between Honolulu and Midway is . . . ]
Frigate Shoals is an atoll, the rim of the remains of an ancient volcano. The
spike formed by the last eruption visible to the south of Term Island. The
original location of the station was on East Island, which was washed away in a
storm some time after the war. For information, see Coast Guard Construction
Detachment, by Van R. Fields, which appears in Volume One of
Stories. (Story # 0031 on Jackís Joint)
island was about 3000 feet long and 410 feet wide. Both ends of the island were
lengthened to get room enough for take offs and landings.
WWII, I am told, a Japanese submarine was stationed at French Frigate Shoals to
observe, and to refuel seaplanes. That prompted the Navy to install a station of
some kind in the area.
am quite surprised that so little has been written about the Shoals at Jackís
Joint and feel compelled to record my recollections.
here, as I knew it in 1969, could be boring at times but really was rather
pleasant. I must have done snorkel diving 200 of the days I was there. But it
was amusing what we found interestingóone
day we spent a couple of hours standing on the roof of the main barracks
building to watch a vessel go by out on the horizon. It was easily the best show
in town. That was the only vessel we saw except for the KUKUI which came
only once per year with fuel and heavy equipment. Small stuff, mail and
personnel were flown in weekly. We hated it when the District inspectors rode
the plane because they sometimes bumped the mail.
are many stories about French Frigate, and most deal with how the crew was,
shall we say, a little off center. With this in mind, the 14 of us, with the
knowledge that we were to get a new HM3, as our whole medical department,
arranged a special reception.
LTJG Commanding Officer put on leggings and carried a riding crop. The BMC rode
the fire truck so he could alert the aircrew that we had not really gone over
the slope. When the new Corpsman went to the C.O. with orders in hand to report,
the C.O. made a growling sound and threw his orders on the runway. The BMC was
by now shouting unnecessary orders to the guys unloading the cargo, mail and
such. We didnít keep it up too long. The aircrew stayed on the plane until the
show was over but they really got a kick out of all of this.
but one supply ship each year, people, mail and other small items were flown in
each week by the Grumman Albatross. While these were built as an amphibian about
the time I was born, very few water landings were attempted. Because the Island
was only 3000 ft long, JATO bottles were used to assist in takeoff. All four if
there was no head wind, two if that wind was light, and none if there was a
fairly stiff wind. Two JATO bottles were equivalent to one more engine. Of
course they only lasted for a minute or less. These aircraft were normally used
for Search and Rescue aircraft and there was little room for freight and people.
workday was 0600 to 1300 followed by dinner, which then was followed by a
required volley ball game. The evening meal was a do-it-yourself deal, sometime
on the BBQ. Primo beer was 10 cents a can.
original barracks included the galley, mess deck, offices, some two-man rooms
and a single garage. The LORAN building housed LORAN A transmitters, C monitors
and radio beacon transmitter. The electronics for the C was in an
air-conditioned room. (C was paid for by the Navy, Radio Beacon by the FAA, but
A by the Coast Guard.) Also in the LORAN building were the generators that ran
everything on the island: four General Motorís 6-71s with radiators on the
roof of the building. There were also two evaporators, odd by any standard. The
engineís cooling water was the only source of heat, and the engines drove
vacuum pumps. Fortunately we had enough rain to fill the tanks while
I was there and only ran them for the engine maintenance.
drinking water was rain caught on the roofs of the barracks/mess building and
stored in 1,000 gallon cedar tanks, and a 5000 gallon rubber tank that tasted
like rubber, too. Even though we had evaporators we never needed to use them
while I was there because we got enough rain to keep the tanks full.
the recreation building was a half court gym, a music machine, an abundance of
weight equipment, a small stage, and a ham shack for KH6ABH, where I was often,
but more off duty time was enjoyed while snorkeling. We played volleyball for at
least an hour, from 1300 to the end of the current game.
had seven fuel tanks with a yearís supply of diesel fuel. Only five drums of
gasoline for our two trucks (M37s,) and 150 drums of aviation gasoline for the
supply planes. Each truck had a trailer, one for the gas truck, the other the
airplane fire truck. We had two boats for work but mostly used them for
outboard for water skiing, the inboard for fishing. Some guys went to other
islands for fishing or diving and checking out the wild life. Corny?
say you always wanted to live on a desert island? Well, there you areóan
Waste heat evaporators. Those on the station were rather primitive by
todayís standards: a vacuum pump was installed for drawing the initial
vacuum and making up the losses. The vacuum had to be relatively deep to
accommodate the low heat intensity of the feed water leaving the engine heat
exchanger. The idea was good but this type of evaporator wasnít very good
in itís primitive stages.
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