Onboard the USNS Navajo, Enroute to Guam
“Captain, we have a problem.”
“I saw the reading on the inclinometer.”
“I think that the tow is taking on water.”
“What do the deckhands at the towline see?” Ocean going tugs in the United States Navy are manned by a civilian crew with four naval officers in command.
“It looks like the tow is sinking.”
“Shit,” said Lt. Commander Joseph Sinecki as he told the helmsman to hold a steady course and he hurried to the stern of the Navajo.
Sinecki was joined by his XO and Engineering officer at the towline. Sure enough, the Benthic Rangers was sitting low in the water. After connecting the tow, the external floatation had been taken off following an examination of the vessel’s hull integrity. The external floats would have increased drag on the Navajo and it seemed to be the correct course of action.
Sinecki called the bridge on his intercom, “Radio Guam to tell them we have a problem.”
Even before Sinecki could finish his instruction, the Benthic Ranger started rapidly sinking, causing the towline to go taunt. With the sudden sinking of the Benthic Ranger, the Navajo, itelf was in danger of taking on water. As the blue-green waters of the South Pacific started washing over the deck of the Navajo, Sinecki gave his order.
“Cut the towline, Now!”
The Japanese tuna fishing boat that had been tracking the tow took note.