This photo was taken by someone who sold most of us a copy or two. It was taken as we entered the canal zone on our way to the Atlantic site of the Scorpion loss. In 1969 our group transited the canal twice, and the pictures that follow are from those transits, but they are not in any particular order on this page.

The flagstaff on the bow of the Apache bisects Balboa Bridge as she tows the White Sands into the Panama Canal Zone after a long trip down the coast from San Diego early in 1969.

USS Apache (ATF-67) with Balboa Bridge in the background . . . Panama 1969.

White Sands and Apache catching their breath after that long trip from San Diego.

Inching into a lock is slow work.

Do you really think that Apache and White Sands are both going to fit in that lock up ahead?

Waiting for a lock to fill with water so the front doors could be opened seemed interminably long. It was like waiting for the world's largest bathtub to fill.

"Ahaa, free at last," says Apache as she begins to pull White Sands through the isthmus of Panama.

In each lock, workmen would row out to help with getting lines over to the mules.

I can't remember where I got this image. It was obviously taken by someone on the White Sands.

Are you really sure we can make it through all those twists and turns up there with White Sands in tow?

Just go straight and then hang a right.

You can always tell a good sailor. They're the ones who catch a few winks whenever and wherever they can.

I don't look old enough to drive a car yet, let alone a ship!

I know that the Navy wastes a lot of money, but whatever they paid for that incredible towline was worth every penny.

Weaving our way through traffic.

If you are a tug boat sailor, you can appreciate how taught this towline is. I was standing almost next to the tow winch when I took this . . . and at the same time I could hear some of the deck crew taking bets as to what would happen when the line snapped.

Looking aft from the deck of the Apache. Behind her in a Panama Canal lock is the White Sands.

A view of the USS White Sands (ARD-20) from the wing of the bridge of the USS Apache (ATF-67) as it was towing the White Sands through the Panama Canal in 1969.

This is how the White Sands looked to the crew of the Apache a couple of times during the two transits of the Panama Canal in 1969 when we slowed down a little too fast.

About half of us on the Apache had recently completed West Pac tours off the coast of Viet Nam. So when this explosion up ahead went off, there were several dozen sailors who reflexively hit the deck. . . . It wasn't the V.C., however, just canal dredging operations that they timed between ship transits.

Dredging operations were taking place all along the canal.

This does NOT look like a good way to earn a living.

The jungle along the Panama Canal is as lush as those in Viet Nam.

This must have been taken on the first transit, from the Pacific to the Atlantic. I think we got all dressed up in our whites for that one. On the way home, however, I think we were a lot more casual.

You've gotta admit that the White Sands has heart. Here she tries to pass the Apache :-). . . . (Can't you just hear someone with a Scottish accent yelling, "I can't hold her captain!")

Looks like we'll have to wait in line for this lock.

As we enter the port lock to descend to Atlantic sea level, another ship continues her upward ascent in the last chamber of the other lock.

Here the three ships are at about the same waterline height. Note how tight it was to get White Sands and Apache into a lock together.

At the time, I remember there being a lot of worry about going through the canal where Soviet ships could look down on Trieste. There was talk of covering the drydock bay with a tarp to prevent seeing the TII, but I don't know if that was done or not.

Treetops sticking out of Lake Gatun.

Approaching a lock . . . very slowly.

A "mule" at Miraflores Locks.

A good view of Miraflores Locks.

Close the door, fill the chamber with water, and then do it again.

Hey, look how high we are.

At last, the final lock opens so we can begin our slow transit through the canal.

While this looks like a peaceful cruise down a river, it was high drama just behind me. Towing the White Sands with such a short line was a real challenge, and the White Sands had her own hands full using her thrusters to counter Apache's wake as it bounced off the nearby canal sides.

Just another bunch of tourists taking in the sights of the Panama Canal.

Well, at least I got the back of Chief Houston's head in focus. . . . This is Captain Lonnon in front of a marker commemorating something very famous, but I can't remember what it was.

Dennis Boggs making a log entry. Since that log is now a part of the Navy's official records, I guess you could say that Dennis was actually writing history here.

Some of the heavy equipment we saw along the way.

Have you ever seen so many forward lookouts?

Approaching one of the locks. To be honest, I don't know which lock this is, or whether we were heading to the Atlantic or heading home. If I took the time, I could probably have put these pictures in order, but I'll leave that up to you :-).

The canal transits were long, hard days for the deck hands on both Apache and White Sands.

While it may look like the crew of the White Sands was just along for the ride, that is far from the truth. The White Sands had to constantly use her thrusters to keep her straight as the Apache towed her through the canal.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, that white pole in the right of the picture is a flagstaff we raised on the bow of Apache to help us navigate in the tight confines of the canal.

A view of Apache's bow as she steams through the Panama Canal . . . with all of her worries behind her :-).

It sure doesn't look very exciting on the port wing of the bridge.

No matter how hard they tried, the White Sands just wasn't able to pass Apache in their dash through the Panama Canal.