The boat deck is located just aft of the superstructure on the 01 level and just forward of the stack. The boat deck was the area where the motor whaleboat was handled and stowed. Whaleboats were made from wood. A boat could carry 22 men and weighed three tons when loaded. They could travel at about 8 knots. The ship carried one diesel powered 26-foot motor whaleboat. The original four-cylinder, 25 horse power diesel engine was manufactured by the Buda Corporation. The engine has since been substituted by a unit manufactured by Westebeke.
These boats were used for pilot rescue and transfers between ship and shore including everything from mail runs to painting the sides. In an abandon ship situation it would also be used as a lifeboat. As it could accommodate only 22 men, life rafts supplemented the boat for the rest of the crew.
The whaleboat was hung in radial davits that were swung out by the guy lines when lowering preparations were made. The boat was raised by the anchor windlass, the powerful electric winch on the forward main deck.
The coiled lines that would hang over the boat were called the "monkey ropes", knotted lines that the men would hang on to while the boat was being hoisted.
When the ship was at anchor, a boat boom held the boat alongside to keep it from banging into the ship. An accommodation ladder was rigged over the side and provided access to the whaleboat from the ship.
The boat was also known as the "Captain's gig" when it was being used by the ships' commanding officer.
Rigging, operating and maintaining the boat was the responsibility of the 1st division of the construction and repair department. It was hard work, and heavy seas could make this dangerous work.
The following information and diagram is from "BOATS of the United States Navy 1960." Published by The Floating Drydock Co.
" A Navy boat is defined as an uncommissioned waterborne unit of the Fleet, not designated as a service craft, and capable of limited independent operation. It may be assigned to a shore station or a fleet operating unit." It should be added, with some exceptions, that it be painted haze gray. The full description of the boat used in the mid 1950s was: 26' Motor Whaleboat MK2 (Magnetic).
Official Navy specifications:
Purpose: To transport personnel and for use as a lifeboat.
Capacity: 22 men including crew
Crew: 2-3 men (usually 3; coxswain, bowhook and engineer) and sometimes a very junior Ensign as boat officer.
Length overall: 26' 3/8", Beam. 7' 4 5/8", Draft 2' 4" loaded.
Full load displacement: 8,850 lbs. (open) or 9,070 lbs. (canopied)
Hoisting weight: 5,550 lbs. with 2 crew, 6,450 lbs. with 8 man life saving crew. Hoisted by davit located starboard side forward of the stack.
Construction: Round bottom wood frame, caravel (i.e., smooth sided) planked.
Speed: 7 kts. full load displacement, Fuel Capacity 28 gallons, Range 110 nautical mi. at full power and full load.
Engine: 4 cyl. diesel, 25 hp. at 1430 r.p.m., Navy type DA, Navy type cylinder head, direct sea water cooled, 24-volt electrical system. Propeller. one 18" dia. by 25" pitch by 1 3/8" bore, right hand rotation.