A Tender Tale
73 men sailed up from the San Francisco Bay;
Rode off their ship, and here's what they all had to say:
Ride Captain Ride, upon your myst'ry ship
On your way to a world others might have missed. ...Blues Image
By November - we had (almost) everything done - the rest - we could do while at sea. After all - by it's very nature - a Tender is a floating ship repair facility - with machine shops - foundry - woodworking shops (pattern makers); sheet metal shop; motor re-wind shop (with bake oven); pipe fitters; Dentists, Doctors, Barber Shop, Ships Store, Navy Exchange, Post Office, Store keepers (with fork lifts and cranes) and on and on. A sub tender's mission has three main elements: Repair of the boats; Supply of the boats; and support of the boat's crews. This is where I originally came in.... If a boat were to have a critical person not able to sail (illness, or whatever) a "spare" sailor can be drawn from the tender. If a crew is a bit short - there is usually an available sailor to be found on the tender - and in the case of Guam - the nearest replacements are Hawaii - several thousand miles - near a day by fast jet- away. So it was common for a "detailer" to assign any extra bodies he might have to a tender - they are still able to contribute to the program - and are very available when needed ( a detailer is the guy who manages various billets around the Navy by moving people from where they are - to where they are needed - rotating people between sea and shore duty - something like today's "Human Resource Managers" in the civilian world).
When I reported aboard Proteus - the ship's age and need for repairs was obvious everywhere you looked. There were lot's of hints and reminders - In several spaces the air conditioning equipment had failed - and was just too old - too worn out to be repaired - so these large - often noisy temporary units were installed here and there to take up the slack - and hog space. Other signs of old age were little constant reminders - like pipes leaking everywhere - and fire mains that were clogged and by passed in several places. The overhaul at Mare Island had corrected the vast majority of these problems - the Proteus was in pretty good shape all around ready to return to Guam. Guam! Hmmm.... It was decision time. Up to now I really hadn't given it much thought - I had just assumed that I'd be going back - . But now a very short time to leaving - I'm being asked what my intentions are (didn't I just go through this with my then soon to be Father in law???)? Well are you willing to commit to stay aboard? Commit? what's this? Up till now everything had been temporary - with the "intention" of further orders to a boat. Now I'm being asked if I'm willing to make a commitment - did I intend to stay with the ship. After all - the Navy didn't want to spend a bunch of money getting me back to Guam - just to have me put in for a transfer! Before I got married - moving me was as simple as putting my butt and my duffel bag on a plane. Now married - and a Second Class Petty officer - which entitled me to more "move bennies" - like moving my car and furniture... the financial consideration to the service was a lot more. Well - I talked it over with my new wife. If I stayed with the Proteus - I'd get to come home almost every night. If I went to a boat - I'd be gone three months at a time - twice a year. We decided we liked the Proteus better. Wrong reason - right choice - I still didn't have a clue what the Proteus - nor her mission were really all about
A short trip from Mare Island to Concord Weapons Station to on-load ammo - (the Proteus still had her 5 in gun at the time - plus 20MM and small arms stuff) - and we were off to Hawaii.
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