Two Years Before the Mast

2-17-18

My uncle Wil was a coxswain aboard the destroyer USS Erben (DD631) in the Pacific the same time as my dad and his crewmates on the Boston.  The Erben was built in Bath, ME and got to the Pacific a few months before the Boston did.  I have Wilson’s “papers” from his navy career (he also served in Korea) and among those papers are two “anniversary” report newsletters: “One Year Before the Mast” and “Two Years before the Mast.”  They’re tattered, but mostly legible.  Each division or department filed an “annual report”  Fascinating.  I’m going to share some of the data with you. . . think of it in comparison to the much larger Boston.

Two blogs ago I talked about refueling and fuel consumption (noting that in the CruDiv10 reports for October 1944, the totals were redacted.)  I looked closely at the Boston decklogs for July 1945 (for a different reason) and found that during the July 27 refueling, Boston topped off her tanks, taking 210, 314 gallons.

From ERBEN SUPPLY DEPARTMENT (28 May, 1945):  Payroll: disbursements of $341,000 of which $224,000 was cash.  Payroll shows that officers and men have drawn $258,000 off of the books, $198,000 was cash; the largest payday totalling $59,000, being held as we steamed in sight of the Golden Gate. Ship’s Store Sales: 59,000 packages of cigarettes were sold, which averages 153 packages per man and 29,800 bars of candy or 88 bars per man.  These figures were from October of last year (8 months.)  The Galley: during the last year has prepared approximately 114,500 daily rations or 343,500 meals. (This same report from One Year at the Mast:  The Supply Division has prepared and served 328,425 individual meals at a cost of $71,427.03.  339 tons of food have been consumed, one ton per man.)  Also from the year before, the ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT: during it’s first year, the ERBEN travelled 68,964.7 miles at an average speed of 15.8 knots. This is practically three times around the world at the equator . . . the Erben spent most of her time near the equator and she has not been around the world even once.  We consumed 3,082,056 gallons of fuel oil, at an approximate cost of $88,000.

There is much more information here – everything from how much paint was used to how many message blanks the Radiomen and Signalmen used (50,000).  The Erben, a Fletcher-class destroyer, was built to house 329 men.

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One Response to Two Years Before the Mast

  1. Dick warner says:

    REALLY INTERESTING, always wondered what our ship had done before I boarded her in 1967, thanks for the info shipmate.

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