49. Transiting the Malacca Strait – 1976

While I was directed not to divulge our exact destination, I was able to announce a general area.  For morale reasons, it was my policy to keep the crew informed about future operations of the ship unless security reasons dictated otherwise.  While transiting the Strait that night, we had to make an emergency maneuver to avoid a collision with a large Texaco tanker in very congested and restricted waters.  (A moment of stark terror.)

(audio:  Transiting Malacca Strait:  1mc.  1:27)

(audio:  Entering Indian Ocean:  1mc. 2:09)


  1. remember well transit of the straits. Your call regarding manning our 5″ mounts is as clear today as the night you called me. A privilege to have served during the Bicentennial cruise. Your trust in our weapons team made for proud gunners mates and fire controlmen. Thanks for great memories. Gunner-Z

  2. I remember that well. My first solo flight as a USS Ranger C-1A aircrewman was during this operation. We flew from the Ranger to an air force base in Singapore to pick up some A-7 pilots for transfer to the Ranger. I remember flying from Ranger to an airbase in Singapore as Ranger was heading west. We picked up, as I remember, 7 or 8 A-7E pilots that were flown in from Cubi Pt. I remember they were quite anxious to get out to the ship. Perhaps they knew something about the upcoming mission. We loaded up the C-1A “Spirit of ’76” and Lt. Cdr. Brown went through the pre-flight checklist. It was really hot in the cabin that day. I soon had a call on the IC headphones. The starboard engine would not turn over. I remember thinking, oh great…welcome to the aircrewman world. We unloaded and I got some tools out. After removing some cowling and getting at the starter, it was discovered the heavy cable that supplies current to the starter had broken right at the terminal lug. A liaison officer from the Singapore Air Force offered assistance. I gave him the old terminal lug and off he went. We waited and waited. I had to have been well over an hour. The liaison officer finally appeared with a terminal lug that looked like it might work. Of course, we had no lug crimpers. I managed with the tools on hand and Lt. Cdr. Brown thought it might be fine to get us back to the ship. I loaded our passengers back up and we managed to take off and head out to the ship. I am not sure of the location of Ranger at that time. Once in the air, Lt. Cdr. Brown informed me over the ​IC that had I been a little slower on the problem diagnostics, we would have been out of range and could have waited in Singapore for the ship to come back through. I am sure I would never have heard the end of that from my fellow C-1A crewmen. Every one of the A-7E pilots shook my hand for getting the plane back in the air. I loved Navy Air. Worked with the greatest people on earth. Those were some of the best times in my life. My son is an ET1 in the Navy that has done 5 Persian Gulf deployments. My father was a fireman on a destroyer back in the Korean War Era. My mothers first cousin George Detre was an engineer aboard the USS Houston that was sunk in action in Sunda Straight not long after Pearl Harbor. George survived the “Death Railway” and both myself and son got to know and learn from that remarkable man. You might say we are a Navy family.

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