Check out some Papago Stats
Reporting for duty
I left the Nitro when it was in Davisville RI. and had 48 hours to report to the Papago in Little Creek VA. Of course I went home to Hurley to be with my wife and son. After spending a day with them I took a buss to Norfolk VA. I think I was a couple of minutes late getting to the ship. The taxi ride from the bus station took much longer than it should have. I spent the week getting to know everyone on the ship and had the next weekend off. Of course I went home to get my wife and son to bring them to Virginia
Moving my family to Virginia Beach
We found a Mobil home for rent in Virginia Beach in a park that was right on the road to the Little Creek base. It would only take me a couple of minutes to get to work. What a find that was.
Now that I had my family with me in Virginia of course the tug pulled out that weekend for NYC. If it wasn't for bad luck I would not of had any luck at all. We docked at one of the piers in Manhattan. I don't remember which one.
Typical tug duty
Normal tug duty is pretty relaxed and the tug hardly ever leaves port. Not so with the Papago! It appears that the last Captain of the Papago was now with COMSAT and thought he was looking out for the ship by making sure that it got all the assignments that he could find for it. The Papago was just about always at sea participating in war games and towing targets. Towing targets is interesting, what you do is tow a metal sled a couple of hundred feet behind you and other ships and airplanes shoot at you, I mean shoot at the target. The goal is not to hit the target but to come as close as you can without hitting it. If the target got hit it was pretty much destroyed and had to be pulled in and repaired. Once you hit it the game was over. We would go out for target towing at least 3 out of every 4 weeks for war games. All the other sea going tugs would stay in port.
Cape Hatteras in a storm
After spending a week towing targets out in the Atlantic Ocean we pulled into port on Friday and I left the ship for the weekend. The remaining crew tore down all the engines and generators to rebuild them since we were to spend the following week in port. It was about 2am that there was someone knocking at the door and waking my family up. It was the signalman, he did not even have any socks on. There was another tug that was towing 2 mine sweepers up from Florida and it went through a storm in Cape Hatteras and the 2 mine sweepers had broken loose. The Papago had received orders to go out and find one of the mine sweepers and toe it into port. The other mine sweeper was able to get connected to the original tug and was safe. I questioned the signalman, why me? He stated they could not find the quartermaster. He was in Norfolk somewhere and they could not locate him and they could not go out without a navigator and I was next in line and everyone knew where I lived. The crew already had one engine and generator back together and were working on the other two. We were to leave as soon as I got to the ship. When I got to the ship I saw that the old Captain from COMSAT was there. He was the one that gave us the orders to go out and figured he would come with us to share in the glory. He looked like he was beaten up. Rumor on the ship was his wife hit him when he said he was going with us. By the time we got to Hatteras the storm was in full force. It is amazing how far a tug can roll before turning over. Someone said that it was around 45 degrees before the ship would roll over. That's good since we were only rolling at 40 degrees, ouch. Miracle happened and we did find the mine sweeper. It was sailing under its own steam. We thru them a line and started to tow them. The mine sweeper had 3 engineering hash marks on her side which meant they had 12 years of excellence in engineering. They were probably in better shape mechanically that we were. After we got the line on them and started the tow we stopped rolling so much because of the resistance from the mine sweeper. We towed the mine sweeper to Baltimore and then went home to Little Creek. This took 3 days. My wife called trying to find out where we were and when we would be expected back. She was told that we were lost at sea! She called the Captains wife and she found out when we would be back in port. I drove the Captain home about a week later and he mentioned to me that it was good that his wife was available to the other navy wife's.
Getting new LORAN gear
It was good that I went to Class C LORAN school. The LORAN on the Papago was old and there was another one that I had trained on available. I was given 4 days to go to Bayone NJ and get the new LORAN and bring it back to the ship. I took advantage of the time and took my wife and son for a ride to Hurley NY. While I was picking up the LORAN gear from the tug one seaman asked me if I knew about the early out for reserves that was just released. I told him I had only been on active duty for 1 year and 4 months. I said he was only on active duty for 12 months and hoped to get an early out. I wished him luck and left. After some time in Hurley we returned to Virginia and I delivered the LORAN gear to the ship. When I got there they told me about the early out and that I was designated to get it.
Leaving the ship
Well what do you know. The Navy still had too many reservists on active duty and had lots of men waiting to go on active duty. The only way to get them on active duty was to let the ones that were on active duty go. I received orders to report to barracks F at the Norfolk Naval base. The Navy gave me another physical and let me go. I looked at the clock when they said I was out and I spent 1 year 4 months 29 days 4 hours and 6 minutes on active duty. But who's counting!
Comments and suggestions to Cal