SHENANDOAH’s First Deployment to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for REFTRA


Intense training in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba under the guidance of Fleet Training Group melded the crew into an effective force for the Navy. Training actually began on the trip down from Norfolk as FTG personnel rode with us and started the drills which would prepare us for the graded battle exercise four weeks later.

Shoring and patching drills followed practice for combating chemical attacks. Abandon ship drills sent the crew hurrying up ladders with an urgent sense of realism. The electrical load would be dropped many times during any given day for casualty control drills.

“Oscar” would be thrown over the side to see how quickly the rescue of a man overboard could be accomplished while mustering all hands. The high score for setting material conditions Yoke and Zebra (98 and 100) were considered astounding by FTG personnel. The Tough Tender’s Mess Specialists were equally busy trying to feed a crew of over 1,300 with emergency rations.

ORE would take an entire day. First, the crew battled simulated mines, missiles, torpedoes, and a gas attack in a struggle to keep the ship afloat. That afternoon the “Tough Tender” participated in a Tender Exercise.

Underway Replenishment

“Tough Tender” Exercises

The last element of REFTRA was a Tender Exercise which challenged the skills of medical team, fire party and damage control personnel with saving a ship with significant battle damage and her injured crew members. The three-hour drill used USS HERMITAGE (LSD 34) to simulate the damaged ship. This was a new exercise devised by FTG and it provided some very realistic and rewarding training.

Fun, Food, and Fundraising!

REFTRA provided for some down-time for ship and crew, and opportunities to have a little fun. The country and western band “Windlass” composed entirely of SHENANDOAH crew members provided entertainment during a “steel beach” picnic in the CPO Mess in Guantanamo Bay, and a fundraiser for a Norfolk American Legion Post.

“Windlass” was composed of IM1 Johnson, ET3 Butcher, ET3 Grenire, ET1 Partain, BM2 DeForest and BM2 Anthony. They performed on numerous occasions in GTMO and helped to keep spirits high.

The ship’s mess specialists prepared a picnic for the crew during some shore time, along with a day of athletic events.

Casino Night

Casino Night money & scans provided by Ann Marie Byrnes

Montego Bay, Jamaica

Nassau, Bahamas

Fort. Lauderdale, Florida

SHENANDOAH’s 1st Tiger Cruise

Returning home from GTMO, SHENANDOAH stopped in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for its first “Tiger” Cruise.

Above, the commanding Officer, CAPT. McNicholas, is receiving his instructions from one of the young dependents aboard.

SHENANDOAH left Fort Lauderdale taking the guests back to Norfolk. The passengers included Navy League Members, guests from the Shenandoah Valley, and dependents.