Disaster at 19.32.3N 64.56.3W
As our shipmates and their families find our virtual homeport, the most frequently asked question is "What ever happened to the RICH?" The following information has been assembled from a variety of sources and in no way is an official accounting.
Following an uneventful replenishment, the Boatswain of the Watch passed "Breakaway" over the 1MC. The Engine Order Telegraph was rung up from 14 to 22 knots. "Right standard rudder" was ordered. What was later determined to be reversal of polarity in the trick switch in After Steering caused the bridge to lose control of the ship. At that time the right standard rudder became a left standard rudder turning RICH into the path of CALOSSAHATCHEE.
The first two impacts heeled RICH over at least 50°. The fact that she had just refueled made her bottom heavy and most likely prevented her from simply rolling over and sinking. In all, RICH was hit fourteen times by CALOSSAHATCHEE.
The resulting damage was severe. One hit
forward of the break exposed the mess deck. Most parts of the 01 level
experience major damage including the complete demolition of the weatherdeck
support stanchions. The ASROC magazine was opened by the CALOSAHATCHEE's
anchor. The helo deck was severely damaged. The portside hull had
been penetrated numerous times below the waterline. General Stores, B Division
and M Division berthing areas were flooded with fuel oil. The Supply
Office and Ship's Store sustained major damage. Additionally, the port screw had sheared a blade and the other blades were severely damaged.
After a stay in Mayport, RICH returned to her homeport of Philadelphia to prepare for an INSERV which would determine her fate. The crew had less than three months to accomplish this.
Typical of RICH crews, everything was completed on schedule for the INSERV except the repair of the damaged screw. It proved to be too large and too expensive of a job for a 31 year old ship. The INSERV Inspectors recommended the ship be stricken.
On December 15, 1977 at 0911 the USS RICH was officially decommissioned.
In 1979, RICH was broken up as scrap.
The metal and material that made the physical ship are long gone.
The spirit that made the USS RICH is alive and well in the hearts of each
man who served aboard her. That spirit will remain alive here on
RICH virtual homepage for generations to come.
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