Subject: Company 18

Published: March 1994

By: Lawrence Day


I was in Company 18 and put the Savannah in commission.  I was in the 3rd Division and was a Powder Hoist Man in Turret #3.  Whitey (Pearson) and I were substitute boat crew when we went to Portsmouth, England.  We went to London together.  I did a tour of mess cooking and went up to the signal bridge.  We started practicing beaching the motor launches at the beach in San Pedro.  Lt Davis was in charge and I was his Signalman.  To keep the boat from broaching, we had an anchor in the bow with the anchor line along the gunwale and a turn around the king post with the stern hook paying the line out to prevent the boat from broaching.  A seaman from the 4th or 5th Div got his hand caught in a kink and his hand went around the kingpost and he lost most of his hand.  Luckily, we were near the hospital ship Relief.  I signaled them and they were ready for us when we went alongside.


We went up to Monterey for the landing.  We went alongside the Army transports and the troops came down cargo nets into the boats.  We got them landed.  Some troops jumped off the bow in water about waste deep.  One of our boats broached because the stern anchor line was slacked and the rudder put over the wrong way and the boat filled with water.  We had to be towed back to the Savannah.  Captain Giffen was very upset with Lt Davis and I had to tell Capt Giffen my version of what happened.


The flag transferred to the Savannah  when our Capt got sick.  Cdr Tawrssey took over temporarily.  We were alongside the Honolulu in Pearl.  The Exec conned the ship.  We backed the wrong s---ngings and the starboard anchor raked the Honolulu's portside, taking lifelines, paravine gear, etc.  I could see Admiral Kimmel on the Honolulu, very upset.  Adm Davis, Comcru Div 8 was upset, Exec probably wished he was dead.


Later, after we got out to sea with the rest of our division we were maneuvering by flag hoist and one of the ships got out of position.  The admiral ran across the signal bridge and ran into me and fell down.  I reached down to help him up and he told me not to touch him as I was the dumbest sailor in the United States Navy and he was an Admiral.  I tried to apologize to him but he walked away.  I had just made 3rd Class and I could see the crow flying away.  About a half hour later he sent the Flag Lt over to me to say the Admiral apologized for what he said and said I was doing a good job.  I kept my crow.


Jack Kemmerer was in the 2nd Division and went in the Exec’s office the same time I went to the signal bridge.  We have been in touch all these years.  He spent most of his 28 years a the Bureau of Naval Personnel.  He and I went to the commissioning of the new Savannah in Boston, . .


Do you remember the SANTA ANA when the anchor chains sawed back on our bow?  Everybody thought we would be in Mare Island a month.  I think it took 3 or 4 days in repair.  Dick Geismer said side cleaners must be barefooted so they wouldn’t punch holes in the side.


Lawrence “Red” Day