Guadalcanal Spends First Day Outside Persian Gulf in a Month With PM-Gulf Rdp, Bjt
ABOARD USS GUADALCANAL IN THE GULF OF OMAN (AP) _ After a day of gamboling in the GOO, the Guad today went back through the Strait of Hormuz to the Persian Gulf.
The USS Guadalcanal, which carries mine-sweeper helicopters to protect U.S.-escorted Kuwaiti tankers, left the gulf on Tuesday to take on supplies. The carrier’s first day outside the waterway in exactly one month also provided a welcome respite from the heat, dust and daily grind of convoy duty.
The 18,000-ton warship, accompanied by the missile frigate Rentz, returned to the gulf just after dawn today. The Guadalcanal’s crew was at full alert for 3 1/2 hours during the Hormuz passage.
In the ″GOO,″ as the Gulf of Oman is known to increasing numbers of U.S. sailors, the temperature was in the 80s Tuesday, the humidity was down, and even the water was several degrees cooler than the Persian Gulf, where the carrier’s 24-year-old steel hull heats up like a teakettle.
The Sea Stallion mine-sweeper helicopters were clustered on the flight deck, their long rotor blades folded back. Sailors and Marines jogged, sunned themselves on the ship’s ″Steel Beach″ and gathered in small groups to talk without the shriek of turbine engines drowning out their words.
Even the ″underway replenishment,″ a sort of seagoing trip to the supermarket, provided some entertainment. Navy helicopters, working in a fast- paced relay, lifted about 50 tons of supplies from the supply ship Spica to the carrier deck in less than four hours.
The 16,792-ton Spica provided everything from frozen food and dry goods to mops, light bulbs and candy bars, said Lt. Roger Hargrove, a Memphis, Texas, native who is the Guadalcanal’s assistant supply officer.
During the replenishment operation, the Guadalcanal also fired two shots in hunger.
As the carrier maneuvered to within 200 feet of the floating supermarket, gunner’s mates Jon Tessler of Celray Beach, Fla., and Bob Steele of Tucson, Ariz., used M-14 rifles to shoot nylon ″shotlines″ across the churning water between the ships.
The lines, weighted by plastic spools, were then used to pull heavier ropes across for the transfer of supplies by power winches.
The Guadalcanal has been escorting convoys of reflagged Kuwaiti tankers receiving U.S. protection from possible Iranian attacks in the gulf. U.S. mine-sweeping equipment was sent to the area after a mine damaged a reflagged tanker, the Bridgeton, in July.
Unlike the Persian Gulf, the ″GOO″ is big enough for serious gunnery exercises, and the Guadalcanal took advantage of the opportunity Tuesday.
Two Sea Cobra gunships tested their array of weapons including 20- millimenter cannons, rockets, rapid-firing miniguns and Tow wire-guided missiles on some debris dropped in the water by another chopper.
Just before sundown, another warship appeared on the horizon in ghostly silhouette: the USS Missouri, recently arrived in the Arabian Sea to help support the Persian Gulf convoy operations.