Commentaries, Reminiscences and Sea Stories
Bill Klein

The Hunt for USNS Dutton
Posted on 9/13/2013

While serving on the Dutton in 1963, I took emergency leave to tend to a family matter and my experience trying to return to the ship was one I’ll not forget.

I left the ship, while it was home ported and operating out of Belfast, and after I had completed my leave period I proceeded to start my journey back to the Dutton. I arrived in London and was processed and sent back to Belfast arriving on a Saturday. Jumped in a cab and told the driver I wanted to go to where the Dutton was tied up. He gave me a funny look and told me the Dutton was not in Belfast and had been reassigned elsewhere, but he didn’t know for sure where.

Had myself in a pickle for sure, but thanks to the cab driver a plan was formulated and carried out. Since the American Embassy, in Belfast, was closed we decided that the naval base at Londonderry would probably be where I should head and have the personnel there figure out what to do with me and help me locate and get back to the Dutton. The cabby said he would transport me to the train station and I could book passage across Northern Ireland to the base at Londonderry. But first he made sure I found a place to eat and it should be noted that while all this was going on no meter was running.

Anyway, after paying a very nominal fee to the cab driver, I boarded the train and had a very nice ride across the beautiful Northern Ireland countryside. Arrived in Londonderry where I spent the weekend and Monday I rode the train back to Belfast where I caught a plane back to London for further processing.

Back in London they found out that my ship was heading for Piraeus, Greece and would be there in a week or so, so they put me up in the Douglas House while I waited and then booked me on a flight from London to Athens.

Sure was a relief when I boarded my ship and my “Hunt for Dutton” came to conclusion.

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