By Tim Moore
In 1987, the Comphibron One staff was split into two groups The main staff was with the admiral aboard the USS Iwo Jima and five OS’s (operation specialists), including myself, were aboard the new LPD (landing platform dock) USS Germantown LSD-42.
We set out to sea for training that morning so we got our sea bags on our bunks and went up to the CIC (combat information center) for our watch assignments. One other sailor and I caught the 12:00 to 18:00 watch.
Sometime in the middle of our watch, Radio Central sent a message to the bridge to have the five Comphibron One staff to take a helo (helicopter) to the USS Iwo Jima and then to North Island, CA. We were told to pack up and head to the fantail. Before we did so, we left CIC to the OI division, consisting of (OSs) operation specialists, got all of our OSs together and relayed the orders to the senior OS.
He went to CIC for confirmation and upon his return, he told us to pack up and get to the fantail. Then the CH-46 (Boeing Vertol Sea Knight helicopter) came in to pick us up along with a few others and off we went to the USS Iwo Jima. The senior OS said to wait by the Super Structure (the part of the ship that projects above the main deck) while he contacted staff to confirm our arrival on Iwo Jima, and to see if there were any changes in the orders.
The next thing I knew, we were on the next CH-47 off the USS IWO JIMA and on to NAS (Naval Air Station) North Island. Once there, the senior OS told us to go home and we would figure this out Monday.
So I call my brother-in-law for a ride back to my apartment. On Monday morning, I drove to work in a good mood. The USS Iwo Jima was parked at her pier and I went aboard to the staff offices.
There was tension in the staff operations office right before Quarters when we all muster to be accounted for aboard ship. We did not know why until the admiral spoke. He was clearly pissed that his five OS’s left the USS Germantown and did not contact the staff onboard USS Iwo Jima before leaving to go to NAS North Island.
The admiral directed his chiefs to interrogate each of us as to what happened. Our story stayed the same and ended with the captain of the U.S.S. Germantown ordering the five of us off his ship. After all the facts were gathered from all parties involved, the admiral delivered his findings at Quarters:
He found no fault with the five of us OS’s but did find fault with his communications officer for the wording of the message sent, as well as with the captain of the USS Germantown for not contacting Comphibron One staff to verify.