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 (

Monday, July 13, 2009

7/12/2009 - Sunday Watch

Another beautiful Sunny Day, temperatures around 75-80. This Sunday the Slater was fully staffed and moderately busy. On a typical Sunday, the we usually get a crowd right after lunch. This Sunday was no exception. I gave a tour to one group of 15 visitors.

One of the reasons I like to write a blog, is that writing process helps to fact check myself.

Between tours I had a discussion with one of the younger volunteers about the configuration of the 01 Level when the Slater was first launched. The 01 level is the deck with the motor whale boat and the
40mm cannons. In 1945 the Slater was re-armed for the Pacific theater. At that time Japanese Kamikazes were a major threat. The after torpedo tubes were removed, and the single 20mm cannons were replaced with twin mounts. And two additional twin 40mm bofors gun mounts were added.

This Sunday, I got some of my facts correct. However, I incorrectly described the configuration of the 20mm's by the stack. We also discuss the 3" Loading machine (which is used for training gun crews). We knew that the Loading Machine was before the stack when the Slater returned from Greece. However, I wasn't sure that it was there in WWII. I served on two destroyers, one had a Loading Machine and one didn't. I incorrectly surmised that perhaps the WWII Slater didn't have a 3" loading machine. Since the Aethos D-01 (the Slater's name in the Greek Navy) was a training ship, I incorrectly surmised that the loading machine (used for training gun crews) as a Greek Navy addition.

I decided to check for old photo's of the configuration of the 01 Level. I ran across this one of the USS Osterhaus (DE-164). Like the Slater, the Osterhaus was a Cannon Class. The photo clearly shows the 01 Level: with torpedo tubes, with 20mm single mounts by the stack, and with a 3" loading machine.

Regarding the use of a 3" Loading Machine, I found this interesting WWII story about training on a 5" Loading Machine. When I was on active duty, I remember instructing my ammo handlers to remove all rings from their fingers. The linked story tells why.

Saga of Polish Gold
Saga of Polish Gold

During the slack times between tours the guides also tell sea stories. Following one of the tours, we chatted with a visitor who noted that he was from Poland. I told the visitor about the Saga of Polish of Polish Gold. In 1943 two DEs, the USS Breeman and the USS Bronstein, were dispatched to Dakar, West Africa. They were assigned to pick up 60 million (1943) dollars in gold that belonged to the Bank of Poland. This was over 50 tons of gold, and in today's dollars it would represent approximately 1.5 Billion Dollars.

The full story is detailed in one of my favorite books about Destroyer Escorts:
Tempest, Fire and Foe by Lewis M. Andrews, jr. Portions of this book are now available on Google Books, including the Saga of Polish Gold. This is a great book that I highly recommend.

No comments: