You'll have to bear
with me on dates as at this time of my life and its
associated forgetfulness, I could almost hide my own
I served on the Noxubee from approximately late April
'55 until approximately June '57.I had enlisted in the
Navy in Aug '53 and had to wait till Feb '54 to be sworn
in due to the massive amount of enlistments at the time.
I did my boot training at Bainbridge, MD. and after boot
camp remained at Bainbridge to attend a 44 week FT (Fire
Control Tech), "A" school there. It was really
convenient as I lived in South Jersey at the time and
made a lot of weekends home during my "A"
When I graduated FT school and the billets were
announced, I was stunned to see my assignment, USS
Noxubee AOG-56. I inquired as to exactly what type of
ship the Noxubee was and was told by an old salt
instructor that it was a gas barge. This was really a
big let down as most all of my class mates went to
carriers and men-of-war ships. I suffered much teasing
and jeering from my classmates over this, however, it
turned out they were the ones who lost out.
As it finally turned out, my worst fears of serving
on a "gas barge" couldn't have more wrong. My
time aboard the Noxubee was some of the best time of my
life and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
My first sight of the ship was at the end of the pier
at Newport, RI where I was welcomed aboard by my two
fellow FT's, a second class named Bjiordan and a first
class named Roberts, both of whose first names escape
me. They were both very happy to see me as they had to
maintain the gear an keep the cleaning spaces scrubbed
and painted as first and second class petty officers.
Bjiordan and Roberts were quite friendly and didn't
dump everything on me, pitching in with the upkeep on
the cleaning spaces, however it was short lived as both
were short timers and were gone rather quickly. Shortly
after I came aboard, I had enough time in grade to take
the 3rd class test, which I passed readily. That was a
god-send as I missed the joys of mess cooking and
On August 19, 1955, we departed Newport to Hamilton,
Bermuda on our way to a Med deployment and a whole new
education for a young sailor who would turn 19 in two
days, August 23rd.
I was to make 2 Med cruises aboard the Noxubee and
although I thoroughly enjoyed each and every place
visited, the events I remember can't be attributed a
specific cruise. It could have been the 1955 cruise or
it may have on the 1956 cruise.
The Navy had given the Pakistani Government a bunch
of wooden hulled minesweepers and we escorted 3 of them
across the Atlantic. They were manned by the Pakistani
Navy and left us when we got to Gibraltar.
Some of the more memorable things I remembered from
the 2 Med cruises are:
In Gibraltar we tied up outboard of 2 British
Destroyers, which we had to cross over to get to the
pier. The smell eminating from the ships was something
else. I don't know if it was from spoiling food or the
mutton they were so fond of but the memory of the stench
has remained for 45 years.
The first time we visited Tripoli, Libya, I was
amazed at finding sand bagged machine gun nests set up
in a main square, manned by British soldiers. Lybia was
still under British rule from WWII.
Snorkeling adjacent to the ship in Tripoli and
spearing fish for the Arab workers who were manning the
pumping equipment offloading the Noxubee. They were
astounded by our productivity and ever thankful to
receive the fish and squid we speared. Snorkeling was
quite popular in Italy and the masks, spring loaded
spear guns, fins, etc. were relatively reasonable to
Steaming through the Straits of Messina between
Sicily and Italy while the volcano, Stromboli, was
erupting big time, quite a show.
The famous "Gut" section in Valetta, Malta.
Almost as much fun as East Main Street in Norfolk, VA ,
except the bar ladies weren't as heavily tattooed as the
ladies in Norfolk and wore perfume.
We visited Toranto, Italy on June 16-18, 1956.
Toranto was the main Naval port of the Italian Navy
during WWII. In 1941, British aircraft carrier launched
torpedo-aircraft sunk the bulk of the Italian Navy,
including its entire battleship force at their moorings.
Much of the wreckage remained still and the harbor was
crowded with sunken hulks,highly visible as we steamed
past to our mooring."
The kids and adults in Naples, who while passing you
on the street, would hit the bottom of your jumper
pocket, hoping to dislodge and make airborne, money,
wallet, cigarettes, etc, which they would snatch and run
The time a taxi detoured to a remote area and stopped
so his 3 consorts could jump out of the darkness,
threaten me with clubs and rob me of my wallet, watch,
cigarettes and lighter. The driver was nice enough,
however, to drive back to the place he picked me up.
What I would have given for my S&W Model 60, 5 shot
at the time, although I'd probably still be in jail for
The ever present Bum Boats in Naples Harbor looking
to steal the brass fittings and macramé off the
Captains Gig or the fittings off the whaleboat. Some did
actually paint the sides for scrap mooring lines and the
garbage from the mess deck. Some came to sell boots and
whatever or trade for cigarettes, which was illegal and
The barber aptly named Luigi. He arrived daily when
we were in Naples by bum boat and was allowed to set up
on the well deck and give haircuts, which were in short
supply on the Noxubee at the time. Funny man, Luigi, he
was middle aged, very slight in stature and although
couldn't speak much English, could keep you entertained
by watching his animated facial expressions and body
language. Strange how I am remembering things from 45
years ago and sometimes can't remember my own telephone
The beautiful luxury liner, Andrea Dora, frequently
tied up to the pier where we had to walk past it from
where our whaleboat dropped off the liberty party to the
gate to the city of Naples. The Andrea Dora was involved
in a collision with the ship Stockholm in the summer of
1956 and sunk off Long Island, NY.
Operating independently of the fleet and wearing blue
jeans and tee shirts, even Levi's if you had them, most
of the time, in port, entering and leaving. Having
Barcelona to ourselves for periods without any fleet
competition. My lady friend would appear in a taxi at
the gangway at Liberty call, heavily perfumed and ready
to go dancing. ( Hey, I was 19 years old and single... )
While steaming from Barcelona on a very rough day, a
First Class Machinist Mate named Evans, broke the rules
and paid with his life. For whatever unknown reason,
Evans ventured down onto the well deck without a
lifejacket and was swept over the side by a large wave
to perish in the sea, devastating the Captain and crew.
Our Captain was a very stern and fair, ex WW2
Quartermaster and mustang regular Navy LT, R.J. Dermody.
This man was really totally devastated as we steamed in
circles all day hoping to find Evans, who would never be
found or heard from again.
Another memorable item is the lack of personal
hygiene experienced from the Europeans of the time. It
is almost as if they hadn't invented bath tubs and
showers there. This phenomenon was noticed throughout
the countries of the Med and not particularly welcome.
(sorry to offend anyone, but thats the way I remember
The Med trips were a real education for me and no
value could be assigned to the pleasures I enjoyed
Back on the Newport Scene I have some fond memories
of Newport such as:
A major racial incident at an Enlisted Club in
Newport, I can't recall just where but Fats Domino was
appearing at the time and a big "knock em down,
drag em out" occurred one evening. The papers
reported Fats on top of his piano ducking flying chairs,
glasses and beer pitchers.
The infamous M-19 mooring buoy and armpit location of
Newport. I was aboard one very, very cold, windy and
snowy night with the usual skeleton crew. The storm
really raged and we were all scared to death of breaking
loose from the bouy and having to get underway in an
emergency. It was a very scary night and no one slept.
In the morning we found out that the new, at the time,
destroyer, USS Willis Lee, had broken her mooring and
went aground. Also a whaleboat bringing a liberty party
to one of the ships in the bay got lost in the storm and
was found the next day with all aboard frozen to death.
Leo's First and Last Stop Bar just outside the gate
where the Noxubee tied up in Newport. I was a regular at
Leo's, a member of the bar, however, not a lawyer. Leo
was an old man who had 2 sons, the younger one, Nelson,
if I remember right, was the evening bartender and
keeper of the peace. The older son was an amateur boxer
and one night brought Archie Moore into the place and
introduced him around. Archie at the time was a
contender and had not yet won any titles. I had many
good times at Leo's and cultivated several interesting
relationships with the barmaids. (Hey, I was single.)
The little hole in the wall greasy spoon restaurant
across the street from Leo's where I frequently finished
up the night with a bacon and egg sandwich. That
Narragansett draft beer used to work up an appetite.
At about this time, the Navy had re-instituted the
draft and I was blessed with a striker and as it turned
out, a good friend as well. He was a young lawyer who
had passed the bar and then had gotten drafted. Talk
about bad luck. He and I shared the upkeep of the gear
and cleaning spaces and did liberty together for the
most part. He would be about 75 years old today and I
lost touch with him years ago. His name was Alexander
Pentecost III, and was from Pittsburgh, PA area. Anyone
know Alex ?
I would sure like to get ahold of the deck logs for
the years I was aboard just to read my old entries. I
used to stand Gangway watch when in port and at sea I
sometimes manned the radar behind the chartroom on the
bridge and in later times I stood boatswains mate of the
watch as there were so few boatswain mates aboard. I
also served as messdeck master-at-arms for a while.
It was good to hear from someone who served aboard
and of this webpage. All these years since 1957 and I've
never ran across anyone I served with. I went from the
Noxubee to the west coast and aboard the USS Toledo
CA-133 and made a 7 month westpac cruise which included
a trip to Australia to attend the annual Coral Sea
Celebration and got out in April 1959.
Anyway, I hope I haven't bored you with an old mans
memories. They are very dear to me and I'm sure,
familiar to anyone who served aboard during the 50's.
Hopefully some of you will identify with what I have
offered and hopefully it will trigger your own memories
which you can in turn offer to us here.
Regards to all shipmates, old and new.... I'll never
forget the USS Noxubee AOG-56. (I can't as I have the
damn thing tattooed on my arm.)
Amazing what a
few years does
to a fella ain't it ?