LST 1156 Sea Stories

A Collection of Stories, Trivia an Interesting Facts


How To Simulate Being A Sailor

  • Make coffee using eighteen scoops of budget priced coffee grounds per pot, and allow the pot to simmer for 5 hours before drinking.
  • Have someone under the age of ten give you a haircut with sheep shears.
  • Sew the back pockets of your jeans on the front.
  • Every couple of weeks, dress up in your best clothes and go to the worst part of town. Find the most run down bar, and drink beer until you are hammered. Then walk all the way home.
  • Take a two-week vacation visiting the red light districts of Europe or the Far East, and call it "world travel".
  • Lock yourself and your family in the house for six weeks. Tell them that at the end of the 6th week you are going to take them to Disney World for liberty." At the end of the 6th week, inform them the trip to Disney World has been canceled because they need to get ready for an inspection, and it will be another week before they can leave the house.
    Who's ready to go back to sea?

The Face in the Mirror

I look in the mirror
And what do I see
There’s a wrinkled old man
Staring back at me

With whiskers gray
And hair grown thin
Sagging jowls
And a double chin
What happened to that young lad
I used to see there
With a smile on his face
And a wave in his hair

Is he hiding somewhere
Under that wrinkled old skin
Will he come out if I call
Or if I knock let me in

Or is he gone for good
No more to be seen
Is that long ago lad
Now just a dream

He must be there
Oh why can’t I see
That smiling young lad
That once was me.

A Stitch in Time

The Evolution of the Navy Uniform

Q. Where did the sailor's white hat originate?

A. In 1852 a white cover was added to the soft visor less blue hat worn by Navy enlisted. In 1866 a white sennet straw hat was authorized as an additional item. The white hat worn today originated in the 1880's as a low, rolled brim, high domed item made of wedge shaped pieces of canvas. Canvas material was replaced by cotton as a cheaper, more comfortable material. Over the ensuing years suggestions and complains concerning the hat led to modifications that ended in the current white hat.

Q. What is the history of the petty officer rating badge?

A. In 1841, insignia called distinguishing marks were first prescribed as part of the official uniform. The first distinguishing mark was an eagle and 1893 that the rating of chief petty officer was established. Until 1949 rating badges were worn on either the left or right sleeve, depending on the watch section of the individual. The port section wore their badges on their left arm.

However, one hears the term "right arm rate" which from 1841 until 1949 denoted men of the seaman branch. These rates included boatswains mate, turret captain, signalman, quartermaster, gunners mate, fire controlman, torpedoman, and mineman. Other ratings wore the rating badge on the left sleeve.
The eagle on the petty officer rating badge is derived from the Napoleonic eagle. This eagle was usually embroidered facing left. Why the Napoleonic eagle faces left is unknown.
In 1941, the Navy changed the eagle's facing direction to follow the heraldic rules that face right toward the wearer's sword arm. This rule continues to apply and the eagle now faces to the front or the wearer's right. Bluejacket slang for the eagle is "crow."

Q. Why oak leaves as an insignia for various Navy corps and ranks?

A. Oak leaves have been worn since the earliest days as an insignia. An oak leave was probably adopted originally as a symbol of the excellent oaken ships of the United States. In those days the government had live oak logs cached underwater for years at the Boston Naval Yard and other navy yards.

Q. Why are bell bottomed trouser worn by bluejackets?

A. Bell bottomed trouser are large at the bottom because in days past sailors rolled up their pants legs for scrubbing decks. A larger leg at the bottom made it easier to roll the legs above the knees. Also, when landing a small boat, a bluejacket would jump into the surf to pull the boat onto the beach. Rolling up the trouser legs was an attempt to keep dry.

Q. Why does a sailor's jumper have a flap in back?

A. Jumper flaps originated as a protective cover for the uniform jacket. Sailors greased their hair to hold it in place. Showers and bathing were not frequent.

Time as Marked by the Bells
Telling Time Onboard –Ship Watches

The sailors in the Navy could tell the time by using the ships bell. The day is divided into seven periods called watches. The day starts at midnight and the time is recorded in four figures, of which the first two denote the hour and the last two the minute.
The following table shows the difference in the recording of time by naval and civilian methods.

Watch (24 hr clock) 12 hour clock
Middle 0000-0400 midnight to 4 am
Morning 0400-0800 4 am to 8 am
Forenoon 0800-1200 8 am to noon
Afternoon 1200-1600 Noon to 4 pm
First Dog 1600-1800 4 pm to 6 pm
Last Dog 1800-2000 6 pm to 8 pm
First 2000-2400 8 pm to midnight

The purpose of dividing the period between 1600 and 2000 into two “dog watches” is to provide an odd number of watches in the 24-hour day so that the port and starboard watches will keep a different schedule each day.
The seaman, unlike the civilian, does not speak of the morning, afternoon, and evening, but of the morning, forenoon, afternoon, and dog watches.

Striking the Ship’s Bell

The time is indicated by striking the hours and half-hours on the ship’s bell throughout each watch, in accordance with the table below so the time indicated is called “one bell,” “two bells”, etc. according to the number of times the bell is struck.

First half hour: One bell
First hour: Two bells
First hour and a half: Three bells
Second hour: Fourbells
Second half-hour and a half: Five bells
Third hour: Six bells
Third hour and a half: Seven bells
Fourth hour: Eight bells

Except for marking the time the ship’s bell is only struck to indicate the position of the ship when at anchor in a fog or bad visibility, or to sound the general alarm in the event of fire or other emergency.
The fog signal is the rapid ring of the bell for about five seconds every minute. For a general alarm the bell is rung rapidly for considerably longer than five seconds, and is then followed by a pipe indicating the nature of the emergency and giving orders for dealing with it. The general alarm is only sounded by the order of the Commanding Officer (Captain).
Another time the ship’s bell is rung is New Year’s Eve when it is struck 16 times – eight bells for the old year and eight bells for the New Year.
From those far off days of watches we now tell the time from our wristwatch.

The Origin of ‘Carry On’

Carry on? In the days of sail, the Officer of the Deck kept a weather eye constantly on the slightest change in wind so sails could be reefed or added as necessary to ensure the fastest headway.

Whenever a good breeze came along, the order to “carry on” would be given. It meant to hoist every bit of canvas the yards could carry.

Pity the poor sailor whose weather eye failed him and the ship was caught partially reefed when a good breeze arrived.
Through the centuries the term’s connotation has changed somewhat. Today, the Bluejackets Manual defines carry on as an order to resume work; not so grueling as two centuries ago.

Have a great Navy day!

The Lone Sailor
Photo by Rick Erisman, RM3

U.S. Navy Memorial Lone Sailor statue overlooking Lake Champlain, at Burlington, Vermont.







Officer’s Country

Ever wonder why Officer’s quarters aboard a warship are called staterooms?
It is derived from the paddlewheel riverboats that steamed up and down the major rivers and waterways of the United States during the 1800s. The first class cabins were named after various states in the union (New York, Virginia, Ohio Pennsylvania, etc.). Have a great Navy day!

Did you know?

The title of "Chief" has resonated aboard ships since the 1700s, but wasn't formally established by the U.S. Navy until 1893.
The first documented use of the title occurred during the Revolutionary War when a Cook's Mate aboard the Continental Navy's warship Alfred was promoted to Chief Cook to indicate his status as the cook with the most authority.

The ratings of Chief Boatswain's Mates, Chief Gunner's Mates and Chief Quartermasters also appeared in pay charts in the mid-1800s, but the Navy's Regulations Circular No. 1 (dated 13 March 1893) was the first delineation of the Chief Petty Officer grade.

The rates of E-8 and E-9, Senior Chief and Master Chief were created in June of 1958. The office of Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy was established in 1967.

I Like the Navy!

I came across this recently and thought I would share it with our NEWSLETTER readers. In many ways, it sums up my feelings, and brought out some I didn't even know I had about serving in the Navy. The author is unknown, but he has captured what it is like to be a Sailor, and a part of the U.S Navy tradition.
  • I like standing on deck at sunrise with salt spray in my face and clean ocean winds whipping in from the four quarters of the globe--the ship beneath me feeling like a living thing as her engines drive her through the sea.
  • I like the sounds of the Navy - the piercing sound of the boatswains pipe, the clang of the ship's bell on the quarterdeck, the squawk of the 1MC and the strong language and laughter of sailors at work.
  • I like the vessels of the Navy - nervous darting destroyers, sleek submarines, laboring amphibs and steady solid carriers.
  • I like the proud names of Navy capital ships: Midway, Lexington, Saratoga, Coral Sea memorials of battles won.
  • I like the lean, angular names of Navy 'tin-cans': Barney, Dahlgren, Mullinix, Cowell, Parsons, McCloy - mementos of heroes who went before us.
  • I like liberty call and the spicy scent of a foreign port.
  • I like the surge of adventure in my heart when the word is passed "Now go to your stations all the special sea and anchor detail - that is - Now go to your stations all the special sea and anchor detail -- all hands to quarters for getting underway"
  • I like the serenity of the sea after a day of hardship's work, as flying fish flit across the wave tops and sunset gives way to night.
  • I like the feel of the Navy in darkness - the masthead lights, the red and green navigation lights and stern light, the pulsating phosphorescence of the ship's wake.
  • I like drifting off to sleep lulled by the noises large and small that tell me that my ship is alive and well, and that my shipmates on watch will keep us safe.
  • I like quiet mid watches with the aroma of strong coffee.
  • I like the sudden electricity of "General quarters, general quarters, all hands man your battle stations," followed by the hurried clamor of running feet on ladders and the resounding thump of watertight doors as the ship transforms herself in a few brief seconds from a peaceful workplace to a weapon of war - ready for anything.
  • I like the traditions of the Navy and the men and women who made them.
  • I like the proud names of Navy heroes: Halsey, Nimitz, Perry, Farragut, John Paul Jones.
  • In years to come, when sailors are home from the sea, they will still remember with fondness and respect the ocean in all its moods – the impossible shimmering mirror calm and the storm-tossed green water surging over the bow. And then there will come again a faint whiff of stack gas, a faint echo of the engines and a vision of bright signal flags snapping at the yardarm, a sound of hearty laughter on the mess decks. Gone ashore for good they will grow wistful about their Navy days, when the seas belonged to them and a new port of call was ever over the horizon. Remembering this, they will stand taller and say:
  • "I was a Sailor once. I was part of the Navy. The Navy will always be part of me."

Navy Traditions

‘Piping Over the Side’

The custom of “piping” a distinguished visitor “over the side” dates to the time of wooden ships when senior officers would come alongside a ship in their small launches.
As the launch approached the ship, the Boatswain (the bos’n or bosun is the warrant or petty officer in charge of a ship’s deck crew, rigging, cables, and anchors) would use his pipe to muster a crew of men to assist the senior officer in coming aboard. Hence the term “piping”.
A sling would be lowered to the launch, the officer would be strapped in and hoisted to the quarterdeck of the ship. As the seniority of the officer often was an indication of his bulk, the more senior officer, the larger number of men that would be assigned to hoist him aboard and lift him “over the side” of the ship.
Once on the quarterdeck, the assembled crew would take their stations on either side of the officer, lifting him out of the sling and gently placing him on the deck. Hence, the term “sideboy”. The same procedure was used in reverse when the officer left the ship and returned to his launch.
Today, while distinguished visitors are not hoisted aboard ship, the Bos’n Mate can still be heard piping officers aboard and ashore as assembled crewmembers act as sideboys. Have great Navy day!

Navy Slang: Take the Test

Mister Roberts

Watching movies about the Navy such as Mr. Roberts and Away All Boats on TV recently had my husband Ron remembering some of the slang used aboard the LST 1156. Of course the Army and Marines might have had slightly different ways of saying the same things.
We thought we’d put together a compilation of slang in the form of a test of your memory. Give it a shot!
1. An LST was often called a seagoing ______ tub.
2. A look at the shore was a cheap _______.
3. The head of a chow line was a chow ______.
4. The metal chow tray was a _____.
5. Creamed beef on toast was ______ on a shingle.
6. A seaman’s deck duties made him a ______.
7. A generous sailor given to carousing was a good time ______.
8. A boot camp recruit was a fresh ______.
9. Our Hospital Corpsman was known as a ______ pusher.
10. The radioman was a ______ artist.
11. At breakfast you are asked to pass the bottle of ______ for the eggs.
12. After an inspection we looked to get a ______.
13. An Ensign with three month training was a ______.
14. Our underwear were ______.
15. It was a drinking fountain, it was gossip, it was ______.

Did you give it a shot?

The Navy officer's crest, or hat device, illustrates the cable or chain passing over and around the anchor.

Naming Amphibious Ships

  • Amphibious warfare, long considered a minor function by navies, assumed major importance in World War II. An entirely new "family" of ships and craft was developed for the massive landing operations in Europe and the Pacific.
  • Many types of landing ships did not receive "word" names, but were simply known by their hull numbers (LST 806 and LCI (G) 580).
  • Attack cargo ships and attack transports carried landing craft to put cargo and troops ashore on a beachhead. Many of these were named for American counties (Alamance [AKA 75]; Hinsdale [APA 120]).
  • Some early APAs, converted from conventional troopships, kept their former names (Leonard Wood, President Hayes); many AKAs were named for stars (Achernar) or constellations (Cepheus).
  • Dock landing ships, seagoing ships with a large well deck for landing craft or vehicles, bore names of historic sites (Gunston Hall, Rushmore).
  • Modern LSDs are still part of today's Fleet, and carry on this name source (Fort McHenry, Pearl Harbor).
  • After World War II the remaining LSTs were gradually given names of American counties. It was in 1955 that our own LST 1156 was named the Terrebonne Parish.
  • Nuclear Powered Ships
    Also following World War II, older ship types left the Navy's roster, and new types emerged. Nuclear power and guided missiles spurred much of this change. The first nuclear-powered guided- missile cruiser, Long Beach, was the last cruiser to be named for a city in traditional fashion. The next cruisers, also nuclear-powered missile ships, were given state names.

Rations and Recipes

Ship’s Menu During
American Revolution

Life aboard ship during the American Revolution was hard, at best, and the food was nothing short of awful.

Salt was the only way of preserving meat and fish and salt water was often used for cooking. For endless days a sailor might expect hard bread, soup from dried peas, salt fish or salt beef.

The most difficult commodity to store were beverages. Space had to be made for large quantities of fresh water, which after a time didn't taste all that fresh. Some ships sailed with beer, watered-down wine or watered-down rum, called grog.

Live chickens, pigs, cows or sheep sometimes supplied fresh meat and eggs on voyages and there was fresh fish when possible.

The best foods always landed on the captain's table. Before the 1750's it was common for messes of around seven sailors to dip into communal pots with wooden or pewter spoons.

In the mid-1700's James Lind, a Scottish doctor, identified fresh fruits and vegetables as the antidote to scurvy. In 1772 Captain Cook provisioned carrot marmalade along with orange and lemon juices.

The main staple of a sailor's diet was biscuits or hardtack. Whether round or square, the recipe was the same - flour and water, with the possible addition of salt and/or sugar. The finished bread weighed less than the flour from which it was made. This is because both the water used in mixing the dough and the water, which is a natural part of the flour, evaporates during the baking.

Ship bread could be eaten "as is" right from the barrel or ground into what is essentially matzo meal. Sailors would break it into soup or tea.

Over the next five decades Congress periodically altered the ration. Tea, pickles, cranberries, raisins, dried apples and other dried fruits made the common sailor's diet a little less grim

Origin of the Rank of Ensign

The title “Ensign”, the name given the Navy’s most junior officer dates to medieval times. Lords honored their squires by allowing them to carry the ensign (banner) into battle.
Later, these squires became known by the name of the original banner itself.
In the U.S. Army, the lowest ranking officer was originally called “ensign” because he, like the squire of old, would one day lead troops into the battle, and was training to that end. It is still the lowest commissioned rank in the British Army today.
When the U.S. Navy was established, the Americans carried on the tradition and adopted the rank of ensign as the title for its junior commissioned officers. Have a great Navy Day!

The Sailors' Creed

I am a United States Sailor.
I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America
and I will obey the orders of those appointed over me.
I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before me
to defend freedom and democracy around the world.
I proudly serve my country's Navy combat team with Honor, Courage and Commitment.
I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.

The Origin of the ‘Binnacle List’

Ever wondered where the term “binnacle list” came from?
It’s from the old nautical practice of placing the sick list on the binnacle (a covered stand on the ship’s deck that contained the ship’s compass and a lamp) each morning, so that it would be readily available for the captain.
The modern binnacle list contains the names of crewmembers suffering from minor complaints that would preclude employment on strenuous duty. Have a great Navy day!

How To Simulate Being A Sailor

  • Buy a steel dumpster, paint it gray inside and out, and live in it for six months.
  • Run all the pipes and wires in your house exposed on the walls.
  • Repaint your entire house every month.
  • Renovate your bathroom. Build a wall across the middle of the bathtub and move the showerhead to chest level.
  • When you take showers, make sure you turn off the water while you soap down.
  • Put lube oil in your humidifier and set it on high.
  • Once a week, blow compressed air up your chimney, making sure the wind carries the soot onto your neighbor's house. Ignore his complaints.
  • Once a month, take all major appliances apart and then reassemble them.
  • Raise the thresholds and lower the headers of your front and back doors, so that you either trip or bang your head every time you pass through them.
  • Disassemble and inspect your lawnmower every week.
  • On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, turn your water heater temperature up to 200 degrees. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, turn the water heater off.
  • On Saturdays and Sundays tell your family they use too much water during the week, so no bathing will be allowed.
  • Raise your bed to within 6 inches of the ceiling, so you can't turn over without getting out and then getting back in.
  • Sleep on the shelf in your closet. Replace the closet door with a curtain. Have your spouse whip open the curtain about 3 hours after you go to sleep, shine a flashlight in your eyes, and say "Sorry, wrong rack".
  • Make your family qualify to operate each appliance in your house - dishwasher operator, blender technician, etc.
  • Find the dumbest guy in the neighborhood and make him your boss for the next two years.

Who's ready to go back to sea?

The Origin of ‘Carry On’

Carry on? In the days of sail, the Officer of the Deck kept a weather eye constantly on the slightest change in wind so sails could be reefed or added as necessary to ensure the fastest headway.
Whenever a good breeze came along, the order to “carry on” would be given. It meant to hoist every bit of canvas the yards could carry.
Pity the poor sailor whose weather eye failed him and the ship was caught partially reefed when a good breeze arrived.
Through the centuries the term’s connotation has changed somewhat. Today, the Bluejackets Manual defines carry on as an order to resume work; not so grueling as two centuries ago.
Have a great Navy day!

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11th LST 1156

May6 - 9 2015
Houma, Terrebonne Parish, LA

TBone 1156 Assoc.


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