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Alan Baer
Reply with quote  #1 

I am a professor at the University at Buffalo Medical School. A US naval cruiser was afflicted by an epidemic of bacterial dysentery (severe diarrhea related to food poisoning) in June 1962. The food poisoning resulted from a picnic served to the crew in celebration of the ship's anniversary. Does anyone know if the naval cruiser happened to be the USS Little Rock? I would like to make this connection to my students, if true, since the USS Little Rock is a ship they all know from its berth downtown.

Thank you so much.

Alan Baer, MD

Art Tilley
Reply with quote  #2 
Dr. Al,

Yes, it was the Little Rock.....!

I expect that you'll be hearing from several others on this subject. It was something none of us will ever forget. Interestingly, I was one of the few that didn't get sick, although I ate just about everything that was served at the picnic (except the egg salad!).

There are a couple of articles that were written in the medical circles about this incident, which you've probably read. I seem to recall that they didn't mention the name of the ship in any of the articles.

We also had a lengthy article in "LitComs", our Association news letter. I'll see if I can find it and add it to this post.

Good luck with your research.

Art Tilley
MT-2 1962-1963
Reply with quote  #3 

03/27/06  INLET  NY




   USS LITTLE ROCK (CLG-4) was indeed the victim of a massive infectious agent (Shigela). However, the date was July 4th week end in TRIESTE, ITALY.  I was a young Lt. (jg) on board, and experienced the entire episode, including falling ill myself some three days out to sea.


   Unfortunately, some of the critical facts have been misrepresented by medical researchers from Stamford (?) and another institution. The first article asserted that the ship was the USS SPRINGFIELD, and they got the wrong date - 1962.  LITTLE ROCK spent most of 1962 in dry dock in Portsmouth, Va., leaving for the Med. from Yorktown (loading missiles and ammo) on her way to becoming the Flagship for the Sixth FleeCommander, Vice Admiral (McDonald or Anderson), and she was home ported in VILLE FRANCHE SUR MER, on the French Riviera.


   As was customary, Little Rock visited a foreign port (Trieste on the Adriatic) for the 4th of July.  The Ship, which was "tied to", hosted a huge main deck picnic, inviting all Italians aboard. Within hours, the dysentary started, and "consumed" more than 75% of the crew, including most of the Officers (Captain & XO) qualified to stand the "top watch" on the bridge underway. I was one of those watch standers. We were ordered underway within 24 hours


Reply with quote  #4 

03/27/06  INLET NY




   Sorry, I interupted my own reply. We went to sea within 24 hours with a greatly crippled giant on our hands. The violently ill were in their bunks everywhere, and those who were healthy tended to them with hydration, and cleaning the excretions as best we could. We ran out of toilet paper, and the Defense Dept. was excruciatingly slow to send help. Some of our crew were med evacuated to one of our Aircraft Carriers for further evacuation to the states.

Reply with quote  #5 

03/27/06  INLET NY




   Will try to finish without making a mistake.


   Little Rock steamed for several days without receiving any assistance from the Defense Dept. The ill were in their bunks everywhere, being tended to by those of us still able. Our ship's doctor and his corpsmen were overwhelmed. Our aid consisted of hydration, and cleaning the various bodily discharges. We even ran out of toilet paper.


   This event was reviewed by the researchers above mentioned, and I have copies of the two medical articles on the subject. Also, in the Summer 1999 issue of our newsletter, LITCOMS, I wrote an article on the affair, criticizing some aspects of the medical research published.


   I have copies of the medical articles, and mine as well. Would be glad to provide them to you upon receipt of your address. My response will have to wait until the end of this week, as I am leaving today to attend a family funeral out of town.


   Good luck with your student presentation on "The Rock".


   Jerry Dupuis, Pres. USS LITTLE ROCK ASSN.

Art Tilley
Reply with quote  #6 
Dr. Al, I'll e-mail the LitCom's article to you as opposed to adding it to this post. Art Tilley MT-2 1962-1963

PS. The following was added 13 Nov 2019

Jerry Dupuis is mistaken about the date being 04 July 1963. It was late May - early June 1963. Here are the specifics: 

27 May 0800      -   LITTLE ROCK arrives at Trieste, Italy.
28 May - 02 Jun  -  At Trieste, Italy. Onboard picnic was most likely on Saturday 01 June
03 Jun                -  LITTLE ROCK departs Trieste, Italy.  General illness after fantail party - contaminated food suspected.

Dave Carter
Reply with quote  #7 

Yep, remember the sickness. I helped put up the awnings on the fantail  before the party. So, I went to sleep and woke up and got some chow. 

I must have not eaten the right food because I didn't get sick and I had to stand a lot of watches.


The big item I remember was you didn't have to pay for cokes from the coke  machine. all the cokes you ever wanted were free.


Dave Carter

Paul Jett
Reply with quote  #8 
One factoid that seems to be in error was us going to the Med from Yorktown, when we actually went to the Caribbean.  It seems there was snow on the ground when we left Norfolk and snow on the ground when we got back.

I was one of the few who didn't get sick during the "Trieste Trots". FM division was pretty well out of commission.  The toilet paper we finally received was probably Italian in origin and had a red cross on it.  It was so rough, you needed first aid after using it!  The gedunk was open during that time and became my source of nourishment with plenty of beanie weenies.

I didn't go aboard the Little Rock until Dec 1962, so this incident certainly couldn't have happened in 1962.  The dates for that cruise were 10 May 1963 INCHOP, 15 Dec 1963 OUTCHOP.  There's a picture of the celebration in the cruise book.

Paul Jett FTG-3
Dec 1962 - Aug 1965


Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #9 
I too was on the "Rock" and had eaten in Trieste. I haven't seen mentioned that not only did we run out of toilet paper, but we also ran out of Keopectate.  The ships library was raided for replacement toilet paper.  There were men in the showers and over urinals relieving themselves of the symptoms of the food poisoning.  The doctor would not come out of his stateroom due to his fear of catching what may be contagious.
I had undiagnosed Mono and was accused of malingering.  I was sent to the Enterprise when we anchored in Beirut and was diagnosed with Mono.

I rejoined the ship in Rhodes, and was just in time to watch the disastrous swim call and see with half the heads closed for the swimmers safety, there was a shortage of commodes and the same disgusting results as when we were at sea.

Glenn Krochmal ETN-3 at the time

S. Glenn Krochmal
128 Richmond Hill Court
Williamsburg, VA 23185

Posts: 256
Reply with quote  #10 
This unfortunate event occurred in June 1963,  and it occurred in Trieste, Italy NOT Villefranche-sur-Mer.

The probable cause has been determined to be most likely contaminated food served at an open-ship event for the crew and residents of Trieste.

Art Tilley MT2 (Editor)
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