Red Sky in the morning….

There’s an ancient mariner’s rhyme that says, “Red sky at night, Sailors’ delight; red sky at morning, Sailors take warning”.  From Wikipedia,

It is based on the reddish glow of the morning or evening sky, caused by haze or clouds related to storms in the region.[2][3][5] If the morning skies are red, it is because clear skies over the horizon to the east permit the sun to light the undersides of moisture-bearing clouds. The saying assumes that more such clouds are coming in from the west. Conversely, in order to see red clouds in the evening, sunlight must have a clear path from the west, so therefore the prevailing westerly wind must be bringing clear skies.

Talking with a elder friend and mentor this morning,  Jack related a story how, as a Navy man fifty or more years ago, he had been a Tin Can Sailor ( alternately known as a destroyerman)  on a World War II-era ship.  He had been a yeoman and the Captain’s bridge talker.   Jack relished telling me how he had been selected for that job by the CO as he could translate the southern drawl of the Engineering crew muddled by ship’s intercom system.  And he loved to share with me the story of his ship taking 40 to 50 degree rolls in a Pacific storm they rode out for a week.

A ship of Task Force 38

I too, was blessed with a strong constitution, riding out a few violent Atlantic storms in the destroyer PETERSON, ( launched in the 1970s) where most personnel not on the binnacle list,  were at their positions with barf bags at the ready.   I do recall the one or two times I foolishly ventured on the upper deck by our workspace – the “Oh- three”  (03) Level, to witness the power of the wind and the waves.  Metal bent or was torn away by the power of the sea.   Fortunately with modern navigation, we did not ride through the center of these storms where the waves were reportedly fifty feet high from trough to crest.

Typhoon Cobra

I started to think what the Sailors of WWII dealt with – battling the Japanese in the Western Pacific and typhoons.   On a website this morning,  I discovered that an error underestimating the weather put a heavily armed Task Force, with some top-heavy ships directly through a violent typhoon – Typhoon Cobra –  with fatal results.   Ships were heavily damaged, some capsized and sank with hundreds of men lost,  and generally raised more havoc than the enemy they were to battle.


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