At the end of World War II, the U.S. naval command remembered how

“Rebricking the Boilers” — 1st Korean Cruise

Memory from: Patrick Bingham

Setting the Scene

At the end of World War II, the U.S. naval command remembered how unprepared the U.S. military had been at the start of the war. So hundreds of vessels that were no longer needed by a peacetime navy were placed in storage in shipyards around the country--mothballed in the event that they might be called upon again in the future. The KIDD's Korean-era crew came together as a mixture of experienced officers, chiefs, and crewmen with newly activated reservists and fresh-faced recruits. Together, as evidenced by this next story by the KIDD's chief engineer, Patrick Bingham, they managed to breathe new life into a dormant tin can. Along the way, they also managed to make a few brownie points with the commodore of their division [DESDIV 152].

The Recollection

“. . . while in Pearl, we had a small salt water line fail in a dead fireroom (No. 2, as I recall) and one boiler wound up with salt water in the firebox, which meant rebricking the boiler. This is normally a yard job, but we were scheduled to leave the next day for Korea. Reporting the damage and the problem to Captain Jeffries, I suggested that we would rebrick with our own people while underway, if the Division Commodore would approve of having only three boilers available for a short period. The captain agreed, and we ordered the firebrick and other supplies from the yard. Shortly thereafter, the commodore showed up and I was summoned to a discussion with him on the dock. The gist of the commodore’s position was that he was concerned that a new ship with a green crew should not try a repair so critical, and therefore, proposed to leave us behind for yard repairs for four days with us catching up with the division in Japan. My argument was that ‘my people can do it as well as the yard, and can do it in three days, barring bad weather.’ I could not have been more proud of Captain Jeffries and the black gang when the commodore said, “Can they do it, Jeff?”‘ and Jeffries said, “If he says his people can, they will.’ Sorry you lost four more liberty days in Pearl, men, but no one was going to tell me that KIDD engineers were limited in competence. At any rate, we sailed, we had good weather, and we finished the rebricking on time. I never did tell Captain Jeffries that to my knowledge only two people in Engineering had ever been involved in a bricking job, and I was one of them. The other was the boilerman who supervised the job. So, that’s how we lost four days of fun and games in Pearl, but gained a lot of points in respect from a captain and a commodore. I’m sure that the men who gave their lives during World War II on the KIDD must have been looking down and smiling as she steamed west out of Pearl and back to the wars. I was proud and honored to be assigned as the recommissioning chief engineer and going in harm’s way with a great crew from Captain Jeffries to the newest seaman apprentice and fireman 3rd class. Of all the ships I served on, destroyers were the best, and the KIDD was the best of the best.”

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