In early 1962 the Chipola was fitted with a water wash down system. A water wash down system was used to spray a fine mist of water over the entire ship, to wash off any particles of raditation that landed on the ship during an Atomic attack. In March 1962, we were told we were being checked for security for a cruise in May to an island in the South Pacific. We got underway approximately the first of May 1962, for that area. The ship's officers told us we could not use our cameras during the cruise, then we were told that a picture of the first Atomic blast was on the front page of a San Francisco newspaper, so the ship's officers took all of our cameras away with a ship board inspection of all areas, before we arrived at Christmas Island. On May 11, 1962 the ship crossed the equator and we had a day of initiation into the order of King Neptune. This took most of the day. Then we proceeded to Christmas Island and got the ship ready for the Atomic tests. What I can remember of the number of Atomic Blasts, I think we were involved in, were seven different Atomic Blasts, six at Christmas Island, and one several months later at Johnston Atoll. After the six Atomic Blasts at Christmas Island, we went back to Pearl Harbor, and then to Johnston Atoll. At Johnston Atoll, the Atomic Blast was an Atmospheric Test, and it was visable in Hawaii. Before one of the Atomic Blasts, we were asked, who would like to view an actual Atomic Blast? If we would like to view it, come up on deck, and prepare ourselves. We were given dark glasses, that when we looked at the sun, you could not see the sun at all. We took off the glasses, and watched the airplane come over us. The officer of the day announced that, that was the airplane that was dropping the Atomic Bomb, and it would be detonated at one mile above us. Then the order came to down the glasses, and we waited for a few minutes, and then the blast occured. It was so bright it was like daylight. We could see everything with the dark glasses in place. The fireball was tremendous. This lasted for what seemed like five or ten minutes, but was probably about two or three minuter. Then we were told we could take off the glasses, without harming our eyes. But it was still very bright. We put on sun glasses again. After a while we could see the shock wave coming on top of the ocean. The fish looked like they were trying to out run the shock wave. They were jumping out of the water ahead of the wave. During the test blasts, we were sent to Christmas Island to pickup several Marine photographers. We took them across the equator, and on to one of the Atomic Blasts sites for pictures. This cruise lasted approximately 90 days. While we were at Christmas Island we caught several big Yellow Fin Tuna. We were told we could bring than aboard ship for pictures but that they were full of radiation, so we could not eat them. I can remember thinking to myself, that there must be clean Atomic Bombs, because our government would not use the service men as guinea pigs. How could I be so wrong about my government? We were used in that very way with Atomic Test. Thank goodness these were the last Atomic Test where the goverment used people, as guinea pigs.
This is my story of my participation in Operation Dominic* aboard the USS Chipola AO 63.
*This page is a list of the shots of Operation Dominic including photos of some of the shots witnessed by Frederick H. Schafer.
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