Fleet Training Group San Diego, California

July 1961 to August 1962

The way we conducted an ORI was that while at sea for the operation there would be three ‘hits' on the ship. The ‘hit' was simulated by pulling the pin on a hand grenade and dropping it over the side. The concussion could be heard and felt throughout the ship. For the ET's we would have several of our group aboard and located ready for the ‘hit'. For example, if a problem was to be in a radar then one of us would be in CIC and when the hit occurred we would place a 3"x5" card on the radar repeater with a description of what the operator would see... or not see. He would call for an ET who would tell the TraGroup representative what he would do. For each step the TraGroup rep would tell him what indication he would get for each troubleshooting step he would take until the trouble had been found. It could be a resistor, capacitor, tube or such. Remember that this was way back in the middle of the last century... long before transistors, printed circuits and circuit boards.

Once the trouble had been found the ET would have to get the part from Supply to successfully complete the trouble call. If any step along the way failed he failed. That required close cooperation between the EMO and the Damage Control Assistant (DCA) and the Supply Department. It was painful to watch some ET do his work well only to fail because the DCA or Supply failed to come through for him.

I had a problem to impose on the bridge radar repeater on a supply ship with a Skipper who had obviously been to sea for decades. He know his stuff and I liked watching him with the conn. But, as the exercise progressed and the trouble reports began to pour into the bridge with each hit he lost it. He simply lost it. He also lost his command! I hated to be a witness to that. He seemed so competent and such a good CO but that is what the ORI was designed to do, identify the weak links in the ship that would fail under the stress of battle.

On one aircraft carrier I had the usual three problems to impose but this time it was a bit more difficult than any other I had had. My first hit was in Emergency Radio on the overhang under the stern of the flight deck. The second was in Emergency Conn in the overhang of the bow end of the flight deck and the third was at the very top of the superstructure in the UHF radio room. I imposed the first knowing when the second hit would occur and mindful of the distance to that location. As soon as I could cut myself loose from the first I started running for all I was worth through closed water tight doors to reach the bow. I had only gotten half way there when the second hit occurred. I called the problem to Secondary Conn to get an ET working on it and started running for the location of the third hit. I only just reached UHF radio in time for the third hit. I conducted the two problems at the same time, one in person, the other on the phone.

I promised the USS Uvalde AKA-88 would be part of my Navy experience following my tour of duty at Pacific Reserve Fleet, Hunter's Point. One day the Uvalde showed up on our schedule of ships arriving for training and ORI inspection. I couldn't believe it and thought of my statement back at the time it was placed in Reserve Fleet.

Eventually the story of the Uvalde's trip from San Francisco to San Diego came to light and it was a gruesome story indeed. In San Francisco a sailor had gone berserk and gotten the gun off of the Deck watch and shot and killed the OOD. On the trip to San Diego there was a man overboard. They searched and searched but couldn't find and rescue him. Then when they arrived in San Diego they declined assistance in tying up to the anchor buoy. They wanted to put a boat over with a crew to tie up themselves. Somehow the boat being lowered parted one cable and dropped the crew into the water then the other cable parted and dropped the boat on the crew. I don't recall the particulars of effect on the crew but at best some would have been injured. All of that was the worst possible way to begin their training and testing.... but wait... it got worse. The next morning they were scheduled to be underway for training. The Admiral looked out his office window to see the Uvalde still tied up to the anchor buoy. He had the word passed over the base PA system for all the world to hear, "Commanding Officer USS Uvalde report to the Admirals office immediately!" I felt sorry for the crew of that ship. My best recollection is that she didn't pass the ORI.

Assignment to FleetTraGroup saved my navy career in two ways. It put an end to the testing for chronic seasickness and it put me in a position to experience time at sea on a large variety of ships. It quickly became evident that my seasickness problem was restricted to small ships, the Net Tenders and Minesweeper type ships. Destroyers and larger were not a problem for me. In fact, I enjoyed being at sea in the larger ships. I was off and running to what developed into a very successful career.

We were referred to as ‘Ship riders' and would do day trips out on ships undergoing training and testing for Operational Readiness Inspection or ORI. Any ship deploying out of the United States had to pass an ORI. Failure to pass would end the career of a Commanding Officer. It was serious business.

We would go aboard each ship arriving for their ORI and conduct training and leave handouts with them to assist them in preparing for the final test. Most ET's and their EMO took it seriously and worked hard to be prepared. Some, however, did not. We could tell some were not serious when we left the training session and saw the handouts in the trash baskets! Some failed their ORI and their Commanding Officer lost his command.

Slide Show

of all the ships I had at least one day aboard to conduct training or conducting Operational Readiness Inspection. Usually I had several trips on most ships. A complete index of the ships I rode while at Fleet Training Group is on the Home page.

Click the Icon to start the slide show. Please be patient, there are a lot of photos(90 slides), and then click the Back button to return to this page.

An interesting and challenging non Navy related experience

While stationed in San Francisco aboard the USS Teaberry AN-34 we attended a small church near where we lived in East Oakland. They wanted to tear down the old parsonage and replace it with a building for Sunday School classes. There was little money available and they asked me to do scale drawings of the various ideas to be presented to an architect. When the architect saw the drawings he suggested that I continue to do the design drawings until the congregation was happy with them and not get him involved until the final stages to save money. That is what I had been doing while living in East Oakland.

When transferred to San Diego I continued to work on the plans. I had a copy of the UBC (Uniform Building Code) with all the updates entered into it which doubled it's size. I got a set of books on computing strengths of materials and design of trusses and much more. I would ask a good friend, Lou Bothum, from San Francisco to take photos of the old church from various angles and to measure windows or doors so I could get the scale of the photos. Then, using vanishing point perspective applied to photo on tracing paper over the photo and the scale provided I could get measurements of all features of the old church including the steeple. I built models of the old church and each of three options for the new building with removal roofs so that the inside details could be seen. Then I made a visit to the church in Oakland and presented the options for a decision.

During this period of time in East Oakland the complection of the of the area was changing. The little church had a membership of mostly elderly white people and the Sunday School was predominantly black children. The adults decided they wouldn't foot the bill to build a building for classes for the little black children! The project was shelved. Before that I had produced blue prints that had passed the Oakland City Engineer for structural and building code compliance and the Methodist Church national architectural consultant for design. All it needed was to be signed off by an architect and for the church to fund the construction.

I used a size sheet of paper that I could handle in a homemade tray (plywood covered with fiberglass) in the tub. I would do the drawing on tracing paper, mount the drawing and blueprint paper in a sun frame and expose it in the sun. Then process the blueprint in potash in the tray in the tub.

I also attended night classes given by Loch Crane a local Architect, at the local Junior High School. It was a class designed for people who wanted to have a hand in the design of their own homes etc. After the class I would bring him up to date and show him the blueprints and he would comment on them. He was very helpful. In fact, he liked the small blueprints and said he might change his shop over to that approach since the various trades could have what they needed in a more useful form that way. I have no idea if he actually did that or not.

However, years later I was in San Francisco and looked into what the church had ended up doing and was so glad the building I had designed had not been built. What was built instead was an octagonal building with small rooms around the outside and a large open area in the center with a very high ceiling. During the week there were basketball goals folded down and the building was open and in use all week and late into the evening. On Sunday the goals were folded up out of the way and interlocking chairs rolled out along with an alter on wheels. Church service was held and soon after the deck was cleared for the kids to use it again. It kept the kids off the street and out of trouble. If the building I had designed had been built it would have been used for an hour each week for Sunday School. Sometimes the right answer is "No".

I recently contacted the church to get photos of the building and the total church complex but have not received any photos yet. What they built was an octagonal shaped building with rooms around the edge and open in the center. There were basketball goals that could be raised out of the way in the open center area. On Sunday a portable pulpit and interlocking chairs were set up and it was a sanctuary which was quickly stowed away after the service. Then the building was available to the kids of the area and is in use almost all the time. Instead of the building I had designed which would have been used an hour or so each week they built a building that was used constantly all week long and kept the kids occupied and supervised. I was so glad to see what they had done and really glad they had not built the one I had designed.

Slide Show

Of some of the surviving drawings from the project. They are not in very good condition this many years after the project was completed.

Above is an example of deriving measurements from a photo by establishing the vanishing points for the photo then bringing the different elements to the front planes and taking measurements from a known detail in the photograph to determine the measurements of all other elements.

That was the method I used to measure all of the buildings in the Church complex and thus I was able to construct scale models. There were three designs developed and the model allowed me to present the three plans to the board for their consideration. The roofs could be removed so they could see the layout of each plan. That is why the plans shown here are not all the same.

This was a challenging and satisfying project, even though they didn't build from my plans. Having seen what they did build I am glad they built what they did. It is much more of an asset to the community than the building I planned.

I received orders quite unexpectedly and was ordered to a C School (Specialized school on a single equipment or system). I would normally have expected to be there for almost another year. So I proceeded to...

Great Lakes, Illinois

Ships I was aboard for one or more training / Operation Readiness Inspection (ORI) day trips while at Fleet Traning Group, San Diego, CA during the period July 1961 to August 1962 Click on this link to see the list of ships.