Pictures and Comments  from John Snyder

[Don't miss this stop. John has submitted some of the best PTF action photos on the page. ]  

Actually, I do remember one other, that occurred during our 1966-7 deployment. There had been a change of command at COMCRUDESPAC (Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Forces, Pacific Fleet) and the new Admiral (it may have been McCain, but I'd have to find my old letters home) came to the Tonkin Gulf to visit each of the deployed ships of his force. He selected BAINBRIDGE as his flagship for a good part of the tour; since she was a nuke there were no refueling needs. We detached from the ENTERPRISE Task Group and set off for the various units operating in the northern area since we were on Yankee Station.

Almost-daily General Quarters drills were a routine of life while in the combat zone. I can still count the real GQs on one hand. But we came close while the Admiral was aboard. I happened to be up in the pilot house one early afternoon when a report came over the sound-powered phones from the Combat Information Center (CIC) that we had two high-speed surface contacts closing us from the coast. CIC continued to track them as they came pretty much directly at us, and the Officer of the Deck (OOD) was plainly concerned (as he should have been). They finally came over the horizon off the starboard bow, two small vessels moving quite fast and throwing huge amounts of spray as they cut through the light chop of the Tonkin Gulf. They were backlit against the glare of the sun on the water, making identification difficult...and they were still headed directly at us. By this time the bridge was a beehive of activity with all the lookouts, the OOD and the JOOD (Junior Officer of the Deck) training their binoculars on the intruders. The OOD ordered the Boatswain's Mate of the Watch to stand by to sound General Quarters and the man moved to the general alarm at the rear of the pilot house.

I had my camera with me so I put a 300mm telephoto on and took a look for myself. Turning to the OOD I said, "They look like our NASTY class boats, Sir." Well, since I was the Engineering Yeoman at the time, not a qualified lookout, the only response was that I was studiously ignored. I shrugged and went back to watching the approaching boats, which by now were perhaps 6 or 7 miles out. I was still convinced of their identity--they surely weren't anything in the Soviet inventory. Finally the JOOD came running out of CIC with the ship's copy of Jane's, frantically flipped through the pages, looked down, looked up through his binoculars again, then down again, and announced to the OOD that they were NASTY class. The Bos'n's hand came off the general alarm and we all watched as the two NASTYs passed down our starboard side about 3 miles out and disappeared astern as mysteriously as they'd appeared. So far as I remember, there was never any attempt to make radio contact with them or to hail them on the TBS (Talk Between Ships, a short-range radio system). Just a lot of frantic activity on the bridge, with the NASTYs nearly providing us one of our very infrequent real GQs. 

John Snyder
Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club, 1966-7, 1969

I served in USS BAINBRIDGE (DLGN-25) 1966-70. During each of my two tours in the Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club we had occasion to anchor in Da Nang harbor while we picked up charts. On this occasion we were going up to take over North SAR Station off Haiphong and in addition to picking up charts we were scheduling a night of exercises with the NASTYs as they simulated NVN PTs attacking us.

As we lay there at anchor the word had been passed that no one was to take pictures of the NASTYs (as if Charlie didn't know there were there and were being used for SEAL insertions, etc.). Anyway, while I was Captain's Yeoman, my collateral duty was Ship's Photographer and Ship's Intelligence Photographer and I figured what the heck...couldn't apply to ME! So I grabbed those hand-held 300mm shots as they came by.

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It was interesting that night as we ran the exercises out in the Gulf. It was pitch black as only a moonless, cloudy night at sea can be. After each simulated attack, the NASTY assigned to us would close up alongside, sounding like nothing so much as a turbocharged diesel locomotive coming up out of the dark. They would lie to, idling, for a little bit talking over the exercise with our CIC types, then accelerate away into the darkness for another go, and that sound of power was VERY impressive.