Fair Winds and following Seas!

by The Boatswain | November 12th, 2005

Guess we were really lucky as far as the ocean was concerned. We ran into lots of rain squalls, but no major storms, for which we were happy. LST’s had a maximum speed of 12 knots, which is roughly 15 miles an hour, but we could never use that as we’d burn up the engines, so we cruised at 10 knots. (11.2 miles an hour.) You can see we wouldn’t go anyplace in a hurry! It worked out to about a bit over 200 miles a day.

Also, because of their flat bottom and non-streamlined shape, they tended to roll a lot, which isn’t the most comfortable motion. The officers all lived in the deck house, and the crew lived in the decks below the main deck, at the stern, and slightly forward of us, and along both sides, were quarters for troops. NO portholes or other openings were built into her, below the main deck, and it was pretty hot and starting to smell in our quarters.

Fresh water was in short supply, as the ship’s equipment wasn’t as efficient as it is today. Fresh water had to be kept for cooking and for cooling water for the engines. Our showers were salt water. We COULD have freshwater in port, when we could get it from the pier. The Navy had some fierce, big, bars of a strong yellow soap that was supposed to be used in salt water, but it barely foamed, no matter how you scrubbed.

We DID find a partial solution for that problem, though. Since we often saw strong rain storms, the skipper would steam through them and we’d all get good and wet, soap with REAL soap, and turn the ship around and run back through the rain to rinse off!!! Since we had NO women on board, running bare in the rain was no big deal. We even could rinse some of the salt out of our laundered clothes!

A Rain Squall

A Rain Squall

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The United States Navy rating of Boatswain's Mate is a designation given to enlisted members who are rated as a deck seaman. The colloquial form of address for a boatswain's mate is 'Boats'.

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