Naval Destroyer ‘Destroys’ 50-60 Footers

Watch dramatic footage of a French Navy destroyer as she pitches in 50- to 60-foot seas, set to a classic naval hymn. Keep in mind this vessel is nearly 500 feet in length.


Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and chorus, arrangement by Hans Zimmer (from Crimson Tide). Video footage – Marine Nationale de France.



66 comments on “Naval Destroyer ‘Destroys’ 50-60 Footers

  1. Gil Bates

    Took a 57 deg roll on the grand banks in 1985 on a Canadian destroyer, HMCS Iroquois. Sailed on a 650 ft tanker, stopped dead in the water at 22 kts by a rogue wave off the east coast of Greenland. Hardo to explain to someone who hasn’t been through it.

  2. Gary Coy

    Served in US Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell (WHEC 719) back in 1975. During one our Winter ALPATS (Alaska Patrol) seas like this, and worse, were common in the Bering Sea. We took a 68 degree roll which still stands as the record for a Coast Guard Cutter.

  3. Peter Roth

    I remember being 17 years old 0n the DE 701 Parley (I’m pretty sure that’s her number), and our sister ship were cruising the north Atlantic and got hit by a northeaster. We were in it for about 4-5 days. Freezing our assessment off. Could only stand 4 hour watches on the lookouts; wore these ankles length, wool lined Coates that quickly became coated with ice. Coffee was nonstop 24/7. Ship was rated to take 65 degree roll. We got hit broadside and took a 63 degree. Almost lost two of crew members! I honestly was scared out of my wits!

  4. Stuart Martineau

    Was on the USS John W. Weeks DD-701 1964-67. Experienced sea similar to this in N Atlantic. Seeing I was a BT, needless to say it was a difficult mission keeping fires lit! Those were the days!
    S.R. Martineau BTC (USN ret.)

  5. Jay R Smith, Jr

    I was Supply and Disbursing Officer of USS Foss(DE-59) in 1957 when the ship moved from Singapore to Sasebo Japan. We were on the edge of a typhoon for 7 days in very similar seas. I had an 8 mm B&H movie camera and captured a similar movie from the bridge. I put the movie on a DVD and still feel a little woosey when I watch it.

  6. Ed Naratil

    Aboard the USS Chimon AKS-31 (Converted LST) in typhoon off the coast of Japan 1952. What a ride. Almost split the seams.

  7. Paul Plotkin (PJ)

    Served aboard the Herbert J. Thomas DDR 833 in the 1960’s and can attest to the seas in the video. Seemed violent and never ending. A real experience to look back on. To the guy Dave O that thinks they were computer-generated graphics. I beg to differ.

  8. G Williams

    1958 – Winter – North Atlantic — DDR863 taking water in the STACK VENTS with 2 feet of water on the inside main deck passageway. We made it but some in our squadron had superstructure damage with personnel injuries !!!

  9. Harold Thomas

    in late 1954 as a rm aboard the uss flechteler (DDR870) I had the pleasure of riding hazel from the azordes to newport ri. Now that was a ride. we had a inside passageway that colapsed early in the storm. I don’t remember everything about the trip, but I do remember getting good looks of the sonar domes of the DD in company and my next command and the one in my 22 years in the navy that makes me say “I was and will always be a Tin Can Sailor” RMC retired

  10. D. Perry

    I have been in bigger ones. They were off the carolina coast ( !946 ) If you ever have viewed the “perfect storm” It seemed like that every time we came that way, which was often, as we were a Norwegian tanker on a regular sched. Montreal to Venezuela and back. In winter when Montreal closed, it would be Portland Maine. on one trip north, our lifeboats were smashed to bits . The first and 2nd mates locked themselves in their cabin.. I was just a youngster then and it was thrilling. even had my camera clicking away. Don’t know if that would describe my emotions today. .. Later, in the R C N , on a little cork, which they called a Fairmile, or M L , it was a real challenge , even on the great lakes , where we trained on it.. D..

  11. Ralph Carlson

    Steaming as before on USS Ozbourn DD-846 January 1959 enroute Guam. Got an Op-Immediate telling us to chase a suspected Russian Sub. Heavy seas building up to state 5 plus. Green water over the bow for nine or ten hours. Damage: Mount 51 bent upwards about eleven iinches at the base, SPS-6 surface radar bent upwards two feet. Spent ten extra days in Guam for repairs. I was EMO (also George at the time). T.he old man made me climb up the stick to “get a good look at the damage.

  12. Harold walters

    Spent 10 years on WW2 class cans .many storms at sea ,One west pac cruise on USSTrathen DD 530 there were thirteen typhoons and we were rode out nine of them and by the foward engine room inclinometer were taking roles in excess of 60 degrees .Lost about 40 feet of bull work on the port side. Another storm resulted in cracks in the hull low in the bilge near the keel had to have that repaired in Subic and up to Sasebo for a final repair.

  13. Don Horner, LCDR, USN (Ret) Asst. CIC Officer USS Gridley, DLG-21

    On a Westpac cruise in 1964 we were chasing a carrier and ran into a typhoon. One night I was on watch in CIC and started to step out onto the O-4 level deck, starboard side. When I opened the hatch I could only see water–looked up and saw the crest higher than our mast. I closed the hatch. GRIDLEY was a bit top-heavy and 45 degree rolls were usual.

  14. Joe MIller

    Back in 1956, I served with Marine Fighter Squadron VMA-223 aboard the USS Wasp ( CVA-18) . We sailed the waters of the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea, in which we encountered several storms. Our flight deck was at least 60 feet off the water’s surface and there were waves cresting over the front ( bow) of the ship by 20 feet or more. Our ride was not as bad as the one depicted in the video, but exciting, none the less.

  15. ElviD Driver

    While serving aboard the USS Oriskany in 1953, we were in the Pacific when a typhoon struck. The Kersarge was the other carrier in fleet at that time, and I’ve wThed as her flight deck (105′ above water) dipped into the water over and over!

    The tin cans were mostly under water during the typhoon! Do not know how they survived! The fleet never lost a man, but I’m sure the average loss of weight per person was greater than ten pounds!

  16. sonny smith

    experienced the same or worst in navy ships notalbly uss obannon dd450, uss Hawkins dd873 and uss Vernon cty lst 1161…great times! maybe not so, at the time! as those who really know, it literly kicks your butt!!!!! in the case of obannon you were on watch station indefinitely as there were no inboard passageways to forward or aft.. literly no way to move off watch station, as mine was cic and bridge and bunk was over aft. steering….oh such memories. maybe that’s why I did 30 years…

  17. Bert Benjes

    I was aboard USS CONE (DD-866) from 1958 to 1962. We hit several storms in the Atlantic and the Med during the those years. As Officer of the Deck under weigh on one 0400-0800 watch, the night was dark and stormy with a coal black sea to match. Huge positive and negative G-forces were pounding the ship. You could feel the ship shudder as the screws (propellers) came out of the water when we crested the waves and began diving into the next trough. When it got light enough to see green water coming over Gun Mount 52 on the 01 level and heavy spray flying over the bridge, I was happy not to have known the size of the waves when it was too dark to see. But, looking back it now, it was a real hoot!!

  18. Dave Miller

    Brings back memories if 28 years at sea.
    We rode out a storm off Africa in 1962 – we were told after that the seas reached 90 feet.
    I remember seeing the carrier behind us going completely down with only the antennas
    showing and when she rose back up the waters pouring off the flight deck. Another destroyer
    was completely out of the water – you could see sky all the way under it and the screws spinning and flashing in the light.
    Later while in port in Spain, a friend on the carrier said they didn’t know how we survived on the tin-cans.
    It was great being a tin can sailor, those old short & long hulls are a part of history now.

  19. Tim Hibbard

    Faced similar waves in typhoon going from So. China sea to Philippines aboard John W Thomason DD 760 in 67.
    Definitely should have gotten sub pay.

  20. Earl Bonner

    Served aboard USS Kiowa from 67 thru 69. We experienced storms like this from the North Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico. A fleet tub is 205 feel long with a beam of under 30 feet, no keel and rolled like a coke can in the seas. I was helmsman and bosun of the watch and at times no one could stand without holding on to something, At times the waves went over the wheel house completely submerging the ship. This is an unforgettable ride.

  21. Al Hines

    We experienced those seas on a MED return to the States October 68 – Wooden Ships – Iron Men – Mine Sweeper USS ADROIT 509. – Did some praying and “Spliced the Main Brace” as soon as we hit the beach. Great times, great crew, and too young to care. Miss it sometimes.

  22. Tom Price

    Memories of trying to break a crypto message in the “closet” on a tin can in that stuff…USS BLACK DD-666 – 1962 – one green Ensign..

  23. Neil Hunt

    Try the Southern Oceans Drake Passage to Antarctica in spring storms aboard a small 385ft long Oceanographic vessel with 59+ft beam & 19+ft draft!! As an early-mid 90s adventure-cruise staff-member for Canadian Adventure Cruise Co I took part in pioneering small-ship Polar Expeditionary Cruises aboard leased Russian Oceanographic vessels (built ’88 in Rauma Finland -based Kaliningrad-that wld otherwise have been moth-balled & crews laid-off) First was on the M.V. Akademik Ioffe that my Russian step-daughter crewed regularly, then a season on the twin M.V. Akademik Sergei Vavilov. I can tell you that although our ships had state of the art stabilizers in inclement weather between Cape Horn & the Antarctic Peninsula crossings we sometimes experienced conditions like these & worse with giant rollers & waves over the bridge & ships library above it! It was spectacular! LOVED it! -& got my sea-legs quickly,only upchuckin my bkfst first time early morn out of Ushuai in Dec93 as we passed the Cape-never after! Some passengers on the other hand!!–However -almost to a man & woman they loved the experience of being down there in the Peninisulas & its island’s incredible scenery -sufficient to feel the crossing was WELL worth it! -quite often it relatively calm too-with guests out on deck photographing the giant albatrosses (up to 12ft wingspans) that zoomed around us! Unforgettable memories!

  24. Dave Bradley

    IC2 aboard USS Mills DER383 1963 on picket in the North Atlantic. 100 MPH winds 60 ft. seas. Strapped in, no hot food, lifers putting on their lifejackets. Amazing thing about this video is the vessel is not rolling much. DERs had lots of extra radar equipment and crew quarters added so they were top heavy and we were rolling as well as pitching. No fun. Went in drydock in Boston for repairs to a cracked hull. At the time I had no idea of the danger we were in.

  25. Robert Masten

    What a glorious site to see that Destroyer do it’s thing. Makes me proud to have spent 26 years in the Navy.

  26. Stephen Cherry

    I served aboard the US Coast Guard Cutters Hamilton and Midgett many years ago and cannot describe the seas we faced, on many occasions, while transiting the Gulf of Alaska in Winter and Fall except to say it was brutal.
    Doesn’t matter what national flag on the warship flies at its mast head. What matters is the sea and what it can do to ships and sailors who have the courage to venture out on it.
    For all sailors, peace time or war, the sea is a dangerous thing and your taking your life in your hands challenging it.

  27. Laurence Toews

    I rode a storm like that on a FRAM (USS Hawkins DD-873) from Norfolk to Rota Spain. We tied ourselves in our bunks and ate cold meals for 3 days. Spent 90 days in drydock in Naples Italy after we checked for damages. Maybe not the worst storm I was ever in but certainly memorable. Hawkins was 397 feet long and with about 3.5 foot of freeboard aft. Life could get right interesting in high winds and heavy seas.

  28. Chris

    The videos is impressive however what’s more impressive is the cameraman taking these images / video.

  29. R. Barry Sorrells, MD Lt. Cdr. (Ret.)

    I had the pleasure (?). of serving aboard USCG Cutter Spencer in Jan 1963 stationed in the North Atlantic off the coast of Greenland. We functioned as a seagoing VOR navigation station for transatlantic aircraft. Therefore we only ran engines about one hour out of twenty four to correct our drift. During the 45 degree rolls and 50 ft seas we walked the ward room walls which if timed well were like the deck. As ship’ s medical officer the main medical complaint was (surprise?) seasickness among the crew. A job for only young men.

  30. Rich T

    Makes me glad I was on a carrier (USS America – CVA 66) however coming from the south China seas and going around the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) it was rough enough that my feet left the deck several times, felt sorry for the boys in the smaller ships that had to be tied in their racks!!

  31. Alan Friedman


  32. Alan Friedman


  33. Ken Ringle

    I experienced Force 10 conditions like those shown for several days in November, 1983 north of Bermuda while delivering a 46-foot racing yacht from the Chesapeake to Tortola. It was certainly sporty at the helm, particularly at night, and we were sailing WITH the wind under storm jib alone. Heading INTO seas like that in ANY size vessel would be a life-altering experience. But that was de rigeur for the Arctic convoys during WWII. See Alistair Maclean’s masterful novel “HMS Ulysses.”

  34. Robin Scates

    1957 found me in the wheel house 2am in the morning on the USS Chickasaw ATF 83,heading north out of Hong Kong.
    Everything seemed good till we rounded the pointe than everything went to hell,no clouds clear as a bell and a huge moon with waves like I had never could have imagined.
    Keep in mind a ATF is a tug 205′ long and you will get some idea of the kind of we had! đŸ™‚ Merry XMAS

  35. PO2 Sears

    David Bowen is correct. The Lead picture of this site is of the Canadian Frigate HMCS HALIFAX. I know this because I painted its gun shield in 2007. The other warships are of the French frigate Latouche. These films are not touched up, played with or modified. I have personally been in storms worse than these off the coast of Norway where the waves would crash over the pilotage and it was normal to walk on the bulkheads from focsle to stern to your quarters. Real enough.

  36. Kevin Kirk

    In the early 80’s while serving onboard Canadian Mackenzie class destroyers, we would sail in an area called Whiskey 601. It is just off the mouth of the Jaun de Fuca straight (now called the Salish Sea). It is where 3 different currents come together and even in nice bright sunshine, it is rough. Add in a storm or two and it can be hell on wheels. Seeing this short video reminds me of then.

  37. Joe Planer

    We were on station as picket ship between Formosa and Comunist China. Fist day was like glass then for 2 days 60 ft swells in a Typhone (circa 1964) only black coffee and plain bologna sandwiches and didn’t feel like smoking like I did then. We had to stay on station no matter what

  38. Frank Broderick

    I served on the USS Spangles DE696 from 1943 to 1946 in the south Pacific. The Navy couldn’t decide if they should
    pay us for flight or submarine duty. Frightening experience. No hot meals, just sandwiches. The next day the Pacific
    would be as smooth as glass.

  39. David Bowen

    Interesting that the preview image is of the bow of a Canadian Halifax-Class frigate, but the horribly-edited video is of the French frigate Latouche-Tréville (D646).

  40. Bob Zimels

    This is NOT a ship of the USN.
    I was on a WW II DD (DDE-507-USS CONWAY), ’59-’62 and we operated of the Va. Capes. In wintertime we often encountered waves like the ones in the video. It was NOT fun. As DCA, I held the ship’s ‘curves of form’, that indicated a 61 degree roll would prove fatal. The largest roll I observed was +/- 57 degrees on either side of the vertical, with pitching enough to take green water over the bridge, which was some 100 ft. aft of the bow and 30+ ft. above the waterline. I repeat, it was not fun, and I would rather never repeat the experience. If the video shows a ship over 500 ft in length, this would indicate it is significantly larger than the CONWAY which was 376 ft in length., with a 40 ft. max beam.

  41. Bill Poorman

    Sorry Col. St. James but the “Navy Hymn does start with “Eternal Farther strong to save, whoes arm does bind the restless waves ……”. It was written in 1861 by Rev William Whiting. The last verse is “O Hear us when we cry to thee, for those in perail on the sea.” Many services have revised the verses to include themselves in modern times; but the version in the video is that which I learned in the late 1930’s. And is the version used at the US Naval Academy. The Episcopal Church hymnal has the “Navy Hymn” version (e.g.” Eternal Father” as well as a Tri-Service version.

    I have never heard the verses you cite.

  42. Donald Seyk

    Being a destroyer sailor in the 1960’s and riding out several similar storms, this brings back many fond moments. Paint the bulkheads to remove thge footprints. Don Seyk

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