Forward of the mess decks is the forward crew berthing compartment. This compartment contained bunks for the crew’s enlisted sailors. Sailors slept three high on top of spring or canvas bunk bottoms and mattresses. Each man got a small bunk locker below in which to stow all of his belongings. Petty officers got the stand up lockers.
Living in these spaces, men had to get along in an extremely crowded environment. In general, when the ship was underway at night, one third of the crew was on watch leaving two-thirds asleep in the compartment.
The watch changed at midnight and 4:00 AM, and crewmen became adept at changing clothes quietly in the dark so as not to wake their shipmates. In such an environment, consideration for one another was the most important feature in making such a living situation bearable. Red light provided the only illumination at night so as not to interfere with the sailor’s night vision.
The men forward had to contend with the pitching motion of the ship. There were three other berthing compartments aft. Those men felt less pounding but had to contend with the vibration of the ship’s screws.