High Line

In late winter or early spring 1972 the HERMITAGE was engaged in an high line exercise, probably off the coast of North Carolina. Nearly four decades later I printed these pictures for the first time.

Bill Baetzel, who was on the HERMITAGE from December 1971 until March 1973, says that these photographs are of a personnel transfer at sea exercise using the high line method. He does not remember the location or name of the other ship. He guesses that the other ship was an LST. The HERMITAGE was the delivering ship. The other ship was the receiving ship. The chair used is not a boatswain's chair, but a transfer chair.

To the best of Bill's recollection, nobody was transferred on the high line. The commanding officers of the two ships probably did not want to put someone in unnecessary danger for a training exercise. Therefore, the chair was empty.

Bill says, "The second photo looks like the firing of the shot line. I remember [name withheld] fired the first shot line which was low and bounced off the side of the receiving ship. Bosun Lawrence got p.... o.... about this because it made the HERMITAGE look bad. He then yelled at the leading petty officer to get someone who could shoot the shot line across correctly. It's funny the things you remember after so many years."

Bill adds, "It's interesting to note how many of the receiving ship personnel have on hard hats and how almost nobody on the HERMITAGE has on a hard hat. Safety practices have come a long way in the Navy."


Rigging a block on the delivering ship high line station. BM3 Ward (left) and BM3 Minert (right).



Preparing to fire the shot line. From left to right, unidentified, GMG3 Gooch, unidentified, BM1 Horn.


First and Second Division personnel from the delivering ship manning the high line. Note high line neatly faked out on deck. SN Johnnie "Sea Dog" Sutton is on right. In line to left from left to right are SA Coleman (?), SA Robert Guerra, unidentified, SN Bill Baetzel, unidentified, unidentified, SN Owens, SA Reddick.


Delivering ship personnel manning the inhaul line.


Receiving ship personnel manning the outhaul line and bringing in the transfer chair.