There were driving winds in the night’s blackness as the 311-foot cutter USCGC Absecon (WAVP-374), a former Navy seaplane tender, plowed into giant sea swells off Greenland on Ocean Station Bravo. Her mission: sending navigation reference signals to commercial airliners overhead on their transatlantic runs. Ensign Jim Loy, having just received his commission from the Coast Guard Academy in June 1964, had the midwatch and was mentally bracing himself for the challenge of turning the ship across the swells to begin the return, down-swell run.
As Loy described in his 2014 oral history with the Naval Institute, his skipper, Jack Forrester, “was on the bridge for most of three days, sipping a little coffee or a little soup in the CO’s chair, which he had strapped himself into to be there and watch carefully the young officers of the deck as we were doing these turns.”
Loy’s eyes were on the port on the centerline of the Absecon’s forward bridge bulkhead.