U.S.S. McKean Sea Stories

Olympic games at Melbourne 1956

Both happened in 1956 on our trip
down to Australia for the Olympic games at Melbourne.

Story #1...This event occurred in 1956 while we were cruising along on 
a nice sunny day in the South Pacific headed for Melbourne, Australia. 
Because it was a nice day many of those who were not on watch were top side
enjoying the sun.  A group of men were gathered on the port quarter chatting
and telling sea stories.  One of the sailors was leaning against the safety
chain that blocked the break in the railing where a ships ladder would be placed if the
ship was in port.  The sea was as smooth as I had ever seen it and we were
cutting the water like a hot knife through butter.  Suddenly, without warning,
the chain snapped and the sailor tumbled backwards into the sea.  Everyone
stood there in disbelief, not knowing what to do.  Fortunately, the fantail
sentry spotted the hapless sailor and notified the bridge.  The Man-Overboard
alarm was sounded immediately and the McKean began to maneuver to recover the
man.  The whole operation took 10 to 15 minutes and we were able to save our
shipmate.  One thing should be mentioned, he remained afloat because he
removed his dungarees, tied knots in the legs and trapped air in them.  Just
like we were trained to do in boot camp.

Story #2...I just vaguely remember this event so I am not all that sure of the
facts.  We had crossed the equator and were down in the islands around Borneo
someplace.  When one of the Boatswains Mate strikers reported to sick bay with
a terrible stomach ache.  The Corpsman diagnosed appendicitis and notified the
Captain.  Here we were in the South Pacific and many miles from any kind of
American medical facilities.  After a series of radio messages it was
discovered that the Australians had some sort of outpost on a nearby island.
So, we broke away from our task force and delivered our patient.  He was not
in good shape when we dropped him off; his condition was touchy at best.  They
operated immediately and within a week or two he recovered and was back on
board showing off his scare.