bulkhead and my back against the sonar stack."

Not all of our shipmates were aboard the Champlin. Several of them had left the ship in and around Japan to return stateside, by the first available transportation, for discharge. They had accumulated the points needed to get home. They got as far as the island of . . . you guessed it, Okinawa!

Charles Connors FC1c picks up the land side of this story: . . ."They put me ashore at Buckner Bay, Okinawa the first week or so of September 1945. I am not sure of the dates of any of the events that follow. Sidney Hotard, Tom (TJ) Moore and Mark Stringham were the only shipmates I remember that left the ship with me at the time.

We signed in and our names went on the list of servicemen that wanted transportation back to the States. We were then assigned billets in tents upon the hill, after being advised that there were draft calls in the compound at all times during the day and that we better be there when our name was called. The first thing next morning along came a local bos'n who collared any one he could get to and assigned them to a work party. Well it didn't take us long to figure out that we were in the wrong place. Especially after we found the work parties were assigned the job of digging trenches for latrines. We scouted around and found a three-pole tent in another section...

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