Archivist’s Attic: Project Judy

Field

It’s that time of year again! Vacation time!

While there are lots of spots to choose from, whether your destination be local or abroad, I invite you to check out the latest accommodations located in picturesque Marathon, Greece. Many of us long to visit the ancient sites of the first marathon. But be warned! Dream sites can be deceiving, as the Seabees found out in 1963. After lying dormant for some 2000 years, the very site where the ancient Greek Civil Engineer Herodus Atticus lived came to life with the buzz of Seabees who worked hard at making a hornets nest a hive.

During the Cold War build-up, the United States needed a strategic location in order to listen to and keep tabs on then Soviet Union. As Greece is located to the southwest of the Soviet Union it was a prime location for such a project. Mobile Construction Battalion (MCB) 6 had the unique opportunity to build an entire communication station from scratch while living in a rural community tent camp in Greece. This opportunity became known as Project Judy.

What was Project Judy? She was a $10 million semi-mobile communication facility with 11 major buildings covering more than 42,000 square feet with more than 100 antennas that required an accumulation of man-hour labor equating to 17,000 days of intensive work. Seabee labor resulted in a quarter of a million yards of earth work and 5000 yards of concrete work. And all of this was completed in picturesque Greece with ancient ruins and historic sites!

Sounds great, doesn’t it? But as we all know, resorts don’t pop up overnight and the challenges that MCB 6 faced made the first Marathon seem like sprint.

Problems started right away with labeling; supply boxes arrived incorrectly labeled. Air mattresses in crates marked electric gear or base bolts for steel frames packed with roofing panels. Even certain partitions or fittings for buildings were packed in the same box without exterior markings. It got so bad the Seabees started treating it like opening gifts on Christmas, with every box containing a surprise. And Christmas it was when supplies arrived because oftentimes nothing would come for weeks or months on end. It got so bad that when the Seabees were asked what kind of gear they had they often responded with, “What gear?”

Tents

In order to ‘make do’ and keep on schedule, the Seabees often cannibalized various buildings and equipment. Any equipment that did come was being placed into immediate operation upon arrival no matter what the original purpose. For example, the “Tables by Cables” were tables made out of electrical cable reels strung together.

The Seabees also dealt with the problem of not having enough supplies. Not only to did comfort supplies, like tables not arrive, but even key components, like the supplies to build a wall failed to show up. Eight-inch girders that prevented complete closures were jerry-rigged and fixed so men could no longer peek into the women’s heads and other necessary places.

Land complications and water on the site posed extra challenges for the men of to MCB 6 face. The tent camp relocated due to its placement on ancient ruins of historical significance. Ancient ruins created additional stress by putting pressure on the Seabees not only to continue building the communication station on schedule, but to move their camp without damaging the ruins. In addition, the Greeks had never heard of a “pressure and temperature automatic control valve,” meaning supplies brought in for water works didn’t match up to the local hardware.

Tower

But the Seabees’ “Can Do” attitude worked through each of those problems, along with numerous others, prompting the Chief of Naval Operations to say if he wanted excuses he would have hired contractors; but he wanted the job done so he hired Seabees.

The project might have started out like a Greek tragedy, but by the end even Herodus Atticus would have been proud to know that the Seabees took on the challenge and ended up with one of the first and best naval communication stations.

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150225-N-JU810-001Meet the Archivist: Ingi House
Ingi House is originally from Kansas where she got her B.A. in history from K.U. and M.L.S. from E.S.U. After working for the Dole Institute of Politics she moved to the East Coast.  In D.C. she worked at the National Archives and Records Admiration and then at the Defense Acquisition University where she became a Certified Archivist. Her continued enjoyment of military history lead her to switching coasts and coming to work for the Seabee Museum where she is collection manager for the archives and records manager liaison

Curator’s Corner: WWII Army-Navy Insignia Guide

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Have you ever seen someone in their military uniform and wondered what they did for a job or what rank they were? Those not affiliated with the military either by personal service or that of a family member may find it difficult to determine military rank by simply looking at one’s uniform. It may even be more confusing when the ranks of some branches differ from others with regards to titles, for example, Navy to Army.

The United States Navy was born as the Continental Navy during the Revolutionary War. As the colonies fought for independence from the British, it made sense that the Continental Navy and the other military branches formed at the time mirrored British forces with regard to rank, customs, and traditions with minor changes. Most of those organizational structures still exist today.

Officers in the Army, Air force, and the Marine Corps all share the same ranks as you move up the chain of command. A Captain in the Army is equivalent to a Captain in the Marine Corps; a Colonel in the Air Force is equivalent to a Colonel in the Army and so on. Where as a Captain in the Navy or Coast Guard is higher in rank than a Captain in the Army, and is actually equivalent to an Army Colonel in rank.

This may sound confusing and it was just as confusing during WWII when numerous men walked around town in their uniforms while on liberty or leave. Seeing the different ranks on the men’s caps, sleeves, or patches on the arm may have been perplexing to people who hadn’t previously known anyone in the military.

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A nifty little guide was created to visually differentiate between Army and Navy Insignias and their corresponding ranks. In 1943, an advertisement for War Bonds created an Army Navy Insignia Guide. This small cardboard guide pictures a Soldier and a Sailor on the front. The center piece rotates to change the insignia on the Sailors arm and wrist and the Soldiers arm and shoulder. The Army title changes at the top and the Navy at the bottom. There are 18 different titles and insignias for the Army and Navy on the rotating wheel. Along the sides are other insignias such as parachutist, chaplain, dental, etc. with 30 in total.

The top of the reverse side lists cap devices of the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine with 15 insignias and titles. The middle of the guide says, “Keep ‘Em Flying-Fighting-Sailing Buy War Bonds & Stamps”. The bottom of guide lists 7 Insignias for Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard Decorations and 7 Insignias for Army Decorations.

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This was an incredibly handy and helpful guide. The guide currently in the U.S Navy Seabee Museum collection is in excellent condition and a personal favorite among the objects in the collection to show.

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150225-N-JU810-010Meet the Curator: Robyn King
Robyn King earned her Bachelors in History and Anthropology from the State University of New York at Oneonta. She has experience working at State Museums, Historic Sites, the National Parks Service, and most recently the Navy. She’s an expert in collection management, and has worked closely with both natural and cultural collections. Robyn loves all museums and sharing her love of history. When’s she not working, she’s volunteering her time with the National Peace Corps Association, as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from West Africa.

Museum Happenings: Susan Cuddy, First Asian American Woman in the Navy, to speak at the Seabee Museum

U.S. Navy Seabee Museum patrons are invited to a special speaking engagement with Susan Ahn Cuddy May 9 in the museum education room at 10 a.m.

Susan Cuddy Bio 2

Cuddy, who was born in Los Angeles in 1915, was the first Asian American female to serve in the U.S. Navy when she joined the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) program during World War II.

“The presentation will coincide with the museum’s observation of Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month,” said Hanako Wakatsuki, museum education specialist and public programs coordinator.  “We are excited to celebrate the rich culture and contributions Asian Americans have made in our nation’s history with Ms. Cuddy, who was not only a pioneer for Asian Americans, but for women as well.”

As a 1940 graduate of San Diego State University, Cuddy joined the WAVES in 1942; she was also the first female gunnery officer achieving the rank of lieutenant. Upon exiting the service in 1947, she went to work for the National Security Agency in Washington, D.C. before moving back to Los Angeles in 1959.

Cuddy will be joined by her son, Philip Cuddy, who will offer a visual presentation of his mother’s service. Dr. Lara Godbille, museum director, explained the importance of offering non-Seabee and Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) presentation topics at the museum.

“Even though the museum’s mission is to tell the Seabee and CEC story, it is important to honor our national naval heritage,” said Godbille. “We are happy to present an opportunity for our patrons to engage with a member of the surrounding community who has become such a distinguished aspect of naval history.”

All media inquiries about Susan Cuddy prior to the event are being coordinated through her son, Philip, via email: info@susanahncuddy.com

More information, including a full biography about Susan Cuddy can be found on her website: www.susanahncuddy.com

In the third week of May, we will feature the next entries into the “Our Cultural Expanse” series with a focus on the naval historical contributions of Asian Americans in honor of Asian & Pacific Islander month. Stay tuned!

Archivist’s Attic: The Walking Barge

Faster than a speeding Rhino barge, more powerful than an outboard motor, able to leap longer and further than a frog, look on the ground and in the sea; it’s a jeep, it’s a tractor, it’s…The Walking Barge!?

In 1948, the Navy sought a new means to haul men and materials through surf, soft mud, sand and quagmires to reach shore dry and ready to go. The task of developing this was handed to the men at the Advanced Base Depot Proving Ground in Port Hueneme, Calif. They came up with an ingenious idea of using pontoons and an outboard motor to drive the barge through the water until it reached a point where a specially designed leapfrog mechanism could be operated.

The walking barge, as it was called, was capable of carrying 60 tons of men and materiel. The frog-like gadget was made of all-welded construction and consisted of three pontoons placed side by side. The two outer pontoons were each slightly more than 9-feet high, 60-feet long and 6-feet wide. Fitted between the two outer hulls, the inner pontoon was 16-feet wide, 44-feet long and 6-feet wide.

walking barge 1

The barge moved using these pontoons in a halting leapfrog motion. The inboard pontoons were first lifted 17 inches off the ground then moved forward 10 feet at this level and then were lowered to the ground. That action would be followed by the outboard pontoons which were decked over and carried the payload. “Leapfrogging” upward and forward in the same manner as the inboard pontoon, they would come to a rest in their original position over the inboard pontoon.

Just like a frog though, this amphibious adaptation was just at home in mud and water as well as on dry ground. In mud traction was obtained through vertical fins installed in the bow of the inner portion and in the forward sections of the outboard pontoons. The fins were automatically raised into the hull as the barge made its way forward and were lowered into the mud when it touched down. In water, the barge jumped out as far as possible before the propeller took over.

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This basic design prompted engineers to recommend it for various other jobs including a carrier for road mats and vehicles. Additionally, it could act as a stable platform for use in construction of causeways, bridges, docks and piers. Not all of these ideas were put into place but the simple design of the walking barge lent itself so well to various operations that it was used from the islands all the way down to Antarctica.

Throughout the years various improvements and redesigns leapt the walking barge into the future including various uses for tourists around the world; all due to a little inspiration from our long legged friends!

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150225-N-JU810-001Meet the Archivist: Ingi House
Ingi House is originally from Kansas where she got her B.A. in history from K.U. and M.L.S. from E.S.U. After working for the Dole Institute of Politics she moved to the East Coast.  In D.C. she worked at the National Archives and Records Admiration and then at the Defense Acquisition University where she became a Certified Archivist. Her continued enjoyment of military history lead her to switching coasts and coming to work for the Seabee Museum where she is collection manager for the archives and records manager liaison

On This Day: The Commissioning of USS Marvin G. Shields (FF 1066)

USS Marvin Shields FF1066_launch

Launch photos from Todd Shipyard Corp. October 23, 1969: Seattle, Wash.

April 10, 1971

USS Marvin G. Shields (DE 1066, later reclassified to FF 1066) was commissioned at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard with Cmdr. William J. Hunter in command and later assigned to Pacific Cruiser-Destroyer Force in San Diego. It was named for Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin G. Shields, the first and only Medal of Honor recipient in the Seabee community. Shields gave his life during the Battle of Dong Xoai in June 1965 while assigned to Seabee Team 1104 attached to the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces.

On June 10, U.S. Navy Seabee Museum director, Dr. Lara Godbille, will present a lecture on the events of the Battle of Dong Xoai, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the those events. The evening event will begin at 6:30p.m. Be sure to mark your calendars to attend this special event as we honor the life of one who embodied the “Can Do” spirit of the Seabees.

USS Marvin Shields FF1066

Here are some general specs, courtesy of the Naval Vessel Registry:

Build
Class: Knox
Number in Class: 46
Displacement: 3020 tons (std), 4065 tons (full)
Length: 415′ (wl), 438′ (oa)
Beam: 46′ 9″ (extreme)
Draft: 24′ 9″ (draft limit)
Propulsion: 2 Combustion Engineering 1200psi boilers; 1 Westinghouse geared turbine; 35,000 shp; 1 shaft
Speed: 27 kts
Range: 4,500 nm @ 20 knots
Complement: 20 Officer / 255 Enlisted

Armament
Missiles: 1 8-tube Mk25 Sea Sparrow BPDMS in DE 1052-1069, 1071-1083, 1 8-tube Mk29 NATO Sea Sparrow IPDMS in DE 1070, Harpoon missiles from modified ASROC launcher
Guns: 1 x 5″/54 cal. DP Mk 42 (600 rds)
ASW Weapons: 1 Mk16 ASROC launcher (16 missiles), 4-12.75″ (324mm) Mk 32 (4×1 fixed) tubes / Mk 46 torpedos (6)
Radars: AN/SPS-10 (surface), AN/SPS-40 (air), AN/SPS-58 threat warning in some ships
Sonars: AN/SQS-26CX, AN/SQS-35 IVDS in FF-1052, 1056, 1063-1071, 1073-1076, 1078-1097
Fire Control Systems: Mk68 Mod. 11/13/14 Gun FCS, Mk114 Mod 14/16 ASW FCS
Helicopter: 1 – SH-2 LAMPS Helicopter

Awards & Citations

Top Row: Combat Action Ribbon - Navy Unit Commendation Second Row: Navy Battle "E" Ribbon - National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 star - Vietnam Service Medal w/ 1 star Third Row: Southwest Asia Service Medal w/ 2 stars - Humanitarian Service Ribbon - Sea Service Deployment Ribbon Fourth Row: Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal - Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia) - Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)

Top Row: Combat Action Ribbon – Navy Unit Commendation
Second Row: Navy Battle “E” Ribbon – National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 star – Vietnam Service Medal w/ 1 star
Third Row: Southwest Asia Service Medal w/ 2 stars – Humanitarian Service Ribbon – Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
Fourth Row: Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal – Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia) – Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)

Curator’s Corner: Ship-to-Shore Part 3 – Landing Ship, Tank

LST’s unloading from a beach landing. 1943 [U.S. Navy Seabee Museum]

LST’s unloading from a beach landing. 1943 [U.S. Navy Seabee Museum]

To conclude our ship-to-shore series this week, it’s important to discuss the ships that made these amphibious operations possible. One ship in particular is truly an “amphibious” ship, the Landing Ship, Tank (LST) which could be maneuvered onto a beach. If the water was too shallow for a landing of this type, pontoon causeways were launched from the LST to form a temporary pier from which its vehicles, troops, and cargo were directly unloaded. This unique feature enabled the LST to be offloaded swiftly and efficiently by the Seabees.

Seabee’s have “married” a pontoon causeway to an LST to offload the ship’s cargo to shore. 1944 [U.S. Navy Seabee Musem]

Seabee’s have “married” a pontoon causeway to an LST to offload the ship’s cargo to shore. 1944 [U.S. Navy Seabee Musem]

It was made clear by the British in 1940 that the Allies needed relatively large, ocean-going ships capable of ship-to-shore delivery of tanks and other vehicles in amphibious assaults in Europe. The first concept was to transform ships with shallow drafts (vessels whose keel is not far below the waterline) and add bow doors and ramps to create the first LSTs. Although they proved their worth, their design made them inadequately slow and an all-new design needed to be incorporated into a sleeker hull.

After a discussion with President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill in 1941 confirmed the need for these kinds of ships, the British and United States Navy worked together at the Navy’s Bureau of Ships to develop ideas for this ship.

John Niedermair of the Bureau of Ships sketched out an awkward looking ship that became the basic design model for the more than 1,000 LST’s that were built during WWII.

To meet both the conflicting requirements of deep draft for ocean travel and shallow draft for beaching, the ship was designed with a large ballast system, which allowed the ships to adjust their buoyancy in the water by filling a ship’s compartment with water during ocean passage and pumped out for beaching operations.

In the final plans, the LST stretched to 328 feet in length which would distribute the ships weight over a greater area enabling it to ride higher in the water when landing on beaches. It was capable of carrying a load of 2,100 tons and included a crew of 160, carrying 600 troops, and 500 tons of battle cargo. The bow door opening and ramp measured 14 feet wide to accommodate most Allied vehicles and an elevator (which was later changed to a ramp) was provided to lower vehicles from the main deck to the tank deck for disembarking.

Seabees waiting to offload cargo from the top deck of the LST. 1943 [U.S. Navy Seabee Museum]

Seabees waiting to offload cargo from the top deck of the LST. 1943 [U.S. Navy Seabee Museum]

Once the design was completed, a high priority was assigned to the construction of LSTs. The need for them was urgent and the LST program stayed a high priority thought out the war.

The LSTs combat debut was in the Solomon Islands in 1943 and stayed in use until the end of the war in 1945. They participated in many invasions in the European Theater and were an essential element in the island-hopping campaigns in the Pacific which included the capture of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Not only were LSTs remarkably versatile ships, they could also be repurposed. Some LSTs became landing craft repair ships, small hospital ships, or fitted with flight decks for small planes and helicopters.

Throughout the war, the LSTs demonstrated a remarkable capacity to withstand enemy fire. With the nickname, “Large Slow Target” given by crew members, they suffered few losses in proportion to their number and their operation. Their ingenious structural arrangement provided unusual strength and buoyancy. Although the LST was considered a valuable target by the enemy, only 26 of the 1,051 LST’s constructed were lost due to enemy action and a mere 13 actually sunk.

Although most of the LSTs were scrapped or sunk after the war ended, the LSTs performed an integral service in WWII and played a vital role for the ingenious ship-to-shore concept.

LST model on display at the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum.

LST model on display at the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum.

Be sure to visit the museum and check out the WWII Atlantic Theater presentation to view a model of the LST as well as the other items discussed in this ship-to-shore series.

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150225-N-JU810-010Meet the Curator: Robyn King
Robyn King earned her Bachelors in History and Anthropology from the State University of New York at Oneonta. She has experience working at State Museums, Historic Sites, the National Parks Service, and most recently the Navy. She’s an expert in collection management, and has worked closely with both natural and cultural collections. Robyn loves all museums and sharing her love of history. When’s she not working, she’s volunteering her time with the National Peace Corps Association, as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from West Africa.