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How were top brass accomodated in warships?

Discussion in 'Naval Warfare in the Pacific' started by gtblackwell, Mar 18, 2020.

  1. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    I just finished reading about Arleigh Burke in Destroyer Squadron 23. He was a captain over 6 destroyers but sailed on one. I realize naval actions in the Pacific, particularly in 1942 were typically very short affairs, often less than a day, but was curious as to how he would be accommodated. They still had the vessel's "Captain" to berth so did all destroyers have such accommodation or was one modified. I have only been through one WW 2 destroyer, a British one at Brighton (Now moved) but it had little room for any extra people or persons. I imagine it was pretty spartan on a DE. I have run across more than a few situations where an Admiral, Oldendorf, for example, had a flagship that was a cruiser when he had 4 battleships under his command off Peleliu., choose it instead of a battleship. In that case, he had a large staff and how were they accommodated. Perhaps to let the battleships do the heavy firing and the cruiser hang back? Did not Roosevelt and Churchill meet in heavy cruisers? How did a wardroom fit then in?

    I guess my basic questions are one, how did a destroyer fit the squadron commander in hand two, how were flagships chosen? It seems like MacArthur would have demanded something bigger than a cruiser!! Where would he, his head, and his staff meet?

    I spend my days trying to fit people into spaces and this is provoking to me.
     
  2. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    If the ship was a standard destroyer somebody wound up sleeping in the wardroom. If the design was as "destroyer leader", then flag accommodations of a sort were made, 1-2 extra cabins shoehorned in. The captain often had a small bunkroom next to the bridge. If the squadron leader was on board he'd get the CO's regular cabin. The rest of the visiting staff would usually wind up hot bunking it. The DL, or "Destroyer Leader" classes had some extra cabins, but they were nothing to shout about.

    Now, imagine USS Augusta, FDR's private cruiser. It had an elevator to move the Boss from the main deck up to his personal cabin. Must have been miserable to have his people on board.
     
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  3. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Some ships were designed as flagships. The cruiser HMS Belfast had supernumerary accommodation for 13 officers, 3 warrant officers, two messmen and 18 ratings. These don't quite match the difference between the established complement as a flagship 881 compared to 781 as a private ship. There was space provided for the extra officers, but not for ratings.

    I suspect a destroyer built as a flotilla leader might have extra accommodation. I don't think that was the case for all ships. Johnny Walker was possibly the best known of the anti submarine escort commanders. He was the Captain of the sloop HMS Starling the senior officer of a group of destroyers. After he rammed U119 damaging the bow of his ship, he ordered the transfer of captains with to HMS Wild Goose, whose Captain took command of Starling Walker took his Radar officer, Asdic officer,Secretary, Steward, CPO telegrapher and Yeoman of Signals. These were quite small ships to find space for six extra bodies. However, that was at war, and they frequently had to find extra accommodation for dozens of survivors from sunk ships.

    When I stayed on a frigate at sea I was given a berth in the sick bay. These were hung from gimbles and ideal for landlubbers like me. My soldiers were looked after by the stokers mess.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2020
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  4. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    According to Norman Friedman's destroyer book, the Fletchers had a division commander's cabin. They were larger than the prewar Porter and Somers class leaders. Prewar destroyer squadrons had two four-ship divisions and a leader. It appears that sometimes during the war, the separate leader was dispensed with, and the squadron commander also commanded the first division; for example Burke's DesRon 23 is usually listed as comprising eight DDs.

    The British developed the concept of flotilla leaders during WWI and continued it through the I class of the mid-1930s, which like several previous classes had eight identical destroyers and a larger leader. The Tribal, J, and subsequent classes were larger than the previous leaders; flotillas were reduced to eight ships, one of which had extra cabin space to accommodate a Captain (D) and staff. In the J/Ks for example, the aft deckhouse was enlarged and displacement increased by ten tons.

    Most capital ships and large cruisers could accommodate a division commander and staff, and a few would be fitted for a fleet commander. USS Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Iowa for example had enlarged conning towers for the admiral. SoDak had two fewer 5" mounts than her sisters, for weight compensation and to free up some interior space in a cramped ship. Iowa had a lower conning tower level for the admiral, vision slits can be seen in close-up photos, and to avoid blocking them there was no 40mm mount on turret 2. Incidentally, I have never seen what the lower coming tower space was used for in the other ships of the class, anyone?

    Since the Washington Naval Treaty prohibited construction of new battleships, several navies fitted new-construction heavy cruisers as fleet flagships in the 1920-30s. Examples include the Italian Pola and the Japanese Takao class with their massive superstructure and multiple bridge levels. USS Augusta, Northampton, Chicago, and Indianapolis were so fitted and can be distinguished by the forecastle extending further aft than their sisters, almost to the catapults, to provide accommodation. This is why Augusta was used by FDR, Patton, and Bradley among others.

    Some sources suggest that Portland, sister to Indy, was also a flagship, but photos make clear that this was not the case. Those two were contemporaneous with the New Orleans class, which were shorter and would not have space to serve as major flagships.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2020
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  5. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    Just brilliant guys, the brilliant was for Sheldrake, guys for the rest of us, not based on the quality of answer but rather a common usage!! :) Seriously these replies are exactly what I was looking for. I have been reading up on various naval activities and became curious as to how people were housed. I was aware of wartime conditions, have long wondered how combat ships took on survivors, etc. Naval engagements seem to be lots of searching culminating in quick extreme violence. I have begun to wonder what it was like being on a ship as a combatant personally as opposed to my usual interest in gun behavior, rangefinding, absorbing damage, etc.. Absorbing a flag officer and entourage could be compared to absorbing a 14" projectile hit!!. LOL. Being locked down in a lower deck must have been terrifying, of course, so would having to be a tail gunner in a Sterling! or a rifleman in a platoon. There must have been some satisfaction to a rating to know an admiral might be the recipient of a salvo just as he might be..I need to get back to Baton Rouge and visit the Kidd, I really enjoyed HMS Belfast and British destroyer formerly at Brighton. Battleships are great to visit but I wish we had saved more smaller but vital ships...The is a DE in Baltimore that I missed by minutes. Living aboard U-505 was a different story in my limited mind!

    Thank all of you most kindly,

    Gaines
     
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  6. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I just like to see good answers. Keep them coming chaps!!!!
     
  7. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Japanese destroy squadrons had light cruisers as their flagships. The squadron commander, if not also the CO of the flagship, had quarters on the CLs.
     
  8. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Then again if you had better rooms how can you expect respect? Just my view....
     
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  9. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    The flag cabin was seldom commodious on a "small boy". Now I've been Mikasa and a large part of the stern is the Admiral's Quarters. Posh. But ordinary sailors only saw that kind of thing when they were performing duties.
     
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  10. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    "Then again if you had better rooms how can you expect respect? Just my view...." I totally agree. I once had a Dean who thought his title guaranteed respect. We laughed about that with regularity.
     
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  11. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    One example of the importance of command and control was on the Essex class carriers. These originally had two quad 40mm mounts on the forward part of the island, with outstanding fields of fire. However the lower one was deleted from early ships, omitted from later ones, in order to enlarge the flag bridge.
     
  12. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    A flag bridge did keep the brass from under foot.
     
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  13. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Since the flag bridge was almost always located below the ship's bridge, one could say it kept the brass underfoot ;)
     
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  14. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Touche.
     

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