Military short stories:  USS Guadalcanal sinking LPH-7

Military short stories: USS Guadalcanal sinking LPH-7

USS Guadalcanal sinking LPH7 Personal military short stories


Welcome fellow traveler to another one of my military short stories.  I have been writing about my military career to ease into some of the harder PTSD related mental health struggles hope to write about in the future.

In this military veteran short story I am going to tell you about the first ship I had the privilege to help sink.

Military short story part 1:

Pior to the USS Guadalcanal sinking operations


Still here?  Okey dokey let’s go back to May 2005.  I am one of two very inexperienced basic explosive ordnance disposal technicians tasked with driving 700 pounds of explosives from Goose Creek Naval Weapons Station  near Charleston South Carolina to Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek in Virginia.

Military short story part 2:


Picking up the explosives for LPH-7

The morning of the explosive pick up another Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician and myself hop in our lifted olive drab Chevy Silverado with monster mudder tires and a specially lined box to block and brace explosives for transport.

We head over to the explosive magazine to get our first taste of what it is like to deal with custody transfer of explosives.  

After we got through all the paperwork and the explosive handlers got through the deer in the headlight looks we must have had they inspected our vehicle, loaded up the explosives and off we went.

Military short story part 3:


On the road to Virginia where LPH-7 was moored.

When transporting certain types of hazardous materials it is important to know that you cannot just drive from point A to point B any way you choose. 

You are supposed to contact the proper authorities in each state you are traveling through and provide them with your route. 

Sometimes they also want you to notify them when you cross into their state so they can provide an escort or check your vehicle. 

Either way, we didn’t do any of that so either someone else on the team made the contacts or they just didn’t happen.

I know we had a route that avoided the tunnels and bridges in Norfolk so someone else must have done it for us.

The 6-hour drive was fairly uneventful. 

We made a few stops making sure to park as far away from anything as we could and took turns going to the bathroom while the other guarded the truck.

Once we made it to Norfolk, VA we had to place the truck on an ordnance pad and leave it there until the next day.

Military short story part 4: Loading up the ocean going tug.

 Loading up the boat

The next day we retrieved the explosives and loaded all of our equipment on the USNS Can't remember, an ocean-going tug that would take us to the Guadalcanal.

 The plan.

  • Load gear on the boat and crane it into the water.

  • Transit to the ship

  • Board the ship

  • Unload gear

  • Place explosive charges with a 9 hour delay

  • Return to USNS can’t remember

  • Watch the fireworks - VP 45 Misslex then if the ship still doesn't sink our charges detonate sinking the floating hulk.

We would have 2 people board the USS Guadalcanal by a ladder suspended from a walk way about 40 ft above the water.

From there we would pull up the 700 lbs of explosives and gear needed to sink the ship.  

We would place all of the charges and set them for a time delay detonation of 9 hours.

Military short story part 4: Boarding the USS Guadalcanal (LPH-7)

In the early morning, 4 of us from EODMU6 detachment 10 loaded up all the gear and explosives.  

From what I remember, it was uneventful, but it was very clear that it was going to be a rough ride to the ship and even rougher getting onboard.

NOAA was forecasting waves of 8ft-12ft. 

Our boat coxwain put the RHIB’s bow towards the ladder and attemped to hold the boat on station but it was no easy task.  

I watched as the ladder hanging at chest level at one moment to 12 ft above our heads the next.  

Grabbing on to the ladder at the wrong time would leave you dangling on the last rung.

I glanced down into the water and started seeing strange balloons  between us and the ship.

It turns out these waters were infested with Portuguese Man o war jellyfish which are deadly.

I remember thinking to myself " Well this is why you do all those pullups.  Let’s just hope we don’t fall in. "

Fortunately I don’t remember much about the ladder climb so it must not have been to terrifying or difficult and we got everything and everyone on with no issues.


Setting the explosives inside LPH-7

USS Guadalcanal LPH-7 MissleEx and SinkEx


During that 9 hour wait time aircraft from the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman ( Which I did one tour on ) and VP45 would conducted a MissleEx. They shot a harpoon which ripped a gaping hole in the bow of the ship, and Maverick that did a straight down shot onto the flight deck.    Both these shots can be seen in the video below.   This isn't my video or music.

Me tagging the USS Guadalcanal LPH-7 prior to setting explosive charges

Me tagging the USS Guadalcanal LPH-7 prior to setting explosive charges

We had quite a bit of time to setup the explosives so I cracked open one of our cans of spray paint and left a final message in the hanger bay and a teammate snapped this picture.

I almost pooped myself

Setting the charges went smooth except for when I just about pooped myself in terror.  

We were in almost total darkness other than our flashlights in some small compartment near the skin of the ship quietly setting up the MK 147 time delay firing devices.  

I had forgot that they make a “ POP “ noise when they go from safe to armed.  

To me, it sounded like a gun shot, and in general when you are dealing with explosives don’t want to hear anything that makes that noise.

I glanced around to see if anyone else had a puckered butt look on their face.  

If they did, they were better at hiding it and I never mentioned it to anyone else.

Sinking the USS Guadalcanal LPH-7

We stood on the boat anxiously waiting the nine minute mark, the last 30 seconds seemed like an eternity.  

I remember wondering whether or not our charges would detonate at all since it had just been hit with a bunch of ordnance.  

At the nine minute mark the Guadalcanal’s flight deck silently split open throwing a large section of flight deck away from the boat at the same time, shooting out a thick rust colored cloud underneath it.  

Then came the thunderous crack and distinct sound of hunks of metal flying and thwomping through the air.  


Side note: A nauseous feeling

BTW flying metal makes a terrifyingly beautiful sound

It is amazing as long as it is going away from you and not towards you. 

Just thinking about the sound of metal flying through the air actually makes me slightly nauseous. 

I guess this writing is helping me with my numbness even if it is quite uncomfortable.

Going belly up

As seen in the video the ship starts to lay over on it's side and goes belly up.   

A few minutes later and the aft end is out of the water sinking bow first into 1500 ft of water.

Well there it is, my first experience sinking a ship.  If you are still here let me know what you think!.

USS Guadalcanal history

From Wikipedia

USS Guadalcanal operational history

Upon completion of sea trials and outfitting, Guadalcanal departed Philadelphia to join the Amphibious Forces, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. One of a new class of ships designed from the keel up to embark, transport, and land assault marines by means of helicopters, she lent new strength and flexibility to amphibious operations. After departing Norfolk 23 October 1963 for six weeks' shakedown training at Guantanamo BayCubaGuadalcanal steamed to Onslow BeachNorth Carolina, 6 December for practice amphibious landings. She then carried on training and readiness operations with the Atlantic Fleet, based in Norfolk until departing for Panama 11 February 1964. Following 2 months on station as flagship for Commander PhibRon 12 with the 12 Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked and ready to land anywhere needed. Guadalcanal entered Philadelphia Naval Shipyard 26 May, but was deployed again 7 October as a unit of Operation "Steel Pike 1", a NATO landing exercise on the beaches of southern Spain.

Career highlights include 21 July 1966, when she recovered the Gemini X astronauts and their spacecraft after they landed in the Atlantic east of Cape Kennedy, and 13 March 1969, when she recovered Apollo 9 off the Bahamas. In October 1985 the ship logged its 100,000th aircraft landing.

In 1987 the Guadalcanal was leading minesweeping operations in the Persian Gulf when it encountered the Iran Ajr laying mines in the shipping lanes. Helicopters from the Guadalcanal attacked the ship; troops from the Guadalcanal boarded and captured the ship. (Iran Ajar was the second enemy warship captured on the high seas by the U.S. Navy since 1815; the first was the German submarine U-505, captured in 1944 by the first USS Guadalcanal, an escort carrier.) The Guadalcanal also provided the Marines for the first wave of Operation Provide Comfort, the Kurdish relief operations in Northern Iraq immediately following the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

Guadalcanal was decommissioned in 1994, and stored as part of the James River Reserve Fleet until she was used as a target and sunk in the Virginia Capes area on 19 May 2005.[1]

Other incidents

On 1 November 1966, a UH-2B Seasprite helicopter assigned to the ship crashed as it was taking off from the flight deck. The Guadalcanal was in the Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, VA to start a major overhaul at the time. Three Navy men and one civilian shipyard worker were killed and 12 others were hospitalized. Nine more sailors and civilians were treated for minor injuries.[2][3]

On 9 May 1968 the ship floated adrift off North Carolina due to a burned out bearing in the propulsion system.[4]

On 27 January 1976 the ship went aground in Augusta Bay, Sicily on a peak of coral which pushed in areas on either side of the bow, but did not crack or hole the ship. Three days later, with cargo, personnel, helicopters, and fuel off-loaded to assist the effort, the ship was refloated.[4] Later that spring, while still in the Mediterranean Sea, a Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter assigned to the embarked squadron (HMM-162) crashed on its flight deck while attempting to return to the ship after lifting off minutes earlier.[5]

On 17 September 1981 near SardiniaItaly, a USMC CH-53C helicopter crashed while attempting to land aboard the ship during training exercises killing all five crewmen.[6][4]

On 24 September 1981 the Guadalcanal and the USNS Waccamaw (T-AO-109), collided during underway replenishment south of Sardinia, Italy, causing minor damage but no injuries.[4]

On 25 May 1993 the Guadalcanal and the USS Monongahela (AO-178), collided during underway replenishment off of Cape HatterasNC when Guadalcanal's main gyrocompass failed. Five crew suffered minor injuries and caused $1.635M in damage to the two ships.[7]

Awards, citations and campaign ribbons

During service the USS Guadalcanal received the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Navy Unit Commendation, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, Navy Battle "E" Ribbon (4), Navy Expeditionary Medal (1-Iran/Indian Ocean, 2-Lebanon, 1-Libya), National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (3-Dominican Republic, 1-Lebanon, 1-Persian Gulf, 1- Op. Restore Hope, Somalia), Southwest Asia Service Medal and Humanitarian Service Medal (1-Beirut Evacuation).

USS Guadalcanal LPH 7 websites


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