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The San Francisco call. (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, June 01, 1902, Image 5

Image and text provided by University of California, Riverside; Riverside, CA

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1902-06-01/ed-1/seq-5/

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room, and elwver machinists are at work
in thm dynamo room, the hottest spot in
th« ship, where the temperature often
reaches 120 degrees. In the ammunition
passages men are shining the brass plates
which connect with the sliding doors in
th« angina room* below, and which by
manipulation can b* closed to prevent
possibility of the engines being flooded.
Perhaps the two "moat unpopular spots
on a naval vessel are the sick bay or hos
pital, with its clean white cots, and the
"brig." or prison, with its cells of heavy
painted iron, in which are men confined
for .various periods, on a diet of bread and
water. Before the loophole of the door
paces a marine," relieved every two hours
times called the "sailor's piano."
. Bailors are versed In 'many trades, and
ft has been said that should a battleship:
be wrecked' on" an uninhabited island a
small town could be completely built by
tha vessel's - creV, as some man could be
found for almost any ' kind of work to be
performed. .
A not uncommon sight on a naval ves
sel Is bronzed ; and stalwart seamen using
bend-power sewing machines. These men
'make uniforms from regulation cloth pur
chased from the paymaster, and maka
not only their . : own ' clothing, .- many oi
them, but receive orders from their ship
mates. Several barbers are useful on »'
battleship, and they are . generally kept
pretty busy; after the general \muster,
which takes place on the quarterdeck on
the . first Sunday of each month. 3 Each
man's name is called, he answers his rat
ing, and as the sailors say, "walks around \
a stick." If long hair is one of his visible
discrepancies he Is sent to the barber.
The crew of the Wisconsin have two
baseball teams and have only lost one
game, out of ; twenty T ln a v year.-'' Their
racing. boat crew made the Iowa "lose her
pride" about a year ago. Then was heard
the Wisconsin yell;V.
. One, two, three, who art w«?
We are the boys of tha new nav**t ;.'
Are we, in it? Yes, we are.
Wisconsin! Wisconsin 1 Rah! rah! rah!
In the quarters of .the^wardroom offt-
cera all Is serene and qtitat at this hoar
of the day. „ The white-gloved orderly sits
on the alert before the door of the ad
miral's cabin. .Though Rear Admiral
Casey, as commander in chief of the Pa
cific squadron, make* his official home on
the Wisconsin, he has no direct command
over this particular ship, and all orders
come through Captain George A. Relter,
In command. To an onlooker, the . main
business of the day for the officers of a
battleship when not,, ln^ action 'i« to b©
present and direct the many, drills. . .
At ten minutes before noon the omni
present bugle sounds mesa gear and be
low there la a great rattle of tables being
let down, -They are all hung by wires to
tT the callers In double quick time. An
other most realistic drill is what is known
a* "abandon ship." This is practiced reg
ularly, so that in caae It becomes a real
ity that the ship is In collision or has
been rammed in action, every one knows
what to do. The boats are manned, the
men respond to the captain's call of "step
lively there.'* and everything needful la
passed to the bo?ta. The whistles sound
a signal that the ship is sinking and all
water-tight doors are to be dosed. There
Is a call or two from the division officers:
"All ready, sir," and In a few moments
more the drill Is over, and the decks re
sound with tramping feet to the sound of
the bufle calling retreat from drill. Ev
ery three months target practice goes on.
when the decks are cleared as in action
and great guns as well as revolvers are.
brought into use.
Sometimes this practice will be when
tne ship Is under way at sea, at other
times record practice takes place In the
harbor. In the past year the Wisconsin
has broken the record for a Ions cruiie,
having: made 19,000 miles in twelve months.
After daily drills are over, the division
officers and others all report to the exec
utive officer. The officer of the deck on
a battleship is also an important person
age, even though a new officer relieves
him every four hours. He has everything (
In charge, and must be notified of any
thin? done. Happenings In his depart
ment find a place In the ship's log.
At 7 bells or 3:30 p. m. the bosun's mata
pipes which means every
thing is to be swept down fore and aft.
And as the sailors say, "all the splt-kito
are emptied out." Then again Jacky Is
at leisure for a time, and the "smoking
lamp" Is supposed to be lit. Boxing, bag
punching, cards, are some of the amuse
ments, and the string band which the
men have among: themselves may gather
}n the barber shop for practice. The two
goats, the "possum and a cat. which are
tb« snip's mascots, come In for their
share of attention. Perhaps there Is some
talk of going ashore and hitting the
"dog," as whisky Is known to the sailors.
On Wednesday and Saturday much time
Is given to mending clothes^ seeing visi
tors, etc Swimming exercise and instruc
tion Is had dally when circumstances will
permit. After dark searchlights are exer
cised and night signals go on. There are
many other drills during a week too nu
merous to mention here. The Sunday
routine is much the same with the addi
tion of the captain's inspection and morn
ing service by the "sky pilot." There i3
plenty of yarn spinning in the afternoon.
At five minutes to 5 p. m. sounds the
officers* call for evening quarters at 5.
Once more comes the familiar call of mess
gear, and pipe to supper at three bells.
At four bells "turn to" sounds again, but
not much work goes on. Soon the band
ceases to play on the quarterdeck. On
Wednesday and Saturday nights the sail
or* usually have a ball on the fo'cas'le.
The executive officer^ goes around at
six bells and inspects the lower decks
again. "Hammocks" Is sounded at 7:30
and "Jimmylegs" goes around to chase
up the men again. ' Then the bosun's
mate pipes down, the hammocks are
slung and at eight balls the anchor watch
lay aft to muster. Tattoo sounds at 9
and five minutes later booms out the
evening gun.- Then comes the slow notes
of "Taps" or all lights out and all hands
turn t in save the quartermaster. tha an
chor watch and the signal boy.
But not so peaceful is a night when the
ship Is In action. Then the picket boats
are out. There are watches on starboard
and port, and men at different points on
deck to report anything floating In sight.
The guns are manned and all lights are
out except In the fire room. There may
be a long last sleep for some before tha
bu?le rhnil sound the beginning of an
other day. 'j.
structure or the fo'caane. . Borne are hav
ing a turn at the guitar or, the sailor's
favorite Instrument, the accordion, some-
Ablutions followed by coffee fill in the
Kpace of a half hour until three ..belle,
v. hen "Turn to" piped on the whistle
by th»: boVun's mate puts every man
J&cSfy on the alert. At once they are a
busy lot. some of them cleaning ship,
ethers scrubbing and washing clothes.
This v.ork is ktpt up until twenty min
ute* past seven when the bugler's call
oi "mess gear" rings through the ship.
Mess gear means in the language of a
landsman to "prepare .for breakfast."
whieli on shipboard is called for 7:80 oi
eeven bells.
Eight b*lls rings out to the sound of
the "Star Spangled Banner" played by
the ships Land. The flag is being raised
and every man on the ship faces aft and
ealutes, as Old Glcry reaches the truck.
The quarterdeck is the official hall of the
ship, eo to speak. All the dignitariesNd'ho
visit the shop are received on the star
board side of the quarterdeck, known as
the official side of the ship. Here is th«
scene of any important naval ceremony,
and here the ship's band plays every
morning and afternoon. There is no more
Inspiring music than that of a ship's band
as It comes in bursts over the water on a
still afternoon. The band of a warship
usually plays well, for It spends from ten
to half past eleven o'clock every morning
Is practice.
. The quartermasters and enlisted men
regard the port side of the ship as more
especially their own field.
Deck bright work and gun bright work
1b the next task for the men, and they
ere ehlniner brass for the half hour until
one bell rings again. If one on land should
go by. bells the four-hour system of a
ship would probably mix him at first
worse than It does on board, but like
many other things. It is simple after one
knows it. If nothing else had to be done
on a warship it is a task to keep the
men-kiliers bright and shining, and one
can always see men oiling and polishing
the runs to keep them from rusting. On
the Wisconsin there are forty-eight of
them. After the brass work is all like
Tnlrrors, the next thing on the programme
Is for all hands to get into uniform and
clear up all decks for Inspection.
At two bells the executive officer in
spects the lower decks. He has one or
two straight military figures In his wake,
as does every officer when he moves In
the navy. At this same hour the gun
captain begins the inspection, training
and testing of the monster guns in the
turrets. They revolve by electricity, the
motive power that brings up on a hoist
from below right to the breech of the
gun a semi-circular car of ammunition.
As the turret spins at the rate of 270 de
grees in thirty-six seconds, the gun cap
tain has only to put his eye to the sight
drum, which can be graduated to a dis
tance of 12,000 yards, train the gun at the
desired elevation by means of an electri
cal crank, press a handle near him, and in
less than a breath the 14-inch wall of the
turret and its surroundings -are shaken
it would seem almost to disintegration by
the epitting belch of the monster. Thero
are twenty-four men in the crew that
handle the guns of the turrets fore and
aft, and four times a week they are
drilled in what they have to do In time
of action. Tile two guns . of a turret,
each forty feet long, can fire six shots iu
a space of four minutes.
As to drills, there are different ones
on a battleship for almost every day of
the week. But the inspection of the mag
azines and explosives is a daily operation.
The magazines are inspected morning
and evening, and the temperature taken
from the very delicate thermometer there.
A pronounced odor of ether, which is one
cf the constituents of smokeless powder,
is noticeable upon entering these maga
zines. Other places inspected often are
the shell rooms, full of deadly projectiles.
There are the 13-inch black-nosed com
mon shells, the red semi-armor piercing,
a more solid shell, and the blunt-nosed
armor-piercing. All these magazines can
be filled with water If necessary by flood
cocks connecting with the deafc. There
are Jackle3 always on duty watching the
magazines, and in very hot countries as
1 can't get >ir. up. I can't get 'em up.
1 c-in't get "em uy in the morning;
1 ran't pet "em up. I can't get 'em up,
1 can't set "era up at all!
TA RA-A-A the last note of
reveille has sounded close upon the
echoing boom of the mon.iwK gun.
With Ihe stroke of two beUs and
tne bus'.e eajl an official day has
Utsuu on the U. S. Battleship Wisconsin.
The call of the muezzin from * Turkish
sn< s=que is not half so compelling or con
stant hs the note of a bugle on a. war
f-hiy. 1: is the keynote of each day, and
il> :iotea are commands.
Just a quarter of an hour before, the
quartermaster from his station on the
forward bridge has sent one of the watch
to call the Los'un's mate, the master at
arm* and the bugler. The bos'un's male
calls all hands, and Jimmylegs, the Jack
ies' pet name for the master at arms,
gets around at a lively rate among the
thickly swung hammocks of the berth
deck to shake some tardy sleepers. On
this groat floating fort there are five
hundred and sixty men, and all sleep in
hammocks' save the ward room officers
and tfc^p netty officers
keep them from swinging in a rough sea.
Dinner is piped at eight bells promptly
and twenty-six messes sit down to that
meal. It. is hardly finished when there is
a cry 'of "MaiJ. ho!" and fortunate, tars
are soon looking over letters and papers.
"Turn to" is sounded at 1 o'clock, and
Jack is busy again. -Some are in the tor
pedo room polishing the tubes that send
the torpedo at a speed of thirty knot3
through the water or air. Still others
are painting o*- shellacking decks or door
ways, for there is always something to
*e painted on a naval vessel. Men are
busy making hammocks in the saihnaker's
by another guard. Aft at this hour the
officers are donning 1 gloves and swords,
preparatory to mere drills. At 1:23 the
buglers sound officers' call, and at three
bells the drill call goes. One day it may
be fire drill, with a general alarm. One
bell means a fire forward: two bells, that
one has been discovered aft. All the hose
is let out, the ports are closed and men
stand by to turn on flood cocks leading to
the magazines.
Sometimes this Is followed by "arm and
away," when the Boats are equipped to
send in harbor and make a land attack,
under cover of shelling of a port by the
ship. Arms and water breakers, provis
ions and boat tackle are all brousht out
physical drill with mni ana guns a» ta
rpected. These routine drills go on until
10:20, when retreat from drill ia sounded.
many as one hundred men are ordered to
this duty.
At twenty-five minutes after 9 the bugle
rolls out . the first call for quarters, and
five minutes later quarters is sounded.
This is really a muster and occurs morn
ing: and evening. Some days it holds
more of ceremonial than setting: up drill;
as at general quarters on Thursday, when
every gun on the ship is manned and am
munition provided as if going into action.
At quarters everybody is out, and the
captain and officer of the day reign su
preme. The division officers report the
five deck divisions into which the men
are divided, the engineers and the ma
rines, and soon the decks both fore and
aft are filled by moving lines of blue and
white as the Jackies go through various
calisthenic evolutions:
On Fridays each division has a different
drill The marine guard is put through a
At U o'clock work is knocked off on
deck. In these brief intervals the sallora
show that they are jolly tars on ship^
board as well as on shore. Little knots
of them may be found everywhere, some
reading, some spinning yarns, some walk
ins briskly arm in arm through the super-

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