John Prough

John was a civilian technical representative for Sperry, and was responsible for the maintenance of the Sperry NAVDAC (Navigation Data Assimilation Computer). John served on the Bowditch from June 23, 1967, when he met the ship in Belfast, Northern Ireland, until July 6, 1968, when he left the ship in Amsterdam.

Bowditch Photo Albums 1968

Tangier, Morocco

April 20, 1968


March-April 1968

Bowditch Photos 1967-68

Christmas at Sea 1967

Canal Locks

The first lock on the way to Amsterdam, July 1968.

Dikes of Holland

Mountains of Holland


My Judo Class

Me in the Daytime

Boat Drill

Captain Bondeson didn't sail with us from Barcelona, and Mr. Hess took over. He had some different ideas about life boats.

Boat Drill

Boats should be able to reach the water... and run!

My Room on Bowditch

Not too typical in that I had a double room mostly to myself. I shared for the first month with the guy I replaced, and I was suppose to share after dry dock in Malta with one of the Brooklyn guys, but he went somewhere else.

As you can see, I was more than a little at home. Almost all the paintings are hanging somewhere in my condo. Except the nude on black velvet in photo 2. As I was about to pack up in Amsterdam one of the Navy sailors came and begged to buy it from me. I sold it to him for what I paid for it in London (I believe). I hope he still has it.

When I went out to meet the Bowditch in Belfast I air freighted a trunk full of books and tapes, plus my seven suitcases and skis on the plane with me. When it came time to come back, I took 4 suitcases with me, but I took advantage of the well known (by July) rumor that the next dry dock would be in Hoboken.

So I stored both my 18 tatami Judo mats and excess luggage in the ship for pick up in Hoboken. When I met the ship in Hoboken, the new Captain was very annoyed with all the excess luggage that came off the ship. I think he was initially annoyed at the thorough search of the ship for drugs by the customs people. The customs people were not thrilled with my 18 Tatami mats which are made from rice straw. I had to take them sealed in the van directly to a tank in Brooklyn where they were soaked in cyanide gas for 24 hours. They always smelled like almonds after that. I finally donated them to the Utica NY Judo program at the YMCA.

Some Bowditch Crew Photos

EMO and Two Chiefs

The EMO (middle) with two of the then 4 CPOs. When I came aboard at Belfast there was one CPO and one Seaman everyone else were 1st to 3rd PO. At some point several of the 1st Class PO passed their Chief exams and we reached a peak of 4 chiefs out of 30 some Navy enlisted. I am not sure, but I think the CPO on the left was Gary something. I'm terrible with names.

Bowditch Band Rehearsal

Chris Smoot , Ray Shunk and Earl Adams comment: this is William "Ace" Hunter on lead guitar and vocal, and Jim "Fat Cat" Lester on drums. Bill Goldrup, was also a member of the band on guitar and vocal.

At Lisbon

Shot from the bum boat going out to the Bowditch in Lisbon.

My Xmas Tree

I bought it in Naples where we went to resupply after dry dock in Malta. I still have it, and when I don't put up a regular tree, it stands in for one just as it did in Xmas 1967.

Life at Sea

I have a few shots to show what a joy it was to eat off of wet table cloths, and even more fun with sandwiches only. I remember how nice the Atlantic was to us, so nice that we tended to spend the winter in the Med. The Med was like a still pond in the backyard of Europe. Well here are a few the calm Med to remember it by. These were shot in December1968 aboard the Bowditch.

Some more sea shots. Mostly done in the seemingly non stop gale that we ran into when we left Gibraltar until we went up the Tagus to Lisbon in March 68.

Between Inports at Lisbon

Some shots of April 1968 between inports at Lisbon . If you remember, after leaving Lisbon we got a message that our new corpsman had just missed us by a day. Then one of the Navy sailors broke out in a terrible rash that was driving him even more crazy than normal. So it was decided to pull into La Coruna Spain up in the NW corner of the Iberian Peninsula above Portugal. A message was sent to have the corpsman meet us in La Coruna. The current corpsman would escort the sick sailor to the nearest Military Hospital and then continue on to his next duty station.

It seemed like a good plan, and we sailed into the harbor at La Coruna it was as calm as a mill pond. It was there that I volunteered with the help of one of my Judo students who was a Tex Mex (MSTS helmsman) we contacted the local Coke Cola factory and arranged for a delivery. By the time it came, the wind had picked up and the boat to ship transfers were jump while you are close. Since the boat wouldn't stand still, we pulled each case of soda by tying a line around it and fishing it over the rail. Sailors can be clever with a line and knot. Every case clear the rail with only one breaking open when it hit the deck. But, no bottles broken or lost. I think we bought around 30 cases of 12 bottles. Mixture of Coke, and grape Fanta and orange Fanta.

With every thing on board we went right back out to that gale (force 7 as I remember it) that was waiting for us.

After being introduced to the new corpsman, I didn't see him around. I asked one of the sailors where he was. He told me, "he is in his room, actually he is in the little room next to his room.". He had been in the Navy something like 12 years and never been to sea. But after his second or third trip to Nam, he was "tired of training Marines to play Pinochle and be a good partner to have to send them home in worse condition than they arrived in Nam." So he volunteered for sea duty. As I remember, he had married a Navy Nurse who by then was a housewife and mommy. He was a funny guy. After about a week of praying to the stainless steel goddess, he felt a little better. So he decided to go to the movie thinking this might take him mind off his troubles (stomach). Unfortunately, that night it was a pirate movie. He didn't want to commit himself to taking a seat, so he stood in the door to where the movies were shown. The first scene he saw was in the cabin of the pirate captain. The cabin featured a big brass lamp hanging down. The lamp was swinging back and forth. We were swinging back and forth at a different pace and direction. 3 more days in the little room! Then he finally got his sea legs and he didn't have any more trouble.

Well the weather had to get better May was just around the corner. But it was first back to Lisbon for some R & R.

On the Tagus River to Lisbon

I remember having a glass of Port in the Ritz Hotel in Lisbon in March. I got to talking to a elderly American lady who had just come across the Atlantic in a cruise ship. She said how rough the ocean had been, and that they had been 7 hours late getting into Lisbon. I asked her whether her ship had stabilizers. She said, "Oh yes, we could hardly feel any ocean waves." I tried my best to sympathize with her discomfort, but somehow couldn't equate being 7 hours late with 3 weeks of wet table cloths.

These photos show a fishing boat going into the Tagus . This boat was about 100 feet long, well the photos speak for themselves.

May Was Busting Out All Over - The Ship

May was suppose to be better, but it was hard to tell it from March and April. At least for the first week.

Being a Tech Rep, these constant storms made it difficult to fulfill our primary duty--sleeping at least 10-12 hours a day. The major problem was that having braced yourself in your bunk, the minute you fell asleep and your body relaxed, the ocean would toss you from side to side waking you back up. I solved this by sending away for an air mattress. The kind you blow up at the beach or when you are camping and don't particularly fancy sleeping directly on the ground. I would half blow it up so I could fold it length wise. Then I would put it folded up between me and the rail on the bunk. It would be strong enough to push me against the wall of the back of the bunk. This would keep me secure enough to not get tossed around when I fell asleep.

May Finally Settled Down

The North Atlantic calmed down for us around mid May.

Bowditch Companions

The North Atlantic calmed down for us around mid May. For awhile we had a little company as shown in photo.

Rain and Fog

Then on May 25, 1968 we swung around the tip of Scotland on our way to Bremenhaven. There wasn't much to see in the rain and fog.

In June

June was much nicer to us.

Course Change

But then we were headed south at best speed to join the search for the USS Scorpion SSN589.

Steaming south past the Azores, I remember being down around 2 degrees north which is as close as I got to the southern hemisphere.

Search for Scorpion

Some of the other ships in the hunt. I believe they are, from left to right: USS Ozark MSC2, USS Compass Island EAG153, and USNS Mizar T-AGOR-11.

Bowditch at Malta

Grand Harbor

The 6th Fleet arrived for a visit while we there.


Main street of Valletta.


St. George's Bay and the Villa Rosa Hotel (where I stayed).

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