Bucksport Bay Festival - Bucksport, ME · Page 1
Article and Photos courtesy of Dick Carlson
|Saturday, July the 30th, dawned misty and overcast. The rain had passed, and soon, according to the weather watchers, the sun would shine around noon. And shine it did!
Alone at 1230 I traveled down U.S. Route 1A to Route 174 heading toward Fort Knox State Park and the Penobscot River hoping that I would be able to find a parking spot somewhere in the town. Merlene opted to remain at home on this tour.
My first stop on Verona Island after crossing the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory, which spans the Penobscot River, was to find the launch where Captain Peary launched his ship the Roosevelt. With the public support of President Theodore Roosevelt, Peary was able to muster the funds to begin construction of the Roosevelt on Verona Island, Maine. Under the command of Robert A. Bartlett, the Roosevelt enabled Peary's 1906 push to 87*6 N, an international record for Farthest North. However, the ship limped home, badly damaged by ice. In 1908, after repairs, Bartlett again guided the Roosevelt North to Cape Sheridan on Ellesmere Island.
This position allowed for Peary's successful assault on the Pole in April of 1909. After Peary's use for the ship ceased, the Roosevelt was used for commercial shipping. On one such journey it ran aground in the vicinity of the Panama Canal, where it now lies on the ocean floor.
From the launch site, I stopped to take photos of the USS JOHN L. HALL FFG -32 as it was moored pier side in Bucksport. It is one of the OLIVER HAZARD PERRY class guided missile frigates and the eleventh ship in that class built by Bath Iron Works in Maine. Named after Admiral John L. Hall Jr., the ship, built in 1981, is to be decommissioned in March 2012.
The tour ship PATIENCE , the Maine Maritime Academy Training Vessel BOWDOIN and the USCG TACKLE,were moored dock side.
I parked in back of a State police car and a Marine Fisheries vehicle parked at the launch site. The occupants were out on the boats which along with the launch from the USS Hall, were plying the harbor to keep other boats away from the Frigate
USS JOHN L. HALL security boat. Fort Knox in background. Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory pillar in background.
As I drove slowly down a very crowded and busy two lane Main Street in Bucksport, eying filled parking spots, I hung a right uphill on a side-street and found a parking spot along with other vehicles behind a three story red brick building for sale. Close enough.
With camera around my neck, and camera bag in hand, I walked down to Main Street, and then down to the one-mile Bucksport waterfront walkway. The walkway was filled with E-Z-UP canopies under which vendors were displaying and selling their wares. Crafts, clothes, books, raffles, and food. It was all there. I chose to walk past all of this and head for the line waiting to board the Frigate at Sprague Point. Nearing the lot to get into line, I noticed that I could have driven to ‘it’ and parked there. No matter. The walk was invigorating affording me the opportunity to take many digital pictures of the vendors and the people.
Too many smoothies????
Wearing my U.S. NAVY RETIRED ball cap, a lady, with a very strong grip, came up to me, took my hand, shook it and said, "Thank you for your service!" Later, a gentleman setting at a picnic table called me over to him, and said that he served 4 years in the Navy aboard the USS FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT CVA/CVB/CV-42. We had a nice chat. He inquired if I served in Viet Nam, Korea or WW II. I told him "None of the above" but I was an unwilling participant in the "Six Day War" in the Middle East. He had no clue as to what that was. I explained. Talk about a jaw-dropping moment for the old sailor! (I shared the same information with a young man carrying his daughter on the tour. He also had never heard about the USS LIBERTY. I told him to GOOGLE it when it got home. He said it would be the first thing he would do!) He knew about the station at Winter Harbor, and said, "I’d ask you what you did, but then you’d have to kill me!" I smiled.
Arrived at the line to board the Frigate. I looked to be about the 40th person in line. While waiting, six people decided that they didn’t want to wait, and left. I noticed that three groups at a time were being taken aboard for the tour. Twenty minutes later, under a hot July sun, the line moved up. A security petty officer from the ship, wearing a flak jacket, weapon strapped to his right leg, radio attached to his jacket, ordered us to proceed through security, show a form of ID, and open any packages or back-packs we were carrying. The first 30 people were taken through security. I was now sixth in line. Our group was brought through. I flashed my military ID card, opened my camera bag, and passed through with his "Thank you sir!"
As we gathered before the gangway, we were introduced to our tour guide. Ens. Charlean Dominguez, Admin Officer. Far Left: Ens. Dominguez. She explained how the tour would be conducted. We were free to ask questions and take pictures. Someone asked where she was from. “Puerto Rico” she replied. I asked, “Where in Puerto Rico?” She responded with “Carolina”. I said, “I know that town well, as I was stationed at Sabana Seca for three years. A big smile came across her face. She recognized the name. She said that she was an Administrative Officer, and now she is an Electronics Warfare Officer. I thought that was quite a leap from a desk/personnel job to being in charge of all electronics on the ship. We boarded the ship, up the gangway, and to the quarterdeck.
I almost felt like saluting the Flag and the OOD. Brought back memories. Getting down from the temporary plank way from the gangway was a problem. I realized my age when the knees would not bend as well. One of the security guards assisted this aged warrior over this hurdle. Thanking him, I proceeded to find the tour group.
We began on the main deck, port side, at of all places, the ‘torpedo tubes’ which swing outward. The mention of the word ‘torpedo’ sent a cold shiver down my back. It was here where I began taking photos of the Armament: Six MK-46 torpedoes (from two triple mounts); One 76 mm (3-inch)/62 caliber MK 75 rapid fire gun; One Phalanx close-in-weapons system.
Moving forward to the bow, we were shown where the missiles were launched before the ship was changed to a ‘sub-hunter’ and landing site #2 for the two helicopters aboard the ship.
Our Navy tour guide telling us about the missile tubes (rear). I looked up at the bridge, snapped a picture of it, and the ships ribbons.
Pretty impressive. Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation w/ 2 stars - CG Meritorious Unit Award - Navy Battle "E" Ribbon (2), Navy Expeditionary Medal - National Defense Service Medal - Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. Southwest Asia Service Medal w/ 3 stars - Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 3 stars and CG Special Operations Service Ribbon.
"And we’re walking….we’re walking….and we’re stopping!" Up the ladder to the bridge, where we were given a tour of where the ship is steered. The first thing I noticed was the absence of a large steering wheel. In its place, on the console, a small, probably 6” brass wheel, which your fingers and thumb fit nicely around. To the right a T-bar handle used for speed, much like those found in airplanes. Again – feel free to take pictures. (I did). Outside of the bridge, a chair for the Captain.
A 3rd class accompanying us was standing by. I asked him if the ship had ATMs on it. He replied that they used ‘cash-cards’ (like a debit/credit card), which are funded from money from the person’s checking account. No cash is exchanged on the ship. He pulled his out of his wallet to show me. It is the same set-up Universities and Colleges use.
A tourist looking through the high power binoculars as seen from inside the bridge.
"And we’re walking….we’re walking….and we’re stopping!" DOWN! I had forgotten just how steep and narrow those ladders were. I used to be able to zip down the ladders on the BENNINGTON CVA-20, ORISKANY CVA-34, and LIBERTY AGTR-5 pretty quickly. Times have changed.
We arrived in CIC (Command Information Center). It had been sanitized with paper over secret parts. We were told that this is the nerve center of the ship. I noticed some TV screens hanging from the overhead with views of the stern landing area for the copters, and the bow. I asked where the “Radio Room” was located thinking it might be in this portion of the ship. It wasn’t. The Ensign replied, "It is located elsewhere and we are not able to go in because you need a Top Secret Clearance". I smiled!
"And we’re walking….we’re walking….and we’re stopping!" Out on deck, second level, to see the armament. The large gun, which rotates from port to starboard, can fire a shell nine nautical miles, but only four, with accuracy. Protecting the Fort!
Main deck looking forward · ABANDON SHIP LOCKER.
"And we’re walking….we’re walking…and we’re stopping!" Remaining on the same level, we proceeded to the storage area for the copters. As we passed down a passageway, my memory of shipboard life came flooding back to me. Shiny painted bulkheads with battle lanterns overhead, adorned with photos of the captains and executive officers and photos of the Frigate.
As I was gawking around, I nearly tripped over a contraption bolted to the deck. I stood there to try to figure out what it was and surmised that it was some sort of a ‘rowing machine’ for personnel. Neat! Keeping fit is and always has been the Navy way. Next stop was to view the area where fuel and supplies were brought aboard. The Ensign obviously enjoyed seeing supply ships come alongside and the bringing aboard of ‘stores’ as she lingered on this subject a bit longer. I asked if the Frigate could supply other ships. "No. We can not supply others" was her reply. (I was thinking of giving fuel to subs when I asked the question). I know there are sub-tenders and supply ships that do this, but I was aware that some Navy ships can do this as well.
We found ourselves in the ‘hangar bay’ and were explained how the Frigate could handle three copters at once, with two in the bay and one out on the deck.
"And we’re walking….we’re walking…and we’re stopping!" Finding ourselves now on the flight deck, the tour about to end, we are given the final information about how the flight deck works. Pointing to the stern portion of the superstructure, we learn that the ‘lights’ used to line up the helo for landing is similar to the lights used in aircraft carriers to bring aircraft in. Red lights center – red/yellow/green lights to the far right. Two bay doors which handle two helicopters.
Ending the tour, we paused to take photos of the view. We had a grand front row seat of Fort Knox and the Narrows Penobscot Bridge.