USS Sacramento (AOE-1)

Sacramento Class Fast Combat Support Ship

Displacement 18884 tons
Length 793 ft
Beam 107 ft
Draft 38 ft (Max)
Speed 26 Kt
Compliment 22 Officers, 530 Enlisted
Aircraft - two CH46E Sea Knight helicopters
Armament NATO Sparrow missiles, two twin 40mm gun mounts, replaced by two Phalanx CIWS
Propulsion four boilers, two geared steam turbines, two shafts, 100,000 shaft horsepower

Sacramento and her sister ship USS Camden (AOE-2), are unique in that their propulsion systems were originally to be
 installed in the uncompleted Iowa class battleship, USS Kentucky (BB-66.  (8 Boilers and 4 steam turbines)
When it was decided to scrap USS Kentucky, the Navy split the engineering plant and installed half in USS Sacramento and half in USS Camden.

Laid down, June 30, 1961, Sacramento was the last ship built at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, WA.

Launched,  September 14, 1963
Commissioned USS Sacramento (AOE-1),  March 14, 1964

Decommissioned, October 1, 2004, at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, WA.

Laid up at the NAVSEA Inactive Ships On-site Maintenance Office, Bremerton, WA.
Contact awarded to ESCO Marine, Brownsville, TX., for scrapping, in lieu of use as a target.  April 13, 2007
Scrapping completed, July 11, 2008

Additional Links for USS Sacramento:

The Final Cruise of the USS Sacramento

My Duties with USS Sacramento
May 1980 - Jul 1981

In May 1980 I decided to convert from Naval Reserves and rejoined the Regular Navy.  I received orders to the USS Sacramento, which was in the middle of a WestPac Cruise.  I was again sent to Treasure Island for processing.   I was then sent to Travis AFB for charter flight to Subic Bay.   From Subic Bay we flew by C-5 to Diego Garcia, an atoll in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Diego Garcia - Things are different now, but in 1980, Diego Garcia was primitive at best.  The transit personnel compound was just a series of huts in the middle of nowhere.  The huts were platforms raised up a couple feet off the ground. (presumably to keep creepy crawling things from crawling in our bunks.)  The walls of the huts were 4 X 8 sheets of plywood - set sideways with a screened 1 1/2 ft gap to the floor and another screened 1 1/2 ft gap to the roof, so there was some air flow.  The semi-solid walls gave the illusion of a some privacy.  (I guess it is not right for the guys in the next hut to see your naked butt, but, it is perfectly OK for the other 20 strangers in your hut.) The roof was made of corrugated metal and when the coconuts fell (which they did every night) made an awful racket.  The showers were in the middle of the crushed coral compound and were simply smelly Army canvas tarps hung on a ring of poles to sort of resemble walls. There was no roof and anyone could see half way up your leg - Eek!   The latrines were also centrally located in the middle of the compound.  It was a scene right out of M*A*S*H or Gilligan's Island.  Most of the guys bitched and complained, but, to me the whole thing was like Boy Scout Summer Camp all over again, only much hotter.

The USS Mars (AFS-1) came to Diego Garcia to pick up supplies and transit personnel (like me) and take us to our ultimate destination.  When it was time to leave, we were taken to a small craft pier to await the boat that would take us to the USS Mars.  It was a long, hot  wait.  I noticed a strange noise from under the pier and being bored I hopped down to see what it was.  There, bobbing in the water, I found 4 cans of Olympia beer and 4 cans of Budweiser still attached to their plastic 6 pack holders.  It was like manna from heaven!  OK, it was only 8 cans of warm beer which provided only a couple of swallows for each of us, but at the time, free beer fished from the waters of the the Indian Ocean tasted greater than the finest beers of Europe.  It reminded me of Bob Hope in "The Private Navy of Sgt O'Farrell."

The USS Mars rendezvoused with the Sacramento in the Arabian Sea (This was during the Iranian Hostage crisis, now know as Operation Eagle Claw.)  The Mars and Sacramento were along side each other doing a replenishment.  Personnel for transfer reported to the flight deck and received a full safety briefing.  We were then fitted with our flight deck cranial, flight life vests and received another briefing on how to use them.  We boarded the CH-46 helicopter and were given yet another briefing.  We were strapped in and were double checked.

Lift off . . .
> .  .  . set down.

That was it!  An hour of preps and safety briefings, checks and double checks for a flight that lasted less than 30 seconds.  So much for my first and last ride in a CH-46.

Although the Sacramento was much larger than the destroyers I was used to, the QM gang was about the same size.  There were 6 of us including our Chief.  And like a destroyer, we all depended on each other.  Every QM did everything and backed each other up.   It was just like Rick and me on the USS Hamner and I assumed that it was normal for all QMs.

Our Navigator, Lt Cheeseman, and our QMC, Bob Colcleasure,
insisted that each of us learn and be able to perform all aspects of navigation, including celestialThe LT and QMC taught all of us the art celestial navigation and we all loved it.  We prepared the sight list, we kept time and we also assisted in the solving and plotting the sight reduction.  We believed that was what all QMs did.

It was on Sacramento that I earned my Master Helmsman qualification.  I also crossed the equator and become a Shellback.

What was my scariest time on the Sacramento?  Hmm.  Well, there was the time when I was on the helm transiting out of Pearl Harbor when, just off Hospital Point, the ship suddenly experienced split rudders, (when the two rudders point in a different directions.) Technically, we were "out of control," but, thanks to training, that was relatively easily to correct and was quickly fixed.

Another scary time was while refueling the USS Davidson in the Arabian Sea.  The Davidson caught fire in a fuel strainer and went DIW while the span wires were still tension fore and aft.  I was on the helm and for some reason I had just glanced at the Davidson through the stbd bridge door only to see the her suddenly disappear from view.  That freaked me out!  All I could do was focus hard on keeping the course, especially because we had astern bells rung up before they could disconnect. (Astern bells makes steering especially tricky.)  I was able to maintain course and everyone on deck did their job just as they had been trained and the emergency disconnect was performed perfectly with no casualties.  Nothing was made of it because everyone performed just as we had been trained, but it sure was scary!

In Hawaii, Lt Cheeseman took emergency leave and left the ship.  During the two week transit to Puget Sound the QM gang filled in for his navigation duties and performed all of the celestial sights.  I was told later that Jr QMs, like us, were not supposed to be able to do that. 
We just did it because it needed to be done.  We just beleived that was the way all QMs did things.

Upon arrival from WestPac, Sacramento went into overhaul and in Sept '81 the whole QM Gang earned advancement.  I remember that once a shipyard worker came to the bridge and noticed three QM2's (E-5) were chipping paint and he asked why. "Well, our 1st class (E-6) was in the chart room doing paper work."  He then asked why our juniors weren't doing this type of manual labor and we told him that we did have one junior QM, (E-4) but, he was the berthing compartment cleaner that week. 
Again, that was just the way we believed all QMs did things.  I loved those guys!

July of 1981 BuPers said that a local ship was losing their leading QM and I was transferred TAD to USS Reasoner (FF-1063).

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