Back on the bridge Rinn ordered the damage
control party to stop putting water on the fire.
The XO asked the CO if he was crazy. Com-
mander Rinn explained, No, we dont have to
worry about the fire. In a little while were going
to be underwater and the fire wont matter
anymore. Weve got to quit putting water into the
skin of the ship. Weve got to hold back on that
until we can get control of the flooding.
Meanwhile, the bulkheads of the ammunition
magazine were getting hotup to 134 degrees.
The CO immediately gave the crew permission to
remove the ammunition from the magazine. At
first, they threw the 76-mm ammunition over the
side. Then they began to move the shells to the
forecastle. Each round weighed about 25 pounds.
They moved 700 rounds in 90 minutes.
From the first moments of the crisis, the
captain realized the way he presented himself to
his men would never be more important. The crew
watched every move he made. It was time to earn
his paytime to do his job as hed been training
to do it for years. It was time to lead this brave
group of men in one of the most dangerous situa-
tions any of them would ever face.
In communications to Rear Admiral Anthony
Less, Commander, Joint Task Force Middle East,
Rinn said, We are determined to save the ship,
period. That is our intention. We can save our
ship. I intend to stay here and do just that. Rear
Admiral Less informed Commander Rinn that
other units were standing by to assist. However,
Rinn explained, We never saw the mine that hit
us. Recommend you dont send other ships. Well
get out on our own.
The captain then spoke to the crew over the
1MC. He explained the ships status, and then said
again, I think we can save the shipthere is no
doubt in my mind.
Captain Rinn had very few good alternatives
to saving the ship. Going into the water meant
swimming with poisonous sea snakes and hungry
sharks. Roberts was at least 80 miles from
anyoneexcept maybe the Iranians. Asking for
assistance meant putting another U.S. ship in the
minefield. Therefore, Rinn knew the men of
Roberts would have to find their way out of this
predicament alone. Safe water was anywhere from
4 to 7 hours away. Rinn thought, I hope we make
it till morning; I hope we get to see the dawn.
On the flight deck, Doc got his last patient
off10 casualties transported in less than
2 1/2 hours. EN1 Dejno was not evacuated; he
volunteered to stay. His expertise was needed to
keep the diesels running. If they lost the diesels,
theyd lose everything. They wouldnt be able to
pump water out of the ship or fight fires. The ship
wouldnt be able to communicate, maneuver, or
A daring investigation by the Chief Engineer,
Lt. Gordon Van Hook, and BM3 Eduardo
Segovia had pinpointed the source of the fire. An
access plate on the 02 level had to be removed to
get to the space where fuel oil had collected. Both
Rinn and Van Hook watched as crew members
SM1(SW) Charles Dumas, HT1 Gary Gawor, and
HT2(SW) Tom Regan, led by Lieutenant Dave
Lewellyn, removed the bolts and then pried the
cover away with crowbars. Flames roared up in
their faces, as a column of fire shot 15 feet into
the air. Van Hook tried to maintain his sense of
humor as he turned to the CO and said, Maybe
this wasnt such a good idea. Fully aware that
his men had to react in seconds to control the
blaze, Van Hook added, Maybe we should do
this tomorrow. But his men immediately applied
foam to the fire with applicators stuck into the
access. The smoke changed color, from black to
white. That was the first good indication they were
winning the battle of the fires. By midnight,
conditions were stable aboard Roberts. Shoring
watches and fire reflash watches were set.
A crack amidships ran all the way across the
ship, threatening to break it in half. Senior Chief
Boatswains Mate (SW) George E. Frost came up
with an idea to keep the front half of the ship
attached to the back half. The ships Boatswains
Mates began stringing steel cables across the huge
cracks in the deck and superstructure, attaching
them fore to aft wherever possible. The work was
hard, but soon they were showing the bystanders
gathered around how it was done. Under the stars,
the ingenious sailors lashed their ship together to
prevent the crack from growing larger.
By 0300 the ship was quiet. Fires were out,
leaks were plugged, and flooding was under
control. USS Roberts was slowly, carefully sailing
to safety. As Rinn walked the decks, he looked
at his crew, exhausted, collapsed, some sleeping,
some talking quietly. He reflected on what they
had done in the last 10 hours. His men fought for
their lives and their shipa ship that was burning
and sinking. They fought and won. He felt a
powerful bond with them. They were Samuel B.
Roberts. Their survival made all the tough work
and long, boring drills, exercises, and training
At 0507 QM2 Nicholson made the entry
Observed sunrise in the ships deck log.