With only a few fleeting moments of air time left, the helicopter , number 51 of squadron VX-1, and piloted by Commander W. F. Culley, hovered over the submarine and landed safely on the fantail with only a few inches to spare.
Commander Culley, his co-pilot Lieutenant J. K. Johnson, and two other crew members, G. A. Dechamp, SO3, and M. R.Dronz, AT2, were participating in exercises some 18 miles from Key West when their plane had a mechanical failure .
The Copter radioed a distress signal to the other planes in the area and the message was relayed to the Corporal who had just surfaced after completing part of her operation.
The call was answered immediately by the submarine and it proceeded at maximum speed to the disabled plane. As the helicopter prepared to land it began communications with the submarine's radio room.
Nearing the submarine's fantail the 'copter received the message "Do You Think You Will Make It?" The reply was prompt and meaningful: -- "We're on your deck and damn happy to be here!!"
The crew was welcomed aboard by the Corporal's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander E. O. Proctor, USN, and after the plane was secured to the submarine, the vessel proceeded immediately to the Naval Annex and arrived there about 6:30 PM.
Cars and spectators crowded the pier and within a short time after docking the helicopter was again back in its own element, leaving the seas for ships and submarines like the fast - cruising Corporal.
USS Corporal CO Cdr J.H. Dolan cuts Welcome Home Cake
On May 5th, 1956 The USS Corporal was steaming near Key West
when it received an emergency message from a US Navy Helicoptor
stating that it was having engine problems and was going down.
The Corporal immediately contacted the helo and offered it's deck
as a helipad. The craft landed successfully and the USS Corporal
brought the helo and the crew back to Key West high and dry.
It was the first successful landing of a helicoptor
on the deck of a submarine.
Several years later the Corporal picked up a
downed Navy flight crew and dropped them off at Bermuda
seems the aviators didn't take to the submarine lifestyle.
USS Corporal SS 346 and Helicopter
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