89.6 Tartar Launch
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89.6 Tartar Launch

FTM2 Grinnell writes:

The cause of that JPJ-Gotcha was real strange. FTM2 Gaddis, just out of FTB school with Chuck Davis and I, had been working for the past several days (weeks) on the missile telemetry gear in the Weapons Office / Missile Checkout. The equipment had been disabled, as it turns out, for good reason: Salt water had gotten into the reception antenna directional circuitry causing a high resistance short or load. This load manifested itself by a very circuitous rout down through the system and into my MK118 missile fire control computer.

My computer was computing a launcher angle (E) of about 40 degrees and all was well until the count-down got to about 5 and Gaddis turned on his telemetry gear. That's when the circuitry loaded my computer which, in turn started putting out a "Qualified Elevation" (QE) to the launcher of about 89.6 degrees. That's when you saw the launcher go to "Ready". Man, I thought I was going to die a little old Seaman-Zippo in Portsmouth because I didn't holler "Cease Fire" or "Silence" or something more appropriate than "U-Oh". FTM3 Dan Marcus pronounced the whole thing a "Comedy of errors" which sounded good to most of us and the screaming and hollering died down after just a few days.

So there you have it, Captain. That's how we almost sunk the JPJ and your carrier in one fell-swoop.

Captain Sebring writes:

I remember that shot well. It was my first. As I remember we had to have the blast door replaced--think Nemeses took the one from their launcher at Pt. HUENEME & put it on our launcher 'cause we were about to deploy.

Right Dave?

GMM2 Don Wall writes:

I thought I was going to be a seaman recruit for the rest of my tour. The launcher was pointed in the correct position, then all of a sudden it went "home". My first thought was the mission was aborted, then it fired. It was a bit late to try and kill the firing circuit. You said you were worried about LT Sollenberger and FTCS Haynes and your backside. I was much more concerned about GMCS Edwards. I needed a large box of band-aids for the chewing I got.

GMM2 Harrold writes:

As memory serves, the one that torched the blast door was at almost load position as we had lost communication from CIC as it lit.  I believe that Don was at the window shouting ABORT!  I was on the phones at the control panel and believe I heard the Cap'n calling to get us the hell out of there when he found it was launched straight up!

Captain Sebring writes:

Harrold is in fact correct, except for the language. Lt. Green had the deck & conn, we were sorta drifting along at about 5 knots, & I had left CIC for the bridge to observe the missile launch just prior to the launch. When that bird went straight up all I could think of was it coming back aboard. Therefore I casually turned to Mr. Greene & said "All AHEAD STANDARD". Jim has never let me forget that. BTW for those who don't know , Jim Made Flag & one of his next to last job before retirement was as AEGIS Shipbuilding Program Manager. Another BTW, that wardroom we had when I was there was pretty special, it produced 2 flag officers & at least 4 Capts.

Don those pics of the Westpac cruise are really great. Brought back a lot of fond memories. Dave thanks for the revealing expose of what went wrong on the 89.6 degree launch.

Warm regards,