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"We Were a Close-Knit Group"
Submitted by Frank Stephan

We were a close knit group. Most of us knew only a few mensí full name. Why would you know his home address, or personal history?

In the U S Navy of World War Two, we were generally shorthanded. Having enough skilled men in what we called Ships Company to operate and dock the vessel required a large number of people. We had the engineering staff who ran the engines and boilers that propelled the ship. This same staff that stood watches of four hours length twenty four hours each day also maintained the equipment. If something didnít perform properly it had to be taken out of service and repaired. Every submarine has the same requirement. If you have four engines, and one needs work you then must get along with three.If you only have one pump in each compartment and that pump stops working because a rag got sucked up it, you must do without it until it is repaired and put back in service. On our submarines we have many pumps and it is possible for you to use another pump for the job that now is in repair. The submarine wonít sink because the task that was being done by the first pump is being done by the temporary use of the assigned second pump and because the piping is fixed it only requires that valves be open and shut to control the desired flow. On a submarine, everything is planned that way from the day the vessel is constructed. All personnel must know the built in capabilities.

We have a deck force who operate the cranes and winches, who handle the anchors and the lines and stand watches such as lookouts, steering, security and messenger service. The signal bridge is manned in the event that flags must be hoisted or signals must be transmitted with flashing lights using morse code. The radio men record all messages. The quartermasters navigate the ship and follow the course on the charts. They also act as meteorologists and advise the captain of changes in the weather.

On a large ship such as the Euryale, security is very important so you have persons standing armed guard in the ship to report any thing unusual, smoke, fire, flooding, persons lost or berserk, deliriums or vandalism. At night after working all day and standing watches most sailors sleep as though dead. If the general alarm sounds , all hands turn out almost in acceptable dress for battle or work emergency. We donít have closets but we keep our necessary attire convenient in our bunk so that we are ready to assist for any emergency.

At night in darkened spaces such as sleeping quarters, white lights are out but red lights are on which provides plenty of visual acuity and keeps your eyes ready for night vision when you go on deck to man your station or view space on deck. We always darken ship at night but in peacetime we use our standard running lights which includes a RED port and a GREEN starboard running light Plus two white mast head lights with the forward light below the after mast light. This arrangement makes it possible for a vessel heading toward our ship to tell if we are heading directly at him or will pass him on our starboard or port side. In Peace time we also can use our FM radio which maintains channel sixteen to call the ship heading toward us and say hello and advise him our course and speed and other courtesies as we desire. The Captain generally requires the Officer of the Deck to report all contacts which would include all lighthouse and navigational beacons. The messenger would get the impression that the Captain was waiting for his report which he is. The Captain only sleeps in spurts and he or she expects the report of a particular observation at a certain time other wise something is wrong. The Captain is responsible for every action of the ship and the crew.

He or she must not only make sure that every thing is done correctly but that it is correctly recorded in the ships log book which is the permanent record of the ship.

The ships company was 90 officers and 1313 enlisted men. This did not include submarine relief crews of seventy who would take over when the submarine was being serviced alongside theEuryale. When the Admiral came aboard he brought his staff with him which was mostly Officers and a few enlisted men But whatever the number, we had to accommodate them. I guess about thirty in number. Then of course, there were the cooks, the bakers the butchers and the mess cooks. Some of us lived in our shops. We had bunks on the bulkheads (walls) which we could put up out of the way. If there was space, we put lockers there for our personal gear. We had almost everything but no chairs. We sat on buckets or wooden boxes on the deck or on the work benches. Chairs were only in offices and they went with a desk. We had three divisions in the repair force or about two hundred and fifteen men. We were older and had more time in the navy. We were senior petty officers and we could be depended upon to do whatever job we were assigned. That is why the USS EURYALE was there to be our place of business, to repair submarines. Thatís what we did! We had a foundry with electric furnaces and sand molding equipment with which to cast gears or impellers for pumps. They could replace your class ring in gold or silver it was unbelievable. The foundry was able to use the lost wax process before it was popular in civilian shops.

In the shipfitter shop was a series of ovens so that parts that had been twisted out of shape could be heated until red hot and then forged back into its correct alignment. They could also bake a ham to make delicious slices. We threw nothing away instead recycled everything. The electric shop rewired burned out motors and coils and refashioned circuit breakers on demand. The optical shop repaired periscopes, telescopes and binoculars and if necessary could make you a new pair of bifocals. Any measuring device was hardly a challenge.

Of course we had a complete laundry service and a sewing service, a barber shop and a US Post Office. Next to last but not least we had a gedunk stand where ice cream sundaes could be obtained. Last but not in demand was the dental office and sick bay where waiting pharmicist mates, surgeons and doctors stood waiting to repair you if you needed fixing! All of our mail was left open so that the censors could read your lovers threats if you donít hurry and get home. This was a chore the officers hated but it had to be done. In the wardroom was a table piled high with mail to be read, until that was done the officers were not going to get their comic books! The EURYALE was a complete package in every way. For the two years I served on her I never saw a job left undone and our mere presence in an area made it possible for some ones movie projector or record player to be resurrected which made for much happiness and many friends.

When we moored in that small bay near KURE, the big navy yard, we were greeted by a company of United States Marines who had been landed outside and North of our bay and had to hike over rocky mountain terrain to team up with us in the event we met with hostile activity. The Marines were practically shoeless because the terrain wore through their boots. The Euryale Personnel went below and returned with our brown boots and every Marine was fitted with a pair of ours. Then we found out that they had not eaten that day and when we checked we were told by the supply officer that only a relative could have supper with us so we became instant cousins and this was recorded as each pair came back up the gangway by the Officer of the Deck.

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