The Foc’sle

Walking forward on the starboard side as you leave the Wardroom, the watertight door that you pass leads into a small space known as the Forward Repair Locker. This area contains damage control equipment for fighting fires and making temporary repairs to battle damage.

The Foc’s’le is the forward deck of the ship. It derives its name from the days of sailing ships when the raised forward deck was known as the “forecastle.”

The 5″/38 caliber gun mount that you see is Gun Mount 51. This 5-inch gun, and the one located behind it and one level up from it (Mt. 52) are both still functional. Though we no longer fire her guns, the KIDD is one of the few ships in the Historic Fleet that is still capable of this feat.

The guns, which normally fired a 17-lb. powder charge for maximum effect and range, now fire only one (1) pound for such salutes. Anything larger would begin to shatter windows throughout downtown Baton Rouge.

One of the most important features of the foc’s’le is the anchoring gear, or ground tackle. The chains lead to the two Navy stockless anchors. Each anchor weighs two tons. The hole that the anchors are held in is called the hawsepipe. Two pelican hooks, or chain stoppers, hold the anchors securely in place.

The anchor windlass is an electric hydraulic hoist used to raise and lower the anchors. The windlass is divided into two parts that can operate independently of each other. The upper mushroom-shaped part is called the capstan and is used to handle and adjust the tension on the ship’s mooring lines, or ropes. The lower portion is called the wildcat and acts like a chain sprocket to move the anchor chain in and out. The brass hand wheel is the windlass brake that can be used to drop the anchors by gravity.

The anchor chain runs down through the chain pipes to the chain locker where it is stored. Anchor chain is measured in shots, 15 fathoms each (a fathom being six feet). The shots are connected by detachable links that come apart. The ship carried 120 fathoms of chain on one anchor and ninety on the other.

The anchor windlass could only handle one anchor at a time, so that if a second were to be used, the first anchor had to be secured and disconnected in order for the second anchor to be led around the wildcat. The anchor windlass was controlled by a switch on the deck that has been removed and a backup switch in the bosun’s lockerbelow.

The flag on the bow is the Jack: it is the stars without the stripes of the American flag. This flag is traditionally flown by U.S. Navy warships when they are in port.

Lifelines surround the ship to keep sailors from falling overboard. The lifelines are made of special phosphorous bronze wire. Stanchions are the posts that support the lifelines. The lifelines are termed, from top to bottom: the lifeline, the kneeline, and the footline. Snaking is the handmade netting that is strung along the various lifelines. It was designed to keep sailors from being washed overboard when the ship plowed under the waves. When the ship was in service in the Navy, the snaking extended from the deck to the 2nd line (the kneeline). With the presence of children aboard ship now, the museum has raised the snaking to the 3rd line (the lifeline) for the safety of all guests.The bitts are the twin posts used for securing mooring lines. Sailors always found that they made good seats. The chocks are the round openings along the deck edges that mooring lines are passed through to keep them from chafing. The bow chock has a special name: the bullnose.

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