Back in the day, the P-3s had a fairly wide range of operating locations…

I had the ‘pleasure’ of visit all of these at one time or another over the years. Pleasure…yeah, right…

And I got a question in an email about bioluminescence. Yes, if a ship or submarine drove through an area with bioluminescent fish, jellyfish, dinoflagellates/phytoplankton, etc, yes they left a nice lighted track that we could follow in the dark, and it was caused by the ship/sub stirring up the creatures, who would then light up in ‘reaction’ to the movement.

Here is a picture of Jervis Bay, Australia showing biolum caused by wave action at the beach.

Yes, it is blue, and very beautiful to see! And there used to be a bay down in Puerto Rico where you could actually go swimming and see yourself get lit up… LOL


TBT… — 22 Comments

  1. I didn’t see Anderson on Guam. Or whatever the Navy equivalent on the island was. What about some of the other Pacific Islands?

  2. Years I had read of a WW2 USN man in the south Pacific aboard a tanker carrying av gas. On watch near sunset, he spotted two fast streaks of foam tracing straight for them and the ship made a hard turn to evade torpedoes.
    The two traces turned to follow, and he thought “[***] the Japs have homing torpedoes now” but at the last moment they diverted towards the bow of the ship – two porpoises had just wanted to play in the bow pressure wave, and the biolum had lit up their turbulence into long, bright tracks in the fading light.

    My best man was a recreational diver and he went on a night dive in the Carib where they descended to the sea floor and sat in a circle. Everybody starts kicking with their fins and you can generate a rising, glowing tower of water in the middle.

  3. The phosphorescent bay in the Parguera, PR. Still there.

  4. Houston we have a Problem: How Jim Lovell used Bioluminescent Algae to Land his Broken Aircraft


    The year was 1953. The sun was setting over the expanses of the Pacific. A silvery crescent moon wouldn’t rise for another four hours. Jim Lovell, of future Apollo 13 fame, was a carrier-based pilot with the United States Navy who was faced with a life and death decision.

    His instruments had just failed. He knew that if he didn’t bring his plane, an F2H Banshee, in for a safe landing on the USS Shangri-La, he might end up sleeping with the fish that night.

    Desperate for options, Lovell radioed his flight chief to ask for the relative location to the USS Shangri-La, where he planned to land his plane. After discovering that his aircraft was flying directly towards the stern of the carrier, he realized he was facing two dangers.

    If he flew in too low, he’d fly directly into the stern, breaking his plane into pieces. If he flew in too nigh, he’d overshoot the landing hook which was designed to catch, slow and stabilize his plane. Since Jim was traveling towards the carrier at 30 to 40 knots, a crash landing wasn’t an option, and neither was overshooting his landing hook.

    He would need to make a surgically precise landing, with zero visibility and no instruments. On top of this, Jim lost radio contact and was now flying completely blind. That’s when he noticed a faint, ethereal glow in the shimmering and darkening water.

    Lowell recognized this as the phosphorescent glow of planktonic algae that lived in the Pacific. The carrier’s giant propeller had stirred up the flowing organisms, leaving a stream of pale, bioluminescence in its wake. The closer he got, the more brightly the cloud of planktonic algae glowed.

    This was all Lowell needed. Using the soft, green light as his guide, Lowell held his plane steady and brought it in for a safe landing on deck of the USS Shangri-La.


  5. Guess I was lucky – got to visit Guantanamo while in navy, then later with other business, Keflavik, Mildenhall and Naples. They were not bad locations to a much younger guy than what is now at this keyboard. 😉

  6. Mike- We had NAS Agana, which is now the ‘international’ airport. Midway was the only other island we used…

    Guy- Yeah, that would have gotten ‘my’ attention if I’d been standing watch! Wow…

    Jamie- Thanks! Couldn’t remember that name! Great Lovell story too!

    Terra- LOL, true…

    AX3- We moved to Kadena in 75 due to a hijacking incident that happened in Naha in 74.

  7. One time in my life, I was at the local beach at night, and enjoyed the water alive with bioluminescent critters. There’s nothing like it, and there’s not a fish that can escape being detected in the water.

  8. Wandered topside on a moonless night in the middle of nowhere WestPac. Yes, indeed, an aircraft carrier can leave quite the bright trail.

    Went scuba diving in the Philippines on a moonless night. It was … illuminating.

  9. Navy helo pilot/fellow EMS jock talked about getting lost and having to find then follow the wake back to the carrier.
    You Swabbies definitely lived a life different than us Dogfaces.

    You say P-3 and my first thoughts always are always “Lockheed Electra”. One of my first major news memories as a youth was of an Electra getting into “Whirl Mode”, then crashing near Tell City, Indiana, killing all on board. It affected me so much, some years ago I drove WAY out of my way to visit the crash site.
    Damned good airplane now, apparently.
    Aircraft improvements are driven by horrible experiences, huh?

  10. GB- Yep, they put a THIRD main spar in to fix the problems. The Navy only had one Whirl Mode, and that was due to an error on the engine mounting bolts. It was a good bird for many Navies all over the world.

  11. Saw it at Vandenberg AFB when we went to view a night launch. We thought we had gone down the wrong road and were near the runway approach lights. Turned out it was the biolume in the surf. If you stepped on the wet sand you goy a meter-wide glow spot around your foot. Made me think of the visit by the invisible Id-monster in “Forbidden Planet”.

  12. I saw a lot of things on the ocean and at the beach, but never got to see the bioluminescence!

  13. Worked in Kwajalein for a few years. Never saw any bio-luminescence out there. Did see a P3, however. Privately owned, to boot.