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Ship's Compass From the USS Salt Lake City


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I was wondering if there was anyway to prove that this compass actually came from the USS Salt Lake City. The compass is engraved with the name of the ship and the date 1948. I know the ship was decommissioned in 1947 then in July 1948 survived two atomic bomb blasts and then sunk as a target a few months later. I figured the compass would be a good piece for a keel holder sailor and would likely have survived.

 

The compass is a Sperry Gyro-Compass Repeater MK15 Mod 0 from Chrysler with a patent date of 1919.

 

Any information would be helpful.

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Always looking for WW1 28th Division; anything, papers, field gear, uniforms, etc.

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It looks very feasible to have been from the SLC. It was probably removed before the ship was used as a target as these could be used on other ships as well.

 

Funny it came with a copy of Bowditch...I once had a commanding officer who used to sit on the bridge and ask us trivia from that book (albeit a later version!)

Only a weak society needs government protection or intervention before it pursues its resolve to preserve the truth. Truth needs neither handcuffs nor a badge for its vindication. -Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

Peace is not the absence of war, but the defense of hard-won freedom. -Anton LaGuardia


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It looks very feasible to have been from the SLC. It was probably removed before the ship was used as a target as these could be used on other ships as well.

 

Funny it came with a copy of Bowditch...I once had a commanding officer who used to sit on the bridge and ask us trivia from that book (albeit a later version!)

 

Bowditch - I still have mine Dave.

 

RE: the compass - It likely is from the SALT LAKE CITY

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It's very difficult to track ships compasses, even when you have a maker and clear serial number. I have an 8 inch bridge wing compass, a 5 inch boat compass (in the brass housing) and an emergency lantern from the midships 5" gun that all came from the USS DES MOINES (CA-134). I know they all came from the DES MOINES because I bought them from the breaker that dismantled the ship in B-Ville several years ago. However, there is nothing to prove this. So I tried tracking the makers and serial numbers of the two compasses. Unfortunately the compass makers just shipping huge lots of compasses to the Navy as they filled their contracts. And the Navy never kept permanent records of which ships the compasses went to. The compasses were just shipped out to the yards in large lots and used to outfit the ships. A few types of equipment DO have good records - on the boxes the equipment came from. For example, US Navy sextants. These were sent periodically to the US Naval Observatory in Washington for calibration/collimation. They were then returned to the ships. A small label was placed inside the sextant box giving the calibration information and date of the adjustments. While the lists of sextants calibrated apparently haven't survived, some ships logs were annotated when their sextants were returned, so you can match up the label in the sextant box with the ships log. Same is true of ships chronometers, which had to be periodically calibrated.

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regarding the navigation books, they COULD have come from the SALT LAKE CITY, but every ship had multiple copies of Bowditch and Dutton. Navigators relied heavily on those - and on the tables the Naval Observatory distributed for celestial navigation onboard the vessels.

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I concur that the compass conceivably came from the Salt Lake City; but there isn't really a way to prove it.

 

A funny (or toe-curling) story about Bowditch; someplace I have an account of a ship that misplaced their copy during WWII. The kicker? They had to borrow it from another ship and make copies of it. Easier said than done with 1940s technology on a ship!

 

RC

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."

*Sherlock Holmes in "A Scandal in Bohemia"*

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I looked into the history of the Sperry gyro compasses and Dodge production of them. In support of the war effort, Dodge made 5500 gyro compasses and repeaters in 1943 and 1944 at their main plant (Hamtranck, MI). Appears that just under half of these were sent to San Francisco & Pearl Harbor. USS SALT LAKE CITY was in Pearl Harbor at the beginning of 1943, bUt left by March. She participated in the Battle of the Komandorski Islands (27 March1943), where she took at least six 8-inch shells. in ln September & October of 1943 she went to San Francisco, then to Pearl Harbor for repairs and refurbishment. she certainly could have received the Sperry/Dodge gyro compass/repeater while in Pearl. she was also at Mare Island Naval Shipyard and the San Franciscoi area during almost all of May and June 1944 and operating from Pearl Harbor for a few weeks in Augsust 1944. She certainly could have had her navigational equipment replaced at these times.

 

but that's all circumstantial provenance. I don't think there is any definitive provenance for the repeater.

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