WESTPAC

2. U.S.S. PICTOR (AF-54)

After receiving my commission from OCS, I was ordered to Naval Officer Communications School also at Newport, Rhode Island. It was located adjacent to OCS and came under the same general schools command. The training was aimed at qualifying officers to be in charge of communications for a ship. It was a two month program and I lived at the Bachelor Officer Quarters (BOQ) where I shared a room with another officer. It wasn’t much but it was a big improvement over the barracks at OCS. The training was mainly in radio communication and encryption. The main encryption device that we used was a copy of the machine known as “The Enigma” used by the Germans during WWII. It was used for classified messages up through the level of SECRET. I don’t have any good stories to tell about that training. It was all fairly routine, and upon completion I received orders to the USS PICTOR (AF-54) at Alameda, California. After a short leave I reported  aboard late one rainy afternoon. The PICTOR was a refrigerated stores ship and it got underway for WESTPAC (Western Pacific) the very next day. Here is what she looked like leaving the San Francisco Bay:

Underway from San Francisco

Underway from San Francisco Bay

The PICTOR leaving SF Bay

The PICTOR leaving SF Bay

As I remember, crossing the Pacific took about two weeks. I was told that it was an unusually rough passage, and I recall being seasick most of the way. However, one does get used to that kind of thing eventually, because for the following two years that I served aboard the PICTOR I was never seasick again. I got my sea legs so-to-speak. The PICTOR was 460 feet in length, had  beam of 63 feet and a loaded draft of almost 26 feet. Her dead weight tonnage was 6946 tons. I seem to remember her maximum speed was about 16 knots. She had five holds, two of which were refrigerated. Her primary mission was replenishment at sea of other naval vessels. We were, in essence, a floating grocery store. Here are some shots of what it looked like when she was doing her job:

Destroyer Approaching to Starboard

Destroyer Approaching to Starboard

Destroyer Alongside

Destroyer Alongside

(Click on image for larger view)

Groceries for a Carrier

Groceries for a Carrier

Being as I was a brand new Ensign, I was junior officer aboard the PICTOR. Among officers, that spot is often referred to as “George.” If there was a duty that nobody else wanted to do it was always “Let George do it.” Somewhere along the line it was decided that a “Cruise Book” should be produced for this particular trip to WESTPAC and, you guessed it, “George” was selected to oversee this effort. Upon reaching Japan, that meant a number of trips to Tokyo to deal with the Daito Art Printing Company. All in all, this was a very interesting experience, and I learned a lot about Japanese culture in the process. Daito had a very nice guest house in which they put me up, and I was treated royally. I can remember thinking “yeah. . .  let George do it.” Here is what the cover of the book looked like as designed by “yours truly”:

Cruise Book

Cruise Book Cover

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Friday, January 1st, 2010 U.S. Navy No Comments
 

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