Tour On The Nourmahal
Radioman School at Atlantic City 11th out of a class of 92. I guess that`s why
they assigned me to the toughest radio detail in the outfit. The Nourmahal was a
264 ft yacht that was built in 1940 for William Vincent Astor and transferred to
the Navy as part of the war effort. It was capable of 14 knots so it become
Convoy Escort Commander herding merchant vessels from New York City to
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and back again every month.
operated under the Navy but was manned by a Coast Guard crew. She also was
flagship of the Commander, Eastern Sea Frontier. This made it particularly
unique and burdensome for the radiomen because we had to copy every bit of war
news from wherever, in code, 24 hours a day. I stood four hour watches with
another hour added on to manually decode the headings so the communications
officer could breeze through it like a newspaper.
hour was deducted from the eight hours off between shifts. On a night watch I
could put a fresh paper in my typewriter and sleep still taking code until it
was complete and put in another sheet.
Life on the ship
was rough. We got called to General Quarters about four times that I recall.
Several were actual enemy submarine contacts and we responded with depth charges.
A few were simply soundings from another ship already sunk on the bottom. My
station was next to one of the 5 inch guns as Gun Control.
The sailors were
all rugged men. I naively asked questions of the seamen about the operation of
the vessel and quickly got the title of "the Boot Petty Officer."
The mess hall
just below the main deck had two large tables, one for the Petty Officers and
one for the seamen. One of the unwritten rules was a seaman could sit at the
P.O. table if there was no room at the Seaman's table, but if a P.O. would start
down the ladder to eat and no seat was available, the seaman would have to yield
his seat. Any P.O. who demurred to this rule and elected to turn away would be
soundly razzed by all INCLUDING THE SEAMEN.
My hayfever, yes
Jack, hayfever at sea, was so bad that I couldn`t complete my decoding
assignment. I was sent to a Naval Hospital where the hayfever was confirmed. I
was delighted that I was given leave pending a medical review for a medical
discharge. To my dismay the report came back saying, "patient to remain
in service, to be kept at sea in southern waters."
It was like going
to prison reporting back to the ship. Luckily I had signed a consent form some
months earlier to change my rate from RM3 to RT3. The transfer came
through. It was like a message from the Almighty and I got transferred to the
Radio Engineering School in Groton, Conn.
is an Attorney Ventura, California. His email address is email@example.com
USS, WPG-72; WPG 122
Builder: Friederich Krupp Germaniawerft, A.G., Kiel, Germany
Length: 263' 10"
Beam: 41' 6"
Draft: 18' 5"
Cost: First acquisition chartered for $1.00. Second
acquisition chartered from Navy and the conversion cost $206,363.00.
Purchase by Navy for $300,000.00 from owner.
Commissioned: 21 August 1940 (USCG); was transferred to Navy on 16 June 1943 but
still Coast Guard-manned; acquired back from Navy 31 December 1943.
Decommissioned: 30 May 1946
Disposition: Returned to owner (?)
Machinery: 2 x Sulzer Brothers 6-cylinder, 2 cycle diesel engines producing
Maximum speed/endurance: 13.7 knots with 12,700 mile range
Economic speed/endurance: 8.0 knots with 23,500 mile range
Complement: 98 enlisted, 9 officers (1941); 101 enlisted, 1 warrant, 9 officers
Detection Radar: None in 1941;
1941: 2 x 4"/50 single mount; 6 x .50 caliber machine
guns; 8 x .30 caliber machine guns; 2 x depth charge tracks
1945: 2 x 4"/50 single mount; 6 x 20 mm/80 single mount;
8 x .30 caliber machine guns; 2 x depth charge tracks; 4 x depth charge
projectors; 2 x mousetraps.
Nourmahal (PG-72), a yacht built in 1928 by the Krupp Iron Works, Kiel, Germany,
was first received from William Vincent Astor on 21 August 1940 for service as a
weather station vessel in the Coast Guard Reserve fleet. She was
reconditioned at the Coast Guard Yard from 22 September through 1 December 1941
and was then assigned to New York. She departed the Yard and sailed for
Norfolk for outfitting and supplies on 1 December 1941 and then relieved USCGC
Spencer on Weather Station #2 on 29 December. On 19 January 1942 she
sailed for New York. She was then transferred to Navy control under a
bareboat charter from William Vincent Astor on 3 March 1942 but still maintained
a Coast Guard crew. She was designated Nourmahal (PG-72) 9 April 1943 and
purchased by the Navy 29 June in accordance with an option in the original
Nourmahal transferred to the Coast Guard 29 December and was struck from the
Navy List 12 January 1944. Until the end of April 1946 she served the
Coast Guard based at Boston, Massachusetts, escorting convoys from New York to
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and back as well as duty as the flagship of the Commander,
Eastern Sea Frontier. After 1 April 1944 she was assigned to U.S. Atlantic
Fleet sailed as a weather observation vessel through 1946. Thereafter she
provided towing services at the Coast Guard Yard, Curtis Bay, Md.
She returned to the custody of the Commandant of the 5th Naval District in May
1947 for berthing at Norfolk. Transferred to the Maritime
Administration 18 July 1948, she was assigned to the James River Maritime
Reserve Fleet. She was sold by the Maritime Administration 11 September
1964 to Hughes Brothers, Inc. for scrap.
Robert Scheina. U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft of World War II.
Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1981.
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Vol. V, p. 117.
Cutter File, Historian's Office, Coast Guard Headquarters.
[Historians' Office] [Cutters
& Craft List]
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