News From Fort Schuyler
July 7, 2000 - Volume 4, No. 24
MORPHING BROWN - According to a fax from JOE GERSON, Class of 1947, the Liberty Ship JOHN W. BROWN and members of her crew will be involved in movie-making during the last leg of her Great Lakes 2000 Trip. (http://www.liberty-ship.com ) The letter from Project Liberty Ship says that: "An opportunity has arisen for the crew of the JOHN W. BROWN to participate in the filming of a major television mini-series while the ship is in Toronto. Oswego Productions, Inc. of Toronto is producing a four hour, two-part film called 'Haven' which deals with the only group of Jewish refugees to be allowed into the U.S. during WW II. There were almost a thousand of them and they came from Naples in 1944 aboard the U.S. Army Transport HENRY GIBBINS. The refugees were taken to an internment camp in Oswego, NY, where they remained until the war ended. Fully half the action takes place aboard ship." The HENRY GIBBINS, of course, later served the Maritime College as Training Ship EMPIRE STATE IV from 1960 - 1973, so there are bound to be familiar sights for many Fort Schuyler alumni in the series when they are broadcast by CBS in February 2001.
The Luce Library video collection contains an excellent 1987 PBS documentary about this unique wartime voyage of the GIBBINS. Entitled, "Safe Haven," the 58-minute film tells about the journey of these 982 Holocaust survivors on the HENRY GIBBINS and their years of internment behind barbed wire in Oswego.
KNOT PERFECT IN STORM - The query about stability tables for Knot ships stirred some memories. IAN McCUUN, Class of January 1944, writes: "...stable they were. At least in the case of the SS DIAMOND KNOT, United States Line. I thought she was a neat ship and was of the understanding when signing on as 2nd Mate, that these vessels were built for the invasion of Japan. The war in Europe had ended so I headed for the Pacific Theater and then 'The Bomb' brought WWII to a close. But we sailed on, month after month, island after island. What to do with us I guess was the question."
"Then, north of the Philippines and near the Batan Islands en route to Okinawa, we ran smack dab into the typhoon that several days later wiped out Bruckner Bay. As I recall, 20 minutes before being relieved of the 1200 to 1600 hour watch, I noted a sea change from calm to very large, slick swells coming in from the south east. Remembering learning about this condition at NYSMA, it dawned on me that these were seas running ahead faster than the storm that created them. Within half an hour, 'Sparks' received a weather report of an approaching typhoon. It wasn't long before we lost our blue, clear sky and the winds began to pick up. At the storm's height some hours later, the seas were monstrous and the wind horrendous. All we could do was keep our head into the sea and pray the engine and rudder held up. We even lost ground. But STABLE WE WERE ! The cargo held secure and we were forever grateful to our seasoned Chief Mate for this. Incidentally, at least one USN Destroyer foundered with all hands lost. There was much radio activity and a number of SOS calls for help. Footnote: I was VERY sea sick' and not alone."
KNOT FACTS - In addition to providing solid tips on the source for the stability information that Eric Cutler is seeking, SAL MERCOGLIANO, Class of 1989, recalls that the Knot ship: "PEMBINA was part of 12 Alcona-class Navy AKs transferred to the Japanese following World War Two to aid in the repatriation of their armed forces. In 1951, she and four other C1-M-AV1s were transferred to MSTS for their use, following participation in the Korean War, while manned by Japanese crews. As [Eric] stated, she sailed for MSTS till 1958. She was stricken the next year and sold in 1968." "When I worked for the Military Sealift Command, we rehired the ship for a spot charter in 1993-1994 time-frame. Since it was a time charter, and the government had the full use of the vessel, it is possible that the information that Eric Cutler is looking for was provided either to MSC HQS (in particular the contracting divisions N10, or the Sealift branch PM5), or to MSC Pacific (but since they have relocated from Oakland to San Diego this may not be the case). The best sources would be the Maritime Administration. They keep some pretty exact records and the may have a copy of this info." [Sometimes government paper work is good]
TRADE CRUISE - Now that OpSail 2000 is but a memory, the National Association of Export Companies has announced a theme cruise in New York Harbor for Wednesday evening July 26, leaving from Pier 11 at Wall Street. The event, "International Networking New York Harbor Port Cruise," features Thomas Butler, Port Authority of NY/NJ as commentator. Co-sponsored by six other local trade-related organizations (MCC,NEXCO, WIT, WTCA, GBR), this twilight cruise costs members $55 in advance/$60 at the dock, or slightly more if you don't know what the acronyms mean. For more information contact LYNDA ICOCHEA (email@example.com )
GONE TRAVELING - NFFS will return in mid-August, along with its editor. Enjoy your summer, one and all.