Recently people have been joining me on my Sunday Walks in Downtown Albany. Typically, I walk in Albany when I'm scheduled as a tour guide on the USS Slater. A slide show and a map are detailed at this blog entry. I plan on walking on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27. You can contact me at:

More on the USS SLATER (

Saturday, July 18, 2009

07/16/2009 - Cannon or Gun

During the day thunder storms were passing through. At times we had a drizzle but no down pour. I think the worse storm passed by after the Slater closed.

Normally, I give tours on Sunday, but I volunteer to come in on odd days when we have a large number of tours scheduled. I like it when it's busy. I hate to come in and waste a bunch of time waiting for visitors. This Thursday I wasn't disappointed. We were mobbed!

The 1st group I gave a tour to was a special needs group (From a NY ARC). I learned that once you get the safety aspects down, these tours go great. The visitors love the ship, and they love the challenge of navigating the passageways, compartments and ladders. Safety is the key. And the key to safety is to enlist the aid of the chaperones who are familiar with the abilities and limitations of the visitors. I start every tour like this with a brief safety discussion with the chaperones.

Flying Bridge - USS Hilbert DE 742 in WWII and USS Slater, today

In the 2nd Group, one family had a grand parent served on USS Robert E Perry DE-132. One young visitor was very well informed, and he was very interested in his Grandfather's WWII Service. He was very well informed and asked some very probing questions. I was told that his Grandfather was in his 90s and gravely ill. In WWII, his duty station was on flying bridge. I was very sorry that I couldn't make arrangements to open up the Slater's Flying Bridge. We were just too busy. The image above shows how the Flying Bridge would have looked when his Grand Father was on duty.

Cannons or Guns?

In last group Dad & Son, interested in military academy. Dad was dressed in suit and obviously had limited time. Tried to get the highlights and loop back for other visitors. This worked well because ship was so busy. Using this technique I was able to bypass bottlenecks.

Also in last group there was a Destroyer Escort vet who had a Navy Rating of Fire Control Technician in the 1950s. During the discussion about the USS Slater I referred to some of the guns as cannons. He stopped me and noted that his Chief in Boot Camp (a Chief Gunnersmate) said there there were no cannons in the US Navy - they were always called guns!

I recited the text book definition of a Cannon, and noted that a gun was a more encompassing definition covering small arms as well as cannons. I also noted that the Slater's main gun's, the 3", 40mm and 20mm all fit the text book definition of a cannon. And, finally I noted that I couldn't remember the prohibition against calling a naval gun a cannon.

This was rather embarrassing, as a Gunnersmate I should have know the answer. My first impression was that this comment was something like the boot camp scene in the movie Full Metal Jacket "This is my rifle this is my gun" (Quote is on the bottom of page).

I decided to check Navy a few of the Navy Manuals that the Slater has it it's extensive collection. Surprisingly, I could find any mention of a cannon. It appears that in all OFFICIAL communications the Navy doesn't use the term Cannon (always Gun). One example is the Gun Mount and Turret Catalog (ORDNANCE PAMPHLET 1112, 1945).

I apologized to the touring FT and thanked him for the correction. I'll keep up my quest and if I ever find an Official document, published after 1941 that refers to a Naval Gun as a Cannon I'll post a correction.

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