What a mess… again

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After nearly 45 years of service to the nation, Coast Guard Cutter Dallas is being decommissioned. From performing naval gunfire support missions off Vietnam to being the command ship during the 1980 Mariel Boatlift, Dallas has truly seen it all. As Dallas is decommissioned, a new fleet of national security cutters are coming on the line to protect and serve our nation. They stand at the ready to perform homeland security missions at sea, just as Dallas did for decades.

We continue our series honoring Dallas as it pulls into homeport for the last time.

Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

The chief’s mess. A place of pride, tradition and reverence. Those who have not entered the ranks of the senior enlisted know very little of the happenings that take place behind that door with the anchor. One of the many traditions of any good chief’s mess is to maintain a chief petty officer’s logbook. The words in the logbook are for the chief’s eyes only, but with Coast Guard Cutter Dallas making its final patrol before being decommissioned, the mess has agreed to open the vault for the Compass readership.

Below are excerpts from the logbook. They provide a unique view of not only the ship’s mechanical condition and daily operations, but also life as a sailor aboard Dallas through the eyes of the chiefs.

There are dozens of welcome aboard and farewell entries, paragraphs about drug busts and search and rescue cases and notes expressing concern for shipmates having personal troubles. But as you will see, not all the posts are of a serious nature. After all, we are talking about chiefs here.

We featured log entries from the first 20 years of the cutter’s history last week, and below are entries from the final years aboard Dallas.

A photo of a log entry in the chief's mess logbook corresponding with Adm. Robert E. Kramek's visit to Coast Guard Cutter Dallas. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.
A photo of a log entry in the chief’s mess logbook corresponding with Adm. Robert E. Kramek’s visit to Coast Guard Cutter Dallas. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Jan. 28 1986
A sad day in U.S. history! Just about the time we commenced a mission with the U.S. Navy the challenger Space shuttle exploded and burned one minute passed launch 18 – 20 miles off the coast of Cape Canaveral. We have been diverted and are enroute the area on turbines to commence SAR operations.

DCC

Jan. 31, 1986
Under way from Port Canaveral, Fl., back on patrol for search more areas for debris. Dallas has regularly been seen on the Good Morning America show. We picked up pieces of the Challenger wing, cockpit, and body. Also internal pieces – a piece of Flashy Christa McAuliffe’s boots, patches, flags, school supplies, and her daughter’s Kermit the Frog stuffed toy that she brought along.

DCC

Feb. 2, 1986
Chief’s Mess visited by astronaut William Shephard. He talked to us about the effort to discover the reason for the Challenger’s crash and thanked us for our efforts and work to that end.

RMC White

April 7, 1986
Arrived at Port Everglades Fl. Had HH65 Helo 6518 land on Dallas. First landing of this new type of Helo on Dallas. U/W in the afternoon and evening conducting day/night flight ops.

QMC R.D. Brown

Nov. 21, 1986
The Dallas is now decommissioned. At Bathe Iron Works they will strip her to the bone. She will be re-worked and given a new lease on life. As they take off the old and replace it with the new, one part of her will not be replaced. She will retain her soul. This ship, if she could talk, would elaborate on the text of this log. The past Chiefs encourage all who follow to help maintain this log. My tour on Dallas was short but great. Best wishes to all that sail on the NEW “Pride of the Fleet”.

George E. Rollings, DCC

Jan 10, 1990

Coast Guard Cutter Dallas sails in calm seas as the sun sets Feb. 7, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.
Coast Guard Cutter Dallas sails in calm seas as the sun sets Feb. 7, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.


After 5 hours of deliberation, a command decision was made to turn the ignition key and start this [expletive] war machine! Lines were successfully tossed and underway we went to good old Governor’s Island, NY. We still carry with us a great deal of confusion that was blessed to us by Bathe Iron Works. Some questions that were most commonly repeated:
1. Can we push these buttons?
2. Whose compartment does this belong to?
3. Has anyone seen the ETC?
4. Did Manny let his whole division off again?
5. Did you get a picture of that?
6. Do we need a refrigerator in the Mess?
7. Should we call RDC Boats or Mr.?
All watch is set, good to be underway again!

STC Dickson

Sept. 15, 1992
We are enroute to Earl Weapons Station to offload bullets, torpedoes, and buoys. These few days are the last time any torpedoes or buoys will aboard CGC Dallas. We are getting rid of them, along with the Sonar Technician rate.

STC M. A. Pleasant

Jun. 5, 1994
Today we are in Portsmouth, England and have the Commandant on board. As part of the 50th Anniversary of the Normandy invasion, we paid tribute and rendered honor to the War Memorial on our way out of Portsmouth. Later that afternoon, we were part of a formation of ships from various countries. As the Britannica passed by us, we laid a wreath in memory of those on D-Day. Tonight the Commandant, Adm. Kramek, will have dessert with the chiefs.

EMCS Daniel Segarra

Aug. 10, 1995
We had our first accident on this patrol. The helicopter crashed after take off with three passengers on board. All survived the crash and were MEDVACed for further observation. We basically saw the helicopter spin in the air and then plunge about 40 feet. The Dallas turned and got the air crew. Right now (1910 hrs) the USNS Mohawk is on scene salvaging what is left of the Dolphin.

Unsigned

Feb. 4, 1996
We left Governor’s Island on 12 Jan, did an ammo offload at Earl, and sailed more or last directly to our new home port of Charleston, SC. That’s right, after all these years the plug is being pulled G.I. in an attempt by the Guard to save some money. Of all the schemes over the years, it seems like this one will actually work.

R. Oakley GMCS

A photo from the chief's log of Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Vince Patton's visit aboard Coast Guard Cutter Dallas in 1993. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.
A photo from the chiefs’ log of Master Chief Petty Officer Vince Patton aboard Coast Guard Cutter Dallas in 1993. Patton became the master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard in 1998. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Feb. 8 2003
We depart Charleston, SC., for an estimated 6 month deployment supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Once again, the CGC Dallas is making history!! Note: “official orders” still pending signature from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

SKC Lisa Roberts

March 13, 2003
Our new mission: steam for the Eastern Mediterranean. While enroute, a cargo ship carrying four of our 110’s sailed past us heading for either the Eastern Med. or Persian Gulf.

SKC Lisa Roberts

March 20, 2003
We are at war! We woke this morning to the news that the U.S. has begun the attack on Iraq. The CGC Dallas is responsible for protecting 2 aircraft carriers, USS Truman and USS Roosevelt.

SKC Lisa Roberts

July 26, 2011
I assigned the E-7s on Dallas to write 32 lines about their experience on this patrol. The outcome above was written by E-7 Thomas. I find it to be honest, but he made a grave mistake by referring to me as MKCS vice MKCM. E-7 Driscoll was delinquent in his requirement to submit his experience on this patrol and will be dealt with accordingly.

MKCM

6 comments on “What a mess… again”

  1. The January 28 and 31 1986 entry written  by the DCC was DCC Marc J. Lang, now retired CWO and USCG Aux member who serves at Sector Jax.

  2. Loved it!! It felt like I was reading someones secret diary. Someone should make a movie about Dallas and all her Great Men and missions…

  3. The Jan 28 1986 entry brought back memories for me. I was an E-2 doing my mess cook duties. I was lucky enough to pull the Chief’s mess detail. I didn’t stay in long enough to make it to E-7 but I look back fondly at serving the “Old Goats”. We too were diverted to Cape Canaveral on USCGC Tampa. Picking up the pieces was a sad duty for me as I had witnessed Challenger’s maiden launch a few years earlier.

  4. I had the honor of being a member of the Chiefs Mess on DALLAS from late 1991 to 1993. It was quite a transition adding new technology, handling the Haitian Exodues, Navy Exercises, etc. It was the greatest period of my time at sea! Thanks to my CIC Team, my Operations partners, but most importantly my fellow chiefs and the solid Chiefs Mess we had. What I learned from my peers and the experiences aboard DALLAS guided me in my career.

    CHUCK MARTINEZ, RDCM, USCG (RET)

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