Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Navy Comes to Rockport and Other Missions

                    One of four Naval Academy Sailboats visiting Rockport July 8-11, 2011

Four 42-ft. Yachts of the Naval Academy Sailing Squadron visited Rockport this weekend, and the town rolled out the welcome mat for them.
            Roger Lesch, a local police officer, and Sharon Grandmaison, who runs a child care service, are the driving force behind the Rockport Navy Committee, which also includes people connected to the American Legion, local fishermen, the Sandy Bay Yacht Club, the Rockport Country Club, Navy veterans, friends of the Navy and old Naval Academy graduates who live here. 
            For someone who graduated from the Naval Academy 54 years ago, when I meet these Mids it invariably brings on little discussions and comparisons. 
            These Mids were born about 1990, three years after I had retired from the Navy.
            If I had run into similar old NA grads when I was sailing around as a Midshipman, they would have been from the Class of 1900! 
            While the boats and Mids are in town, we take turns standing “watch” down on T Wharf where one of the boats is open for visitors.  Visitors to Rockport stroll down the wharf to look at all the boats, and we tell them that if they’d like to visit the Naval Academy yacht, they may. 
            They usually are eager to do it, and clamber down the gangplank and lift themselves on board. 
            Today, Amanda and Brittany were the Midshipmen with the duty to show off their boat, and they show off the cramped spaces for ten midshipmen aboard the boat, and usually there’s a conversation about life at the Academy, and the Navy. 
            It’s interesting to talk with visitors to Rockport, and Rockporters, who stroll down and eventually go aboard the Navy sailboats. 

Three USNA Midshipmen get welcomed to Rockport last year
By Katherine Goss and Katherine Mocarski (our granddaughter).
Mids L to R: Max Vanbenthem, James Turner and Thomas Dowd, all Class of 2013.
            Summer cruises at the Academy have always been very serious training events, with a little time squeezed in for the Mids to see new lands, meet new people, especially girls, or for female Mids of course, men.    
Midshipmen spend their first summer at the Academy learning about the Navy, and getting ready for four years of rigorous physical and academic life.  From the day that they are sworn in, their lives are a continuous whirlwind of marching drills, obstacle courses, trips to the rifle range, swimming tests, whaleboat rowing, academic work, running, hiking, sports, more marching, and lots of sweating. 
            The second summer is such a relief, because Plebe year, and all the harassment and questions and drilling and memorizing, sitting on an invisible stool at meals, and other forms of “character building” are done.  The year of academics is done, and it is time to go to sea.
            Today, some Midshipmen spend part of that summer in these 42-foot sailboats, and they practice navigation, and learn the finer points of handling a real sailing craft for several weeks.  After that, they’ll fly to some base in the United States or overseas, and embark in a submarine or surface warship for several weeks. 
            On that ship they’ll learn what enlisted men and women do that makes the ship operate and able to fight.  They’ll learn how to make torpedoes or missiles ready for firing, how to stand deck or diving station watches, how to inspect tanks, how to charge batteries on a submarine, how to fuel ship, how to navigate, and how to clean a head (crew’s toilets).  This cruise as sophomores, or “Youngsters” is intended for them to get to see the Navy from the point of view of enlisted men and women.  The next times they go to sea they’ll be studying the role of officers.
            That “Youngster Cruise” of 2011 is not much changed from the one we took aboard a battleship in 1954.  (At least, from my point of view!)
            As soon as the graduating class had received their commissions and diplomas, we boarded troop transports from Annapolis down to Norfolk, where we embarked in a summer training squadron.  My ship was USS New Jersey (BB62), a 45,000 ton monster, with nine big 16-inch guns.

Four Iowa-class Battleships steaming together, 1954

            As soon as we were aboard, we sailed out of Norfolk and rendezvoused with three other battleships.  The photo above shows that event, which was the last time those marvelous veterans of World War II ever sailed together.  Besides New Jersey, there were the Battleships Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri.  Missouri bore a large nameplate that marked the location on her deck that had been the place for the signing of surrender documents by the Empire of Japan that marked the end of World War II.
            When this historic event was over, New Jersey and Missouri, two cruisers, many destroyers, a small carrier, and some auxiliary ships, started our way across the Atlantic. 
            All the way across we worked, and studied, stood watches, and worked at the jobs usually designed for enlisted men, like cleaning compartments and washrooms, painting, loading stores, assisting in taking on fuel, and much, much more. 
            The Jersey crew had just returned from duty off Korea in the Korean War, firing those big guns at North Korean targets. 
            In the evening there were movies topside on deck, and once on the cruise a “Smoker” when men gathered on the large teak deck aft, the fantail, to watch boxing matches between sailors, or between midshipmen.
Crew toilets in battleships resembled the bottom half of a large pipe, or trough.  Sailors sat on toilet seats across this half pipe, and sea water flowed through the pipe, and then carried the waste overboard.  At busy times, there might be a dozen or more sailors all sitting on this half pipe.
At some time or other, a wise guy would take a wadded up newspaper and set it afire, and let it float in the halfpipe, upstream of the men sitting there.  You can imagine the surprise as the fire passed beneath the bottom of each man, and each popped up, in sequence.


            Each Saturday at sea was Field Day, with meticulous scrubbing from stem to stern, and midshipmen learned how to holystone.  This was a long-observed job of lining up sailors, barefoot, on the teak decks of the battleship and scrubbing those decks with soapy water until they shone.  The device for scrubbing was a mop handle stuck in the hole of a boiler fire brick.  In a row of Mids, we rubbed the brick back and forth on the deck, sliding and sloshing in the soapsuds, until a senior Chief Petty Officer decided the deck was sparkling clean. 

After about two weeks of this life at sea, the ships arrived at their first liberty port, and ours was Vigo, on the northwest (Atlantic) coast of Spain. 
            This part of Spain, just nine years after World War II ended, was really poor.  Many of the people who came to see our ship come alongside the pier and tie up were barefoot.
            They were poor, but Spaniards showed the sailors and midshipmen aboard the battleship and other ships a marvelous welcome, with dancing in the streets, a street fair, and loads of booths selling all kinds of Spanish food and drink.  I recall a bottle of Spanish “champagne” sold for about one U.S. dollar. 
            We had tours of the town, and trips just a few miles north to the very picturesque and historical city of Santiago de Compostela.

            Our next port was Cherbourg, France, and there the battleship anchored out, and we took ferries to go ashore.  The liberty boats returning sailors and midshipmen to the battleship after an evening in the town could be interesting.
            I grew up in a non-drinking home in Texas, and I had not really been exposed to people who routinely got very drunk and fought with each other, using fists, feet, knives and firearms to maim and kill each other. 
            Battleships were big in every way, and with a complement of 2000 officers and men, there were always a few troublemakers. 
            The Cherbourg liberty boat was really a large ferry that could carry over 200 men, and one evening I was aboard along with a whole load of enlisted men and midshipmen, and some were really drunk.  One rather small, wiry sailor was incredibly drunk, and started picking fights and then picked a fight with a large sailor who was a Shore Patrolman.  The S.P. started to restrain the sailor, who then summoned up the superhuman power only available to drunks, and swung the huge shore patrolmen around the deck like a limp rag.  Then, more shore patrolmen showed up, and soon there must have been a dozen sailors wheeling around, trying to restrain this little drunken man.  When they finally had him down, a hospital corpsman appeared and gave the man an injection of something to quiet him down.
            I’ve seen spectacular drunks quite a few times in my thirty-four years in the Navy, but that was my introduction.
            After a wonderful trip to Paris, we were all back aboard New Jersey, and then sailed to Guantanamo, Cuba, where we had a chance to fire those big 16-inch guns and experience life in boiler rooms when the temperature reaches 130 degrees F. or more.

And now, The Personal Navigator offers these books and papers:

American Brig Commerce: Journal Comprising An Account of the Loss of the Brig Commerce, of Hartford, (Con.) James Riley, Master, Upon the Coast of Africa, August 28th, 1815; Seventh Edition  by Archibald Robbins, 1818. Hartford, CT: Silas Andrus.  Very popular account of author's ordeal as slave of Wandering Arabs of the Sahara; .   Includes many Arabic words and meanings. Catching and eating locusts. . 275 pp. 11 x 17 cm.  Calf on board, very scuffed and worn, text block detached; Only part of map of author's travels, showing western Africa, remains. Poor condition. (4820)  $60.00 Nautical/Travel/History

Bluejacket's Manual, United States Navy, 1940, Tenth Edition 1940       Annapolis, MD: United States Naval Institute. When sailors joined the U.S. Navy in 1940, this is the book they studied,  The kept it close to their heart in boot camp, and it went in their seabag when they went aboard ship. This copy has owner's name on front free endpaper. Includes information for new recruits, information all Navy enlisted men must know: Discipline and Duty, Seamanship, Gunnery, Personal Hygiene and First Aid, Naval Customs, Shipboard Terminology, much more. 791 pp. 13 x 19 cm. Dark blue cloth on flexible board, Very good. (3436)  $30.00. Nautical/Educational/Reference

Fighting Fleets, The: Five Months of Active Service With The American Destroyers and Their Allies in the War Zone by Paine, Ralph D. ©1918 Boston, MA Houghton Mifflin Co. 393 pp. 15 x 21 cm. Account of actions of U.S. Navy and allies at sea in World War I. Includes photographs and facsimile of telegram. Cloth on board, cover shows slight rubbing and fraying. Very good. (1660) $22.00. History/Nautical/Naval.

Aboard USS Monadnock, ca. 1900

Gun and Torpedo Drills for the United States Navy, prepared under the direction of the Bureau of Navigation, Navy Department by Lieutenant Edward W. Eberle, U.S.N. 1901 Annapolis, MD: U.S. Naval Institute. Author Eberle (1864-1929) graduated from the Naval Academy in 1885, and wrote this book, the first of its kind, after service as turret officer aboard USS Oregon  in the Spanish-American War. Later, in 1923, he became Chief of Naval Operations. Drill of 3, 4, 5 and 6-inch rapid-fire guns for five or six men per gun: Captain, Plugman, Loader, 2 or 3 Shellmen. Drills for 5, 6, 7 and 8-inch quick-fire guns with seven or eight men per gun.  Includes detailed instructions and commands for loading, unloading. Drill of a pair of 8-inch B.L.R. mounted in turret, with an ammunition-lift for each gun, 10 men, five for each gun. Drill for pair of 10, 12 or 13-inch B.L.R. mounted in turret. Secondary gun drills, including 1-pdr. Maxim Automatic Gun. Detailed notes for Turret Mounts. Smith and Wesson Navy Revolver. Krag-Jorgensen Rifle (.30 inch). Torpedo Drills for Whitehead Torpedo. Details on Whitehead Torpedo.  Tables for Schedule of Exercises, Regulations for Target Practice, tables for Subcaliber Practice. For Torpedo firing, Range Table.            . 222 pp.          10 x 14.6 cm. Leather cover with gilt lettering and Naval Institute seal, with cover flap. Text on high-quality fine paper. Inside front hinge cracked. This copy issued to Commanding Officer USS Monadnock. Leather flap has 6 cm of biopredation along fold.  Fair. (7976) $180.00. Naval/History

Hudson-Fulton Celebration, Official Program, September 25 to October 9, 1909 New York, NY: Hudson-Fulton Celebration Commission. Celebration commemorates Discovery of Hudson River by Henry Hudson, 1609 and Inauguration of Steam Navigation by Robert Fulton, 1807. List of officers and Chairmen of Committees. Events included naval parades, musical festivals, military parade, children's festivals, illuminations, lectures, carnivals, historical parades and religious observances. Pictures of floats in historical pageant. United States ships at event included USS Idaho, USS Mississippi, USS Minnesota, USS Georgia, USS Wisconsin, USS Ohio, USS Rhode Island, USS Connecticut, all part of Great White Fleet; USNLS Utrecht of Netherlands; FNS Justice of France; HMS Duke of Edinburgh and HMS Drake, UK; Viktoria Luise of Germany.  Also flying machines by Wright and Curtiss took part.  32 pp. 23 x 31 cm. Paper publication, front and back covers loose, poor. (7379) $33.00. Nautical

In the Swamps of Albania, with German sailors

In Fjord und Mittelmeer Fahrten eines Kleinen Kreuzers [In German] von Richard v. Stosch (author of "Vom Seekadetten zum Seeoffizier") 1914 Berlin, Germany: Ernst Siegfried Mittler und Sohn, Königliche hofbuchhandlung, Hochstraße 68-71.  Author, Richard von Stosch, Kapitänleutnant, writes his "Vorwort" from Konstantinopel (now Istanbul) in September 1913. Story of cruise of  German cruiser Breslau in the Baltic and North Sea, including Norwegian Fjords, then into the  Mediterranean Sea. Photos of sailors and ship at Swinemünde (now in Poland), then in Valetta, Malta and Port Said, photos of Beirut and Baalbek, Bucht von Smyrna, photo of Der Scheich der tanzenden Derwische, (Sheikh of the Whirling Dervishes); expedition to Skutari, Albania and photo of Serbische Maschinengewehre and ruins at Skutari, photo of earnest looking sailors and officers in very tall grass (In den Sümpfen der Bojana) in wilderness between Montenegro and Albania.  This account, all in German, may give some clues to the hazy history of combat in this area at the end of the Ottoman Empire, when Austro-Hungarians and Germans supposedly fought the Serbs at Skutari. 162 pp. 11.8 x 19.6 cm. Decorated paper on board, worn, paper on spine is gone. Inscription on dedication page is dated "Kiel, 15 Februar 1914." Good. (1832) $60.00. Naval/History

Jane's Fighting Ships, 1942 [Issued June 1943] Founded in 1897 by Fred T. Jane, 46th Year of Issue 1943 McMurtrie, Francis E., A.I.N.A., Editor. New York, NY: The MacMillan Co.  Forward to this book notes the tremendous difficulty of preparing this edition, with secrecy on part of combatants and neutrals, efforts to obscure or propagandize, and ships being sunk daily. Frontispiece photo of HMS Exeter, Royal Navy cruiser that bore the brunt of action with the German "pocket battleship" Admiral Graf Spee at the Battle of the Plate on December 13, 1939. Text notes that, while the Graf Spee was scuttled, Exeter was completely refitted and returned to combat. She was sunk by Japanese air attack at the Battle of the Java Sea in 1942. This fascinating real-timre record of naval action in World War II shows the ships that survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (Dec. 7th, 1941), even noting changes to them as result of repairs after the attack. Also with 62 pages of advertising for everything you need to outfit a warship. 582 pp. + 62 pp. adv. 31 x 20 cm. Light blue cloth on board with gilt lettering. Edges worn, tiny white paint spots on cover, good. (6985) $140.00.  Naval/World War II

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