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The Demise of the USS Kalk –

A Final Accounting

 

 

 
The following is a letter received from the Navy pilot who dropped the bomb which sank the USS Kalk, in a Navy target practice operation.  The letter was received on March 27, 2005.

 
Subject: The Sinking of  the USS Kalk, 3-20-1969.

 

 

         I'm Lin Young, the pilot from Attack Squadron 66 who sank USS Kalk on Thursday


March 20, 1969 at 10:58 off St. Augustine, FL.  I was a new (LTJG) replacement pilot,


who just transferred from VA-44, the A-4 Ready Replacement Squadron at Naval Air


Station Cecil Field, Florida.  VA-66, just back from Tokin Gulf aboard the USS Intrepid


(CVS-11) was selected as one of six Squadrons to sink the Kalk in what was called


“Operation Sitting Duck”.   The purpose was to make it a fish haven. 


     The Jacksonville (The Florida Times-Union), Saturday March 22, 1969 article listed


the ship as USS Kalb.  The “Times-Union” featured the sinking with pictures on the front


page of the Saturday morning edition.   The pictures were taken by a Navy Photographer


who was riding in the back seat of a TA-4F that was circling the Kalk.  The pilot of the


circling TA-4 was controlling flights to-from the target Kalk. 


     VA-66, who was flying the Douglas A-4C Skyhawk was the 4th group scheduled to


the Kalk.  Our Commanding Officer, CDR. Anthony Karpitas was vehement about sinking


the ship.  He ordered 16-Mark 82, 500 Lb. General Purpose Bombs with maximum delay


electronic fusing for the mission.  Four of them were to be hung from each airplane.  The


Flight Leader would be LCDR Duke Snyder, wingman LTJG Jim Wilson, Section Leader


LTJG Jerry Tinsley and wingman LTJG Lin Young.   After pre-flighting and starting the


engines Duke Snyder and Jim Wilson’s airplanes were down.  Jerry Tinsley assumed the


lead and we departed NAS Cecil Field at approximately 10:00 for the Kalk that was


located approximately 60 miles east of St. Augustine. We checked in with the TA-4


control pilot who was circling the Kalk.  After a considerable delay, the previous group


departed and we were cleared to attack the Kalk.  The earlier flights had used 20mm


guns, 4” Zuni Rockets and napalm, which are not good choices for a fairly hard target


like a Destroyer.  They had caused only minor damage and smoke. 


     Jerry and I decided upon a 45 deg dive angle after noting the cloud bottoms were


over 10,000’.   The dive commenced at 10,000’ with release at 6,000’.  We were


required to attack from the port side to starboard side, which reduced the target size. 


Ideally we would attack from the stern to bow or bow to stern, giving a larger target


area.  Jerry’s first dive placed the MK-82 (a dud) mid ship just short, but within 25’


of the ship.  My first pass was short about 100’ and made quite a quizzer.  Jerry’s


second pass was another dud slightly long to the port side.  My 2nd run was also long


about 100’.  Jerry’s 3rd dive was just off the port side of the fantail, again a dud.


     My 3rd dive was the one!  At 10,000’, I rolled the airplane nearly inverted and


pulled the nose toward the target.  You always know when things are right and this


one was.  The airspeed, dive angle and other perimeters were just right.  At 6,000’


I touched the bomb button, pulled up, turned left and started looking in the mirrors. 


The MK-82 went between the stacks, slightly starboard and through an estimated


3-4 deck before exploding.  It broke the back of the Kalk and by the time I could


get a good look from the bow end it was listing about 10 degrees starboard.  I was


so excited I dropped the 4th MK-82 somewhere in the vicinity.   The controlling 


TA-4 who was called about that time by some A-7’s, told them to “Hurry up, these


guys are sinking it”. 


     The loitering before attacking the Kalk had used enough fuel to cause us to retreat


toward Cecil Field quickly.  We did not know I sank the Kalk until our Squadron


Executive Officer came up the ladder of my airplane after we returned to Cecil Field.  


He was excitedly saying “You sank it! You sank it!”.  She sank in about seven minutes. 


     We started partying at the Cecil Field Officers Club fairly quickly.  I was not obliged


to buy, since all my squadron mates and former VA-44 Instructors wanted to honor


my expert marksmanship.  My wife was not quite as excited as I.  She did not know


about my fete until our next door neighbor called to tell her “Lin is on TV, he sank a


destroyer today”.   She locked me out of the house and when I got home with a good


buzz she was less than friendly.  She opened the door; left the security chain attached


and said “I See Johnny Jet Ass Is Home”.  I should have called her at noon. 
 


Lin Young