1969 UNITAS X Cruise

Bits And Pieces.....

If you have any UNITAS X stories, photos, etc. to contribute -



(click on any of the underlined links or images below for more info)


At 1125 hours on 25 July 1969, Leahy departs Norfolk, VA to commence Operation UNITAS X, under the command of Rear Admiral James A. Dare, Commander South Atlantic Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet in an exercise involving elements of South American navies; Brazilian Navy ships Minas Gerais (A-11), Brazilian CT Santa Catarina - D 32 (Ex. USS Irwin DD-794), Marajo (G-27); Argentine Navy ships Rosales (D-22), Brown (D-20),; Columbian Navy ship 7 De Agosto (06); Chilean Navy ships O'Higgins 02 (Ex. USS Brooklyn CL-40) and Araucano - AO-53, Ecuadorian 25 De Julio (Ex. Enright APD-66, Ex. DE-216); Peruvian Navy ships Guise (DD-72), Larrea (25), Lobitos (159); Venezuelan Navy ships and Urguayan Naval ships Artigas (DE-2) and Uruguay (DE-1), in company with US Navy elements USS Joseph K. Taussig (DE-1030), USS Sarsfield (DD-837) , USS Grampus (SS-523), 2 maritime patrol aircraft from VP-45 and 1 transport aircraft from Fleet Tactical Support Squadron One (VR-1). Also embarked, was the US Navy Showband of 26 musicians. Leahy's Port Schedule for UNITAS X is:

(image above courtesy of Len Burkhart '68-'71)

Additional links for memory amplification......

San Juan, Puerto Rico - 25-28 July (Navy Show Band Embarks)
Cartagena, Columbia
 - 6-10 August
Panama Canal Transit

Rodman Naval Station - Panama Canal Zone Visit
  12-14 August
*First Equator Crossing - 17-18 August
Guayaquil, Ecuador -
18-21 August
Galapagos Islands -
25-28 August
Callao/Lima, Peru -
4-6 September
Arica, Chile -
8-9 September
Valparaiso/Vina Del Mar, Chile -
17-23 September
Puerto Montt, Chile -
26-29 September
Punta Arenas, Chile - 
2-3 October
Transit The Straits Of Magellan

Three good reasons for using the Straits versus rounding Cape Horn/(Drake Passage)

Puerto Belgrano, Argentina - 6-10 October   
Montevideo, Uruguay - 
15-21 October  
Rio De Janeiro Brazil -
30 October-6 November
Salvador (Bahia), Brazil -
10-12 November
Second Crossing Of The Equator
La Guaira/Caracas, Venezuela -
28 November-2 December (7 Days out from Norfolk)   
San Juan, Puerto Rico - 
5-7 December
Arrive Norfolk, Virginia -
11 December [NOT Leahy - but USS Monterey (CG-61) - you get the idea]

*Pollywogs were transformed to Shellbacks when USS LEAHY crossed the Equator (1st crossing) at:

80o 44' W  on 17-18 August 1969    (Ken's proof)      

(click on any of the 3 pics above to enlarge)

Some Crews (Cruise) Tales:

(click on the icons or underlined links below)

     Little Wooden Mountain Man

     Some Thoughts And More Little Wooden Mountain Men

Some Photos:

   Mike Shieve's Cruise Pics  

   More Of Mike Shieve's Cruise Pics  

   Stan Kielbowicz' Cruise Pics  

   Geldon Harper's Cruise Pics  

   Mike Ryan's Cruise Pics  

   Jim O'Neill's Cruise Pics  

   Leonard Burkhart's Pics And Items From UNITAS X

Misc. Items:

Panama Canal Info  Tour 2009 -- Tour 1939 -- History Part 1 -- History Part 2

Some Shipwrecks:

Both of the shipwrecks mentioned in the links below. the SS Santa Leonor and the MV Capitain Leonidas were seen in 1969, although in better shape when Leahy passed. Both wrecks are located in The Straits Of Magellan.

The Grace Line's c3 type freighter, steamship, 8007gt. SS SANTA LEONOR, ex. USS Riverside (APA-102), ex-MORMACWAVE, ex-P. & T. FORESTER, built Ingalls Ship Building, Pascagoula, MS 1944. She foundered, was wrecked and abandoned after she struck submerged rocks off Isabel (Adelaide) Island in the Strait of Magellan, Smyth Channel, 200 miles NW of Punta Arenas, Chile at 52°30.10 S - 73°35.12 W on 31 March 1968. [On March 31st 1968, the merchant Santo Leonor (Capt. Ernesto Ruiz Munoz) ran aground in Paso Shoal on the Adelaide rocks in Paso Shoal, Chile. The Santo Leonor was owned by the Grace Line and was used in the Buenos Aires-Valparaiso line. The crew of 51 and 7 passengers were saved by the tug Colo-Colo.]

For video At 49.23 minutes in - The wreck of SS SANTA LEONOR is explored.

The MV Capitain Leonidas ran aground on Cotopaxi Bank, Messier Channel, Strait of Magellan area at 48.45.45N, 74.27.30W on 07.04 in 1968. Built 1937 at Bremen, Germany, 5137gt, Panamanian flag. The ship was carrying sugar. In an insurance scam that went wrong - after off-loading the cargo, the Greek captain sought to scuttle the ship on a known hazard whereby he could then claim that the sugar had disolved in the water. Unfortunately for him the ship did not sink. The Chilean navy then used her as target for practice shooting, and that is why the hull and superstructure look so messed up. The extensive damage is simply caused by gun fire, and not related to the grounding itself.

For video At 03.45 minutes in - The wreck of MV Capitain Leonidas is seen.

Grace Line  Link 1 -- Link 2 -- Link 3 -- Link 4 -- Link 5

Reference Links:  Link 1 -- Link 2

Now relax and go back to 1969......

For A Cruise Through The Straits Of Magellan -- A Trip to the End of the World


Some really GREAT photos here by Karsten Petersen who hails from Island Fyn, Hindsgavl Peninsula, in the small town of Middelfart, Denmark. The wrecks of the Grace Line SS Santa Leonor and the Capitain Leonidas are also shown.

  Cruise Through The Magellan Strait -- (video)* -- "Antarktis & Chile"

*https://www.mycloud.ch/s/S001D9DFEC820D7C325F6CFB1C236F36915A5AE32C0 (DVD 2005.12 Antarktis & Chile.avi)

This outstanding video "Antarktis & Chile" was shot in 2005 by Stefan Sniederer of Weinfelden, Switzerland.

*Video Notes: Play the video "Antarktis & Chile" -- this is a large file 750MB -- well worth looking at. While on the UNITAS X Cruise, we went past these two wrecks, mentioned below -- they were in much better shape in 1969. The wrecks of the Grace Line SS Santa Leonor and the Capitain Leonidas are shown. The SS Santa Leonor wreck starts at 00:49:15/01:06:35 and includes views of the Capitain Leonidas, and runs to 00:53:00/01:06:35.

Authors (photos--video) main page: http://www.datacomm.ch/sniederer/fotos.htm 

A Photo-Journey Of The Magellan Strait - Get an idea what living is like in this part of the world.

Some Documentation:

   For USS Leahy UNITAS X Cruise Book

    Mike Shieve's POD Sampling and Neptunes Menu

    For All Hand Magazine Article January 1970

   For Cruiser-Destroyerman UNITAS X Article January 1970

    For U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings Article July 1970

Ship--Squadron Links: (not a complete listing)

USS Grampus (SS-523)  Link 1 -- Link 2 -- Link 3

USS Sarsfield (DD-837)  Link 1 -- Link 2

USS Joseph K. Taussig (DE-1030)  Link 1 -- Link 2 -- Link 3

Argentine Brown (D-20)  Link 1 -- Link 1A -- Link 2

Brazilian  NT Marajó (G 27) Link 1 -- Link 1A -- Link 2 -- Link 3 -- Link 3A

Brazilian Minas Gerais (A-11)  Link 1 -- Link 2

Brazilian CT Santa Catarina - D 32  Link 1 -- Link 2 -- Link 3 -- Link 3A

Chilean Araucano (AO-53)  Link 1 -- Link 2

Chilean O'Higgins 03 (Ex. USS Brooklyn CL-40)  Link 1 -- Link 2

Ecuadorian 25 De Julio (Ex. Enright APD-66, Ex. DE-216)  Link 1 -- Link 2

Peruvian Guise  Link 1 -- General Navy Link 2

Urguayan Uruguay (DE-1)  Link 1 -- Link 2

Urguayan Artigas (DE-2)  Link 1 -- Link 2

VP-45  Link 1 -- Link 2

Fleet Tactical Support Squadron One  Link

Miscellaneous Links:

Fortunate to have aboard for this cruise and previous - later UNITAS cruises - CWO3 Frank G. Forgione, Sr., founder of the United States Navy Show Band....these links are dedicated to him.....

US Navy Showband  Link -- Link 1 -- Link 1A -- Link 2 -- Link 3 -- Link 3A --

Link 3B -- Link 4 -- Link 5 -- Link 6

From the 1966 USS Leahy UNITAS VII Cruise Book

U.S. Southern Command: UNITAS History