All posts by Dennis Ambruso

US Navy Veteran, Vietnam Veteran and member of US Navy's highly decorated river patrol unit, as well as owner and restorer of PBR 721.

Next Project

The 458th Sea Tigers showed up to assess the condition of the PBR. Our detail helped them get some measurements and were fascinated by the stories that these Vietnam veterans told them. The 458th is planning to work with the museum to completely restore the PBR. Contact the museum if you are interested in volunteering to assist on this project or another restoration project at the museum….we have trains, aircraft, trucks and more boats that need work.

Dennis’ Time On Research Vessels

I’ve dabbled in stuff I always thought was interesting, but never thought I’d be swept up in an unusual sea rescue with Ed Link Sr., the famous aviator and designer of the Link Trainer of WWII fame, that taught many an aviator to fly blind at night, and the designer of that sub.

I crewed three (3) Research ships, and the Sub rescue occurred while I was on the R/V A. B. Wood. The other two (2) ships were the R/V G. W. Pierce, and the R/V Daniel Harris III, a former World War II US NavySubchaser.

But after we salvaged the sub and removed the bodies of Ed Link II, and the sub’s pilot, and the other two still-alive researchers, we returned to Fort Lauderdale!

And it was the next day, when the R/V A. B. Wood was tied starboard side to the dock at our base at the Navy Sound Lab, at the mouth of Port Everglades harbor, and I was the only crew member onboard that morning servicing the gyro, when I was surprised by having a visit from Ed Link Sr. and his team to the R/V A. B. Wood, to personally thank the crew for all they did in salvaging the sub and its crew, and to present our crew with his compliments, and several cases of booze. A fine man!

The Navy tried for 36 hours, against a 7-knot current forcing that sub into the antennas of the USS Berry’s hull, lying on her side, to get air into that sub. We, on the other hand, had the means to grapple that sub and rip her from the antennas, and pull her to the surface, (which in the end is what we did), but were refused because of Navy pride. And to this day, I will never forget what the Navy did that Day!!!!

Below are some items that have never been seen, and there is another story about my time serving on the R/V Daniel Harris III, formerly a WW II 173ft US Navy sub chaser, that I was third engineer on out of Port Everglades, working for the Navy Sound Lab testing sonar arrays out in TOTO (tongue of the ocean) in the Bahamas, which was kind of like deepest part of the Bermuda trench. We were towing and testing the Navy sonar array miles behind the R/V Daniel Harris III, so we needed depth and distance.

This sonar array was classified back then, it looked like a 2-1/2″ fire hose. Inside it was filled with a special oil and thousands of hydrophones and other sensors.
Fascinating to watch it in action when it sent back info to the ship/sub, and it could pick up a ship miles away, and give bearing, distance, speed, shaft revolutions, how many blades on the propellers, and the name of the ship or sub! The Navy knows the machinery sound of every ship!
Have you ever seen that Movie “The Hunt for Red October”, where Jonesy the sonar man yells out “Crazy Ivan”, or the “magma displacement” scene? That comes from that array we were testing, which is towed behind the sub!

But I can tell you about rebuilding a Sub engine and replacing a pneumatic clutch in situ, on that boat that really showed a guy what mechanics were about! Only sub guys can appreciate that work!

A pic from the 2019 Sea tigers reunion in September

SKC Pat Doyle (SS) (Ret,) on the fore deck of PBR 721, with PBR 6927 in the background, and him in the pic standing, as a SK-3 in the Nam on the fore deck of a PBR .

Chief P. Doyle is a member of the Mid-Lantic chapter of Game-wardens here in Virginia Beach, VA. , and COB (Chief of the boat) on PBR 721!

PBR 721 On Patrol September 14, 2019

The following media content is courtesy of Tom Apple. All Rights Reserved.

The following media content is courtesy of Andy Yowell. All Rights Reserved.