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  1. Associated Press / April 20, 2019 The details of the fire aboard USS Saturn that killed 15 men and injured 20 at the Norfolk Navy Yard during World War II were classified until 2010. The families of the dead and the survivors would never learn the cause. Portsmouth, Virginia - Waverly Sykes ran up the gangway into the billowing smoke at Pier 5. “Chief, there are men trapped in that hold!” workmen on the deck of the USS Saturn shouted. The Norfolk Navy Yard fire chief could hear the cries of the men below as fire hoses were laid on the deck. He grabbed one and descended the ladder behind his assistant chief, battling flames on his way down into the smoke and fume-filled atmosphere of the ship’s third hold. The firefighters knocked down flames overhead and on the bulkhead. A pile of cork about 6 feet high was on fire on the ship’s starboard side. The flames there seemed more stubborn than the rest. They doused them with water and kicked the pile over with their boots until the flames were snuffed out. Sykes made his way over to the port side of the ship where he stumbled against something soft. He switched on his flashlight and held it close to the object. It was a man. Another fireman rushed over to help, turned on his light and discovered a second victim. “Great God, chief! There are some more men over this way!” All available ambulances were summoned from the city of Portsmouth, Cradock, South Norfolk, Portlock and Western Branch. By the time all the shipyard workmen were accounted for, 15 were dead and 20 injured. They died battling a 60-day deadline to return the Saturn to its service as a World War II supply ship. In the days that followed, a memorial service was held, the dead were buried and survivors went back to work. A few would testify in an inquiry at the Portsmouth facility, now known as Norfolk Naval Shipyard. As the investigation began, the incident faded from the headlines, the news of the local deaths dwarfed by the quickening pace of the war leading up to D-Day. Officials wanted to know immediately what caused the deadly blaze at the shipyard. When the answers came, they were filed away and classified for another 66 years. Many of those who survived, the family members of the dead, even the newspaper writers tasked with reporting the cause, would never know the details. Through the record of the hearing, a memoir of a survivor and newspaper accounts, the story now is being told in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the greatest loss of life incident ever seen at the shipyard. Three hours of overtime Dorsey Slaughter wasn’t supposed to be on the evening shift on Thursday, April 27, 1944. The cutter/burner third-class had agreed to work three extra hours for another man who had to be home after quitting time. Overtime wasn’t unusual in the yard with the crush of deadlines to finish work on vessels needed for the war effort. The yard's workforce had swelled to more than 40,000 people, a complement so large that trailer camps and other dwellings sprang up to house many of them. Slaughter and his family lived in Alexander Park in Portsmouth, neighbors to many other families whose loved ones worked in the yard to build, overhaul and repair ships. The Saturn, a 423-foot cargo vessel, was built in Germany in 1939. It had barely entered service under the name Arauca by the outbreak of war in Poland. In December of that year, the ship was forced into Port Everglades, Fla., after a British light cruiser fired a shot over its bow. When the U.S. entered the war, the ship was seized, renamed and pressed into service carrying cargo for the Navy. When the Saturn reached the Navy Yard on April 12, 1944, workers expected to convert it into a refrigeration ship in 60 days. More such ships were needed and officials wanted to speed the work. For that to happen, welders, burners, joiners, shipfitters and laborers all were authorized to work at the same time. The risks, officials would later say, were well recognized. But welding supervisor Clifford Short had not liked the looks of the job from the start. He complained to his supervisor “that they were making a fire trap there.” Even fire chief Sykes would later admit that he, too, thought the working conditions were unsafe, despite the precautions. But some officers believed they went above and beyond anything they had seen on other ships. The conversion job included installing a diesel generator room, with engines, refrigeration compressors and pumps. A partial deck would be built. The sides, or hull, would be insulated with mineral wool and sheathed in kiln-dried lumber. The decks would be covered in 8 inches of cork, covered in lumber and sheathed in metal. By the time Slaughter reported to work on April 27, joiners, or carpenters, were cutting floor timbers and working on floor joists on the starboard side. Nearby, other joiners were installing cork that had been prepared for installation. That afternoon, painters had prepared the cork slabs with a primer that was part cutback asphalt and part mineral spirits. Not all the men knew about the flammability of the chemicals used in the insulating process. Supervisors of the civilian workmen and the ship’s command staff had taken advice on precautions from Sykes, the yard fire chief. They agreed that, while hazardous, the work would continue. The ship’s superintendent, Lt. Ernest D. Lennon, had followed Sykes’ recommendations, including keeping a water hose extended down into the hold for quick firefighting should the need arise. Five-gallon pump water extinguishers were kept on hand. Based on a safety memo already in force in the yard, the ship also had carbon dioxide extinguishers and one man from the ship was assigned to stand on deck, watch for fires and extinguish them, a position known as a fire watch. The memo required a fire watch be assigned for each job undertaken by a welder, cutter or burner. Lennon tried to accommodate any suggestion he was given. If yard safety assistants asked that trash accumulating in the hold be removed, he got right on it. When they previously noticed a lot of prepared cork in the hold and suggested civilian supervisors have it removed, the supervisors argued. The assistants appealed to Lennon and the cork was removed. On the 27th, the joiners feared they would fall behind and asked that extra cork be prepared for them to install on the night shift. They had been using up the cork as fast as the painters could prepare it. Some time after 2:30 p.m., a pile of cork slabs was slathered with primer and placed in the hold. Later, a fire marshal's inspection of the area found nothing except a little trash and a lot of hose lines in the bottom that posed a trip hazard. A sailor assigned as fire watch came on duty that afternoon, along with another sailor whose job was to keep watch for sabotage. A few days earlier, tacks were found driven into a cable used to affect the ship’s magnetic signature and keep it safe from explosive mines. A discreet investigation led to the sabotage watch. Before he left that afternoon, the painting supervisor told the man supervising the joiners about the prepared cork and mentioned that it was highly flammable. About 6:10 p.m., Short, the welding supervisor, checked on the work in the hold before heading to an office to do paperwork. Down in the hold, two men finished welding a bulkhead while another welded the deck. Up above, a welder waited for a crane to lower a deck plate. He lit a cigarette and watched the others work. Dorsey Slaughter was waiting to shut off his torch after working in the engine room. He stopped and watched as fiery orange sparks rained down on the starboard side from the upper deck where others were welding. It was about 6:20 p.m. when Slaughter checked his watch. And then came the shouts: “Fire!” “Throw some water!” Several men spotted flames on the pile of cork on the starboard side of the deck in the Saturn’s hold. The fire watch ran toward an extinguisher, but the flames had taken off. He tried to douse it with a CO2 extinguisher, but there was no use. One of the joiners ran for the ladder and tried to see his buddy through the smoke filling the hold. The fire watch reached for a water hose leading to the deck below, but was blocked by flames. He put a coat over his head and ran for the ladder. Above, someone was yelling at the workmen to get out. Dorsey Slaughter and Cabble Scott, a joiner, both tried for the ladder, but by then, flames swirling around the top forced them back down. Scott went to the port side into a corner where men from the starboard side had run to escape the heat and flames. He grabbed one of the acetylene hoses hanging from above, swung out and climbed up to safety. He nearly passed out from the acrid smoke and fumes. But he held on. As he looked back, he could see the men huddled against the hull on the port side. The lights had gone out and he could hear someone hollering, “Throw some water!” Slaughter, too, tried to climb up one of the hoses, but was forced back down by the fire. He went into the diesel room and dropped into a manhole. At least two of the men climbed over some scaffolding to get out of the hold. Others figured the only way to survive was to get lower. Some of the men soaked rags and covered their faces. Slaughter was having a hard time breathing. His throat and lungs hurt. He tried to hold his breath as long as he could, but it was impossible. By then the shouting had stopped. There was nothing but darkness and the coughs of other men. Slaughter started to climb out, but could feel a man’s body stretched across the opening of the manhole. As he pushed the man aside, he heard a gasp. Then quiet. “I knew that unless I got some relief soon I was going to die also.” Slaughter, 32, had a wife and two sons. He crouched down in the darkness and buried his face in his hands. He had never been a religious man but decided to say a prayer. If he could be rescued, he prayed, he would be a different kind of man. Soon after, Slaughter heard a noise and saw a flame shoot through the wall beside him. A welder was cutting a hole through the bulkhead from another hold in the ship. The torch carved a line about a foot long and then stopped. Slaughter reached into his pocket for a wrench and threw it against the bulkhead. The torch stayed silent. Struggling to breathe, Slaughter felt along the deck and grabbed a piece of scrap metal. He banged on the bulkhead two or three times. Suddenly, the torch resumed its work. When the welder punched a hole through the steel, Slaughter could hear men calling to him. He saw a light and a hand and reached for it. Then everything went black. “It was awful” All around him, yard fire Chief Waverly Sykes was looking at casualties. The fire was out, but so much water had been poured into the ship that it began listing to one side. While the crew worked to clear the ship’s tanks of water, Sykes and others checked each unconscious man for signs of life and began artificial respiration. The men who were believed to have a chance would receive oxygen with equipment brought from the dispensary and by ambulances. “We worked on the men right where we found them,” Pharmacist’s Mate 3rd Class Edgar B. Johnson later told a reporter. Johnson, 21, rode to the ship on the ambulance from the yard dispensary and was among the first to begin helping in the hold of the ship. Fourteen of the men who ran from the starboard side of the deck to the port side and huddled against the hull were found together in a corner. When the Saturn’s medical officer arrived, all 14 men were lying together, face up. None appeared to be burned, but their faces had the rosy tell-tale glow of carbon monoxide poisoning. Six of them already were dead. Eight still had a chance. They were given artificial respiration until, one by one, their hearts stopped. The last man was pronounced dead at 8:25 p.m. The 15th man who died was found farther down in the ship. A crane lowered large trays into the hold to hoist out the injured and the dead. Those who survived were taken to the yard dispensary and transferred to the Navy’s hospital in Portsmouth. “It was awful,” pharmacist’s mate Johnson said. After two straight hours of working on the men, Johnson, too, had collapsed and was taken to the dispensary where he was treated for exhaustion. A half-dozen Navy chaplains were sent to inform and comfort the families of the dead. More than a half-dozen local funeral homes were called upon to handle the bodies. Each man died from asphyxiation. The youngest was just 17, the oldest 67: George R. Austin, 42, joiner Willie Carr, 33, rigger Eugene T. Harper, 44, joiner John E. Ives, 31 shipfitter William H. Jones, 43, joiner Robert E. Lee, 22, welder Jeremiah Malone, 43, joiner Arthur R. Pumarlo, 50, joiner W. Irvin Sink, 40, joiner Howard E. Sprinkle, 37, welder Armistead H. Tharpe, 20, shipfitter Thomas G. Whitley, 67, joiner Chesman S. Wike, 28, joiner Joseph C. Williams, 17, laborer James Satterthwaite Willis, 47, shipfitter A memorial service to honor them in the yard was planned for the following Monday and was to be broadcast over the facility’s loudspeaker system. When Dorsey Slaughter awoke, the morning after the fire, he found himself in the Navy hospital. “When I began to regain consciousness, I was under an oxygen tent …” Slaughter later wrote. He looked around and saw the 19 other men who had been rescued from the ship. Someone brought in the morning Norfolk Virginian-Pilot where Slaughter learned the details and tried to come to grips with what had happened. Later, Slaughter learned that the man who had used a torch to cut a hole in the bulkhead and pull him to safety had found a worker dead beside him. As the men pulled Slaughter through the hole, one of them turned on the oxygen on his acetylene torch and let the air blow into Slaughter’s mouth and nose as they placed him on a stretcher. Slaughter was discharged from the hospital the morning after the fire and would later testify at an inquiry that began that morning. A few days later, Slaughter went back aboard the Saturn to see the hole that was cut to free him. He used his own torch to cut a rectangular outline of the hole and took it with him. The ship, in general, was undamaged by the flames. The total estimate, including the cost for repairs: $23,900. Several days later when Slaughter returned to work, the co-worker whose place he had taken for a few hours of overtime the night of the fire approached him. “I just don’t know what to say other than you took my place and God only knows what the outcome would have been if it had been me instead of you.” It hadn’t dawned on Slaughter until then that he nearly died in another man’s place. And there were so many questions yet to be answered: Had the blaze been caused by a discarded cigarette? Did the sparks he saw falling on a pile of cork spark the flames? Was is sabotage? Fire trap Carbon monoxide, often called the invisible killer, leaves few, if any, marks on its victims. The colorless, odorless gas, produced when fuels don’t completely burn, binds with the hemoglobin in the bloodstream, taking away its ability to carry oxygen. At least 10 of the men who died on the Saturn had a carbon monoxide blood hemoglobin concentration of 55% to 95%, far more than enough to kill, the yard Dispensary’s doctor testified at the inquiry. Why weren’t they able to escape? The workmen likely had 4 to 8 minutes before they would begin to feel confused or lose consciousness. In those few moments, they found themselves trapped trying to escape the heat and flames. In the panic and confusion, could the men have simply balked at going through the smoke to escape? The testimony of each of the workmen during the inquiry into the fire showed that their thoughts had first turned to escape. They were stopped at every turn. Two permanent metal ladders were attached to the hull of the ship in the third hold, one forward and one aft. Temporary wooden ladders were rigged between levels, one per level. The men later said they couldn’t use the permanent ladders because one was blocked by a temporary wooden scaffold and the other had a scaffold on one side and a steel deck plate blocking it on the other. Aside from the ladders, there was no other way out of the hold. Dorsey Slaughter had tried to get to one of the fixed ladders but saw it was blocked. He tried to get around a scaffold, bruising his arm in the process. He tried to go up the wooden ladder, but by then flames that seemed to spring up “everywhere almost instantly” forced him back. When the fire took off, the heat and flames that blocked men from using the wooden ladder also kept them all from climbing up electrical lines and hoses that carried oxygen and acetylene for the welders. Some of the men knew that the boards in the makeshift scaffolds at the permanent ladders could be removed, but others didn’t. In the commotion, apparently no one tried. Several workers testified that they felt the way the ladders were arranged was dangerous. But no one complained to the ship superintendent. What was a routine way to traverse the decks of the ship during the everyday course of work became the very thing that trapped them. Theories of a cause The Court of Inquiry convened at 9 a.m. Friday, April 28, 1944. Rear Adm. Felix Gygax, commandant of the yard, inspected the damage after the blaze was extinguished and ordered the inquiry. A three-man panel that included a captain, commander and lieutenant, would get to the bottom of the cause of the fire and determine who was responsible. They also would try to discover why the men didn’t escape. They closed the hearing to anyone who wasn’t directly involved. That meant no spectators or reporters. Their first task was to visit the ship to see where the men died, view the damage and get an idea of the layout of the areas affected by the fire. In the afternoon, the panel set out on the grim task of visiting the funeral homes in Norfolk and Portsmouth that had received the bodies of the dead. One by one, each body was identified. One man had burns on both wrists. Another had a bruise over his left eye. A special note was made by the court reporter that, otherwise, all of the bodies were unmarked. Over the next nine days, 25 men would testify. The first was chief Sykes, who had been fighting fires at the yard since late 1933. The judge advocate asked Sykes for his opinion on the cause of the fire and the source of the fumes. “From all appearances down there the fire started in the large pile of cork and it spread very rapidly. The fumes and gases were evidently caused by burning cork and bitumastic enamel and primer coat put on the cork." Sykes, who gave a detailed account of his actions and observations at the fire, ended his testimony without giving his opinion on what sparked it. Accidents, fires and other incidents were not uncommon in the yard where dangerous work was done continuously. But the Portsmouth facility’s safety record had been slightly better than other Navy shipyards. In the previous eight years, 37 deaths had been recorded, all single incidents. The Navy's shipyard in New York, by contrast, had seen 39; Philadelphia, 43; and Pearl Harbor, 44. The work on the Saturn presented a challenge. To get the job done in two months, workers whose tasks posed hazards to each other, such as wood workers and welders, would have to carry out their assignments together, often near one another. On this ship, that meant welders were working near lumber or cork insulation that had been smeared with primer made from asphalt and petroleum spirits, a highly flammable mixture. The ship’s commanding officer questioned the wisdom of such a plan at the start. He discussed the dangers with the ship superintendent. He felt the demand outweighed the risk. Inspections were carried out and, at times, the safety marshals would ask for trash piled up in the hold to be removed. Sometimes they felt that too much cork was stacked up, despite protests from the civilian supervisors that the extra materials were needed to supply the men installing it. At times, military personnel clashed with civilian supervisors. But the work went on. A yard memo issued two years earlier specified that welders receive fire-resistant equipment, such as asbestos blankets and gloves. A few said they were issued the gear, but others said they were told routinely that the equipment wasn’t available. The memo also required personnel be assigned to stand and watch for fires at locations on the ship where welding and other work could cause a fire. Welders were expected to ask for one at the start of their shift. Some of the supervisors said they believed it was OK for one fire watch to patrol a work area, instead of individual jobs. Others admitted they didn’t ask for a fire watch or protest when they saw too few watches. Some of the men testified that they believed there were two fire watches in the third hold the night of the fire. The sabotage watch also was told to be vigilant for fires and the men who saw him on a lower deck the night of the fire likely were unaware of his true assignment. The possibility of sabotage as the fire’s cause wasn’t thoroughly explored during the hearing. The ship superintendent went a step further than the memo, consulting with Chief Sykes on additional steps to prevent fires. Saturn, Sykes said, was one of the few ships in commission “that the ship superintendent has requested the Fire Chief to assist him in prevention of fire by yard workmen.” They were “precautions which to my recollection and to my experience in navy yards and civilian shipyards on the east coast were beyond the precautions taken in any other instance that I know of,” said Lt. Cmdr. Thomas A. Marshall Jr., Saturn's commanding officer. Could something as simple as a carelessly discarded cigarette have caused the deadly fire? After all, it wasn’t uncommon to see workers grabbing a smoke during breaks in the work or even on the job. There was no yard regulation preventing it, according to the safety officer. As far as he could recall, his marshals never noted smoking on their reports. The exploration of a cigarette as the cause of the deadly fire was limited. A fourth theory of a cause was posited by the assistant to the yard’s shop superintendent who also served as test officer. Lt. Cmdr. Cecil Sterne received a science degree in 1916 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before the war, he served as vice president and chief engineer of a chemical company. After the fire aboard the Saturn, he was the one who collected samples of the cork, primer and an enamel painted on the deck. He testified about their flammability. He had his own theory: “It is possible that the fire might have been caused by a dust explosion in some section from cork dust in the air in the section.” Who was responsible? The three men who took the blame for the deadly fire aboard the USS Saturn appeared to have little in common. They hailed from different backgrounds and different parts of the country, but each man found himself at the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth during World War II. Lt. Henry Porter Gill, the acting commanding officer during the fire, had spent more than a dozen years as a merchant marine, becoming an officer, joining the Merchant Marine Reserve. After Gill became the Saturn’s executive officer, the 38-year-old Massachusetts native was recommended for temporary promotion to lieutenant. Early in 1944, his superiors put him up for another promotion to temporary lieutenant commander. Gill was in command of the ship when its commanding officer went on leave on April 18. Three days later, his fitness for duty report showed excellent marks. Nine days after that, the deadly fire broke out aboard the Saturn. Lt. Ernest Lennon, a conscientious engineer, came to the Navy reserves through the ROTC at Davidson College north of Charlotte. By all accounts, the 35-year-old North Carolina native was well-regarded by his superiors. He worked in the yard’s Production Division, Industrial Department as the Saturn’s superintendent, overseeing all the work. Clifford Short had been a welder in the yard for four years and was made a supervisor in June 1943. It’s unclear whether he had joined the workforce for any reason other than the war. Nothing else is known about his background. During the inquiry, he made sure the court knew he had raised concerns about the danger of the work aboard the Saturn. All three men became defendants during the 12-day Court of Inquiry delving into the fire. During such hearings, interested parties and defendants may present evidence, call and question witnesses who testify under oath. All three men took advantage of their opportunity to ask questions. Short and Lennon also called several witnesses of their own. Gill appeared to take a different approach, questioning a few witnesses, but calling none. Short was the only one of the three called by the judge advocate to testify. Each man, during questioning, attempted to show his own efforts to ensure safety and guard against fire on the Saturn. When the court delivered its findings, all three men were found responsible for the deaths and injuries — Short directly; Gill and Lennon indirectly. Gill and Lennon both were guilty of neglect. But “in view of the present state of war,” and their “status as a reserve officer no proceedings should be taken against” them, the court wrote. Each man received a letter of admonition from the Secretary of the Navy in his personnel file. The court recommended that Short be charged with neglect of duty. He was charged by the Navy Yard’s manager and found guilty of negligence for failing to provide a fire watch for each welder working at the time of the fire. He received the minimum penalty: a warning. In October 1944, Rear Adm. D. McD. LeBreton, commandant of the Fifth Naval District, wrote his own opinion, taking issue with some of the court’s findings. In his view, the court should have named additional defendants in the incident. Safety had lapsed at every level, from workmen to officers, LeBreton wrote. “Experience shows that familiarity with any work, no matter how dangerous, is apt to lead to carelessness … ” LeBreton wrote. “There was a relaxation of vigilance at the Navy Yard. The result was this disaster.” And if workers had gotten careless on the Saturn job, that changed. Immediately after the fire, welders began requesting more fire watches. Smoking was prohibited throughout the ship. "Following the tragic fire, safety precautions were at the forefront of employees' minds and led to a strengthening of the yard's safety organization," said a March 2019 statement from shipyard spokeswoman Terri Davis. "That emphasis remains today with a daily shipyard commitment of 'No one gets hurt today!' " After the fire, the work on the Saturn continued, although officials didn’t expect to meet their 60-day deadline. Gill remained as the executive officer of the ship until 1945 and was discharged from active service that year, though he remained in the reserves. He went back to a private cargo firm where he worked before the war. But he failed to keep in touch with the Navy. After numerous attempts to contact him in 1950, the service honorably discharged him without his signature. He died in 1954 at 49 and is buried in Beverly National Cemetery in Beverly, N.J. His cause of death is unknown. Short’s personnel file was not available and it’s unclear whether he stayed in the shipyard or what happened to him after the war. His personnel details at the yard were not available. Records show he lived in Portsmouth and at least one account says he lived on Deep Creek Boulevard at the time of the fire. Lennon continued at the shipyard and left active service in March 1946. He went home to Lumberton, N.C., where he worked in the private sector, his son, George, said. Lennon retired as a captain from the Navy Reserve in 1963. While he talked about his World War II service at the shipyard, George Lennon doesn’t recall his father ever discussing what happened aboard the Saturn. While he was at the Portsmouth shipyard, he had received orders five times to be transferred, his son said. But always, his superiors found a way to keep him at the yard. “He thoroughly enjoyed the Navy,” George Lennon said of his father. “Being a ship superintendent is what he did. And apparently did it quite well.” Lennon died in 1990 in North Carolina. He was 80. “He always believed it was an accident.” It’s unclear, after the Court of Inquiry rendered its findings and opinion, how much if any information was shared with the families of those who died. Several extended family members of the workmen who died said their surviving relatives had only vague details. Even survivors and those who helped at the scene didn’t discuss it. Jo Johnson said her father, Pharmacist Mate Edgar Burgess Johnson who was hailed as a hero for his efforts trying to save Saturn workers, held on to a press clipping that detailed his efforts. “He kept it, but he didn’t talk much about it.” “The experience of being in World War II was very different for everyone,” Jo Johnson said. “There’s a psychological wound for having to deal with any situation that they did.” Her father had been a volunteer fireman before the war and resumed his service when he got home to Buzzards Bay, Mass., rising to the position of deputy chief. When he died in 2004, his body was carried to the cemetery on a fire truck, Johnson said. “I think in his mind, he did what any firefighter was supposed to do, what any pharmacist’s mate was supposed to do,” Jo Johnson said. “I don’t think he considered himself a hero.” The son of the Portsmouth shipyard's fire chief, Waverly Sykes Jr., grew up in the yard. He recalls going to fire calls with his fire chief father, also called Waverly, riding on the fire engines. He wore a firefighter's helmet when he played outdoors during World War II. He remembers the blackout curtains in their house, about 200 feet from the fire station. Waverly Jr. was about 5 when the Saturn fire happened, but he doesn’t remember it. And his father, as far as he can recall, never talked about it. His father retired from the shipyard department in 1976. He died in 1989. A few months later, the Waverly E. Sykes Environmental and Fire Fighting Response Training Center was dedicated at the shipyard. It could be that the elder Sykes, who didn’t share his opinion during the 12-day inquiry on what started the blaze, felt he shouldn’t share what he knew with his family because it happened during war time. The record of the Court of Inquiry wasn’t declassified until 2010. There was at least one man who never stopped talking about the fire. He even wrote a booklet, “Through a Wall of Steel,” about it. Dorsey Slaughter lived up to his promise to become a changed man after his rescue from the ship’s hold. His days of smoking or having a beer were finished. He started attending church with his wife and sons. When a group from their church, Highland Baptist in Portsmouth, would visit the city jail on Sundays, Slaughter went along to share his story of being rescued. “He would carry his cutout he had to talk to the inmates about his salvation and about there being hope for them because of what he experienced,” said Hope Slaughter, his daughter-in-law. For several years, she also went on the visitations to the jail and played a pump organ. “It was very inspiring to me to know that he had carried this with him since 1944,” Hope Slaughter said. “And it was so much a part of his everyday life. He walked his talk and when he told about his salvation, you could tell that he had really had an experience.” She and her son, Rob, still have the steel cutout, etched with the date of the fire. In the booklet, Slaughter wrote that he believed his choice to take another man’s place for three hours of overtime changed the course of his life. “I still go back in my memory to that day — April 27, 1944 — when because of my circumstances, the Holy Spirit of God changed me and gave a desire for a new direction and purpose for my life,” he wrote. Slaughter died in 2009 at age 98, having never gotten any official word on what caused the blaze. “He always believed it was an accident,” his daughter-in-law said. Dorsey Slaughter's family shares his 1944 rescue from the USS Saturn Dorsey Slaughter was rescued from the USS Saturn during a fire at the Norfolk Navy Yard, now known as Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth. Slaughter wrote about the experience, and often shared it with others. All those years he had been right. The shower of sparks Slaughter had seen falling from an upper deck onto a large pile of cork had sparked the blaze, likely because of the flammable primer painted on it, the Court of Inquiry found. The ship, largely undamaged by the blaze, continued its service through the war, including carrying supplies for the invasion of southern France. It earned one battle star for its war service and was decommissioned in July 1946, then entered the James River Reserve Fleet, known to many as the “Ghost Fleet.” It was sold for scrap to a Spaniard in 1972. There is no memorial at the shipyard marking the incident or the lives lost that April evening in 1944. The memory of many of the men who died lives on mostly in the recollections of relatives who grew up hearing stories about them. Two days after the blaze, The Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch’s editorial staff wrote that the fire, “illustrates the grim fact that not all of war’s hazards lie on the fighting fronts. “The men who were trapped in the hold of a naval vessel by deadly fumes and smoke were fighting the war, in their way, just as other men are fighting it face to face with the enemy. The victims of the Navy Yard disaster are war casualties.” .
  2. T4800 Series Short nose (108″ BBC) Medium Duty Conventional with Low Mount Custom Driver 2 aluminum Cab 4×2 configurations – 16,001 GVWR to 26,000 GVWR (Class 5 and 6) 6.4L FCA Gasoline V8 available to 19,500 GVWR 8.8L PSI Gasoline V8 available from 19,500 GVWR to 26,000 GVWR 6.7L Cummins I6 Diesel to 26,000 GVWR Also available in strip chassis form. T5800 Series Short nose (109″ BBC) Heavy Duty Conventional with High Mount Custom Driver 2 aluminum Cab 4×2, 4×4, 6×4 & 6×6 configurations – 26,001 GVWR to 80,000 GVWR (Class 7 and 😎 Cummins 9L I6 Diesel and Cummins 12L I6 Diesel, 300HP to 475HP Glider Kits and Export Models available. T9800 Series Long nose (129″ BBC) Heavy Duty Conventional with High Mount Custom Driver 2 aluminum Cab 4×2, 4×4, 6×4, 6×6 & 8×6 configurations – 33,001 GVWR to 90,000 GVWR (Class 😎 Cummins 12L I6 Diesel and Cummins 15L I6 Diesel, 300HP to 605HP Glider Kits and Export Models available. The new T9800 series is a long nose conventional with classic looks and set back front axle and our new aluminum Driver 2 cab. This model is the latest version of the proven T-Line 9000B conventional which has been in production since 1995. It is designed to handle large bore diesels up to 600HP and is in production now. T9800 Glider Kit Spec Sheet - https://tlinetrucks.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/T9820GliderSpecSheet-1-1.pdf
  3. Under the world's best former Mack Trucks parts system, all rubber grommets are 87AX numbers. I don't know off hand the full part number for that one though.
  4. Diesel News Australia / March 2019 Although there are a lot of changes in the new Hino 500 standard cab and when compared to it’s predecessor, there are two major items which stand out. These are the features which are going to push the Hino medium duty truck closer to the top of many shopping lists. It difficult to judge which of the two aspects of the new truck will have the most impact. The new five litre engine seems to be something which will impress many drivers. It is a development from the nine litre engine which came in with the wider and heavier 500 Series trucks launched last year. Hino have cut it down from 6 to 4 cylinders and reduced the stroke to bring it down to a five litre engine. The engines heavier pedigree is reflected in the kind of torque levels available from the engine. It will come to Australia in both 240 and 260 hp versions. Each will reach maximum power at 2300 RPM and have torque, maxing out at 1400 RPM, which is 794 Nm in the 240 and 882 Nm in the 260. This engine produces more torque than the current seven litre engine being sold with these models. In fact, it matches to torque available from the eight litre engine in some of the 500 Series wide cab models. In the limited driving available at the Hino Hamura test facility in the west of Tokyo the depth of the torque available was obvious. The engine would lug up from well below 1000 RPM with a full load on board, effortlessly. The combination of the larger, heavier block and the twin turbos managing the airflow, makes this an impressive engine. The engine has another innovation for a Japanese truck in the Australian market, a jake brake. Instead of the, usually, ineffective exhaust brakes we have become used to from Japanese product, here we have a genuine engine brake which can aid retardation, protecting brakes and improving performance. The new engine is an evolution in the development of engines in Hino trucks. Similarly, innovations introduced into the electronic platform could also be seen as an evolution. However, it is not just the equipment and its capabilities which is being changed, Hino are changing the way truck manufacturers and customers will think about Japanese Trucks into the future. This step change is based on an evolution in the electronic architecture of the truck. This is, all new, the new electronic system is a generational change. It is an architecture on which the next generation of electronic equipment and aids for the operator and driver will need to operate.Making this change at this time Hino are signalling a change in the way they think about truck development. In the past, the Japanese truck manufacturers have specified equipment on trucks to meet the requirements of the Australian market, without needing to go very much further. On the other hand,Australian truck buyers looking at European product have been offered leading edge electronic safety systems and other vehicle management systems, way beyond what they are listing as their requirements. The Hino organisation has decided to take a European attitude to specifications within the new 500. The designers have gone way beyond the ABS and stability control offered in the past. The safety systems offered may come with a different set of acronyms from their European counterparts, but we are dealing with what is, basically, a very similar set of safety inclusions. “Not content with simply leading the market with the standard inclusion of vehicle stability control and reversing camera, the 500 series standard cab will be the first Japanese truck in Australia to offer the next level in active safety technology,” said Hino Australia’s Manager of Product Strategy Daniel Petrovski. Pre-Collision System, Safety Eye, Autonomous Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Detection along with Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure are going to be fitted as standard across this section of the Hino range. And we can expect these systems to appear on the rest of the range as it gets renewed over the next few years. “PCS is a true Active Safety system that, via the combination of camera and radar technology can detect potential collisions with another vehicle, a pedestrian and/or other object,” said Daniel. “PCS continuously scans the road in front of the truck and assists the driver to actively minimise the type of accidents that regularly occur through poor vision, driver distraction or poor judgement. “A common accident scenario that we believe PCS will reduce is a rear-end collision with another vehicle – for instance, on a single lane road where a driver may not notice that the vehicle ahead is slowing or already at a standstill. In this case, PCS detects the vehicle ahead via Safety Eye, and warns the driver both audibly and visually on the LCS Multi Information Display. “If the driver fails to react to the imminent danger, PCS can, as a last resort, engage Autonomous Emergency Braking to apply the brakes to minimise the vehicle’s speed and subsequent damage to the vehicle in the event of an accident, or in some circumstances, assist the driver to avoid the collision altogether.” .
  5. Diesel News Australia / March 2019 At the upcoming truck show in Brisbane the Iveco stand will extensively feature trucks with Euro 6 engines across its light, medium and heavy duty weight categories, including several that will be on public display in Australia for the first time. One model making its first public appearance is the recently-launched, locally-made Euro6 Stralis X-Way, with both a prime mover and rigid model to be displayed. As well as benefiting from a broad range of intelligent active and passive safety features, the Stralis X-Way is equipped with a number of fuel-saving measures including ‘Ecoroll’, ‘Ecoswitch’ and engine anti-idling. Emission control on the X-Way is also advanced, coming courtesy of Iveco’s Hi-eSCR system which does not require driver intervention. There will also be the first glimpse of the all-new, next generation Euro6 Acco, also manufactured in Australia. Still in the midst of extensive in-field development testing prior to launch later this year, the new Acco will build on the toughness of its predecessor while delivering new levels of comfort and safety never before experienced in an Acco. On display in Brisbane will be a 6×4 model with Bucher compactor body and an 8×4 featuring a Hiab hooklift body. Also on show and representing Iveco’s medium duty range is a Euro6 Eurocargo equipped with an INNOV8 attenuator body, while at the lighter end of the product offering is the Daily 70C van with 7 tonne GVM, 19.6m³ volume and Euro6 engine. Off-road fans will be pleased to know that Iveco will also preview a prototype new version of its unstoppable Daily 4×4 with increased GVM capabilities of up to 7 tonnes and a raft of other enhancements including availability of Iveco’s Hi-Matic, 8-speed full automatic transmission. And for those interested in bonneted, North American-style trucks, an International ProStar prime mover model will also be on show. Iveco Australia Marketing Manager, Darren Swenson, said that this year’s stand would hold true to the brand’s global positioning to be ‘Your Partner for Sustainable Transport’. “Iveco is very proud to be a global leader in low emission technologies and at the 2019 Brisbane Truck Show, our low emission capabilities will be strongly displayed and promoted,” said Darren. “Increasingly our customers both in the private and government sectors, are requesting vehicles that meet stringent environmental standards, even before being officially mandated through legislation. “Iveco is very pleased to be able to provide an extensive Euro6 product offering across vans, minibuses and its light, medium and heavy duty truck ranges.”
  6. Big Rigs / April 16, 2019 "I've only been here with RBA for five weeks, but so far I'd have to say this is a great job," Brenton Redshaw from Devonport, told us when we ran into him at Kempton's 24-hour Caltex Roadhouse/Truckstop Mood Food. "I've been working in the tree industry for some years, and it is so good to be back on the road again. This is definitely where my heart is," he said. "I did furniture prior to that up and down the Hume and Pacific Highways to Queensland every three weeks, and it is also really good to be home driving on Tasmanian roads again." He was driving an RBA 2000 Magnum with a 600 Cummins up front, and towing a fridge unit from Hobart on his return to Burnie at the time. He added that the truck hadn't had a permanent driver for a while, and he was looking forward to getting it "up to the standard of the rest of the fleet". Asked about time off he said, in one word, that's "family". .
  7. Diesel News Australia / March 2019 The new T610 1400mm aero roof sleeper is a new bigger sleeper from Kenworth. It completes the T610 range, the 1400mm sleeper cab option is suitable for a variety of applications from single trailers to road trains and has been designed and engineered in Australia. Following the introduction of the T610 and T610SAR in early 2017, Kenworth has progressively released application-engineered T610 cab configurations, including the day cab, 860mm aero, 760mm mid-roof, and most recently the 600mm aero sleeper which offers room for both a sleeper and a bullbar in combination with full-length 34 pallet trailer sets within the 26m B-double envelope. The new 1400mm aero roof sleeper will be the most spacious sleeper in the Kenworth range coming with even more interior space and in-cab standing room than its 50” predecessor. As standard, the 1400mm sleeper comes with a 790mm inner spring mattress, and the option of a King single, which is 300mm wider than the standard at 1090mm. The upper bunk option, if selected is 100mm wider than in the 50” cab. There are many different fit-out combinations and options to tailor to your needs, depending upon your selected bunk size. With the King single there is rear wall hanging space and shelving. The standard bunk comes with multiple storage tower and hanging space options. Both configurations feature separate clean and wet storage under the bunk, provision for a stand up fridge and shelf cavity for appliances such as a microwave, over-door storage, optional 240v electric sockets and sleeper power distribution modules, and the option of a slave air conditioning unit. Designed from the inside out in a decade-long development process, the T610 cabin is centred on the needs of the driver and incorporates greater foot space, more storage, wider walkthrough access between the seats and more door and windscreen glass, providing improved space, visibility and ergonomics. “The core of the T610 project was about building a bigger cab to create the ultimate driver environment, which leads to better all-round driving performance, safety, efficiency and productivity” said Brad May, Paccar Australia’s Director Sales and Marketing. “The 1400mm sleeper cab option allows maximum living space for our customers whose applications allow it. The Aero roof allows freedom of movement with full height standing room between the seats – and a fantastic bunk as standard that allows a quality well-earned sleep for drivers.” Kenworth spent significant time optimising the shape and surfaces over the sleeper cab roof to improve the aerodynamics while delivering an impressive looking truck for the most discerning of buyers. An optional roof fairing completes the picture for when backed up to maximum height trailers. .
  8. Prime Mover Magazine / April 16, 2019 With the expectation of boosting its market share at the lighter end of the heavy-duty sector, UD Trucks Australia has revealed an eight-litre engine variant of the Quon that was launched with an 11-litre engine in 2017. The eight-litre Quon will come in two variants, the CD 25 360 and the CW 25 360, with the former set to be the hero model on UD’s stand at the Brisbane Truck Show in May. Both iterations feature a GH 8 engine producing 350hp (263kW) at 2200rpm and peak torque of 1428Nm (1053lbft) between 1200 and 1600rpm. They are equipped with a host of advanced safety features to ensure the safety of the driver and other road users. This includes: Traffic Eye Brake, UD Stability Control, and Lane Departure Warning System. Other features designed to help maximise fuel savings include ECO mode, adaptive cruise control, and ESCOT Roll. The latter enables the vehicle to coast in neutral on slight downgrades to reduce fuel consumption. UD Trucks Australia Vice President of Sales, Mark Strambi, says the new Quon variants are valuable additions to the UD range. “The eight-litre version is an exciting addition to the Quon range that offers the same levels of drivability and safety as the 11-litre version,” said Strambi. “It really is a fantastic truck. While slightly smaller than the 11-litre models, it still possesses a sizeable payload capacity, while offering operators extra flexibility through greater load efficiency.” On a recent trip to Japan, UD customers were given the opportunity to drive the Japanese-spec eight-litre Quon. In addition to the test drive, the customers visited UD Trucks’ headquarters in Ageo and were given an insight into the company’s innovation roadmap and strategic plans moving forward. “UD Trucks strives to implement care, pride and quality into the mindset of its workforce and how it designs and builds trucks,” said Strambi. “We wanted to highlight UD’s philosophy to our customers as well as give them an exclusive look at the eight-litre Quon,” he said. “The response to the quality of the drive and the features available on the new trucks was resoundingly positive and we are really excited to be adding them to the Quon range in Australia.” .
  9. Freightliner Trucks Australia / April 15, 2019 Learn more about the Argosy - https://www.freightliner.com.au/trucks/argosy .
  10. The Army has a plan for China, and it’s bad news for JLTV and the Chinook Defense News / April 17, 2019 WASHINGTON — Legacy programs built for the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq are looking less like vital capabilities and more like bill-payers for the Army, as the service transitions towards a focus on conflict with Russia and China. In a small Tuesday roundtable with reporters, Army Secretary Mark Esper fielded a number of questions about the future of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and the CH-47 Block II Chinook, a line of inquiry he tied into a recent meeting between Army leadership and officials at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. According to Esper, the Army reached out to INDOPACOM leadership to request a meeting, which eventually happened in Hawaii, in order to discuss how the service is developing capabilities to match up with China. The idea, Esper said, is to make sure that as INDOPACOM head Adm. Phil Davidson is developing war plans, he “takes into consideration what the Army anticipates bringing to the table.” Asked which capabilities he sees as vital to the Pacific, Esper identified long range precision fires as “front and center,” which would be used to “hold at bay” Chinese ships. He then added future vertical lift, air and missile defense, and modernized networks as other key areas they briefed INDOPACOM on. Those capabilities are “something that he needs to know about and he needs to know our thinking where that is in the modernization timeline and everything. So as he thinks about his war plans for the out years, he can calculate those in. and by the same token, it’s an exchange — he can tell us ‘here’s what I’m looking for, here’s what I think I would need,’ and we can adjust our plans as well.” That discussion happens as the service intends to cut the planned JLTV buy and end procurement of the CH-47 Block II for conventional forces, something Esper said was a direct result of the Army leaning into the National Defense Strategy. Those two vehicles were designed and procured in “the context of Afghanistan and Iraq,” and hence just not as relevant anymore, Esper said. “Why the [CH-47s]? Got to carry a heavier payload and fly higher in a hotter climate. What was the heavier payload? JLTV. What drove JLTV? IEDs in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Esper argued. “In many ways they were designed for a different conflict. Doesn’t mean we won’t use them in future conflicts, but now my emphasis has to be on rebuilding my armor, rebuilding my fighting vehicles, having aircraft that can penetrate Russian and Chinese air defenses, that can shoot down Russian and Chinese drones and missiles and helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. “We’re in this transition period and some folks are caught in that transition, and that’s what we’re up against.” More specifically, Esper said there were “no” plans to re-look at the CH-47 decision, and acknowledged that the JLTV total figure is a bit of a moving target. “We are certainly cutting the total number” of JLTV procurement, which had previously been set at 49,000, Esper said. “I know that much. But whether it settles out, finals out right here, today, I can’t tell you. In five years, I could maybe have a different number for you.”
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