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1956 to 1977
|01/16/2023 - 16:50||Dave Curry||
I was the Executive Officer of the USS Safeguard (ARS-25) which rendered salvage assistance to SS Helisoma in the harbor at Nha Trang, Vietnam during the period 26 December 1968 to 2 January 1969. Helisoma had been mined while at anchor by suspected Viet Cong swimmers from an island in the harbor. I have numerous photos during the operation as well as articles that were written and unclassified portions of the salvage report. The Commanding Officer of Safeguard was LCDR Charles H. Billings (deceased).
Upon arrival, Safeguard moored portside to Helisoma's port bow. An initial survey revealed two holes in the skin of the ship - a hole 10'8" by 11'7" existed on the port side 16 feet from the bow and 3.5 feet below the waterline; a small blown out hole 10" by 17" was found on the starboard side 56 feet from the bow and 12 feet below the water line. Helisoma's draft at this time was 36' forward and 27'5" aft. The hole in the port side penetrated the port bunker tank, foreword dry cargo hold, forward cofferdam, and the number one port cargo tank which contained JP-4 fuel. An estimated 1000 tons of JP-4/bunker fuel remained on top of water in damaged tanks and spaces. To prevent this mixture from being discharged into the harbor, the mixture was pumped to the Dutch Shell tanker SS Korenia.
A 16' square wooden frame, steel reinforced American type patch was built and fitted by 28 December over the hole on the port side. Pumping of uncontaminated cargo, approximately19,000 tons of JP-4 to Korenia and saltwater to Helisoma's midships tanks by 31 December. A great New Years Eve celebration occurred, a story unto itself.
The job was completed on 2 January and Helisoma got underway for Singapore at 1430 hours for permanent repairs.
|02/22/2021 - 16:23||Robert Ian Fletcher||
I served as Eng App and junior engineer on Hellisoma from July 1966 to July 1967. If my memory serves me well it was a great ship and I enjoyed my time on her. The old man for a time was Willy Cairns who was by all account a bit of a bastard but when I did my bridge time I got on fine with him. I think Keith Fenwick was first mate during that time.
|07/05/2015 - 13:10||Barrie Comfort||
it surprised me a bit that no one has written about the time the Helisoma was taking fuel from Singapore for the Americans fighting in Viet Nam,i was a crew member when the ship was mined in Na Trang we were at anchor when a mine exploded under the port bow puncturing three cargo tanks full of jet fuel this happened about two in the morning how the fuel did not ignite is a miracle it was hard to breath as the high octane vaporized it was a frightening experience for all of us the Americans sent the USS Safeguard a salvage tug to assist us who patched us up to get back to Singapore for major repairs we were flown home from Singapore via Bangkok Bahrain Rome Frankfurt and then London on a Boeing 707 we were asked at the time by the captain if we wanted our family's to be informed there was a report on BBC overseas radio service that said the ship had been mined and no fatalities had been reported so we thought it best to tell them of our troubles and that we were OK which was just before Christmas 1968 my parents received a Telegram saying the ship had been damaged in Viet Nam and would be heading for Singapore when repairs were complete so they spent Christmas worrying about their sailor boy son,i spent ten years at sea sailing on two shell H boats but mainly BP tankers
|05/23/2014 - 18:56||Trevor Gadd||
Title:- MY WORST LIFE EXPERIENCE!!!
During 1971 the company I worked for Bayliss Jones and Bayliss in Wolverhampton West Mids as an apprentice went bankrupt. I was 19 years of age.
I took a job in a steel plant as the nightshift foreman for 12 months and then landed a service engineer position with a Danish company . My Jurisdiction was the entire UK. I remember going to the bars in Swansea hoping to meet Chief Taffy Engineer so I could give him a good hiding, but never saw him. Probably good because manslaughter is not a nice label to have attached to ones name.
I later got into competitive cycling and won the British national championships 6 times, went to 1976 Olympics in Montreal Canada . Became 5th in the world Venezuela , Two silvers at the Commonwealth games in Edmonton Canada and then emigrated to Canada and been here ever since.
I often wonder what the Taffy Bastard and Jerry did with their lives.
|05/07/2011 - 07:45||Michael Cullen||
When sailing near Bermuda the helisoma court on fire in th e acomadation area, it took us about 5 hour to get it out.
|12/27/2010 - 03:54||Billy Mccann||
Back in 1960 I was SOS on the Helisoma,. We left the Maracaibo Lake Venezuela and headed for Brazil, destination Manus 1000 miles up the Amazon River. Helisoma was the first Shell tanker to go that far up the Amazon and our cargo of crude was the first ever delivered to the new refinery that had just opened.
From the mouth of the Amazon to the refinery just below Manus it took four days sailing the return journey down the river took 2 days. Interesting place Manus a true seamans port in those days where a good time could be had by all.
|09/21/2010 - 16:55||Kevin Shooter||
i had just come out of sea school and joined the ship at the isle of grain after 6 wks at sea the crew put food and bones in my bunk a scotman tried to give me one a quick smack in the mouth and there all left the cabin i was respected after that the bosun then was a polish or hungarien very good bloke .
|12/31/2009 - 12:50||David Anderson||
The Helisoma was the first ship -launch I had ever witnessed.I was 15 years old and had just started as an apprentice at Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson's yard at Wallsend.
|12/06/2009 - 17:51||Bernard Reynolds||
I was on the Helisoma around 1970, Captain Chillman was the old man and we were on the UK/continent coast. We went to Shellhaven my home port and were unable to discharge part of our cargo as there had been a fire in the refinery so we had to go and anchor off Southend pier until the unit for which that parcel was required had been repaired. Shirely was with me on the ship as it was our Childrens half term and they were staying with my parents in Southend. Capt Chillman suggested that the children could join us on the ship, they were 5 & 6 years. So I phoned my parents who put them on a boat at the end of Southend pier. The next thing we knew they were clambering up the pilot ladder. They were thoroughly spoit, they slept in the pilots cabin. The 2nd Steward took them tea and biscuits every morning. One dinner time my son had four helping helpings of chocolate duff then the 2nd Steward asked him if he would like another for when he went to bed. All in all we were over a month in the River Thames. After we had completed discharged at Shellhaven we then went to BP at the Isle Of Grain and loaded for the Esso terminal at Purfleet.
The Helisoma was the only ship I was on that was pooped while in ballast. We were crossing the North sea during a gale to Teesport with a following sea when a might wave struck the poop. It swept over the stern, smashed both wooden teak doors in either side of the galley.On the port side the wave went up into the salon and junior engineers alley way. On the Starboard side it swept through the crew messroom and down the stairs into the crew alleyway. The mooring ropes ended up as a bunch of knittingwhich we had to quickley untangle as we were going into Teesport for bunkers. After a short respite we headed back into the gale as our next cargo wasn't ready.