|USS Nitro (AE-2/AE-23) Association|
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BOSN'S WHISTLE Friday, September 28, 1945
VETERN AMMUNITION SHIP SCHEDULED FOR SCRAP HEAP
(Swan Island) Speculation on the fate of the U.S.S. Nitro, navy ammunition ship tied up at the Swan Island dry-dock finger pier, was answered last week when the navy ordered voyage repairs necessary to put the old girl in shape for a trip to the East Coast where she is to be decommissioned and scrapped. "Her hull leaks in every seam," say the men who have looked her over. The Nitro has a long and glorious career. In the peacetime period proceeding the war she was the only ammunition ship the navy had in service. Not much of her early history is known by the men aboard, but the records show she was launched December 16, 1919, and commissioned the first of April in 1921. She was the sister ship of the U.S.S. Pyro. The Pyro was decommissioned before the war.
During peacetime the Nitro served the fleet with ammunition. The ship equipped with refrigeration that keeps deadly ammunition , or "popcorn", as it is referred to by the crew, from exploding in the tropical climates.
The vessel's last cruise of duty was from April, 1944 to August 24, 1945 when she arrived at Swan Island. Following the cruise her crew published a chronological story of the duty, parts of which are reproduced here through the courtesy of her officers, Capt. Foy Trimble, and Lieut. W. S. Parr, executive officer.
"To be candid, we've spent 17 months in the process of traveling half way around the globe and back. We've earned commendations in the invasion of Normandy, supported the invasion of Southern France and earned two ribbons for Pacific ocean duty including one during the liberation of the Philippines. This is not to mention carrying a heavy load of sensitive `popcorn' all the way from Norfolk to Glasgow; from Oran to the Philippines and back to San Francisco. Also worthy of mention is that six months spent at hard labor in Ulithi in the southern tip of the Carolines."
IRELAND FIRST STOP
After leaving Norfolk, Va., in April of 1944 the ship's first stop was Bangor, Ireland, where she supplied a U.S. battleship with ammunition, going on from there to England where she loaded "Limey Coasters" with eight inch projectiles. Scotland, Wales and then back to England was the next step. The Nitro was on its way to Plymouth when the Normandy invasion took place.
Next trip was to Oran, Algeria, which was "the foulest smelling establishment so far visited." From here the ship went to Algier, and then to Bizerte. "Remember that was the time when the radio broadcast mentioned the escape of 23 Nazi subs from the French port of Tulon? Not too many slept soundly that night. We arrived in the morning and left the same day." The report says.
"The 28th of August we arrived at the little harbor of Propriano where we supplied many of the ships of the invasion fleet that were active in Southern France. There we received citations from the commander of the 8th fleet. On the fifth we left for Adjaccio, the historic port where Napoleon was born and the capital of Corsica." Oran again and then St. Thomas were the next ports of call.
ROUGH SEAS RECALLED
"The 12 days of fairly rough seas will be remembered for the message received aboard that an enemy submarine was directly in our path. We'll remember fueling the two Des at sea and the incident when one of them took a chunk out of our side."
Panama City was visited and then orders came to proceed for Pearl Harbor, alone.
It was a 10 day trip to Pearl to Eniwetok. During this period the ship received notice to change its address to c/o Fleet Post Office San Francisco.
SISTER SHIP HIT
"On leaving Eniwetok we arrived in Ulithi in convoy and remained there servicing ships for six months. The first week in the harbor gave us a scare when one of our sister ammunition ships was hit by a torpedo. Nobody seems to know the true story on what happened except that depth charges were dropped for the next 10 hours in every direction. The kamikaze attack on one of the carriers in the harbor with the death of 18 men marks the high spot in excitement when the movies were interrupted by a blaze and explosion that lit up and shook the harbor for miles around.
"Christmas came and went with little celebration and that afternoon an LCT came and went with a load of ammunition and there was little celebrating during the serious business of loading and unloading. The big dinner we had was special, though, and someone decorated the mess hall in a attempt to make things a little more cheerful.
After a trip to Guam the Nitro returned to Ulithi. "This time we stayed a little more than three months working the LCTs and once in a while going over to our old standby, Mog Mog, for a few cans of beer and a swim in that beach that guaranteed cut feet after 10 minutes in the water.
ICE CREAM HELPS
"An ice cream ship newly arrived in the harbor and the movies were new enough and regularly shown so even our worst port had some conveniences. "Our arrival between Leyte and Samar at San Pedro bay took place in May. The sight of genuine girl on the beach was a real event. The climax of the whole trip came however with word from the captain, 'We've received order to return to Uncle Sugar.' From then on nothing could break our spirits. We were going home. One more month passed like a dream.
"Its going to seem strange to have to use proper English again and observe the common courtesies of civil life. A nice warm bed, good meals and an excess of women will be hard getting used to. Just the same I think we'll manage. We can sure try!"
Insert photo in this article: Gunner's Mate C. J. Sickert has the longest period of service aboard the U.S.S. Nitro for any enlisted man. In the navy for 19 years, the last seven and a half of them have been on this ammunition ship.
Date: After Aug 24, 1945
|NAVY AMMUNITION SHIP CHANGES
Capt. Foy Trimble
|(Swan Island) - Yard photographers were privileged to witness a formal naval ceremony recently when the command of the U.S.S. Nitro, ammunition ship, changed while the ship was moored at the dry-dock finger pier. From the bridge of the veteran ship, Captain Foy Trimble of St. Joseph, Mo., was ordered to report to Washington, D.C., to serve on the navy's transfer board, which handles transfer of naval reserve men into the regular navy. Captain Trimble served most of the last 30 months aboard the Nitro as executive officer. He recently was placed in command of the vessel. An ensign in the naval reserve in World War I, he was called back to sea duty five years ago and has had 57 months at sea.|
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