A Tale of the Sea and Me (For Sam), Installment 17

DASH was the acronym for Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter. It was a pioneer in employing a drone in warfare. It carried a torpedo to deliver over a submarine’s positIon a a significant distance from the ship, unlike the torpedo tubes aboard the ship.

It was also when the expertise for effectively creating such a drone was in its infancy, a great idea just a bit too early. Hawkins was one of the few ships, the only one i knew of at the time, to not have lost a DASH during their flights. En route to Newport on our return, we flew the DASH several times successfully.

Other ships had some severe problems through no fault of their own. There was one that was launched and rather than respond to the air controllers signals just kept going up and up and up until it disappeared. The ship never knew what happened to it. Another had a successful flight until the DASH returned and hovered about fifty feet from the DASH deck. The controllers tried everything they could think of to get it back aboard but failed. When it ran out of fuel, they watched it sink into the ocean. There are numerous other stories of bizarre behavior of these drones resulting in losing them at sea.

As a result, sailors often sardonically called DASH “CRASH,” “SMASH,” or “SPLASH.” The two DASH helicopters on board Hawkins were offloaded when she went into the yards for overhaul in September 1968, and the program was cancelled in 1969 due to its expense and terrible record. However, the DASH hanger was a great place to show the crew’s movie at night, and the DASH flight deck provided a great place for hovering helicopters to conduct vertical replenishment (VERTREP) for transfer of supplies and personnel, not to mention a great place for steel deck picnics, and holiday routine sunning.

“{The Adventure of Remo Williams Continues”…

2 thoughts on “A Tale of the Sea and Me (For Sam), Installment 17

    1. It should have been fixed then, not stopped. They were a great asset to ASW, and the program could have worked as the Hawkins and other destroyers proved. But there were problems, no doubt. Perhaps they were just ahead of their time.

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