By Dan Lawson (as told to Jack)
A Coast Guard fish story ………
During the Korean War the Coast Guard borrowed a number of Edsel Class Destroyer Escorts (DE) from the Navy to man additional weather stations in the Pacific. This provided a similar service to that accomplished at the end of World War II, providing a Search and Rescue presence on the sea and air tracks across this large expanse. This was in the days of propeller driven aircraft before the advent of the more reliable jet engines. One DE, the CHAMBERS, went to the Atlantic for weather patrol duty but was found unsuitable for the rigors of it. After the Korean War the DE’s were returned to the Navy and never came back into Coast Guard service.
This class of DE was 307 feet long and had a fairly narrow beam. It was Diesel gear drive and had four Fairbanks-Morse 38D 8-1/8 opposed piston engines driving the generators. They rode hard and didn’t have the long range endurance of the AVP’s that the Coast Guard used from the end of WWII through the mid 1970’s.
This is a very short story about one small incident that happened on one of those DEs.
A Coast Guard DE – Official U.S. Coast Guard Photo
I related a humorous story to a fellow NEWELL shipmate the other day about a cold winter night we spent transiting through the Bering Sea from Attu to Adak doing full speed in unusually heavy seas when the main engines and Generators in all four enginerooms started overheating at the same time.
I got to B-2 just in time to see the look of disbelief on the watchstanders face when he opened up the sea strainers and kazillions of 4-5 inch long eels came pouring out into the bilges. The same scene was taking place in the other three engine rooms.
When we headed south to Pearl Three weeks later the little devils started rotting and let their presence be known to all who dared to visit the engine rooms.
We went to REFTRA (Navy Refresher Training) that import period and had an easy time of it because the Navy Ship Riders got sick every time they went below. It did my 21-year-old heart good to have to help a crusty old Navy Chief Electrician’s Mate out of B-2 to fresh air topside.
A Note on Getting “The Hat.”
I didn't save much memorabilia from my Coast Guard career but ran into the Initiation Certificate from the Chiefs Club at the Pearl Harbor Submarine Base when I made Chief in 1953. They damned near drowned me several times during the proceedings but never once gave me a hard time about being in the Coast Guard or making Chief at such a tender age so that made it easier to take everything they threw at me.