sending signals

SLATER SIGNALS
The Newsletter of the USS SLATER's Volunteers
By Timothy C. Rizzuto, Executive Director

Destroyer Escort Historical Museum
USS Slater DE-766
PO Box 1926
Albany, NY 12201-1926

Phone (518) 431-1943, Fax 432-1123
Vol. 12 No. 8, August 2009




With last month’s digression into the history of the USS GAGE, the routine stories of the crew’s progress were left on the cutting room floor. I didn’t hear any complaints, but you never heard about 4th of July celebration, the reunion of the KIRWIN and the EARL B. HALL, the visit by the Rip Van Winkle Chapter of The National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, and your monthly weather wrap up, as well as the Coast Guard Birthday on August 4th.

We got some support from the real Navy on the weekend of August 15th. Forty Chief Petty Officers and First Class Chief Selectees from the Navy Nuclear Power Training Unit spent the night aboard the ship as part of their orientation and community service. SLATER volunteers Chief Smith and Chief Dott coordinated the event and organized meals and berthing for the Chiefs. Erik Collin coordinated a successful work program that saw them cleaning out the steering engine room, repainting the overhang under the pilothouse on the 01 level forward by gun 32, and cleaning three inch gun number 33. A large group was sent down into the aft machinery spaces under the direction of Karl Herchenroder, where they continued painting and moved the scaffolding around from the starboard side to the port side of B-3 so our volunteers can continue painting the overhead. In addition to all that they maintained a quarterdeck watch in whites, so it really made the SLATER come alive. A similar event is planned for the Chief selectees of the New England Recruiting District for September 1. We thank all the CPOs and especially Command Master Chief ETCM (SS) Bruce Talbot and Chief Ronnie Cervone for all of their work coordinating the event, and we hope they will be back next year. We’re here to serve.

We lowered the whaleboat twice. After "Rocky" Rockwood finished repainting the inboard side, we successfully lowered the boat, turned it in the davits, and raised it backwards so Rocky could repaint the outboard (now inboard) starboard side of the boat. She sat that way for about three weeks, and we finally got her in the water on Saturday, August 15th. Rocky did a great job on the caulking and there was minimal leakage. We did a quick job of getting the accommodation ladder over the side and we pulled her around to the port quarter and let her swell up for a couple days. The following Monday Larry Williams, Ken Kaskoun, Gus Negus and Super Dave took her out for a maiden voyage. Fortunately they had the paddles aboard, because that’s how they got home. It should be noted that Rocky was not aboard for the maiden voyage. Gus Negus diagnosed the problem as a clogged fuel filter and spent several hours tinkering with our Westerbeke. By the following Saturday he had her up and running and they completed a successful test run.

Elsewhere on deck, Erik Collin has completed all the detail painting on the 40mm guns and finished painting the entire 01 level. Chris Fedden, Walt Stuart, Kyle Gicewicz and Will Tryon have been his main helpers. All the restoration work has been completed on the 3" practice loading machine and fuse setter, and it is all back together. Chris has been working on scaling and painting the portside machinery space hatches. They found a Pandora’s Box when they opened a supply vent fan room to B-2 that had never been opened since the ship arrived from Greece. It will take somebody small, ambitious and energetic to scale that space out. Gene Jackey and Clark Farnsworth completed all the helmet clips in the gun tubs and removed the helmet racks that were installed while she was in the Greek Navy. Gene is now working on repairing wasted 40mm ready service racks on the amidships 40mm tubs. Erik received another shipment of dummy 40mm ammunition courtesy of Stuart Scace, who remains our current best friend, fabricator and benefactor. Stuart was a postwar DE sailor who served on the USS CROMWELL DE1014. It didn’t take Erik long to repaint all the clips and get the new shells out on display. Kyle has been working up on the flying bridge, scaling and preserving a neglected area of the ship, since it is not on the tour route. Rich Pavlovic is continuing his overhaul on the fantail 20mm mounts. New volunteer Will Tryon is picking up where Bill Siebert left off on the bathythermograph winch and getting that back together.

The engineers continue to be a force to be reckoned with. Karl Herchenroder has been the driving force beating his brother Earl, Gus, Don Miller, Mike, and Gary Lubrano into painting and chipping. The help from the NPTU Chiefs was a real shot in the arm for these guys, and they have nearly completed scaling, reinsulating and repainting the entire upper level overhead in B-3. I’ve said before, working overhead is as bad as it gets and this is why Gus Negus doesn’t mind taking his chances in the whaleboat whenever they need a boat engineer. Barry Witte continues to lead his team of George Gollas, Brian Goodman, James Conlon, and Joe Tassarotti in restoring the electrical switchboard.

Gary and Doug Tanner continue to race head to head, or I should say head to reefer, to see who can stretch their job out the longest. I think in these lean times, it’s a job security issue. Doug was very close to completing the head, but then we got the idea that the septic tank needed an automatic air operated shut off valve, so we wouldn’t have a pump room full you know what if the pump failed and the tank overflowed. There’s also a lot of welding in the passageway to be done by Tim Benner, Chuck Teal, and Dave Mardon. They think they’ve got the leaks in the sewer line under control. Doug’s competitor Gary Sheedy has been working on the compressor bases and motor controllers on the reefer deck. New volunteer Wiley Johnson continues to help Gary with refinishing the reefer deck wooden gratings.

Gary was also the chief beneficiary of the most recent trip to the LSM45, receiving dogs for the reefer doors and several valves and pressure switches identical to the ones he was missing down there. Four of our intrepid crew made a last run on the LSM45. Gordon Lattey, Barry Witte, Greg Krawczyk and Chris Dennis spent a day and a half aboard and, in addition to the parts for Gary, returned with more motor controllers, electrical switchboard parts, engine room deck grating. They also found a replacement hatch that is an exact match, and more light fixtures and switches. Greg was instrumental in making the arrangements for the trip, and Gordon drove his own vehicle there and back. Again, our thanks to Museum of the Marine Director of Operations SgtMaj Joe Houle, who authorized the removals and coordinated the whole adventure on his weekend days off.

The SLATER crew sailed inland to the Altamont Fair. For the first time the SLATER had a presence there, as 26 volunteers manned a booth at the three county classic country summer fair. We were located under a 10 foot overhang next to the entrance to the Grange Building (how much more country can you get?) and within 50 feet of the Navy Recruiting Tent. And unlike the Reading World War II Weekend, we did not have to compete with 50 aircraft, numerous tanks and assorted military hardware. We were questioned about where the rabbit and livestock exhibits were, where part of the bow of the USS ALBANY was located and surprisingly, how you get to downtown Albany. In addition to passing out promotional literature, we recruited prospective volunteers with volunteer applications and gave out about 700 discount coupons for visits to the SLATER.

The event was kicked off on Tuesday, 11 August, by Dick and Maralyn Walker and Natasha Herchenroder. Gordon Lattey and Paul Czesak took over for the next six hours. The next day Super Dave Mardon and Gene Jackey opened up and were relieved by Clark Farnsworth and Fred Sirois. Thursday started out hot with Bill Siebert and Karl Herchenroder opening up and being relieved by Gus Negus, Mike Dingmon and Jim Kuba. Friday, the fourth day, was hot as usual with Andy DeSorbo and Alan Guard taking the first watch and Sr. Chief Smitty and his wife, Carol, and Franklin Peters relieving. Don Shattuck and Russ Ferrer started Saturday morning and they were relieved by Jerry Jones, Clark Farnsworth and Fred Sirois. After a hearty breakfast at the Home Front Café, Nelson Potter joined Jim Gelston for the first shift on Sunday, with Glenn Harrison and Paul Czesak wrapping up that night. Our volunteers proved tougher than the Navy Recruiters, who closed up shop at 1600 while our watches went on to 2200. Special thanks to Paul Czesak who put it all together. As for me, I took the heat because I was the one who suggested the six hour watches as opposed to four during what turned out to be the hottest week of the summer. Thanks to you all!

Back in July, we hosted a visit by Vance Bryant and several members of the Rip Van Winkle Chapter 40 of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors. They’re the group that's been repairing our clocks for the last two years. The group included Vance, Ron Etchells, Bob and Karen Olson, and Jack Betterly. Larry Williams took the time to give them a tour of the ship and let them see where all the clocks were being used. Through it all, Earl Herchenroder has been the go between between the clock repairers and the SLATER. They even brought their most recently restored clock and presented it to the crew at lunch. This is another example of some of the ongoing community service for our veterans and the Slater Museum that goes on off of the ship. They expressed real pride in being able to participate in the on-going restoration of the USS SLATER.

Ready for some real ET tech talk? In another case of old friendships coming back to help the SLATER, two of my old friends from my days on the JOSEPH P. KENNEDY JR DD850 came back aboard to work on the sonar gear. If you remember last summer, Greg Shippie, former STG1 who served in CALCATERRA, came down from Vermont to get the SQS-4 going in passive mode for the Japanese movie. The sonar presentation played a major role in the movie. In the course of working on the gear he discovered that SLATER’s sonar was still the low powered 115 volt version of the SQS-4 and had never been modified with the Rotational Directional Transmission (RDT) upgrade, so it didn’t require the water cooler that the higher powered versions did. Thus SLATER actually has one of the few active sonars that could be made operational. With this in mind, he returned to the SLATER with Dick Ross, another KENNEDY refugee.

Greg is retired from Raytheon and has a great deal of experience with sonar. Dick still works for Raytheon as a field tech, and they send him all over the world repairing and upgrading Navy sonar gear installed on foreign ships. He is well acquainted with the shipyard in Souda Bay, Crete. On August 24th they arrived onboard the SLATER with the intent to continue the restoration of the modified AN/SQS-4 Sonar. Their intent was to restore the active transmit mode of operation. Monday the 24th saw some minor repairs to the transmitter unit and much testing of power

supplies in this unit. Tuesday morning at about 0930 the sonar sent a 400 cycle CW tone into the Hudson River. By 1030 hours the sonar was transmitting regular 12kc sonar pings in its normal mode of operation. Having used only about half of their allotted time, they decided to bring the AN/UQN-1 (Gertrude or Gertty) underwater phone back to life. By the time that they departed the Slater at 1130 hours on the Wednesday, both the AN/SQS-4 and the AN/UQN-1 were operating in both the transmit and receive modes of operation. They had also hoped to get the fathometer back in operation. The fathometer is divided into five pieces including a motor generator set. They located only two of the units. The indicator was in CIC in relatively good shape. They found the transmit oscillator stowed under the work bench in the lower sound room. It seems that Mr. Sheedy had removed it from its original location on the reefer deck to install an electric heater so he could stay comfy in the winter. The unit was pretty well trashed internally. The other components were never located, so they don’t hold out much hope for the Raytheon fathometer, which is an original 1944 piece of gear. Again, our thanks go to Will Donzelli who provided the tech manual last year. We couldn’t have done it without him.

Finally, we had a last minute email telling us that the 12’ long model of a destroyer escort that Orion Film Partners built for the movie was in danger of being destroyed if a home could not be found for it. Lacking the funding to move it or the space to store it, we put out the word that it needed a home. Our old friend Shin Fukumori coordinated the effort with friends who have friends in Japan, namely Executive Director of the Historic Ship’s Assn Jeff Nilsson, Greg Krawczyk and BJ Costello, whose brother Barry Costello was a former CINCPAC. Working on a short deadline, Greg Krawczyk contacted the Commander Naval Forces Japan(CNFJ) command Public Affairs Officer via email to see if there was any interest in the model.  In typical Navy team-work fashion, the PAO responded and then contacted the CNFJ Command Master Chief.  From there on, it was all taken care of.  The last word was that they are organizing a working party to go and pick it up and will be displayed on base. It looks like it will all work out so that the model will be preserved.

See you next month

Return to the SLATER Signals page.

Return to the Homepage.