HH-1K 157203's Water Landing on 11/26/70
Det 6 had moved from Song Ong Doc back to the LST Garrett County, LST 786, after their base at Song Ong Doc was attacked on the night of 10/20/70 which was 37 days prior to 157203's water landing. I was flying at Det 1 out of the nearby Solid Anchor base on 11/26/70 and heard about 203's water landing immediately by our Tactical Operations Center (TOC) at Solid Anchor. Apparently 203 was making the usual daily Sealord mail/parts/pax run out to the LST 786, the Garrett County, who was supporting the Vietnamese Counteroffensive, Phase VII, off the West coast of the Southern Ca Mau peninsula from 1 September 1970, 5 to 30 November 1970, and 31 December 1970 to 2 February 1971.
I was told by a maintenance officer in Binh Thuy that the pilot of of 203 neglected to take on fuel aboard the LST and ran out of fuel on the way back from the LST to the West coast of the Southern Ca Mau peninsula. Fortunately everyone survived the water landing. If 203 did run out of fuel, it would have been an embarrassment for everyone, especially the pilot of 203 and the Squadron Safety Officer. The information stated above is what I was told, but I have not located the accident investigation made by the Squadron Safety Officer so I do not wish to falsely malign the pilot with rumors.
I learned from National Airlines Flight 193, a Boeing 727, that landed in Escambia Bay in Pensacola on May 8, 1978, that for commercial aircraft, rebuilding after immersion in brackish water is typically possible for up to 24 hours but perhaps for less time in saltwater. That's not to say that Japanese Zeros have not been hauled up out of the Pacific and rebuilt after over 60 years in saltwater but they are, essentially, mostly newly rebuilt using the remains as patterns.Don Thompson