The Newsletter of the USS SLATER's Volunteers
By Timothy C. Rizzuto, Executive Director
Destroyer Escort Historical Museum
Phone (518) 431-1943, Fax 432-1123
This month, we'll take a look shoreside to the ever-important bulletin board, the check-in point for all of our tour guides. Home to the schedule of upcoming tours, announcements, Wall of Fame and, of course, the dreaded Wall of Shame.
We keep the current week's schedule as well as the next week's posted, so guides know what to expect the next time they are in. We also have announcements of upcoming events in the area, including the poster for our annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner next month. We keep the intern's keys, chained with part of an old fishing trophy, to keep guides from accidently taking the keys home.
The Wall of Fame is where we post the "shout outs" our tour guides get in Facebook, TripAdvisor, and Yelp! reviews. We are always happy to hear what our visitors liked on their tours. We especially enjoy learning that they loved their tour guide, and the experience they had at the ship. Chief Art Dott is the king of reviews. We don't know how he does it, whether he has a sob story to tell people if he doesn't get reviewed, or if he pays the visitors to say good things, or if he creates fake accounts to review himself, or if he really is just the king of tour guides and everyone loves him! "My wife and I had a great time aboard today! Special thanks to Art our tour guide. He did a great job! All the hard work that your volunteer corps does to keep Slater in tip-top shape certainly shows!"
Although Art has the most reviews, our other guides earn their praise as well. "Mike (Marko) was an awesome guide, very knowledgeable with many fun stories. My husband and I had a great time. Thanks, to all the volunteers who are dedicated to our country's history." Mike served on USS BROUGH DE-148, and later on submarines. His first-hand experiences give his visitors excellent insight into the lives of sailors serving on these ships. "Toured the USS SLATER yesterday, and was totally fascinated by this amazing part of history. There has been so much time and effort put into the restoration of this historic ship. Our guide, Grant (Hack), did an incredible job. This is a must see in our area, and I highly recommend everyone to take the tour. I will definitely visit again! Again, Grant, thank you for your service!!"
Our interns get accolades as well. "Excellent. Our guide, Andrew, did a great job. We saw everything from the captain's quarters to the depth-charge station." This is Andrew's fourth season at SLATER, and he has also taken on the role of duty officer on Sundays. So, he runs the show on Sundays while Shanna is off. But, don't worry--the Sunday volunteer crew keeps him in line. Nobody gets by Tom Cline, Art Dott, Grant Hack, and Bill Goralski without a little teasing! In his second year here, Austin made the Wall of Fame as well! "Austin gave us the tour; he did a great job and knew all kinds of specific details about the ship and its equipment and weapons. If you have a parent who served in the Navy, you and they will treasure the experience."
Now, I'm not going to paint you an unrealistic picture. Our guides are amazing, dedicated, and diligent, but they are not without faults. We will now move onto the Wall of Shame. This list, located right next to the Wall of Fame, to ensure no one gets too big of an ego, is the list of mistakes while opening and closing the ship. Mistakes like, not turning off the ventilation, or the water, leaving lights on or fans running overnight, doors unlocked, ensign not properly folded, not opening the unrestored compartment, forgetting to turn off the speaker amplifiers in CIC, and berthing and, the worst mistake of all, not unplugging the coffee pot. Lately, we also are having a hard time getting the signal flags up correctly on the first try. Another mistake that frequents the list is not returning the guns to their correct position, barrels level, pointing straight ahead or astern. Most of these errors are usually discovered by the Director upon his arrival in the morning. Landing your name on the list will undoubtable earn you an extra duty of cleaning the head or badgering from your cohorts. By the way, did the wheel get polished this morning?
A lot of preparation is going on for the upcoming Destroyer Escort Sailors Association Convention the first week in September. The replacement of wasted steel inside the Deck Gear Locker, on the main deck starboard side, is complete. Tommy Moore and David Mardon chipped it out and repainted it with two coats of primer and two coats of white. Doug Tanner, Gene Jackey, Earl Herchenroder, and Dave spent the month reconfiguring the new watertight door for the locker. The gasket has been replaced, the door has been hung, and all that remains are some final adjustments to the dogs, and then the painting. When that is done, Boats Haggart and Walt Stuart can move back in. This exciting for me, because it means that pile of deck gear that has been sitting outside under canvas for three months finally gets stowed.
Dave and Doug also completed the installation of another scupper on the port side amidships. The process has been to watch where the rust streaks from on the hull, and then figure out the best way to deal with them, be it a scupper or eliminating the source of the rust. The welding is the relatively quick part. But the coatings, two coats of Corroseal, two coats of primer, and an epoxy topcoat is the time consuming part, as we can only paint when we're closed to the public. Completion of the scupper was followed by a good scrubbing of the hull in that area.
After another stay rusted through, Doug tackled the job of renewing those stays and shrouds that we are able to reach without a manlift. He and his crew unshackled the two lower backstays and the two lower shrouds for replacement. These were taken to a local rigging supply house, All-Lifts, and replacements were fabricated. Some of this work was covered by a Tin Can Sailors grant we received last year. In the meantime, Earl needle-scaled, freed up, and coated with anti-sieze, all of the turnbuckles. When they were received back aboard, Doug got them remounted. Then Doug and Boats tensioned them with a scale, to make sure that the turnbuckles were properly adjusted. What remains to be replaced is the upper backstay, the yardarm supports, and the yardarm footropes. For those, the difficulty is access.
Boats and Walt also completed replicating our floater nets. These nets were a type pf primitive World War II lifesaving equipment that consisted of a cargo net with Bakelite floats woven into the net. They were carried in open baskets on deck, so that if the ship sank, they would float free and keep clusters of survivors together until they could be rescued. Not much protection from sharks, though. Our first generation of replicas was made of Styrofoam oil boom floats, painted black, and lashed to rope to fill the baskets. These didn't stand up too well to the sunlight, and Ron Frankosky will attest to several work weeks spent trying to dress up and repaint the floats. These floats have finally been discarded. They were replaced with fishnet floats, painted black, and threaded into three quarter inch black polypropylene line. They look much closer to the originals than the oil boom floats. We'll see how they stand up to the sunlight.
Up on the 01 level forward, a lot of work has been going on. Guy Huse has the sight-setting apparatus back together, and moving freely in both azimuth and elevation. Ron Prest and Ron Mazure have been scaling the area. Prest has been scaling gun 32, and Ron has been working on the deck. Thomas got the most visible eyesore fixed when he touched up the camouflage outside of the twenty millimeter gun tubs.
Gary Sheedy wants his area looking as good as possible for the upcoming DESA Convention. To accomplish that, he's completed all the painting of the laundry equipment, including the washing machine, extractor, dryer, and laundry press. He's relocated all of the equipment back into its proper position, and stowed all the loose gear. He also made the decision to paint the decks in the passageway and C-203-L. Both Gary and Thomas Scian cut it in, and rolled the paint out on Monday the 25th.
Barry Witte has had several projects going with his students and Sailors. He is continuing fabrication of the smoke generator in the steering gear compartment, utilizing the research he did down on USS STEWART in Galveston. He's in the process of working to acquire the valves, filters, and piping he needs to complete the fabrication. In addition, Barry's had his crew working on the B-4 main motor cooling fittings, and they are doing a beautiful job of refinishing the valves, manifolds, and piping.
The engineers, Karl Herchenroder, Mike Dingmon, Gary Lubrano, and Ken Myrick are also caught up in the preparations for the upcoming DESA Convention. There has been a lot of cleaning and painting going on in B-3. They've spent the month securing all the deck plates, and then repainting the deck tile red. They've also been working with Larry Williams, to try and sort out an annoying problem with some of the pyrometers on the B-3 Ship's service generator. They've been trying to swap out the bad ones for good ones. Next, they want to have the generator up and running for the convention.
Down at Scarano's Boatyard, Eric Everson and his crew are making excellent progress on the whaleboat. They stripped all the paint off the exterior of the boat, and found the wood rot was limited to the small area of the keel where we had found it. It had not spread to any of the other planks. They cut out the rot, and scarfed-in a couple pieces of wood where needed. Thanks to the relationship Rocky Rockwood developed with the folks at Scarano's over the years, the yard crew seem to share a special affection for the boat, and really want to see the repairs done correctly. Eric indicated that if the outside hull were stripped completely, primed and repainted, that paint job wouldn't crack, and should be good for three years. If he's right, that may be the way to go. Strip and repaint every third year, at the yard, not on deck. If the boat is back, there may be boat rides on the horizon at the DESA Convention.
Finally, on Sunday, July 30th, our local Coast Guard Auxiliary Unit celebrated the 227th Birthday of the United States Coast Guard aboard USS SLATER. It is significant to us that the Coast Guard manned 32 destroyer escorts in World War II and twelve during the Korean War. Charlie Poltenson and Dick Walker organized the event, which included a cake and a salute to our Coast Guard volunteers, who include Dick Walker, Grant Hack, Gene Jackey, and Doug Tanner. And, we should take time to remember that the project's founder, Dr. Martin Davis, was a Coast Guard Pharmacist's Mate. The culmination of the ceremony was the presentation of a model of Doug Tanner's ship, the 311' USCGC GRESHAM. It was built by former Coast Guard volunteer, Nelson Potter, and was a fitting tribute to one of our most dedicated volunteers. Semper Paratus.