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 (

Thursday, May 20, 2010

5/16/2010 - Spring Returns

Nice day, started with my morning (5K) walk around Albany. Around noon the visitors started arriving. I gave two tours, both groups were of nice size (10-12 people). The 2nd group had was a little tough. It included a mix of visitors who wanted to quiz the docent, and a number of over anxious kids. This is a tough combination. It's hard to give justice to difficult questions without losing control. Unfortunately one parent decided to cut the tour short because of behavioral issues.

One question I was asked was "How far does the 3 inch gun recoil?" I held up my hands and said about this far (roughly a foot). Fortunately, the Historic Naval Ship Association, has digitized the 3" Gun Manual so it's pretty easy to check, on page 25 of Ordnance Pamphlet No. 811 (12/22/1943) there is a table and the precise answer is 11 - 1/2".

The second question occurred on the signal bridge. Time permitting, when visitors are at the Slater's Search Light, I usually tell the story of the USS Cecil J. Doyle and the rescue of the crew of the USS Indianapolis.

I also noted that before it was sunk the USS Indianapolis delivered the A-Bomb dropped on Hiroshima. That seemed to be a point of contention. I was told by one of the visitors that the bomb delivered by the Indianapolis was a ruse. He heard this from someone stationed on Tinian.

Since then I have checked multiple sources and this appears to be untrue. The Nuclear Weapon Website had a very detailed (and well documented) article on Little Boy (including transport) - The first U-235 projectile component was completed at Los Alamos on June 15, 1945. Casting of the U-235 projectile for Little Boy
was completed on July 3. On July 14 Little Boy bomb units, accompanied by the U-235 projectile, were shipped out of San Francisco. They were picked up by the USS Indianapolis (CA-35) at the U.S. Navy's Hunter's Point shipyard at San Francisco on July 16, bound for Tinian Island in the Mariana Islands. On July 24 the last component for Little Boy, the U-235 target insert, was completed and was tested the next day. The Indianapolis delivered Little Boy bomb units, and the U-235 projectile to Tinian on July 26. On the same day the target assembly, divided into three parts flew out of Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque on three C-54 transport planes, which arrived July 28 at Tinian.

However, I can see how this rumor can arise. While the Indianapolis delivered the majority of the weapon, several components were delivered by plane several days later. The air delivered components were the U-235 Target Assembly, which I believe is item 13 on the drawing. It appears to me that the separation of the Target Assembly was driven by the unstable nature of the bomb, and perhaps for security reasons. It's relatively easy to see how the scuttlebutt associated with these deliveries by plane, could lead to the speculation that the Indianapolis delivered a fake bomb.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

5/9/2010 - Tulip Festival or bust!

This Sunday, instead of serving as a tour guide, I volunteered to stand my watch at the USS Slater's booth at the Tulip Festival. On Sunday morning I arrived a little early. I parked at the Slater's lot and I planned on walking to the site of the Tulip Festival, Washington Park. The round trip distance was a little less than 5 miles. Since last year, I have been on a walking program for exercise. Basically I try to walk 5K meters every day (approx. 3.1 Miles). On the way to the park I ran into Joe, one of our younger guides, walking across the Hudson River Way. I am real proud about my 5K a day walks. I asked Joe where he was coming from and how far a walk it was. He told me he was coming from Colonie, a round trip distance 16 miles. I was truly humbled!

The walk to Washington Park, was bright and Sunny, but Cold. The wind was gusting to 40 knots. I felt like I was standing on the forecastle of a Destroyer on plane guard duty. When I arrived at the park, I met Admiral Paul who told me that the Slater's Display was a casualty of the high winds, so we packed up, and I walked back to the Slater.

I had obtained special permission from the Chief (of my household) to attend the Tulip Festival Watch (5/9 was Mother's Day). I called home and received permission to do one tour. It was OK, as long as I returned home by 3:00 (Dinner Plans).

For my single tour, I had a very large group. But everything went very well. I finished on time, and I was home at my appointed time (3:00). During the tour I was asked two very good questions.

One of these, was a puzzle for quite some time -
Where were the 3" Guns Manufactured? I asked around, and didn't get an answer so one week later I went to Mount 3-1 and exposed the manufacturing marks on the breech - GMOC NOPSC 3" Gun Mk22 Mod 2. No 22765, 1944.

The next step took a great deal of investigation. NOPSC was the key. This stood for Naval Ordnance Production Facility, South Charleston. It referred to a factory in Charleston, West Virginia. The most complete history of this facility was documented by Justin Salisbury for the West Virginia Historical Society in 2006. The facility was built during WWI, but the Washington Naval Treaty forced it's closure in 1922. Then, in response to the ever looming threats from Japan and Germany -
".....On November 5th 1938 Franklin D. Roosevelt announced that the military would be surveying all federally owned lands and plants capable of use in National Defense. In the same speech, he stated that he had already decided the South Charleston naval plant would be reopened...."

Justin's article, gives a very detailed account of the facility. The GMOC portion of the stamp on the 3" breech refers to General Machinery Ordnance Corp. Justin notes that
"....Unlike the contracts for the armor plant, General Machinery Ordnance Corporation was given a ‘blank check’ so to speak. They were told to get the north unit in condition to make guns, and the government would reimburse their costs. The amount of money spent by G.M.O.C. for the rehabilitation of the north unit and some parts of the south unit came to $6,267,380.37 ....".

During WWII G.M.O.C. manufactured a wide variety of weapons under three contacts worth millions of dollars - "
...The General Machinery Ordnance Corporation signed three contracts to produce weapons. These contracts were N0rd-144, N0rd217, and N0rd-635. The first contract N04d-144 was signed on July 16th 1941. This contract was for the production of quantities of three inch, five inch and 6 inch gun barrels. The N0rd-217 contract was signed on December 18th 1941 and was for the production of quantities of 1.1”, twenty-millimeter, and forty-millimeter gun barrels. The final contract N0rd-635 was for the production of the 11.75” rocket and for separate components of this rocket. ..." . It is very possible that this facility manufactured all the guns on the USS Slater (but I haven't verified this).

After WWII the facility was eventually closed in 1961.

During this investigation I ran across several interesting linksn:

The 2nd Great Question was -
How was a Large Naval Gun loaded? Naval guns 8" and larger were loaded differently than the 3" Guns on the USS Slater. These Guns were referred to as Bag Guns, and the biggest in the US Navy was the 16"- 50 Caliber, Mark 7 (Japanese had bigger guns, 18.1").

Here is a training video on a 16" gun

Saturday, May 8, 2010

4/30/2010 & 5/2/2010 - Open Season

On Friday we had a very large group from a Performing Arts High School in Massachusetts. Things went like clock work. Nice way to start the new year.

On Sunday I gave two tours. Right after lunch on Sunday we get a large influx of visitors. I had a very large group. It was a little tough in the smaller compartments. Right behind me was a smaller group that was moving very fast. It would have been great if I could have shifted some of the members of my group to that smaller group. In any case things seemed to work out fine.

On Sunday I noticed a printout of the ammunition load of the USS Slater published on the wall in the gift shop. I thought it would be a great thing to document on the blog:

  • 3"50: 816 total, 272 rounds per gun
  • 40mm: 3,200 round - 800 clips
  • 20mm: 45,720 rounds, when clipped 762 magazines
  • Hedgehog: 288 projectiles - 12 patterns
  • Depth Charge: 143 MK 9 Charges
  • Depth Charge: 124 MK6 CHarges
  • Small Arms: 30 Cal. 1,500 Rounds
  • Small Arms: 45 Cal. 8,000 Rounds
  • Small Arms 12 Gauge Shotgun, 100 rounds