OCEAN STATIONS

Military.com Forums, annotated. abridged, scanned for uncouth language, and presented (per permission of Fred Siegel) for all to read by your friendly Webmaster, Jack.

 

Forward to this lengthily document.  I recently was lurking through the Point-Counterpoint discussion board on Fred's Place and saw a topic with 176 entries. Having made many weather patrols during my 27 year Coast Guard career, it piqued my interest. I read through most of it and felt that it would be good fodder for the folks that visit Jack's Joint. I contacted my friend Fred and requested his permission to use the material contained in the string. He sent me permission and I undertook making several revisions to it. Because the writers only were identified by their email addresses I decided to purge the names from the material as well as most references to each other. Some of the things were a bit racy and this being a family site, I either cleaned them up a bit or purged them altogether. To those who contributed to this string, Thanks. These stories, events, attitudes and opinions should not be allowed to die. Weather Patrol that began immediately before WWII lasted well into the 1970's before the program was finally put to bed. Many of us can count in years the time we spent on the various stations, just living with our routine. It is a far cry from the major Coast Guard sea going activities of today. But, it was this program that kept our sea going traditions alive. Without it we would not have had a good excuse for all of these ships and all of the officers and men who manned them to be afloat and we would never have had the opportunity to maintain our collective seafaring abilities. There weren't enough icebreakers and miscellaneous large ships to go around.   

So let's pretend we are in a big room having a super BSing sessions talking about Ocean Stations. The first guy sets the stage by beginning here -- 


I figure we can waste a little time on this one. There have been a couple "mentions" of the Ocean Station in the last couple weeks. When I joined the Coast Guard it was a major investment of our larger Cutters. 

Ocean Station: The on station grid or Oscar-Sierria was a ten by ten mile square of water. The idea was to remain at or near this grid. The "whole station" was 110 miles square and allowed for some wandering around. Most Cutter Skippers considered the number of days in grid O/S as a mark of their ships and crews performance (and sometimes "endurance".) The primary duties of the Station Cutters was to provide weather observation, navigational assistance to transoceanic aircraft and be a ready SAR asset for ships and planes crossing the ocean. Today's High Tech world has forgotten the many things that could go wrong with long range travel. Even well into the 60's Cutters were called upon to provide assistance to vessels in distress. 

While aircraft incidents were less common they were perhaps the most dramatic.
Using the BIBB and some of the other Boston Cutters as an example, a crew could expect to "maintain" between four and seven Ocean Stations a year. If you got seven it was most likely that you got "doubled" because the Cutter relieving you broke down or got "Shanghied" by the Navy. If you only had four, then most likely you had a GTMO, and maybe lucked into two Bermuda SAR Standby trips or made the "kiddie cruise". 

The Pacific Cutters "doubled" as a scheduled system because they had fewer Cutters and the travel time was greater.

The Stations were manned by 327 foot Secretary Class, 311 foot former seaplane tenders and 255 foot Lake Class cutters. Each of the Ships were endeared to their crew by certain "unique" characteristics. In a Nutshell... The 327 ft Cutters were the Queens of the Fleet. These ships had beautiful classic lines, a smooth "cruiser bow", excellent length to beam ratio for seakeeping in any weather. They were quiet, the wood decking supplied wonderful insulation (until it was all pulled off in the name of NBC defense.) The "new" insulation applied on the interior did not work and as a result it "rained" throughout foward crew berthing the next two patrols. Oh Yeah, they were Air Conditioned. The A/C worked IF YOU KEPT THE DAMN DOORS CLOSED. Should the Fireroom Security Watch find even one door open, the Forward A/C was shut down at once!!! Biggest drawback with the 327 was fuel capacity. You almost always had to stop for fuel "both ways".

The 311 ft WAVP's had tons of fuel capacity. They were WW2 vintage and excessed by the Navy when most of the need for "remote" Seaplane bases ended. They were Diesel powered and had a low length to beam ratio, about like a DE but they were a little longer. They rode OK in a head sea if it wasn't especially rough. They were awful in beam and quarter or drifting on station. The pitch and roll was quick and violent. The 311's had twice as many WTD's as the 327's and the combings were higher (knee knockers) They were noisy and always smelled of Deisel Fuel inside and out. Most of the time they made it to station on two of the four engines. It was not much fun though to head home on two.

The 255's were a ship unique to the CG. There are some guys out there who can tell a lot more about the Lake class than I can. I never served on one and only was aboard the Owasco in Newfoundland for about 6 hours. To me they were too small and had no business out in the winter North Atlantic. I know they served their crews well and also survived a bit longer than the original builders would have imagined.

Me I was happy to be doing my Stations on a 327 and later a 378 at the time they closed down the program.

So are there any folks out there with some O/S stories or "liberty port" stories. For us a "liberty port" was 12-16 hours at NOB Argentia, New Foundland. Big Whoopi!!! We did make it to St Johns' and Halifax too. 





Oh boy, I remember seeing the Lightship Nantucket way back when, you "old salty dog". 

I think the longest time I have been out without pulling in was right around 25 days, both on 270's, talk about people going stir crazy! 

Every once in a while I will pick up a book about those Ocean Stations. And isn't the Bibb a reef now? I wish the CG still had those ships or built the new ones like them. Nothing worse than a 270 in heavy seas! 



Charlie I heard the Star Dust in St. John's burned down. Too bad. What a place for young Coasties to meet Newfie women.

A true story or this ain't no ****. 

When going into St. John's the troops were always advised to find them one of the really plump gals and stay away from the skinny ones. The reason for the plump ones was you knew they didn't have TB. Those skinny ones who coughed a lot were definitely no starters.


On board the Campbell, Spencer & Half Moon. I did quite a few of those myself out of St. George. Hump day, mail swap, Argentia, balloon men, whacking the ice, 40 pounder of VO! 

And then on to the Bay Cafe (Mrs. Pappas) and then under way again.
And..........we loved it


I pulled Ocean Stations on 255's, 311's, 327's and 378's. The 255 was the worst riding, plus you had to climb and down ladders to get anywhere on the ship. The story was they originally were supposed to be longer than 255 but when the war was ending they shortened them. Turns out that wasn't true.

The 327 was the best riding, although the pitching could get to you. The 311 was a comfy ship as far as the berthing areas. Probably the best of the three (older ships) in my mind. The 378 though....almost unfair to compare them to the older ships. After all the older ships I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I went to the Mellon. She was less than two years old at the time. The berthing areas and mess deck were downright luxurious compared to the older ships.

Best Ocean Stations I pulled were double Victors. Ten days in Yokosuka between stations. I'll never forget "The Alley"....the area loaded with bars and sailors. Had some great times there. Those folks were experts at separating young sailors from their money. Every time we headed back out the ship was loaded with stereos, TV's and Hondas.

We did a few interesting things to break the boredom of being on station. I'll cull my memory and see what I can recall.


One of the high points (I use the term loosely) of OWS duty was the standard manila highline drill between relieving and relieved - mail, movies, etc. This particular time, The Taney had a "little trouble" with their steering gear, and all hell broke loose. Much excitement. 

If I remember correctly, by the time this picture was taken I was down on the fantail of Bibb still cutting away... of course, a few minutes later I was looking for a clean pair of skivvys. 


.................... but if they didn't pitch like that, the fantail hopping wouldn't have been HALF as good as it was... Now there's a sport that has gone by the wayside in the New Guard....


Yokuska had a bar they called the Atom Bomb! I never got over the sense of humor they had by calling the bar that, you almost wanted to cringe. You literally walked through a mushroom cloud shaped doorway to get in. Then met up with the "tour guides" and always thought you were smarter then they were. How did they get the side zip on your jumper up so fast? I guess they wanted to validate the dragon embroidery. Or how about checking to see if you still had all 13 buttons. 

A little trouble with their steering gear, that's funny.

Fantail hopping..........was a sport indeed


Excellent point about the sport of fantail jumping. We had an ET on one of the 311's I was on that exceled at jumping. Unfortunately one day he got a LOT of height on his jump. When he came down the ship had moved.

We went to man overboard stations. By the time the boat was in the water he was back on board. When he dropped he managed to grab onto a line we were using to tow some swabs and he used that to climb back on board. Kinda gave up on his jumping after that! 

When underway you could always throw your white hats into a nylon laundry bag and tow them behind the ship to get them sparkling white. Only thing was if you left them too long all you pulled back were threads.

Guys on the helm during the mid watch used to relieve their boredom by trying to turn the ship a full 360 degrees without the OOD noticing. Worked fairly often with one particular junior officer

That was fun... OOD says "whats that clicking noise", QM, dont know sir I'll check.. (walks around wheel house like he is serious)... Nothing here sir I'll have the BMOW check around the weather decks.... (tap .. tap.. tap.. on the 1MC).. S/P phone rings... What!!! says the BMOW who had to leave his anatomy instructional magazine in lower berthing...

QM reports there's a "clicking sound, OOD wants to know what it is...??? Tell him it's usually a halyard slapping against the foremast says the wiley BMOW... By the time they get done talking the ship has come about or is within 10 or 15 degrees on original base and the helmsman says with alarm... "10 degrees right of course and correcting Sir"

Very Well... and mind your helm son... Aye Aye Sir... Another wasted 10 minutes of our exciting lives....


I remember the shipriders at GTMO telling us that an "Emergency Breakaway" is just a regular breakaway, done a little faster, Horsepuckey!!! Those guys apparently never had the other ship have a "little problem" with the steering gear. Cut It, Throw it, do anything you can to get it over the side. Even a T/D line could drag a shipmate over the side before it broke. Remember those tough guys who would wrap it around their hands (both of them) when tending them... Ouch that could hurt...

Had an emergency Breakaway from an AO once. It was their casulty (tensioning device) but of course we had to make the move, The spool piece on the fuel probe was hit with the sledge, when directed by the AO, Oh Oh, the line was not blown down nor' had they taken a back suction. What a freakin mess... Bunker 6 everywhere. Thank God it was pretty cold out and we could scrape most of it up. The BT's "volunteered" to Oxyalic the decks (wood) as soon as it warmed up a little. 


Fantail "jumping", how about the way you "float" through a WTD from about five or six feet away on the right pitch. Now I know that did not always work and sometimes the sudden side slip would drive you into the frame or bulkhead with little warning. But it looked so cool when it worked...

Or standing in front of the urinals in the forward head on 327 in a good little head sea. Of course in the windlass room, you could stand on the deck and float up onto the windlass motor without moving... Damn I miss that stuff...

Any of you O-7's and above out looking for a good gnarley old Boatswain??? I'll take any big red or white and gone!!!!!


I used to give my brother a bad time. He was in for nearly 30 years and was only on one white one....the Escanaba. I used to tell him I managed to get more sea time in in my 10 years than he did in his 30. he kept trying to say the 125 he was on was a "white one"......

Other time wasters.....begging leather or canvas from the Bos'n hole to make knife sheaths and ditty bags.

Had some creative EM's on one ship. They made a small raft, rigged a couple battery operated lights on a small mast, one red and one green. Launched it at night when our favorite junior officer had the conn. After it drifted a bit the lookout, who was in on the deal, reported the "running lights".
OOD went nuts....."Why isn't it on radar?" Made a sudden turn to evade. C.O. came up.....looked, figured out what we had done and went back to his cabin muttering to himself.


Dozing on the towin' bit of 311 while water rushed about it. It was like havin' your own island. Now that's good sleepin'.


I always thank God the CO's had a sense of Humor. Most time as long as no one was hurt seriously it was let to pass. The JO's by and large took it well. There were a couple... Suffice to say we survived them... Most of them considered it a part of the "learning process". I know I worried a lot more about being "piped" to the CPO mess than to the Wardroom or Ships Office. Of course if you were in the Cabin for an appointment, say...Yes Sir, No Sir, My mistake Sir, Thank You Sir... Almost put a zipper on my second class crow, 'til I saw what happened to the BT1 who tried it. Skipper didn't think it was funny, asked if the next one had a zipper too. (actually it was doubled over tape), He said No Sir, Skipper said, "too Bad that one has to come off too..." Ouch..

The Naugatuck. Now there was a bunch of Pirates who were as crazy as the day is long but would go anywhere any time For Capt. Robbins. I learned more in my time with him than any other single CO I served under. The Coast Guard was really FUN as well as hard then!!! Doesn't seem like 25 yeras ago... That means the Katmi Bay is over 20 yeras old. He double hockey sticks I remember when it was the newest ship in the CG


When I sailed in Bibb we used to enjoy slapping the final dog off the porthole right next to the urinal - when it was being used by some unsuspecting shipmate – as the bow was downbound for green water.. deep green water. That column of water would usually chuck the poor dope across the room.

Also liked to shut off the head lights, and sneak up the forward hatch (forward of the 5”38) and scurry up to the stem at night when we were taking green water. You can't buy a better ride at Coney Island... nor a more dangerous one. 

Me and a few of my mates were members of the “360 club”. Funniest attempt I ever saw was when a bored helmsman tried it on the midwatch - with a full moon. (Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.) When the OOD noticed the moon crossing the fo’c’sle at a pretty good clip he tore up the guy’s quals and put him back on port & starboard as a break-in.

I was never a big fan of OWS duty unless the weather got exciting… but I still have a lot of the “traditional stuff” I used to make in the Boatswain's Hole to pass the time… fancywork, knotboards, duck lace, boats in bottles (somehow my buds in Black Gang always had a supply of bottles… hmmmm). I guess this stuff went by the wayside when movies got better. (You can only watch “Return of the Ninja Part 19” so many times.) I know fancy marlinespike seamanship originally died when sailors learned to read; it is suffering another setback with decent movies and electronic games - I don’t see hardly any of it going on nowadays. Shame


I did my "fair share" of fancy work. Mostly Little stuff like knife/spike sheathes and ditty bag handles. The coxcombin' on ladder rails, turks heads on anything that would stay still long enough. 

But when I got to EDISTO with that huge bos'n hole back aft Mike Scanlon and Joey bayko started to show me what it was like on the Winds. Those guys had some beautiful McNamara's lace and sennits wide enough to go across a mantle piece. The hole had at least three jobs going at any time. We had two big sewing machines and a little one. About the only thing the Navy had taken good care of was the Bosn' Hole. The Navy BM3 who was still there when the Coasties got there was a real pro (he had over 8 for sure) He took us around all the Boats (2 LCVP, one 26 ft "surfboat" and a Greenland Cruiser) told us what might be wrong with each.

Any way, working the canvas and cotton cord was a part of your recreation, also part of what you left behind. My personal contributions were a McNamara lace around the stern sheets of the Greenland Cruiser and a set of coasters with the ships logo in the middle for the CO's cabin.

Yep it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.... To the day I left the CG, I would still trade my time in any Cutter for the best shore job I ever had, hands down. If I had not wanted to be in Ships I would have joined the Army or Air Force...


Reported on the Morgenthou (1972)as part of the relief crew (the ship just came back from Nam). The "oldtimers" were actually happy to do OS again! First time U/W was OS Charlie hit a storm with 55+ seas and 90 kt winds. learned how to walk down the passageway bulkhead. First bar fight was in the Stardust Lounge in St. Johns, also remember the 1st class having a Hog contest with the Goofy Nouffy women the one with the ugliest WON.


We were leaving Boston for "another Charlie" and the weather was nasty. A NorEaster was just pulling away and the seas were pretty good as soon as we left the Harbor. 

It was normal to "dip" an anchor and have it ride the stopper at special sea detail. This time the Conn (probably the OPS Boss) forgot to give the order to "hawse the anchor" before securing Special Sea detail. Just a small oversight. I had the first watch and on my first round I heard the Anchor slamming against the hull. I reported it. The OOD (our most experienced LTJG) looked at the spray and wind over the bow and said, too rough to send guys out. The CO came up and asked about the banging and the OOD had second thoughts. The BMC was called to the bridge and says.. No Problem Capt.. I'll get the "boats" here (meaning me) and we will go fix it... 

The Captain suggested we might want more than the two of us (thank you so much Captain). So we rounded up the "deck force dayworkers" and told the bridge we were ready to go. She was a "poundin" by now as we drove further and further off shore (and closer and closer to the departing storm). The OOD later told me he "thought about" asking to come about but figured the CO wouldn't want to since we were already one day behind schedule. So off we went to the starboard air castle. We burst out the door all 5 of us and ran like hell to the back of the mount. The "Cheeps" (you have to a mid 60's BIBB deckie) says lets go mens... we started around the mount. The bow dropped... Fast!! we looked up and muttered those words made famous by all pilots just before they bore in. "oh $hit.." A wall of grey hit us, I could only see one guy when I pulled my self to my feet back behind the gun mount. Three guys were missing. Now remember this 1965, were we wearing lifejackets???... hell no...you only wore a lifejacket to abandon ship... Well we were all still aboard. Two were still forward having grabbed hold of the windlass brake and the anchor chain, the BM2 was next to me, the Chief had been washed back to the aircastle door. The Cheeps, came back to the mount, the two guys from forward came back and the BM2 says Ok here we go again... This time before we could "go" the bow dropped again, The Mount pretty well protected us this time as we hung on to each other and the ladder rungs on the mount. The was a god awful crashing noise as we took the wave. As we peeked around the mount, there was the stbd. anchor, its' flukes hung over the forward gunwale. We retreated from our mission. As we got back in the aircastle, the other SNBM looks at me and says...That was fun!!! The anchor stayed there until we returned to Beantown and an industrial crane could pluck it off the gunwale. I am sure the Officers took a good bit of ribbing at the Base "O" club about that one.
Yessir that was fun if you were 19 and dumb as a rock!!!!


Want to here about the wave that stove in the ships office about 6 or 8 inches... Or the one that left about 10 pounds of wood hanging in two pieces from what had been a set of Boat Falls.. Another "tale from the Deep"...

Yessiree... you guys don't know what you missed!!!


Cheep - as in "Hey Cheep canna barra da buppa?" (I heard the SDs say this time and time again - it became a good laugh) I'll translate for those who have never had the experience of international diversity on a ship. The steward's mate was trying to say, "Hey Chief can I borrow the buffer?"

Rule 2 never play poker with the stewards if they are in a group.


Thanks for the insight - Always wondered why they acted so strange


 It sure has been a while since I thought about Ocean Stations!!! This is a good topic and  thank you for reminding me about a special time in my career, the part when I didn't know it was going to be a career.


I remember them well. I met the Duane in Portland, Me. and headed out the next for O/S Hotel. The chief I worked for always made it a point to train engineers underway in the small boat only during bad weather. Can't say I enjoyed all of them I made, but I got my sea legs really fast. 


Chief would put a SNBM or one of the new BMs and a couple of guys in the pulling boat and let you ride the "painter "for a hour or so. "Good training he would say" Wasn't too bad unless the OD caught you BSing with the stern hook and the "sweep" tucked under your arm, he would then turn into you. When you realized you were about to fetch up hard alongside you would really bear down on the sweep, then he would turn away hard. Now at that time I weighed about 110 with a big shackle in my pocket and if the stern hook didn't grab my legs the "sweep "would flip me like a pancake. Wonder why the bridge and the 01 deck would always be full of laughing faces?

Another thing we would do when drifting to save fuel (water hours) and in the trough (a 255 can roll when it is dead calm) was to stand "athwartship" on the fantail and see how far you could lean into the roll and not fall or move your feet.

On "Victor" the goony birds stay with the ship all the time for the garbage and I am postive I talked to the same bird for 4 1/2 doubles.
Kids now are being deprived of a lot of seasoning.


Left Taney and back to back to back Hotels to attend A school. Reported to Bibb and relieved Taney. 
It was a different world


Ah the 255's, now there was an interesting ride, course that was my first deep sea cutter after a coastal buoy snatcher, so I didn't really know what was a good ride or a bad ride. However, we relieved a 311 up on Delta in late November, kind of blowing like snot and the relief highline for movies just ended up as a transfer between ships with all sealed tight, heaved overboard and picked up with a grapnel on the float line. Anyway, BSing with the departing QM's on the flashing light, I mentioned that I'll bet they were glad to be heading to Argentia and out of this slop, as I thought they were getting the snot walloped out of them. The QM passed that they were doing fine, having a great ride, but looking at us, they all felt bad that we were stuck out here in the small ship.

We had just returned from Vietnam about two months earlier, most of the WestPac crew was still aboard, and the next thing that hit us was the cold. Most of us would find an excuse to visit Radio for a bit, because it had A/C and would be at least 65 degrees in there, The other was hanging above the hatch in the stbd mess deck above the control flat for the engineers and holding the nightly bull session.

For you Boston guys, that was my first run in with a Mr. Muldoon from the weather service. If memory serves correctly, They CIC gang would crank up the 29 airsearch radar, and shortly over the *****box would come " Bwidge fwom Wedder, get weddy to waunch a wedder bawoon" I swear the guy sounded just like Elmer Fudd. Hell of a character. Those weather guys would sometimes do two or three trips before heading in.

Lastly, those wonderful ladies from the eastbound PanAm Clippers, who would call in with the nicest (nudge nudge wink wink) voices and offer to send post cards home from London or Paris .

It all comes back and could go on, but will give it a rest. Course then there was the fuel stops in Bermuda before and after ECHO, but that's another story for Hells Vespa's scooters

Oh yeah, how many gangway watchstanders will be putting the first log entry of the new year in poetry form?? or has that been forgotten.
Happy New Year Coasties, to all ashore or at sea, be safe
Keep the red side down.


Wife ( the new one) often asks about us going on one of those commerical cruises to nowhere. I made her sit and watch the old super 8's of some of my ocean station stuff. She had to admit it would be boring for me on a commercial cruise. I told those cruises were handicapped people only, real Coasties have to suffer to enjoy it. 


Based on what I read in the paper a cruise on one of those Miami based ship's might fill the bill.  With everybody puking it would seem just like the port aircastle on a 327.


Short story on how to torture a BT3 who was seasick a lot (he is still alive and may read this, so no names.)

We stood the mid watch in the engine room and after about ten days at sea, the BT3 began to get his color back. When he did, that was my cue to act. I would draw a half cup of coffee with a lot of milk in it, add some mustard and some pop corn if available and go stand beside him. Draw a good bit of the solution into my mouth, grab my belly and moan loudly. Then I let the solution fly all over the place. It was an ugly site and the BT3 would start puking all over again. I think it was the corpsman that had him changed to another watch to safe guard his health. We have been great friends for many years now, but he won't go to sea with me.


Seems the first meal at sea, especially after an extended in port, was always incredibly greasy pork chops. Always resulted in any new guys rushing for the head. We also delighted in smoking cigars and munching on sardines to help the newbies find their sea legs.


I just wanted to chime in and voice my appreciation for all those having contributed to this post. It's a joy to read, and shows that we all still have a lot to learn. 
Amazing the kind of mischief that can be brewed up...


One shipmate mentioned how comfortable the towing bitts were on a 311. Those bitts were the same on all the ships I was on and were the most desired seating when just hanging out on the fantail watching the mast swing against the stars on Ocean Station.

Someone else mentioned high lining movies and mail. There was one movie, I think it was White Christmas with Bing Crosby, that never made it to port. Every ship departing OSN dumped it on the new arrival. Heck, it may still be floating out there somewhere.

The flight crews were nice about sending postcards for us too. Nearly ended my relationship with a girl I was dating at the time. I had told her (poor me) that I would be bobbing around out in the middle of the ocean for a month. When I came back into port she was furious with me. Wanted to know why I had lied to her. I was completely baffled until she showed me the postcard she had received from me......sent from Hawaii!


Yes the seemingly most popular location in BIBB when the rock n' rollin' first started. For those who are too young to remember we used to throw our garbage over the side once we were clear of port. (far enough out to sell sea stores, far enough to dump trash...) Now back in those days we didn't have "glad bags" the galley garbage was collected in $hit cans, (that's refuse cans for the politically correct.) These would be assembled in the port side aircastle on the day of departure until the last meal, then if we were selling sea stores, they were dumped down the slop chute and rinsed (with sea water) by the mess cooks as the last part of the days duties. 

On my first Ocean Station I was of course the new guy and was mess cooking. The other deckie mess cooking with me was also on his first trip. Now I had done OK so far. My tummy was a little queasy, I had eaten the pork adobo and rice and was managing to hold it down. My shipmate was not having a good day. We were all done inside and were getting ready to dump the garbage in the slop chute (located in the port aircastle hence the area's popularity) The can reeked to say the least. As we "hefted" it HE got a wiff, and puked, right in my face!!! Now as I said I had made it so far... No More. I immediately donated my pork adobo to "Ralph" the great sea god, all over him, and all over me. 

The next thing I remember is three or four guys laughing and spraying me down with the water hose connected to the potato peeler. The $hit can was upside down on the deck and I faced the prospect of cleaning it up, my shipmate was gone!!!

That was the first and last time I was sea sick... I was one of the lucky ones, some guys lived through hell the first couple days every patrol.

If I can get my thoughts together I'll post a hilarious story about a weatherman and a dark balloon shelter.


First day out, Screamin' Gene Davis would have all of the new deckies tidying up the paint locker, which gave everyone a fume-filled elevator ride. Almost all of them got sick as dogs. Next day he would let them work on deck, out in the fresh air. He told them that if they got sick again they would have to go back in the paint locker. 


For the 7th and 8th district 255's, Bermuda was the fuel stop going and coming from OS Echo. If the navigator had his ship in one sock, the ETA at the sea buoy was about 0815, just after breakfast, all fast at the Hamilton Navy base by 1000 and fueling completed by 1400-1500. Just enough time to go ashore and attempt to find out if the natives were friendly. One old definition of an optimist was, "a Coastguardsman who went ashore in Bermuda with a pack of rubbers in his wallet", but thats another story. One of the modes of transportation available were the rental Vespa motor scooters and they were, at one time, available to Coasties. One long gone cutter's shore party managed to get hold of a few and had an enjoyable liberty but neglected to return the scooters to the local vendor as agreed on. Perked up with copious amounts of truth serum the made their way back to Hamilton, onto the base, down to the dock and a nearly flawless parking of the scooters. It is my guess that it was faulty depth perception and not the "alfluence of incohol," because six or seven of those scooters made a perfect arc off the end of the pier and a great splash in the harbor. The soggy party made it up the ladder, turned in their liberty cards and trundled off into oblivion. Early the next morning with the help of the diver at the Navy docks, the scooters were retrieved, rinsed down and left in a neat line on the dock, hoping that the rental agency would figure out where they were AFTER we left.
But then, there was the Seaman who went ashore with the "pack" and ended up on the cruise ship bound to NY, but thats another story.


Them little motor bikes were fun but dangerous.. I much preferred to steal them two horse surry and wild west it back to the ship when tied up downtown. Most places required a tie in the evening. Two black socks tied together make an excellent bow tie.


How about dressing the boot fireman in foul weather gear boots, gloves and gas mask. Giving him a jar of bilge water marked with the radioactive decal holding it with bilge thongs going into the cabin at 2 am to show the CO the latest sample. What did you guys do at sea to amuse yourself. 


Without fail, everytime we got underway on the Dexter for a reserve cruise, at muster on the fantail, the reserves would form-up on the starboard side. As we cleared the Golden Gate, and first began to feel the ground swells, some reserve, usually the one up-wind, would spray everyone around him, this set off a chain reaction of about 50 reserves manning the rails. After everything was under control, the EN1 would conduct lessons on biting the heads off fish, and swallowing bacon strips tied on a string, when he pulled it back up, they usually manned the rails again. I had many fun days watching.


 Now don't tell me you never put carbon on the looking glasses or pee down the lookout voice tube?


Did dump a tube of BB's into the ducting above the wardroom once. They sure made an annoying sound as they rolled back and forth, back and forth......


Remember the TWO Beers on Saturday Nite! Sold one can for three dollors back in 73! Beer in the wardroom and 1st class quarters, hard liquor in the CPO Mess, fire flies on the fantail. 


I pulled twenty three patrols on a 255, from the Atlantic and the Pacific.This time fifty three years ago we were in Jamica and getting ready to shove off to pass through the "Big Ditch" to Acapulco..

How many of you remember when the 255s has K-guns, quad forties aft of the five inch 38 hedghogs, twin 20's on each wing of the bridge, one port and starboard on the main deck. On the fantail there were two racks of depth charges.

In 48,49,50,51,52 we did not have Cuttermans pins, or coxwain pins. Most of the coxswains aboard at that time earned them on Higgins Boats. We also did not have a float time, most of the second class,first class and the old chiefs were veterans of WW-2.

Ocean station sugar was the best as we were the second ship to pull in Yokosuka in 1950. At this time we had Military Script as money. The yen was 360 to one. This was when Mac-Arthur was the King. of Japan and G.H.Q.

We were the first to get R&R at Tashima, we all died and went to heaven for one week.

Also there were three DE's that were used for weather patrols in the Pacific. I was also selected by Harry S Truman to have my enlistment extended for a extra year. I was not by my self in this endeavor.


Way back when (but not too far back), I had the 16 to 20 on the bridge while MK2 Scott Hazen was down guarding the bilges. We had chow relief together and grabbed a few cigars to smoke while we finished up the watch. I foolishly suggested to Scott that he blow a little smoke in the voice tube, to see if it makes it all the way to the bridge. (Never trust an engineer!) Well, a short while later I'm back on watch and a steady stream of smoke starts billowing out of the voice tube. It just happened that the CO was making his evening trip to the bridge. I don't know what was happening in the Engine Room, but in short order, the entire bridge was full of smoke. (As luck had it, no wind to help me out of my uncomfortable situation!) Well, the CO finally had enough and told me to call down and tell them to keep the smoke out of the tube. I called down on the SPP and notified the Engine Room of the Captains order. "Blow the smoke out of the voice tube? Aye, aye!" was the reply. Scott puts high pressure air to the voice tube and it was like Mardi Gras day on the bridge! Smoke and dust and dirt everywhere!

 I hope the Captain had a laugh about it all later. It was funny as hell to the rest of us (once he regained his composure).


On the 255's, the engine room gang was glad to help load food supplies. They were passed down the hatch by the ladder leading to the engine room and we had a longshoreman's attitude about it. One for the ship and one for the engine room. Pull up a wire attached to a deck plate in the ER and there could be a 25 pound ham on it. The baker would always send us down a couple of loaves of fresh baked bread each night. We ate them then, by noon they were hard as a rock. Hey, maybe being a snipe is why I am overweight.


On a 327 if you were baking bread. As soon as it came out of the oven you would turn the exhaust vent back on, it had been secured to allow the galley to warm up so the bread would rise. The vent exhausted directly into the fireroom.
Within minutes a couple of little FA fingers would appear in the expanded metal door with a statement like: "The BT Chief wants a loaf of bread" The answer was always "Tell the Chief to send a couple of guys up here to clean the galley and he can have one"

Minutes later 2 FA's would appear and the baker would go to the fireroom with a couple of loaves of bread and a pound of butter to share with the watch. 
The FA's got theirs when the galley was clean. 
Best way there ever was to clean the galley.


On the Taney you could just reach through the porthole and snag a fresh loaf while it sat on the cooling rack. Didn't even have to enter the galley, much less clean it.

Course us GM's were always smarter then those snipes.


I reported aboard the Chautauqua during underway training at Pearl straight from boot. As I didn't know anything and wasn't placed on the WQ and SB during "GQ", Chief put me on the "hedgehog rack" which is directly behind and above the 5"-38 mount. He told me to get into battledress, put on a life jacket, put on the sound powered phones, sit down in front of the projectile lockers and not do or say anything.

Well everthing was going great, I had a wonderful view, watched the 5 inch mount traverse back and forth and could here the commands from the bridge, most of which were "Greek to me". The one command that I recall was "fire when ready" and as my brain was processing that information the 5-38 let go. 

When GQ was secured the Chief came up and said."Damn ,I forgot about you" all I could say was "HUH"


Being a snipe (who are smart ex-GM) had a great advantage on Mondays at sea. That when the BT went to sick bay to draw a pint of that great sick bay alcohol to mix his test chemicals. The good thing was it only took 5 or 10 drops to do it. Great influx of people into the engine room carrying cokes at about the same time every Monday morning. Now who shines the brighter?,


Ah yeah, the medical alcohol. My first Ocean Station, having just turned 18, was over New Year's. We were in the Bos'n Locker and drank everything that had been smuggled on board. Somehow or other someone showed up with some of that medical alcohol. We mixed it with grapefruit juice and drank that too. I ended up sicker than a dog!

So I wasn't THAT smart then.....as I recall we also tried drinking some Aqua Velva strained through a loaf of bread. Damn, that was HORRIBLE. Fresh smelling breath though!


We had to transfer the 1st LT to a merchant vessel to get back home because his dad had to have brain surgery. Seas were about 16 ft got him on the merchyie OK but what a time getting the motor surfboat back up. I was the Crewman and got the seapainter attached and hooked the forward fall. The MK3 got knocked unconscious and I ran back and hooked aft. We were hoisted up and got shock loaded. Everyone was down and thought this was the end. Once on deck we were taken to the mess deck and the MK3 to sick bay. The HMC gave as all a shot of Medicinal Rum. IT DID THE TRICK! Calmed as all down and got us warm. In the early eighties all the rum was taken off the Cutters The start of the PC or political correctness.


I think I was on the Chat when the quick release boat falls came out. Remember they were blanks and had to cut the hole for the D ring to fit into from the boat falls. Took days after first cut with a file to smooth them out around 1958.


‘Course, we never had illegal alcohol in Bibb… unless you count the guy (who shall remain nameless) who put a ½ gallon of vodka in the orange bug juice machine one night… or the Chief who used to bring 3-½ gallon bottles of “Listerine” on every OWS trip…


Amazing what one could conceal in the safes located in the ship's radio room. And it could go on undetected until the next district inspection especially if the Comm's Officer decided to remain clueless and had a lackadaisical attitude.
Sometimes, it was good to be a Radioman!


All this talk of booze is making me dizzy. The Goat Locker never seemed to be "completely dry". As a CPO mess Cook I was often offered a "little nip" when going back late at night on weekends to clean up after movies or card games.
One "creative" method the Chiefs came up with on station was to "inject" several cases of fresh fruit with vodka or gin just prior to patrol. The Jack O' Dust was responsible to ensure this "special" fruit was reserved in the chill box for the CPO Mess only. On occasion the mess cook would ask the Jack O'Dust for the "jelly" when picking up the reefer goods. Of course jelly was in dry stores so the cook knew what the Chiefs wanted. The plan worked for three patrols that I know of, until....... The "Jack" was sick and the Wardroom Steward went to draw his supplies unescorted. The SD1 saw the partial cases of fresh fruit, (the rest of the supply was long gone) he took a couple grapefruits and sliced them up nice for breakfast. Well you have to have known Commander Walter Franklin Guy to believe the explosion that morning. The XO was doing everything in his power to courts martial every Chief on the BIBB, the mess cook, (yours truly) the Jack O' Dust, The CSC, The Supply Warrant, and everybody else he could think of. He was livid to say the least. End result. The Jack took a bust to SNCS (he had been there a couple times before) and the fresh fruits were subjected to "random inspection" during every ships material inspection for at least as long as I was in BIBB (late 65)


Did you know BTC Charley Savoy? When I was the oil and water King on the Sebago, Charley would have me draw the quart of alcohol from sick bay, but instead of miximg the reagent to test for hardness (Charley said the hardness was always 0, so there was no need to check it) just dump the contents into the reagent bottle. This I did, and old Charley would come down in the fireroom, get a cup of coffee, and go check the test cabinet ( he said to make sure we had plenty of test chemicals??) nevertheless BT2 Campbell and I noticed that the level of reagents in the hardness solution was going down. We decided that old Charley was spiking his coffee.. So we decided to try a little ourselves, but neglected to tell him. To keep him from knowing what we were doing, we added water each time, so the level stayed up.. That worked for a while, until it was so diluted that old Charley wasn't getting his buzz, so he came to me, and wanted to know if someone was messing with the chemicals, of course I didn't know a thing.

When you remember the old times it is easy to remember the good times, and forget the bad ones...like port/stb fireroom watches on Campeche Patrols where the fireroom temp ranged from 130 deg in the cool places to 150 deg in the warm ones, or leaking gage glass to change on your watch, or the EO coming down to play games with the forced draft blowers, or feed pumps, or GQ all afternoon when you have the 6/12 watch. It was good that I was young and thick headed them, or it would have hurt much worse. I totally believe that the engineers job on a 255 was the toughest I had in my 22 years. 


Seems like the steam ships I was on went south in the summer and north in the winter. I understand its a good thing that the male sperm dies on air contact or the shaft alleys and motor rooms on the weather ships would have overpopulated the world. I beginning to lose my vision. 


Back when I was a SN I was the boat swimmer on Taney.  In those days you had to provide your own swim suit. No dry suits, no wet suits, no flippers just whatever you owned.

The CO of Taney liked doing boat drills and liked getting me wet. Of course the benefit was that when you got back aboard you had to report to Sick Bay where the HMC would give you a shot of medicinal brandy, oftentimes the CO would join you so you were not drinking alone. Not the best stuff I ever drank but it sure was better than what the snipes were drinking.


My goodness does this bring back memories. I made 16 OSN’s , and a double Victor all on a 255, as others pointed out the worst riding ship in the white fleet. I thought it was the worst riding ever until I went on an 82 in the monsoon season. Fantail jumping now there is a lost art, I am surprised more of us did not end up with torn ligaments and cartilages from that “sport”.


Not arguing the merits (or rather the negative merits) of the 255' but I would argue that the converted 180' buoy tender converted to oceanographic research vessel USCGC Evergreen, on Internatonal Ice Patrol between Greenland and Newfoundland, in early spring might have given the 255 a run for it's money as far as "unnecessary roughness."  The 180 class while classified as a "sea going buoy tender" still had an awfully rounded hull bottom and the superstructure fabricated for the Evergreen after the fire in Boston made it more unstable (read top heavy).


Coming off a rough Victor we were steaming up Tokyo Bay toward Yokosuka one morning . The sun was shining on Mt Fugi, fishing sampans all around and the old sow wasn't rocking and rolling, as was customery when coming in off patrol we were having a fresh water washdown. I had had the 4-8 BMOW and the Chief sent me and my relief forward to open up the paint locker to allow it to vent out the paint fumes. When we undogged the hatch and opened it , "lord what a shock" there were paint cans floating around about a foot below the hatch and the paint locker was totally flooded. 

Now as it had been pretty rough and wet until we made the lee of Japan I had not been forward to check out the paint locker on my watch so I asked Max if he had checked it after he had relieved me , he hadn't. Well we knew for sure that we were in serious trouble, Max said " Fred you have got to go tell the Chief"!!!! . I looked at Max and said "Man you've got the watch"

As it turned out the DCs had lined up the pump wrong and caused the flooding, but for a while there were two mighty scared SNBMs on board the old Chat.
Claude Grout was the DC that lined up the pump wrong and his 10 day Yokosuska inport was spent cleaning up the mess.

I never failed to make my complete round after that.


One of my favorite OSN stories was the time some one jammed a potato in the steam horn and as you may remember when were relieved on station you would blow the horn as you were departing to the ship that became OSN. Well as we were leaving and the Gresham had taken over OSN the old man blew the horn and watched as the potato looked like a torpedo shooting across the bridge and 5-inch mount. He was not pleased but the XO and the Chief QM had to run into the chart room they were laughing so hard.


Station Echo was east of Bermuda out a bit in the pond, and SUPPOSED to be a nice calm and quiet break from a Delta, Bravo or Charlie. About a week into the drift, wallowing through a 04-0800 watch, the weather was moderately sloppy, the BMOW had pillaged fresh bread and butter from the night baker and most of the topside watch was settling in to the last couple of hours before the morning watch showed up. About 0600 something the 2182 Kcs, we called them kilocycles then, blurted to life and damn near give everyone in the pilothouse a heart attack. Usually all we ever heard was the Portuguese fishing fleet whistling into the radio trying to raise Vigo Radio. Anyway, this very proper sounding British accented voice calls out " Hello, the United States of America Coast Guard North Atlantic Ocean Weather Station Vessel Echo this is the Dutch Motor Vessel Stella Nova" . Shocked that someone was actually out here, we answered back, "Stella Nova this is Ocean Station Echo". He came back with something to the effect, "bloody good, that could be a mouthful going thru that other lot, I say, if it is not too much of a imposition, we are approximately 25 miles to the northeast of you, have snapped the main shaft, are drifting broadside to the seas, close to capsizing, and may have to abandon ship." 

Thought we'd pass this along to you and if you wouldn't mind could we have a bit of help. Needless to say the 04-0800 perked right up, after a bit of consultation with the old man and the engineers, the BT's changed out boiler tips from drift mode to steaming mode and away we went. Ended up taking her in tow, holding her head into the seas for a couple of days till a Dutch tug, about 90' long showed up, relieved the tow, and a nice boring routine settled in again.


In 1957 I was on the Cutter Chincoteague and was on a pulling boat crew launched on OS Charlie in very rough weather. The waves appeared to be mountains. to row over to a ship and remove four very serious injured guys from Sweden/Finland? All died later. When I asked BMC Red Shaw why we took the pulling boat instead of the three with motors. " Boats with motors can only do so much, a boat powered by men will do what's necessary" I have never forgotten that. If I remember correctly, I had the most important job, as an FA on the pulling boat. #5 man who was to put in the boat plug while lowering away. Lord, the seas I have been put in with Coast Guard surfboats, makes me thankful for ever day I live.


Coming into Pearl during underway training we were to moor at the Able Docks, just inside the harbor. My mooring station was on number one line and the anchor detail along with the Chief, a couple of DC's and a couple more SN's. As we approached the pier the usual commands for mooring were given on the sound powered phone "put over two, put over four etc" then a loud command came from the bridge "LET GO PORT AND STARBOARD ANCHORS" . The Chief shouted "LET GO BOTH ANCHORS" !!!, I grabbed the maul, flipped up the chain pall ,and raised the maul to strike the chain stopper release to let go the port anchor. Well before I made contact with the stopper we rammed head on into the concrete bulkhead at the head of the pier knocking everyone on the fo'csle flat. I immediately jumped up and struck the stopper release letting go the anchor. Well when the Chief looked over the side there lay the anchor and about two shots of chain neatly piled up on the pierI I caught lots of flak about that.
I understand that the collision was caused by the loss of 
excitation or something to that effect.

Sadly we had plenty of spectators as there were two Navy ships moored on the other side of the pier and the base fire truck came roaring up.

It knocked about a four foot mouth in the stem into the paint locker, the paint locker man wanted to put a picture window in. It sure was a touchy subject on the old Chat for awhile, bridge blaming the snipes and the snipes blaming the bridge.

It caused us to cut short underway training as we had to drydock the next day, so it wasn't all bad.


You can always tell what ports a 255 had visited. There will be a big V in the dock. They had a terrible time going astern due to an automatic system that was way ahead of its time and hardly maintained by the Coast Guard. If the switchboard didn't synchronize the main generator with the main motor, it kicked off and you lost power. Seems like when they were 2/3 ahead for steerage, it made for back fulls and the Westinghouse plant on 255's didn't like that and would make an a$$ out of a CO in a heartbeat. Every time we got that bell in they engine room, we all prayed. I'm guessing they went astern when they were supposed to 95% of the time. It was the other 5% of the time that got all the attention. Lost of shaft power was usually accompanied by the boilers safety's lifting and really scaring an already amazed bridge crew. Hey, a little yard time was a sought after item, the mighty snipes and Westinghouse did their part in seeing we make it more often than most ships. 

The switchboard on the Androscoggin blew up on a backing. Never saw so much sparks and smoke. Took Westinghouse three or four months to put it back together. 


Do you recall the time at Midway when refueling and the tanks overflowed? (just one of several times that it happened while I was aboard) I remember all the snipes including the EO were soogying the starboard side and weather deck. We drove DC plugs in all the scuppers to keep the oil on board. Old boat had one white and one black side.The port captain was very unhappy with us for messing up his pristine harbor, said something like "Damn Coast Guard always screwing up" Midway is where the Iroquois went aground a couple years earlier.

I had to stay on board to rig stages and bosun chairs for the snipes but most all the other crew went ashore and got drunk on the ten cent beer which caused another mess when we finally got underway.


Loss of Excitation… Yes that was the reason most often given for the dock rammin’s by the “LAKERS”. 

However having been on board BIBB for a couple of “alongside” moorings by 255’s, I can assure you there was no “lack” of excitation on our deck.
I remember coming into St Johns Nfld. once after a port visit by a 255 and there was a big painted sign near a gash in the wharf, 

“U.S. Coast Guard Thank You for Assisting in our Waterfront Rebuilding Project”
Needless to say we approached “gingerly” least we make another contribution…


Having been on four 255's for a total of about nine years, I believe I could light one off today, 30 years later. Wish I could say the same about other things. Navy Special fuel oil (bunker C) spewing out a vent pipe on a white hull is not a pretty sight. In a hot weather area, a lot of work, in a cold area, damn near impossible to clean the white. They carried 327 tons of fuel oil, a gallon or two seems to spread out to cover most any amount of area. Imagine trying to remove tar with diesel oil, still going to have to paint over it. My last one and the best one, the Wachusett, had a BMC that knew how to do it. Glen Hart could put the white back into the hull in record time. I think he liked it, gave him a chance to show his stuff ha. So do I remember the midway incident. yes, if we fueled, you could count on seeing fuel oil arunning. Of course this was the Boilertenders area and we don't want to take credit away from them. Worst I remember was transferring fuel in a storm with 50 knot winds, even over the masts, top to bottom. 


The Chat was moored port side too at Sand Island, just in off a pretty rough trip, old boat was bleeding rust pretty bad. Chief had us doing almost a complete take down and repaint. The Paint Locker man always started about 30-45 minutes ahead of deck force so he could be ready right after quarters, he also worked later to cleanup.

About a month or so later Chief told me to drop the starboard anchor and walk out all the chain so we could clean and paint out the chain locker. Everything was going well until the seaman who was helping shouted for me to stop and come and look, the waters around the ship was covered with several colors of paint and oil. Seems the paint locker man was filling the empty paint pots with the diesel he used for cleaning brushes and instead of taking them to the dump he was dropping them over the side. When I let go the anchor it landed in a pile of paint pots. Needless to say the SH** hit the fan.The paint locker man denied all and as nobody saw him drop them he got away clean, however he was "Captain of the Head" until he rotated.

Can you imagine what has been thrown over the side after 50-60 years of CG ships.


OH, YEAAAH...our environmental "legacies" have been keeping us busy. 


We had one Ensign who was a serious canvas back, thought we'd have to surgically remove his rack from him more than once. Could set your watch on him being 20 minutes late for relief. On one mid watch, the OOD, his roomie, and the watch were working on some particularly nasty way to ensure the relief turned out on time. After a long plot hatching watch, it was decided that if we ran enough air hose from aftersteering, we could inflate a weather balloon in his bunk and that would get his attention. It worked fairly well, got the balloon stretched out over him, hit the air slowly, started filling at a fair rate. It snagged on something, burst, and there must have been 40 lbs of that talcum powder they pack the balloons in scattered all thru the stateroom. A hell of a mess, but the OOD got relieved on time.


Can't claim the honor...........of an ocean station sailor; however as a deck ape on the Tam, I had a funny experience with the Half Moon. The Tam was in port at Staten Island and the Moon had had a pretty rough patrol. Her starboard air castle had been stove in amongst other things by a rogue wave or so I heard. 
At any rate, I was designated to be a line handler for the Half Moon and boy was she a mess coming in to St. George. She looked like she had a slight list to starboard but what cracked me up was that on her port bridge wing there was a group of irrepressible Coasties playing musical instruments bursting forth with "When the Saints come Marching in". I was hysterical with laughter after which I dodged what seemed like a million monkey fists coming at me.


I used to love to take the water tanks soundings. The sounding tubes were two in the Chief's quarters, one in the ships office and one in the engineering log office on a 255'. The one in the Chief's mess was always good for a little snack. Every body knows, where there is a Chief, food will be nearby. Any way, the sneaky little CPO's would attached five or six pie pans to a fishing line loop it over a couple of pipes and stick the bitter end in their reefer and close the door. An unexpected new guy taking soundings would open the reefer door and all hell would break loose when those pie pans fell on that steel deck. Wake up a whole bunch of pissed off Chiefs. You couldn't get away with it. Half the Chiefs were Engineers and they knew who was on watch and was taking the soundings. They got excited when you ran the water tanks over too. Touchy bunch of Chiefs in those days. Nothing like that ever happen after I moved into the Chief's quarters. I some times wonder why?


Nothing like hauling a garbage can full of slop up the messdeck ladder on a winter station. Being the boot messcook means you get the bottom side of the can and winter patrols makes lots of noneaters and full cans so the bottom man usually gets a little messy.

Anyway I was taking a break one day evaluating my lofty position and Chief Herm stopped by and told me they were short a fireman. I thought man this is my ticket out of messcooking. I cultivated (kissed ass) the old Chief and he started working on getting me shifted to E division. I was really hyped, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Then one day a couple of firemen came through the messdeck with not a spot on them except eyeballs that was not coal black. When I asked what happened they said just "punching tubes", when are you coming down to join us. At that very moment I decided to become a bosun mate.


I spent many hours on OSN hanging out on the fantail or messdeck with some of the BM's, killing time by showing off our knowledge of knots. It usually went like this:

"Ever see this one (and a fairly intricate knot would be produced).

"Oh yeah, know that one, you know this one?" And an even more complex note would appear.

It not only killed time, it helped the younger guys (in those days) learn some things that were of value. And the session was also filled with sea stories. Some were actually true and also served to teach the young'uns.

Just about every BM on every ship I was on was always in the process of making a newer, fancier lanyard for his Bos'n pipe.
'Anything like that still happen, or have Gameboys become the timewaster of choice?


As an FA coming out of boot camp in Dec. 1956, I went directly to mess cook duty upon arriving on the Cutter Chincoteague. I washed the dishes and peeled a 100 pounds of spuds for every meal, My counterpart on the mess deck was a long lanky Texan by the name of Charlie Schlinke (BMCM ret).

My duties included taking out the garbage can with the lightweight stuff such as paper etc. His was the heavy can with the left over food etc. One day I caught him putting his stuff in my can and we got hot. Went up to the main deck crew's head and began a round of hard lefts and rights. I still say I won but, the last thing I remember was he knocked me into a large trash can and I was wedged in it in true cartoon style, Nothing but legs and arms sticking straight up with my a$$ at the bottom of the can. Couldn't move and I'm sure he took advantage of my position. I was in that can so tight I thought they would have to cut me out of it. We became good friends after that. He may have a different look at this and he reads this so give me your best shot Charlie. About the same time we were headed to the fantail with a full garbage can to dump it and I remember seeing this huge wall of water coming down the passageway and we held on to the ****can as tight as we could (didn't want to pay for a trash can at $72/month before taxes) next thing you know we are about an 100 feet back towards the bow and no trash can in sight. Arms hurt for days.


Excitation what a wonderous thing on 255’s. Here are two real stories:

I remember the time the Klamath was coming in to the municipal pier in San Diego and lost excitation as it neared the pier, consequently aiming straight for the fire boat that was at the end of the pier. Well the boys on the fireboat saw that white one out of control and jumped over the side. Fortunately they missed the fireboat, but as someone else pointed out, they left a 255 V in the pier.
Again the Klamath was coming into Los Angeles Harbor and for those of you who know the harbor of the middle 60’s the Minnetonka and Ponchatrain tied up at Pier C. When entering from sea the Navy mole were all destroyers, cruisers, aircraft carries and assorted support ships were located. I was on the Minnetonka standing quarterdeck watch, line handlers on the dock, OD and assorted other crewmembers on deck. Suddenly the Klamath starts sending flashing light. As not only the watch stander but also the QM of the duty section, I ran up to the signal bridge to answer. The mighty K informed us they had lost excitation and had dropped anchor right in the middle of the harbor. I informed the OD and two 40 boats were sent from Captain of the Port to tow the Klamath into Pier C. The number of flashing light messages I got from the Navy including SOPA, was well not very complementary. Something to the effect “ get that white whale out of the middle of my harbor”.


Please spell the name of my home for four years, PONTCHARTRAIN. We old BOATSWAIN MATES are very sensitive, after fifty four years. This is to be taken in a facetious manner.

How many of you remember taking the B.Ts, also the powder milk, eggs,and the beans for Saturday morning chow. Baltimore Steak,and Sunday evening chow of good old horse **** and spam. After reading all of these tales, after three years, these storys are 4.0 and by real sailors.


No the other BT's The Bathythermograph. Of course. Take a young 'n dumb BMOW send him out to the fantail with the SO2 at 3 in the morning under questionable weather conditions (Remember the decision was being made by a highly qualified Ensign or JG) to reel out a couple hundred feet of cable from a "cranky" winch and pull it back so the SO (sorry no MST's yet) could take the little glass mirror and read it, transcribe it to a chart, transcribe it again to a graph of numbers and send it off to "squigly land". I later learned this was actually a rather significant form of research on thermoclines, salinity and such related to ASW. At the time is was just a PITA.

Once I had the "fish" jump onto the fantail (along with a large amount of "cool" North Atlantic Water). We secured all the stuff headed back to CIC and the SO said "oops guess we gotta go back out, slide is broken" Yes we did go back out. Never even got dry that watch... Damn those were the days... 


You bet I remember doing BT's seems like I always had the 8-12 BMOW. The OOD would let the ship slide to starboard as we streamed the fish and bring it back on course at retrieving. If there was any sea running at all you usually got wet especially the boathook man. The SO decided that he could stay dryer if we changed places and as he was a first class and I only SNBM, we changed. One night while retrieving, just as the fish broke water the ship rolled to port, the made a round turn around the boom, parted at the thimble,  barely missed the rigged out ready boat, and splashed. The OOD who was also the OPS officer called us to the bridge, chewed us out and reminded us what a fish cost. Well the next night, would you believe what happened, this time it hit the midship K-gun rack and fell inboard(LUCKY). Same OOD but this time he only chewed the SO. 

The third night as we were getting ready to stream, the OOD yelled over the PA "_________LET BOATS RUN THE DAMN WINCH". This was about an hour after taps and people came out of the woodwork to see what was going on, first time I ever had an auidence while doing a BT.

I ran in to the former SO in Boston about 10-12 years later. He was the CO of the Nantucket light ship at that time.

Any one know anything about when the "helm" disappered from the Winnebago a couple of days before leaving for Victor, mid 50's.

I think when the OS's closed we lost some fertile training grounds, most of the kids we got the last 25-30 years don't have a clue how the old Guard was. (maybe better now-maybe not)


The Matagorda was tied up a civilian yard in downtown Honolulu. After about three days the locals complained about our testing the ship's whistle and alarms at noon, so we belayed testing them for the rest of the yard period. Okay. Time to get underway. As the last line came aboard (I was the 1JV talker on the bridge) the Captain calls for one long blast. Instead of the familiar sound of the horn, a burbling sound issued forth along with about three quarts of rusty water. The rusty water ended up all over the lookout's clean tropical whites. Oh, well.


Gentlemen, gentlemen....thanks for the SO stories. Been there and done that again and again and again They are a hoot! Makes a old man smile.


Drinks used to be bought for the BM, by Mrs. Pappas at the Bay Cafe on Bay Street in St. George Staten Island NY when she received a validated report that his monkey fist went through a window of someone's car window parked at the end of the pier....oops, sorry sir!


Ah Yes! Pier C, Berth 22 and 23, Port of Long Beach. Oil wells in the parking lot, spiders and all such manner of crawling things from the banana boats. The Queen Mary with one funnel, and primer brown. Breaking down 400 yards off the pier, and taking 4 hours to get towed back to the berth. Beautiful Midway, where the birds have the right of way and ownership and bicycle theft is a felony OSN and temp parties for the 4-8 watch cleaning the bridge and 02 level after the snipes blew tubes DAILY.

Double Victors with the side trip to Japan. The International date line parties. Club Heaven and Hell, Military Payment Certificates (MPC), Club Alliance and the strip behind it. Shore Patrol up and down the strip. 9 million Squids and 1 255 inport. Seemed even odds.

Beatup after a double victor, the PONTCHARTRAIN entering Pearl Harbor, during the filming of Tora, Tora, Tora and seeing the full size mockups of Battleship Row on 12/7/1941, then rending honors to the USS Arizona, Still chokes me up.


Never had a BM with me when we did the BTs on the Storis (67-68). Just the duty RD. Remember the time I was training my relief and the winch jammed while retrieving. Fish leaped out of the water, wrapped around the boom twice, then parted the wire at the thimble, never to be seen again. On the Bridge observing, The CO, XO and OPS. Instant board of survey. And an RD3, with no thoughts of ever making RD2 in this or any other life. There is a God.


The best BT story I know is when we took a trip down to Acapulco and the DC’s made a giant hook which they then had a cook given a big chunk of roast beef and hooked the hook unto the BT winch. They talked the old man into slowing down to a head 1/3 and so they could troll for sharks. Well they finally caught one and then cranked it in, it turned out to be a 12-13 foot hammerhead. The next problem was what to do with this thing and how to get aboard, the XO called for the duty gunners made who bought up and M1 (remember this was 1962) and shot it 5 times before it stopped flapping. As what to do with it, well the Filipinos knew.


Anchored off Waikiki beach for Armed Forces Day, fishing for sharks using the boat falls, a grappling hook and a 5 gallon oil can for a cork. Hauled huge ones in as fast as you could rebait the hook. Put a strain on those old air hoists. Thought a lot about not going swimming there again.


Bored to death.  So there we were, milling around aimlessly on O.S. November. A BM2 friend and I, noticing that a Nansen cast was due to occur, slipped a can of red spray paint into a nylon net sock bag and attached it to the end of the cable. I don't know WHY.... we were bored and stupid. Wanted to see if the can would be crushed by the water pressure that far down.

As the winch reeled in the cable we hung over the rail, watching for the spray can. Did I mention it was full when we started?

When the can broke the surface it was spraying red paint out of it's crushed seams. Quite impressive. Too bad it managed to spray red paint all over that white hull. Needless to say, the BM1 and BMC were NOT pleased.

Yup, he and I ended up doing a little hull painting once we returned to port. 
But....it was REALLY boring out there! 


Don't believe I've told this one before and it came up while meeting with three others Andy (Androscoggin) sailors from the early 60's this week.

The Andy at one time had a boxer dog named Andy on board who loved chocolate candy. Who ever it was that took him up to the Captains cabin one Saturday night and left him with a large bowl of exlax was directly accountable for us getting U/W Monday and riding the hook off Miami Beach for three days while the CO waited for a confession from the people that did it. Hey, I wasn't the only one. But after 40 years of sealed lips, I confess. (I know the CO has passed away). Time for you other guys to step forward 


If anyone who was at good old Honolulu T.H. in the 50s you can relate to my woeful financial condition. We tried to entertain ourselves by doing weird and fanciful things. The pulling boats on the ships were then equipped with a yawl sailing rig and I convinced the Chief that I knew how to sail (this from a West Texas boy who still had horse**** on his feet). After sailing around Hono harbor for a couple of weekends me and a couple of other dumb*** decided we would go out and down the beachline to where all the pretty girls in the skimpy suits were. (not very skimpy in the 50s)

One Saturday morning we put a story on the boot Ensign OOD (told him we were going to a beach right outside harbor entrance for a picnic), had the cook give us some horse*** and bread, loaded a large can of water and departed. Sailed for about 2-3 hours straight to the big hotel beaches, made severals passes up and down the beach looking at all the pretty girls. About 1300 we decided that we better start back. The breeze was fresh and we were moving right along. I the skipper, was on the quarter deck of a large sailing ship (told you we did fanciful things) approaching Honolulu. Then our luck turned ,the old canvas in the main sheet blew out leaving only the jib intact (all fantasies gone at this time). We limped along at a much slower pace and when the harbor entrance was close I could see that we would fetch up on the lee shore before gaining the entrance. Lowered the jib and broke out the oars(2). Have you ever tried to row an old water soaked pulling boat with just two oars pulling? We really had to put our backs to it, switching out at the oars we finally made the entrance. The wind had let up as we came in under the lee of Sand Island and as we approached the ship, only about two hours late, I saw the Chief and the OOD standing at the davits. Well I knew that my goose was cooked, my *** was grass, and I would probably be confined to the ship until I rotated. We hooked up and as the boat came to deck level I stepped out and slipped and fell flat, as I lay there Chief said,, "lost your wood leg Captain Ahab." It took about a patrol and a half for that to wear off. Seems the Chief was sitting at one of the hotel bars that front the beach and went back to the ship as he knew that with the prevailing wind we would have a problem making the harbor. He soothed the OOD by saying he would take care of us. Best BMC I ever encountered in the CG, went to the Eagle when he rotated. He was in the first panel for MCPOCG but didn't make it.
You know there were 42 non-rates in the seamans berthing space (we called it the armpit) on the ship , not one had a car or was married. Things must be quite different now, kind of glad my time was in the "Old Guard"


Is there anyone out there that remembers the UFO incident in the late 50's while on Campeche on the Sebago?

I did not get the full story because I was a snipe, and you know the snipes were kept in a dark place and fed bull puckey.

The story was that a Radarman on the mid watch picked-up a UFO moving so fast that he could not get a fix on him.

When we arrived in Pensacola for fuel the dock was loaded with VIP's and press, Of course we were warned not to comment. I still don't have a comment!!

I would like to hear"the-rest-of-the-story"  so if anyone knows, how about filling me in. 


I didn't know the Sebago got underway 


Anyone who sailed on an OS vessel knows that a good portion of your time is spent on drills or divison instruction, you get kind of complacent to detail after twenty or so days of GQ, fire, ASW,and numerous other drills. One of these comes to mind, "man overboard."

I had attained the lofty position of ready boat cox'n, this position is usually assigned to a day working BM which means no BMOW watches (except when the watches are dogged.) We kept the pulling boat rigged out against a strong back with frapping lines and a belly band to keep it in and with the sea painter and a stern line to control fore and aft movement. A lot of pride went with how fast the boat was manned, lowered, and away. As the boat was being lowered the boat crew jumped aboard and when the cox'n yelled "manned and ready" the boat was lowered away. Usually there wasn't any stoppage from strongback to water as the boat crew were aboard by the time the boat passed main deck level. The crew put their life jackets on at some point between the "man overboard" call and the boat becoming waterborne.

This particular drill was really going well until we were almost to the water and I noticed one man was a little higher on the manrope than the others, it was customary for the boat crew to hold on to the man ropes and to relieve weight from the boat during lowering so I wasn't alarmed or concerned. Seems he had put his lifejacket on around a man rope and was suspended between the boat and main deck level. Chief didn't stop lowering away and when the boat hit the water I unhooked aft and forward, rode out on the painter, nd watched as the deck crew cranked in the davits to retrieve part of my ready boat crew.


I must say that you brought back many memorys, about the twenty six foot "pulling boat", my how I hated that thing as a third class. I made so many trips to the ship that was relieving us on station, to get the mail and movies.
How many of you ever won a ANCHOR POOL, on Docking.
Here are a few terms that we used in the old days,by this I mean fifty five years ago.

Who can whistle at sea????

How do you mix a bucket of soojee???? 

Lead Lines?????

Lucky Bag????

Subs and Quarters????


My dad served on the Wachusett circa 1960.

On a 255, they were an incredible group of sailors. How they could work down in that hole is a credit to them all. Anyway, enough schmoozing the snipes, they may get swelled heads and expect it on a regular basis. Late 60's the Androscoggin had a Warrant Machinist of Irish descent from Everett or one of the surrounding suburbs of Boston. A perfect gentleman engineer. He would call to the pilothouse daily, "Ah, young quartermaster, and how many miles have we steamed so far". We'd pass it along, listen to a bit of grumbling on the phone, then he'd say, "well thanks lad, that means we've blown X amount of tons of soot into the North Atlantic so far, steam power, a wonderful thing."

Another time, a piece of gear, an economizer, I believe was down for the count. Wandering down to the galley for a mug up on the mid watch, I looked down thru the hatch in the Stbd Mess Deck at all the grimy snipes and asked, How goes it below, any luck. Well the old Warrant peered up and said, "well lad, I'd like to make an obscene gesture and use a bit of profanity at that piece of machinery, but as you know, we in Main Control would never stoop so low......."
In parting, he always mentioned that it was only fitting for a steam engineer, when he passes on to Fiddlers Green, should be cremated and have his ashes blown thru the tubes of a 255' The only way to go.


Not sure if my ashes would fit into a soot blower any more. My thinking is to give them to certain women and have them use them in their douche bag so I could run thru that thing one more time before I go. This would be more in line with the 255 snipes I knew. Hell raisers all, steam must liven you up more to live on the edge. Party time! You are one sick pup. But you sure brought a laugh at this computer station this morning. My wife had to come into the den to see what I was laughing so hard at. You made my week. PC you are not and retired you are. Keep it up. 


You are one sick pup. But you sure brought a laugh at this computer station this morning. My wife had to come into the den to see what I was laughing so hard at. You made my week. PC you are not and retired you are. Keep it up.


Glad some one saw the value of things I learned in the Coast Guard Next question, how does one rate as a sick puppy?. I thought all Coasties were thinking like me. If I were in today with the ladies on ships, all they would have to do is drop me a case of wild turkey every month or so and there would be no reason to come in. Sooner or later, I would begin to look good to them. I generally act nice but I try to do what the voices in my head tell me to do.


Anyone remember "liberty turns"? The snipes would gradually increase the ship's speed on the way home. Quite common to beat our ETA by several hours. And the night before making port there seemed to be a sudden case of insomnia that would affect a lot of the crew. Always had to increase the mid-rats because there were so many people still awake at midnight. As I recall that was referred to as "Channel fever".


As someone pointed out on the boot camp thread, Gary and I are REALLY old.
How old? Well, when we were in there was no such thing as political correctness, and if there had been we would have been used as bad examples.

We wore 13 button blues and a dixie cup hat and the only thing distinguishing us from the Navy was that little white shield on the forearm of our uniforms. Our blues were typically tailor made with dragons on the inside cuff and we were SALTY by God! Depending on where you were the shield represented:

A) Being in the Coast Guard

B) Serving on the Presidential yacht

C) Indicated the wearer did NOT have VD, whereas anyone in the same uniform without the shield did have VD.

We were rude, crude, frequently tattooed and our main pursuits involved getting stewed or screwed.

Most non-rates lived on the ships and as a result were a tight knit group. Most non-rates (and even E-4's for that matter) were single. And they were all GUYS. We drank together, fought together and in some strange non-touchy-feely way, looked out for each other. This sometimes took extreme action....like getting a shipmate so drunk he passed out, taking all his money and putting him on a bus to Salt Lake City so he would miss his wedding to the local punch.

We knew all the bars and knew when the Navy was sailing enmass, so we knew when and where we could locate the Westpac widows.
Damn, I miss those days.


Higher traffic of the year at Norfolk NOB was when the fleet pulled out for their six month deployment and it was centralizaled in Navy housing. Surprising how many of the cars had Coast Guard stickers. I was runner up as the Coastguardman of the Year in 1957 by the ladies living in Navy housing.  


Liberty turns were a wonderful thing. Also liked how the EO could somehow squeak the full power run in at just the most opportune time, Course the other side of the coin on some cutters was "Briar Patching" when the old man got there way too early and ended up doing round turns outside the sea buoy either painting out or mucking out. At least the local AM Radio stations came in fine. Only the educated elite and highbrow music lovers listened to FM stations


Mistakes the Coast Guard has made such as sending me and 11 others to be the US reps of law and order in Hong Kong for 30 days while the Wachusett was station ship. The Engineering Officer was the leader and he picked his best drinking buddies to give him a hand. While I can't go into the details (most of the other 11 are still alive). Just in your mind, 12 Coasties in Hong Kong with every thing free for the taking and I mean ANY THING. We had a 50 foot cabin cruiser with a crew of three at our disposal on off days (we worked 24 on/24 off) thanks to a certain gentleman that chose to shack up with one woman.  Marty Robbins gave me a ride back to the hotel one night and we went to the bar for more drinks, Never could get him to sing. Rose Marie and Morty of the Dick Vandyck show had the room across the hall from me and about 3 am I came in with my lady of choice that day, they made us come over to show us all the things they had come to buy. Getting on the elevator with my shoes in my hands and pants rolled up (been wading in the pool in front of the Hilton) with two Admirals who must have thought I was a Chief Petty Officer in the Tai Navy as they didn't say a word. Just a taste of my Coast Guard life. 


Although I didn't manage to do quite as well as in Hong Kong, I did figure out a scam that assured a few of us of free drinks and companionship. A couple of us went from bar to bar telling the owner/manager that we were on the ship's morale committee and were looking for the best bar to host a ship's party. Each place trotted out free drinks and the best looking girls. It worked so well that I ended up using the same ploy in Taiwan.

Free drinks....free women! Life just didn't get much better then that!


I guess I must be as old as you all as each of the issue and nuances raised. I also experienced. Salty Sid your comments remind me of how stressful working on a 255 actually was. The four years I put on a 255 and the year on the 82 in Vietnam left me saying when I went to college, that I was much younger when I graduated from college than when I started. There is a picture of me at the U of Michigan 3 months after leaving the CG , and I looked like an old man at 23. 
Since I am a University Professor I am thinking about writing a book on the Ocean Station experiences. What do all of you think? Paul Scotti did this sort of thing for the CG and the Vietnam experience, but to my knowledge no one has ever produced anything which captured the unique experience of Ocean Station duty.


Boring - Frankly, with few exceptions, O.S. was seriously boring. The weather could get your heart rate up once in awhile, but all in all it was not something that I believe could really result in an exciting book.


I understand that the actual ocean station duty may be somewhat boring, though there were some “interesting episodes” but the antics of those who served on the ocean station cutters may make a really interesting story. Witness some of these anecdotes here.


Probably of the same cut or pretty close. My WestPac time was '67 - '68 on the Androscoggin. One hell of a group of shipmates they were. 

Actually got assigned to her the day after I finished two weeks restriction and 20 hours extra duty on a black hull for some crime against humanity that slips my mind right now. 

Ocean Station sailors were an incredibly resilient lot. Either the boredom or managing the discomfort of a crappy patrol made for a very tight knit crew. At my time of life I stayed aboard so liberty with the shipmates made it a go for broke time inport. The older crew, at the time had their home life, but for a 19-20 year old it was the adventure of the thing.

I have sailed with many OS sailors over the years. One particular engineer up in Boston used to say he had 20+ years sea duty all on white ones, and had 2 years shore duty when he went to a lightship.


I remember the last trip i made on the Duane to O/S and we were having making water in the evap room.

The Old man told us at quarters that if we could not make water shortly, we were going to head home. Seems strange, no water was made on that trip.


I believe that the 0400-0800 BMOW was probably the best watch for me, not many people up and about at that time of morning and the evening movie didn't start till after 2000 division reports. The baker would finish off the bread and pastry sometime during that watch also. Our baker for about three doubles weighed about 300+ (before weight watcher time.) I always brought up flour and whatever from drystores for him as he had a problem with ladders. I was justly rewarded for this and if the QMOW and OOD weren't ***holes, I shared with them, had to be quick or the sneaky snipes would try to hog it all. Some QMs at times thought that they were JOODs and if the BMOW didn't report rounds in a timely fashion they would ***** at you within earshot of the OOD. They also did not like to chip, scrape and maintain their part of the 01 deck and above, hell let me get the GMs while I am at it. Not slamming QMs and GMs in general, just a few.

Another plus for the 4-8 on Victor we had an abundance of flying fish, a 6-8 inch blue colored fish with large fins that when pursued by larger fish would break water and sail through the air a goodly distance, some would land on deck. I would pick them up and take them to the Filipino stewards and they would fix with rice and other things, good eating. I cut off the heads and gutted them until they told me to bring the whole fish, fish heads and rice after that.

You get settled in on OS and if the weather is not too bad I didn't think it was a bad time. You had plenty of time to think, evaluate your yourself, and plan your future. Was a little rough on some of the married guys but as I said earlier post there were 42 none rates not counting snipes (we wouldn't allow them in our area) in the seaman berthing (armpit) and all were single.

I think that it was a fertile ground for young coasties to learn and decide their future and it was pretty rare to find an OS vessel alumnus that was not a good seaman and shipmate.

Also the Japan inports were nice !!!


Got one more Ocean Station story, this is a double Victor story. We had a brand new Ensign right out of the factory that was trying to qualify for OOD. As I was a QM we were instructed to help him understand what happens on the bridge. Some of you may remember those officers who were trying to qualify for OD watch stander (at least in the 60’s) stood watch with a qualified watch stander. Well this poor fellow was without a doubt one of most easily seasick people I had ever seen. But finally he was to stand his first watch on his own. Some of you may also remember that Victor could be a rough time during the typhoon season, (I have heard Bravo in the winter was hell too). We were in # 6/7 seas and, on a 255, that is a very rough ride. I came up for the mid watch and used the inside passage into the wheelhouse, where I saw the helmsmen and BM, but no OOD. I relieve the QM and asked where the OOD was, the QM takes me aside and says he is so seasick he is out on the wing of the bridge. I walked out on the wing of the bridge to find the OD hugging the Polaris (and a bucket) and in a heap on the deck. I knew if the old man were to come on the bridge it would be end of the Ensign’s career as a watch stander so the BM and myself stood the watch. I think looking back on it is amazing we did this as 20 year olds . When we reached Japan guess who bought all the drinks that first night!


We were in GTMO with BIBB in 64 and the routine in those days was just a little different than what I experienced later in the 70 -80's.
The days were long, really long and then once or twice a week you drew offshore picket duty. The old Georgie M. Didn't draw it as much because we had a four striper but still it caught up to us. 

On this patrol you steamed back and forth inside an area off the harbor entrance the US declared as "ours" Since the Cuban Navy was not about to argue with The USA so it was.

However, you had to make sure you didn't go too far (especially to the south) because you would steam into Cuban Waters. Any excuse for an incident was to be avoided. Remember we had just had a little altercation over some missiles with our cigar smoking friend and his Ruski comrades. The routine was boring as could be. Nothing ever happened. There were always a couple Cuban patrol boats around but everyone kept their distance. This was my second GTMO and I had made this offshore patrol quite a bit.

I was coming up to the bridge about 2335 for the mid watch, it was a beautiful night. I looked off the stbd beam and what caught my attention was, there were no lights... Just a few dim lights on the hills.. I looked to the stbd quarter and there were the lights, further aft than I had ever seen them. I looked and the QM was asleep on the flag bag. $hit, I thought, I went into the bridge and asked the kid on the helm, where is the OOD?, "out on the wing" he said, Yep he was on the wing, asleep in the canvas cover of the port flag bag. My 20 year old brain was spinning what do you do. I woke up the QM (after all enlisted men did not disturb officers in those days. I said hey, hey QM I think we have gone too far. He sat up, looked around and said OH my god we're gonna get blasted, I went into the wheel house and told the helmsman to put on some left rudder quick (turning away from the beach seemed like a good Idea). The kid said I couldn't give that order. I shrugged and said OK old boy. but we are in CUBAN waters. 'bout now the QM and OOD are both back in the wheel house and the OOD says Left Full Rudder, that kid was spinnin the wheel now I tell ya.

The OOD was lucky his relief was a classmate and the Cuban Patrol boat was way to the south that night. I have no doubt we were two or three miles into Cuban waters, just cruisin along.. 

I sure do miss all that "fun"


Fond memories of Gitmo City with the Navy corpman running along side the bus throwing the Pen. tablets in the windows.


The bell from the Minnetonka is on display outside Bldg. 34 (the "Chapel") on Coast Guard (AKA Government) Island, Alameda, CA.


The Minnie bell likely ripped off after they hit the dock and outside the chapal is where it fell off. 


Experienced several memorable incidents while on OS Victor. A very clear view of the Russian Sputnik as it passed in orbit, the CW (morse code for you boots) SOS of the Andrea Doria after collision (more than halfway around the world on this one), a firing excerise on the quad forties where we hit the weather balloon target with the first volley (actually the only time we hit one,) being the youngest on board I rang the 1957 welcome new years bell along with MMC Pappy Ingalls who was the oldest, several interesting SAR events, but the most memorable was:

One summer patrol it had been so calm we drifted nearly the whole 21 days. About the end of the second week one dead calm morning thirty minutes or so prior to reveille the OOD ,QMOW, and I were on the port bridge wing with our chins hung over the spray shield watching the sun come up, not even BSing just mind blanked. Lo and Behold about 150 or so yards off the port beam a submarine just popped up, like one second nothing and next second a full view of the sub sitting there. This set off a whole series of events, the lookout lay down on the flying bridge deck and started yelling SUB ! SUB !, the helmsman who was probably asleep and leaning on the helm ran out to the Starboard wing, the Ensign OOD took off toward the GQ alarm but the QM1 grabbed him before he could hit the button, and I just stood there totally dumbfounded. What seemed like 30 minutes or more (actually about 2-3 minutes or less) the sub hailed us with a bull horn "Good morning Coast Guard Cutter Chautauqua". By this time the QM had regained his senses (probably never lost them as he was an oldtimer with 12-15 years in) told me to go get the Captain. I met the CO already coming up the inside ladder and told "him to go to the bridge". The Captain wasn't even excited just picked up a bullhorn and answered back. The submarine had stopped by to see if we wanted to send mail in, as they were headed for Pearl. When reveille was piped, the announcement that anyone wanting to send a letter have it at the starboard davits in 20 minutes. I was the boat cox'sn for the delivery. CO kidded me later for ordering him to the bridge. Good CO CDR. Kenneth Wilson.

Any one aware that the 255s had "storm oil" tanks mounted in the paint locker ? And do you know what their purpose was.


I loved Ocean Station Sugar, I see that they changed the names, a couple of times. My first one was in 1950,this could be a little before your time.
So I am going to TO TRY AND TAKE A PRAGMATIC APPROACH ON THE STORM Oil.

To calm the the waters. Probably a number three sea and above.
The more I read these sea stories, the more I know we we were a different breed. We looked like sailors talked liked them, and had beards, met beautiful women.


I don't even remember where the paint locker was. Was it in the bow in a spot designed as "oilskin Locker"? Looking forward from frame 13 it only shows windlass room, pump room, chain locker and peak tank. Lord, I remember having that forward pump room as my GQ station a few times. I'm guessing that is about as isolated as it can get, three decks down locked in with a sound powered phone and 3 boxes of skin mags and a fire pump. My health sure suffered if we stayed at GQ very long. 


This was slick oil, pumped out to form a slick, thus calming the seas..... so they say? My first experiance with them was on the old Wisteria, which was an old light house tender, it did form a slick, and calm the chop, but didn't do much for the seas.

Yes I remember the pro-kits. My first trip to Cuba on the Sebago, before Castro, they issued them. Now for the hard guestion. How many guys used them? I must admit that I tryed once and decided that I rather face the consequences. Must be careful not to let the cat completely out of the bag.


The oil skin locker was where the foul wex gear was kept. Storm Oil (normally used lube oil) was used (very effectively I will add) in connection with the ship's lee, to reduce and often eliminate the "froth" and most of the confused chop in a storm where the primary sea was now moving contrary to the wind. It would indeed have a "calming effect" on the wind blown chop. It was used mostly to facilitate recovery during a SAR case or a man overboard. It also made it much easier to see the object you were trying to recover. It made it easier for a boat returning alongside to take a painter and ride in.

 Of course today if you did it someone would probably report the old man to the Tree Huggers.

I must be just a kid compared to some of you shipmates. I went to High School with a kid who was on ANDREA DORIA and when I went into BIBB.

God those were the days..

No Offense intended to todays guys and gals, but you really don't know what you missed...

All the work, all the danger, and all the fun plus 76 dollars a month!!!


Thanks for the info on the Minnie bell on of the QM’s jobs on the Minnie was to shine the damn bell, the SNQMs always got that job. Also what was your fathers name? I had some good friends in the early to mid 60’s on the WaWa, very squared away ship but not gung ho.


Your probably right about were the bell landed it’s the 255 excitation thing.
Yeah, I knew what the "storm oil tanks" were and what they were used for but had not ever seen the oil used. 


I recall one rescue we had on a winter patrol.

We answered a request to pickup a sick seaman off a tanker enroute Japan. We caught up with them around midnight and launched the self bailer, I was cox'n MM2 White was the snipe, HM3 Gary Morton, and a couple of seaman were aboard. It was a little rough with 8-10 foot swell and 15 to 20 knots of wind, the tanker gave us the best lee it could. I lay off until I got in time will the running sea and went alongside so the guys could pitch a "stokes litter" on board the tanker then lay off until they had him ready. The second run in seemed to be a little rougher and you could actually look down onto the tankers deck at times. We didn't stay alongside very long just grabbed the litter on the rise and rode the swell out and away, returned to the ship, took the painter and hooked up for recovery.

Any of you guys that ever took a sleigh ride in a ship's boat when there was a heavy running sea can remember how you could get so far above the ships main deck, scary at times!

They carried the man to sickbay where it was found that he hadn't "pissed" for 5 days. The Doctor and HMC D.J. Black drained him out and he was up and about the following day. I was the keeper of the sail locker (the place where power tools, scrapers, wirebrushs, line,and BM stuff were kept) and he hung around there most of the time till we made Japan. He was a good seaman, taught me how to splice wire rope  (liverpool and west coast loggers splices.) I used to rig a hammock and sleep in the sail locker, beat the hell out of the "armpit." Summer patrols I would rig the hammock on the fantail between the towing bitt and an awning stanchion, good sleeping in a hammock the ship rolls around you.

Anyone ever seen the accommodation ladder and the boat boom rigged and used on the "big white ones" ? I have.

Has anyone of you "big white riders" every seen the accommodation ladder and the boot boom used? 


Yeah, we used them fairly often when I was on the Dexter. Some of the ports we hit in Mexico we anchored out and rigged them to run our liberty boats.


Yes they were used often in BIBB while on the Bermuda SAR Standby. Pier use was limited. Sometimes we had to go into Hamilton at the Navy Seaplane Base.. 

No pier at all.

Used the accomdation ladder a few times on GALLATIN but alas the boat boom was a thing of history by then.

Triva Question:  Your accomodation ladder has 28 steps not including the lower platform. The lower platform is 12 inches high. The distance between each step is 9 inches. The accomodation ladder is rigged with bottom of the lower platform at the water level when the tide for the harbor you are visiting is at "mean" low water. The normal range of the tide range of the tide is six feet, but a two foot storm surge is expected to co-incide with the next high tide.
How many of the steps will be covered at the high tide? 


Port Running light. That's about like "is the bulb or lens green in the port running light"?


Interesting on using the one in Gallatin, We may be the only dinosaurs for a while that ever used them. Went on Chase and asked when the last time it was rigged out and no one had an answer. So then after a day of breaking it all out and checking for all the parts, away we went. Actually got a lot of good use out of it in mid 80's on D7 ops. Kept her rigged out most of the time and made it a hell of a lot easier on boarding teams coming and going. Just kept a good seaman's eye on the weather and stowed when necessary. A heck of a lot easier on old farts than humpin'it over the side on a Jacobs ladder.


Ocean Station November - Ah, third cup o' mud just kicked in and remembered a useless tidbit about November Station. 

I was flying out to Hawaii to join Jarvis when the pilot announced that we were "now in communications with OS November" and went on to explain about the stations.

Well, this was in the days when you traveled in uniform etc. etc. and also during the days when they had, how bout this, walk up bars on the 747's, remember. I'm in the lounge sippin on one, in uniform, and just mentioned, that was the Cutter I was enroute to. Course I didn't mention that it was also the last November Patrol and would never be there again, but it did loosen up the supply of truth serum that was supplied courtesy of other passengers on the flight. Arrived semi-lubricated in Hawaii and still had change in my pocket.


Ladder Story... We were rigging the accommodation ladder in GALLATIN at GTMO one weekend. I was in the boat with two seamen and an engineer. The Ladder had not been used for quite a while and the salt water efflorescence had "tightened" up several of the pivot points. The lower platform had not swung down correctly and we approaching the ladder with the boat to put some early 1970's version of WD 40 on the pivot pins. I wanted to secure the boat but there was no way to do that and reach the inboard set of pins, so I began to pull a little ahead of the suspended lower platform, figuring I could then slip back and get the inboard and outboard hinges and pins no problem... There was a good sized manila fender up at deck level... none of those namby pamby plastic air inflated fenders for us, no sirree bob... The BMC said to the kid "tending" the fender, "get that fender down to that boat." Of course the Chief meant to lower the fender so it would be at our level, but Murphy was aboard so. The kid pulls up and unties the fender, yells "heads" and throws the fender to the boat. I looked up just in time to get hit with the fender, which of course knocked me a$$ over teakettle, so now nobody is "driving" the boat which goes back under the ladder, (I had been backing when I got coldcocked) everyone is either ducking or laughing so hard that nothing is getting done. Eventually I got up and we managed to complete the rigging of the ladder but man did my neck and shoulders hurt for a few days.

The First Lt. is on the 01 deck watching all this (he had just taken over the deck division) probably wondering what he had gotten into.

For the rest of that GTMO the kid who hit me was referred to as "fender head" even though I am the one who got hit. BMC Ted Green gave him that name at quarters and it stuck.

Proof that in even a simple evoloution anything that can go wrong , will...


Bad Time - When we had people running the ship that were not ship handlers (95% of the time) they would use one of the moorings lines as a spring line to get away from the dock. Normally a steel bar is put in the eye of the line so you can just pull the bar and the line is free. One time in Key West, some one used a pipe and it folded up and the line caught a Navy guy behind his legs and busted his brains out onto the dock. He was DOA. Don't remember hearing about any action being taken on the BM or others that were in charge that used the pipe. Any body ever hear any thing. If you were there, you know what ship it was.


Accommodation ladder and boat boom. Will see if I remember how to rig them out, might be of some interest to “younger BMs” and "muddy water sailors"
The accommodation ladder was about 18 to 25 feet long, constructed of oak 3 inch by 10 inch wood planks with brass trimmings, weighed a ton and required sanding and varnishing often. When not rigged it was mounted to the bulkhead just forward of the starboard davits on a 255. When rigged out the upper end was attached to a folding platform (chains platform) at main deck level ,the middle was supported by a yolk and tended from a fish davit at main deck level so it could be raised and lowered. It had a landing platform mounted at the bottom and there were stanchions and lifelines on the platforms and the ladder itself. When not in use but still rigged out it could be hoisted to a horizontal position with the main deck and folded inboard and secured along the ships lifelines. We normanly hung it just aft of the midship's K-Gun rack.

The boat boom was a steel I beam mounted at the outboard scuppers and under the boat cradle. When rigged it was swung out at a ninety degree angle to the side of the ship. It had a support guy running from the outboard end of the boom up to the after side of the bridge wing and vangs running horizontally fore and aft from the outboard end. There were two or three guest warps hanging from the boom for the boats to moor too and a rope ladder (tough climb) for the boat crews to climb up and down to the moored boats. We didn’t use the ladder and boat boom very many times but I can recall it being quite a chore to get everything out of the “glory hold” and rigged up.

 I also remember cat walking the boat boom after dropping off all passengers at the accommodation ladder platform. Never fell off the boom but my engineer fell once. 

Been nearly 50 years since I last used the ladder and boat boom. 


The boat boom in BIBB was a beautiful varnished wooden spar with metal fittings and such. It was located on the starboard side just forward of the aircastle. It was not too awful difficult to rig if you could find the guys. The top lift was stored in the aircastle it was a bugger to get up. Of course everything was made of manila and had to be replaced regularly, made learning your marlinespike seamanship useful.

Old timer from the Navy showed me a good way to climb those suspended ladders by climbing from the side, it really cut down on the swing. "course as an 18-19 year old monkey it was a piece of cake...


I recall a lot of my time on OS was spent on reworking lifelines, coxcombing ladders, and doing other "fancy work" as we called it. Served all the vertical ladder rungs with marlin, put leather on the lifelines where they passed through the stanchions. Made an awning out of #2 canvas for the space between deckhouses one trip. Could make 3,4,5, 7 strand turk's heads, sennits, fox and geese, macrame, and just about any kind of ornamental knotting. Also ran the sail loft and and picked up a couple of bucks patching shirts and dungerees The time seemed to pass quicker if you stayed busy.

I spent a little time in D1, Group Boston, left Juneau and went to Boston, thought I had died and went to hell.

Have a riddle for the young BMs. Don't answer if you came in prior to 1980.
Worm and parcel with the lay __________________.


December 1949,the PONTCHARTRAIN sailed from (SH-CITY) Norfolk,to our new home port, Long Beach ,California.

The unusual thing was, we had five of the crews cars on the main deck. At this time very few had the money to buy cars. Hell at this time I was getting $60.00 a month plus $15.00 for sea pay, and every quarter $5.00 for clothing allowance.

As we were passing all of the ships in the harbor, according to naval protocal they had to give us a salute by there horn.
I saw that all of the ships was sending blinker and using Semaphore.

As a young seaman, I could not read it. I took one of the Old World War Two QMs to understand what they were saying. He was so angry he could not talk, all he kept saying was those Pearl F---.Ups. Later I found out, they wanted to know if we were amphibious.

I have a very good picture of us at anchor off of Acapulco, with the boat boom out and the accommodation latter over the side.

While we were there, the Mexican Navy had an old Mine Sweeper, that they got underway every three or for months. No money for fuel oil. Our old man invited there skipper for a set down dinner in his cabin. All ther Captain wanted to know if all the C.G. Captains could take there cars to sea with them. They never knew that the new 1949 Ford belong to the Chief Boats and the other three to First Class P.O.s.

When we got to Long Beach, we dropped the hook and waited for a tender to follow us to San Pedro to take them off The reason there was a lot of the 11th district brass waiting on the dock for us to tie up plus newspapers taking pictures.

It is quite ironic I found my old Chief Boats after fifty one years,through the 255 renunion board. He was WW2,as he enlisted in 1939 and was in the South Pacific for three years. One great sailor, he taught me all of the things that has been talked about.


One of the funnier episodes on the Escanaba WPG-64, New Bedford, MA occured when the ship was entering the U. S. Naval Base at Argentia, New Foundland. I was on watch, at the time I was the messenger for our watch section. 

The Officer of the Deck (OOD) looked aft and saw a pirate flag (good old skull and crossbones) being raised on the aft mast. He told me to run back there and tell whoever was raising it to stop and report to him. Well upon arriving at the “ceremony” I was taken aback by the person raising the skull and crossbones. 
It was the Captain of the Ship! He greeted me, Good Morning Seaman Clark. I replied Good Morning Sir, turned and ran back to the bridge.

 The OOD, a Lieutenant the crew nicknamed “Mr. Wonderful”, yelled at me, “why isn’t the flag being hauled down?” I replied, The Captain was raising it sir and he will be up here shortly!” 

Mr. Wonderful was speechless. At about that time a Navy helicopter overflew the ship, so low we can see the expression on the pilot’s face. I could see he said something to his co-pilot, must have been, “Oh, it’s just the Hooligan Navy !”


The  recollection of the flight to Hawaii reminded me of the time we were on OSN and had someone who became very ill, appendicitis as I recall, any way the closest ship was the Matsonia of the old Matson line. Well we made our rendezvous with the ship, with all the pretty women waving, and as the 26 foot life boat is transporting the crew member I look on the 02 deck and someone is sending me semaphore. Being a QM and the signal bridge supervisor, I answered. It turns out that this guy was QM who was being transferred to the Chautaqua , and somehow was able to scrounged a ride on the Matsonia. How the hell he did that is beyond me, I was never that clever to work out such a deal. Really help our moral to know we had still 15 more days of patrol!.


I am reminded of the time we went into San Francisco and tied up near Fisherman’s Wharf. Since a 255 was a single screw, single rudder, docking maneuvers were always interesting. Getting into a pier in SF was tricky since there was a strong current and it was easy to get yourself side ways in between two piers if you were not careful. We, as Gary points out, often had people who were not good ship handlers and this time we had an Operations Officer who was a wash out from the helicopter flight school doing the ship handling, the man was idiot to say the least. Well sure enough he got the ship broad side to a 6 knot current and we got ourselves between two piers with the bow touching one pier and the stern touching the other. 

The old man gets all cranked up and orders the GM to fire the line throwing gun so that we can put a stern hawser on the dock and winch ourselves in. The GM gets all excited and uses not the plastic tip projectiles normally used, but uses one of the old steel tipped ones. Well he fires the line gun and it goes right though the top of the warehouse window on the pier, there is a boat used for the harbor master inside the warehouse on slings, and the projectile goes though two of the glass plates surrounding the helm on the boat, and lands in the office of the harbor master. Talk about some irate people; but we did get ourselves winched in, while two Navy destroyers were sending a variety of flashing light messages, none complementary.


In the 50s it was pretty common for married guys to come to good ole Hono.T.H. on the Matson liners. I can only remember the name of one "Lurline" but there were 2 or 3 others. The parent unit would meet the ship and transport them to temporary quarters, they could also go back the same way when rotated. Single guys were not given that option, only prop planes then and it was a long flight. 


Marlinspike seamanship, is not dead or a lost art... I just read what a lot of people  have to say...seems like a lot of them have their knickers in a knot. 
Nostalgia


You sure enough bring back a lot of memorys to this old fellow. You stated that on one of the O.S. stations that you made a mid ship awning. When we were on the West Coast they were not used, but we used them in good old Norfolk.
We had a first class Boats that was on the beach for most of his time The Deck Officer passed the word to rig the awnings, fore and aft. This was a bonafide Chinese Fire Drill. The reason, all the Stanchions were mixed up.
Did any of you old weather stations sailors ever practice the art of 'CUMSHAW"?????


Canvas Midships and Movie Stars - Now it was just a bit before my time in the Androscoggin. But here ya go, Frank Sinatra, Tony Franciosa, Virna Lisi ? (the babe), a sunken U-Boat and the Queen Mary out in the Bahamas. Good little movie and the Androscoggin flailing around at 18 kts. From what I gather, some of the shooting was done on the Ponchatrain in Long Beach, (the SO1 sitting at the sonar is Lee Rohrig, great shipmate and friend, now crossed the bar and up on Fiddlers Green, smooth sailing now) and the Bahamas stuff done on the Andy. 
Well the Ponch already had the midship deck house built, but the Andy didn't. Now then, if you watch the end of the movie very carefully as the WHEC 68 steams off into the sunset. Observe the midship deck house. It was constructed over 2x4's and white canvas stretched over it. You'll see the deck house flopping in the breeze and smoke belching out the stack.


There was a remake of the Ponch’s rescue of the Pam Am Clipper, which was done for a TV series call “Rescue” or something like that. The actual title of the film, I think, was “ Mayday Mayday Ocean Station November”. This all took place around 1964, and the Ponch was actually out on OSN, so the film was done on the Minnetonka. They took cardboard plates and put them over the W67 and hand painted W70 on the plates. There is an opening seen with a QM on the helm and that’s me. I never did see the film as the Minnie left for Bering Sea Patrol right after the filming.


While drifting on a calm and foggy night on OS Echo, the Androscoggin drifted within a 100 feet of a Russian sub that was doing the same thing we were. Chilling out. Both of us hauled a$$ in different directions. Little while later US sub came bye looking for them. End of story. I believe that most everyone has found these entertaining and a welcome relief from the "cannon cocker's "tirades on the aviators. I would encourage anyone who has a "sea story" to share it, lets help keep the "old Guard" at the forefoot.

Quiz for the boot BM's and muddy water sailors. What is a "butter board" and what would be its application.


While I admit to borrowing a little gas prior to entering the Guard. My senior Coasties instructed me in the fine art of midnight requisition. I believe we kept it all in the family, from one cutter to another one. Sometimes borrowed from the Navy.


Shortly after I reported to my first unit (CGC Taney) we were in a shipyard in Oakland moored next to an LST that was being decommissioned. We still had the twin 40mm at that time. One night when I had the duty the 2nd class GM enlisted the aid of myself and a couple others. We went aboard the LST late at night and liberated a couple new barrels and two loaders from the LST.
Heck, they weren't going to use them anymore!


Blew a P-250 at underway training in San Diego. Two guys painted hard hats with the Navy repair ship's name. Walked aboard her and toted off a brand new P-250 the likes of which I had never seen. Passed arrival inspection with flying colors, all equipment operating.


Liberated a jeep from Vietnam. Ship had all lines singled up and everything ready to go, with the boom out over the pier. Jeep comes tearing down the dock, screeched to a halt, sling is run under it, jeep hoisted inboard and the ship is off to the Philippines, having completed a successful rescue of a jeep from the Army. Saved that poor jeep from a life under those nasty Commies. 

It had a much happier life in Cavite City. 


Heavens, a ship with its own jitney. That was forward thinking. Guess you take just about any thing away from there if every body went along with it. Guy send me a case with five AK-47's in it to mail to his home when we arrive back in the states. I promptly returned them to him via the first swift boat going his way. Wanted no part of that one. 


Know your ship check off sheets. Anybody remember those? While I have not been on a large cutter since 1970 (only a 210' and a 180' after that) I am looking at the three page check off sheet from the Cutter Chincoteague from 1956. You had to demo to the BMC then that you knew and could do every thing from raising and lowering a boat to operating the portable pumps. I remember on my last weather Cutter, the Wachusett leaving all the nightly Engineering instructions in Morse Code just so we would be up to sending messages and blinking light on our annual check off and I was a snipe. Just wondering if they do things like that any more. Sure didn't hurt any body. I still remember a little semaphore. 


A couple other memories of Ocean Stations: Powdered milk
Bug Juice, Hump Day and a Hump Day BBQ weather permitting.
Swim call with GM's on the catwalks with rifles, acting as shark guards.
I would expect the last two were few and far between on OSB!
I really, really hated the powdered milk!


My first stop after ocean station was the first roadside veggie stand. Generally buy a head of lettuce to chew on the way home. Learned to love canned skim milk. Things got better as the cooks improved and the supply clerks learned they didn't get any points for turning unused money back in.


My first stop...was the closest place that cooked a big steak dinner and served lots of drinks. 
Second was a place with women, that served a lot of drinks....
Veggies? Yecch.....


First Stop!!!! Inthe late forties, and early fifties, when we pulled in good old Long Beach, this old Bosn headed to the Pike to get what I was raised on and what was made in good old Kentucky.

I hated the powder milk, plus the eggs. We were on station Nan and we were subjected to the culinary and cuisine chow, of Baltimore Steak. This terminology was from the WW2 days.

It was due to some one putting the wrong stencil on the wooden crates. (Beach Pounders)????


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