USS Teaberry AN-34 Treasure Island, California
July 1960 to July 1961
Click on the Icon to view photos of the Diorama of the USS Teaberry AN-34 at work with a net. I made this diorama for display at our reunions.
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With the decommissioning of the Teaberry I was on my way to the next assignment...
The only time the two ships were in competition was when we happened to be out together. At such times the two skippers would race for the Golden Gate bridge. I believe the Minesweeper usually won. We were no race horse!
Here I was, freshly graduated from Advanced Electronics school and had a very limited array of equipment to care for. The SPS-21 radar was the big item. There was an ancient Fathometer, IFF equipment and the Radio equipment which the Radioman did most of the maintenance on. The big transmitter, located in my ET Shop below was the only thing I maintained of the radio equipment. Not a lot of sophisticated equipment to challenge me.
As things worked out, I did have some challenges in the short time aboard the Teaberry. The SPS-21 required considerable attention. The antenna and transmitter/receiver were on a tripod on top of the Pilot House. I spent many an hour on the tripod tuning the radar.
The SPS-21 was a fine radar with a very good high resolution which was good for navigating the close, crowded waters of San Francisco Bay. I don't recall having any problems with any other equipment except the Fathometer. The IFF never failed and what problems I had with the big Transmitter were easy to solve.
A special project
There was an old SHORAN transceiver on the bridge but that navigation system was no longer in use. This system used shore stations which would receive a pulse transmitted by our transceiver and return a pulse. The system would analyze the returns from the various shore stations and compute our location relative to the shore facilities. I'm sure such a system would prove useful in laying nets... only we no longer did anything with nets.
It turned out that the USS George Washington, a new nuclear submarine, was finishing up her outfitting and trials and preparing to be placed in service. One critical item was the initializing of her inertial navigation system which would keep track of where she was while submerged. It was decided that they would activate some of the SHORAN shore stations and use the SHORAN unit from the Teaberry to help them initialize the inertial navigation system.
Two Electronics Engineers from the Navy Ship Yard on Mare Island came aboard to work on our equipment and help with the calibration of the system before it was to be put aboard the George Washington. They accepted me as an equal and the three of us worked many hours together with slide rules working furiously as we figured out how to use a signal from the IFF equipment in my ET Shop to generate an extremely accurate range ring on our radar to help with very precise location of our position outside the Golden Gate to compare with the location indicated by the SHORAN. The slide rule work was needed to determine the delay of the signal in the very long run of coax cable run from my ET Shop up over the wing of the bridge to the radar. We were computing the precise speed of the signal in the cable. It was exciting work that I enjoyed very much.
At the end of one work day we decided we needed to fabricate a circuit to shape the pulse into a sharp peak. After the engineers left for the day I designed and fabricated the circuit we needed and when they returned the next day it was up and going and worked to perfection. We were able to calibrate the SHORAN equipment and have it ready for use on the George Washington. Only one small problem remained. It was too large to get through the hatch on the submarine! We cut the equipment in half so it would fit through the hatch! Once inside the submarine we put it together again and they evidently got their inertial navigation system initialized. I don't know what they did with the SHORAN. It didn't come back to the Teaberry.
We stayed reasonably busy on odd jobs in San Francisco Bay or out at sea on short runs. The longest we spent at sea was three days on a trip to San Diego. I was seasick as soon as we singled up in preparation for getting underway and stayed sick until we were back at the pier and doubled up again. I tried everything I could think of to make it easier but nothing worked. Of course, once I had thrown up a couple of times there was nothing else to come up. From then on it was like I was trying to throw up the inside of the soles of my feet!
There was only one Radarman and one Radioman in the crew and while underway both of those stations had to be manned 24 hours a day. The Radarman, Radioman and I just worked it out so that both stations were always manned. There was no watch list. Sometimes, when I was especially sick the Radioman would go below and tune the transmitter for me. He taught the Radarman and me to read the ships call sign so we could cover for him while he got some rest, food and other needs to be away from his station. I had forgotten that I qualified as Helmsman. My Evaluation reminded me.
Another unauthorized modificatiion to Navy Equipment
The SPS-21 radar console on the bridge was awkward to use because the range readout was low on the front of the set. You had to swing the seat way to the left and bend way over to read the range... with your head almost upside down. After a number of trips out and going through this awkward maneuver to read the range I decided to do something about it. I found a little prism at the huge Army/Navy Surplus store near the airport in Oakland. It had been used on an Army tank. I got a tin can from the galley and fabricated a holder for the prism and installed it over the range readout display window. Then, all you had to do was glance down and read the range. That was another unauthorized modification of Navy equipment.
Invented way to call fall of shot when towing targets
One of our duties was towing targets for the glamour ships to conduct gunnery practice. The routine was for us to tow the target while the Executive Officer used what was called a "Rake" to call the fall of the shots. The Rake was a "T" shaped device with pins along the cross member. When held up to the eye with the target at standard distance behind us he would count the pins out from the target either over or under the target to let the gunners on the ship know how close they came to the target.
Well, on one such assignment the XO had put the Rake in the gun tub to be ready for the exercise when we were on the range. The Boatswains Mate was preparing his spaces for getting underway and found this strange thing in his gun tub. Well his spaces were to be shipshape and ready to get underway. So, over the side went the Rake!
On the way out to the range the XO was checking to make sure all was in readiness for the exercise and couldn't find his Rake. The story came out and as the crew was watching a movie in the mess deck the Captain was in his stateroom calculating the construction of a makeshift Rake and the Boatswain was in the Shipfitter's shop cutting a huge piece of shoring timber by hand into the necessary pieces for building the Rake. The skipper made his job as difficult as possible for him instead of using a convenient piece of lumber near the dimensions required.
The next day as we started the gunnery exercise I was on the radar. The Captain asked if it would be possible to use the radar to call the fall of shots. Our only range reading was a variable range ring from the center of the scope which represented us. The target was a blip behind us and the shots produced a big splash that I could pick up on the radar. I made a little ruler out of a 3x5 index card. Using the range ring I marked the card ruler off in the desired increments. Then as each shot was picked up on the radar I placed the ruler on the pip for the target and measured to the pip for the splash of the shot. From then on my station was the radar for target towing, calling the fall of shots to back up the XO as he used the Rake.
Almost lost at sea.... and wouldn't have cared
One night, while on watch on the radar, I had to make a trip to the rail. I had not yet thrown up the inside of the soles of my feet and was going to try again to do so. As I leaned on what should have been a rail I kept going and going and thought I was going to go overboard. I truly didn't care and if that had happened I'm not at all sure I would have wanted to be rescued. I had leaned against the chain across the opening where the brow would rest in port. I didn't go overboard so all I could do was return to my station and suffer.
The great new boat hoist adventure
One of the odd assignments the Teaberry drew was testing of a new method of hoisting small boats aboard a ship. The handling of small craft is a dangerous operation. Fingers are lost and worse. So, some engineer came up with a new system. A small craft was fitted with metal frames from the bow to the stern and from one side to the other. The idea was that a crane on the ship would lower a line with a clamp which would be attached to one member of the frame. When the line was taut a hydraulic ram would be triggered and the small craft would be jerked out of the water and hoisted aboard with everyone involved retaining all their fingers.
Concrete blocks equaling the weight of the small craft were positioned on the pier alongside the Teaberry. The hydraulic ram was welded to the front of the pilot house and tested by jerking the weights up from the pier again and again. All was in readiness for the real life test. We got underway and proceeded outside the Golden Gate with the small craft full of engineers from the Ship Yard at Mare Island along side. Once ready to test the system the boom was swung out and the clamp attached to the frame. At the moment the line was taut the ram hoist was activated. The small craft remained firmly in the water and the ram hoist was ripped from the front of the pilot house! The engineers had failed to take into account the surface tension of the water! Oh well, that was the end of that idea!
XO teaching me coastal navigation
Underway at night, with duty on the radar, I would not have to be sitting at the scope all the time unless we had a target close by. If the XO had the watch on the bridge he would spend time teaching me costal navigation. We would both be straining our eyes through binoculars searching for a single navigational light in the sea of lights along the shore. Both with stopwatches timing the pulses from a light we would compare results against the chart. I enjoyed the lessons very much. Little did I know that years later I would put those lessons to use as an Ensign and Ltjg aboard the USS Everglades AD-24.
XO encouraged me to apply for LDO
The XO was my boss as one of his duties was Electronics Material Officer (EMO). He often suggested that I apply for the LDO program. I'm glad that I didn't at that time since I'm sure I would not have been selected. Later, after making Chief, I would apply and was accepted. I would love to be able to contact the XO to let him know how things worked out for me but I can't remember his name! Later research indicates that he may have been LT Stanton Lawrence Brown. I would appreciate help in contacting him.
Dorothy V. Brown, the daughter in law of Stanton Lawrence Brown contacted me to let me know that he had passed away in 2005. I wish I had been able to contact him before he died! I would love to have been able to find out how his career developed and what experiences he had and to bring him up to date on myself. He was a very good Officer and had considerable influence on how my career developed.
Decomissioning of USS Teaberry saved my Navy career
Due to my problem with seasickness I was sent to the base dispensary for evaluation. They were just beginning to test me for chronic seasickness with the intent of discharging me from the Navy. My career was saved when the Teaberry was decommissioned almost exactly one year after I reported aboard. I remained aboard after the decommissioning to assist with the inventorying of everything aboard. I was fascinated by the process of offloading everything from the ship as she rode higher and higher in the water. I took the draft readings and computed the weight removed day by day. The slide rule was kept busy as she rode higher and higher. I can't explain my feelings since I was always seasick when underway but I loved that ship. More to the point, I loved that crew. It was such a small crew that whatever we did it seemed the entire crew had to get involved. We were a family! Now, in the early years of the 21st century, I am involved with the All Navy Net Tender Reunion group. I have no desire to attend the reunions of the other two ships or any of the stations I was assigned to in my career. This little group is much like the crew of the Teaberry, we are a family'.
Upon graduation from Advanced Electronics School on Treasure Island, San Francisco I walked down the street to the pier where the USS Teaberry AN-34 was berthed. She was berthed outboard of a Minesweeper. I handed my bundle consisting of my orders and records to the OOD and was told to wait on the mess deck while they were being processed. While sitting and waiting I was trying to figure out what on earth I had gotten into. What a strange looking and small ship.
While I was waiting the cook from the Minesweeper came into the mess deck with a big mug of soup for the Chief Boatswains Mate on the Teaberry. Watching this exchange I had a warm feeling of having a home. It turned out that the relationship between the two small crews of these ships that were always moored together were a small family.