History of ATR-7  -  Page 28

    Since ATR-7 was returning to the United States from foreign duty, the crew made arrangements to declare all their purchases overseas on entering Miami. Shortly after noon on 7 August they sighted Fowery Rock Light. In the distance they could see the skyline of Miami Beach and soon began moving down the channel into Biscayne Bay -- just like the old days. ATR-7 had not been stopped by U.S. Customs at all. Possibly because they thought we were just on another training duty. The ship nosed up to the dock and the first line went over after having been away from native soil for nearly seven months.
    When the first line reaches the dock and the loop is slipped over the bollard on the pier, it is Navy custom to signal with a short toot on the steam whistle. YN2 stood inside the bridge waiting for each order from the Captain who was directing the docking operation from the flying bridge. YN2 handled the annunciator which relayed each change of speed the Captain called down the voice tube. When engines stopped and the first line slipped over the bollard, the Captain signaled the helmsman -- "Hit it!", for a short blast on the whistle.
    The helmsman pulled the brass lever overhead with a short yank and the whistle let off a blast. but -- the whistle did not stop with a short blast! It continued on, and on, and on! The frantic helmsman jiggled the whistle lever, but to no avail. A phone order was sent to the fireroom, but no one could release the valve that controlled the steam line to the whistle. The valve had frozen! Noise from the whistle was deafening! They closed and dogged all the open ports and hatches and then stuffed cloth into the voice tube, but still the noise seemed just as loud.
    The din was so great that the crew could not speak or hear anything except the blast from the bellowing steam whistle. Fireroom again tried to turn off another valve to the whistle. More bad luck, it was frozen solid and would not budge. There was no other solution but to wait until all the steam in the boiler ran down after the fire was put out. Over half an hour passed before the terrible noise finally came to an end.


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