As the first ship of a new type, to say that her strange lines brought many curious stares would be an understatement. She looked like something that had gotten away from her builder too soon.
What made the Ashland so strange in appearance was her huge docking well, a cavernous opening 44 feet wide and 396 feet long which ran from the stern to clear up under the bridge ending near the bow. Almost one hundred feet longer than a football field, Ashland’s well deck was only 61 feet short of the ship’s 457 foot overall length. In it would fit 27 LCVPs, 18 LCMs with one LCVP in each, three LCU, one LSM - or anything small enough to fit its nose through the stern opening (during the Korean was another LSD would take aboard a destroyer escort for dry dock repairs).
It was realized from the beginning that the Ashland and her sisters to follow would be very versatile and handy ships to have around - not just during infrequent major amphibious landings but for general transport and day to day odd jobs that arise particularly including small craft mainentance. In fact, this is exactly what Maintenance became far better known for, their ability to take smaller craft aboard for on the spot dry dock repairs. Each LSD was equipped to change screws, shafts and other parts of smaller craft by virtue of a fully equipped machine shop as well as a complete wood shop for working on the smaller wooden-hulled landing craft and PT-boats.
The LSD was designed for steam power, an engine room being located in the wings amidships on both sides of the docking well. Ashland and seven sisters built in Oakland were equipped with Skinner eight-cylinder reciprocating uniflow steam engines of 7,000 horsepower each. Later LSDs starting with those launched by Newport News during 1944 would, however, switch to steam turbine power of the high-pressure impulse reaction, single flow Parsons type. LSDs could make 15-16 knots, easily putting them in the “fast transport” category.
The next Moore-built LSD to enter service was the USS Belle Grove (LSD-2) in August followed by Carter Hall (LSD-3), Epping Forrest (LSD-4), Gunston Hall (LSD-5), Lindenwald (LSD-6), Oak Hill (LSD-7) and White Marsh (LSD-8).
After Newport News Shipbuilding built four built-for-Britain LSDs, they went on to build what would become the Casa Grande Class. Starting with the Casa Grande (LSD-13), the additional ships included, in order of their launching, Rushmore, Shadwell, Cabildo, Catamount, Colonial and Comstock (LSDs 14 through 19).
Cabildo and Catamount were able to see the later stages of action in the Pacific only by virtue of the fact the ever efficient Newport News Shipbuilding had delivered the two ships some six months ahead of schedule, a rather amazing feat when one considers that the construction of these ships had been tacked on to an already full building schedule.
Eight more LSD were contracted for during the war years, seven of which were completed and delivered. Donner (LSD-20) and Fort Mandan (LSD-21) were built by the Naval Shipyard at Boston during early 1945 and were both in commission by October of that year.
Gulf Shipbuilding of Chicasaw, Alabama received the contracts for LSDs 22,23 and 24 but the war was drawing to a close. The USS Marion (LSD-22) was launched in May 1945 but was not completed until January of 1946, six months after Japan’s surrender. She was nevertheless commissioned and went on to enjoy a long and distinguished career serving into the 1970s.
The USS San Marcos (LSD-25) the single example of that type built by Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Laid down in September 1944 and commissioned in mid April 1945, she had just arrived off Okinawa with her first war cargo when the Japanese surrended in August. This ship, too, went on to enjoy lengthy career with the U.S. Navy and then was finally transferred to the Spanish Navy in mid 1971 where she served as the Galicia
The last two war-built LSDs, numbers 26 and 27, were also built by the Boston Naval Shipyard but were launched too late in the war to participate in combat operations. Both of these ships, the USS Tortuga (LSD-26) and the USS Whetstone (LSD-27) went on, however, to enjoy long service lives with the Navy.
The Navy thought so much of the capabilities of the LSD that in the early 1950s it was decided to build a new class of eight ships. Along with the lead ship of the class, the USS Thomaston (LSD-28) which was launched in September 1954, the seven additional ships included Plymouth Rock (LSD-29) Fort Snelling (LSD-30), picking up the name from the WWII LSD-23 which had been canceled, Point Defiance (LSD-31), also picking up the name of the canceled LSD-24, Spielgel Grove (LSD-32), Alamo (LSD-33), Hermitage (LSD-34) and Montecello (LSD-35). These ships sported redesigned superstructures as well as sleeker and more eye pleasing hull lines. This class could be identified from the earlier ships in that its ship had their main lifting cranes and smoke stacks offset from one side to the other.
A decade later, the Navy once again decided to build new LSDs. Authorized in 1956-66, this would be a five ship class named after the lead ship, the USS Anchorage (LSD-36) which was launched in 1965 by Ingalls but not commissioned until March of 1969. The remaining four ships of the class were built by General Dynamics at their Quincy, Massachusetts facility, all being launched during 1966-67 and commissioned between 1970-72. Differing somewhat in superstructure and side view appearance from the Thomaston Class, the five Anchorage Class ships USS Portland (LSD-37), USS Pensacola (LSD-38), USS Mount Vernon (LSD-39) and USS Fort Fisher (LSD-40) were 553 feet in length, 43 feet longer than the earlier ships and could carry a slightly heavier load with a well deck measuring 430’ x 50’. The ships are easily distinguished from earlier LSDs by their enclosed twin 3-inch gun mounts on either side just ahead of the bridge.
The Whidbey Island Class consists of USS Whidbey Island (LSD-41), USS Germantown (LSD-42) and Fort McHenry (LSD-43), all of which were along with the USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44), USS Comstock (LSD-45), USS Tortuga (LSD-46), USS Rushmore (LSD-47) and USS Ashland (LSD-48).
The most recent class of ship are the Harpers Ferry Class - Cargo Varient consists of USS Harpers Ferry (LSD-CV 49), USS Carter Hall (LSD-CV 50), USS Oak Hill (LSD-CV 51) and the USS Pearl Harbor (LSD-CV 52).
The USS Pearl Harbor, the first ship to carry the name honors the heroic actions of the members of the armed services as well as the citizens of Oahu during December 7, 1941 attack. Pre-commissioned in July of 1997 and commissioned May 30, 1998, the ship was built by Avondale Industries, Inc. in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Like other dock landing ships in its class the Pearl Habor has been built and designed to project power ashore by transporting and launching amphibious craft and vehicles and equipment manned by Marines for amphibious assault. The ship can also render limited docking and repair service to small ships and craft and act as the primary control ship in an amphibious operation. The Pearl Harbor is 609 feet long and will carry a crew including 24 officers and 308 enlisted personnel and a flanding force that includes more than 500 Marine personnel.
|LSD-2||USS Belle Grove||http://www.ussbellegrove.com|
|LSD-3||USS Carter Grove||www.spear.navy.mil/ships/lsd50|
|LSD-4||USS Epping Forest|
|LSD-5||USS Gunston Hall||http://www.spear.navy.mil/ships/lsd44_hp.html|
|LSD-7||USS Oak Hill||www.spear.navy.mil/ships/lsd51|
|LSD-8||USS White Marsh|
|LSD-13||USS Casa Grande||www.usscasagrande.com|
|LSD-21||USS Fort Mandan||http://www.freeyellow.com/members8/lawofficer2|
|LSD-22||USS Fort Marion|
|LSD-23||USS Fort Snelling|
|LSD-24||USS Point Defiance|
|LSD-25||USS San Marcos|
|LSD-29||USS Plymouth Rock||www.worldpath.net/~billingp/index.html|
|LSD-30||USS Fort Snelling||http://fly.hiwaay.net/~ceanders/ussfort.htm|
|LSD-31||USS Point Defiance|
|LSD-32||USS Spiegel Grove||http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/5455/lsd-32.htm|
|LSD-39||USS Mount Vernon|
|LSD-40||USS Fort Fisher|
|LSD-41||USS Whidbey Island|
|LSD-43||USS Fort McHenry||www.surfpac.navy.mil/shipsnav/Mchenry/fmchome.htm|
|LSD-44||USS Gunston Hall||www.spear.navy.mil/ships/lsd44|
|LSD-49||USS Harpers Ferry||www.harpers-ferry.navy.mil|
|LSD-50||USS Carter Hall||www.spear.navy.mil/ships/lsd50|
|LSD-51||USS Oak Hill||www.spear.navy.mil/ships/lsd51|
|LSD-52||USS Pearl Harbor||www.surfpac.navy.mil/shipsnav/pearl/pearlhme.htm|
The following ships had two hull numbers: USS Ashland (1 & 48); USS Carter Hall (3 & 50); USS Gunston Hall (5 & 44); USS Rushmore (14 & 47); USS Comstock (19 & 45); USS Tortuga (26 & 46).
LSDs Currently In Existence And Not Commissioned
|USS Shadwell (LSD-15)||In Mobile, AL and used as a fire fighting training hulk.|
|USS Marion (LSD-22)||Currently active in the Taiwan Navy as Cheng Hai.|
|USS Thomaston (LSD-28)||In Suisun Bay, CA Reserve Fleet.|
|USS Point Defiance (LSD-31)||In Suisun Bay, CA Reserve Fleet.|
|USS Monticello (LSD-35)||In Suisun Bay, CA Reserve Fleet.|
|USS Fort Fisher (LSD-40)||In Suisun Bay, CA Reserve Fleet. Has been offfered to Malaysia as a transfer.|
The USS Fort Mandon (LSD-21) was active in the Greek Navy and known as the HNS Nafkratoussa. After fifty years of active service she was decomissioned on February 17, 2000. In the words of a Greek sailor serving onboard at the time of decommissioning “After having completed nearly 55 years of service life the ship for the last two years was in a desolate condition with no spare parts for most of it’s devices and corrosion as much as 2/3 of wall thickness. The ship is to be stored either in Salamis or Crete naval stations and sold as scrap later on.”
USS Alamo (LSD-33) and USS Hermitage (LSD-34) are in the Brazilian Navy.
"It takes 330 men and 18 officers to man this LSD and they're all busy when her snubby bow approaches the embarkation area. Though operations look simple, they are extremely complex. According to the skipper, 'It takes an hour and a half to ballast her down until there's enough water in the docking well to float the small craft. So we start while we're still underway.'
"As the ship plows along, you can see preparations being made. Men with telephone gear stand at six different stations around the ship to report ballasting progress. Each phone connects with the ballast-control center - a tiny shelter on the starboard wing well, lined with huge panels of wavering dial needles reminiscent of the control room in a submarine. The trembling deck underfoot tells you the big pumps are pulling sea water into the ship's 36 tanks, located along the keelson, under the wooden planked floor of the docking well.
"'We watch like hawks,' explains the skipper, 'to keep from having any half-full tanks with free surface - where water can slosh around. If the ship is rolling in a heavy sea swell, free surface water will slosh steeper than the roll and keep the roll going - an invitation to capsize.'
"The engineering officer on the wing wall orders the 45-foot steel stern gate open a crack, and the first sea spills in around its lower edges as the ship ' settles in the sea. Slowly, the well fills like a big bathtub. Before the destination is reached, 7000 tons of salt water will flood the docking well. Actually, 3500 tons are enough to float the 40-foot LCMs sitting snugly side by side, and they soon bob like corks, their steel sides screeching as they rub together in the swell.
"Gears whirl and down goes the gate, folding neatly in half, then doubling back under the stern. Boat engines roar. A blue, smoky, exhaust haze fills the docking well. Three at a time the boats emerge from the pungent fumes, through the open stern of the mother ship."
The exhaust haze to which the wartime report refers was undoubtedly enhanced by the covering superdeck which tended to keep exhaust gases trapped within the well deck. It should be noted, however, that early operations with the first LSDs saw the ships sortie without superdecks in place. The same reporter went on to witness the process of taking the LSDs landing craft back aboard.
"Up on the after end of the port wing wall stands the docking officer, holding a power megaphone with which he calls signals. Like the LSO on an aircraft carrier, it is his responsibility to bring each of the boats aboard again safely. Only he "talks" them in like this:
'Number six aboard center; seven and eight follow port and starboard,' booms the big speaker.
In they come; the first LCM roaring right down the center of the mother ship right up to her bow. Two others follow, flanking it, until they are wedged in and secured. The loading proceeds, three at a time, until the last of the little craft have disappeared into the dark maw of the big ship. Then, the stern gate closes part way, to allow the ocean inside the ship's belly to seep back out where it belongs as the ship deballasts underway.
Reloading landing craft was a pretty smooth operation in a calm sea. But in rough water, it took skilled crewmen aboard both the ship and the boats to handle and secure the five ton landing craft. Typically, as they would enter the heaving docking well, they would whirl and spin, bashing the ship's bulkheads and each other as the action of the confined sea water tossed them around like corks in a typhoon. To make matters worse, were such rough water operations being undertaken in an actual combat area where the ship might be endangered by, say, air attack (indeed, LSDs accounted for several kamikazes downed during the later stages of the Pacific war), the skipper often made the decision to order the landing craft to back in. This would allow them to make a quicker getaway should the need arise. Although to the untrained eye, the pandemonium of bringing the landing craft back aboard in a rough sea might have seemed like mass confusion - men scrambling along the wing walls, climbing over each other to grab lines and make them fast - the operation was typically well orchestrated. It had been practiced many times. If the captain wanted to get his ship out of the area, everything would be timed to the last second. As the first boats would come aboard, the LSD would begin to deballast at once - forward tanks first. If all went well, the forward end of the docking well would be progressively tipped up and dry, the first boats grounded seconds after being lashed in place thus preventing them from banging about.
The skipper of one LSD once pointed out another minor advantage of this unique ship's abilities. "Plenty of times after deballasting, nice big fresh fish are left flopping around the docking well. We've had lots of fresh sea bass for supper as a result."
Rushmore carries Air Cushioned landing Craft Vehicles (LCAC). LCACs are assault landing craft capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots when carrying a 60-ton payload. Using this versatile craft, Rushmore is able to carry out an amphibious assault against a wider range of beaches at distances that were not operationally feasible in the past.
Officially designated a Landing Ship Dock (LSD), Rushmore accomplishes her mission through the use of a well deck which is flooded to launch and recover landing craft. After departing the ship, the assault craft are directed toward the shore by the ship's Combat Information Center.
Rushmore is superbly designed to carry out her mission. With a 440-foot well deck capable of holding four LCACs, a flight deck able to land and launch up to two CH-53E helicopters, the Navy's latest diesel propulsion and engineering technology, advanced repair facilities, complete medical and dental facilities, and troop berthing accommodations for 627 embarked Marines, the warship Rushmore presents an exciting and formidable amphibious capability.
Currently, Rushmore is the test platform for the "Smart Ship" program known as Gator 17.The ship will be outfitted with several new technologies to reduce workload and manning levels. Information from the program aboard Rushmore will be used to assist in the design of the LPD-17 class amphibious ships. The first phase of installation will be completed by the end of 1997. Following quote from Commander in Chief, US Pacific Fleet, “Korean War, US Pacific Fleet Operations: Interim Evaluation Report No. 1 Period 25 June to 15 November 1950,” Naval Historical Center, Washington, DC, DC.
“This specially designed amphibious ship grew rapidly in popularity by experience in Korean employment. Carrying loaded LSU, LVT or LCM, this ship has distinct advantages for assault work due to its rapid discharge of pre-loaded smaller craft. Experienced LSD commanding officers are of the opinion that the full capabilities of these ships have not been exploited and that they have potential, undiscovered value in amphibious work. During the peacetime years, LSD were little used for the purpose for which designed. During fleet exercises the LSD was generally used only as a rough weather haven for LVT and boats, and were taken on exercise operations almost solely for this purpose. Additional uses for LSD include:
(1) Use as a boat repair base for which it is well equipped and was so used in World War II operations.
(2) Provide transportation of essential warping tugs, salvage craft and other small vessels needed at the objective, too small for independent movement to distant shores.”
The BT's main and foremost function on board is the operation of the ship's boilers to supply steam to the main engines, galley, laundry, water evaporators, and heating system. The "Black Gang", or more commonly known today, the "Snipes", derived their name from the soot which covers the BT from head to foot after emerging from a boiler cleaning and repair session. The Boiler Tender stands a 24-hour watch on the boilers to assure constant steam pressure, water level, and fuel consumption. Another task of the BT is refueling, either from pier side or tanker. In either case, the fuel or "Black Oil" must be kept topped off and the tanks full to assure the ship's sailing on a few hours notice.
The EM of "E" Division have control of the electrical portion of the ship's service and emergency generators, auxiliary machinery, distilling plant, ballast control system, ventilation system, anchor windlass, cranes, galley cooking and cleaning machinery and the wiring of boats which are on board. Also, in the field of lighting, the electricians maintain the emergency battle lanterns, navigational lights, anchor lights, and the ship's signal lights. Along the miles of electrical wiring and in the hundreds of control boxes, transfer panels, and motors there are problems arising constantly and it is the job of the Electrician Mates to trace down, repair, and re-energize the circuit.
The MM aboard ship serves in the capacity of operating and maintaining the main propulsion machinery; producing power that runs the generators; compressing air for shipboard use; distilling water for general consumption; manipulating the pumps which transfer water in the scores of ballast tanks; and last, but not least, handling the paperwork for engineering administration. Spare parts storerooms are maintained by the Machinist Mates. The men of "Mike" Division care for and maintain the 4 plants assigned, the port and starboard pump and engine rooms, each side being completely independent of the other. In the event of an engineering casualty to one of these plants, it is the Machinist Mates that cross connect the engineering plants to maintain use of both engines.
"The eyes and ears of the ship." The SM, along with being a lookout and recognition trainee, performs the duties involving visual communications. The Morse Code of flashing lights, the special arm positions of semaphore, the work and speed of tactical flag hoisting, and the colors of pyrotechnics are some of the primary responsibilities of the Signalmen. These methods of visual communications are used to pass administrative, operational, tactical, and emergency information which is necessary for a fleet, task force, or squadron of ships to maintain their readiness in any situation. Signalmen repair and make flags, correct and maintain a complex publication system, serve as members of boat crews, and are responsible for honors and ceremonies to civil and naval leaders.
The RM are the only men in contact with the outside areas surrounding the high seas. The Radiomen operate and maintain the transmitters, receivers, teletypewriters, and radiotelephones used in the vast Naval Communications System which link ships to ships and ships to shore. Along with the never ending flow of naval messages, the Radiomen find time to copy press releases on teletypewriter for the ship's newspaper, operate an amateur "HAM" radio station for the crew to call home, and work with the American Red Cross and Communications Activities ashore in receiving, writing-up, and delivering personal messages of births, deaths, and disasters or emergencies which may arise where a crew member has to be notified immediately. Typing, filing, and teletypewriting are some of the fundamentals of the Radiomen.
The QM of the Navigation Division are the secretaries, assistants, and general right-hand men of the Officer of the Deck and the Navigator in all matters concerning the navigation and conning of the ship. Weather observations, chronometers, clocks, and optical equipment are the equipment responsibilities of the QM. The Quartermaster of the Watch is responsible for the keeping of a complete chronological record of events in the ship's log. A quartermaster assists the Navigator in keeping the ship's current position plotted, shooting stars, figuring tides and currents, and celestial data processing. Along with the primary duty of assistant to the Navigator, the Quartermasters correct and maintain charts, publications and Sailing Directions.
The RD working in the Combat Information Center (CIC) have the primary responsibility to collect, display, evaluate, and disseminate vital informa- tion received from the radar, lookouts, Signal Bridge, Radio Central, and Intelligence reports. The RD teams in CIC control waves of landing craft in an Amphibious Assault; pilot and navigate a fog-obscured harbor by radar; direct and control helicopter landings and take-offs from the ship's flight deck; and with the precision of threading a needle, navigate through a fleet of fishing boats at night. While the ship is steaming in formation, the Radarmen plot courses and speeds of shipping in the area, work out tactical situations on a maneuvering plotting sheet, and have control of the tactical radiotelephone circuits which maneuvers the entire formation.
The ET's maintain, repair, calibrate, tune, and adjust all the electronic equipment used in communications, detection and tracking, recognition and identification, and electronic aids to navigation equipment. The primary responsibility of the ET Gang is to make daily, weekly, and monthly inspec- tions of electronics equipment and maintain it's peak operating efficiency at all times. Equipment performance and operation cards and logs must be kept accurate by the Electronics Technicians. During General Quarters, Special Sea Detail, and other evolutions, the Electronics Technicians are on station in Radio Central, The Combat Information Center, and other various stations where electronic equipment is in operation.
YEOMEN AND PERSONNELMEN
The YN and PN ratings are assigned to perform the clerical functions of the Ship's Office". The Yeomen and Personnelmen must be familiar with the maintainance of officer and enlisted service records, official correspondence, legal matters, instructions and directives, and most administrative duties of a seagoing command. The impressions of other commands, concerning the efficiency of the ship, depends in many ways upon the correspondence, records, reports, and the continuous "wave of paperwork" necessary to maintain an organization as large as the U.S. Navy. "What is my GCT?; What chance is there for me to enter into the Officer's program?; Where are my orders to school?; How about typing a letter to the Bureau for me?... are asked to and answered by the "Gang" in the ship's office daily.
Although small, the medical team serves in a supervisory capacity on matters relating to the health and hygiene of the crew and in an advisory capacity on matters relating to the sanitary conditions of the ship. The HM care for the sick and injured; the procurement, receipt, stowage, and issuing of medical and surgical supplies; and, in the indoctrination of personnel in accident prevention, first aid procedures, hygiene, and sanitation policies. The primary duties of the Hospital Corpsmen are the elimination of the physical unfit and the early restoration of the physically disabled to health and to duty.
The post office has an enlisted PC assigned such duties as receipt and delivery of mail; issuance of money orders; sale of stamps; acceptance of letters and packages for insured coverage against loss, damage, or rifling; and, registration- tion of parcels and letters for maximum protections and security. Among the responsibilities not to be overlooked, is the mail directory service the Postal Clerk maintains for the personnel who have been discharged or transferred. Also, an ample amount of correspondence, reports, filing, and the security of classified matters are of great importance to the Postal Clerk. The PC works many hours - day and night. "The mail must go through".
The DC and SF of the Repair Division maintain the shipfitter's shop, carpenter shop, Damage Control Central, which, working in conjunction with each other, play an all important role in keeping the ship in prime operating condition. The ratings of "R" Division work with all kinds, sizes, and shapes of steel plating, wood, pipe, and various other kinds of hard and soft metals. Sheet metal work, wood work and repairing of landing craft; oxyacetylene and electrical welding; repairing leaks, maintaining water tight integrity, repairing doors, hatches, scuttles, and port holes; and caring for and using shipboard fire- fighting apparatus are various responsibilities of the "R" Division Damage Controlmen and Shifters. The prime duty of the Repair Division is the indoctrination, detection, and removal of atomic, biological, and chemical warfare agents and components which may be used in future naval warfare.
SK are responsible for issuing materials from stock and ordering special equipment, parts, and stores for use and consumption. In the supply office, many records, card and catalog systems, and departmental budgets are corrected and maintained. The Storekeepers must be able to locate a specific item in any one of the nine storerooms on board. Typing, calculating, filing, and posting are required as part of the work of the SK in keeping up with the purchase, storing, and distribution of stores and materials. The Naval Supply System is a complicated one and it takes well trained Storekeepers to insure delivery of the needs of the command.
The SHE on board serve in the capacity of clerks, barbers, tailors, and "soda jerks". The ship's services such as Clothing and Small Stores, Ship's Store, Soda Fountain, Barber Shop, Tailor Shop, and Laundry are managed by the Ship's Servicemen's rating. SHE serve on gun mount crews, repair parties, and at battle dressing stations during general quarters. The Ship's Servicemen service and maintain the "Coke" and candy machines along with their operation of the Soda Fountain to insure "All Hands" have the opportunity to purchase soft drinks and "Gee-dunk" items on a 24-hour basis.
The DKR which serves on board as an assistant to the Disbursing Officer has his hands full maintaining the pay records of every man aboard. Along with paying the crew twice per month, the DK makes disbursements for travel pay, separation allowances, leave rations, shore patrol expenses, and other expenses brought about by the execution of orders. Financial reports and disbursing manuals are corrected and kept up-to-date by the Disbursing Clerk as one of his many duties in the Disbursing Office.
The SD prepare and serve commissioned officers in the wardroom and cabin mess. Cleaning and maintaining officer's country staterooms, galley, pantry, lounge, and the standing of coffee watches are the primary duties of the Stewards. The serving of a banquet or the wrapping of a sandwich is an art in which SD takes pride. The SD also serves on gun crews, as stretcher bearers, and on repair parties while the ship is at "Battle Stations". The Stewards often spend long hours during an Amphibious Operation preparing meals for officers who work around the clock.
The CS or "Cooks" and "Bakers" work long hours preparing the meals for the general mess. Starting early in the morning, sometime during the mid-watch, the smell of freshly baked rolls and breads for breakfast start escaping from the ventilation ducts and drift over the ship. Along toward sunrise, the smell of bacon and eggs tell the crew its time to "rise and shine". Long after the noon and evening meals, the cooks are cleaning and maintaining the galley, mess decks, bakery, and scullery; preparing for the serving of the mid-watch rations of soup and sandwiches that are served to those standing watch from midnight to 0400. The CS, the "Men in White", man the gun mounts as ammunition passers and serve on repair parties as part of their duties as "Cookie".
The BM and his men, the deck seamen, probably sleep the least, work the most, and complain more than any other gang aboard any ship in the U.S. Navy. The Deck Force may complain, but they are happy as they perform: loading and unloading cargo; embarking and debarking various sizes of landing craft; underway replenishment; high-lining of personnel; re-fueling details; working on the stern gate; hauling up or dropping the anchors; mooring to piers and buoys; raising and lowering the gangway and accommodation ladders; working in the sail locker mending and making canvas articles; tending to the appear- ance of the sides of the ship; coxwaining the ship's boats; standing underway and inport watches; and last but not least, maintaining the decks, bulkheads, and equipment of the well deck, boat decks, and the main deck. At all hours of the day or night approximately one-third of the First and Second Division is at work at some detail or another or standing watch.
The GM, one of the oldest ratings in the Navy today, are responsible for the proper maintenance, operations, and alignment of the ship's 40MM anti-aircraft gun battery. Also, the small arms, magazine sprinkler system, and powder samples of ammunitions are maintained by the "Gunners" of the Third Division. Standing watch as Petty Officer of the Watch in port and as the Helmsman at sea are the secondary duties of the Gunner's Mates. The GM are in charge of the gun crews and "Fire Power" when general quarters are sounded.
FIRE CONTROL TECHNICIANS
This Third Division rating is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the fire control systems and gun directors on board. The FT, having an electronics background, work at the complicated masses of wiring, panels, motors, and switches of the gun mounts, directors, and the general fire control system of the ship. The Fire Control Technician also stands watch as Petty Officer of the Watch and Helmsman.
USS Cabildo (LSD-16) Association Website - Last Revision May 19, 2003
This page is maintained by Warren Gammeter <Webmaster@usscabildo.org>.