Michelson Leaves Belfast

In the early summer of 1963 Michelson left Northern Ireland for good.

Despite the cultural affinity and emotional ties that some of the crew had in Belfast others looked forward to the Med's warm, sunny skies. Our two sister ships were there already, Bowditch operating out of Piraeus, Dutton out of Barcelona.

Several of the navy people had been in Barcelona before while serving on other ships. They knew the watering holes, night clubs and restaurants. The second mate's relief would be there as he and his wife were going on vacation. Oceanographers planned flying to Majorca. The navy executive officer (XO) lectured us on how to behave and what to expect, reading out of the State Department's guide to Spain.

Hoping to have a bit of spare time on the voyage, I bought some more books and, on a whim, a kite. Why not try to fly a kite behind the ship? Yes, the idle mind is the devil's workshop. 

Steaming through the Strait of Gibraltar we had a headwind, from the east. Time to break out the kite! Launching it was easy. At the stern, I relaxed on the OC Hoist watching the kite dance in the wind. From "The Rock" a signal light flashed "AA AA AA" in morse, the international signal for "unknown station identify yourself". Perhaps an old victory ship with a kite flying aft attracted somebody's attention or one of Gibraltar's barbary apes was learning morse code. Michelson did not respond to the light signal, my kite crashed into the sea and we continued on our way.