by Andy Barber,  LSCV1 Haida

Haida was involved in a most vicious storm during the summer of the 1953-1954 tour of Korea. We  left our station in Korea and were heading to Tokyo (Yokasuka) to act as host ship for Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent's visit to Japan. We had just cleaned up in Sasebo which included converting the Captain's cutter to accommodate the Prime Minister at a cost of about $5,000. When we headed into the sea of Japan we were chased by two typhoons and had a hell of a rough time.

As I recall, the coxswain had to take the helm and only myself and Capt. John A Charles were allowed on the outside bridge during my watch. Everyone else was restricted to the inside. Some of the crew had to rig hurricane lines for those occasions when they had to go outside as the waves were over 30 feet high and had a trough of roughly the same. We took a green one broadside and the Haida keeled over so much that the List meter was touching the edge reading. I remember Captain Charles muttering something like " back up you go...you can do it, .. you can do it" as the whip aerial on the starboard side was about what seemed like a few feet from touching the water. Both of us stood there transfixed as she was about to capsize. Finally the Haida started to right itself and came back to center. In the meantime, the Captains cutter was reduced to kindling wood and a few of the fridges in the seamen's decks toppled over. One fridge landed on a cot that was vacated  just minutes earlier.

We rode out the storm but we were running out of fuel and had to pull into Ominago Japan, the port that hosted the Japanese merchant shipping fleet.  Since we couldn't take on any of their fuel, the Japanese officials requisitoned a  United Nations fuel tanker thus adding to our delay. In the meantime, the typhoon started tracking toward Ominago and we were ordered to leave in order to prevent the ship from being damaged in the harbour.  We set sail with a little over 20% fuel (over and above our arrival) and rode out the storm "Way on" meaning HAIDA had her stern pointed into the storm and sort of surfed along. The ship used sufficient power to maintain a heading while riding out the storm at the same time. The typhoon was so strong that we blown off course and came to within 50 miles of Communist China. What a propaganda coup that would have been for them if an "incident" had developed.

As fate would have it the storm abated enough that we were able to arrive in Tokyo Bay late and pretty battered.  The crew alll worked like devils to get the Haida shipshape for the Prime Minister. There was little rest, and our Colour Guard almost fell asleep as they performed their duties. Everything worked out in the end.

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