Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Salty HMCS Grilse Story (Part 2 of 2)

 For Part 1 of Hal Zerbin's story about a risky time aboard HMCS Grilse, click here.

This is the last bit of Part 1:
" we had to unsnap ourselves from the safety railing and move right over the sound of escaping air. And we proceeded to do that."
(Hal, who is Gilse's Chief ERA, and the Engineer Officer are looking for a leak in the boat. Grilse is surfaced somewhere in the Pacific.They are crouched on the casing/upper deck, with six-foot seas running.)

Part 2: 

     We then had to unsecure a couple of lock bolts to enable us to open a small access hole in the decking. That made the air noise (escaping through the leak) louder and we were certain we were on the right track. We could then see there was air escaping from somewhere under the #1 main engine outboard exhaust, above the pressure hull. Taking turns we upended ourselves and wriggled into the small access hole as best we could, and felt, by hand, under the exhaust valve casing itself. Sure enough, there was this little line, just a short piece, blowing air thru a long split in its side. 
     We came out and had a conference, there on the aft deck, Charlie with his back to the aft end and myself facing aft, both of us sort of crouching/sitting. 
     Then I happened to look up and saw this much larger breaker heading towards our stern, quite a number of feet higher than our deck. Without thinking I grabbed Charlie and flattened him onto the deck and threw myself onto him, digging my fingers, both hands, thru the gap between the teak stringers that formed the deck. I managed to get a good grip and squeezed for all I was worth. Not a second too soon, either, as the wave was on us and covered us for what seemed like hours (actually perhaps 15 seconds). It was quite green and almost pleasant under the water, and soon the wave receded and left us still holding on for dear life, sputtering and thoroughly soaked. Charlie pried himself free of my death-grasp and gave me a dirty look.
     “Jeez, did you have to squeeze so hard!” 
     I thought I had done him a favour!
     Anyway, the CO aborted any further searching and we headed for home and the dockyard for repairs. On searching further thru the blueprint book, we found the little line quite clearly identified as a “tell-tale” drain, meant to let you know that you had a leak between the inboard group exhaust and the outboard exhaust!  The only thing the builders had not forseen was the corroding of the line till it leaked full bore into the engine room, thru the pressure hull, with no means of shutting it off. 
     This was the same line that just about cost the life of the Burrfish, during one of her last WW II patrols.
     When I was in Ottawa, in 1996, I think, I got together with Charlie for a drink or two. He still insists, in the Chinese custom way, that I owe him!!!


Lamont said...

Good story. Makes you wonder, what if Hal didn't see the wave coming.

Robert Mackay said...

We probably wouldn't have this story to enjoy!

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