Searby, Arthur ‘43

Searby, Arthur ‘43

My ship, the Santa Isabel, was in convoy with the USS Arkansas during Operation Torch. We were also loaded with munitions, drums of 90 octane gasoline, and a cargo of support machinery. We docked in Safi, 128 miles south of Casablanca, after the port was secured. The discharge of our cargo went very slowly and we were sent back up to Casablanca to complete it, but before we could completely offload the navy commodore ordered us to join his convoy back to the states. The skipper was quite upset as we had not had a chance to secure for sea; booms were not cradled, etc. The Jr. 3rd asst. engineer, Bob Miles, and I were on watch in the engine room and we could not get the main stop valve on the starboard boiler to completely open. As I recall it had a floating piston in it that was stuck. As a result we became the “straggler” just off Casablanca, a very inopportune time and place. A destroyer came back to keep us company until we were able to free the piston and build up steam and speed enough to rejoin the convoy. Deck cadet Bill Walsh and I went back to the academy after that. Bob Miles watched a torpedo go by nice and close on the next run the ship made.


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