Allie Ryan 393 Middle Rd. Falmouth, ME 04105 207-781-5119 Allie Ryan
6 June, 1941
During the late war the Navy launched thousands of ships, all with appropriate ceremony. The ceremony itself differed little from one ship to another. In short, see one and you’ve seen ’em all. True, each Yard had it’s own horror story of a launch gone awry. You know, lady bashes ship with bottle of bubbly and the hull just sits there or perhaps slides a bit and then stops.
Then, of course, there was the classic in Terror’s back yard at Philly. You remember, the great battleship New Jersey really acted up. All went well until the bottle crashed. Workers and launch party stared in wide-eyed disbelief as 35000 tons of steel took on a life of its’ own, racing down the way at rapidly increasing speed.
Hurtling some 300 yards past the retrieval point New Jersey headed across the Delaware to the New Jersey shore– backward. Made it too. Some gawkers on the Jersey shore got a good soaking from the surge created as the great ship embedded itself in the Jersey mud.
The whole scene, from the Navy’s point of view was, well, awkward. How do you explain to the Washington brass, launching a battleship in Pennsylvania and having to go to New Jersey to retrieve the darn thing?
Terror’s launch on 6 June, 1941 offered no such diversion. All went smoothly at the appointed time. On hand we are promised a brace of brass, namely Rear Admiral A.E. Watson, representing Philadelphia Naval Yard, Rear Admiral A. J. Chantry, Jr. for the Navy and Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Ralph A Bard representing the Administration.
At first blush, it seems a feather in Terror’s cap to snag the number two Navy civilian but as we go along we’ll see that the Secretary would be in attendance if he had to buy a ticket. Terror’s sponsor, you see, is none other than Mrs. Ralph A. Bard. That explains that.
Terror performed well at the appointed time, slid down the ways and allowed herself to be collared and hustled around to the outfitting pier, her home for the next several months.
15 July, 1942
Terror lay at Pier 5, Philadelphia Navy Yard tethered by lines and more lines — steam, salt water, fresh water and electrical lines gave the ship life. The ship had undergone a radical transformation in the past year and more changes were in the offing. Today, however would witness a brief pause in the activity. Today, the ship would be initiated into the Navy.
Present for the ceremony was the always reliable Assistant Secretary, Ralph Bard in company with Admiral Watson. The first entry in Terror’s Deck Log covers the affair with refreshing brevity.
“15 July, 1942 1750 – USS Terror was placed in commission by Rear Admiral A. E. Watson, USN in the presence of Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Ralph A. Bard The ships complement is composed of the officers and men on the attached sheet. 1900 Assistant Secretary of the Navy and Rear Admiral A. E. Watson left the ship. 1900 Set condition three AA Battery.”
S/ E. A. Pauson, Lt (jg) USNR
The ship’s officer complement consisted of 23 (17 commissioned and 6 warrant) headed by CMDR Wesley Fitch CO and LCDR A.H. Richards as XO. The enlisted commissioning crew numbered 241, about half the normal complement.
The commissioning crew attempted a balance between seasoned ratings such as CMM Robert King with an enlistment date of Aug.15, 1933 and Julius Gostel (then) SM1) with an enlistment date of March 11, 1937 and the majority of the crew whose experience was measured in weeks rather than years.
As an aside, the following members of the commissioning are on our mailing roster today: Clement Avila, Paul Barkley, Philip (Bluestein) Blaine, W.H. Bretz, Kenneth Davis, Julius Gostel, William Hayes, James Mulligan and Peter Wood. Not bad!! While we’re at it, on July 16, the day following commissioning, 28 men reported on board for duty. Among them the following men currently on our mailing roster: John Braun, Francis Kapsch, Peter Keenan and Addison Turner.
During the next few days, men reported aboard as needs were filled until finally on July 26, John Csizmar, Bos’n logged in Draft 810-42 consisting of 62 Apprentice Seamen from Great Lakes NTC. This would, for practical purposes, be the crew that would find themselves on November 1 at Pier 33, Brooklyn readying for a night departure with TG 38.3 to North Africa and unfriendly waters.
Click on the pictures below to see them close-up