The Newsletter of the USS SLATER's Volunteers
By Timothy C. Rizzuto, Executive Director
Destroyer Escort Historical Museum
Phone (518) 431-1943, Fax 432-1123
It's the end of June and we are in the process of recovering from "Grant Season." For some unknown reason, all New York State Agencies have their grant deadlines on the same week, so we ground out three applications this week. I worked up a twenty-page Department of Transportation "Transportation Enhancement Grant" to fund dry-docking the SLATER in 2010. Volunteer Jack Ryan and Rosehn Gipe worked up a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation "Hudson River Estuary Grant" to fund a long term use study of our pier here in Albany, in the hope that such a study would define the need for a permanent visitor center and museum building to support the present operation. We know we need it, but we need an "expert" to put that need in writing. And, finally Eric Rivet ground out another New York State Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation Grant to fund the ice deflection bulkhead ahead of the ship. You recall that last year OPRHP gave us $300K to design, permit and build the mooring dolphins to replace the waterlogged camels. That project is progressing slowly. Now we are trying to get the additional funds for the ice deflection pilings that will permit us to stay in Albany year round. Exciting, huh?
Well, let's get to the exciting stuff. The whaleboat is back! After a two-year absence, Rocky and the experts at Scarano's Boatyard completed the restoration with the help of the DESA grant. Rocky, Karl Herchenroder, Gus Negus and Mike Dingmon brought the boat up on Friday June 27th. Boats Haggart had the accommodation ladder all rigged for them. There's a chance that the boat may get a featured role in the upcoming movie, and it will be aboard for the scenes showing the SLATER "At Sea." Rocky also did a lot of touch up painting in the pilothouse, and Barry Witte is replacing missing phenolic tags all around the ship as part of the preparations for the movie. Now the electricians are making the engine order telegraph operational. The port depth charge track is all welded up and ready for painting and a load of depth charges. That's exciting. The combined team of Karl Herchenroder, Gene Jackey, Chris Fedden and Bill Siebert freed up the release gear on the starboard depth charge track so that it can be shown in the movie. And thanks to a donation of old oil boom by Global Companies, Bill Haggart is in the process of replicating the old floater nets.
A lot of odd jobs that have been hanging in the Twilight Zone for the past several years are suddenly getting attended to as we try to spruce up the ship for the movie. Barry Witte's students at Colonie High School completed all the pieces for the last starboard "K" gun roller loader and also fabricated two of the depth charge trolleys for the roller loaders they built. Hal Hatfield's shop drilled out the bolt holes on four depth charge projector bases that were missing. Doug Tanner had cut the steel circles about six years ago, and they will be welded to the deck with "K" guns mounted on them by the time filming begins. Russ Ferrer fabricated two missing binocular mounts for the sky lookout chairs on the flying bridge, and Larry Williams and Ken Kaskoun did a great job restoring the bearing circles on the lookout chairs. And we're getting ready to repaint both depth charge racks.
Gary Sheedy is actually making visible exciting progress in the reefer deck. He has been polishing up the gas cylinders and copper piping and heat exchangers. And down in the aft motor room, Karl Herchenroder has been snapping up all the spare help he can get painting bulkheads. The place is really looking great. The only one who's complaining is Gus Negus, who seems to have developed a severe skin allergy to the paint, or mastic, or something that we're using down there.
The engineers really came through for us on June 15th. An electric line went down up the street, which caused the ship to single phase; something that all Navy electricians know is a very bad thing for three phase motors. We had an overnight camping group aboard that night, and about a third of the lights went out, and all the vent fans dropped off line. Normally we would have closed the ship, but it was Sunday, Father's Day, and the potential was for a very busy day. Eric Rivet called Barry Witte who called Gus Negus, who with the help of John Whalen, MM2, got the emergency diesel going, cut the shore tie, and put us on ship's power for four hours until National Grid fixed the problem. They saved the day. Unfortunately they are hearing some vibration in the generator, so you'll probably be reading about that repair in the coming months.
And what could be more exciting than a stainless steel septic tank. Doug Tanner, Tim Benner, Chuck Teal and Clark Farnsworth completed fabrication of the septic tank for the forward crews head. Everyone is anxiously wondering how he plans to rig it from the machine shop down to the third deck forward. Knowing Doug he'll probably wait and do it when no one is around, and then not tell us how he did it. And our best wishes go out to Clark who fell while working on his yacht at the Schenectady Yacht Club.
One of the things we are hoping to accomplish for the movie is to have the sonar gear up and running. I reached into my past to enlist the help of one of the best sonar techs I know, Greg Shippie, who lives in Vermont. Greg and I go back to my days on the JOSEPH P KENNEDY, JR. in Fall River, and have known each other thirty years. Greg spent three days trying to diagnose the system with no tech manual and an incomplete set of schematics. Every other page was missing. He made considerable progress, aided by Jerry Jones, Larry Williams and Ken Kaskoun. He left for Vermont, thought about it for two weeks, and came back to give it another shot. This time Will Donzelli provided us with a tech manual for an SQS-4 sonar set. Unfortunately, we have an SQS-4 upgraded to an SQS-51, so we still had some lack of knowledge. By the end of the second week, pretty much everything is working except the visual display, which is still blowing fuses, but we can hear the yachts going up and down the river. This is a story that will be continued.
We held our spring Board of Trustees meeting on June 20th. Our governing body met to review our progress and provide guidance for the future. Frank Lasch, Paul Czesak, Bob Cross, Barney Bullard, Alan Fox, Earl Johnson, Don Norris, and Hal Hatfield met to plan our future. Four new Trustees were elected to the board: Retired Navy Captain Greg Krawczyk, Albany Attorney John Vero who specializes in not-for-profit law, local Key Bank executive Mark Lasch, and local developer and military vehicle collector Greg Wolanin. Formal notification letters are being prepared as I type this and to all the new trustees, welcome aboard. On a sad note, founding trustee Marty Davis resigned from the board for personal reasons and to make room for new blood. The board did not accept his resignation, but instead created an "Emeritus Board Member" class for those who were instrumental in founding the organization and provided service above and beyond the call of duty. It is heartening to see a new generation stepping up to the plate to take the place of the old "Veterans."
Speaking of old veterans, we remembered DE day for the eleventh year in Albany. Paul Czesak and Bob Donlon put together an impressive ceremony with the help of Tom Sawyer from the Saratoga National Honor Guard, Steve Stella, Ken Kaskoun and a strong contingent of Sea Cadets. We had an impressive list of dignitaries aboard this year that included speeches by Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings, U.S. Congressman Michael McNulty, Assembly member John McEneny, Rensselaer County Executive Kathleen Jimino, and Mike Russo representing Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand. The Master of Ceremony was CDR William Kraus, SC USNR and Executive Deputy Director, New York State Division of Veterans Affairs. The commemoration dates back to an original proposal by the Statue of Liberty Chapter of DESA that was presented to the DESA membership in 1990 at the Baltimore Convention. They approved the third Saturday in June as the National Date for the Chapters to remember their departed shipmates around the country.
We have received some great press on the movie thanks to an article in Albany's Metroland weekly newspaper by journalist and film critic Ann Morrow. Ms. Morrow interviewed several of the Japanese principals in the film while they were doing location scouting aboard the SLATER. The article is available online at http://www.metroland.net/back_issues/vol31_no25/arts_feature.html Critic Erik Collin commented that this was one of the most accurate articles written about us.
We have a new Collections Manager aboard. Following the retirement of our beloved Pat Perrella, Kelly Lassonde held the post for a year, prior to her moving to Virginia. Our new curator is Katie Kuhl, who works full time as a collections technician for the State Museum overseeing the World Trade Center artifacts. Katie is professionally trained in museum work. Katie's primary concern is having an Executive Director who keeps making promises she can't keep and accepting large artifacts she has no room for. Basically, the new rules are if it's large, in a frame and requires wall space, we don't have room. It it's small enough to fit in a bunk locker Katie will talk about it, and if it's a document or photo that will fit in our archives, we definitely want it.
We completed our spring overnight encampments and kudos to all our overnight guides who dealt with all those kids with such finesse. We also held two reunions this past month, the USS KNUDSON APD-101 and Preston Davis's USS ATHERTON DE169. They donated a great deal of memorabilia to the SLATER, including the battle flag that the ATHERTON flew when she helped sink U-853. ATHERTON has the distinction of being one of the last DEs still active, presently serving the Philippine Navy as the BRP Rajah Humabon. We have also had a great month for student tours as the school season is ending. Now into the first days of July, visitation seems to be doing quite well.
We had a group of Sea Cadets aboard the ship over the DE Day weekend. SLATER crewman Don Norris sponsored the group. They came up from Altoona, Pennsylvania, on Friday, June 20th and stayed on board that night. They helped out with the ceremony Saturday morning and then went to work. Half of them helped Katie Kuhl clean the DE Museum in C-203L while the other half helped Gus Negus, Karl Herchenroder and John Whalen paint the bulkheads in B4. After lunch, they sat in on a rope work and knot tying class taught by Bosun Bill Haggart. They then settled in for the night with Tom McLaughlin teaching a class on CIC and plotting. All in all, we got a lot of work out of them and they got the opportunity to stay aboard a living ship. Everybody won.
We attended the Mid Atlantic Air Museum's World War II Weekend in Reading, PA. Paul Czesak took our display down there, and with the aid of Greg Wolanin, Don Norris, Laird Confer and Butch Warrender, they promoted SLATER to the thousands of enthusiasts who visited the show. I promised them a table in a hangar, and they ended up outside in a field at the end of a runway with no tent. Fortunately the Army guys took them under their wing to provide the SLATER gang with the basic creature comforts. Far from disheartened, they learned a lot and want to go again next year! And in these days when gas prices are really cutting into our volunteer hours it is important to remember that the Internal Revenue Service allows volunteers to deduct mileage for charitable purposes. While gasoline is a significant factor in the mileage figure, other items enter into the calculation of mileage rates, such as depreciation and insurance and other fixed and variable costs. The business standard mileage rate has been increased just recently. However, the rate for providing services for charitable organizations is set by statute, not the IRS, and remains at 14 cents a mile. Check with your tax preparer for additional information.
A reminder that the ship will be closed to all visitors and for volunteer work from August 15th to August 29th. There will be no parking available during that time period as production equipment will fill our portion of the lot, and we need to keep the other half of the lot available for the Dutch Apple. All SLATER personnel involved with the production during that time period will need to park in the overflow lot across the street under I-787.
For all you gamblers out there, since you can't get back to aft steering for the 24-hour poker game, the LA Chapter of DESA is offering the next best thing. The time has come for their semi-annual USS SLATER Raffle. Earl Johnson and the members of the LA Chapter have been busy printing tickets, stuffing envelopes and filling out Post Office forms, and you can expect to be getting your book of tickets in the mail within the next month. So take a chance to help yourselves and help the SLATER. Be looking for that mail from our DESA friends on the West Coast.
See you next month.
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