The following is a compilation of eye witness accounts of the Barcelona Storm April 8, 1973. The DENEBOLA was anchored off Barcelona, Spain. Some crew wanted to return to the ship and were informed that liberty boat operations had been suspended because of high seas. It seemed that while the liberty section was allowed ashore, sometime after that the seas had increased to 8 to 10 foot swells. There were numerous Navy personnel of various ships stranded at Fleet landing.
 
An attempt was made using the Captains Gig to get back to the DENEBOLA.  The usual one way trip took about 15 to 30 minutes but on this night took over an hour. The Coxswain had reduced speed due to heavy seas. The ability to keep the small gig from capsizing was due in no small measure, to the ability of the coxswain in this case a Second Class Boatswain mate, Robert Clark..
 
The Coxswain had made several attempts at the gangway but having the swells heaving up and down sometimes 8 feet was too dangerous for the Gig. The Gig could be trapped under the gangway and held under, sinking the boat. The Captain at this point made the decision to return to fleet landing.
 
At 0600 hours, the decision again was to try and return officers and crew to the Denebola. Denebola was made available of the USS America's utility boats that were somewhat larger than the Denebola's. Even with the use of larger utility boats, access to the ship had to be gained by use of the Jacob's ladder from the boom. Each man had to position himself so when the boat was high in the water, he would jump and grab for the rope ladder.  He would  gain a foot hold and climb up as fast as he could.  Then, on the next wave, when the boat came rising up it didn't knock him off.  This would most certainly result in an injury. As it was, some crew members did suffer injuries that night, in the performance of their duties.
 
Everyone was returned to the Ship,  many with a story of a lifetime.

 

 
*submitted by:   John Train from a collection of eye witness accounts.