James Hultman
B Division '66 & '67

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'Water for Men and Machine'

Jake you mention the lack of fresh water on board by stating that all the fresh water went to the steam catapults. Actually two types of water were produced by the evap gang. Most important was called Boiler Feed Water. This water was purer than fresh water as that was a requirement of the boilers. It had to be 99.95% pure. I don't remember how pure fresh water had to be but suffice it to say our bodies are not as demanding as boiler pipes are. The reason we never had fresh water was because we could only make one type of water at a time and we were constantly making boiler feed water. Why you might as k were we always making boiler water. Because of the exact definition you gave.. Steam catapults. Each time a plane shot off the catapults we used steam produced by the boiler 5 which were being fed boiler water. We were doing so many sorties that we just didn't have the capacity to make fresh water. Our commitment to our goals came first. I can remember several times on my last WestPac in 67 the Captain H.P. Streeper calling our office at 0600 wanting to know if we were able to launch aircraft that day. Of course you know what the reply was. Can do Sir. We sure as hell weren't about to let a bit of an inconvenience like taking bird baths stop us from our primary mission. Besides would you want to be the one to tell the man you couldn't do something? It amazed me then and still does today that a man with as much power as a captain on a attack aircraft carrier would actually ask a lowly petty officer third (oil king) if he could launch aircraft. And yes, oil kings did control whether or not the water being produced went to the boilers or to the crew. Although we didn't produce it, the evap gang did that, and in fact lived in the same compartment as us.

As far as you using sea water I must admit I never heard of anyone doing that. We did use the sailor shower of turning the water on just to get wet than turning it off and soaping yourself up and than turning the water back on to rinse off. In the story about the Captain i just gave you we, were under even more severe rationing. We could fill a sink half way and use the water to clean our most deserving parts, Under arms etc. also shave and brush your teeth. Also, we could only use the water fountains at certain times. We were flying a lot of sorties in 67.

And, as has been stated by others from various times during the life of Hannah, it seemed like we were always covering for some other carrier that wasn't able to get back on station.

Although it was a pain in the butt having to take another ships duty after being on the line for a month or more, we or at least I always felt a renewed sense of pride in that we could outperform any other ship in the Navy. I think most Hancock sailors had that commitment over the years.
The ship was in dry dock in Hunters Point when I left her in September, 1967 and there had been talk of new evaporators that were going to be installed to correct the water problems. Also I think air conditioning of living spaces was taking place. Never got to see that but I read a story someone wrote about a later cruise possibly last one and they were still having water problems. So I guess they never could fix the problem.

I also knew the sailor that fell off the ship and lost his Jockeys. He was also in B Division working in number four fireroom at the time. He use to like to sleep out on deck as it was so hot below decks. He related how he had his shorts on when he hit the water but the force of the fall ripped them off of him. Apparently he was quite a good swimmer as he said he could see the ships going back and forth all day looking for him but if he wasn't found that day he was prepared to swim to shore that night. Now I can't say how far we were from shore but I think it was at least twelve miles. As far as I was aware he was the only sailor ever recovered in a man overboard during my four years. I remember going up on deck to see him brought back aboard and everyone cheering.

That was really sometime because I knew there were maybe a dozen or so sailors witnessing the event that actually knew him. Yet here were hundreds of men cheering, and John Wayne was there, to top it off!

I also have a little side bar about the "Duke." At dinner that same day I was happily chewing on something when I heard some commotion and looked around. There was the Duke himself come to have supper with the men. A small group of us stopped on the way out and talked to him. Probably less than a dozen, and he was real receptive to us and answered questions sailors were asking of him. I thought that was a real class act. I've wondered all these years why only about a dozen men stopped to talk to him. I guess they figured he didn't want to be disturbed. But, as I said, he was a real class act.

James Hultman

Submitted 3/13/2007
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Note: We have several other references to this Sailor (Roy Deardorf) being 'UA' for 9 hours in the drink, you can read them by going to the Gedunk.

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