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Salvage Sailor's USN Collection - "it just followed me home"

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Aloha Everyone,


This is where I'll be displaying the accumulated collection of a junk boat sailor. My collection is primarily focused on the Sailors who pulled the hawsers & manned the vessels of the Salvage Navy. These are the Sailors of the "Junk Boat Navy" - The Fleet Tugs (ATF), Rescue Salvage ships (ARS), Submarine Rescue vessels (ASR) and the other workhorses of the fleet.


Much of what I have was either issued to me, passed on to me, or "just followed me home" when we either salvaged vessels or decommissioned ships. The rest I picked up along the way here and there. Along with these specific items are many general USN items which all sailors of the last half of the 20th century will find familiar.


Many of the items I have are difficult to categorize on the forum boards but if something is of interest to the moderators or members, I will start up a specific thread for these pieces. Also, if any of them are good examples for the research threads, feel free to use them there.


I do have some other family collections posted on the boards (my gr grandfather's SAW groupings, my grandfather's WWI groupings, etc) and some other Army, Air Corps, USMC items which I will post elsewhere, but this sea locker is just for my USN collection.


So take a seat, have a cup o' Joe, smoke 'em if ya got 'em, splice the mainbrace or have a gob of gedunk ..... I'll try to keep the sea stories within reason while I spin you some yarns.


Photo Below.......a pile of USN Salvage junk


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I'll begin with the seabags though you'll have to wait a while to see what's in them ;)


The first one is a WWII issue OD green canvas seabag made in 1945. It has blackened grommets, a canvas handle & a single shoulder strap with a clip and a long shank for a brass USN padlock. The bottom is doubled canvas for reinforcement.


It's boldly marked U.S.N. on the exterior.



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This next seabag was issued to me and was made in 1974. It is pretty much the same color and construction, but the U.S.N. has been replaced by US.


The grommets, handle, strap & manner of closing are identical to the 1945 seabag, but you will notice that the bottom is more heavily reinforced with double canvas. There is also a pocket sewn on the exterior where we would keep our transit orders, papers, etc.


Later in the 1970's, a second strap was added to make the seabag more like a backpack.



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Our names and serial numbers would be stenciled in black stencil pencil on the reverse side & on the strap so you could find your bag in the sea locker.


This seabag was made by Eastern Canvas Products, Inc in 1974 which is stamped inside.


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This is my flight bag which I 'liberated' from the sea locker when we cleaned it out on the USS GRASP (ARS-24). It had been left behind when somebody derosed off the ship. I also scored some slip on boondockers which I wish I still had. I wore them out & only saw one other pair when I was in service.


Flight bags have the manufacturers information on the exterior rather than the interior like a seabag. I guess it gives zoomies something to read when they're bored during a flight.


This one belonged to an sailor who was stationed on Midway Island before I recycled it. I sprayed orange day-glow paint over his name (we used it to mark buoys) and stenciled on my info with a white stencil pencil.


(Sailors were issued one white, one black, one full name stencil & one three-initial stencil in boot camp to mark all of your stuff)



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This is a standard U.S. Government lock. We used them for our seabags, lockers, racks (bunk beds with a locker beneath it to you landlubbers) and whatever else needed securing.


The locks are brass and many have a brass chain attached to them (I cut this one off). With a government issue lock, whenever the shank is in the open position, the key cannot be removed. This is so dumbells cannot lose the key when it's open, and also to remind you to lock it back up!


The Navy's policy was, if you left something unlocked and were ripped off, thats your own damn fault.....




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Most of us would keep our keys on a spring clip and clip them to a dungaree belt loop. Below are (3) kinds of clips we would use. The brass ones are the types that signalmen would use to haul flags and/or pennants up the halyards.


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On some other forum topics, Sigsaye & some members have been discussing Ships Rockers (or Tabs).


These are some of the tabs I have from Salvage ships plus a few strays. I have many more including my destroyer tabs, but they're put away somewhere.


The USS BOLSTER rocker is on my work jacket, the others are a combination of older loose tabs and some 'modern' 4 inch tabs.


Shown in the photos:






































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These are some patches & emblems of the salvage forces. Some are original, some are remakes. The Submarine Rescue emblem is a sticker & the Hoist emblem is a cap patch, also sometimes worn on the coveralls.


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These are all original Salvage Ship Plaques - The first one are from Auxiliary Rescue Salvage ships (ARS). There were two (2) classes of these ships built in WWII - the DIVER class which began with hull number 5 (known as narrow hulls) & the BOLSTER class which began with hull number 38 (known as wide hulls).


This is the decommissioning plaque from the first Salvage ship I served on - USS GRASP (ARS-24), "the Mighty Gripper"


The full color ship's crest was red white & blue.


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When GRASP was decommissioned and transfered to the South Korean Navy (ROKN) I was transfered to the USS BOLSTER (ARS-38). She was the first wide hull commissioned in 1945 and it took me a little while to get used to the extra few steps when I would cross her deck. Those few feet made a world of difference inside the ship in regard to equipment spaces, storage, berthing spaces and the mess decks. Bolster was also the last WWII ARS to be decommissioned (1994)


This is my unmounted BOLSTER plaque which is large and heavy. When I was aboard the BOLSTER, she was known as 'The Lobster' for her great pinch. Later in the 1980's she became 'Battlestar Bolster'. The plaque has a trident in the center chained and shackled to two Ells Anchors (Beach Gear to us salvors), Bolster is in the background rescuing a stricken vessel & in the foreground is a Mark V Diver.


The embroidered hat is from her decommissioning ceremony in Long Beach, CA in 1994. For her class, she was "First to Show, Last to Go" 1945-1994. She is now in the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet, one of the last three war veterans still in the USN inventory. Our association is trying to acquire her for our museum fleet before they sink her. Several of her sister ships were sunk in the past 5 years, and the last two are scheduled to be sunk before the year is out.



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This next ARS plaque is an interesting one. It's hand carved and painted, most likely in the Philippines. RECLAIMER was another wide hull homeported in Guam during the Vietnam War, and later in Pearl Harbor when SERVRON 5 (SERVICE SQUADRON FIVE) relocated to Alpha Docks. She was also a three war veteran and was recently sunk as a target by the USN.


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Navy plaques come in various materials. Brass, bronze, aluminum, wood & also ceramics.


This ARS plaque is from the DIVER class narrow hull, USS PRESERVER (ARS-8). It belonged to a Plank Owner - CWO4 JAMES C. MORROW. I've not researched this Warrant Officer, but typically ARS complements only have two (2) warrants aboard, so he was either the Chief Engineer (CHENG) or the Bo'sun.


RECLAIMER was decommissioned and recommissioned several times in her three-war career, and this plaque is most likely from her last commissioning as it's a 1980's style plaque.


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This next set of plaques are for a class of ships that were very unusual for the USN - All three of them were built in England for the US Navy & named for British cities. EDENTON, BEAUFORT & BRUNSWICK. They were classified as EDENTON class, AUXILIARY TUG SALVAGE (ATS). BEAUFORT & BRUNSWICK were both part of SERVRON 5 at Pearl Harbor (Alpha Docks). EDENTON served with the Atlantic Fleet.


This ceramic plaque is from the USS BEAUFORT (ATS-2), "the Big Deuce"


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Somewhere in my warehouse I have another stash of USN plaques that I'll find sooner or later. Among them is the USS BRUNSWICK which was known as "Super Tug". She had a large Superman Logo on her prow and crest.


This is a ceramic plaque from the class leader EDENTON (ATS-1) which served with the Atlantic Fleet salvage forces.


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These two ceramic plaques are from two modern tugs employed by the Military Sealift Command. Just like their elder WWII ATF predecessors, their ships are named for American Indian tribes.







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