Alkov serves on U.S. Navy destroyers

Hide caption Hide caption Hot Springs Village resident Frank Alkov grew up as a “Navy brat,” spent time at Pearl Harbor, the Panama Canal Zone and elsewhere seeing as his father was a Navy man. Alkov said he had made the decision to join the Navy at age four. “Because I lived in the Navy, born in the Navy and consequently my whole family is Navy oriented,” Alkov said.
He had wanted to attend the Naval Academy but ended up at Auburn University, became an ROTC student, got into regular ROTC and was commissioned on Aug. 23, 1953, at Auburn.
He was sent to Newport, Rhode Island, to attend Naval Justice School. “There I learned how to become a sea lawyer,” Alkov said about learning about trials and court marshals.
The assignment came as a big surprise to him seeing as he had first received orders to report to the USS Twing (DD540) in San Diego, California. Once finished with his training and after seeing his very first snowfall, Alkov reported to San Francisco, then flew to Japan, then to Okinawa. He was then flown to an aircraft carrier and jumped on a helicopter that took him to the Twing. “They put me in a horse collar and lowered me to the deck which was bouncing up and down about 10 feet. I landed with one foot in garbage cans, then they dumped all my belongings beside me and I met the Executive Officer,” he said with a smile.
Alkov then met his department head, got a bunk, ate and went to bed. But later he was awoken to go on deck to observe a combat exercise. He told the messenger that he must have the wrong guy. The next morning he got organized, was assigned as Second Division Officer and met his Chiefs.
The ship’s duty was to guard aircraft carriers out on West Pac operations in the West China Sea.
Officers impressed on him that the ship’s bridge was sacred. On that bridge Alkov was blindfolded and learned to operate every telephone, every radio, radar and ship’s call buttons. “They were very serious about this,” he said.
Soon Alkov qualified as Officer of the Deck Underway in near record time. As for a “typical” day, he said he’d stand watch on the bridge, four hours on, eight hours off around the clock, plus put in a full work day. “Plus we had constant deck exercises,” he added.
The ship refueled every other day and also at times took on supplies and ammunition. “Destroyers run out of full very fast. You do a lot of maneuvering chasing carriers and if you don’t keep fueled and you get separated from a carrier in bad weather or the weather’s so bad you can’t refuel, you’re in trouble. A ship without power is just like a steel log,” said Alkov.
A work day included a time at “general quarters,” which for Alkov was gunnery or weapons officer. As such, he’d […]

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