Hurricane at Sea:
The Story of Gerhard A. Nundahl, Ret. LCDR.
Retold by Victoria Holt
late August of 1954, the submarine tender USS Howard W. Gilmore, AS-16, anchored
I was only 17 years old when I joined the Navy. My father had to sign for
me to join because I was not yet considered an adult. Against my mother’s will,
my father signed the dotted line. My mother would never have allowed for me to
join, but I felt the sea calling to me and I desperately wanted to go. I left my
mother at home in
entering or leaving a harbor, my duty was to man the anchor windlass. I would
either drop the anchor or hoist it by turning a large wheel. After hoisting
anchor and leaving
It was my job as a Metalsmith to fix things on the ship. Our ship was taking a beating in this horrific storm at sea. I remember how I wondered about what on the ship needed to be fixed first. Inch thick steel plates were dented, bulkhead joints and seams were pulled apart. Expansion joints on the upper decks were opened far beyond normal and were twisted as they closed. One of the dents on the flying bridge was way up 60 feet above the normal waterline. We headed into the wind, the engines doing their best to keep the ship from being blown shoreward. We were afraid of running aground. The ship was east of the storm throughout. The hardest blows came between 8 in the morning and in the afternoon. The winds then eased slightly before but it was not until in the evening that the captain dared to turn the vessel crosswise of the seas to change course to get us away from the shore. There was no way to turn the ship earlier, the heavy seas could have caught us broadside between waves and sank our ship.
of steaming on to
captain's name was David H. McClintock. In 1944, during WWII, he was the skipper
of one of the seven submarines that were lost in battle at
Carol was a Category 3 hurricane as it reached winds up to 110 mph. Luckily, its
intensity weakened when it hit landfall on
in 1943, the Gilmore was 530 feet in length and weighed approximately 16,000
tons. Today this United States Naval ship is no longer in service. It was
decommissioned in 1980. For many years it was anchored in the
Shortly after Hurricane Isabel struck the East Coast in 2003, I read an article in a newspaper that said all of the ships in the Ghost Fleet were not disturbed by the storm with the exception of USS Gilmore; it had taken on a lot of rain water and began to list. That is, lean toward one side because of the weight of all the water collecting on one side. What a burst of memories flooded through my mind! It was this ship, hundreds of sailors, including myself, who were almost lost in a hurricane many years ago.
This was the one of the many thrilling adventures that my father experienced during his naval career.
Service for the Silent Service
In the middle, (My Dad) USN Sailor
Gerhard Nundahl on board the USS Gilmore in Key West, Florida
taken after the Hurricane at sea. USS Howard W. Gilmore,
Submarine Tender Taken from Tendertale.com LCDR Gerhard A.
In the middle, (My Dad) USN Sailor Gerhard Nundahl on board the
USS Gilmore in Key West, Florida taken after the Hurricane at sea.
USS Howard W. Gilmore, Submarine Tender Taken from Tendertale.com
LCDR Gerhard A. Nundahl
Hurricane History: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/HAW2/english/history.shtml#carol
Nundahl, Gerhard A. (personal interview
July 20, 2010)
Tender Tale: USS Howard W. Gilmore AS 16: http://www.tendertale.com/tenders/116/116.html