Monday, September 25, 2006

O'er the Bounding Main

Sir! Click to embiggen, Aye Aye, Sir!

Thinking about the Fixers' upcoming vacation and Med Cruise brought back lotsa memories. I've been on a Med Cruise, too, in USS Fremont APA-44, pictured to port. My cruise even had its own name: LanForMed (Landing Force Mediterranean) 2-65.

I went and checked out the Fixers' ship, ms Noordam. Nice, but she doesn't hold a candle to Fremont in terms of basic amenities, and believe me, Fremont's amenities were pretty basic!

Noordam has five restaurants, no doubt world class. Fremont had one mess deck, in a class of its own. None of those pesky choices for us! You stood in line for breakfast, ate, aka "greased down", then got right back in line for lunch, etc. I skipped this step for 30 days: since I was TAD from 2d Service Bn. to BLT 2/2, and not part of the battalion, I got to eat first! Since I wasn't part of the battalion, they assigned me to mess duty. If you've ever seen two PFCs arguing about who's got more time in grade so he can go up the ladder first whilst manhandling a full garbage can of food scraps to the fantail in a pitching sea, you get the idea.

Noordam has 82,500 tons displacement, is 935 feet long, carries 1918 passengers, and will do 24 knots. Fremont had 16,000 tons displacement, was 492 feet long, carried 1200 passengers, and could do 18 knots on a good day if nothing broke. Much sportier I think, albeit slower.

An APA's armament is its boats. Fremont carried the following boats:

4 LCM-6 (Mike) boats, 56 foot, 28 ton steel landing craft for carrying troop and vehicles -- capacity, 120 combat equipped troops each.

12 LCVP (Peter) boats, 36 foot, 9 ton armored wooden landing craft for carrying troops and vehicles -- capacity 36 combat equipped troops each.

2 LCPL, 36 foot, 9 ton steel fiberglass boats used primarily as command craft.

I think 'LCPL' stands for 'Landing Craft, Peerless Leader'. Heh.

I could find no specs on Noordam's armament.

Just as an aside, I embarked and disembarked Fremont several times, but the only time I used a gangplank was in port. There was a sportier arrangement at sea involving the side of the ship and cargo nets. I have no idea how Mr. 'n Mrs. F will get on and off Noordam out in the middle of the ocean. Probably something modern and high-tech, no doubt.

Fremont was commissioned in 1943. Noordam is brand new and thus unproven. Ah, but the Fixers are risk takers!

Fremont spent her first coupla years visiting tropical paradises such as Saipan, Palau, Leyte, Luzon, and Iwo Jima. Cruising the Med musta been like being put out to pasture for her.

I could go on and on. If you're interested in seeing what this old tub, with apologies to tubs, was all about, click here. Extensive site, with a rousing version of "Anchors Aweigh".

Bon Voyage, Mr. and Mrs. Fixer. My cruise might just possibly have been a little more bare-bones than yours, but I hope you have a good time anyway. Remember: don't all rush to the side to see the sea turtle like we did! You might tip it over!

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