On July 10, 1943, the USS Halford (DD-480) entered in through the opened anti-submarine net into Pearl Harbor in the Territory of Hawaii. The net closed behind us. We were there for three and a half months of testing for our seaplane as a means to scout the enemy. We anchored in the harbor. In order to get ashore, we used whale boats. The USS Halford had two whale boats, one on each side.
Salvage operations were still being done in Pearl Harbor on the USS Oklahoma (BB-37), the USS Utah (BB-31), and the USS Arizona (BB-39). The USS Arizona was too badly damaged to be raised. Eventually, a memorial was built above it called the USS Arizona Memorial. They later tried to raise the USS Utah, but couldn’t so it is still in Pearl Harbor. The USS Oklahoma had been raised and was moved into dry dock in 1944. After being decommissioned and sold for scrap, the USS Oklahoma sunk in a storm while being towed on May 17, 1947, more than 500 miles out of the Territory of Hawaii.
In later July 1943, testing was interrupted for escort duty which sent us to Nouméa, New Caledonia. On August 1, 1943, the USS Halford (DD-480), the USS Converse (DD-509) and the USS Boyd (DD-544) escorted both the USS Indiana (BB-58) and the HMS Victorious (R38) back to Pearl Harbor. A Japanese two-man submarine was on the USS Indiana’s fantail (back end). The two Japanese prisoners were on the HMS Victorious. The USS Halford screened for submarines to New Caledonia and on the way back. We entered Pearl Harbor seven days later to resume testing.
The British Aircraft Carrier HMS Victorious was loaned to the United States in December 1942 due to the USS Hornet (CV-8) being sunk and the USS Enterprise (CV-6) being badly damaged at the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands which left the U.S. with only the USS Saratoga (CV-3) in the Pacific. On July 25, 1943, HMS Victorious was recalled home. Two carriers of the new Essex-class arrived at Pearl Harbor well ahead of schedule.
At Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on the morning of April 10, 1943, all hands were mustered aboard the USS Halford DD-480 while still in dry dock crossing the walkway bridge to the deck of the ship. We had previously had a work detail where everyone loaded the supplies: food, ammunition, medical supplies, etc. On the main deck, we put our seabags down while roll was called. Next, they assigned us to our separate departments and assigned us our bunks along with our lockers to store our gear in. After lunch, we reported to our different departments and were given watch assignments. My watch was 4 hours on the aft generator switchboard in the aft engine room and 8 hours off. Besides the Chief Electrician’s Mate, there were 21 Electrician’s Mates with 3 locations to cover: The aft generator, the forward generator, and the I.C. room. First, the steam engine has to be started. As soon as the boilers are up to 600 lbs. of superheated steam, then you open the valve that lets the steam into the steam engine to turn the rotors that supply the power to the generators. As soon as the first generator is up to speed (60 cycles on the cycle meter) and voltage is up to 440 volts then you close the breaker which supplies electricity to ship’s electrical equipment. The second generator had to be synchronized with the first. Either a first class or second class would come down and make sure you knew how to do it. The breakers to the second generator are already opened (otherwise, the 1st generator would try to drive both generators which would cause reverse power and kick both generators offline). So when you do the 2nd generator, you open the steam valve until you get the 2nd generator up to speed (60 cycles on the cycle meter) and then you close the field switch and bring the voltage up to match the first generator (440 volts). Then you watch the 3 sync phase lights and when they are all dark, you close the breaker to the second generator. This puts both generators online to supply electrical power to the ship.
As soon as everything was checked to be in working order on the ship, it was time to leave the dry dock. The way this is done, the hydraulic gates are opened to the dry dock, water fills the dry dock, the blocks are mechanically retracted, and the USS Halford used the engines to pull out of the flooded dry dock.
USS Halford proceeded out Sinclair Inlet Eastward to the Central Puget Sound Basin, due North along the East side of Bainbridge Island (also in Central Puget Sound Basin), then Northwest through Admiralty Inlet, then West through Strait of Juan De Fuca to get to the Pacific Ocean.
We anchored at San Diego Naval Base mid-morning. The first third of the crew in white dress uniform was allowed to go on liberty leave until midnight. The second morning, we went out for target practice. The target was a canvas sleeve flown 300 yards behind a plane. If you shoot down the target, you got credit for good shooting. The 20mm guns with a Mark 51 director and the 5-inch guns soon shot down the target and they requested us to stop. Thus on the second morning at mid-morning, we went back to the base and second third of the crew went on liberty. The third morning at San Diego, we shot down the target again and they again requested us to stop. Thus on the third day at mid-morning, we went back to the base and the last third of the crew went on liberty. On the fourth morning at San Diego, we did it again and they asked to stop again. So on the fourth day at mid-morning, we headed to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to fix the things that did not work.
After repairs at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, we were ordered to San Francisco Bay and anchored in the bay to wait for Orders. USS Halford was ordered to Pearl Harbor Naval Base. We proceeded to Pearl Harbor on the fifth of July 1943.
A Naval Officer met us at the train station in Seattle on March 5, 1943. We ferried over to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton, Washington (30 to 40-minute ferry ride). We checked in at the barracks. The next morning, I met a machinist mate who had been there a couple months and he knew his way around. He was assigned to the same ship. He took me down to the office to get a pass for permission to go aboard the USS Halford DD-480 so that we could learn about the ship. We had never been on a ship before. So each day we would go down to the ship and try to learn more. Each day we would look at a different part of the ship. The welders and ship-fitters were working hard to finish the ship.
We learned the following:
There were 2 engine rooms – each room with a 50,000 HP power steam engine and 450 KW AC 3 phase 440 volt generator to supply electricity for the ship. 440 volts was stepped down to 120 volts for lighting.
There was an emergency room with a diesel engine with a 1000 KW generator for emergency power.
There were 2 boiler rooms – each had two oil-fired boilers that produced 600 PSI of superheated steam to power the ship’s two 50,000 HP steam engines.
There the I.C. room where the fire control computer was to control the 5-inch guns when on automatic. They had a fire control director on top of the bridge where two people sat. One controlled the elevation and one controlled the deflection. And when the guns were on automatic, this would feed into the computer for automatic aiming to direct the 5-inch guns for their targets.
Also in the I.C. was the PA for the ship.
Also in the I.C. was the gyro compass which let the Quartermaster(helmsman) steering the ship know where the ship was at to that he could set the ship’s course. There were two MG sets that powered the rotors on the compass (one to run and the other for backup).
Also in the I.C. was a control panel with switches to supply power to all the devices in the room.
The gyro compass feeds ship’s speed into the fire control computer and it also feeds into a dead reckoning which plots the position of the ship.
Bendix Underwater Log determined the ship’s speed by water pressure. There was a sword that was located near the front of the ship and stuck about 3 feet. It had a small hole in the front and a small hole in the back. The front hole measured the water pressure from the ship moving forward. The back hole recorded the static pressure of the water. One pressure sensor was connected to the front hole and another pressure sensor was connected to the back. The balance between the two pressure sensors determined the ship’s speed.
Both fed data into the speed indicator on the bridge, the fire control computer, the gyro compass, and the dead reckoning.
There was a Radar Room with the controls for the radar (above water to locate other ships).
There was a Sound Gear where a ping was sent to detect ships under water.
There was a Steering Gear Room where you could manually steer the ship if the automatic system is not working on the Bridge. The Steering Gear Room had a selector switch for automatic or manual.
There was a Control Room for the Anchor Windlass which controlled the motors that lift the two anchors (one on each side). The anchors could also be controlled from the Bridge.
There was a Bridge for steering the ship.
There was a mess hall with a walk-in freezer room, officers mess hall, a galley, a storage room for supplies, a sick bay, a supply officer room, a laundry room, an evaporator (to evaporate sea water into fresh water, sleeping quarters for enlisted men (two in the rear and one in the front) and officers’ quarters, and three heads (one for the captain, one for the officers, and one for the rest of the crew. The head for the rest of the crew had four stalls with seats and two showers.
There were also four 20 mm guns, one twin 40 mm anti-aircraft gun, four 5 inch guns, 250 lb. depth charges (air guns to shoot them out) and 500 lb. depth charges (rolled off the back of the ship).
There was a Vought OS2U Kingfisher scout floatplane with its catapult. But a 5-inch gun, the after torpedo mount with five torpedo tubes, and the 20 mm mounts on the fantail were sacrificed to put the seaplane and catapult on.
The education I received in exploring and learning as the USS Halford DD-480 was being built was very valuable to my service as Electrician’s Mate in World War II.
Note: The above is the best that I can recollect/remember.