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  • The sea of Japan is notorious for some of the most treacherous storms in the Pacific. We were heading to Sasebo to assist in the repairs of a frigate when the storm hit. It was swift, it was sudden, and it was loud.

    I was in the electrical shop with some of my workers when we got a call from the bridge. The deck lights on the winch deck were out, probably a fuse. My guys had been working hard most of the day, and the weather was rough, so I grabbed a tool belt and headed up to the fuse panel where the problem most likely was. When I got there, sure enough, both fuses were blown. I turned off the circuit, replaced the fuses, and turned it back on. Bingo. Problem solved.

    But as I was turning to go, I watched a sudden burst of light out of the porthole and decided to look out. There was an eerie glow coming from overhead, after the burst of lightning was done. When I looked up, I could see a crackling ring of lightning about the mast at the very top.

    I had heard of St. Elmo's Fire. Its a phenomena caused by strong static accumulation around high metal objects (like a ship's mast). But it was the first time I had actually seen it.

    It lasted almost five minutes. The light was an eerie pinkish color, and the lightning itself was almost pure blue. The tentacles of electricity lashed out from around the circle and touched all parts of the mast and the spars that held antennas and lights.

    It was probably one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

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