Expedition into a Drydock
By Bruce Lonardo
I remember at the completion of my first Indian Ocean cruise aboard Midway, (about two months after I first arrived onboard by helicopter), I made my first port call when she returned to her homeport of Yokosuka, Japan. Soon after, the Midway was placed in drydock temporarily for routine overhauling. I was aboard the day that the drydock was actually drained and I watched the process from one of the flight deck catwalks. As the water in the dock drew lower and lower, more and more of the Midway's massive hull could be seen.
When the dock was finally completely drained, the ship had come to rest on top of two gigantic rows of massive concrete blocks spaced about thirty feet apart. On the floor of the drydock were a good number of fish flapping around and the Japanese shipyard workers were going crazy collecting them. A few days later, a couple of friends and I went down into the drydock itself and we took a stroll under the ship between the massive blocks. We walked the entire length of the Midway from stern to bow and it was like walking through a 1000 foot underground highway tunnel in the dark. I had a buck knife on me and I used it to scrape my name on the bottom of the Midway's hull.
It was pretty eerie down there and of course there was one guy with us who started in with the "Imagine if..." scenarios. ”Imagine if these blocks suddenly crumbled, we'd become human pancakes!" I thought "Gee thanks, that's just what I need to hear!" With that thought, I expedited my sightseeing tour beneath the ship. This sightseeing tour beneath the Midway took place about six months before the tragic collision at sea on July 29, 1980 with the Panamanian freighter Cactus.