The duty on the Forrestal at sea was seven days a week. Nine hours in the duty shop, usually another eight hours standing watches. Mix in regular General Quarters and other drills and getting sleep was at a premium. Fresh water was always being monitored and to this day I turn the water on and off as I brush my teeth and shave.
Being in the engineering division was often physically demanding, dirty but fulfilling work. I ran the Aft O2N2 plant making liquid oxygen for couple of years. Prior to that I was in the compressor shop responsible for all the compressors on the ship, except for the O2N2 plants. Additionally, I did duty repairing pumps and doing shifts in the engine rooms. Finally, I was on a special fire fighting team.
Some other memorable experiences included steering the ship from the steering gear room during a Betty drill.
Egypt, Greece, Italy, Spain, France and Israel were among the many places in the 6th fleet ports that I got to visit. So much time spent in Naples that it was a second home. Spain was among my favorite place to visit. During our work up cruises to prepare for deployment I visited Gitmo and the Virgin Islands.
Most memorable was sailing around through the North Sea into the Arctic Circle. We sailed off the northern coast of Russia in August. It was still extremely cold and the sun only set for about 3 hours.
David deBoisblanc served in the 6th fleet aboard the USS Forrestal (CV59). Petty Office deBoisblanc served in the ships engineering division. He was recognized for outstanding performance and received several Captain's commendations.
Petty Officer deBoisblanc was active int the Syrian Missle Crises, the confrontation with Khadafi in the Gulf of Sidra and several other mideast conflicts. The USS Forrestal (CV59) was the US Navy's first super carrier designed for the modern jet aircraft.
The Saratoga, Kitty Hawk and Independence were all in the Forrestal class. Additionally, the Ranger and America are also classified as modified Forrestal class carriers.
I remember watching this video in bootcamp and at Navy fire fighting school. As you may know a young Senator John McCain was central to this story.
I ended up assigned to the ship and came to love it. While others called it the USS Forestfire, the ships company called in The FID. The FID comes from the ships motto, First in Defense.The repairs to the extensive damage could be seen in hanger bay 3 and throughout the structures between it and the flight deck. There was a large sign in the hanger bay that commemorated the dead.I
fought two fires during my tours. One in engine room number 3, actually the main fire was in engine room 4 but the heat ignited a fuel tank in the engine room 3. I handled the six foot applicator for protecting the other fire fighting team. This device is nicknamed after a donkey’s anatomy as you Navy veterans will no doubt know.
I also was the first to respond to a fire in the aft liquid oxygen plant. Fortunately, the fire was atop the production unit and did not get near the LOX tank about 40 feet away.It took the entire contents of a giant twin tank wall mounted fire suppressant unit to get it out. I stood up on a corner angle iron to reach to top of the box that contained the main plant. I did not have time to put on an OBA (Oxygen Breathing Apparatus) as I wanted to suppress it before it got near the oxygen tank, fortunately, there wasn’t much smoke due to a door to an open air sponson right next to where I was.It sounds more exciting than it actually was. I got it out in a matter of a few minutes. I worked in the plant as a lead NCO for a shift and getting it out was a matter of my responsibility as it was small but could have erupted the entire aft side of the ship if it had reached the LOX tank. The fire was caused by a faulty repair done by a civilian worker that overheated and ignited the insulation that tightly stuffed the plant.
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