UNDER ATTACK      

 

While patrolling off the coast of 'Nam, somewhere slightly north of Da Nang, the USS Constant's bridge mid-watch was attacked.  It happened suddenly and without warning.  The entire bridge watch was taken totally by surprise and completely overwhelmed by the attacking force of hundreds.  It was late at night, no moon, no stars and completely black outside.  You couldn't see your hand in front of your face, regardless how long you were outside.

At the time we were running darken-ship, with the only visible lights anywhere coming from the glow of the radar repeater and the power indicator lights on the remote amplifiers on the bridge.  The weather was warm, the seas were calm and we were about 2 or 3 miles off shore, steaming north.

Standing watch in CIC along with two others, we were well into our mid-watch when we began hearing shouting and yelling coming from the bridge.  We called up to the bridge and asked what was going on.  The OOD reported back that they were under attack but holding their own.  There was both a touch of laughter in his voice and grave concern.

While he was on the squawk box, we could hear in the background all sorts of commotion going on, yelling, shouting, sounds of things being hit; you know, like the sound of someone hitting at flies with a newspaper; total chaos was coming from the bridge.  Finally the OOD reported that small birds were attacking them.

"Yeah, right," Snorted the RD2 on watch.  "Sure you are."

"Come up here and see for yourself.,"  The OOD stated.

So the RD2 departed CIC and headed for the bridge.  He never made it. As soon as he opened the door to the 02 level, he too, was attacked and he came running back into CIC, laughing like a loon.

"He's right," the RD2 told us, "There are birds all over the bridge and the watch is fighting them off with the log book, charts and whatever else they can grab.  They really are under attack up there."

Myself and the other watch-stander both took turns going outside to see the attack of the killer birds.  It was right out of a Hitchcock novel.  There were sparrow-sized birds all over the bridge, hundreds of them, and they were trying to land on anything and everybody.  It was hilarious.

Needless to say, the bridge watch was not having much fun and didn't appreciate our laughter.  We tried to keep it to a minimum.

The incident lasted about 20 or 30 minutes and then, as quick as they had shown up, they disappeared.  Calm was restored on the bridge and the only thing remaining to do was to get a broom and sweep the dead ones over the side. (yes, they suffered casualties.)  That log book is big and hard.)

The next morning we were in for a big surprise.  Not only had some birds been killed by the bridge watch, but many were killed by flying into the ship, the mast and the rotating radar antenna.  There were wounded and dead birds all over the ship.  What a mess!

Many of the crew picked up the wounded birds, or birds that had just been knocked out and tried to revive or care for them.  For some, the help was useful and within a matter of minutes they flew away.  Others had to be buried at sea.  The story of the Attack of the Killer Birds was the main topic of discussion during breakfast that day, but soon were was another topic of discussion concerning the birds.  It seems that birds are one of the most common carriers of FLEAS AND LICE.  Within a few hours, damn near the entire crew was itchin' and scratchin'.  The Doc soon ran out of flea and lice powder and we had to request to leave our station and make for the nearest port to get more.

The birds were funny.  The fleas and lice were not.

Russ Moffett
USS Constant MSO-427
1970-1974

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