"NOW HEAR THIS"
Title: Remembrances CL-42
Published: January 1996
By: Bruce Davis
During October & November of 1941, the Savannah was part of a Task Force making convoys across the North Atlantic. Returning to the States on our last run, we encountered a REALLY ROUGH STORM. Just as I was exiting the after-superstructure one night to serve a 2 to 4 hour watch on the bridge, we took a heavy sea. As I cleared the hatchway with the roll, water swirled around the deck, knocked me off my feet under the motor launch where there was no rail. Raising my arms in reaction, I hit something solid. A long 2x4 had broken loose from the carpenter’s locker and lodged between the boat davits. This kept me from going overboard. The force of the water was so great it tore off my pants and shoes. Reporting late for my watch, I had to explain what happened and then main deck was closed to all personnel.
This storm lasted another week. The closer to the States we came, the more intense the storm became. At times we took solid water up to the bridge. The pitch and roll was frightening. . . 10 to 15 pitches and 25 to 30 degree roll was common. The heavy seas began to put unbelievable strains on the ship’s structure and before long rivets in the bow plates began popping. Around the third day of the storm we started getting a fair amount of water. Damage control and shoring materials were in limited supply and it could soon become a serious problem. In the search for materials two large Coca Cola signs were found and requisitioned by the shipfitters. These were cut into smaller pieces and welded over the most damaging leaks.
That, shipmates, is how Coca Cola in consort with our shipfitters’ ingenuity and failure allowed the ship and this ex-quartermaster to fight another day.