MESSAGES FROM THE PAST
On Nov 30, 2013 I received an email through my "Contact me" page here from Paul Roales with the message: "I picked up 6 teletype(?) messages to and from the USS Oriskany at the flea market. They deal with her rounding the Horn in June & July 1952 . I can send you scans if you are interested." I was very interested and contacted him right away. I asked him how he found my website and he responded: "Whenever I find an unusual item I always contact someone who has a webpage on the subject and offer my information to them. Since I retired from being a Petroleum Geologist I have taken up the hobby of military history. I have even had one article published in Smithsonian Air & Space magazine." I want to thank Paul very much for allowing me to share these messages here.

We have been emailing each other and I have been in contact with a couple of other former Oriskany crew members, Ron Camp and Ron Thomas trying to decipher the abbreviations and acronyms in the messages. I'll include a glossary of most of them. Surprisingly, the most difficult item to figure out was the dates on two of the messages as they didn't coorespond with the events. I believe we now have the messages in the correct order but feel free to contact me if you can offer further evidence of a different date sequence.

I think the final clue for the dates of messages #2 and #3 can be found in what is now message #2. Quote: "For extended periods during the past two days I have had a distinct feeling this business of rounding Cape Horn was a nebulous and somewhat dubious honor".  Oriskany rounded the Horn on the 29th, there are 30 days in June so those two days of "extended periods" would be after rounding the horn on the 29th and put the date the messages were sent on the 1st of July. One thing I haven't been able to confirm is when Oriskany actually arrived at Valpareiso. It could have been either the evening of Thursday, the 3rd or the morning of Friday, the 4th of July.

There are still lines of code in the messages that haven't been deciphered yet so if any of you former radiomen can help figure out the rest, please contact me by email. It's been a lot of fun and very eductional deciphering these messages and I hope you enjoy looking at a glimpse into Oriskanys past.

                                               Glossary of abbreviations and acronyms found in these messages.

CTE - Commander Task Element - The CO of the USS Oriskany
CTU - Commander Task Unit - The CO of DESDIV 142
COMDESDIV - Commander, Destroyer Division
COMAIRPAC - Commander, Air Forces Pacific
CINCPACFLT - Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet
ALUSNA - American Legation United States Naval Attache

SOA - Speed of approach
ETA - Estimated time of arrival
KTS - Knots, a unit of speed over water. 1 knot Equals about 1.5 mph
SPDS - Speeds
X - Break, acts like a period, colon, etc.
Z - Military time at Zulu or Greenwich Mean Time. So the civilian time for 1945z would read 7:45pm GMT
Q - GMT-4, time zone for Chile.
Months of June & July, 1952


 

 

         1. Valparaíso is a city on the coast of Chile and the next Port of Call for the Oriskany. This message is from Oriskany to ALUSNA (American Legation United States Naval Attache) regarding when the ship might arrive (ETA - Estimated Time of Arrival).
    2. This message is from the CO of the Oriskany, Capt. Lambrecht (CTE 41.03) to the CO of COMDESDIV 142 (CTU 41.03.2) regarding the two destroyers who are escorting the Oriskany, USS Power DD 839 and USS William C Lawe DD 763 ("your small boys"). The ships were experiencing very heavy seas and apparently, conditions were more favorable the further north they traveled so the skipper of Oriskany recommends continuing north in hopes of finding better weather there.
      3. This is the reply to the 1st message from COMDESDIV 142 (Commander Destroyer Division) to Oriskany (CTE 41.03). It appears that the CO of COMDESDIV 142 was aboard one of the destroyers, the USS Power which would have been his flag ship. "Received when we were last up for air" probably refers to a Destroyers habit of playing 'submarine' in heavy seas and tends to plow through the waves rather than riding over them. The post script to keep a qualified diver standing by might indicate damage to one of the destroyers that could require a diver to investigate.
      4. This is from the CO of Oriskany to the CO of COMDESDIV 142 trying to determine when they will arrive at Valparaíso if conditions permit. The comment on the general situation if typed out I believe is the equivelent to swearing and indicates his frustration about when they will arrive. This message is dated the 2nd. I believe it says that if 20 knts was maintained until 5:00pm on the 2nd, and then if they could average a speed of 28 knts for the next 24hrs, they should arrive by 5:00pm the 3rd, which would have been a Thursday. If they couldn't maintain that speed, then they would slow down and plan on arriving at 8:00am Friday, the 4th of July. I have been unable to find out exactly what day Oriskany finally arrived at Valparaiso.

1/3/2015 - Recently, I had the pleasure of chatting by email with one of Oriskany's original crewmembers, Peter A. Isaia, who was aboard when the ship rounded Cape Horn. He was kind enough to look through his letters to his wife and had this to say:

"We put in at Valparaiso, Chile on July 3, 1952. Then we went to Callao, Peru on July 9, 1952. On July 14, 1952 we recrossed the Equator going north. And finally on July 22, 1952 we were in San Diego, California and the Oriskany was put in drydock for repairs. I flew home for two weeks to see my new bride whom I had left after we were married less than a month, so you can imagine my haste to see her. I was home from August 8th to August 24th, 1952 when I left for San Diego. The Oriskany then left San Diego for Hawaii and then Yokosuka, Japan."

This confirms that Oriskany arrived at Valpariso on July 3rd rather than the 4th. She must have been able to maintain the speeds they were hoping for.
      5. The CO of COMDESDIV 142 replies to CO of Oriskany with a comment made by the Capt of the USS Lawe. "Out of the raging fifties and into the roaring forties" I believe refers to latitudes as Cape Horn is at latitude: 55.9797°
      6. In this last message, the CO of Oriskany is asking the CO of COMDESDIV 142 if the destroyers can sustain 30 knts (knot = 1.5mph) for an extended length of time safely. The comment "Arleigh Burke has nothing on me" refers to Adm Burke, not the destroyer that was named after him. During WWII, Burke usually pushed his destroyers to just under boiler-bursting speed, but while en route to a rendezvous prior to the Battle of Cape St. George, a boiler casualty to USS Spence (DD-512) (a jammed boiler tube brush used for cleaning) limited his squadron to 31 knots, rather than the 34+ they were otherwise capable of. Thereafter, his nickname was "31-knot Burke," originally a taunt, later a popular symbol of his hard-charging nature.
      A page from the 1952 cruise book describing the rounding of Cape Horn
      Captain Lambrecht, the CO of the USS Oriskany during the 1952 cruise.