The Ships I Served In 1964 -1968
U.S.S. Observation Island (EAG-154)
My first ship after receiving my commission from Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island in 1965 was the U.S.S. Observation Island (EAG-154). I was the A Division Officer in the Engineering Department standing watches in the main control room of the engine room. My Chief Petty Officer was Don Miles. Click here for more ship’s history or here for the ship’s specifications.
The first launching of a Polaris test missile at sea was successfully conducted from the deck of the USS Observation Island about seven miles off Cape Canaveral in September 1959. In 1963, just prior to my tour of duty, President John F. Kennedy visited the OI. We supported the Polaris submarines providing telemetry support during their test firings at the cape. We also did precision mapping for various projects using the ships advanced (at that time) inertial navigation system. During my tour on the OI we visited Bermuda, The Azores, Trinidad, Hawaii and Midway Island. We transited the Panama Canal numerous times.
My second tour of duty was in USS Peregrine (AG-176), a steel hulled minesweeper. We did no minesweeping but instead performed bathymetric surveys in conjunction with project SOSUS working closely with the USS Neptune. During this tour of duty the ship visited Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Hawaii, Japan, Johnston Atoll, and the Bonin Islands. My challenge as Engineering Officer was to keep the ships twenty one year old diesel electric propulsion system running. This turned out to be a very demanding assignment. I also stood watches on the bridge as the Senior Watch Officer and Special Sea Detail Officer. When short handed, a fellow officer, Dick Hillegas, and I stood “port and starboard” watches from Key West to San Francisco. We were seasoned bridge officers after that experience.