1. A short speech spoken directly to the audience, following the conclusion of a play.
2. A short addition or concluding section at the end of any literary
work, often dealing with the future of its characters.
Contributed by Robert G. Gehrz 42-45
Since the AO-26 was at sea most of the time on her wartime duties of steaming to oil ports for loading and subsequently refueling combatant ships underway at sea, I want to
recall some of my general impressions of life at sea.
From the standpoint of naval architecture, the Salamonie was a beautiful, seaworthy vessel. She had a streamlined hull gracefully designed between a slightly raked clipper, bulbous bow, and sweeping deck lines back to her "cruiser stem". Her athwartships deckline was cambered and her deckhouse corners were rounded. Almost the only straight lines on her were the masts. The locations of the bridge house and the after quarters
provided eye-appealing proportions of space. Her stubby, fat stack, four 5-inch/38 caliber guns in turrets, two quadruple barrel 1.1" guns and 12-20mm AA guns behind splinter shields gave her the look of power.
With four boilers, 13,500 horsepower, twin screws, streamlined hull and 18.5 knot speed, she was well equipped to deal with wartime emergencies.
The Salamonie had originally been built for operation by the Standard Oil Company, but subject to certain Navy building requirements so it could be easily converted to wartime
naval use. Her living appointments were more comfortable than those of later ships of her type. Crewmem- bers lived in separate quarters for 8 or 12 persons, rather than in a few
large living spaces. The Captain's large cabin occupied most of the deck beneath the bridge. Staterooms amidships and aft were each designed to accommodate just two ship's officers.
It might seem a cliche' to call the Salamonie "home", a term of affection, but home it was for many years - a place enjoyed and respected by some, tolerated by others and disliked by a few. The fact that this history of Salamonie is being written 56 years after V- J Day
and 33 years after she was decommissioned proves that she remains in our memories as the scene of some of the most important and impressive events of our lives.
Sailing the North Atlantic in all seasons produced experiences that still remain clear in my mind.
The cold, green color and fishy smell of the Northern waters.
The deep blue color and warm fragrant water of the Gulf Stream.
The startling sight at night of streaks of white bubbles headed toward the ship in the fluorescent Gulf Stream. They looked like torpedo trails, but were caused by dolphins swimming near us.
The steamy exhaust breath of whales seen in the distance.
The smell of land, as we approached New York on return from the British Isles.
The play of dolphins sliding down our bow wave as the ship steamed at 18 knots
The awe inspiring sight of large troop transports pitching in heavy seas and lifting their bows out of the water as far back as the bridge as they threw head seas over the foredeck.
The dramatic night time spectacle of lines of whitecaps and broken clouds
illuminated by moonlight.
The tension of the bridge watch with endless zigzagging in close company with many other ships - watching for their inevitable steering errors, and your own, and frequent emergency turn signals from the commodore.
The danger of maneuvering in convoy on foggy nights, by whistle, and before the guiding eye of radar.
Keeping station on an unseen ship 400 yards ahead, out of sight in fog, by following her fog buoy splashing along to port or starboard of your bridge wing.
The rumble heard from staterooms aft as the twin screws alternately plunged in the water and raced in the air as the ship pitched in heavy seas. The Chief Engineer was alert and
listening, knowing that sometimes such action caused a steamer to "throw a wheel" with consequent loss of control.
The spectacular sight of many- colored Northern Lights over the unlimited horizon of the open northern ocean.
The single mug of hot coffee brought to each person on the bridge watch at 0200, especially welcome on cold winter nights when the mug would warm our gloved hands.
The challenge of fueling at sea in the North Atlantic.
Heavy seas that brought knee-deep water washing around the steam winch operators on the main deck as they tended the heavy looped hose lines.
Hose saddles hitting the water and breaking fueling connections as the Sal and the vessel alongside rolled in the seas. Occasional collisions as the parallel vessels closed and yawed.
Great difficulties in ship handling when three ships were steaming abreast.
Exhaustion felt by all hands after a day of fueling ships along both sides.
Steaming in the Caribbean offered special experiences.
Large water spouts in the Gulf of Mexico.
A white blanket of Portagee Men 0' War, covering the water to the horizon.
Taking bearings on the still burning navigation lights as we rounded the south tip of Florida after sunset - Key Largo - Sombrero Key - Alligator Key - Marathon - Key West.
Tropical breezes while docked in mid-winter at the old refinery in Aruba.
We joined in spirit with Christopher Columbus when sailing his route on either side of Hispaniola via the Windward Passage and the Mona Passage.
Some memorable times in the South Pacific include:
The endless rolling of the ship in the long Pacific swells enroute to New Guinea. At night they produced a steady sway of the foremast in an arc tracing a pattern across the stars
and the Southern Cross.
The alternate odor of jungle rot and perfume of tropical flowers coming off the land to the open bridge as the ship sailed offshore at night parallel to the shoreline in waters of New
The glow on clouds over volcanoes located in waters between New Guinea and the Philippines on what is known as the "Ring of Fire".
The oppressive daytime heat and humidity of New Guinea, and the nighttime heat in staterooms next to the boiler room casing, exacerbated by hot air drawn by a power
ventilator that drew air near the engine room skylights.
The months of short, broken periods of sleep caused by eight hours of bridge watch underway, four hours of routine deck work and two spells at Battle Stations an hour before sunrise to protect against submarines and an hour near sunset to protect against enemy planes.
The picture post card sights of azure lagoons ringed by white coral beaches and behind them, deep- green tropical foliage.
The crystal clear water in some lagoons that revealed reefs and obstacles in calm seas. On one occasion I was sent to the Crow's Nest to "pilot" the ship through the lagoon entrance by phoning my observations of the water colors, to the Captain on the bridge.
Some of us were volunteers; some lifetime professionals and many were draftees. Most of us avoided injury or death, but all gave generously of our youth. All, who served in those
difficult times, deserve your Nation's "Well Done" signal.