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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, September 01, 1950, Image 20

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Tubs Carry Korean Supplies;
Big Warships Grab Off Glory
By Ray Falk
North American Nowspapor Allioneo
ABOARD A FREIGHTER IN
THE KOREAN STRAIT, Sept. 1.
—It’s the big warships that garner
the glory; but it’s the little tubs
that supply the GIs.
A severe jolt could blow this 855
ton craft to Davy Jones’ locker
as she carries all types of ammu
nition from Japan to Korea—not
to mention the danger of hitting
mines laid by the United States
Navy for this war or those re
maining in Japanese fields since
World War H. '
The United States Navy treats
this little freighter worse than an
orphan. In Pusan, American port
authorities thought it was a Japa
nese-manned ship but added
"there may be one or two English
speaking Japs aboard.”
The skipper turned out to be
Capt. Robert O’Brien, whose s;lky
gray hair and horn-rimmed glasses
make him look more like a maga
zine editor than a veteran of the
seat. His civil service crew of 23
gets along swell—except for one
engineer “who is scared of parry
ing ammunition but has his good
points, too.” There is a ukulele
strumming Hawaiian, a few Fili
pinos and the usual mixture of
Americans of foreign stock, as
well as three Japanese paid by
their own government.
“Everything about this ship is
expendable,” Capt. O’Brien said,
moaning about the high com
mand’s snootiness towards his
floating empire. “This ship has
no modern navigation. We only
have a radio compass and there
are no radio stations in the area
to give us a bearing.
The engines were built for diesel
locomotives. During the last war,
these ships were being built faster
than the engines. So the manu
facturer grabbed anything he
could get hold of.
Currents Called Terrific.
“The currents here are terrific
more than four knots—and the
changes in direction are rapid.
The tides are strong.”
This freighter had been the
center ship in a convoy to Korea,
led by a cruiser. The LST ahead
had been too slowf and the freigh
ter behind almost rammed this
one.
Now this ship is on her own.
But Capt. O’Brien hopes that the
Navy will anchor station ships
along the route to guide him in the
future.
During the day American planes
flew overhead. They circled until
they had identified the ship as
“friendly.” They continued their
search for enemy subs. Capt.
O’Brien said that a sister ship
spotted three subs, and being un
able to identify them, steamed
away.
Joe Caldwell, chief steward of
Riverbank, Calif., feeds well and
talks well. “‘First time I met
O’Brien we were both strip naked.
We were both taking our physical
in San Francisco.
“During the war I worked for
the Maritime Commission on Pa
cific ships. O’Brien was on the
i Atlantic and Murmansk run. In
! 1945 I threw my uniform over
board in New York harbor and
swore I’d never go to sea again.
Here I am—back—and just in
time. I’m in the reserve, so I’d be
called up anyway.
“Well, we shuttled between
Guam and Saipan for the Army
Transport Service until this war
broke out and they transferred us
to the naval service.
“We used to work an eight-hour
way. Now it’s 12 hours, seven days
a week. And no overtime because
we’re on civil service. I say we
ought to be compensated for this
at a later date—in money or time
ofT.
But don’t get me wrong, we
ain’t complaining. When we think
of our boys in the front line; if
they ask us to work 40 hours
straight, we’d do it. This is an
; emergency. You're protesting your
own life and that of the ship, too."
Twenty - one - year - old Shizuo
Takenaka, who holds a Japanese
second-class mate’s license, Seemed
to enjoy working. He held the
wheel and repeated in fair Eng
lish each of the captain’s instruc
tions. Takenaka hadn’t bothered
to go ashore in Pusan. Like all
Japanese, he holds the Koreans
in contempt. And they in turn
hate their former lords. The
Japanese government automati
cally doubles its sailers’ salaries, if
they sail into tha war zone. Here,
at least, Takenaka had one thing
in common with American sailors.
He said, ‘‘What good is it with
those high taxes.”
Sailors are used to being away
from their wives, so the Korean
war doesn’t bother them as much
on that score as it does the sol
dier. Capt. O'Brien admitted,
‘‘I’ve been married close to 21
years and been home only two
and a halt. You have to have a
tolerant wife.”
This ship sailed past a row of
American, British, Australian, Ca
nadian and Fiench warships at
full speed. Her pleasure-craft
like run attracted the stares of
many a bluejacket. Captains and
crew were mighty proud as they
dashed ashore for a little sailor's
recreation.
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