Mr. Forrett is an English instructor who has been teaching for more than 17 years. He served in the United States Coast Guard from 1971–1975.
“Our country was in a very unpopular war and I knew that the draft was imminent. Due to the fact that I lived in the San Francisco Bay area, I knew about the work of the U.S. Coast Guard and wanted to be involved with search and rescue operations and experience the challenge and adrenaline of that kind of service.
I did not get an opportunity to serve in that capacity until close to the end of my time with the Coast Guard. Eventually, I would be transferred to Yerba Buena Island and spend about six months as part of a small boat crew until I was discharged honorably in 1975.
Prior to that time, I served aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Rush (WHEC 723). At that time, ‘High Endurance Cutters’ served in various capacities in the Pacific including Ocean Station November to give guidance to planes and jets flying overhead in the days before satellite navigation. In addition, we aided enforcement of fishing in U.S. waters near Alaska. We monitored the Russians and the Japanese who would cast their nets in those waters surrounding Alaska and the Aleutian Islands.
As a specialized vessel, high endurance cutters were equipped with some of the most sophisticated underwater sonar detection devices of that era. Due to that ability, we encountered a rather amazing discovery in the San Diego Harbor area in late 1973. As it happens, we were there at that time for some ASWAX (Anti-submarine Warfare) training.
Since the U.S. at that time was in a state of ‘cold war’ with the Soviet Union (today called Russia), there was reason for concern. Apparently, the USSR had a nuclear vessel snooping around near San Diego, the home of the Pacific Fleet of the United States Navy.
Why that nuke was there, we never found out, but it was interesting to have had the honor of being the quartermaster on duty to announce to the crew of the Rush over the ship’s announcement system, the 1MC – ‘This is not a drill . . . this is not a drill. All hands man general quarters. All hand man general quarters.’
We chased her around for several days and eventually lost contact with her. Captain Horace Holmgren, USCG, our skipper, felt that she had gone to deeper waters to avoid our detection.
I ended my time with the coasties serving small boat duty in San Francisco Bay. Nothing would top that incident with the Russians on that day in 1973.”
Semper Paratus. “Always Ready.”
Mr. Forrett BM3, United States Coast Guard Veteran.