Operating with the Big Boys!! – Task Force 77

HMNZS OTAGO 1976 attachment to Task Force 77

When we arrived in Subic Bay we were assigned to Task Force 77 with USS Enterprise as the Task Force Commander and spent the next five weeks doing anti-piracy patrols and Carrier escort duties in the South China Sea. Whilst in Subic Bay, I arranged for my crew to visit the USN Communications stations at San Miguel. My Leading Hand (Bob Paul) and I also visited Enterprise to arrange for them to take communications guard for us whilst we were in company with them for the five weeks.

We did a firepower demonstration for the Task Force, including Seacat Missile firing and our Anti-submarine mortars. The seacat aimer was primed with a couple of tots and he hit the target square on. Next the six AS mortars were set to shallow depth and fired forward over to the right of the mast of Otago and the first mortar detonated about 100ft below the surface with the next five mortars detonating close to the surface – very impressive. The AS crew marched smartly on to the quarterdeck faced the Task Force and bowed to a tremendous ovation!

Picture taken from USS Enterprise’s deployment book. Note how they pronounced the ship’s name. “Otarga”. The US ops normally called us Otaygo


HMNZS OTAGO coming alongside Enterprise for a RAS.

The Enterprise had a Radiomen complement of 100 but they were short-staffed and only had 75! A lot more than the eight that we had (CRD, LRD, 3 x ARD and 3 x ORDNs. They took comms guard for us for the whole deployment until we neared Australia for Exercise Kangeroo, when we reverted to using NCS Canberra.   Thanks Jim D for the article.

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4 Responses to Operating with the Big Boys!! – Task Force 77

  1. Jim D says:

    The pic of Otago with the A/S Mortar explosion to starboard had the caption “Otarga”. The US ops normally called us Otaygo.

  2. Bruce Kenyon says:

    Was a great trip 🙂

  3. Jim D says:

    ‘Twas indeed Bruce

  4. Jim D says:

    Whilst seconded to NZFORSEA, before going to Subic Bay, Otago did a trip to Georgetown, Penang. It was like going back in time – reminded me of Singapore in the 60’s. We were made welcome by RAAF personnel at RAAF Butterworth, but the highlight was walking through the old city itself. Myself and the Yeoman (Bruce) noticed a peculiar smell wafting from one of the buildings and we decided to check it out. Left in a hurry as it turned out to be a lounge covered in smoke from what the “clients” were puffing on. Decided that we needed a haircut, which we duly had and then a trishaw driver made himself available. Drove us around for a while and asked if we were thirsty. Yes! He took us to the Ah Chew Bar. I won’t go into details but the name speaks for itself. Purchased a couple of T-shirts that said that I had “survived the Ah Chew Bar” but left them on the trishaw at the pier, where we caught the liberty boat back to the ship, anchored in the stream.

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