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 (

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

07/17/2011 - Steamboat Square, 20 MM

The Madison Ave Exit from 787 is closed because of repairs to the Dunn Memorial Bridge. It a little difficult to get to the USS SLATER from the north. If you're visiting from this direction it would probably be a good idea to call ahead and get directions (431-1943).

Sunday was a hot day. Started nice, but got very hot in the afternoon. I gave two tours.

I had a problem with the 1st group. A number of people came after I was showing the video in the briefing room. When I exited from the briefing room, without any prompting for me people waiting for the NEXT group tagged along with my group. When I got aboard the ship I found out that I had a huge group. It was just too large to get into all the spaces. When I tried to separate the people who tagged along, this lead to a protest. I let it slide and made do with the large group. In retrospect I should have asked for help from an intern and split the group into two.

In the second tour we had a VERY inquisitive young visitor. He was a great visitor - very well behaved and quite entertaining. Whenever I could I made him part of the show. We had fun at the 40mm. He was too small to move the mount by himself, so I helped him. When I did he would happily exclaim - "It's working!" But after a few seconds he would want to do it himself. Then the mount would stop and he would exclaim sadly that "It's not working!". We repeated this procedure several times. Very entertaining.

Where was Steamboat Square?

Between one of the tours, I was asked where Steamboat Square was in Albany. Basically it was by the underpass of 787 (at the foot of Broadway), perhaps a 1/4 of a mile north of where the USS SLATER is moored. This is also the site of the old Fort Orange.

I dug up the slide show (mostly from Library of Congress Photos) that shows Steamboat Square and a collection of views of Hudson River Steamboats. These boats were very graceful and quite fast. I'm guessing that most of these boats were faster than the USS SLATER (21 knots). The Hudson River Day Liner Steamboats left New York City at 8:00 AM and arrived in Albany at 6:00 PM. This is a distance of 140 miles. During the trip they made 8 or 9 stops. Doing the math, allowing about 20 minutes on average for a stop, they would have to average roughly 18 knots during the rest of the trip. The last trip was made in 1948.

How long did it take to change a 20mm magazine?

While I was a Gunners Mate, I never fired a 20mm. I managed to dig out a video of a 20mm being fired in a training exercise. Looking at this, I would guess that a magazine could be changed in about 4 seconds.

I also found another interesting video showing a 20mm being fired at night. When fired at night you get a good impression of the arc and speed of a 20mm shell.

Here are some interesting links on 20mm:

Saturday, July 9, 2011

07/03/2011 - Compartment Labels, New Docent Policy

Sunday started out pouring buckets, I had trouble staying dry during my morning walk. Eventually the sun came out and it was a great day. I managed to give three tours and I kept everyone dry.

During one of the tours I was asked about compartment labels. The label above is an example. It's on the main deck, port side and it's between the 1st (Quarter Deck) and 2nd (Galley) tour stops.

The 1st line of the label is the door number: 1-81-2
(I added the colors for illustrative purposes):

  • 1 is the deck number (1 = main deck)
  • 81 is the frame number. Frame are vertical beams that extend from the keel. Hull plates are attached to frames. The SLATER has about 170fFrames. The lightly colored purple lines on the center of the USS SLATER Main Deck Plan are the frame numbers.
  • 2 indicates that the door is on the port side (left side).
The 2nd line of the label is a description of the space "Muffler Room". If you look on the USS SLATER Main Deck Plan you can see that there are four Mufflers (one for each main engine). The door in question is right before Muffler #4.

The 3rd line of the label is the number of the compartment (compartment is a navy word for room):

  • B - represents the section of the ship. A sections are before main machinery spaces; B sections are over main machinery spaces; C sections are aft of main machinery spaces. This is fairly clear when you look at the USS SLATER 1st Platform Deck Plan).
  • 103 is the compartment number. The one in the 103 indicates a compartment on the main deck. A 203 would indicate a compartment one deck down (2nd platform) and a 0203 would indicate a compartment one deck up from the main deck (referred to as the 01 level).
  • The final letter - E represents the usage of the compartment. E represents an Engineering compartment (contains machinery). A complete description of these codes are contained in the Navy Publication: Nomenclature of Naval Ships, February 1942. This letter has important significance for damage control parties. For example special attention was given to fire suppression near in a compartment with a F or M designation (F is for fuel, M is for magazine, explosive storage).
In 1949 the Navy changed the numbering system, but when the USS SLATER was built the 1942 Nomenclature was used (reference - Nomenclature of Naval Ships, February 1942). Today a different and more comprehensive system is used (example contained in 3M Company Compartment Damage Control Marking Guide).

Recently the USS SLATER has changed the manner that tour guides are assigned giving priority to volunteer tour guides:

  1. If you are a veteran and a tour guide, you have priority on whether  you take a group, or pass it on to an intern.
  2. The role of interns is to fill in when the veteran tour guides are  all busy, or when vets prefer to pass it on.
  3. If you would like to move to another day for tour guiding, that is  fine, but please know that the "original crew" of any given day has top  priority for their day, followed by interns.
In my opinion this is a very welcome change! As a veteran (4 years active and 4 years reserve) and a Volunteer Tour Guide (over 10 years, since 2000), I get a little disheartened when I am sitting on the bench waiting for a tour. One of the main reasons that I typically come on a Sunday is that it's a fairly busy day.