Frank Demmers, Jr.
I was a young 3rd Class Machinist's Mate working in the aft engine room when the collision happened. I had just come out of the engine room entrance and into the fore/aft passageway when the collision alarm went off. We all braced for the collision, then went to general quarters. I remember the USS AMERICA sent a piece of sheet metal over by helo and Hull Technicians welded it over the gash in the ship's hull (above the waterline, thankfully!). Once back in the US, we went into Jacksonville Shipyards and had repairs completed. One of the most memorable events of our deployment!
Technician third class (DS3)
USS Dale '82 to '86
Hey Shipmates. Hi, my name is Gary Gagnon , born on Long Island New York and now hail from Maryland USA. I once was stationed in Mayport Florida homeport of the Lean Mean USS CG -19. I served aboard the USS Dale from 1982 until 1986 and I was aboard her on 27 April 1983.
It was on a beautiful calm glass sea morning in the middle of the Indian Ocean and I was a fresh boot Data System Technician third class (DS3). I was just twenty three and on my first ship assignment. I was manning my station. The Data Systems shack, which housed the main computer room of the ship, it was located on the 02 level starboard of the mid ship break. Well all of us, the DS technicians are in our space when we heard an alarm. For a second being a boot. I did not understand the significance of the collision alarm! As a small group of us opened the hatch onto the mid ship break to get a peek. Well I got maybe, one or two steps out, but it was enough. I caught a glimpse of the AMBUSCADE Bridge, not 100 yards away! Man it seemed close, believe me, and on the port side coming straight for mid ship! (Be funny if someone on the bridge remembered seeing a small group of sailors peaking out the DS shack mid ship break that day). I was the third or fourth guy in back in of that line that was trampled as we rushed back inside, Raced to the starboard side and braced for collision. We all were yelling we’re going to get hit we’re gonna get hit. Books fell off the shelves and we bounced around a little as we collided. Thank god it was nothing like the scenarios that were running in my mind at the time. We feared the worst for a moment, since the last time we saw the AMBUSCADE it was heading straight at mid ship! However the skills of our Captains (Crash La Rue) and helmsmen saved the day, no one was hurt and they avoided a potentially deadly collision. This all happened on an extremely beautiful day in the middle of the Indian ocean during Leap frog exercises. We heard it was due to a steering problem your ship encountered and she could not complete her maneuver? Well that’s my story. I’m fifty one now and look back on those NAVY days as some of the best and most memorable. I remember one of my shipmates an Electronics tech that was a fanatical Heavy metal fan, found a piece of your ship on the fantail. The collision has molded it into the shape of a corn chip. My friend kept it. He used it for a number of years as a door stop and it became his piece of “British Steel”. He offered it to me once, but it was quite heavy and I declined. I regret that now as I write this because we have come a long way and the world just got a little smaller for me…Cheers and FB..Peek a boo I see all you X DALE shipmates on here….Ahoy…ya all
Click on Dale Damage link to see my photographs of the incident.
USS Dale '82 to '84
I was onboard the USS Dale when we collided with the HMS Ambuscade! It was early morning just after breakfast, and I was on duty as the Electronics Technicians Comm Branch supervisor in the division office. I was sitting in my chair which had wheels, reading a magazine I believe as I was waiting for the rest of the gang to show up for our morning meeting. Suddenly the entire ship shifted sideways about four feet, and I rolled across the floor of the office compartment and slammed into the bulkhead on the other side. "What in the Hell was that!!!" I remember yelling, with a little bit of fear. I think I might have banged myself against something, but in general wasn't hurt at all. It didn't take me too long to run outside the compartment and up the ladder to the deck, along with nearly everybody else down below who were also running topside to see what was going on.
I remember seeing the Ambuscade just pulling away from the Dale, with that huge gaping gash in the bow. Wow, what a sight! I also saw the damage that the collision had done to the Dale, with several bollocks knocked loose from the fantail and big scrapes where the Ambuscade had "tried to take a bite out of" the Dale. I believe the Ambuscade took much more damage than the Dale did in this encounter!
I had heard when talking later with those on duty in the wheelhouse, that what had likely happened during what I was told were "tick-tack" maneuvers that both the Dale and the Ambuscade were taking part in, was that the Ambuscade suddenly lost power and was drifting towards the Dale. The Ensign on the Dale who was had control of the steering tried to maneuver away from the Ambuscade which was drifting toward the Dale. But instead of turning to port which would have caused the fantail of the Dale to move away from the Ambuscade, he turned the ship towards the starboard, which would have been appropriate maneuver if he were driving a car, but since a ship steers from the aft instead of the bow, this maneuver caused the fantail of the Dale to smash directly into the Ambuscade.
I heard that no one was hurt seriously on either the Ambuscade or the Dale. That was quite a relief. On the Dale, I know of several machinist's mates that got knocked out of their racks which were very close to the collision site and they were asleep after being on duty the previous night. I'm sure they all remember that morning well!
After the collision, the USS Dale sailed to Diego Garcia for about a week while repairs were made. I remember that being a nice break for most of the ship's company from the Indian Ocean maneuvers we were doing before then.
(SW) Jared Harvey
a Quartermaster (Navigation), I was on the bridge (though not on watch)
during the collision incident. If I remember correctly, we were doing
NATO signal flag maneuvers when the HMS Ambuscade came up our port
side very fast as if to take the lead in our single line formation.
She then went hard port in a tight circle as if to take up a position
on our stern (I remember watching her and wondering what her intention
was because her actions seemed somewhat odd) when she appeared to
either loose steerage or made a very bad maneuvering decision. Anyway,
I ran to the port bridge wing and noticed that she was still moving
fairly fast and was surprised at how close she was. (I remember hearing
her gas turbines wining loudly ¦reversing screws) ?
I ran back into the bridge and the OOD yelled a helm order (cannot
remember what it was) and told the bridge crew to sound the collision
alarm. I grabbed the 1MC near the Captains chair and started saying
"Collision alarm, collision alarm", all hands brace for
collision port side -this is not a drill, this is not a drill!! On
my second repeat I realized that the collision alarm had already been
sounding and thus killed my 1MC announcements. At the moment the Captain
came bursting onto the bridge and yelled an order and took the con.
At the same time I felt a slight shutter at impact on the port side.
All hell broke loose and I believe that we went to GQ, primarily for
damage control reasons. I looked out on the bridge wing again (GQ
station was the bridge) and was shocked by the deep bow imprint on
the HMS Ambuscade as she drifted away from us slowly. I quickly started
wondering about our own damage. First reports from DC central were
of some smoke in some engineering spaces and the loss of our stern
capstan and other deck equipment, a fuel leak as well as some minor
damage to the hull in the area. Overall, I was surprised that our
damage was so little when compared to our British friend. We soon
were able to maneuver safely away from the damaged British ship and
hold station from her in case the Ambuscade needed damage control
assistance. I believe that we were with the USS America Carrier Group
at the time and the group commander soon came to have a look see in
a H-3 Sea King and sent another to assist.
Eventually the Ambuscade secured her damage (luckily, the seas were
very calm) and got slowly underway. I always thought that the HMS
Ambuscade headed for Djibouti for repairs but it appears it was Bombay
(must have been a long haul with that kind of damage). I also thought
that this incident occurred in the Gulf of Aden and not the Gulf of
Oman as the web site states.
As for the lean mean CG-19, we sent our HTs over the side with some
plate steel and after some magic welding, we continued on with our
deployment without any further operational limitations.
Alas, I was sad to learn that the Dale ended its fine naval career
in a SINKEX ¦she was a good ship.
CDR, USN Retired
saw on the Dale web site that you were looking for recollections of
Dale sailors who were on board during the collision with HMS Ambuscade
in June of 1983. I was an Ensign aboard the Dale during that cruise
and remember the collision very well.
the Officer of the deck ordered the collision alarm to sound, our
boatswains of the watch hit the alarm before announcing where the
collision would occur. In talking to shipmates afterward who were
below decks, the thing that bothered them the most was hearing the
alarm go off, the ship begin healing hard over, hearing the engines
speed up - so they all new this was not a drill - and no one told
them where the collision would occur - so no one new were to get away
first concern after the collision was for our after lookout whose
normal position is on the stern of the ship on our port side. He was
missing, we couldn't raise him on the sound powered phone he wore
and he wasn't visible from the bridge. We found him on the starboard
side amidships with his sound powered head phones still on his head.
He had run so fast the he had snapped the cord connecting him into
the communication system.
were stories that right after the collision there were with beer cases
on our fantail. Spewed out from Ambuscade's bow. Serving in an unfortunately
dry Navy - it was amazing how fast that beer disappeared. No evidence
was ever found.
a side note, HMS Ambush (I believe the British were trying to tell
us something with the names) was part of out task group for part of
that deployment. I had the privilege of being sent over to her to
spend the day with the Royal Navy. I still remember that visit fondly
Mate Missiles SN Tom Terry
was in the aft missile house when the accident occurred and have some
really good stories about it. One of my close buddies was in aft steering
at the time and is really lucky he did not get killed. It knocked
him out of his seat and threw him about ten feet to starboard.
My division officer was at the helm.
Glad to hear no one was seriously hurt on your ship.
was on the USS Dale during the collision I've never forgotten that
day. Someone rang the chemical alarm. I knew that the ship had been
hit by the way it felt. I was kind of nervous because the Chemical
It happend during my shift. My station was the throttle.
USS Dale 1980-84
I was on board the USS Dale when it collided with the Ambuscade. I
was on watch in the Combat Information Center when I heard the collision
alarm sound. There was a hatch close to the EW shack and I walked
out to the signal deck to see what was happening. At first it appeared
that the Ambuscade would hit us amidships (in which case there would
have been casualties) but as the alarm was sounded the officer of
the deck ordered the Dale to make a hard Starboard turn so that the
Port Rear Quarter of the Dale took out the Ambuscade's bow.
I have a very clear memory of the poor guy who was our after lookout
as the collision occurred. He was running across the deck with the
bow of the Ambuscade chasing right behind him. It almost looked like
the shark in the movie JAWS. The bow must have chased him 15 or 20
feet and he fell at least twice all the time taking advantage of both
his hands and his feet to keep moving away. When the force of the
impact was spent the Ambuscade pulled away and ripped a very large
(several tons) capstan off of the deck. There was also a bunch of
rope and tackle out of the Ambuscade's boatswains locker left on our
After the collision we had some small holes in the hull below the
waterline but they were easily plugged and we made preliminary repairs
in Diego Garcia.
At the time it occurred, there was a Soviet May aircraft overhead.
It is very possible that somewhere in the Kremlin archives there are
soviet pictures or film of the collision.
Thank you for maintaining this website. This is one of my best sea