Descriptive "Tour" of Subchaser SC 40

Charles A. Post served on SC 40 in the Minesweeping Division, clearing the North Sea mine barrage after the war. This is an excerpt from his account, "Navy Life Aboard the SC 40." The typescript was prepared by his nephew, Gerald N. Aikman. Thanks to Mr. Marvin G. Marshall (stepson of Charles Post) for submitting the typescript to the Subchaser Archives.

Crewman Charles Post has just reported for duty on SC 40, near the end of the war. He takes us on a tour of the boat:

Well, we’ve finally got to the SC 40, so I’ll take you aboard and show you around. We’ll start aft and on deck and work to forward and below. Flagstaff carrying the Union Jack. Reel wound with 600 feet of drag line. Depth bomb racks with six depth bombs. Meat box. Ventilator to the galley kitchen. Hatch to galley. Pots and pans and everything used for cooking. “Charley Noble” stove pipe, coke for stove just aft of the galley. The kitchen galley was partitioned off from the mess room containing the six bunks, a mess table, and seats along the side. Fresh water tank located on starboard side just aft of engine room.

Next compartment. Four bunks and lockers. Just ahead of this was a small storage room stocked with supplies for the galley. Hatch on main deck that lets you into the storage room. A ¾” thick and two feet square steel plate is the base for the Y gun that throws a depth bomb about 100 feet out each side. ...

Now we come to the structure over the engine room. This stands about three feet above the main deck and is about eight feet by twenty-five feet. Mounted on the aft part of this is a hand-operated water pump used for washing the deck. The seamen call it their “hand-car,” as it has two handle bars and reminds them of the hand cars used on railroads. Hatch to engine room. Two skylights above main engines. Portholes just aft of wing engines. Lifeboat mounted on chocks. Staff and boom just forward, used for putting the boat over the side.

Now we come to a small quarterdeck that has lockers on each side where the signal flags are stored. These lockers also serve as mounts for machine guns, one on each side. Just aft of “wheelhouse,” as it was called by the crew, was the main mast. It stood about thirty feet above the main deck and a crow’s nest as mounted on it. It had a signal light on top, a cross bar used for flying signal flags, and an antenna stretched to the mast on the stern.

In six feet by eight feet of deck space, the wheel house has everything that controls the boat. Steering wheel, compass, speaking tubes to engine room, living quarters, three enunciators to the engine room, two pairs of field glasses, radio, and hatch to officers’ quarters. Radio compartment and from this extending through keel was a listening tube that was connected to another tube six feet long and containing twelve 1-1/2” diameter holes along one side. The holes were covered with watertight diaphragms. All of this was connected to earphones in the shack, and on top of the listening tube was a wheel 14 inches in diameter and marked in degrees around the rim. It had a mark on the mount. The bearing of this wheel was checked with the compass in the wheelhouse in order to get a fix on any noise. With three SC’s in a patrol comparing degrees by radio and using triangulation, they could pinpoint, or fix as they called it, on any sound and the distance to it. A subchaser will run across the fix and drop three bombs, two from m the bomb rack aft. This gives a triangle pattern. ...

On the main deck ahead of the wheelhouse is the main armament. It is a 3.75” gun. Blanks of this caliber are used to fire the Y-gun.

Just beneath the wheelhouse deck is the Skipper’s apartment containing two bunks, two chairs, a toilet, desk and lockers, and a door to the radio room containing one bunk. Below the Skipper’s room is a 2,000 gallon gasoline tank, with tubes for filling and ventilator pipes running to topside. Just forward of the radio room is the Quartermaster’s storage quarters. One bunk, ammunition for the 3.75” gun, machine gun ammo, and rifles, twelve, .45 caliber automatics, and other supplies. Forward of this is the seamen’s quarters. Ten bunks, mess table, stove equipped with water heater that furnishes hot water for registers in living quarters and galley. Just forward of the seamen’s quarters is a small divided compartment, hand-operated toilet, and storage space for the hawse line used for anchoring the buoys.

Now let’s go aft, down the hatch to the engine room. At first glance it looks pretty complicated, as everything in it is connected to something else. Wiring, cables, tubing, three enunciators, six fire extinguishers, work table, three air tanks, oil tank, waste locker, Chief’s desk aft of the port engine, three stools, and necessary tools, three main engines, one starboard, one port, and one in center aft, connected directly to propeller shaft and 40” diameter three-bladed propeller. These three engines developed 1,500 horsepower.

The three main engines are started by air pressure from the tanks and this is why, you will note, we are carrying 200 pounds air pressure in the tanks. The engines are reversible, controlled by two sets of cams. These cams are on one shaft, two for each cylinder. The camshaft is moved forward or back by hand-operated levers. These cams operate the valves and igniter trips. Ignition is set on dead center due to the fact that the engines rotate in either direction. If any of these make and break igniters is out of time it can cause “kickback” and shoot fire down intake tube to vaporizer and fire along engine base. If gas fumes have accumulated in the bilge below deck plates, this can cause an explosion in the bilge and start a fire.

Aft, on port side, beside the center engine, two-foot passage between, is the auxiliary engine. It operates four things: Air compressor, bilge pump, electrical generator, and water pump that cools this engine. This engine has three cylinders, one air pump and two combustion. Rated 8 hp, 800 rev. Electrically started by current from storage battery on starboard side of engine room. It is a completely enclosed engine as it is splash oiled by dippers on connecting rods. There are only four things that are hand-operated: Clutch to generator, electric switch, clutch to bilge pump, and three valves on bilge lines. These can be set to pump bilge or sea water for scrubbing top deck. Also used for fire hose.

On starboard side of center engine is a Delco light plant and storage batteries. This plant is automatically controlled, but we have installed an ignition switch as this is opened only when on patrol to keep it from starting up automatically. ...