note.gif "Labamba"

8) Charley's Job - Movies, and Ice Cream

9) Nail Polish

10) Chief Warrant Bos'n

11) The USNS NEPTUNE - Cable Layer

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8) Charley's Job - Movies, and Ice Cream
This is what Charley's ship does. Though
neither ship is his, they are similar. Using a
helicopter in this instance, they are exchanging
movies, or swapping flavors of ice cream. It's
a tough life for a sailor at sea these days.

9) Nail Polish
The following scene takes place on the flying ( signal ) bridge aboard the
USS ARNEB - AKA-56 in 1952/53.
"Hey Fri' ( never use the full last name ),  whadda ya got there?'
Quartermaster Signalman Chief Hollywood asks.
"Whadda ya think it's a light bulb.'  I answers.
"Yeah, I can see that, but whadda ya walkin' around up here with it for?'
Hollywood had been my boss when I was in the signal gang, but I had gone
"down" to the bridge to further my experience as the other half of
Quartermaster. I enjoyed signaling, and was a hot-shot, but I wanted the
navigation experience I'd get in the bridge gang.
"The chart desk bulb burned out, and we don't have any more red bulbs
aboard, so...
I painted the bulb red. I said.
"Wid regula' paint?' Hollywood asks.
"Yeah...regular paint...what else am I gonna use.'
We had a reserve group on board, mostly ensigns, and JGs, and as this
conversation was taking place, they were up on the flying bridge getting
instructions in the International, and Navy set of signal flags. We had
little cardboard flags which could be displayed to show different "hoists".
The kits were set up on the ready boxes for the 20 mm guns. A half dozen
ensigns were within ear-shot of us, and Hollywood knew they were listening
to us.
"Any ways, I like being up here on nice sunny days, and amongst my old gang.
I don't want it to dry too fast.'
"I wondered about could have hung it up to dry instead of walking
around with it between your weasel you.'
"Yup...that's right. Anyways Chief, where would I get anything other than
regular red paint to paint this with?'
Looking around to make sure all ears were tuned to him, Hollywood blurts out
in his raspy Chiefs voice:
"Ask any of these ensigns, and JGs, they all carry nail-polish wid them.'

10) Chief Warrant Bos'n

I'll tell you of one rating ( rank ) that "chiefs" of all designations
respected, and gave a wide berth, and that was that of Chief Warrant
Bos' least back in the days of the "right arm" rates" -
Boatswainsmate, Quartermaster, and Gunnersmate.
Right out of boot camp at Bainbridge, Maryland, I report aboard the ARNEB -
AKA-56...assigned to the "L" ( Landing ) division. I was nineteen, but
already had a year at sea with Mobil Oil as Ordinary Seaman. Having gone to
a Maritime Trades High School, and graduating with "honors", I had a pretty
good handle on "Marlin-spike seamanship" - wire splicing, knot tying, and
all that jazz. I now saw the Navy as a chance to learn the "niceties" of
seamanship - navigation, rules of the road, and laws. I was in the V-6
program in H.S., attending regularly Naval Reserve training once a week at
the old Brooklyn Navy Yard. Though I don't ever remember learning anything
sitting in those class rooms under the quise of "Repair Division", it did,
when the Army wanted to draft me, come in real handy.
Yup, I got called for induction in the Army. Imagine, a seaman being called
for the Army? Shooo! I high-tailed it down to my reserve unit, told a Navy
Reserve Commander - Green was his name - what was happening, and in the next
few days had me on my way to Bainbridge Naval Boot Camp. Incidently, that
Commander Green had sailed for Esso ( Exxon today ), and could sympathize.
Anyways, here I am now in the "L" division, and on my first day aboard,
wire-brushing rust spots on the LCVP davit spans. Gheeez! More of the same
old crap I was doin' in Mobil Oil.
Anyways, here I am standing in an LCVP wire-brushing away ( electric
wire-brush ) when I spots this dapper, uniformed fiqure standing about level
with me on the flying bridge. All spiffy like in his Chief Quartermasters
uniform, he meanders over to see what I'm doing. I grasp the moment, and ask
him if he needs any signalmen.
He laughs, and asks what I know about signalling. Looking around to see if
my boatswainsmate-boss isn't watching, I jumps the rail onto the flying
signal ) bridge, and running across the deck to the far twelve-inch signal
light, I hollers to the Chief to send me anything, at any speed on the light
that's next to him. He turns on the light, and lets 'er rip. I read
everything he sent, and answered with my light. Turning off his light he
runs over to where I am, grabbing me, and lifting me literally off the deck
asking where the hell I came from. They were down several men, and were
getting ready to sail.
That evening I was in the Operations Department's - "Signal Gang".
The next day, Chief Warrant Bos'n - Bowman...a Wallace Beery type, but
harder than a frozen manila hawser, sees me up on the flying bridge. "Whatta
you, a seaman, a real sailor, I know...I've seen your file...doin' with them
s k i v v y  wavers? I had plans for you...I was goin' to make you into a
real bonifide bos'ns mate, and this would be the ship to do it on.'
He was right about that...the Arneb was an "amphib", and aside from not
being a full rigged sailing ship, had more rigging than anything else in the
fleet. She was a five-hatch ship, C2 class cargo ship, but fitted out for
carrying Marines, and landing craft.
She had eight LCM - 6s, and 14 LCVPs, one captains gig, and one LCVR -
similar to an LCVP, but no was the officers boat. Her "Jumbo"
booms, one at each hatch lifted 60 tons easily. She was a real deck-apes
dream, but not this one's.
"Bose ( short for Bos'n, or in the Navy - "boats" ),  I've have a pretty
good handle on marlin-spike seamanship, at least enough to tell me it leads
to nowhere without Navigation, Laws, and all the other stuff I will have to
know when I get out of this outfit, and return to the Merchant Marine...I
want to get my Third Mate's license, and eventually my Master's license. At
least I'll learn something in that direction on the bridge.' I told him.
"Ahh, well...I guess you're right, if'n your not stayin' in, but if you
change your mind, your welcome back.' he said.
I know to this day, that he kept a weather eye lifted for me, secretly
wishing he could get his big hands around my don't cross a
Chief Warrant Bos' way.
It turned out to be the right move for me. Coupled with USAFI courses in
navigation, and piloting, and compass compensation, I passed my Third Mates
license without further schooling in two, and a half days. I would have done
it in two, but the Coast Guard inspector said I was going to fast, and to
take one afternoon off.
I went up to Broadway and saw "Down to the Sea in Ships" with Richard had just come out.

11) The USNS NEPTUNE - Cable Layer
neptune logoneptune's bow
The USNS Neptune - cable
ship, is one command I wouldn't
have missed for the world.
Working out of Adak, Alaska during winter months, in 65 foot, or
higher seas, she was one heck of a "sea boat". As viewed from
the bow, she wasn't the prettiest, but those sheaves was what
she was all about. I forget most of the particulars, but I do have
the pictures. At one time she was steam driven - Skinner-uni-flow
engines, but all that, and everything else was gutted out of the
hull, and a new ship with diesel-electric ( three three-thousand hp
General Electric Diesels driving generators ) plant, new house, and
everything was built. Actually GE bought the plans to the old Kooper-Bessemer Diesels, and modified them. The ship did 14 kts
in good weather. She displaced about 7400 tons, 369 feet long,
and 47 feet of beam...if I remember right. Time sure flies, this
was back in...oh I forget. Below is an aerosol view of the ship.
usns neptune aerial view

For more extensive information, and fabulous photos, visit Ramon's excellent pages on this ship, and others...including links to data on the projects engaged in.

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