Chapter III

The most important defense items on merchant ships were, of course, the guns, but twenty-five additional items were installed in an effort to give the merchant ships the best possible chance of survival. Some of these items, it will be seen, proved unsuccessful and were discarded. These items were: (1) Degaussing (2) Splinter protection (3) Deck strengthening and gun foundations (4) Sky lookout stations (5) Protection of sea chests (6) Certain radio equipment (7) Berthing, messing, and life saving equipment (8) Darkening ship (9) Closure of tonnage openings and extension of water tight bulkheads (10) Inclining ship when necessary because of defense installations (11) Painting ship (12) Installation of barrage balloons (13) Installation of acoustic warning devices (14) Snowflake rocket flares (15) Smoke floats (16) Mark 29 mine (17) Kites (18) Gyro compasses for certain Alaskan vessels (19) Smoke indicators (20) Fueling at sea gear (21) Ordnance storeroom and armory for Armed Guard equipment (22) Course changing clocks (23) Stowage of depth charges on tank ships (24) Portable convoy colored signal lights (25) Ammunition stowage and handling facilities.

It should be noted that three basic considerations governed the installation of defense items on merchant ships: (1) The availability


of equipment (2) the limitations of merchant ships (3) Equipment should be primarily defensive. Not only did the Armed Guard Service face a shortage of trained gunners with the outbreak of war, but also material shortages in guns and other equipment which were only eliminated after months of intense effort and planning. In the early days of the war we were forced to send ships out to the battle zones insufficiently armed and equipped because the material was not yet available. This situation was caused in large part by the failure of long range planning and procurement in the years of peace between the two World Wars. The Neutrality Act was hardly conducive to such long range planning and procurement by the Navy, for this act prohibited the installation of guns on merchant ships, it hardly seems likely that Congress in the long years of peace would have appropriated about $200,000 or more per ship to provide defensive equipment for merchant ships which flew the United States flag. It is to the lasting credit of the Navy and the Nation, and especially to the Arming Merchant Ship Section in the Fleet Maintenance Division of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations that these deficiencies were rapidly overcome and that ships were sent out with the best equipment obtainable within an unbelievably short period of time after the declaration of war.

There was never any intention to give merchant ships the same fighting power as war ships. Their primary duty was to take men and material to the four corners of the world, not to seek out the enemy and wage offensive war. Every effort was made to keep the number of


persons on board merchant ships as low as possible. Whatever we may say about the greater efficiency of military personnel over civilians on ships, the fact remains that the merchant crews were much smaller than the crews the Navy placed on the same vessels when they became Navy auxiliaries. Defensive equipment naturally depended in large part on the space available for Armed Guards and on the essentially defensive nature of their mission.

We shall now discuss the 26 defense installations which were placed aboard merchant ships and see the responsibilities of the Navy and the Maritime Commission with regard to each.



The Navy and merchant ships faced a new and dangerous weapon in World War II in the magnetic mine, but fortunately an effective means of defense had been developed even before our entry into the war. Without describing the many technical problems involved in the operation of the mine and in defense against it, we can indicate the general principles involved. The magnetic mine is normally placed on the bottom of channels and harbors where it remains fixed until swept or exploded. It is exploded by a change in the earth's magnetic field, as when a ship passes over it. A magnetic dip needle adjusted to a horizontal position, centered between two electrical contacts is left free to move in a vertical plane. The magnetic attraction of a ship passing in the vicinity pulls the needle until it touches the contact and completes an electric circuit which detonates the mine. Degaussing coils set up magnetic fields by the action of electric currents which prevent a change in the vertical magnetic field large enough to cause the sensitive needle to complete this electrical circuit. The installation of degaussing coils thus leaves the ship relatively free from the danger of explosion from such mines except in very shallow water.

After many conferences with the Maritime Commission, the Navy on 4 June 1941 developed plans to degauss merchant ships. All United States merchant vessels over 2,000 tone were divided into three groups (1) vessels under construction or to be constructed in the future


(2) Some 375 vessels in operation which would be needed by the Navy in an emergency or whose normal routes of trade gave them a high priority for degaussing equipment. (3) Other vessels operated by their owners or under charter and those the future disposition of which was unknown. Priority for degaussing until adequate supplies of material became available was to go to groups one and two with vessels in group two receiving preference over those of group one if local shortages of material developed. The Chief of Naval Operations was to keep the list of vessels to be needed by the Navy in an emergency revised to date.

The Bureau of Ships was required to furnish additional generating capacity where necessary, degaussing cable, feeder cable, rheostats, fixed resistors, discharge resistors, stuffing tubes, ammeters and connecting cable, terminal strips and terminals, switches, panel material, compass compensating coils, control boxes and connecting cable for same. Stocks of this material were to be maintained in each continental Naval District except the Ninth. The material should remain the property of the Navy during the period of the emergency, after which the Navy would determine the disposition of the equipment. It was also required that BuShips furnish the Maritime Commission with detailed specifications for installation of degaussing equipment on new construction together with firm dates for delivery of degaussing material. With regard to ships already built, BuShips furnished general instructions to Commandants of Naval Districts which permitted the


preparation of detailed specifications locally. BuShips also supplied maintenance instructions for degaussing installations. A suggestion of the Maritime Commission was also accepted that BuShips should act in conjunction with the Maritime Commission to prepare a degaussing document which could be furnished to the owner of the ship. This document would show the ownership of the equipment, the costs to be assessed against the Navy, the Maritime Commission, and the ship owner and would also indicate the number of days the ship would be laid up for degaussing.

The Bureau of Ordnance supplied the Bureau of Ships with necessary design calculations (ampere turns required and coil locations) for all merchant vessels under construction. It furnished complete general instructions to Commandants of Naval Districts to permit design calculations to be made locally for operating vessels selected for degaussing within the districts. It provided complete equipment for wiping, flashing, deperming, and adjustment of the magnetic compass compensating coil. BuOrd also supplied equipment to calibrate degaussed vessels and furnished complete operating instructions for degaussing equipment to the masters of vessels.

The responsibilities of Commandants of Naval Districts were very heavy in the degaussing program. They supplied detailed specifications for the installation of degaussing equipment on operating vessels, based on general instructions from BuShips and BuOrd, and supplied the Maritime Commission with delivery schedules for electrical


material involved. They were responsible for the issue of material to the local Maritime Commission contractors. They were called upon to furnish technical advice and assistance concerning installations and inspected each installation and, with the local representatives of the Maritime Commission, issued a Joint certificate of completeness. The completion of each installation was reported to CNO, BuShips, and BuOrd. Commandants of Naval Districts were responsible for flashing, wiping of degaussed vessels, and for deperming and calibration of degaussed vessels. Each merchant vessel had its degaussing equipment tested and inspected upon entering port. Defects were reported to BuShips and arrangements were made with the local Maritime Commission representative to make repairs in the same manner as in making the original installation except that negligence rendered the party at fault liable to the cost of repair. Magnetic field intensity measurements were made on vessels entering and leaving port wherever such facilities were established. Supervision of the installation of compass compensating coils was also a responsibility of Commandants of Naval Districts and this work must be accomplished to the satisfaction of the Bureau of Maritime Inspection and Navigation.

The Maritime Commission supplied BuShips with hull plans and other essential data needed in preparing degaussing specifications for ships under construction and indicated by priority list the desired order of receipt of these specifications. It made all necessary


arrangements with the builder for installation of the equipment and informed the Commandant of the Naval District regarding quantity, time, and place of delivery of Navy supplied material. Local representatives accompanied naval representatives on inspections of vessels in operation which had a high priority for degaussing equipment and arranged for the installations after receipt of detailed specifications from the Commandant of the Naval District. The Maritime commission participated in inspections of finished installations and made the necessary arrangements to obtain approval of the Bureau of Maritime Inspection and Navigation. It supplied all material not specifically listed to be supplied by the Navy. The Maritime Commission rendered such assistance as was required by the Commandants of Naval Districts in connection with flashing, wiping, deperming, and calibration. It also handled matters which arose concerning marine insurance.

The financial obligation of the Navy in connection with merchant ship degaussing was to supply the material listed above, to pay for the cost of installation and for necessary repairs except in case of neglect. The Navy also maintained flashing, wiping, deperming, and calibration facilities as determined necessary by BuOrd and transferred to the Maritime Commission for overhead one and one half per cent of the monies allotted for installation charges. The Navy did not pay for material installation on vessels to be constructed to Maritime Commission account if the plans approved by the Navy included


degaussing. Nor did it pay for vessels constructed under a Defense Aid allocation nor vessels taken over under a Defense Aid allocation, nor foreign flag vessels repaired by the Maritime Commission on a Defense Aid repair request, nor foreign flag vessels taken over by the United States and assigned directly to service under another foreign flag.

Initial steps were taken to produce material to degauss about 800 ships. Material required to complete merchant ship degaussing received a preference rating of A-1-b or better.1

One of the larger problems in the degaussing program at the beginning was that of availabilities for merchant ships. The Maritime Commission sought to keep delays in operating schedules at a minimum and accordingly favored making degaussing installations a little at a time while the ship was loading and discharging cargo. On 11 June the Navy proposed that this system be changed and that ships either be made available for a complete and uninterrupted degaussing job or that at most the complete installation be made in two separate periods. As soon as the installation was completed the ship should be calibrated, for the degaussing equipment could not operate effectively until the ship was calibrated.2 The Maritime Commission, however, did not


wish to adopt this suggestion as an inflexible procedure. The Navy was asked if it was willing to pay fair compensation to owners for time lost in accomplishing degaussing work. 3 The Navy, of course, gave a negative reply to this  question. It insisted that at least the main degaussing cables should be installed at a single availability.4 There continued to be some disagreement between the Maritime Commission and the Bureau of Ships on the extent of the degaussing, with BuShips standing for a thorough job and the Maritime Commission insisting that the ships could not be laid up for a long period. On 29 September 1941 BuShips and BuOrd by joint letter authorized Commandants of Naval Districts to make decisions regarding the type of degaussing until further instructions were received from the Chief of Naval Operations. At a conference between representatives of the Ship Movements and Fleet Maintenance Divisions in Operations, the Bureau of Ordnance, the Bureau of Ships, the Bureau of Navigation, and the Maritime Commission on 7 October it was decided that BuShips, BuOrd, and the Maritime Commission should try to work out an agreement on the extent of degaussing which could be readily accomplished before another conference was held.5

With the abolition of District Material Officers on 1 May 1942


degaussing came under the cognizance of the Commandant of the Navy Yard in each Naval District. Where two Navy Yards existed in a district, the Commandant in the city where the District Commandant was located would take over degaussing duties. Where no Navy Yard existed in a district the office of Industrial Manager United States Navy was established. The Commandant of a Navy Yard on the Industrial Manager could delegate responsibility for degaussing to the Supervisors of Shipbuilding at private yards.6

In May, 1942 the decision was reached that A coils would not be installed on merchant ships. Vessels under 62 foot beam would only receive the M coil. Vessels over 62 foot beam would receive M, F, and Q coils in accordance with BuOrd instructions, but all short M loops would be omitted from all M coils. This directive represented a considerable saving in time, money, and valuable material. A coils were installed in new construction if installation work had been started prior to 10 September 1942.7

On 24 August 1942 Op-23L ruled that Commandants of Naval Districts could hold up the sailing of ships whose magnetic condition made their voyage unsafe. But it was also pointed out that the urgency of shipments at times made it necessary to take serious risks with degaussed



In October, 1942, VCNO made a number of suggestions concerning degaussing procedure which were designed to avoid unnecessary delay in sailing dates. The elimination of unnecessary delay was especially important in view of the magnitude which the task of degaussing merchant ships was assuming. In June, 1942 the Maritime Commission decided that even merchant ships operating in coastal waters and ships under 2,000 gross toms should be degaussed. Where it was not practicable to degauss these vessels, they were to be depermed at regular intervals.9 VCNO suggested that more complete use of existing facilities might be achieved by using magnetic survey ranges at night and even by conducting calibrations at night where warranted by safety considerations. Mobile deperming units might also be used and the Vice Chief of Naval Operations was considering establishing such units at Philadelphia, Galveston, and San Pedro. There should be close liaison between the Degaussing Officer and the Port Director so that coordination of degaussing services with other ship activities could be achieved. Masters should be furnished with degaussing information and instructions and this could be best effected by giving this information when they


visited the Routing Office. Ships should be furnished with values of current to be used so that in an emergency these could be used rather than the values obtained by calibration runs. In general, ships should only be delayed for calibration or deperming if sailing to a port or area where magnetic mines were known to exist. Where it was known that the compass had become unreliable the Routing Officer might authorize the master to turn off the degaussing coils when in the immediate vicinity of extraordinary navigational dangers.10

The Navy made serious efforts to keep merchant ship masters informed so that they could correct deviations in their magnetic compasses caused by degaussing, splinter protection, and the nature of the cargo which they carried. Compass demonstrations stations were established in each Naval District for this purpose. Instruction was offered at New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Norfolk, Charleston, New Orleans, Guantanamo Bay, San Pedro, Seattle, Cristobal, Boston, Portland (Maine), Mobile, Galveston, San Juan, Trinidad, San Francisco, Portland (Oregon), Pearl Harbor, and Honolulu. Port Directors were charged with making arrangements for the attendance of the master or his navigating officers.11

After the end of the war it was the policy of the Navy that ships should continue to be degaussed if operating in areas where


there was a danger from magnetic mines. The War Shipping Administration could discontinue degaussing on vessels which would no longer operate in magnetic mine danger areas. Degaussing equipment could be left on board such vessels or otherwise disposed of at the discretion of the War Shipping Administration. All new construction vessels suitable for use as naval auxiliaries should have space allocated for the installation of degaussing equipment.12

The last instruction to Armed Guard officers concerning degaussing stated that the master was responsible for the proper operation of the ship's degaussing equipment. The Armed Guard officer should note the operation of the degaussing system from time to time in order to be familiar with it and to be able to report upon its operation if not satisfactory. Prior to 8 June 1944 the Armed Guard officer was required to check a degaussing questionnaire answered by the master. If the Armed Guard officer differed with the master he was to attach his comments to the questionnaire and also send a copy of his comments with his voyage report.13


Deck Strengthening and Gun Foundations

Efforts to provide adequate gun foundations and deck strengthening for merchant ships were handicapped by lack of early planning and by a lack of appreciation of what the ultimate armament needs of merchant ships would be. Thus a problem which for years should have been almost automatically arranged at the builder's yard suddenly assumed great importance when the ultimate decision to place guns on merchant ships was made.

On 23 June 1941 the Bureau of Ships indicated to the Maritime Commission that provision should be made for installation of the following guns on vessels which had not been marked for acquisition by the Navy:

(1) Oil Tankers of over 80,000 barrels capacity should have foundations for two 4"/50 guns, one on the center line forward and one on the center line aft. They should also have four .50 cal. machine guns mounted on the bridge structure on on top of the pilot house.

(2) Oil tankers of 10,000 or more barrels capacity should have two 3"/50 AA guns and two .50 cal. machine guns.

(3) Cargo vessels above 2,000 gross tons should have 4"/50 guns mounted on the quarter line forward and the center line aft. They should also have four .50 cal. machine guns mounted in the vicinity of the bridge or on top of the pilot house.

(4) Passenger and cargo vessels over 400 feet in length should have a 5"/50 single purpose gun mounted on the center line at the stern and four 3"/50 AA guns, one on each bow and one on each quarter.


In addition four .50 cal. machine guns should be installed in the vicinity of the bridge or on the top of the pilot house. Plans for the necessary structural work in connection with the gun foundations had already been furnished to the Maritime Commission.14

It should be pointed out that the realities of war and the shortage of guns brought out armament plans which were different from those envisaged by BuShips in June, 1941. The BuShips letter was, in fact, cancelled 29 August 1941 by a SecNav letter which indicated the gun foundations and deck strengthening desired on merchant vessels under construction, and for merchant vessels built but not marked for acquisition by the Navy.15 Since this letter was in turn modified by a SecNav letter of 27 October 1941, the plans for gun foundations as they finally emerged on this date will now be described.

I  Vessels under construction

(a) Cargo Vessels

(1) Types C-2, C-3, C-2/C-3, and similar privately owned vessels should have a foundation for a 6" broad side gun on the centerline aft to take a 4", 5", or 6" gun. They should receive deck strengthening for four 3"/50 AA guns and should have foundations for four 20 mm guns (eight .50 cal. guns might be used).

(2) Type C-1 and similar privately owned vessels should receive a foundation for a 4" broad side gun on the center line aft to take either a 4" or a 3" /50 AA gun. There should be a deck strengthening for a 4" broadside gun on the center


line forward to take either a 4" or a 3"/50 AA gun. Foundations should be provided for four 20 mm guns (eight .50 cal. guns might be used).

(b) Tankers privately constructed

(1) If over 80,000 barrels capacity there should be a foundation on the center line aft to take either a 4" or a 3"/50 gun. Deck strengthening should be provided on the center line forward to take either a 4" of a 3"/50 gun. Foundations should be provided for four 20 mm guns (eight .50 cal. guns might be used).

(c) Combination passenger and cargo vessels

(1) Type C-3 P&C, Spec. P&C, and similar privately owned vessels should have a foundation for a 6" broad side gun on the center line aft to take a 4", 5", or 6" gun. Deck strengthening should be provided for four 3"/50 AA guns and foundations should be supplied for eight 20 mm guns (16 of the .50 cal. guns might be used).

II  Vessels already built and not marked for acquisition by the Navy

(a) Cargo vessels over 2,000 gross tons should have gun foundations and deck strengthening for a 4"/50 broad side gun or a 3"/50 AA gun on the center line aft and a 3"/50 AA gun on the center line forward. They should also have foundations for four 20 mm or eight .50 cal. guns.

(b) Tankers over 80,000 barrels capacity should have the same armament as above cargo vessels. If between 10,000 and 80,000 barrels capacity they should have a 3"/50 AA gun foundation on the center line aft and foundations for two 20 mm or four .50 cal. guns.

(c) Combination passenger and cargo vessels

(1) Over 400' in length should have gun foundations and deck strengthening for four 3"/50 AA guns and for four 20 mm or eight .50 cal. guns.

(2) Ships over 2,000 gross tons and less than 400' long


should be fitted for two 3"/50 AA guns on the center line and four 20 mm or eight .50 cal. guns.

In general four .30 cal. guns were to be mounted on the bridge of each ship armed.16

A major change in the directive of 27 October came on 14 February 1942 when the time and labor necessary to construct gun platforms forward on vessels of the 5,000-10,000 class already built was eliminated.17 On 30 April 1942 the Maritime Commission was advised to provide for the installation of 5"/38 D.P. guns on all new construction. On C-1 and EC-2 ships and tankers over 80,000 barrels capacity the gun foundation and deck strengthening should be suitable for installation of a 5"/38 D.P. gun and the working circle should be 26' in order to accommodate a 5"/51 gun if necessity forced its installation.18 On C-1A and C-1B ships it was necessary to raise the 5"/38 platform eight feet and to raise the 20 mm platforms seven feet above the main deck.19 On 2 October 1942 the installation of a 3"/50 AA gun on the bow of the C-2 and its subclasses was authorized even though these ships were less than the 10,000 deadweight tons specified for this armament in the directive of 14 February 1942.20 It should be pointed out that when two 3"/50 AA guns were mounted on the after end of troop


transports their foundations were located forward and at least eight feet above the 5"/38 gun platform. Some C-1, C-1A, and C-1B ships were actually fitted with gun platforms on the bow suitable for 6" guns, but since Navy directives did not call for the installation of such guns on the bows of merchant ships, directions were given to discontinue this practice and fit the ships to take a 3"/AA gun forward.21

The best summary of deck strengthening and gun foundations in the memo. for File of Op-414-D3 of 29 March 1946 which is reproduced as Appendix V.


Splinter Protection

The original intention of the Navy Department was that splinter protection should be installed only for the protection of the bridge and the machine guns.22 But in practice splinter protection was also generally supplied to bow and stern guns and to the radio room. In the absence of an overall directive from CNO on the subject, there appears to have been some variation in the installations. But the following general characteristics applied and became standard for merchant ships. For .50 cal. and 20 mm guns the sides of gun tubs were made of poured plastic armor, 2 1/2 inches thick and later of panels 2- 23/32" thick. The latter were formed by pouring plastic material into a steel tray of 20-gauge sheet metal and welding this on a 3/16 inch medium steel backing plate.23 The standard height of the splinter protection for 20 mm machine guns became 37". This allowed depression of the gun 5°, which was the accepted standard for all guns on merchant ships. Two sighting steps were installed in the gun tub in such a manner that a gunner following a target would step down and elevate his gun whenever there was danger that his gun had been brought to bear on his own ship.24 For 3"/50 bow guns the standard protection was 3/8 inch steel 46 1/2 inches high, with the after part of the


splinter shield left open to give ready access to ready service ammunition and to allow quick drainage of the splinter shield in heavy seas. For 5"/38 stern guns the shield was of 5/8 inch ship steel, 54" in height.25 It was also found desirable to leave open the portion of the gun shield nearest the forward portion of the ship in order to facilitate passing ammunition and to provide ready drainage of the 5"/38 tub. The 5"/38 splinter protection was omitted in cases where the gun was mounted on the weather deck to permit the ready leads of mooring and towing hawsers.26 The 4"/50, 5"/51, 5"/50, and 3"/23 guns generally received appropriate splinter protection. The .30 cal. guns mounted on the bridge were not given splinter protection. It also became necessary to supply splinter protection for the hydrogen containers which were used in inflation of barrage balloons.


Sky Lookout Stations

On 29 August 1941 the Secretary of the Navy forwarded to the Chairman of the Maritime Commission BuShips Plan No. 417312 which showed the type of sky lookout stations desired on merchant ships. These stations were to be built according to the size of the crew. Ships with a crew complement of over 400 were to have four stations; ships with a compliment of 100 to 400 were to have two stations; ships with a complement of less than 100 were to have one station.27 This decision was reaffirmed on 27 October.28 But sky lookout stations were not very useful on merchant ships, especially in view of the limited naval personnel available to defend the ship and stand watches. In June, 1944 the Commanding Officer of the Armed Guard Gunnery School at New York was directed to question 100 Armed Guard officers returning from sea for refresher courses concerning use of the sky lookout stations.29 Inquiries which he addressed to 60 officers revealed that in all but six cases these stations were not being used because their location aft of the stack restricted vision to a very limited area.30 It is also true that insufficient personnel were available to relieve the watch often enough to prevent drowsiness or even sleep. On 24 August 1944 installation of sky lookout stations was stopped on all new construction merchant vessels.31



The armament mounted on merchant ships in World War II was largely  determined by two basic factors; the guns available which they could carry and use most effectively, and the degree of danger in the area in which the ship would operate. When serious shortages of guns existed in the early months of the war preference went to ships which assumed greatest risks, as for example, those ships operating in North Russian waters. Ships carrying troops were naturally given all possible protection. Where the choice lay between giving a gun to a cargo ship and a ship serving as a transport there could be no doubt where the gun should go. While the first year of the war was the critical one in the arming of merchant ships, the gun shortage continued to January, 1945. In the years after 1942 much progress was made toward improving and standardizing armament for merchant ships. Emphasis shifted from the single purpose to the dual purpose weapons and a simple but effective cartwheel sight was adopted for all guns. The standard armament for the average merchant ship or tanker operating in zones of great danger became one 5"/38 D.P. gun aft, one 3"/50 AA gun forward and eight 20 mm machine guns. There were, of course, many variations depending on the initial armament which was supplied to the ship and her type. Where a 3", 4"/50, 5"/50, or 5"/51 gun had been initially installed on the stern of a ship this gun was not replaced by the 5"/38 D.P. gun. The principle difference in the armament of cargo and transports was that transports received one to three additional 3"/50 AA guns and large C-4


transports received 14, rather than 8, 20 mm guns. All troop transports carrying 500 or more troops were armed with four 3"/50 AA guns in addition to the stern gun and eight, ten, twelve, or fourteen 20 mm guns.

To describe in detail every directive concerning guns on merchant ships would be rather futile. It should be remembered that many of these early directives were of an emergency or temporary nature. They prove nothing more than that we were caught short in the early days of the war and did our best to use what we had. Of much greater importance is the picture of the final armament which proved so effective in keeping submarines from surfacing and in beating off hundreds of plane attacks. If the story of early merchant ships sinkings even along our coasts is one of the most pathetic in the history of war, the story of the defense which our merchant ships were ultimately able to put up against enemy attacks is one of the most glorious. This defense is elequent [eloquent] testimony to the skill with which the program of arming ships was handled after centralized control and direction was established.

It has already been indicated that the program to supply gun foundations and deck strengthening was well under way long before the decision to install guns on merchant ships. The first important directive on guns was dated 27 October 1941. This directive stated the initial armament to be placed on merchant ships operating in critical areas in the event that the arming of merchant vessels was authorized. It also established relative priorities by areas of armament. The


highest priority was to go to 40 ships operating in Area 1, the North Atlantic to Europe and Iceland. These ships were to receive two 3"/50 AA guns, four .50 cal. machine guns, and four .30 cal. machine guns. The next highest priority was to go to 100 ships operating in Area 2, the Red Sea and Eastern Mediterranean. These ships should receive the same armament as those in area 1, except that installation of the 3"/50 forward could be delayed until such time as these guns were available. Area 3 ships were defined as those traveling along the west coast of Africa north of 10° S. and included 10 ships. These ships were to have a 4"/50 S.P. aft, two 3"/23 D.P. forward and outboard, four .50 cal. and four .30 cal. machine guns. For 125 ships operating in Area 4, the East Coast of South America, Greenland, the Indian Ocean, and the West Coast of South America south of 10° S. the armament was to be one 4"/50 S.P. aft, and eight .30 cal. machine guns. When .50 cal. machine guns were available, four were to replace four of the .30 cal. machine guns. The armament proposed for 110 trans Pacific ships operating west of Hawaii (Area 5) consisted of two 4"/50 S.P. guns, one forward and one aft and for the largest vessels two 3"/23 D.P. guns outboard amidships. Arming of ships in Area 5 was not to be done without specific authority, but structural work was to be accomplished as rapidly as the ships became available. This initial plan to arm 375 ships was based on the guns available or to become available in a period of four months required to arm the ships. The 5"/51 S.P. gun could be substituted for 4"/50 guns if


the latter were not available. It was the original intention of the Navy Department to replace 5"/51, 4"/50, and 3"/23 guns with the 3"/50 AA guns in most cases and to replace .50 cal. machine guns with 20 mm guns when they became available. It was recognized that stability and structural arrangements might cause reductions in the proposed armament.32

On 4 November 1941 BuShips outlined the ammunition stowage to be provided for all types of guns listed above. Ready service ammunition stowage was itemized and reserve ammunition was expected to be about four times the amount of ready service ammunition. The ready service stowage was as follows: .30 cal. – 3,000 rounds, .50 cal. – 1,000 rounds, 3"/23 or 3"/50 – 48 rounds, 4"/50 – 25 rounds, 5"/51 – 25 rounds. The reserve ammunition was to be stowed in a ventilated, locked enclosure with sprinkler system below the weather deck in as cool a location as possible.33

On 18 November, the day after the repeal of the Neutrality Act, orders went out from the Chief of Naval Operations to begin arming ships according to the directive of 27 October except for ships operating in the Pacific West of Hawaii.34 On 17 November the Secretary of Commerce had amended the regulations governing explosives


and other dangerous articles on board merchant vessels to allow the armament of ships.35 The Bureau of Ordnance issued a directive to Commandants of Naval Districts concerned with arming merchant ships which required them to maintain close liaison with local representatives of the Maritime Commission, to issue armament on loan, and to render assistance in assuring that guns were ready to operate. Spare parts, except for extractors and firing pins, would not be issued.36

The gun situation was immediately so tight that CNO modified the armament directive of 27 October four days after the installation of guns was authorized. Ships operating in the North Atlantic to Europe and Iceland and ships operating in the Red Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean could have either two 3"/50, four .50 cal. and four .30 cal. guns or four 20 mm, four .30 cal. and one 4"/50 S.P. If the last mentioned gun was not available a 5"/51 could be installed on large ships. If neither the two 3"/50 or 20 mm guns were available at least one 3"/50 must be installed aft.37 Actually the priority demands for 20 mm guns were so great that none were available for merchant ships prior to April, 1942.38

The arming of merchant ships had hardly started when the Japanese


struck Pearl Harbor39 and an emergency situation of the first order was created in the arming program. Two days later an emergency arming program was promulgated. It should be noted that this program did not supersede the plans for ultimate armament as embodied in the directive of 27 October; it represented an attempt to meet a crisis with limited material and to stabilize conditions until such time as adequate guns became available. All sea routes except those along the coasts of the United States and Canada and to the West Indies were divided into two groups. Area 1 included trans-Atlantic voyages to Europe, Iceland, and the Red Sea and all trans-Pacific voyages west of Hawaii. United States merchant ships operating in this area were to receive two 3"/50 AA guns where available. If such guns were not available they were to receive one single purpose gun either 3", 4", or 5". In addition they were to receive eight machine guns. Where possible they were to receive four .50 cal. guns and four .30 cal. guns, but if the .50 cal. weapon was not available all eight machine guns should be .30 cal. Plans to substitute 20 mm guns for 3"/50 guns when the latter were not available were indefinitely deferred because it was realized that it would be some time before the 20 mm gun became available for merchant ships. Other shipping routes, with the


exceptions noted above were included in Area 2. Vessels traveling to South and Central America, to the west coast of Africa, and to Hawaii and Alaska were to receive one single purpose, 3", 4", or 5" gun and the same machine guns as were assigned to ships operating in Area 1.40 On 13 December wide authority to make on the spot decisions regarding gun locations, as well as accommodations for Armed Guards, without reference to the Material Bureaus was delegated to Commandants of Naval Districts.41

On 20 December naval vessels, coast guard vessels, merchant vessels, and Army transports (excluding vessels assigned to Local Defense Forces) were placed in the same priority for receiving 3"/50 AA guns. Assignment of guns was to be based solely on sailing dates. Only AVD's were to have a higher priority for these guns. Local Defense Force vessels were to receive 3"/23 D.P. guns until such time as other demands for the 3"/50 had been satisfied.42

The submarine menace quickly forced the Navy to extend Area 2 to include shipping routes along the coasts of the United States and Canada and to the West Indies. This decision was reached on 24 December. However, the installation of machine guns was not then authorized for ships operating in these local waters and six-pounders could be substituted for 3" guns.43


On 24 December the decision was reached that Army and Navy transports traveling in Area 1 should have identical  armament, namely a 4" or 5" single purpose gun aft, four 3"/50 D.P. guns, and a minimum of four .50 cal. or eight .30 cal. machine guns. The armament for Area 2 Army transports was to be the same except that no 3"/50 guns were to be supplied. It is interesting to note that the original intention of the Navy was that the Army would man all guns on its transports.44

The original position of the Navy was that its responsibility for the actual installation of defense items extended only to telling the Maritime Commission what should be installed, supplying the material, and showing how the installation should be made. After repeated requests from the Maritime Commission to waive installation of various defense items because of the urgent need for the services of various ships, the Secretary of the Navy informed the Chairman of the Maritime Commission on 27 December that it was outside the province of the Navy to determine whether ships should be delayed for authorized installations. This matter was a responsibility of the Maritime Commission alone.45 Later the Navy modified its position somewhat when it decided that a Commandant of a Naval District could hold up the sailing of a vessel which was not properly degaussed. But the position


was maintained that installation of defense items was a primary responsibility of the Commission. The position of the Maritime Commission at the beginning was that it could arm about 100 merchant ships a month,46 a figure which was later substantially increased.

In December, 1941 and January 1942 the magnitude of the task of arming merchant ships became all too clear. It also was becoming increasingly apparent that there were not enough guns available or which could be made available in the next year to do the job. The best British estimate as of 15 December, after they had armed 4,047 ships, was that their own new construction and the arming of allied merchant ships would amount to 2,935 vessels still to be armed.47 This meant that the United States would be called upon to aid in arming many allied merchant vessels. By 23 January it was estimated that 802 foreign flag vessels were available to be armed. We had armed only 108 ships to this date, including 44 United States owned foreign flag vessels. There still remained 1,126 United States vessels of over 1,000 gross tons to be armed and new construction for 1942 and 1943 was expected to swell this total to 2,926. While BuOrd late in December had estimated that 1,767 single purpose 3", 4", and 5" guns were available, including a large number not yet assembled, the


estimate of 23 January 1942 was that 1,159 broadside guns were all that were available and that no more could be produced without interfering with AA gun production. There were 354 six pounders available. Of the 7,500 3"/50 AA guns on order, the British were to get 15%. Production of this gun had reached 125 a month by January and was expected eventually to reach 225 a month. It was expected that 1,200 would become available in 1942 and 3,555 by 1 July 1943. Deliveries of .50 and .30 cal. machine guns by the Army were insufficient to keep up with demand. The fact that 12,400 of the 20 mm guns were on order and that a contract was being negotiated for 8,000 more was of no immediate help, for production was just starting. There would be none available for merchant vessels until about the middle of of 1942. The Navy had two choices. It could arm all United States merchant vessels by the end of 1942 or it could arm its most important vessels and 40 foreign vessels a month. The decision was reached to follow the latter course and CNO recommended to the Secretary that the Maritime Commission be authorized to defer temporarily the arming of small United States merchant ships when their cargos or sailing routes placed them in a low priority.48

On 13 January the allowance for machine guns on Area 1 ships was


cut from eight to six and for Area 2 ships from eight to either four or two, depending on such factors as size of the vessel and the nature of her cargo. The main gun on Area 2 ships could be either a 5", 4", 3", 6 pounder, 3 pounder, or 1 pounder depending on the size of the ship and the nature of her cargo.49

The decision was quickly reached that Honduran flag vessels should have the same armament as United States vessels operating in Area 2 and that Philippine ships should be armed under the same procedure as United States vessels. Unarmed foreign flag merchant vessels other than British which came to United States ports could be armed, up to 40 a month, if they met three conditions. (1) The government whose flag the ship flew must make a request direct to the Maritime Commission. (2) The Maritime Commission must recommend arming the ship. (3) The vessel must come under Lend-Lease or make other arrangements to pay for defense items other than guns and ammunition. Allied flag ships were to receive the same armament as United States ships operating in the same area. Not only did this program make necessary the deferment of the arming of small United States ships, it also made it desirable to remove guns from ships which were to be laid up for long periods so that guns could be mounted on ships which were ready for sea.50


On January 1942 the Maritime Commission worked out a procedure for securing guns for vessels under construction. The Inspection Section of the Construction Division was to prepare a weekly report for the General Division of Shipping showing the scheduled delivery dates of vessels within the next 45 days, based upon the latest available information. The General Director of Shipping determined the allocation and trade routes and advised the Navy Department, which at first instructed the Commandant of the Naval District to stand ready to furnish guns for the vessel as required for the area involved. Soon this procedure was simplified by providing a pool of guns in each Naval District from which guns could be withdrawn for arming both new construction and vessels in operation.

With severe shortages in guns, the most careful planning by the Navy Department was necessary in order to make guns available for ships which needed them most. Of great value in planning the Monthly Progress Reports by the Maritime Commission, later broken down into a permanent Report of completed Ship Construction Contracts and a Current Report of Progress. The Ship Construction program sheets, with limited distribution, but eventually made available to Op-23L, BuShips, and BuOrd, kept the entire long range program for construction revised to date and were invaluable in making calculations as to the numbers of guns and other defense items required.

The almost daily lists of "Additional Vessels Ordered Available


for Installation Defense Features" gave a clear picture of work to be done in the immediate future in making defense installations and enabled the Navy Department to anticipate shortages at given localities and make arrangements to relieve these shortages. Shortly after the middle of each month the Arming Merchant Vessel Section compiled a summary of gun requirements for the following month which was of great help to BuOrd in planning to satisfy these requirements.51 While there was centralized control of supplies of material in Washington, the actual arrangements for armament were made locally between representatives of the Maritime Commission and District Material Officers and / or Port Directors (later Industrial managers, and / or Port Directors). In most cases guns were issued to the representative of the Maritime Commission by the District Ordnance Officers.

Of far reaching importance was the directive from the Chief of Naval Operations on 14 February that Commandants of Naval Districts at the earliest opportunity make arrangements and prepare plans for the armament and other defense features of all United States flag or


United States owned ships. The vessel should receive a copy of the plans and estimates so that actual armament could take place at another port if necessary.52

On the same date the armament on merchant vessels was reduced in order to meet the demands of allied nations for guns on their ships. Considerable authority was delegated to Commandants of Naval Districts to review requests for guns and to allocate them to those ships whose needs appeared most urgent. This was a departure from the established procedure that the Maritime Commission would designate the ships to be armed. Area 1 was now to include trans-Atlantic voyages to Europe and Iceland and voyages to the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Dutch East Indies, Australia, and all trans-Pacific voyages west of Hawaii. Ships were divided into three categories according to deadweight tonnage. (1) Ships above 10,000 deadweight tons operating in Area 1 were to receive a 4"/50 or 5" gun aft, a 3"/50 AA gun forward, four .50 cal. and two .30 cal. machine guns. Two of the .50 cal. guns were to be mounted for firing aft, preferably near the stern. (2) Ships from 5,000 to 10,000 deadweight tons operating in this area received the same machine guns but were to have only a 4"/50 aft and no dual purpose gun forward. (3) The armament for ships in Area 1 of from 2,000 to 5,000 tons consisted of a 3"/50 AA gun aft and


the same number of machine guns supplied to the larger ships. In all cases the .30 cal. guns were to be mounted on the bridge. Area 2 was defined to include all sea routes not included in Area 1. Area 2 ships of over 10,000 tons were to receive a 4"/50 or 5' gun aft and two .50 cal. machine guns. Ships between 5,000 and 10,000 tons received a 4"/50 aft and two .30 cal. guns on the bridge. Area 2 ships of 2,000 to 5,000 tons received a 3"/50 AA gun aft and two .30 cal. guns on the bridge. This directive was designed to conserve the supply of 4"/50 guns, since replacements were not anticipated. The Bureau of Ordinance had not yet decided to produce barrels for a number of 4" mounts, a decision which later brought a substantial increase in the number of guns available. Where gun foundations were not suited to take the guns specified above, guns should be mounted to fit the foundations already installed. It was still planned to replace some of the .50 cal. guns with two 20 mm guns per ship after 1 July 1952.53

An important conference between the director and other representatives of Fleet Maintenance Division, and BuOrd on 4 March reached several decisions regarding the arming of merchant ships. BuOrd was to take all possible steps to recondition 3" single purpose and 4" guns which were primarily in demand at New York, Baltimore, and New Orleans. The new 3"/50 guns were to be held as long as the 3" and 4" guns were available.


Wherever structural conditions permitted the 5"/51 was to be installed. Vessels in the coastwise coal trade were to receive six pounders. Encouraging news came from BuOrd representatives that 20 mm guns might be available by May of June. At this time the principal difficulties in arming ships were experienced with foreign vessels not on the list to be armed. More than once the Maritime Commission had informed the Navy that such vessels fully ready to sail should have guns installed at the last moment.54 BuOrd directed on 17 April that 5"/50 or 5"/51 guns should be installed on merchant ships wherever possible so that the supply of 4"/50 guns could be conserved for smaller vessels which were unable to mount a 5" gun.55

When 20 mm guns became available much earlier that had been anticipated, CNO directed on 22 April that four should be installed on ships for North Russia, India, and Australia and that ships traveling to these areas should have the same priority for these guns as Navy ships. Area 1 vessels were to have priority over Area 2 vessels for all types of armament.56

Faced with the prospect that the existing supply of 4" and 5" single purpose guns would be exhausted by August or September and that some 3,000 additional 4" or 5" guns would be needed to meet known


requirements through 1945, the Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance named a special board to consider the whole question of supplying a suitable stern gun for merchant ships. This board decided that the development of a new design would take 18 months and that new 4"/50 or 5"/51 guns could not be produced in less than a year. Accordingly, the decision was reached, after consultation with representatives of CominCh, CNO, and the General Board, that a modification of the 5"/38, Mark 30 should be installed as a temporary measure. This was a hand elevated, hand trained, power rammed gun, later superseded by the Mark 37 which was power elevated, trained, and rammed. This decision, as we have seen, raised an entirely new problem in the Armed Guard program, for each 5"/38 required a specially trained man to maintain it. The BuOrd decision was approved by CNO on 5 May. BuShips was instructed to provide the Maritime Commission with plans for deck strengthening.57

The Maritime Commission was asked on 30 April to provide the necessary gun foundations and deck strengthening for the 5"/38 on C-1 and EC-2 ships and on tankers of over 80,000 barrels. A working circle 26' in diameter should be provided so that a 5"/51 could be installed if necessary. Many vessels, notably the C-2 and C-3 types, were already being fitted to take 6" guns if necessary. It was even thought possible at this time that 5"/50 or 5"/51 broadside guns might have to


be substituted for the 4"/50 gun on all vessels which were able to mount the larger gun.58

By 15 May the 20 mm gun situation had improved to the extent that four of these guns could now be authorized for Area 1 ships, with 1,200 rounds of ammunition per gun. Tankers to Great Britain were given the same priority as ships to North Russia, India and Australia for the installation of these guns.59

A substantial increase in the armament of ships for North Russia was ordered on 4 June 1942. Ships of over 10,000 deadweight tons were now to have eight 20 mm guns in addition to a 4"/50 or 5" stern gun and a 3"/50 AA gun forward. Ships of between 5,000 and 10,000 deadweight tons were to have the same armament except that the stern gun would be a 4"/50. The ammunition allowance for 20 mm guns was set at 2,400 per gun. Ammunition for machine guns was available at Iceland. Where the supply of 20 mm guns was not adequate and .50 cal. guns were left aboard ships for Russia the ammunition allowance was to be 2,000 rounds per gun, which was increased to 5,000 rounds on June 22.60


By 17 June BuOrd had developed plans to procure 3,000 of the 5"/38, Mark 37 guns for merchant ships. Deliveries were to start not later than October.61 In August BuShips supplied the necessary plans for welded foundations and ready service lockers. The Navy agreed to supply the gun mount support ring for these guns.62 The first 5"/38 was placed aboard the Ralph Izard on 23 September.63 But production of the gun lagged behind expectations. By October it was estimated that only 94 would be available to the end of the year instead of  the most optimistic estimate of 178 made in the latter part of August.64 A shortage of hand wheel brackets slowed output of the Mark 30 and production of the Mark 37 was held up by the failure of the roller path lubrication system.65 It was evident that little dependence could be placed on production of this weapon prior to 1943.

Meanwhile the grim battle to supply guns to merchant ships from inadequate stocks went on with unabated fury. On 11 July a new demand for 20 mm guns came with the inclusion of waters west of Skagway in Area 1 and directions to substitute four 20 mm guns for a like number of .50 cal. weapons on these ships.66 Next day strict directions went out that all new construction and existing vessels over 10,000


dead weight tons must take 5" guns so that the dwindling supply of 4" weapons would be saved for ships which could not take the larger gun.67 By 25 July the supply of 4"/50 and 5"/51 guns available for merchant ships had dwindled to 195.68 There were a number of 4"/51 mounts but no barrels for those mounts. It is true that BuOrd eventually decided to produce new monoblock barrels for these mounts, but not until May, 1943 did the first of these become available. The hard facts were that by the end of August, 1942 there were still some 340 ships in commission to be armed, plus 68 United States owned foreign flag vessels, plus vessels being built, which to the end of the year would number 315. And the best estimate of all 4" and 5" guns which could be made available to 1 January 1943 numbered only 559. After that date it was anticipated that only 352 of the 4"/50 guns would remain unassigned and that these would only become available at the rate of 40 a month. This estimate did not include the new barrels which BuOrd later decided to manufacture. The 3"/50 AA gun situation was also tight and the supply was by no means adequate. For September alone 272 of


these guns were needed.69

The decision was reached on 14 August to spread the existing supply of guns very thin by installing either a 5" D.P. or a 3" AA gun on each ship, but not both. Exceptions to the above were ships going to North Russia and tankers of over 80,000 barrels capacity operating to the United Kingdom. Where a 3"/50 gun was installed aft and no heavy gun was provided forward, and extra 20 mm gun was to be substituted forward. Unarmed vessels could sail in convoy where the urgency of the cargo demanded such action except to North Russia. But the supply of machine guns permitted some armament and there was the possibility of removing guns from sides of ships which were to be kept in port for some time and installing these guns on ships which were ready for sea.70 This procedure, of course, involved much extra work and it was followed only rarely.

Recognition that the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf were becoming crucial areas of operations came with the directive


to increase the ammunition allowance for .50 cal. guns on ships operating in these areas from 1,000 to 3,000 rounds on 19 August.71 As the output of 20 mm guns continued to be good, it was possible to place more of these guns on ships operating in dangerous areas. By 22 September 610 merchant ships had received 2,388 of these guns.72 Installation of the .30 cal. guns was stopped on Area 1 ships on 7 October and orders were issued to remove these guns from ships which were supplied with four .50 cal. and four 20 mm guns.73 Ships operating to the Mediterranean or Red Seas after 9 October were to be supplied with eight 20 mm guns if they were over 5,000 deadweight tons. In addition, ships of from 5,000 to 10,000 deadweight tons were to receive a 3"/50 AA gun where structure permitted. Ammunition allowances were increased for the Red Sea and the Mediterranean theaters. The allowance for each 3"/50 was now 150 rounds and for each 20 mm 2,400 rounds. Ships for these areas were given the same priority for guns and other defense installations as ships for North Russia.74 On 29 October the same armament changes were ordered for ships sailing to the


Persian Gulf and to India,75 and on 6 and 14 November for ships sailing to the United Kingdom.76 The ammunition allowance for 20 mm guns on ships sailing to North Russia from Iceland was increased to 5,000 per gun on 26 October. Ammunition in excess of 2,400 rounds per gun was to be left at Iceland on the return trip.77

The operating areas where danger of attack was most likely, including North Russia, the United Kingdom, West Africa, the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Indian Ocean were designated Area 1-A on 14 November. All new construction on the East and Gulf coasts was to be fitted to mount the armament approved for the most dangerous areas.78 Waters west of Hawaii and Alaskan waters west of Skagway were included in Area 1-A on 7 December 1942, but the ammunition allowance for 20 mm guns in these waters was to be only 1,200 rounds per gun. The allowance for .50 cal. guns


was set at 3,000 rounds.79

The question of armament for freighters which were to carry up to 200 troops came up in the fall of 1942. It was decided that such ships should have a four or five inch gun, two three inch fifties, and eight 20 mm guns. Deck stiffening should be provided for four 3"/50 guns.80 The 3"/50 was authorized for eventual installation on C-2 cargo ships and the various subclasses. The installation of two 20 mm guns inboard on the bridges of C-1 and C-1-B ships in operation and building was also authorized with the stipulation that they be located well aft of existing guns for the purpose of repelling low flying planes.81

When the Maritime Commission informed the Arming Merchant Ships Section in November of its building plans through 1944 it became evident that the new ships could only receive the approved armament if there was a marked increase in the production of 5"/38 and 3"/50 guns. According to these figures, 132 cargo ships and tankers would be produced to the end of the year. For 1943 new cargo ships and tankers would number 1,769 and for 1944 the rate of production would reach 157 a month. The best estimate at this time was that 1,143 ships would require guns up to 1 July 1943 and that they would need 1,165 four


or five inch guns and 1,578 three inch fifties.82 Various expedients were tried in an effort to make more guns available. BuOrd removed ten 5"/51 guns from the battleship Pennsylvania and a like number from the Idaho.83 BuOrd was authorized to reduce the pool of battle damage 4"/50 guns from 50 to 10 and to have the remaining 10 relined and ready for installation on merchant ships.84 Early in 1943, twenty-nine 4"/50 and six 5"/51 guns were located in the Hawaiian area and these guns eventually became available for merchant ships.85 The removal of 5" broadside guns from 28 AP's made these guns available for merchant ships.86 Although a few 5"/38 guns were becoming available, they were not sufficient to take care of the demands of new construction. In fact, a directive went out on 4 January 1943 to install a 3"/50 on the stern when the larger guns were no longer available. It might become necessary to transfer a 3"/50 to the stern and place a 20 mm forward as its substitute. But ships of over 5,000 deadweight tons for Russia, the Mediterranean and the Red Sea and large tankers for the United


Kingdom were to receive the full armament which had been authorized.87 One of the problems encountered initially with the few 5"/38 guns which were becoming available was the installation of gasoline powered generators. Strict instructions were issued not to stow gasoline tanks below ready service boxes as had been done on four ships.88 Steps were taken to enable the quick disposal of such gasoline tanks if the ship caught fire.

Not until January, 1945 did gun production catch up with the demands for armament for merchant ships. By 18 February 1943 there was a shortage of 494 three inch fifty and 85 four and five inch guns.89 Although 2,621 ships had been armed to 15 March 1943, some 3,880 ships, plus ships of our allies, would require guns in 1943 and 1944.90 By 20 April 1943 the shortage of 3"/50 guns was 452, of which 177 had been installed on the sterns of ships when 4" and 5" guns were not available.91 Deliveries of new gun barrels for surplus 4"/50 mounts started in May,92 and by July these guns were scheduled to become


available at the rate of about 50 per month for the rest of the year. Not until December, 1943 was production of the 5"/38, Mark 37 scheduled to reach 150 a month, a figure which was to continue through 1944.93 The requirements for guns eased somewhat in the later part of 1943 with the decision to transfer 200 Liberty ships armed only with six 20 mm guns to Britain in the next ten months.94 In July, 1943 the shortage of 3"/50 guns stood at 394 of which 382 had been installed on the stern of ships because of the lack of larger guns.95 By August the situation was such that 3"/50 guns were ordered placed on the bows of Area 1-A ships which had formerly mounted only a 20 mm gun in that position.96 The worst of the shortage was over by early 1944,97 and the last reported shortage on 24 January 1945 was for only five 3"/50 guns.98 It should be pointed out that the gun shortage would have been somewhat more severe had it not been for the installation of a number of 3"/23 guns and the mounting of six pounders on Area 2 vessels and concrete barges. To 30 June 1943 one hundred and eleven of the former had been installed. The six pounders had been mounted on 102 Area 2 ships by August, 1944 and had been authorized for 15 or


more concrete barges and Area 2 ships under construction.99

The ammunition situation was showing such improvement by the middle of 1943 that an allowance of 60 rounds per 20 mm gun was authorized for target practice every sixty days in addition to the required short burst each morning for testing the guns.100 The Navy also made arrangements for emergency issue of ammunition to ships outside the continental United States.101

On 22 September 1943 BuOrd was authorized to issue two .30 cal. rifles and 300 rounds of ammunition per rifle to each ship. These rifles were principally used for sinking drifting mines. The 20 mm guns could not be depressed sufficiently to bear on such objects.102

The rearming of merchant ships to carry troops created a heavy demand for additional 3"/50 guns. By November, 1943 there were plans to rearm some 230 ships for this purpose. Already BuOrd had been instructed to supply 600 guns for transports and for replacing the 20 mm guns which had been temporarily mounted in lieu of the 3"/50 guns.103 On 20 November it was decided that ships carrying from 201 to 500 troops should have a five or four inch stern gun, two 3"/50 guns aft, one 3"/50 forward, and eight 20 mm guns.104


In view of the BuOrd estimates of guns available and the prospect that 2,086 new ships would be built in 1944, it was directed on 18 January 1944 that 3"/50 guns installed on the sterns of cargo ships and tankers not be replaced with larger guns. This directive did not apply to ships fitted for carrying troops. Such ships must have a 4" or 5" stern gun.105 This directive meant that 5"/38 guns would be available for Liberty ships under construction, but they would have to transfer electric power to the gun from the engine room until such time as generators became available. A buzzer and a red light were installed in the engine room of such ships so that the engineer could receive the signal to switch power to the gun.106 These guns were also available for C-1-A and C-1-B ships by 1 March 1944.107

Certain foreign nations were attempting to improve armament on their merchant ships. The Russians desired to exchange .50 cal. guns for 20 mm guns. The Maritime Commission was requested by Op-23L not to authorize such an exchange for Russian ships in the Pacific where no air attacks were likely. The installation of 20 mm guns was approved for Dutch and Norwegian ships which were operating in Area 1-A and, therefore, in areas where heavy air attacks were encountered.108

The construction program for 1945 remained at best tentative.


On 3 February 1944 BuOrd was instructed to plan on the completion of 125 large merchant ships in January, 1945 and on the construction of 100 a month for the rest of 1945.109 As a matter of fact this estimate was too high. By 9 February 1945 new construction planned for 1945 and 1946 numbered only 964 ships.110 Of great importance in dealing with such an uncertain situation was the decision reached on 18 March 1944 to establish by 30 June 1945 a pool of 500 five inch guns above the construction program and in addition to BuOrd spares and to have a similar pool of 2,500 three inch fifty guns. This plan was to be reviewed every three months, beginning on 1 July 1944.111 This pool was reduced to 250 five inch thirty-eight and 750 three inch fifty guns on 21 October 1944.112

Through much of 1944 and 1945 the arming of merchant ships proceeded smoothly. The battle for guns had been won. Emphasis shifted to the installation of a simple and effective device for aiming the guns. The development of the cartwheel sight and of effective methods for the use of this device was largely the work of the Armed Guard Gunnery School, New Orleans.


It was adopted as the standard sight for the 20 mm, the 3"/50 and the 5"/38. This sight was developed early in the war for the 20 mm and the only serious difficulty with this type gun came when BuOrd changed the Mark IV sight to a Mark V sight which did not have a suitable eyepiece. On 20 April 1944 a directive went to BuOrd to replace the Mark V with the Mark IV sight.113 As a result of experiments in 1943 by officers at the Armed Guard schools the Mark IV cartwheel sight was also adapted to the 3"/50 AA and the 5"/38 D.P. guns. Plans were made early in 1944 to install this sight on all dual purpose guns. Existing picket fence or optical ring sights were unsatisfactory. Besides, there was great need to have one uniform method of gunnery instruction which could only be effected if uniform methods of firing were adopted. The sights for the 3"/50 were about ready for distribution by the first of April. CNO directed that ships for the United Kingdom, the Mediterranean, North Russia, and finally all other Area 1-A ships should have priority for the installation of the sights. By 31 March 1944 BuOrd was ready to have the Navy Yard at New York begin manufacture of the cartwheel sight brackets for 5"/38 guns.114 The war ended before this simple but effective sight was installed on the guns of all merchant ships.


Even before the Armed Guard program reached its peak about September, 1944 plans were beginning to liquidate the program when peace came. On 27 April 1944 CNO refused to sanction the substitution of 20 mm guns for .50 cal. guns on Area 2 ships.115 On 23 May 1944 the authorized armament on 25 ships assigned permanently to Area 2 by the Maritime Commission was reduced to a stern gun and two 20 mm guns mounted on the wings of the bridge. The later were retained to avoid the trouble and time of installing the .50 cal. or .30 cal. guns authorized for Area 2 ships and the Armed Guard crew was reduced to one officer and nine men.116

By the middle of 1944 there was a move to declare the existing stocks of four and five inch single purpose guns and the six pounders obsolete. CNO on 9 June concurred in a BuOrd recommendation that six pounder guns and mounts be declared obsolete, but requested that a sufficient number of these guns be retained to arm concrete merchant ships and barges authorized for construction by the Maritime Commission.117 No doubt the CominCh directive of 30 June was responsible for the movement to scrap four and five inch single purpose guns. CominCh directed that 4"/50 and 5"/51 single purpose not be replaced on merchant ships, but that in the future dual purpose guns, preferably


5"/38 be installed when practicable on merchant ships.118 On 3 July CNO (Op-05G) granted permission to BuOrd to declare 4"/50, 5"/51, and 5"/50 assemblies obsolete at discretion. Parts could be used to maintain mounts on 1,685 merchant ships.119 While BuOrd authorized the use of such guns as spares to maintain guns already installed,120 they were generally held in reserve until the end of the war. The Arming Merchant Ships Section insisted throughout that these guns be kept in reserve until the end of the war. In February, 1945 it recommended that all stripping and scrapping of these guns be stopped.121

Area 1-A, where vessels were subject to air, surface, and submarine attacks, and including European, African, Asiatic, and Australian waters, remained unchanged for a considerable period of time prior to the redefinition of areas on 15 November 1944. During this same period Area 2 consisted of the less dangerous area of the western Atlantic and Pacific waters east of Skagway and the Hawaiian Islands.122 The final approved armament which proved so effective in these areas should be summarized before we consider the changes in combat areas which our successes in war enabled us to make.

I   Cargo and Tank Ships for Area 1-A

(a) Over 10,000 D.W.T.

1- 5" or 4" stern gun (but if neither was available a


3"/50 D.P. gun should be installed and should be considered as final armament)
1 - 3"/50 D.P. bow gun
8 - 20 mm guns, four on each side as equally spaced as possible
2 - .30 Springfield rifles
4 - .45 Colt pistols

New Construction C-1-A and C-1-B ships of 9,100 D.W.T. were given the 5"/38 D.P. gun and the full allowance of 20 mm guns even though by weight they did not come strictly under this class.

(b) 5,000 to 10,000 D.W.T.

1 - 4"/50 stern gun (but if not available a 3"/50 could be substituted as the final armament)
4 to 8 - 20 mm guns depending on structural conditions
1 - 3"/50 D.P. bow gun where structural conditions permitted
2 - .30 Springfield rifles
4 - .45 Colt pistols

(c) 2,000 to 5,000 D.W.T.

1 - 3"/50 D.P. stern gun
4 - 20 mm guns
2 - .30 Springfield rifles
4 - .45 Colt pistols

(d) Ocean-going Tugs

1 - 3"/50 D.P. stern gun
2 - 20 mm guns
2 - .30 Springfield rifles
2 - .45 Colt pistols

II  Cargo and tank ships for Area 2 (where attack by submarine and surface vessels was possible)

(a) Over 10,000 D.W.T.

1 - 5" or 4" stern gun (but if neither was available a 3"/50 D.P. should be installed as final armament)
2 - .50 cal. machine guns
2 - .30 Springfield rifles
4 - .45 Colt pistols


(b) 5,000 to 10,000 D.W.T.

1 - 4"/50 stern gun (but if not available a 3"/50 D.P. should be installed as the final armament)
2 - .30 cal. machine guns
2 - .30 Springfield rifles
4 - .45 Colt pistols

(c) 2,000 to 5,000 D.W.T.

1 - 3"/50 D.P. or S.P. stern gun
2 - .30 cal. machine guns
2 - .30 Springfield rifles
4 - .45 Colt pistols

(d) Ocean-going Tugs

1 - 3"/23 gun
2 - .50 cal. machine guns
2 - .30 Springfield rifles
2 - .45 Colt pistols123

On 21 March 1944 CominCh (10th fleet) assumed responsibility for determining combat areas.124 Acting on his recommendations of 6 November, CNO on 15 November enlarged Area 2, and limited Area 1-A to the west coast of Greenland, Iceland, North Russia, Finland, Norway, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, the north and west coasts of France, northern Spain, Portugal, Siberia, Japan, China, the Philippine Islands, the Dutch East Indies, the Admiralty Islands, Guadalcanal, French Indo-China, Siam, Australia, Burma, the east coasts of India and Ceylon, and the Straits Settlements. Vessels scheduled to operate in Area 2 were to keep their Area 1-A armament and a complement


of one officer and nine men. Tankers operating in Area 2 as escort oilers were to have a full Area 1-A Armed Guard crew. Vessels were to be ready in all respects to shift from Area 2 to Area 1-A as soon as additional personnel were added. All new construction was to receive Area 1-A armament. Tank ships operating in the Indian Ocean were to have Area 1-A crews in preparation for possible operation east of 80° E. This directive made it necessary to build up pools of Armed Guard personnel in various parts of the world so that Port Directors could quickly convert Area 2 ships to Area 1-A duty. Especially were pools at Pearl harbor and Balboa increased for this purpose. The pool at Pearl Harbor was increased by 200 men and the pool at Balboa by 100 men.125 This change in combat areas was expected to reduce the input of men into the Armed guard by 800 a month and to make 1,200 men a month available for other duty.126

On 10 January 1945 CNO directed that vessels armed for Area 1-A could remove four 20 mm guns from their cradles and stow below while operating in the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and the Pacific east of 160° E. But two 20 mm guns should be mounted on the bridge and two aft. All 20 mm guns should be mounted and ready for action upon entering the Mediterranean and Red Seas and in Pacific waters west of 160° E. All guns should also be mounted upon return to a United States continental port and should


be test fired when departing the United States and before stowing below.127

In compliance with directions from CominCh of 14 February 1945,128 CNO redefined the combat areas on 22 February. Area 2 was now extended to include New Guinea and the East Coast of Australia and the United Kingdom and west coast of Europe up to Belgium.129 On 18 May Belgian ports were included in Area 2.130

With the defeat of Germany, CominCh directed another redefinition of combat areas on 28 May.131 The new areas became effective 5 June, and are indicated on the attached chart in the appendices. It will be seen that the whole world was divided into four areas. Area 1-A still consisted of areas where air, surface, and submarine attacks were probable and included Siberia, Japan, Korea, Manchuria, China, French Indo China, the Dutch East Indies except New Guinea, the Straits Settlements, Siam, Burma, and the north coast of Australia. Area 2-A was defined as the area in which submarine and surface attacks were probable. It included Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, the Hawaiian Islands, the Philippine Islands, New Guinea, the islands of the Central and South Pacific, the east, south, and west coasts of Australia, and the east coasts of Ceylon and India. Area 2-B in which submarine and surface attacks were possible but highly improbable included the


west coasts of Canada, the United States, and Central America, and the west coasts of Ceylon and India. It also included Iran, Arabia as far as Aden, the east and south coasts of Africa from the south end of the Red Sea to Capetown, and the islands in the Indian Ocean. Area 3 was the area in which practically no probability of enemy attack existed. It included the Atlantic, Artic, and Antarctic Oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, the Red Sea, and the Pacific Ocean east of longitude 82° W. For Area 3 and Area 2-B ships armament was to be placed in a maintenance status with a maintenance crew of a gunner's mate and a seaman first class. The disarming of ships originally armed with a stern gun and two machine guns was authorized of they were to operate permanently in Area 3. The Armed Guard on Area 2-A ships was to consist of one officer and nine men and on Area 1-A ships there was to be no change in complement. Port Said, Egypt, and Balboa became key pools for furnishing men to Area 3 and Area 2-B ships when assigned to a voyage in a more dangerous area. Pools at Pearl Harbor, Saipan, Ulithi, Samar, Hollandia, Manus, Brisbane, Sydney, and Freemantle became important in supplying men to ships which were to change from Area 2-A to 1-A. All new construction cargo and tank ships were to be armed for Area 1-A unless designated for immediate and permanent operation in Area 3.132


The accepted ammunition allowance for all Area 1-A ships by the end of the war was: 5"/38 – 160 rounds, 3"/50 – 252 rounds, 20 mm – 5,040 rounds. The ammunition carried by these ships weighed 22.9 long tons.133

The record show that the Navy supplied 53,278 guns of all types to merchant ships and Army transport vessels during the war. Of this number 4,827 were lost with the ships sunk by enemy action.134 Guns represented one of the great bottlenecks in the Armed Guard program. But toward the end of the war all merchant ships were adequately armed and were able to give a good account of themselves in combat. The Nation should never face another war with inadequate supplies of guns for its merchant ships. In another place we shall discuss the many problems connected with disarming the surviving ships of the 6,236 which were armed.


Protection of the Sea Chests

The protection of sea chests on ships constructed after 1936 required no further attention after the ship left the building yard, for the chests were made of steel and some were reinforced with concrete. But ships constructed prior to 1936 presented special problems because sea chests were constructed of cast iron and were, therefore, vulnerable to damage from underwater explosions of all types. Even before our entry into the war, we secured information that a number of ships of other nations had either been lost or subjected to severe flooding through the carrying away of cast iron hull fittings as a result of the whip from mine or near miss bomb explosions.

On 27 May 1941 BuShips drew up instructions for strengthening sea chests on merchant ships which were acquired for conversion to naval auxiliaries and on 29 August these instructions were forwarded to the Maritime Commission by the Secretary of the Navy as the desired procedure for the reinforcement of sea chests and sea valves on merchant ships constructed prior to 1936. The instructions contained in this letter were reaffirmed on 27 October and remained the basic directive on the subject.135 Pertinent sections of the BuShips letter are quoted:

"Secure the entire sea chest, valve, valve bonnet, and pipe adjacent to the valve, rigidly to the ship's side. This is best done by steel straps, secured to the chest, valve, etc. and to the shell. These straps must be tight and of ample strength and rigidity so that any tendency of the fittings to move in any direction relative


to the shell will be immediately resisted by the straps. Any motion of such a cast iron body relative to the shell will probably result in fracture, due to the inherent weakness of cast iron in tension, and flooding will result."

"After these straps have been installed, the entire chest and valve should be imbedded in concrete up to the flange of the bonnet (so as to still permit overhauling the valve). If the arrangement permits, the flange to which the adjacent pipe is secured need not be embedded in concrete; however, in some cases it may be necessary to carry the concrete past the flange and along the pipe a short distance. Where frames and longitudinals form a convenient pocket, this should be filled up solid. Steel reinforcement rods (about 1/2 inch diameter on 6-inch centers will be suitable) should be secured to the shell, to floors, frames, and longitudinals. These reinforcing rods should run in three ways: normal to the shell, fore-and-aft, and athwartships. Rods normal to the shell should have their inboard ends hooked, anchoring them to concrete. The entire mass of concrete should be held down firmly on top by angle bars or I beams run between frames and longitudinals or by other suitable means. These angle bars or beams should be put in position after the concrete has set, and should be held down firmly against it by bolts secured to the frames and longitudinals in such a way as to exert an initial pressure. The purpose of this concrete is to back up the cast iron shell and to aid it in resisting fracture due to the 'pressure wave' of the explosion."

Regulations of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation of 28 January 1942 provided for either one automatic non-return valve with a positive means of closing it from a position above the freeboard deck or for two automatic non-return valves without positive means of closing, with the upper valve accessible for ready examination.


Armed Guard Berthing and Messing Facilities and Life Saving Equipment

The requirements for Armed Guard and communication personnel on merchant ships did not remain stable, but were constantly increasing as more and better guns were supplied to the ships. The requirements were at first for one officer and 8 men, but this complement was soon increased to 15 men, later to 21, and finally to 27 men, 24 of who were gunners. The large troop transports carried from 47 to 59 men and from 3 to 4 officers. For ships already built there were naturally great difficulties in arranging adequate living facilities for men of the Navy. For ships yet to be built changes in pans had to to be made in order to meet the needs of the Armed Guard. It goes without saying that there could be little uniformity in quarters on ships already constructed. Often individual ships presented special problems which had to be solved in a special way. But throughout basic policies were being applied wherever possible and these policies merit discussion. It can be said that by the end of the war Navy personnel were being quartered in comfort, but that during the early part of the war their quarters often left much to be desired.

Early Navy directives concerning Armed Guard crew quarters were very vague and merely stated that additional berthing and messing facilities would have to be provided when guns were installed.136 On 13 December 1941 the policy was established that gun crews should


be accommodated near their gun stations. At this time it was directed that four men should be housed in the forecastle if possible, and four men for the after gun should be housed in the poop. Gun crews should be berthed above the water line, as high as possible, to permit ready access to guns. Quarters for the communication detail should be provided near the bridge. The Armed Guard Commanding Officer should also be quartered near the bridge.137 It soon proved impracticable to berth Armed Guard personnel forward on the average merchant ship. They were generally berthed amidships and aft. The preferred location for their quarters were the deck house structures. It finally became definite policy that Armed Guards should not be quartered in the forecastle or in the extreme forward part of the ship. They were not to be quartered below the deep load line.

The problem caused serious concern to the Maritime Commission as well as the Navy. On 20 April 1943 a Crew Quarters Committee was established to deal with the intricate problems involved and to make recommendations.138 The policy of the Maritime Commission was to provide Armed Guard quarters on new construction in accordance with latest Navy Department directives where this could be done without interference with delivery schedules. It was definite policy that superstructures should not be increased except in the most exceptional circumstances. Further additions of top side weight could not be


accepted, since in many instances it had already been necessary to ballast vessels. The Maritime Commission was willing to accept additional loss of cargo space in order to comply with Navy Department directives.139

By the end of 1942 the Maritime Commission was providing quarters for an officer and 27 men on all new construction.140 In view of the crowded and uncomfortable conditions on older ships, Port Directors were directed on 5 June 1943 to look into the crew quarters and messing facilities on each ship where the Armed Guard officer reported unsatisfactory conditions. The policy was announced that Armed Guards, especially on Area 1-A ships, should have a mess separate from the merchant crew and that this mess should be able to accommodate them in not more than two sittings. In all cases where improvements in messing and berthing facilities were warranted, the Port Director should take up the matter with the local War Shipping Administration representative. Improvements were to be carried out if the sailing of the ship would not thereby be delayed.141 Navy policy was that Navy enlisted personnel should have about the same amount of deck space as was assigned unlicensed personnel of the merchant crew. Washroom facilities were to be divided between the Armed Guard and merchant crew on the basis of approximately the same number of men per facility.142


In 1943 there was danger that Army personnel or passengers would encroach upon the space assigned to the Armed Guard and thereby prevent the Navy personnel from fully carrying out their responsibilities in defending the ship. On 19 June the Maritime Commission was requested to quarter Navy gunners and Army tankmen separately on C4-S-B1 ships. The Armed Guard was to have a separate mess.143 The assignment of passengers or Army personnel to the Armed Guard Commanders quarters was strongly disapproved.144

The Navy disapproved assigning Armed Guard quarters over hatches where there was great danger from explosion.145 The quartering of all Armed Guards in one area of the ship was also opposed, or there was danger that the entire group might be wiped out and the ship left without personnel for its defense.

By 23 December 1943 Navy policy on Armed Guard accommodations had been crystallized and remained substantially unchanged for the rest of the war. Each man was to have 20 square feet of deck area and 130 cubic feet of space. Spaces between tiers of bunks should permit quick exit in case of emergency. There should be two exits to crew quarters and interior doors should be fitted with knock out panels. There should be adequate room for lockers and necessary gear. Toilet facilities should be provided on the basis of one toilet and shower per 10 men and one washbasin for eight men. The separate mess room and pantry for Armed Guards should be independent


of their sleeping quarters, as should coffee urns, steam tables, dishwashing facilities, and refrigerators. Officers were to have accommodations equivalent to those of ship officers on the upper decks as close to the bridge as possible. A storeroom for Armed Guard gear should be at least 72 square feet of deck space.146

For ships operating in Area 2 but armed for Area 1-A it was necessary to keep quarters for the full Armed Guard crew readily available. One room and separate toilet and wash facilities amidships were retained for occupancy of communication and Armed Guard personnel, not to exceed six men. The remaining Armed Guards were berthed aft with separate toilet and wash facilities. In Liberty Ships having and enlarged deck house aft, the Armed Guard was berthed in that deck house to a maximum of 14 and use of the amidships room was eliminated. It was no longer necessary to berth the Armed Guard in tiers of three. Messing accommodations remained unchanged. Rooms vacated by the Armed Guard were used for transportation of military or civilian passengers, but not for ship's personnel. They were to be in the custody of the master and ready for instant use by the Armed Guard if the ship was shifted back to Area 1-A.147


Life Saving Equipment

Every effort was made to furnish Armed Guards with the simplest and yet most effective life saving equipment possible. Every effort was also made to prevent dangerous equipment from falling into the hands of Armed Guards, as for example, rubber life saving suits. On 17 November 1941 the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation amended its general rules and regulations to provide that cargo and tank ships carrying Armed Guards should carry sufficient life saving rafts to accommodate all persons on board with a minimum of four life rafts and in cases where there were not complete lifeboat accommodations on each side of the ship for all persons on board, an extra lifeboat.148 On 26 November SecNav recommended that the Maritime Commission supply this extra equipment on ships which were armed, subject to reimbursement by the transfer of funds.149 On 10 December the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation suspended enforcement of the regulation concerning an extra lifeboat, at the request of the Navy Department.150 Thenceforth extra life saving equipment consisted of the life rafts rigged for quick release and so arranged that they would be automatically released from the vessel when in a sinking condition.

The Maritime Commission also supplied Navy type life jackets to all Armed Guards and members of the ship's crew assisting in operating the guns. The jackets were provided at the time the guns


were installed.151 These jackets were filled with kapok and were reversible. They were comfortable to wear and supported a man if he was knocked overboard in a wounded or unconscious condition. The Bureau of Marine Inspection, Coast Guard required a whistle, a knife, and a light for each life jacket. For a time Armed Guard officers secured these items for Navy personnel on loan from the ship. Later the Navy issued the lights and whistles, but Armed Guards furnished their own knives.152 BuShips also made life preservers available to Port Directors for issue to Armed Guards when the Maritime Commission was unable to supply the Navy type preserver.153

The Navy consistently opposed use of rubber life saving suits. They were cumbersome and far too heavy to permit strenuous exertion for more than a short period of time. There was too much loss of time in putting on the suits. They were easily punctured during action. They frequently cracked or split or leaked in the closures or around the neck band. Such a suit would quickly fill with water and pull a man under. They made it difficult, if not impossible for a man to submerge to escape burning oil on the surface. Armed Guard officers were ordered not to accept the suits for themselves or men when they were offered by the Army or War Shipping Administration.154

On 4 December 1941 the Bureau of Ordnance authorized the issue of 35 steel helmets to merchant vessels for Armed Guard crews and


merchant seamen acting as ammunition handlers. Telephone talker type helmets were authorized for each exposed telephone position on 16 January 1943.155 From the beginning of the war merchant officers and other merchant crewmen were supplied with helmets if they were required to be topside during action. On 18 June 1942 a steel helmet and gas mask had been authorized for every person on board ships for North Russia.156 Formal recognition that all merchant officers and all merchant crew assisting in the defense of the ship should have helmets on all Area 1-A ships came in the VCNO directive of 12 January 1943.157 This followed a conference at the Maritime Commission on 4 December 1942.158 In the spring of 1944 the Navy was supplying steel helmets for all personnel on merchant ships going to the United Kingdom.159

On 20 December 1941 CNO authorized BuShips to make available the Navy Diaphragm Optical gas mask to Armed Guards and the Navy Civilian type to non-naval personnel on merchant ships. Masks were to be issued to ships operating to the United Kingdom, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Red Sea, and the Philippine-Malaya area.160 Directions were given to issue gas masks to all personnel bound for North Russia on 18 June 1942 and on 13 January 1943 the Persian Gulf, India, and the Pacific west of Hawaii were included in the operating areas which were to receive gas masks.161


On 21 January 1943 the Navy authorized the issue of protective ointment for all hands on merchant ships.162 The Navy also supplied protective clothing, consisting of an oilskin coat, trousers, gloves, southwester, and rubber sea boots for each Armed Guard officer and men on ships operating in the United Kingdom.163 The issue of rubber gloves and sea boots was discontinued on 17 May 1945.164

The Navy held firm to its policy that decontamination was a responsibility of the master and not of the Armed Guard officer. Masters were furnished with a copy of Air Raid Precautions Handbook No. 7: Anti-Gas Precautions for Merchant Shipping (2d edition). Training of the merchant crew in decontamination procedure was a responsibility of the master and the War Shipping Administration. The Army supplied some decontamination material to the WSA.165 The Navy did issue a booklet, Gas -- Know Your Chemical Warfare to Armed Guard officers with directions to instruct their crews in the material contained therein.166


Darkening Ship

It was essential that merchant ships be effectively blacked out at sea. One exposed light could endanger a whole convoy. Darkness was a very effective defense operating on the side of merchant ships. Torpedo attacks could not be successful unless the enemy submarine could find a target. For this reason the use of Snowflake flares was, we shall see, not successful. Such flares converted convoys into clearly outlined targets and made the job of the enemy submarine commander much easier.

On 4 November 1941 the Bureau of Ships outlined to the Maritime Commission the basic steps to be taken to darken merchant ships. These measures should be as simple as possible. All illumination not absolutely essential for operating the ship should be eliminated by removing light bulbs or de-energizing sections of the lighting circuit. When illumination was essential for the operation of the ship it must not be visible from any outside observation point. All doors, windows, and air ports which could be seen from an outside observation point should be painted inside and out with at least two coats of black paint, or should be fitted with light metal dead lights or covers. Air ports essential for ventilation should have light excluding airport covers. Outside doors opening into illuminated compartments should be protected by double curtains of heavy light excluding material which should be rigged so as to form a light lock. Experience later indicated that these curtains should be at least 2'3" apart so that it would be difficult to open both curtains


at the same time. The installation of blue lights in passageways, messing compartments, and access routes was recommended, but this recommendation was later changed to blue or red lights. Where practicable lights to be used during darkness were to be on a separate circuit from those used during daylight. Each vessel should have a blue stern light visible from right astern to two points on either quarter for a distance of 800 yards. Later it was provided that this light should be visible for 12 points on the compass for a distance of 1,000 yards. It was necessary for Port Directors to check these lights, for some of them were visible for more than one half mile on clear nights.167

Another effective means of blacking out exterior doors was to install automatic cut-off light switches. The Maritime Commission installed these on new construction and on older ships. When these were installed on the hinged side of the door there were difficulties because they often failed to work. But when installed opposite the hinged side of the door they worked perfectly.

On 13 December Operations directed that provision be made for dimming masthead, range, and side lights so that they would not be visible for more than a mile. There should be provision for turning off the range light  (on the after mast) when the other navigational lights were in use. Navigational lights were to be turned on and off from the bridge.168


These recommendations were forwarded to the Maritime Commission two days later with the additional suggestion that locked switches be provided for turning off the range and white stern lights when masthead and side lights were in use.169 On 27 August 1943 Operations directed that, in addition to the blue stern light, there should also be a cluster of white lights screened so as to direct the light downward on the ship's wake. These lights were to be used in thick fog. In addition there should be an anchor light fitted with an overhead screen so that the light would be cut off at an angle of between 5 and 10 degrees above the horizon. The visibility of this light should not exceed one mile.170 Toward the end of the war the Maritime Commission installed two red aircraft warning lights on merchant ships operating to the forward areas in the Pacific. But this installation did not become a Naval Defense Item.171


Painting Ships

The Secretary of the Navy on 26 November 1941 recommended to the Chairman of the Maritime Commission that merchant ships sailing into areas designated in his letter of 27 October be painted a dark gray except where black was already used, as on the hull, stack, and spars. This was to be a defense item, with the cost of material taken from defense funds and transferred to the Maritime Commission. Labor costs, however, should be borne by the ship owner.172 This letter was modified on 29 November in that the color of the paint was not specified. Detection of vessels on the high seas should be made more difficult by the use of "proper colors and shades of paints." The matter of color was thus left entirely with the Maritime Commission since it was understood that the Commission had considerable information on the subject and had been painting its own ships with proper war paint.173 On 12 December 1941 the Maritime Commission recommended that all merchant vessels of United States registry of 1,000 gross tons and over, operating in foreign, coastwise, and intercoastal trade should be painted in approved, non-reflecting colors pursuant to instructions which could be obtained from District Offices of the Commission at New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Norfolk, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Seattle. Vessels operating in intercoastal and foreign trade were to have all exterior identification and distinguishing marks removed. Portable name boards


were to be used when entering and departing port.174 The Navy finally agreed to accept as a defense item the charge for labor for applying the first coat of neutral gray paint where shore labor was employed to expedite the painting of the vessel, when so ordered by Naval Representatives. The Navy would not accept the charge for labor which involved the service of the ship's crews.175 On 1 June 1942, the Maritime Commission had issued an order that the cost of first painting should be borne by the Government. Subsequent painting should be for owner's or operator's account except when the vessel was bareboat chartered to the War Shipping Administration.176

The Navy continued to leave the matter of color up to the Maritime Commission and the color used was gray. BuShips on 17 February 1942 recommended that vessels not under Navy jurisdiction be painted in accordance with Maritime Commission schemes, using slate gray on vertical surfaces and deck gray on horizontal surfaces and using paint to conform to Maritime Commission specifications. The Secretary of the Navy recommended on 25 April 1942 that ships on the North Atlantic run to Europe should have their vertical surfaces painted a light gray with a reflectivity of about 27%. Vessels operating where the primary menace was from submarine and the weather was generally clear, such as the Eastern and Western seaboards of the United States, the Caribbean, and the South Atlantic, should have their vertical surfaces painted a gray with a reflectivity of about 18%. For all situations where the vessels were subject to detection from aircraft or where aircraft might


be expected to act as scouts for submarines, the vertical surfaces should be painted with a dark gray having a reflectivity of about 9%. The horizontal surfaces of all vessels should be painted a dark gray having a reflectivity of about 7%. The Navy did not wish to recommend dazzle patterns for specific designs of merchant ships.177 The order issued by the Maritime Commission on 1 June 1942 provided that all merchant ships, ocean-going tugs, and ocean-going barges of 500 tons or over operating in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, or Caribbean waters should have their horizontal surfaces painted the same color as was prescribed for merchant ships generally. Their vertical surfaces should be painted a lighter gray than previously prescribed with a reflectivity of about 27%. Merchant ships, ocean-going tugs, and ocean-going barges of 500 tons or over operating coastwise in the Pacific or Alaskan waters should have the same color as vessels operating in the Atlantic, but ships operating in pacific waters, other than coastwise and Alaskan, should be painted the color currently prescribed for merchant ships generally.178 In practice ships were painted gray without too much worry about the proper shade. After all, it was impossible to divide ships into hard and fast categories according to operating areas, for ships frequently shift from one ocean to another on a single voyage.


Barrage Balloons

Acting on a British request that anti-aircraft barrage balloons be installed on merchant ships for North Russia as protection against low flying enemy planes, the Secretary of the Navy informed the Chairman of the Maritime Commission on 11 June 1942 that BuAer would provide two balloons and two towing wires of 3,000 feet each for installation on ships undertaking the hazardous journey to Murmansk. It was expected originally that 150 ships would require this installation. The Maritime Commission was to supply all equipment except the balloons and towing wire, including flying off blocks and masthead platforms, hydrogen containers, and splinter protection for the containers. The merchant crew was to have responsibility for the operation and maintenance of this expensive equipment and one of the merchant officers was to be charged with its care and maintenance. The Navy Yard, New York was the original distribution point for all balloons.179 But not until September, 1942 did the United States equipment become available. Up to this time British balloons, wires, and gas cylinders were used. A pool for equipment was established at Iceland in July. Equipment was removed from ships returning from Russia and installed on ships bound for North Russia.180 The Bureau of Ships assisted the Maritime Commission in the installation of balloon equipment.181 Instructions for handling balloons and hydrogen cylinders were prepared by BuAer and were available for masters at Port Directors' offices.182


The Navy trained 12 officers and 90 men at the Barrage Balloon School, Paris Island, South Carolina, and after this training program ceased, transferred the officer-in-charge of this school to the Armed Guard Center, South Brooklyn, for the purpose of instructing merchant marine personnel and Navy personnel in the use of the equipment.183 In October the Navy made it very clear that cognizance of the balloon and all equipment essential to its operation rested with the master.184 In December, 1942, the Navy made two barrage balloons and towing wires available to each of five WSA training activities. These were: The Maritime Commission Academy at Kings Point, Great Neck, L. I.; the Merchant Marine Cadet Basic School, San Mateo, California; the Merchant Marine Cadet Basic School, Pass Christian, Miss.; the Merchant Service Officer School, Fort Trumbull, New London, Conn.; and the Merchant Service Officer School, Alameda, California. In addition, the Navy detailed an officer on temporary duty to advise and instruct the staffs of these schools on barrage balloons.185

In October, 1942, balloons were authorized for ships operating in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and to India. It therefore, became necessary to install barrage balloons on ships at other ports, as for example, New Orleans, Charleston, and on the West Coast. Balloons for the West Coast were sent to Mare Island.186 In view of the limited supply of balloons, the Navy directed in April, 1943 that equipment should be removed from ships when they were assigned to


other areas after return to the United States. It also recommended that the splinter protection for hydrogen bottles be made portable so that it could be transferred from ship to ship.187 The Maritime Commission attempted to carry out this suggestion except in cases where the splinter protection was worked into other fittings to save topside weight.188

Early in March, 1943, directions were given that balloons at New York be transferred to the Maritime Commission warehouse at Hoboken for issue to ships. In May steps were taken to set up a pool of ten balloons at Boston.189 By May 24 orders had been placed for 2,400 balloons.190 Steps were also taken to provide swivel shackles for connecting the towing wire to the balloons.191

The plan to release the Armed Guard from all duties in connection with barrage balloons did not prove successful. In the fall of 1943 it came to the attention of Operations that some of this equipment was in very poor condition. Therefore, the Armed Guard officer was made responsible for maintenance and temporary repairs to balloons while at sea. The services of not over 50 per cent of the Armed Guard could be used in inflating, flying off, and rigging in the balloons. But the master would continue to be accountable for the equipment and its operation. In all cases the Armed Guard was to maintain gun watches. Masters were to use British facilities for refilling hydrogen bottles


and for servicing the balloons and flying off gear. The exchange of United States and British balloons was authorized. Upon return to a United States port, the Armed Guard officer was required to report to the Port Director on the condition of the equipment and the Port Director was to advise the local WSA or Maritime Commission representative of necessary repairs and replacements.192 In most cases the equipment was stored at WSA warehouses. In addition to Hoboken, WSA warehouses having the equipment were located at San Francisco, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Norfolk. An order for 1,000 additional balloons and wires was authorized on 28 February 1944.193

Armed Guard personnel attended the War Shipping Administration school at Pier One, New York, to receive instruction in maintenance and operation of barrage balloons and arrangements were also made for them to attend a one day course at a similar school in San Francisco.194 In view of this arrangement training of Armed Guard and Merchant officers in balloon handling at DEMS schools in Britain was kept at a minimum and took place only when ships were fitted with balloons in British ports for special missions.195

To 28 November 1944 balloons were furnished to 800 merchant ships. This equipment proved effective in warding off attacks on vessels in convoy and while lying at anchor at beachheads, especially in the Mediterranean and off the coast of Normandy. On 22 November the


Maritime Commission stopped installing balloons on new construction except for North Russia and India. When CominCh was asked if barrage balloons were to be installed on ships operating in the western Pacific, he took up the matter with CinCPac and, acting upon a CinCPac recommendation, gave a negative answer.196 Therefore, the Maritime Commission was advised on 29 December 1944 that the installation of balloons on all new construction should cease. Balloons, wires, and shackles should be returned to BuAer for disposition. Existing installation should be placed in a care and maintenance status. Where hydrogen stowage had been provided for ships which did not receive balloons, the removal of this installation was authorized.197 Armed Guard officers were given instructions in the care and maintenance of balloon equipment on 4 January 1945.198

In view of the fact that CinCPac did not desire balloons on ships in the western Pacific because they would tend to nullify anti-aircraft fire, to indicate position and numbers of ships otherwise concealed by smoke, and because of the hazard of fire and fouling of ships and boats by flying wires from balloons which would be shot down, the removal of balloon equipment was authorized on 12 June 1945. The truth of the matter was that anti-aircraft defense of ships had increased to such a degree that the balloons were no longer needed. Armed Guard officers were to inform Port Directors in the United States of all ships which still carried the equipment and the Port Directors were to make arrangements


with the local War Shipping or Maritime Commission authorities to remove the equipment. Care and maintenance of the equipment was continued until it could be removed.199



As a result of tests at Halifax, Nova Scotia on November 2 and 3, 1942, and in Chesapeake Bay aboard the S. S. American Navigator on January 12 and 13, 1943, 200 which proved the Sauls-Vangrow K-1 kite stable in winds of 10 to 40 knots velocity and that it could be launched by three men without difficulty, a directive  went to BuAer on 27 January 1943 to provide five of these kites and two wires to supplement the barrage balloon equipment on each United States owned merchant ship fitted with barrage balloons. The master of the ship was to have complete cognizance over kites.201 The original BuAer order was for 1,500 of these kites.202 On 13 October the allowance of kites for merchant ships going to North Russia, India, the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean and the Red Sea was reduced from five to two and the allowance for wires from two to one.203 Some 2,000 of the kites were placed aboard merchant ships.204 They were valuable in case the balloons were shot down or lost and might be flown in lieu of balloons in a fresh or strong breeze. At the time they were authorized there was an acute shortage of hydrogen bottles which made it appear that in all cases balloons could not be promptly installed. The decision was reached on 19 July 1944 that there should be no further procurement and that the kites should be removed when the current supply was exhausted.205


Kites were ordered removed from merchant ships on 12 June 1945. Material furnished by the Navy was to be returned to Navy Yards or Navy Supply Depots.206


Acoustic Warning Devices

Not all equipment installed on merchant ships for their defense functioned successfully. A notable example of failure was the acoustic warning device. In May, 1942, the Arming Merchant Ship Section in the Fleet Maintenance Division learned that a device for the purpose of detecting airplanes, which BuShips had the Radio Corporation of America manufacture on a verbal directive of a member of the staff of CominCh, would be ready for installation about 15 June. BuShips was directed to cooperate with the Industrial Manager, New York Navy Yard and the Maritime Commission in carrying out the initial installation of 20 of the devices on ships bound for North Russia.207 The Maritime Commission was informed on 24 June that this equipment would be a defense item to be returned to the Navy on removal from the ship and that Area 1 ships would be equipped with the warning device as soon as they became available.208 The Navy had an order for 500 of the devices. Their delivery was held up because of a parts shortage until late 1942.209 In October they were authorized for ships operating in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and to India, but did not become available for installation until the spring of 1943.210 A device installed on the S. S. Colorado proved extremely unreliable.211 The Arming Merchant Ships Section suggested in May, 1943, that BuShips conduct tests.212 The test in the vicinity


of New York on board the U. S. S. Kimball on 15 June revealed that a warning of about one minute might be expected from the detector. During the test the watches could almost always see the plane a minute or two before the detector would pick it up. But the value of the detector in fog, at night, and with planes coming out of the sun remained to be seen.213 On 16 July the Maritime Commission was advised to install the microphone at as high a point as possible, in accordance with a BuShips suggestion, in order that the wind noises generated by the ships riggings would not affect the microphone. The installation of the device on Liberty ships fitted with torpedo net booms was not recommended because of the interference set up by the booms when stowed vertically. BuShips was to provide a vibrator as a source of A.C. power for ships which did not have this power.214

Not until 24 August 1944, after reports from Armed Guard officers had proved conclusively that the device was not satisfactory as an airplane approach warning indicator, did Operations stop installation on new construction. Existing installations were to be kept in operation until further instructions were issued.215 The real trouble was that when the device was made sensitive enough to catch the sound of aircraft motors it was made to ring by the noises on the ship.


Snowflake Flares

The Snowflake rocket flares consisted of a rocket fitted on one end with a parachute and illuminating element, and on the other with a propelling charge and fins for stabilization. It could be fired either electrically or by percussion from a projector using a special ignition cartridge. When fired the rocket ascended vertically to about 1,200 feet and furnished illumination for from 30 to 45 seconds. All of these flares were manufactured by the British.

The British adopted a number of special devices to make up for their lack of armament on ships, among these were the Parachute and Cable rocket and the Snowflake rocket. When the British asked the Navy Department if it intended to install the two types of rockets the matter was referred to CominCh for a final decision. CominCh decided definitely against Parachute and Cable rockets, but indicated on July 1, 1942, that Snowflake flares had been requested and recommended their limited use on merchant vessels.216 As a matter of fact, the decision had been made somewhat earlier to order the flares from the British and by 22 June 10,000 had been ordered.217

When the Bureau of Ordnance advised that the flares and projectors were available for issue, the Secretary of the Navy informed the Maritime Commission on 9 June 1942 that it was desired to install the initial equipment on merchant vessels in Atlantic convoys and


eventually on all ships in convoys. The Navy would supply 18 flares and 2 projectors to each ship in Atlantic convoys. With this letter went an abstract of British Admiralty regulations on the installation, care, and handling of the rockets.218

The rockets were never of great value in helping merchant ships destroy enemy submarines and probably did more harm than good. It was hardly a desirable thing to illuminate an entire convoy with a German wolf-pack around. If the flare did anything it made the job of the submarine commander much easier. It seems rather ironic that great precaution should be taken to darken merchant ships and that when the period of greatest danger came they were illuminated for considerable periods by flares fired intermittently from various ships in the convoy. In addition to making ships more vulnerable to attack from groups of submarines, the flares were a positive safety menace, especially to ships heavily loaded with high explosives and to tankers.

Following a British decision to remove flares from tank ships, a directive was issued to remove flares from United States owned or controlled tankers on 4 June 1943.219 By 20 September 1943 procurement of flares and projectors was at a stand-still and BuOrd was developing a flare and projector as a substitute for the Snowflake.220 Not until 28 March 1944 did the Navy give up the whole idea and order all flares and projectors removed from all United States owned or controlled


merchant ships.221 The British had taken the same action more than three weeks earlier.222


Smoke Floats

The installation of smoke floats on merchant ships was delayed until early fall of 1942 because supplies from World War I had deteriorated and because of difficulties experienced in producing a satisfactory mixture for making smoke from the after deck of ships.223 Mark I and later Mark II floats were installed on merchant ships and plans were being made to install the HC-M4A2 smoke pot when the war came to an end.

On 14 September 1942 directions were given to issue 10 smoke floats to each ship in Atlantic convoys. BuShips furnished the type plans for mounting the floats, including securing and releasing apparatus with remote control lever. BuOrd furnished information concerning stowage, operation, and handling and arranged for distribution to ammunition depots.224 Not until October did the floats become available for issue.225 In the same month directives were issued to install the smoke floats on ships bound for the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and India.226 An occasional ship was forced to leave without smoke floats because of the heavy demand.227

The installation of smoke floats on all merchant vessels was directed on 7 June 1943. Area 1 and Area 1-A ships were to be issued 10 floats, while Area 2 ships received 5;228 But the supply was so critical by September that BuOrd restricted their issue to 5 per vessel


until further notice.229 On 23 January 1944 the issue of smoke floats to merchant vessels was suspended until further notice.230

This BuOrd directive was modified, however, on 29 March 1944 to provide for 15 smoke floats per ship on all vessels going to the United Kingdom and into or through the Mediterranean.231 By 4 August 1944 the supply of smoke floats enabled the Navy to issue them to all merchant vessels.232 Production had ceased on the Mark I and the Mark II, slightly larger and with a modified igniter already assembled, had come into production.233 On 21 December all Area 1-A vessels were allowed 15 floats. Vessels armed for Area 1-A but operating in Area 2 were to have 10 floats, while vessels armed exclusively for Area 2 were to have 5.234

On 15 September 1944 CNO approved a BuOrd request to discontinue procurement of the Mark II floats and to initiate the procurement of the M4 floating smoke pot.235 Plans were drawn to install this new float when the supply of Mark 2 floats was exhausted,236 but the war ended before this new float was installed on merchant ships.

The installation of the British type CSA smoke generator was not approved by the Navy because of the strong corrosive acids used to generate smoke.237 However, some of these generators were installed on United States merchant ships on a temporary basis for trials and


for the Normandy invasion. On 6 May 1943 VCNO approved the installation of smoke generators in selected merchant ships for trial purposes provided there would be no injurious effects on Armed Guards in the after crew quarters and with request that the British assign a rating with experience in maintenance and operation to each ship.238 In April, 1944 ComNavEu requested approval of the installation of smoke generators on some 136 United States ships to be used in the Normandy invasion. Approval for temporary installation was granted and the British were requested to supply an operator for each ship.239 Because of a shortage of personnel, the British trained Armed Guards at a DEMS center to operate the generators.240 The equipment was supposed to be removed before the ships left for the United States, but in many cases the ships left for the United States without sufficient availability to remove the equipment. It became necessary to remove some of this equipment in United States ports.241

Smoke floats proved very effective in the Mediterranean, around the Philippines, at Anzio, at Okinawa, and when ships were anchored in harbors off beachheads. Each float gave off smoke for about 18 minutes. The expense connected with this installation was fully justified.


Mark 29 Mine

A defense installation which cost several million dollars and caused endless trouble was the Mark 29 Mine. The Navy and the Maritime Commission grasped at this device because of the critical submarine danger. Every effort was made by the Navy to produce an effective device through experimentation and through instruction of personnel in operating the gear.

On 3 September 1942 the Bureau of Ships informed CominCh that tests over the past eight months had brought a device, which had been developed jointly by BuShips and BuOrd from an idea proposed by Lt. Comdr. Carl H. Holm, USNR, to a point where it was ready for installation on vessels in service.242 The gear consisted of an acoustic streamer and one or more streamers loaded with high explosives which were to be towed alongside the vessel from a paravane towrope. The idea was that the sound of an approaching torpedo would be picked up by the acoustic device, which in turn set off the high explosive charge in one of the streamers at just the right moment to explode the torpedo and save the ship. What would happen to the ship from this double explosion alongside was a matter which was still not determined when the decision was made to place a large order. At least the torpedo would be exploded away from the ship.

It can be said here that insuperable difficulties in streaming and recovering the equipment developed. If the ship was forced to


stop or reduce its speed greatly, there was danger that the explosive streamers might be drawn toward the ship and even foul the propeller. Also, there was danger that the explosive charges might be set off by noises from the ship if the explosive streamers were activated. Further, there was a stowage problem on merchant ships and a certain amount of danger from the explosive in case of fire. Nevertheless, many responsible people in the Navy Department and the Maritime Commission looked to the device as one of the great defenses against submarines.

On 25 September 1942 VCNO directed that 20 sets be produced, 10 for Navy vessels and 10 desired by the Maritime Commission for installation on merchant vessels. The installation of the gear on merchant ships was designated a defense item.243 CominCh decided that the importance of the development justified an AAA priority.244 The Maritime Commission wanted 1,200 of the installations, but the first large order was much more modest. On 25 February 1943 procurement of 300 sets of the gear for WSA ships and 100 sets for naval auxiliaries was authorized.245 In July total procurement was increased to 600 sets.246

The handling and streaming of the Mark 29 gear was made a definite responsibility of the master. The instruction was offered in the New York area on the S. S. American Mariner. The Armed Guard officer and about 25 percent of his crew were also to be trained in


streaming, recovery, operation, and maintenance of the equipment. Navy radio operators also required special training in the operation and maintenance of the electrical equipment of this gear. Port Directors requested specially trained personnel from the Armed Guard Centers for ships which were equipped with the Mark 29 mine. Armed Guard officers made reports on the performance of the gear,247 most of them unfavorable. On 12 July 1943, BuPers was directed to transfer training of naval personnel to the Naval Mine Warfare School, Yorktown, Virginia, and the S. S. Atlantida was requested for duty in connection with this training. Enlisted personnel other than radiomen designated for such training were required to have nine months of sea experience so that they would know something about seamanship.248 Provision was made that up to 50 per cent of the Armed Guard could lend aid to the merchant personnel in operating the gear.249 The first nucleus crews were ordered to Yorktown for training on 28 August 1943. Each nucleus crew consisted of the Armed Guard officer, the radio operators, six seamen and a petty officer.250 In September 1943, directions were given that personnel so trained should not be transferred out of the Armed Guard to other duty.251


When the Maritime Commission recommended in November, 1943, that the installation of the Mark 29 Mine be suspended pending changes in design and arrangements to make it fully effective252 the Navy directed on 19 November that the installation of Mark 29 gear on merchant ships be discontinued immediately. Existing installations were to be removed at the first suitable availability in United States ports and the equipment was to be returned to the cognizant Bureaus for safeguarding and ultimate disposition. Procurement of the device as then designed was to be cancelled at the point most advantageous to the Government. Cognizant bureaus were to continue to experiment with the device and developments were to be tried on the U.S.S. Atlantida both inshore and at sea. After completion of the trials of improved equipment consideration would be given to fitting a few merchant ships with the most promising types in order to observe actual performance at sea before deciding upon the general resumption of installations on merchant ships. By separate correspondence BuPers was requested to discontinue training of Armed Guards in the operation of the gear.253

Plans were quickly developed to retain the microphone on vessels which had been equipped with Mark 29 gear so that it could be used as a torpedo warning device. It was decided that BuShips should substitute a small amplifying panel to be connected with the wiring already installed.254 By 22 January 1944 BuShips had designed a new listening unit for ships which had carried the Mark 29 gear. This consisted of


a towed hydrophone, an amplifier, and two loud speakers, one to be mounted in the pilot house and the other on the upper bridge of Liberty ships. This device was to be used to enable the ship to take evasive action upon the approach of a torpedo. CNO requested that the Maritime Commission install this Modified Mark 29 listening unit on all Liberty ships formerly equipped with the Mark 29 gear. BuShips furnished a handbook on installation and operation. The gear was placed under the cognizance of the Armed Guard officer for streaming, recovery, testing and maintenance. No special watch was required.255

BuShips and BuOrd continued experiments and work in an effort to improve the Mark 29 Mine. They developed an improved detection streamer and amplifier and an explosive streamer with a reduced charge. Improved deck handling arrangements were developed and tested at the New York Navy Yard. An improved paravane and improved faired cable were also produced. But there still remained difficulties. The gear had to be retrieved and streamed again whenever the ship dropped to dead slow speed or stopped. Actuation of the gear caused considerable damage to the vessel, which danger probably was not entirely eliminated by the reduction in the charge carried in the explosive streamer. The gear, when armed, could be actuated by other than torpedo sounds. There was also danger of the streamer fouling the ship's propeller when the gear was drawn out of position by a drop in speed below four knots or by failure of the paravane. Rough seas increased this difficulty. In view of these considerations and the low priority for completion of the


new gear, CNO on 8 April 1944 approved a BuShips-BuOrd recommendation on 17 March that the improved gear as presently designed not be installed on merchant ships. However, 90 sets of the old type gear then on hand should be held for an emergency. Further development of the gear should be discontinued. The U.S.S. Atlantida and the U.S.S. Liberty Belle were ordered released from experimental duty. Mark 29 gear installed on some eight naval vessels was also ordered removed.256

On 14 April BuShips was authorized to dispose of 300 listening units to the best advantage of the Navy Department after salvage of components which were of value.257 On 18 July authority was granted to dispose of the 90 sets of Mark 29 gear which had been retained.258

Not until 16 May 1945 did Operations order the listening unist on 61 merchant ships removed. This was done on a BuShips recommendation of 15 May. Most of the equipment was already inoperative. Armed Guard officers did not indicate that a single torpedo was ever detected by the device. Then, too, the military situation had greatly changed259 and the torpedo menace was not as great.


Gyro Compasses for Alaskan Vessels

The Maritime Commission installed gyro compasses on many new construction vessels, but not on Liberty ships. However, it was essential that vessels operating in dangerous Alaskan waters be furnished with an accurate compass. Some of these ships were old; others were Liberty ships. In many cases their magnetic compasses were affected by defense installations and deck cargo which were placed aboard. There were also unfavorable magnetic conditions in the Alaskan area. Some vessels were lost in the Alaskan supply routes because of grounding.260

On 19 December 1942 BuShips recommended that 48 gyro compasses be supplied to the Puget Sound Navy Yard for installation on a loan basis on merchant vessels operating to Alaska. This recommendation was based on a priority list supplied by Com 13 and included vessels from the first three priority groups. It was possible, however, to reduce this list considerably because some of the ships were to be turned over to the Russians and others were Liberty ships assigned on a trip basis. The Bureau of Ships was requested to investigate compass conditions of each of the vessels in the three priority groups permanently assigned to the Alaskan service and to advise the Maritime Commission which of these vessels should have gyro compasses in view of violation of the compass circle caused by installation of armament, splinter protection, or degaussing. The installation of the gyro on ships so designated by the Bureau of Ships was made a defense item,


with cost of compass and installation to be paid by transfer of funds from the Navy Department to the Maritime Commission. It was noticed, however, that several of the strandings in the past were caused by swift tides and currents, poor visibility, and by other difficulties not directly chargeable to compass difficulties. Moreover the routing for large vessels was now such that passage through confined waters was much reduced.261 On 12 February BuShips directed the transfer of 25 gyro compasses to the Puget Sound Navy Yard for installation in vessels on the Alaskan run, at the discretion of Com 13. Equipment should be removed prior to the departure of any vessel from the Puget Sound - Alaska area and prepared for reissue. Com 13 was requested to conduct the investigation of ships which BuShips had directed to make. BuShips experts were nearly all tied up with training of magnetic compass adjustors and degaussing specialists for duty at overseas bases. However, BuShips promised assistance if Com 13 requested it.262 On 11 August the Assistant Industrial Manager at Seattle supplied VCNO with a list of 25 ships which had been equipped with gyro compasses.263


Smoke Indicators

The problem of smoke prevention on ships traveling through dangerous submarine infested waters became a serious one. The British made a study of smoke prevention and offered to instruct the engineers and firemen of all allied nations coal burning ships in smoke prevention while in British ports. On 24 April 1943 the Navy Department requested the War Shipping Administration to provide instruction for engineers and firemen on oil burning merchant ships, both United States and allied, in smoke prevention. The installation of smoke indicators on ships which had been built without this equipment was made a defense item. New ships were being equipped with the indicators.264


Fueling At Sea Gear

If escort vessels could be kept indefinitely at sea, returning to base only for necessary repairs, the war against German submarines could be waged more successfully. In addition to food, fuel and depth charges must be supplied while at sea if escorts were to be used most effectively. Therefore, two of the most important defense items placed on merchant tankers were facilities for fueling escorts and for supplying depth charges.

Without formal directive from the Navy Department, the Port Director at New York began equipping a few tankers for fueling at sea operations. On 26 January 1943 formal approval was given to this procedure when the Armed Guard was authorized to assist in fueling escorts. But fifty per cent must be available to man the guns.265 On 31 August Armed Guard officers were directed to report on the next three oiling at sea operations carried out by their tank ships. A form for making this report was furnished in the interest of uniformity.266 On 8 October fueling at sea gear was made a defense item and the War Shipping Administration was requested to make the installation. Heretofore the installation had been made at Navy Yards. BuShips would still supply the hose and fittings and would provide the type plans.

The equipment was Navy property and would be returned to the Navy when removed from the ship. Selection of ships to receive the equipment would be made at a conference between the Port Director and the local


War Shipping Administration representative and the Maritime Commission would include the names of tankers selected in its list of "Additional Vessels Ordered Available for Installation Defense Features."267

On 12 November 1943 the Maritime Commission was requested to install fueling at sea gear on all large tankers under construction to use the roller method of handling 5" buoyant hose for fueling over the stern in accordance with BuShips instructions and plans of 23 October.268

In compliance with a request from Commander Service Force, Seventh Fleet, directions were given on 2 June 1944 to make 200 lengths of 4" hose, with 4" and 6" fittings and adaptors available at Balboa to equip about 25 Navy allocated tankers with 8 lengths of hose for harbor fueling.269

When CinCPac indicated on 4 November 1944 that he wished to use tankers already fitted with the gear but would not require additional installations,270 CNO requested the Maritime Commission to cease installing over the stern equipment on 20 November.271

The whole venture was highly successful. The fueling astern method was favored in the Atlantic because of the rough weather which was frequently encountered. But some of the earlier installations were for fueling alongside.


Stowage of Depth Charges on Tankers

In certain cases the British installed depth charges on United States merchant ships. This installation was never approved by the Navy Department and the depth charges were promptly removed. The Admiralty was advised that the Navy did not favor equipping merchantmen with depth charges.272

But on 29 April 1944 the Navy did authorize fitting escort oilers with stowage facilities for 100 depth charges and 60 arbors and with equipment for transferring these to escort vessels. The transfer of depth charges was placed under the cognizance of the master, but the services of Armed Guard personnel could be used to assist the merchant crew in the transfer operation, provided the broadside gun watches were fully maintained. BuShips provided type plans covering installation and instructions for transfer of depth charges to the escorts. The War Shipping Administration carried out the installation.273 The depth charges were never to be handled by tankers when loaded with petroleum products of lighter gravity than boiler or diesel oil. They were never to be carried completely assembled. The boosters, booster extenders, detonators, and pistols were carried by the escorts. The carrying of depth charges on the decks of tankers was made possible by waiver of the Navigation and Vessels Inspection Laws, approved by the Coast Guard on 15 March 1944 on the ground that the military urgency outweighed the


marine hazard involved. However, five regulations applied: (1) No depth charges could be on board a tank vessel when in a shipyard or drydock for repairs; (2) repairs involving hot work at locations other than ship repair plants or drydocks could be undertaken only if a permit for such repairs had been secured from the Captain of the Port; (3) escort tankers with depth charges on board could proceed to an oil loading terminal provided notice was given to the Captain of the Port in order that the Coast Guard could provide a security watch; (4) when necessary to remove depth charges within the limits of a United States Port, the charges should be removed at a location designated by responsible Naval authority; (5) when necessary to replenish depth charges within the limits of a United States Port, replenishing should be done at a location designated by responsible Naval authority.274

Stowage of depth charge crated arbors presented some difficulties. BuOrd approved uncrating the arbors provided they were given a protective coating of rust preventative oil. BuOrd recommended canvas covers for protection.275

The carrying of depth charges by escort oilers gave the escort vessels an almost unlimited supply of depth charges. They could use the charges much more freely than formerly and expend them with settings for varying depths. It is known that the lavish use of depth charges was an important factor in upsetting the German submarine campaign.


Ordnance Storeroom and Armory

On 9 February 1944 a new defense item was added. This was an ordnance storeroom and armory for storing the many items of equipment which the Armed Guard carried aboard Area 1-A ships and which could not be satisfactorily stowed in their rather limited living quarters. This was of necessity an item which could only be included satisfactorily in new construction. On older ships arrangements varied widely and were at best makeshift. The minimum requirement was for 72 square feet of properly ventillated deck space which could be secured to prevent the loss or theft of valuable Navy equipment. This room should be located in the after part of the ship. There was to be a work bench two feet wide and four feet long, a vise, bins, and suitable steel shelving for stowing the following items of equipment:

Ordnance spare parts and tools
Grease and oils
Wiping cloths and wastes (in metal containers)
Gun covers and hammocks
Battle lanterns, batteries, and lamps
Rifles and side arms
Medical kits and gun bags
Spare winter clothing
Spare life preservers
Miscellaneous stores and supplies which must be placed under lock and key for security.276

The Navy disapproved installation of spare parts and gear lockers in the structure supporting the 20mm gun platforms.277 It also disapproved stowage of supplies and equipment in wooden chests or lockers


on the weather decks.278 Stowage of equipment in the fore-peak spaces aboard ship was likewise disapproved, mainly because of danger from dampness and flooding.279

It was the policy of the Arming Merchant Ship Section in fleet maintenance that there should not be expensive alterations on existing ships and that any suitable stowage space which could be placed under lock and key would be satisfactory. Even though stowage in the after part of the ship was preferred, such space in other parts of the ship might be acceptable.280


Course Changing Clocks

On 3 June 1942 BuShips informed VCNO that it was proceeding with the purchase of 50 course changing clocks for such further tests or installation as VCNO might direct.281 By 20 May 1943 these clocks had been tried in service and the clock had been improved by incorporating recommendations from various vessels. BuShips proceeded to purchase 50 additional clocks of the improved type and recommended that they be installed on all cargo vessels equipped with gyro compasses.282 On 25 June Operations requested that sufficient quantities be procured to equip all cargo vessels sailing independently, equipped with a gyro compass, and capable of sustained speed of 14 knots. The War Shipping Administration estimated that 500 would be required.283

In view of the fact that these clocks would soon be available for issue to merchant ships which were sailing independently, they were designated a defense item on 1 September 1943. The clocks were to be returned to the Navy when removed from merchant ships.284 The first 25 were installed on designated ships in January 1944,285 and on 8 March 25 additional clocks were ready for installation on designated tankers.286

By 19 May the clocks were available for all ships capable of a sustained speed of 14 knots which had a gyro compass and were obliged


to sail independently during the course of their operation. The clocks were placed under the cognizance of the master. The Armed Guard officer was not to be responsible in any manner for the custody, operation, or use of the clocks.287 On 20 December 1944 BuShips was requested to procure 250 additional clocks. Some of the clocks were installed on Naval Transportation Service transports and cargo ships.288

The device, fitted on the gyro repeater, was highly successful. It enabled ships to sail a continually changing course, but at the same time make good the base course. Such ships made difficult targets for lurking submarines. The device was never used on ships in convoy. The clock was used extensively by Naval auxiliaries and submarines.


Signalling Equipment

The Navy supplied 9 items of signalling equipment to merchant ships during World War II:

(1) Night Signalling Equipment

Portable flashing lamp of equal power and efficiency with the Navy multi-purpose signal kit, with shield attachment (4 spare bulbs and spare cells for one reload when dry batteries were used).

(2) Daylight Signalling Equipment

Searchlight. At first, BuShips supplied an 8" searchlight, but later arrangements resulted in the Maritime Commission supplying two 12" searchlights to many new construction ships. When the Maritime Commission only furnished one 12" searchlight, BuShips could supply a second. However, BuShips could not furnish more than one 8" and one 12" searchlight to a ship.289

(3) International Code Flags

Two sets fitted with suitable snaps and rings. In addition Convoy Commodores, Vice Commodores, and repeater ships were to be issued a set of No. 3 international signal flags and numeral pennants so that signals could be readily seen by ships in convoy.290

(4) Halyards and Flag Lockers

Four sets located to permit signals being hoisted from the bridge or from a position close to the bridge.

(5) Semaphore Hand Flags


(6) Handlines

For communicating between ships at sea by floating messages astern.

(7) White Rockets

Twelve carried on or near the bridge, ready for immediate use.

(8) Emergency Radio Aerial

Ready for immediate use. Swung from a suitable ventilator cowl or davit, without using the ship's mast or any stay secured thereto. Special care to be given to insulation.

(9) Portable Colored Lights

Carried by the Commodore, the Vice Commodore and the repeater ships.291

Ships were required to have an efficient whistle for maneuvers in convoy.

The Convoy colored lights were an especially important installation for running the convoy efficiently and promptly transmitting commands. The type used was a British development.292 The position of the Navy throughout was that these lights should be portable or temporary and not a permanent type of installation. The permanent Christmas Tree type was not approved because the signal lights were not eight feet apart and the signal, therefore, appeared blurred and could not be easily read.293 On 5 August 1944, BuShips was directed to supply a set of the lights for each merchant ship and transport completed after 31 August 1944. There was no intention, however, to supply this equipment to all ships already built nor to replace the Christmas Tree lights which had already been installed. Convoy Commodores, Vice Commodores and their assistants should continue to carry a set of lights


as a part of their equipment, since they might be required to shift to ships which were not so equipped.294


Radio Equipment

It should be noted that while CNO prescribed the radio transmitters, receivers, and direction finders which merchant ships should have295 the only items chargeable as Naval Defense Items were certain differences in cost between radiating and non-radiating receivers, some 1,500 intermediate and high frequency radio receivers for installation on WSA owned or controlled merchant vessels over 1,000 gross tons which lacked proper equipment to receive BAMS messages, and TBY's installed late in the war on merchant  ships operating in the Pacific west of 170° East and North of 05° South.296 Prior to this time TBY's had been installed on a temporary basis on a few ships operating in the Atlantic, notably flag ships of United States Convoy Commodores.


Closure of Tonnage Openings and Extension of Watertight Bulkheads

A defense installation which enabled many ships to get home which otherwise would now be at the bottom of the ocean was the extension of water tight transverse bulkheads on shelter deck cargo ships to the weather deck. All tonnage openings in transverse bulkheads were permanently closed.297 Thus, ships were given a large measure of watertight integrity and the danger of progressive flooding of compartments when one compartment was opened to the sea under deep load conditions was greatly limited.

Perhaps the best illustration of the value of this wise measure, which was suggested by the Arming Merchant Ship Section in the Fleet Maintenance Division of Naval Operations, is to be found in the story of the S.S. William Williams. On 2 May 1943, while about 250 miles southwest of Suva, the ship was struck by a torpedo on the port side between the No. 4 and No. 5 holds. The explosion blew out the bulkhead between these holds, splitting the port side for about 40 feet and leaving gaping holes in the starboard side. Hatch covers and cross beams were blown completely out of both after holds. Between deck hatch covers were blown clear up to the flying bridge and one cross beam was blown on the boat deck. When the ship began to settle rapidly at about 1715 all hands took to boats but remained within sight of the ship. At dawn merchant officers went aboard the ship and later all hands were brought aboard for breakfast, half at a time. That night four people stayed aboard while the rest of the crew put off in boats


for safety in case the engine room bulkhead should give way. On May 6 the ship was taken in tow and on May 8 arrived at Suva. On May 26 the ship departed Suva in tow and on 3 June arrived at Auckland.298 Only the fact that her bulkheads held and that progressive flooding was prevented saved the ship from sinking. Other examples of merchant ships which were saved in similar fashion could be given.


Inclining Ship

On 1 June 1942, inclining the ship when necessary because of defense installations became a defense item.299 Apparently the number of ships so inclined was quite small, but the exact number is not known.


Ammunition Stowage and Handling Facilities

Installation of ammunition handling and stowage facilities became a defense item on August 29, 1941.300 There is no comprehensive directive which describes specifications for magazines in detail. On 4 November 1941 the Bureau of Ships informed the Maritime Commission that reserve ammunition "should be stowed in a ventilated, locked, enclosure located below the weather deck in as cool a location as practicable, but preferably not in a cargo hold." This space should be provided with suitable sprinkling piping and water supply therefore. The letter warned that temperatures in excess of 90° F. caused a rapid deterioration of ammunition.301 On 29 May 1942, BuShips requested that magazine spaces on merchant vessels be insulated with at least one inch of insulation of accepted marine type. Care should also be taken to provide forced ventilation, except where ample natural ventilation was continuously available.302 In 1944 BuShips requested the installation of spark screens on all ventilators leading to magazines,303 also that facilities be provided on all armed merchant ships for testing the magazine sprinkler system.304 The installation of a break glass cover over the sprinkler valve control wheel on deck was provided.305


While ammunition stowage and handling facilities varied somewhat on the older ships the description given below represents the approved installations for merchant ships which were incorporated in all new construction by the end of the war. Most of the facilities described were being installed by 1943. This description is based on a comprehensive summary prepared by the Arming Merchant Ship Section in Fleet Maintenance.

Magazines for guns larger than machine guns were located in so far as practicable in the hull directly below the guns and below the deep load line if possible. High temperatures, such as existed in boiler rooms, machinery spaces, or galleys, were avoided. The ammunition trunks and hoists were located so that the weather deck scuttle hatch was adjacent to the ready service boxes with a direct vertical lead from the magazine to the gun platform or weather deck. Where the distance from magazine deck to gun platform was more than 18 feet there was a power driven hoist for 5" powder and projectiles. Hoists for 3"/50 and 20 mm ammunition were fitted with a whip operated by a deck winch.

The bulkheads around the magazines and shell rooms were constructed of steel properly stiffened. Magazines should not be in bearing with collision bulkheads. Decks at top and bottom of the magazine and the surrounding bulkheads or shell plating were insulated with fireproof material to prevent overheating or sweating. The ammunition trunk, hoist scuttle hatch covers, and magazine entrance doors were to be of water-tight design, fitted with gaskets, securing dogs, and locking arrangements.


All Ammunition was to be stowed in the fore and aft plane. It was kept clear of the deck by wood gratings. Every effort was to be made to provide proper ventilation, both forced and natural. In addition to spark screens for ventilator ducts, arrangements should be made so that the ventilators could be made water-tight during rough weather. Ventilator fan motors were to be of the spark proof type.

New construction ships were equipped with an electric fire detection system with an indicator board located in the pilot house. This indicator board was fitted with an alarm bell and indicator lights to indicate excessive temperatures in the individual magazines.

For magazines not located entirely below the vessel's light load line, the sprinkler system, connected to the ship's fire main, constituted the only source of water for extinguishing fires. But for magazines located entirely below the light load line there was also a gravity flooding system. Both systems should have valve arrangements to permit testing. The sprinkler control valve on the weather deck was encased in a break glass covered box fitted with a padlock. This valve was normally kept closed. A secondary valve in the magazine for testing purposes was normally left open. A drain cock was located on the pressure side of this valve for testing purposes. The valves for the sprinkler and flooding systems were painted red and properly labeled. Arrows indicated the direction in which the valve wheel should be turned for opening and closing.


Powder test sample bottles were kept in racks in the magazines. These racks held at least four bottles and were located at least five feet above the deck. They were placed so as to prevent damage when ammunition was being handled.

Other fittings for magazines included thermometers which indicated maximum and minimum temperatures since the last reading, safety precautions, and adequate lighting with switches located outside of the magazine. Each magazine was to be so labeled with a brass plate which should also indicate caliber and type of ammunition stowed therein.

The magazine for 20 mm ammunition could be adjoining to a magazine for other ammunition, but it should be separated by a metal bulkhead. Racks should be provided to secure the four spare magazines issued with each 20 mm gun, and for secure stowage of ammunition containers. A loading bench, fitted with two 20 mm loading frames was to be installed in each 20 mm ammunition magazine.

A clipping room was provided in the midship house on vessels armed with eight or more 20 mm guns. This room was located as near the center line of the vessel as possible to insure maximum protection. The bulkheads surrounding the clipping room were constructed of steel and properly stiffened. Entrance door and air ports were of water-tight design with gaskets, securing dogs, and locking arrangements. The decks at the bottom and top of the room were insulated with fireproof


material. Both natural and forced ventilation was supplied. Ventilator fan motors were of the spark proof type. Ventilator ducts were fitted with the spark screens and arranged so that they could be secured during rough seas. The clipping room was fitted with a sprinkler system and with an electric fire detection system. It was to be fitted with racks for ammunition and for spare magazines for at least six guns (24 magazines). A loading bench with two loading frames and a vise was to be supplied. Racks were also supplied for tools and spare parts. Blackout facilities were provided if the entrance floor or air ports were visible from outboard or overboard. Safety precautions were to be displayed in the room.

Ready service boxes, supplied by BuShips, were located at each gun emplacement. Each 3"/50 AA gun had two boxes of 25 rounds capacity each. Each 5"/38 had a box for 25 rounds of projectiles and a box for 25 rounds of powder. The ready service box at each 20 mm gun had a capacity of eight magazines. The boxes were of sheet metal, water-tight, and could be locked. A metal sun shade protected them from the direct rays of the sun. A thermometer recorded minimum and maximum temperatures. Ammunition was stowed in racks in the fore and aft plane to prevent damage from rolls of the vessel. Magazine loading frames were secured to the top of the 20 mm ready service boxes. Safety precautions were displayed at each box.


Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (2) ** Next Chapter (4)


1. Rest. ltr., SecNav to Admiral Land, ser. QS1/S81(401113), 4 June 1941., Maritime Commission to SecNav, S81(ES), 17 July 1941; ltr., SecNav to Admiral Land, ser. QS1/S81(401113), 1 Aug. 1941; ltr., Admiral Land to SecNav, S81(ES), 15 Aug. 1941.

2. Rest. ltr., SecNav to Admiral Land, ser. QS1/S81(401113) 11 June 1941.

3. Ltr., Admiral Land to SecNav, 8 Aug. 1941

4. Rest. ltr., SecNav to Admiral Land, ser. QS1/S81(401113), 10 Sept. 1941.

5. Conf. memo., Op-38S-A to Op-38, ser. 061538, 13 Oct. 1941.

6. SecNav rest. ltr., ser. 087323, 25 March 1942.

7. BuShips rest. desp., 052134, 5 May 1942, and conf. desp., 102234 of 10 Sept. 1942.

8. Rest. ltr., VCNO to Com 4, ser. 280823, 24 Aug. 1942

9. Teletype, Admiral Fairfield to Capt. N. Nicolson (WSA New York), 20 June 1942. There were 643 United States owned vessels of over 1,000 gross tons to be degaussed on June 22. Op-23L memos. for File, 23 June 1942.

10. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0276930, 26 Oct. 1942.

11. VCNO rest. ltr., ser. 148923, 15 June 1943.

12. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0336330, 24 Aug. 1945.

13. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 178023 (Armed Guard Bulletin 24-44), 15 June 1944; Articles 4321, 4322, General Instructions for Commanding Officers of Naval Armed Guards on Merchant Ships (4th ed., 1944), p. 61

14. Ltr., BuShips to Admiral Land, QS1/S81-6 QS13/S81-6 (900), 23 June 1941.

15. SecNav rest. ltr., ser. 250338, 29 Aug. 1941.

16. SecNav rest. ltr., ser. 363823, 27 Oct. 1941.

17. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 18623, 14 Feb. 1942.

18. SecNav rest. ltr., ser. 122323, 30 April 1942.

19. CNO rest. ltrs., sers. 69723 and 58123, of 9 March and 29 Feb. 1944.

20. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 423823, 2 Oct. 1942.

21. CNO rest. ltr. ser. 4523, 20 Feb. 1943.

22. SecNav rest. ltr., ser. 363823, 27 Oct. 1941

23. Maritime Commission rest. ltr., 19 May 1943; BuShips conf. ltr., C-JJ46-1-(19) (374) C-EN28/A2-11, 16 Oct. 1941, BuShips rest. Ad Interim Specification, R59P5(INT), R59P6(INT), 1 Dec. 1943.

24. [This footnote is missing from the text - ed.]

25. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 13423, 14 Jan. 1944; CNO conf. ltr., ser. 096623, 15 Feb. 1944.

26. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 1 Feb. 1944.

27. SecNav rest. ltr., ser. 250338, 29 Aug. 1941.

28. SecNav rest. ltr., ser. 36823, 27 Oct. 1941.

29. Op-23L rest. memo., 12 June 1944.

30. Lt. Comdr. E. A. Matthiessen's memo., 2 Aug. 1944.

31. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 268623, 24 Aug. 1944.

32. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0165623, 27 Oct. 1941.

33. Rest. ltr., BuShips to Admiral Land, S1/S78-3 (459), 4 Nov. 1941.

34. CNO conf. desp., 181613, 18 Nov. 1941.

35. Secretary of Commerce to SecNav, 17 Nov. 1941.

36. BuOrd conf. ltr., A16-2 (Mn5), 19 Nov. 1941; ltr., BuOrd to Admiral Land, A16-2 (Mn5), 25 Nov. 1941.

37. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0183123, 22 Nov. 1941.

38. For priorities on 20 mm guns see CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0182123, 25 Nov. 1941.

39. Two of the earliest ships armed were the S.S. Dunboyne and the S.S. West Nohno. See The Armed Guard Pointer (Armed Guard Center Atlantic), 23 Nov. 1944.

40. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0197123, 9 Dec. 1941.

41. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 406123, 13 Dec. 1941.

42. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0208323, 20 Dec. 1941.

43. CNO conf. disp., 242234, 24 Dec. 1941.

44. CNO conf. disp. 242225, 24 December 1941.

45. SecNav rest. ltr., ser. 414323, 27 Dec. 1941.

46. Conf. telephone conversation, Capt. Hinckley and Mr. Rissmiller, 29 Dec. 1941.

47. Rest. ltr., Special Naval Observer to CNO, ser. 00603, 26 Dec. 1941.

48. Conf. memo., Capt. Hinckley for Admiral Farber, 29 Dec. 1941; conf. memo., CNO for SecNav, 23 Jan. 1942. There would have been no real gun shortage if the United States had not given foreign governments some 997 guns.

49. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 07223, 13 Jan. 1942.

50. CNO conf. disp., 191600, 19 Jan. 1942; SecNav rest. ltr., ser. 18523, 3 Feb. 1942; rest. ltr., Acting SecNav to Admiral Land, ser. 22723, 6 Feb. 1942.

51. Maritime Commission, Instructions to Inspectors, ser. 501, 17 Jan. 1942. The last list of vessels to be armed which BuOrd promulgated was dated 28 January 1942. On 1 February BuOrd decided to discontinue this list. Local representatives of the Maritime Commission were to inform Commandants of Naval Districts of ships to be armed, their operating areas, and when the vessels would be ready for guns. It was recognized that in some cases substitute batteries would have to be supplied in lieu of 3"/50 AA guns because of the shortage in this weapon. In all cases where armament was not available to the Commandant he was to inform BuOrd giving the name of the vessel and the armament which could not be supplied. BuOrd rest. ltrs., A16-2(Mn5), 28 Jan. and 1 Feb. 1942.

52. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 29823, 14 Feb. 1942.

53. CNO rest., ltr., ser. 18623, 14 Feb. 1942.

54. Op-23N conf. memo., 4 March 1942. By this date merchant ships were being armed at the rate of 200 a month. Certain coastwise ships carrying coal were given 4"/50 guns. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 071223, 6 March 1942.

55. BuOrd rest. ltr., (A16-2)(Mn5), 17 April 1942.

56. CNO rest. disp., 222005, 22 April 1942.

57. Ltr., BuOrd to CNO, A16-2(1754)(PL2b), 28 April 1942; conf. ltr., VCBO to BuOrd, ser. 0152423, 5 May 1942.

58. Rest. ltr., SecNav to Admiral Land, ser. 122323, 30 April 1942. Only 102 five inch fifty, 287 five inch fifty-one, and 304 four inch fifty guns were available on 1 May 1942. See Op-23L memo. for File, 6 May 1942. Strict orders went out ton 10 June to install 5" guns wherever possible. CNO conf. disp., 101605, 10 June 1942.

59. CNO conf. disp., 151740, 15 May 1942.

60. VCNO conf. disp., 041415, 4 June 1942; VCNO conf. disp., 221630, 22 June 1942; VCNO conf. disp., 241210, 24 June 1942.

61. Ltr., BuOrd to BuShips, (Pr5b), 17 June 1942.

62. BuShips ltrs., QS1/S74-2(459)EN28/A2-11 of 20 Aug. 1942. S78-3459 EN28/A2-11 of 21 Aug. 1942.

63. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 24 Sept. 1942.

64. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 16 Oct. 1942.

65. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 27 Nov. 1942.

66. VCNO conf. disp., 111610, 11 July 1942.

67. VCNO conf. disp., 121530, 12 July 1942.

68. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 4 Aug. 1942. On 23 July Op-23L had estimated that 339 4" and 5" guns were available. Rest. memo for File, 23 July 1942.

69. See Op-23L rest. memos. of 17 and 25 August and memo. on guns required for Area 1 ships as of 31 Aug. 1942. Some 1,200 odd ships armed since 14 February numbered 255. Ships either armed for Area 2 or partially armed for Area 1 numbered 767. The guns required to bring 1,490 ships up to Area 1 standards were: 496--5", 109--4"/50, 962--3"/50, 11--6 pounders, 3,390--20 mm, 1,076--.50 cal., 2,102--.30 cal. To the beginning of 1943 there was a shortage of 271 4" and 5" guns. Op-23L conf. memo. for Admiral Farber, 28 Sept. 1942. For September alone1,068 of the 20 mm guns were needed. Op-23L rest. memo. for Capt. Hinckley, 17 Aug. 1942.

70. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0270323-A, 14 Aug. 1942; VCNO rest. ltr., ser. 274423, 19 Aug. 1942.

71. VCNO conf. disp., 191905, 19 Aug. 1942.

72. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 24 Sept. 1942.

73. VCNO conf. disp., 071835, 7 Oct. 1942.

74. VCNO conf. disp., 091905, 9 Oct. 1942.

75. VCNO conf. disp., 281835, 29 Oct. 1942. Not until 22 July 1943 did ships for these areas receive the same priority for 3"/50 bow guns as ships for North Russia, the Mediterranean, and the Red Sea. VCNO conf. disp., 221530, 22 July 1943.

76. VCNO conf. disp., 062010, 6 November 1942 and 131615, 14 Nov. 1943. The allowance for 20 mm guns was increased from 1,200 rounds to 2,400 rounds.

77. BuOrd conf. disp., 262030, 26 Oct. 1942. This allowance was increased to 5,040 rounds on 23 March 1943. See VCNO conf. disp., 221435 of that date. On 22 Dec. the allowance for 3"/50 guns on ships to North Russia, the United Kingdom, the Persian Gulf, and Indian waters was increased to 150 rounds. VCNO conf. disp., 221835, 22 Dec. 1942. The 20 mm allowance for ammunition on ships to the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, India, the United Kingdom, and West Africal was also increased to 5,040 rounds. VCNO conf. disp., 021855, 2 June 1943.

78. VCNO conf. disp., 131535, 14 Nov. 1942.

79. VCNO conf. disp., 071305, 7 Dec. 1942. Ships west of Hawaii received a 20 mm allowance of 5,040 rounds on 25 July. VCNO conf. disp., 241330, 25 July 1943.

80. VCNO conf. ltr., Ser. 0437723, 9 Oct. 1942.

81. VCNO conf. ltr., Ser. 423823, 2 Oct. 1942.

82. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 19 Nov. 1942 and memo. for File, 20 Nov. 1942.

83. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 19 Oct. 1942.

84. VCNO ltr., ser. 36623, 8 Feb. 1943.

85. BuOrd conf. logistic memo., A16-1(2) (PL1b), 9 Feb. 1943; VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 062523, 19 Feb. 1943.

86. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 31 Dec. 1942, More 5"/51 guns became available when 28 were removed from ACV's as 5"/38 guns were substituted. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 3 May 1943.

87. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0519223, 18 Dec. 1942; VCNO rest. ltr., ser. 506523, 4 Jan. 1943. By 26 January seventeen 5"/38 guns were available for installation on the West Coast. VCNO rest. ltr., ser. 19723, 26 Jan. 1942.

88. Rest. ltr., VCNO to Admiral Fairfield, ser. 445623, 21 Oct. 1942. The ammunition allowance for 5"/38 guns on Area 1-A ships was set at 110 rounds on 18 February. See VCNO conf. disp., 181305, 18 Feb. 1943.

89. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 18 Feb. 1943.

90. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 19 March 1943.

91. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 20 April 1943.

92. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 19 May 1943.

93. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 26 July 1943.

94. VCNO conf. disp., 130820, 13 July 1943.

95. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 20 July 1943.

96. VCNO conf. disp., 181530, 18 Aug. 1943.

97. On 17 Jan. 1944 there was a shortage of 197 three inch fifties and 723 four and five inch guns. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 17 Jan. 1944.

98. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 24 Jan. 1945.

99. Op-23L memo. for File, 29 July 1943; CNO ltr., ser. 266123, 19 Aug. 1944.

100. VCNO rest. ltr., ser. 190623, 12 July 1943.

101. BuOrd conf. circular ltr. A71-43, 28 July 1943.

102. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 268423, 22 Sept. 1943.

103. Rest. ltr. VCNO to BuOrd, ser. 272523, 29 Sept. 1943.

104. Conf. ltr., CNO to Admiral Fairfield, ser. 0565423, 20 Nov. 1943.

105. Op-23L rest. memos. for File, 29 Oct., 11 Nov., 4 Dec. 1943 and 6 Jan. 1944.

106. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 23123, 25 Jan. 1944.

107. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 58123, 29 Feb. 1944.

108. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 26 Jan. 1944.

109. CNO conf. ltr. ser. 065723, 3 Feb. 1944.

110. Op-23L conf. memo. for File, 9 Feb. 1945.

111. Conf. ltr., CNO to BuOrd, ser. 064605-G, 18 March 1944.

112. Conf. ltr., CNO to BuOrd, ser. 0236905-G, 21 Oct. 1944.

113. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 112023, 20 April 1944.

114. Rest. ltr., CNO to BuOrd, ser. 39123, 9 Feb. 1944; Op-23L rest. memo., for File, 31 March 1944; BuOrd ltr., QS1/S74(Mn5c), 27 April 1944; CNO rest. ltr., ser. 121823, 28 April 1944.

115. Rest. ltr., CNO to Com13, ser. 121023, 27 April 1944.

116. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 149423, 23 May 1944.

117. Memo. 1st end., Op-23 to Op-05, ser. 170423, 9 June 1944 on BuOrd ltr., S73-1(6PDR) (Mn1b), 2 June 1944.

118. Conf. memo., CominCh to VCNO, ser. 02234, 30 June 1944.

119. Conf. ltr., CNO to BuOrd, ser. 0150505-G, 3 July 1944.

120. BuOrd conf. ltr., QS/S74 PL2, 7 Aug. 1944.

121. Op-23L conf. memo. for File, 9 Feb. 1945.

122. Rest. memo., Op-23L to Admiral Low, 21 Feb. 1944.

123. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 25 Sept. 1944.

124. Conf. memo., CominCh for Op-23L, ser. FX-3705: jsy, 21 March 1944.

125. Sec. memo., CominCh for VCNO, ser. 003227, 6 Nov. 1944; CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0646123, 15 Nov. 1944, conf. ltr., CNO to BuPers, ser. 0658923, 17 Nov. 1944.

126. Op-23L conf. memo. for File, 22 Nov. 1944.

127. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 12123 (Armed Guard Bulletin 5-45), 10 Jan. 1945.

128. Sec. memo., CominCh to VCNO, ser. 00416, 14 Feb. 1945.

129. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 076223, 22 Feb. 1945. All 20 mm guns were to be ready for action upon entering the English Channel, the Irish Sea, the North Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, and the Pacific west of 160° E. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 69123 (Armed Guard Bulletin 12-45), 24 Feb. 1945.

130. CNO conf. disp., 171928, 18 May 1945.

131. Sec. memo., CominCh to VCNO, ser. 001347, 28 May 1945.

132. CNO conf. ltr.,ser. 0245623, 5 June 1945.

133. Op-23L memo. for File, 12 July 1945.

134. See Appendix VI for a breakdown by types of all guns furnished to merchant ships.

135. SecNav rest. ltr., ser. 250338, 29 Aug. 1941; SecNav rest. ltr., ser. 363823, 27 Oct. 1941; BuShips rest. ltr., S48-23(817) EN2/A2-11, 27 May 1941.

136. SecNav rest. ltr., ser. 250338, 29 Aug. 1941; SecNav rest. ltr. ser. 363823, 27 Oct. 1941.

137. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 406123, 13 Dec. 1941.

138. Maritime Commission Order No. 37 (supplement No. 5 revised), 20 April 1943.

139. Ltr., Chairman of Maritime Commission to VCNO, 18 June 1943.

140. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0508723, 9 Dec. 1942.

141. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0228823, 5 June 1943.

142. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 1 June 1943.

143. Rest. ltr. VCNO to Admiral Fairfield, ser. 173023, 19 June 1943

144. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 293523, 16 Oct. 1943.

145. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 19 July 1943.

146. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 23 Dec. 1943.

147. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 7223, 6 Jan. 1945 and enclosure, WSA ltr. of 2 Jan. 1945.

148. CNO ltr., ser. 363938, 21 Nov. 1941.

149. SecNav rest. ltr., ser. 392623, 26 Nov. 1941.

150. Ltr., Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation to CNO, 11 Dec. 1941.

151. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 063338, 29 Nov. 1941.

152. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 352123 (Armed Guard Bulletin 30-43), 11 Dec. 1943; CNO rest. ltr., ser. 53823 (Armed Guard Bulletin 6-44), 23 Feb. 1944.

153. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0457923, 26 July 1944.

154. VCNO rest. ltr., ser. 139523, 13 May 1942; VCNO rest. ltr., ser. 21262, 1 July 1942; CNO rest. ltr., ser. 341123 (Armed Guard Bulletin 25-43), 1 Dec. 1943. Pneumatic jackets were not approved. CNO rest. ltr. 271723 (Armed Guard Bulleting 44-44), 23 Aug. 1944.

155. BuOrd ltr., S79-4(Mn5c), 4 Dec. 1941; BuOrd ltr., S79-4(Mn5c), 16 Jan. 1943. This letter increased the allowance for each ship beyond 35 helmets.

156. VCNO conf. disp., 181535, 18 June 1942.

157. VCNO rest. ltr., ser. 7723, 12 Jan. 1943.

158. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 4 Dec. 1942.

159. Op-23L conf. memo. for File, 23 March 1944.

160. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0144222, 20 Dec. 1941.

161. VCNO conf. disp., 181535, 18 June 1942; VCNO rest. ltr., ser. 8723, 13 Jan. 1943.

162. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 05012, 21 Jan. 1943.

163. Rest. memo., Op-23L to Admiral Fairfield, 22 March 1944.

164. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0223623, 17 May 1945.

165. Conf. ltr., CNO to Administrator WSA, ser. 0154523, 23 April 1943; Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 16 May 1944; Op-23L conf. memo. for File, 23 March 1944. The Army supplied gas protective clothing for merchant crews on ships operating to the United Kingdom. The Army also supplied decontamination equipment to many ships operating from the West Coast. Dir. Training 12 Naval District ltr., 28 Dec. 1943.

166. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 168623 (Armed Guard Bulleting 21-44), 7 June 1944.

167. Rest. ltr., BuShips to Maritime Commission, QS1.S78-3(459), 4 Nov. 1941; VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 092323, 13 March 1943; CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0272223, 6 May 1944; CNO rest. ltr., ser. 314823, 27 Sept. 1944.

168. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 406123, 13 Dec. 1941. The Blue stern light should be controlled from the bridge and there should be provision for turning off the white stern light if this light was carried.

169. SecNav rest. ltr., ser. 406323, 15 Dec. 1941.

170. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0375923, 27 Aug. 1943.

171. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 83923, 5 March 1945.

172. SecNav rest. ltr., ser. 392623, 26 Nov. 1941.

173. SecNav rest. ltr., ser. 396423, 29 Nov. 1941.

174. Maritime Commission circular ltr., 12 Dec. 1941.

175. VCNO rest. ltr., to Admiral Land, ser. 498523, 24 Dec. 1942.

176. Maritime Commission circular, 1 June 1942.

177. Ltr., SecNav to Admiral Land, ser. SO-6930, 25 April 1942; BuShips ltr., S19-7(341) EN28/A2-11, 17 Feb. 1942.

178. Maritime Commission circular, 1 Jan. 1942. Vessels which were painted when defense items were installed should be painted the color prescribed in this order four months after the forst defense painting or at the conclusion of the next voyage thereafter, but this second painting should be for the owner's or operator's account.

179. Conf. ltr., SecNav to Chairman Maritime Commission, ser. 0188823, 11 June 1942.

180. Op-23L conf. memo. for File, 7 July 1942.

181. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0189523, 14 June 1942.

182. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0223023, 1 July 1942.

183. Memo., Capt. F. U. Lake for Op-23L, Pers-1411-DD, 6 Aug. 1942; Op-23L memo. for Capt. Lake, 19 Aug. 1942.

184. Conf. ltr., VCNO to BuPers, Ser. 0445923, 16 Oct. 1942.

185. VCNO rest. ltr., ser. 486623, 5 Dec. 1942.

186. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0460923, 27 Oct. 1942; VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0468023, 1 Nov. 1942; VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0510423, 8 Dec. 1942.

187. Conf. ltr., VCNO to Chairman Maritime Commission, ser. 0119323, 3 April 1943.

188. Conf. ltr., Admiral Land to CNO, 17 April 1943.

189. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 085423, 8 March 1943; VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0180923, 7 May 1943; VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0187223, 12 May 1943.

190. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 23 May 1943.

191. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0254323, 19 June 1943.

192. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 288623, 13 Oct. 1943.

193. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0122623, 28 Feb. 1944.

194. Memo., Admiral Fairfield, to Op-23L, 1 Mar. 1944; CNO rest. ltrs., sers. 63523 and 63123, 3 March 1944.

195. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 64923, 6 Mar. 1944. On 8 March 1943 BuAer was requested to take cognizance of the instruction set-up at the Port Director's office, New York, with the view of continuing the instruction service and providing for inspection and repair of equipment. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 085423, 8 Mar. 1943.

196. Admiral Fairfield's conf. ltr., 22 Nov. 1944; VCNO conf. memo., ser. 0674623, 28 Nov. 1944; CominCh conf. memo., ser. 04177, 21 Dec. 1944.

197. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0719123, 23 Dec. 1944.

198. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 4623 (Armed Guard Bulletin 3-45), 4 Jan. 1945.

199. CinCPac conf. airmailgram, 142350, 14 Dec. 1944; CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0257323, 12 June 1945; CNO rest. ltr., ser. 266223 (Armed Guard Bulletin 32-45), 29 June 1945.

200. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 15 Jan. 1943.

201. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 029623, 27 Jan. 1943.

202. Op-23L rest. memo., for File, 12 July 1943.

203. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 288623, 13 Oct. 1943.

204. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 3 March 1944.

205. VCNO conf. memo. end. for CominCh, ser. 0440223, 19 July 1944 on BuAer., ser. 018418, 10 July 1944.

206. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0257323, 12 June 1943.

207. VCNO rest. ltr., ser. 161623, 26 May 1943; Conversation Capt. E. C. Cleave, 9 April 1946.

208. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0210523, 24 June 1942.

209. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 23 Sept. 1942. Twenty of the devices were shipped from Indianapolis in September but did not reach New York until much later. Op-23L rest. memo.for File, 6 Oct. 1942.

210. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0147123, 20 April 1943.

211. Armed Guard Commanding Officer S.S. Colorado ltr., 14 Dec. 1942.

212. Op-23L memo. for File, 8 May 1943.

213. Admiral Fairfield's conf. ltr., and enclosure to Op-23L, 29 May 1943; conf. 1st end., VCNO to BuShips, ser. 0220523, 31 May 1943; conf. 2d end., BuShips to VCNO, C-NXs-7990(665), 5 July 1943; Conf. report Lt.(jg) R. E. Stout to Lt. Comdr. F. Zotti, Jr., ser. PDNYG08941, 16 June 1943.

214. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0297323, 16 July 1943; Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 16 July 1943.

215. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0512123, 24 Aug. 1944.

216. Rest. ltr., Chief of Staff, Admiralty Delegation to VCNO, N.O. 213/42, 25 June 1942; Rest. memo., Op-23L to Assistant Chief of Staff, Readiness, SO 629 355, 29 June 1942; rest. memo., Assistant Chief of Staff, Readiness to Op-23L, ser. 2232, 1 July 1942; conf. ltr., VCNO to British Admiralty Delegation, ser. 0220223, 2 July 1942.

217. This statement is based on two pencil notes in the Arming Merchant Vessels Section files.

218. SecNav conf. ltr., ser. 0247823, 9 Aug. 1942.

219. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0227623, 4 June 1943.

220. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 20 Sept. 1943.

221. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0187423, 28 March 1944.

222. ComNavEu conf. ltr., ser. 00485, 21 March 1944.

223. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 5 Aug. 1942.

224. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0402923, 14 Sept. 1942.

225. Op-23L rest. memos. for File, 6 and 14 Oct. 1942.

226. Op-23L rest. memos. for File, 28 and 29 Oct. 1942.

227. Conf. ltr., VCNO to ComNavEu, ser. 0232323, 8 June 1942.

228. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0230523, 7 June 1943.

229. BuOrd ltr., QS1/S70(Mn2e), 23 Sept. 1943.

230. BuOrd conf. ltr. QS1/S70(Mn2e), 29 Jan. 1944.

231. CNO conf. disp. 291235, 29 March 1944.

232. BuOrd conf. ltr., QS1/S70(Mn2e), 4 Aug. 1944.

233. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 114623 (Armed Guard Bulletin 10-44) 24 Apr. 1944.

234. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0714823, 21 Dec. 1944.

235. CNO conf. ltr. ser. 0214305-G, 15 Sept. 1944.

236. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0282723, 25 June 1945; Op-23L memo. for File 10 May 1945.

237. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0230523, 7 June 1943; Op-23L rest. memo. for Capt. Hinckley, 21 July 1943.

238. VCNO conf. disp., 061430, 6 May 1943.

239. Op-23L conf. memo. for File, 19 April 1944.

240. CNO conf. disp., 291735, 29 April 1944.

241. Op-23L conf. memo. for File, 5 Aug. 1944; CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0114823, 13 March 1945.

242. BuShips conf. ltr., C-S81-3-(1) (340), 3 Sept. 1942.

243. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0417923, 25 Sept. 1942.

244. Op-23L conf. memo. for File, 6 Feb. 1943.

245. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 068423, 25 Feb. 1943.

246. Op-23L conf. memo. for File, 16 July and 6 Nov. 1943.

247. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0255823, 22 June 1943. Training for personnel for the first ships fitted with the gear was accomplished on the experimental ship U.S.S. Liberty Belle. BuShips conf. ltr., C-S81-3-(1) (620), 22 May 1943.

248. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0288823, 12 July 1943. Plans were for the master and deck officers to continue training on the American Mariner at New York. But on 1 September directions were given to train merchant marine personnel for at least two days at Yorktown. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0338223, 1 Sept. 1943.

249. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0432623, 22 Sept. 1943.

250. Op-23L conf. memo. for File, 20 Nov. 1943.

251. VCNO conf. ltr. ser. 0436123, 25 Sept. 1943.

252. Conf. ltr., Admiral Fairfield to Admiral Land, 10 Nov. 1943 and conf. 1st end., Admiral Land to VCNO, 13 Nov. 1943.

253. CNO conf. ltrs., sers. 0553123 and 0553623, 19 Nov. 1943.

254. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 26 Nov. 1943.

255. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 043623, 22 Jan. 1944.

256. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0180923, 8 April 1944; BuShips-BuOrd conf. ltr., 17 March 1944.

257. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0217423, 14 April 1944.

258. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0439523, 18 April 1944.

259. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 14 May 1945; BuShips conf. ltr., C-S81-3-(1) (620), 15 May 1945; CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0222623, 16 May 1945.

260. Conf. memo., Naval Inspector General for Op-23, 25 Nov. 1942.

261. BuShips ltr., QS1/S24-7(808-634), 19 Dec. 1942 and enclosure, Com 13 rest. mail-gram, 201800, November 1942; VCNO rest. ltr., ser. 12523, 27 Jan. 1943.

262. BuShips rest. ltr., Q81/S24-7(8634), 12 Feb. 1943.

263. Asst. IndMan (Seattle) rest. ltr., ser. 31554, 11 Aug. 1943.

264. Rest. ltr., VCNO to Admiral Land, ser. 116123, 24 April 1943.

265. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 026423, 26 Jan. 1943.

266. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0384623, 31 Aug. 1943.

267. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 281423, 8 Oct. 1943.

268. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 308223, 12 Nov. 1943; BuShips rest. ltr., QS1/S55 (633-817), 23 Oct. 1943.

269. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0334423, 2 June 1944.

270. CinCPac conf. disp., 041952, 4 Nov. 1944; conf. memo., Op-39 to Op-23, ser. 0116639, 8 Nov. 1944; Off-the-beam fueling was standard practice on all tankers in the Pacific.

271. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 364323, 20 Nov. 1944.

272. Op-23L rest. memos. for File, 14 Jan. and 1 March 1943.

273. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0230823, 29 April 1944. See also BuShips ltr., QS1/S76-2(633-817) En28/A2-11, 3 June 1944. BuOrd favored canvas covers and questioned whether the crate was of sufficient strength to withstand handling from merchant ship to escort. BuOrd conf. ltr., S76-2(Rela), 23 June 1944. BuShips did not consider the canvas covers necessary. BuShips conf. ltr., C-QS1/S76-2(633-817), 26 July 1944.

274. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0166823, 23 March 1944 and enclosures SecNav ltr., 11 Nov. 1943 and waiver dated 15 March 1944 (Comdt. Coast Guard).

275. Conf. end. 5, BuOrd to CNO, QS1 (rela), 18 Sept. 1944 on Armed Guard officer's conf. Voyage Report, SS Bunker Hill, 21 July 1944.

276. Rest. ltr., CNO to Admiral Land, ser. 36723, 9 Feb. 1944.

277. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 417623 (Armed Guard Bulletin 66-44), 29 Dec. 1944.

278. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 181623 (Armed Guard Bulletin 23-45) 3 May 1945.

279. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 322623 (Armed Guard Bulletin 36-45), 1 Aug. 1945.

280. Op-23L rest. memo., 7 Oct. 1944.

281. BuShips conf. ltr., C-S22-2(3634) C-634-99, 3 June 1942.

282. BuShips conf. ltr., C-S24-7(634), 20 May 1943.

283. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0612423, 25 June 1943.

284. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0389023, 1 Sept. 1943.

285. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 024623, 13 Jan. 1944.

286. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0144423, 8 March 1944.

287. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0304023, 19 May 1944.

288. CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0712623, 20 Dec. 1944.

289. At first 8" searchlights went only to ships carrying a communication liaison group. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 25 Sept. 1942. On 30 Sept. 1942, the searchlight was authorized for all armed merchant vessels. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0427323, 30 Sept. 1942. The Maritime Commission supplied Aldis Lamps. Op-23L rest. memo. for File, 14 May 1943. Op-23L memo. 25 Oct. 1943, and rest. memo., 29 Oct. 1943; CNO rest. ltr., ser. 39723, 10 Feb. 1944. On 9 March 1944, dorections were given that 12" searchlights issued by the Navy to merchantmen be furnished with hoods for reading the aperature to 3" and 6". CNO rest. ltr., ser. 68523, 9 March 1944. For the final directive on searchlights see CNO rest. ltr., ser 417223, 30 Dec. 1944.

290. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 302323, 22 Oct. 1943.

291. VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0375923, 27 Aug. 1943 and modification, VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 0413723, 13 Sept. 1943.

292. BuShips conf. ltr., C-S64-5(3660c) EN28/A2-11, 3 June 1942.

293. Conf. memo., CominCh for Op-23, ser. 01984, 16 June 1943; VCNO conf. ltr., ser. 03116723, 26 July 1943; conf. memo., CominCh for Op-23, ser. 02432, 21 July 1943; CNO rest. ltr., ser. 1900623, 22 June 1944; CNO conf. ltr., ser. 0393923, 28 June 1944.

294. CNO rest. ltr., ser. 246923, 5 Aug. 1944.

295. Rest. ltr., CNO to Chairman Maritime Commission, ser. 23923, 11 Feb. 1942; rest. ltr., SecNav to Administrator WSA, ser. 488323, 16 Dec. 1942.

296. Admiral Land to SecNav, S67(ESc), 30 Jan. 1943; rest. ltr., CNO to WSA, ser. 193923, 15 July 1943; ConCPOA conf. desp., 070359 of 7 Aug. 1944.

297. VCNO rest. ltr., to Admiral Land, ser. 124323, 2 May 1942; Admiral Land's ltr., 12 May 1942.

298. Conf. Voyage Report, 21 Sept. 1943.

299. SecNav rest. ltr., ser. 169523, 1 June 1942.

300. Tis original dorective contemplated only enough reserve ammunition for one reload of ready service boxes. SecNav rest. ltr., ser. 250338, 29 Aug. 1941.

301. BuShips rest. ltr., QS1/S78-3(459), 4 Nov. 1941.

302. BuShips rest. ltr., QS1/S74-1(459), 29 May 1942.

303. BuShips ltr., QS1/S38-1(817m) EN28/A2-11, 4 April 1944.

304. BuShips rest. ltr., QS1/S48 (817-640), 3 Aug. 1944.

305. BuShips ltr., QS1/S48-3(817), 28 Nov. 1944.

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