Cold Med Cruise

It must have been a hard winter world wide in 1962/1963. We were four months into our Med Cruise. It was so cold that it snowed at sea. The first two weeks of December saw CAG 1 on the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was in the single digits most of the time, but on two occasions it was below zero. When we would turn into the wind to launch our aircraft, it was well below zero with the wind chill. The rain, sleet, snow, stung like so many hot needles. I hoped the plane would go to the hangar deck for a 90 hour check, but no luck. We spent the Christmas Holidays in Naples, Italy. Boating was cancelled many nights because the sea in the Bay of Naples had eight to ten feet rollers. The Liberty launch would come abreast of the gangway and you had to leap to catch the ladder. Try that after several beers. But when boating was cancelled you could spend the night ashore. I remember putting the collar up on my peacoat, and thinking how nice and toasty it felt ( or it could have been the beer). On Christmas Eve, in Naples, I stood the quarterdeck watch with a boatwain’s mate second class, with five hash marks. I had just made AME3. He asked me how many times I had taken the test. I said once. He just shook his head. My job was to watch the gangway going down to the mess decks, so that drunken sailors wouldn't fall down the ladder and break their necks. Christmas in Naples is kind of like the 4th of July and Christmas, all wrapped up in one. Lots a fireworks, gunshots, and bells at midnight.

So yes, cold is cold. - Phil Tait

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Revised: December 14, 2009