The Newsletter of the USS SLATER's Volunteers
By Timothy C. Rizzuto, Ship's Superintendent
Destroyer Escort Historical Museum
Phone & Fax (518) 431-1943
We are already beginning to focus on the upcoming DESA convention in September and getting the ship in shape for those who raised the money to get her here in the first place. As usual, we wish we had more time to get more done before the big reunion, but we'll do the best we can with the time we've got.
The big project continues to be the side painting. National Surface Prep had a lot of "school abatement jobs" start up in mid-June, and our crew dwindled down to just Chris and Dean. But they hung tough, rounded the starboard bow, and we headed down the starboard side. As of this writing, they are amidships on the starboard side. They're certainly getting their "sea legs" and go home rocking from the starboard side. I had to make a large "NO WAKE" banner to get the Hudson River boaters to show a little respect for us even though we are "dead in the water". We should finish the side by the end of the month, and then start on the boot-top. Volunteer Tom Moore has started the portside boot-top, and he'll link up with Chris and Dean along the way. Tom took our twelve-foot bateau and rigged outriggers on to stabilize it. He looks like a castaway trying to escape from Gilligan's Island. It's been working okay, but with only about six inches of freeboard, this rig probably won't cut it for the riverside. The Albany Yacht Club (on the opposite Rensselaer shore, figure that!) was kind enough to loan us their 12' x 12' work float to give Tom a little more stability. That's not to imply that Tom's not stable. The float has half the freeboard of the flexi-floats, and will allow us to work the boot-top at the same time Chris and Dean are finishing the hull. Dick Smith has been working along above Chris and Dean on the waterways, and he likes working for those guys so much, he says he's quitting us and going to work for NSP. (Typical labor organizer always trying to keep things stirred up.)
Doug Tanner has been everywhere. The folks down at GE Selkirk recently recognized Doug and his crew for their contributions to the SLATER at a plant wide staff assembly. They were presented with SLATER hats and shirts. Doug's major project was replacing a 2' x 8 ' piece of wasted hull plate on the starboard quarter. This was where the Greek Navy had overlaid a plate with the "AETOS" name, and corrosion working between the plates went right through the hull into the laundry. It was amazing to look at the pieces that Doug cut away to see three-eighth inch plate wasted to nothing. No, terrifying is a more appropriate phrase. Erik asked if there was any more plate wasted that badly. We just hope not. Anyway, Doug and Doug Cutright cut a nice picture window into the laundry, and proceeded to fit the new plate over it. The day was ending fast by the time they got the new plate tacked into place. Doug was last seen using duct tape the seal the seams. He assures us he'll be back next week to seal weld the job, but holding the plate with duct tape brought a lot of caustic comments about, "So that's how they do it in the Coast Guard?" That's even stooping lower than Bondo!
The welders have also been working with the heads and heating. We are in the process of running the hot water heat and return lines through the machinery spaces to the aft cross passageway. Doug Tanner and Tim Benner have been cutting the holes for the pipes to run and Erik Collin and Hratch Tashjian started running the copper pipe. All the bulkhead penetrations are finished and the job is proceeding. Clark Farnsworth, George Erwin and Red Hume have been working in the aft head mounting cabinets and completing the plumbing for the urinals.
The weekday electrical gang, Larry Williams, Bob Callender and Ken Kaskoun have just about completed totally rewiring the shipboard telephone system. All the jury-rigged phone lines have been replaced with five pair shielded armored cable, and navy style standard junction boxes. The upgrade includes room for expansion, and easy hookups as we move the ship to other locations. From a visual point of view, we finally get all that crappy rubber wire out of the wireways. We're just now waiting for delivery of one more spool of wire so we can wire the gift shop. Future plans are to run the 1MC public address system using a spare pair in the same cable. Work in the aft crew quarters has slowed. Barry Witte has spent most of the month with the real Navy and Grand Union's best refrigeration man Gary Sheedy, of course, spends all summer keeping things cold, and has had a rough work schedule.
Work has started on the whaleboat. Project manager Roy Gunther has met with Scarano Boat Building, and they have worked up a plan to rebuild the boat, and work actually started last week. Roy has also located and purchased an engine and transmission for the boat. He has the davits swinging freely and is getting ready to rerig them. The plan is to get the hull watertight at Scarano, repaint it, and do as much exterior work as the funding allows. We will then float the boat, tow it to the SLATER, hoist it into the davits and do the interior work ourselves. We hope to have the boat back aboard for the DESA reunion.
The Navy Reservists were with us in July. They hoisted the starboard forward life raft up onto the rack with a chain hoist, moved the working urinal in the aft head, re- plumbed it into the septic tank, and installed a deck drain. You see the previous plumbing layout had the commode on the starboard bulkhead and the urinal on the port bulkhead, so when you sat on the commode, the urinal was pretty much in your face. The women folk are very grateful for that little ship alteration. I bet that's a little more information than most people want to know about SLATER'S restoration. The Albany Reservists helped move and rig scaffold on the paint floats, break down the painting stage that we hung over the starboard bow and instructed and tested the Sea Cadets on the use of the P-250 pumps.
Belated congratulations to Glens Falls Reservist HT2 Shawn T. Paradise on his reenlistment. The ceremony was held aboard the SLATER, appropriately in work uniforms.
The radio gang had their big weekend of communication with other historic naval ships, the final numbers aren't in, but we guess they made contact with just about everyone in the fleet. This is an annual event sponsored by the USS SALEM, in Quincy, Massachusetts.
Raf organized an over night encampment for our local Sea Cadet unit. All went well on this trial run and the kids got a lot of good training. Raf has been busy doing detail work on the three- inch guns. He's lost most of his ordnance division for the summer, Larry to reserve training, Frank Beeler to a house-building project, and John Waechter to too much "real" work. We've had a lot of other absences and people on the binnacle list. Larry Williams has been out due to prostate surgery. Right now we have more guys in this crew who have had prostate surgery than haven't. The "ruptured- duck award" may have new meaning here. We'll have to resurrect it. Earl Gillette has been out due to neck surgery, i.e. a "rotor- rooter" job in the arteries in the neck to prevent stroke. Andy Sandalakis has also been absent because of illness. As my buddy Wilbur Rogers (FT3, DD511), says "The 'golden years' ain't for sissies." Our sympathy goes out to all our shipmates as we wish all of you good health and a speedy recovery. In other words, get off your dead cans and get back to work. We miss you.
Deb Moore has continued to garner us good publicity. Three of our volunteers, Alan Guard, Jack Madden and Bob Dawson were interviewed for an hour on public radios' WAMC' "Vox Pop" talk show on their views on patriotism. New volunteer George Longmuir is an ex DE sailor who got "hooked" while attending his ship's reunion, USS EDWIN A HOWARD DE-346. He's become another one of our faithful, traveling 3 1/2 hours one way to get here. He joins Leo Baehler and Earl Gillette as long distance regulars.
The entire SLATER crew has been very pleased to hear the reports from various DESA Chapters who have been feeding their kitties with "Pennies For Slater" - Recently we have received checks from the Georgia DESA Chapter, and another earlier DESA supporter Sal J. DiMilla, stopped by to visit & drop off his ship's, USS FOGG DE-57 history and jarful of pocket change for SLATER. We have also received some outstanding support by the way of contributions from the Lawrence I & Blanche H. Rhodes Memorial Fund, American Legion Department of New York ( Richard M. Pedro, Exec. Director), several new and renewed DEHF memberships at the $500.00 LIFE category and the Reunion Groups from USS EDWARD C. DALY DE-17, (Harris Emmerson, Ship Coordinator) and USS PAUL G BAKER DE-642, ( George and Joanna Martel). As this is being written, several envelopes of contributions to SLATER's Endowment Fund from members of the Destroyer Escort Commanders Organization are being received by Frank J. Lasch, Albany Skipper. We'll fill you in on this development next month but right now it looks like the DE Commanders are getting behind us in a big way! Although we can't possibly acknowledge all the contributions received in this newsletter, all will be listed in the DEHF "TRIM BUT DEADLY" Publication, by Sam Saylor, President.
We recently received a very important donation, a copy of the STANDARD ORGANIZATION BOOK for Destroyer Escorts, April 1943, Issued by: Commander, Fleet Operational Training Command Atlantic Fleet. Frank A. Jackson, Jr. sent us a copy his father had from the USS OTTER DE-210. He also copied the pages and put them into sheet covers for us - guess he realizes our hands aren't always "white-glove" when we reference such material! Frank also sent several pages from May 12-15, 1945, which record the surrender of U-805 to the crews of OTTER and VARIAN DE-798, when a combination boarding party took her to waters off Portsmouth, NH. We would also like to get our hands on a copy of the General Information Book for Cannon Class Destroyer Escorts so let us know if any of you could help with this.
Again, we owe a special debt to all of the guides who keep everything humming along on tour days. We've been fortunate with the cool weather and good attendance, it's turning into a great summer, and the tour guides make it happen. We found two $50.00 bills in the Contribution Box so you Tour-Guides must be doing something right! "Angel Claire" has been busy extending her benevolence on the dock as she rented a large tent-top for the summer. This is keeping everybody quite comfortable & dry. She also supplied another cash-register which helps facilitate the ticket & store sales when visitors are lining up waiting for service.
In the AWOL Department, Nancy took a vacation and went to England for two weeks. Les and Annette Beauchaine and Eric, Julie and Michelle did a great job covering the slack. She was missed, but her crew kept everything running smoothly in her absence. That's a real sign of good organization and management. We set Nancy up with a special itinerary while in England, starting, with HMS VICTORY, HMS BELFAST, HMS CAVALIER, The Imperial War Museum, etc. We're sure she will spend the entire two- weeks touring historic naval ships and museums. We'll have a full report next month. See you then.
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