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

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Salvage Sailor

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




It was made by Champion Canvas Supplies, Inc 1945 and as with most if not all Navy seabags, the manufacturers information is stamped inside the seabag.




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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 It is pretty much the same color and construction, but the U.S.N. has been replaced by US.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.






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)




Here's the manufacturers information, also made in 1974



Industries f/t Blind

Date: May 1974

Part No. 11-1-302



I do 'see' the irony in having blind people make flight gear :rolleyes:



I always liked the design of the Flight Bag with the full snaps and double pull zippers.


You'll just have to wait to see what's inside.....


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This is a standard U.S. Government lock. We used them for our seabags, lockers, coffin 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, that's your own da mn 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.





Note the Halyard Clips with Keys on the Dungaree Belt Loop



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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.  I have hundreds of these which I'll display separately on the Naval patch board.



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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.




Here's a close up of the bronze plaque.  It has a Mark V divers helmet & fouled anchor with our motto





This is my full color USS GRASP plaque




USS GRASP Patch on my USN Workjacket



Fantail on Diving Ops

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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 would also be 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.



Here's a close up of the carving - RECLAIMER's motto was CAN DO




USS RECLAIMER Philippine made belt buckle and patches





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USS PRESERVER Korean War patch


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.




PRESERVER 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.



USS PRESERVER Vietnam patch

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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"



This hand carved wood plaque came out of the 'Goat Locker' on the BEAUFORT. It was probably made in Subic Bay, PI.



And this is a large brass plaque from "the Big Deuce".





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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Most of my Fleet Tug plaques are stashed away in my warehouse, but I do have two on hand.


The first one is a ceramic plaque from the USS TAKELMA (ATF-113)


To give you a reference point on these ships, this photo was taken at Alpha docks, at the entrance to Pearl Harbor. Alpha Docks is surrounded by Hickam Air Force Base & guards the entrance to Pearl Harbor. The main harbor is much further up the channel.


The ship in the foreground is USS TAKELMA, a Fleet Tug, and the ship(s) in the background are ARS's. USS SAFEGUARD is ARS-25 (a DIVER class). Alpha Docks was the base for SERVRON 5, and also for HARBOR CLEARANCE UNIT ONE (HCU-1) Their barge, the YRST-1, would be directly behind the photographer and the shot is looking over the Salvage piers towards Iroquois Point and the main shipping channel.  The workboat alongside SAFEGUARD is hers, each ARS had two in the davits whereas the ATF's only had a whaleboat onboard.


If you're interested in seeing other photos of any of these ships I've posted, our websites has hundreds of them dating from the 1940's to the 1990's


To give you a further sense of scale for our ships, here's a photo of a Carrier, Cruiser & the TAKELMA steaming in the Pacific Ocean from our photo archive.  You haven't really been at the mercy of the seas until you've rode out a few Typhoons in a Salvage Ship.....




A great photo showing the relative size of an ATF alongside the the Aircraft Carrier USS Constellation CV 64 and the Cruiser USS Leahy CG 16 in the South China Sea circa 1978/79


This second ATF plaque is also a different kind than the others that I've posted.

It is a simple ceramic tile from the USS COCOPA (ATF-101)





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Many of the plaques, ashtrays, and other mementos from Salvage ships are actually made in the machine shops onboard.


This is the negative mold for the Submarine Rescue vessel USS COUCAL (ASR-8)


ASR's are named after seabirds & their emblem is a Mark V Diver raising a submarine to the surface.


This is the positive Plaque



These are the negative molds for Master Diver & First Class Diver Plaques




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USS GRASP Quartermasters


Now you may have noticed that I'm using a DMA (Defense Mapping Agency) Chart for a backdrop. When a sailor says, "I did a Westpac", this is the area of the world he's recalling.


The Chart is No. 524 - Western Part of the Pacific Ocean, Including Philippines and Indonesia.



This particular chart was the one in the CIC (Combat Information Center) of the USS GRASP (ARS-24) on her last WESTPAC in 1977. We kept track of our WESTPAC on this one & the Northern Pacific chart, and used the larger scale local ops charts in the pilot house for navigation. (note: Space is inverted on geographic charts, in this case, mercator projection charts. Large scale is a small area [i.e. navigating coastlines, ports, islands etc.] and small scale is a large area [i.e. Western Pacific, Northern Pacific, etc.]


On our outbound voyage from Pearl Harbor, we went into the North Pacific waters to Japan. The notations on the edge of the chart are the ports we hit for the first few months in the North Pacific as we cruised from Japan to Korea and back.




GRASP left Pearl in April 1977 with three (3) barges in tow which we dropped off at Agana (Hagatna), Guam, and spent the summer in Japan & Korea before dropping down to China, Hong Kong, the P.I. etc. Typhoon season started in September & that's when the real fun began.....



In September, we were struck by back to back Typhoons which blew us from China to Japan and then back to Subic Bay. When we finally tied up to the pier, it was raining so hard I though it would dent the steel decks.



After some leisure time in Subic with the LBFM's and some local ops, we headed out for Guam and the Marianas.



After WWII, the Marianas, Carolines & Marshall Islands were set up as the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (T.T.P.I.) and governed by the USN Admiral in Guam. He was the King of the Micronesian Realm and we were his eyes & ears. When salvage ships would transit back from WESTPAC, we would spent the last 30 days zig zagging through the Territory doing UN surveys and providing material aid. One of the great aspects of being a junk boat sailor (besides the small crews and no BS) was that we were always independently steaming. We were too old and slow to move with a task force. So we would scoot ahead of the fleet as they tore up the oceans and killed fish, and if no ships went aground or planes crashed, we would do it again. On the way back to Pearl from WESTPAC, we would cruise through paradise.....



I really should scan these sheets, but I just shot photos of them. These are the ports and places we steamed through during WESTPAC '77.





This last page gives more detail on the landings by Zodiac or workboat that we made in the T.T.P.I. I have plenty of photos that I took on these landing parties (I was the surveyor and/or radio operator using the PRC-25 or 77) and I may post them later.


When we returned to Pearl, we were informed that our ship had been 'given' to the ROKN as a campaign promise made during the 1976 election. But that's another story for later....


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Regarding Navigation instruments.....




On the port and starboard bridge wings of our ships, just forward of the 20MM guns were the gyro repeaters. You can see one on the starboard bridge wing of GRASP in this photo taken at the Royal Navy Base in Hong Kong, HMS Tamar. On these repeaters would be mounted an Alidade, or Azimuth circle, bearing circle etc. - same same.  That's our 40mm on the signal bridge.




By sighting through the Alidade and using the mirrors, you could take a bearing on an object and read off its magnetic bearing or true bearing. These bearings would be 'marked' and passed along via the sound powered phone you would be wearing. I'll show some of those later along with some pics for illustration.


This is an Azimuth Circle



Exterior of the wooden box



Someone scribbled the FSN info in the box - it's a 1943 model and had a different stock number when it was originally issued.



The original numbers



And the instrument as it would have been mounted on the brass gyro repeaters



another view



These are my navigation instruments. I would use them for sea & anchor detail, quartermaster of the watch, and also in CIC when doing tactical maneuvers with the radar repeaters & maneuvering boards.



This is a Nautical Slide Rule - used for making speed-time-distance calculations to recommend course changes, intercept courses, zig-zag turns, etc.



....and a cheat sheet of course to determine forward motion.....ships have no brakes.....



Every navigator needs a trusty pair of parallels for extending courses on the chart and 'walking' your heading. They're also essential for OS's (Radarmen) in CIC for working the Maneuvering Boards.



Isosceles (90 degree right angle) triangles are also essential for working in the charthouse. These are made by Lutz & Charvoz, both with U.S. markings. The Charvoz drafting set was issued to me on BOLSTER in 1978 and stayed with me on later ships when I cruised in the Caribbean Sea, North Atlantic, North Sea, Arctic Ocean, etc.



The Charvoz Drafting Set



Watch those sticky fingers.....



The set itself.


Dividers, compases, scribes, extenders, extra parts. The Carborum is emery paper for sharpening the graphite points.





This is a chart correction template - it has numerals, letters, and navigational chart symbols for buoys, wrecks, lights, etc. Every month, or sometimes weekly, we would receive a 'Notice to Mariners' update from the Naval Hydrographic Office and update our charts with this template.


The paper under it is upside down - that's the backing. It's a piece of clear tape for fixing up charts and making corrections.


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I've mentioned Maneuvering Boards a few times. This is a large pad of Maneuvering Boards published & printed by the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA) in 1970. They are basically used for tactical and navigational maneuvers in CIC by the Operations Officer(s) and Operations Specialists (OS - ex RD Radarman rate).






By using a Maneuvering Board a good OS can make accurate calculations and recommendations to the Bridge & Conn within seconds. They are used to fight the ship in the total air/sea/undersea environment, plot tactical formations, run man overboard drills, zig zag pattern, intercept courses, plot inbound bogies (air targets), skunks (surface targets) and vampires (incomming missiles).


They are also used by the ships officers and navigation teams to plan 'what if' scenarios to determine the best way to move the ship and the formations.


When you see USN Combat Information Center's (CIC's) in the movies, those plastic toteboards that the OS's are writing on (backwards so they may be read from the other side) are just large Maneuvering Boards.


It's all about logarithms and three scale nomograms (speed-time-distance formulas)


Using the dividers and parallels I showed in my navigation kit, you work the scales and sliderules until you find the solutions to the problem.





This is the instruction sheet issued by DMA for Manuevering Boards with sample problems, formulas & examples on how to use the tables & scales.





Sample Problem





The math





So basically, with any two known variables you can find the third


Simple, eh? Except you have to do it in a dark noisy metal box that's rolling in the ocean full of sweaty sailors, rank coffee, stale cigarette smoke, radios blaring with donald duck voices, one ear stuck in a sound powered phone or radio net headphone, one ear off to take it all in.....


Oh, and you have to write backwards with a grease pencil too!


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This is a USN Maneuvering Board Manual - H.O. Pub No. 217 (Hydrographic Office Publication)



Many of the Vietnam era USN Manuals have these hard blue plastic covers with metal screw rivets to hold the pages in. That makes them easy to update by swapping out the superceded pages when new ones are promulgated. (how's that for milspeak)


The first edition is dated 1941, the second 1963. This is a third edition 1969.



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In addition to the USN training manuals published by NAVEDTRA, H.O., the Oceanographic Office, & DMA, for use in the 'A' & 'C' schools, there were Fleet Training Centers (FTC) in the major homeports around the globe.


At FTC's, you would go through short intensive courses on specific training for your rate (COMSEC, Rules of the Road, SIGINT, Fleet Tactics, etc)


This is a FTC Manual for the Maneuvering Board from the Fleet Anti-Air Warfare Training Center (FAAWTC) in San Diego, dated 7 August 1963.




It is primarily concentrated upon Torpedo tactics, how to launch them at targets & how to avoid being a target when one is coming at you (a very good thing to know beforehand)


Usually the LPO's or Training Petty Officers in a division (OI - or Operations in this instance) would go to the FTC courses. After completing the course, you would go back to your ship and then use the materials to train the other men in your Division.



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A General Note regarding the manuals I am depicting: Most of these came from the USS GRASP (ARS-24) when she was decommissioned. She was unceremoniously given to the ROKN on March 31st 1978 and the crew dispersed to new units. 13 of us remained with the Korean crew while they outfitted her (at US taxpayers expense) for her new life with the ROKN. I was kept on as the OI Division liason and also as the Korean Comodore's driver, complete with official USN black staff car (but that's another story). The Navigation & CIC library were tossed out since the Koreans could not read them & the Navy didn't want them.
I was told to purge it of classified materials (I burned them) & "get rid of the rest of this stuff" by the Chief, uh, so I did....


This next manual is a Radar Navigation Manual Pub. No. 1310 from the DMA, First Edition 1971




This manual was very useful in training Quartermasters in radar procedures. In the Salvage forces, you have a very small crew - usually only about 70-75 men and 6 or 7 officers, five of which are Mustangs and two of them are Warrants. Therefore, the Operations rates had to cross-train each other to combine watches and duties to complete our missions. In OI Division the 3 OS's (Radarmen) would train the 3 QM's (Quartermasters) who would train us, and we all would learn Signals from the 2 SM's (Signalmen) & Radio Procedures from the 3 RM's (Radiomen). Operations was led by a QMC & a LT(jg). The Navigator was a LT & also XO. The Bo'sun (a Warrant) and the BM Petty Officers in Deck (1st) Division would teach us all how to use these skills for boat handling, boarding/landing parties, & particularly Salvage Operations (the heavy lifting & dirty work) which was an all hands endeavor on our ships.





SPS-25 Radar Repeater


This Radar Manual is from NAVSEA for the AN/SPS-10 surface search radar - the primary radar set used by ATF/ARS/ASR/ATA/YTB type ships.




This is a Radar Plotting Manual H.O Pub No. 257, First Printing 1960. It shows how to do Radar Plots using the radar scope display which are identical to Maneuvering Board Plots except your ship is always in the center. On a Mo Board you can place the enemy in the center or yourself in the center, can't do that on a radar scope.




The other manual is Radar Principles, NAVPERS 93586, July 1967, used for radar directed fire control. This manual is also used for training Fire Control Technician rates (FT).  Our 40mm, 20mm & .50 Caliber automatic armament was 'point and shoot', we didn't have fancy fire control systems nor FT's but we needed to understand the principles when we were 'being painted' by aggressors fire control systems.



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Now, getting back to instruments.....


Since Salvage ships typically steam independently and transit waters outside of the normal commercial sealanes, we were also routinely used as floating weather stations.


One of the duties as Quartermaster of the Watch (QMOW) was to make and take weather observations each hour, log them, and then compile a pattern each eight hours on data sheets. This would be transmitted by the RM's to the Naval Observatory in Washington D.C. (aka the Vice Presidents Residence).


We would make cloud type/height observations during the day, wind speed & direction, wet point temp, dry temp, dew point temp, sea surface temp, salinity, etc. and log this data.


Here are some of the instruments we would use for sea temperature.







Floating Themometer MIL-T-1206A 7 MAY 1952, Korean War Era





This is an earlier pre-WWII version







U.S.N. TYPE B NOV. 1, 1939





This is a small Hydrometer, don't know the date of manufacture.




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