"High and Dry"
as told by then
LTJG Douglas Scott Martin

 

While on patrol in the Mekong on Good Friday, 3 April 1970, at about 0500, my boat spotted a radar blip which appeared to be in the water about 150 yards off the starboard bow. We accelerated to 'attack' only to discover that the higher then normal tide had over-run the riverbank and our radar took the tree line, about 500 yards inland, to be the end of the river! We hit the mud at full speed and literally slid inland about 75 feet. As it turned out, the 'blip' was a random tree in the middle of a partially submerged rice patty.

My crew consoled me, claiming that when the tide came back in we would just float back off, that is until I verified it was a full high tide at the time we went inland. We were ankle deep in water all around the boat, which was listing to port on the "V" bottom.

As the sun rose, the tide went out and there we were, HIGH and DRY! Fortunately, the repair ship USS Phoenix AG 172, was on station in the river about 1 click downstream. I radioed for assistance and a small mike boat was dispatched with several enlisted men, who made disparaging remarks as they approached. I was taken back to the Phoenix and escorted to the CO's stateroom, he was busy shaving and when I told my story he just shook his head in disbelief. He promised to help and when I returned to my boat I found my crew had commandeered several shovels from the peasants, who had came to work in the rice patty, and were now busily attempting to dig us out!

I sent a 100 word "FLASH Message," in code, to SEPIA, trying not sound like a complete idiot for what I had done. The CO of the Phoenix was great - he coordinated with the Army and had one of the Riverine boats, that was equipped with high pressure water pumps, intended to wash away bunkers, travel overnight to our location and it dug a channel behind us. When the tide came back in, we were pulled off. Fortunately, there was no significant damage to our boat. The Phoenix laundered our uniforms, feed us Easter Sunday Dinner and we then returned to Cat Lo, after having been aground for about 36 hours, during which time we spent one very nervous night with local RUFF PUFF's, who stood watch around us in that muddy rice paddy.