How accurate are memories from decades ago. Details omitted since their accuracy is not verifiable. The heart of the story is well-remembered. Part of the details are fuzzy, though. That ship was present and cried for help. Of that I am sure.
The Libyan-flagged tramp freighter cried out for help as the USA warship hied northward to veer away from the path of the oncoming typhoon. The rusty freighter lay anchored to the leeward of the small island in the South China Sea that offered no protection from the oncoming tempest that would assuredly toss the tiny ship about until the water flooded in sinking the hapless vessel and survival for the men in the sea during a typhoon was very doubtful.
“American vessel, please assist. Engines broke down. American vessel, please assist. Engines broke down” the voice in heavily-accented English droned on as the warship’s screws thrashed the sea sending 4,200 tons of steel past then away from the forlorn ship.The captain reached up and turned down the volume of the radio tuned to the international shipping distress channel. Steadily the disabled ship astern grew smaller then disappeared from view leaving the vessel to an unknown fate. No replies from other vessels had been heard to the plea before the voice disappeared from the radio. Even if another ship heard the plea could they arrive in time to assist in repairs or take the ship in tow or, most likely, evacuate the crew?
No one but the captain spoke during the event. While viewing the stricken ship with his binoculars he said to no one in particular “Libya. Fuck ’em.”
The worst of the typhoon was evaded but the memories of that day linger for decades.