Sunday, March 09, 2008

Ten Ninty One

I first learned of the Ten Ninety One six years ago. Two brothers from our church in Folsom treated their father to the California state reunion of the USS Landing Craft Infantry Association in Eureka. Their father served on an LCI as an engineer during World War II.

The reunion included a cruise on the former USS Landing Craft Infantry (Large) 1091. The Ten Ninety One, the current name of the World War II amphibious vessel, has been homeported in Humboldt Bay since the late 1980s.

My three years of sea duty in the 1970s included an 11-month tour on the USS Cocopa (ATF-101), a sea-going tug from the same era. Small ships like the Cocopa and Ten Ninety One were ideal duty for a young ship's cook.

Feeding less that 100 crewmen gave the cook the chance to personally know each member of the crew. Take one electrician's mate on the Cocopa. He'd never order anything but scrambled eggs. Two beaten eggs -- always fresh eggs as he could sniff out powdered -- immediately went on the griddle when I saw tall, skinny sailor dodging obstructions on the overhead as he came up the starboard passageway.

After the US Navy sold her, the Ten Ninety One worked as a salmon cannery ship on the Yukon River in Alaska from 1961 to 1985. Dr. Ralph Davis, a Eureka-area dentist, purchased her in 1988 and fished Albacore out of Eureka from 1995 to 2003. The Humboldt Bay Naval Sea/Air Museum currently holds title to the Ten Ninety One. She was moored at the foot of T Street when I took these pictures on July 22, 2006.

I'd love a chance to cook on the Ten Ninety One someday. It has all the accoutrement's of the Cocopa -- compact galley, modest crew size and the opportunity for one-on-one service.

Life on an World War II LCI wasn't all rosy for the crew or the cook. Rough seas, confined food preparation spaces and meager supply of essential food stuffs reminded the crew that this wasn't the Waldorf Astoria. And mealtime swelled to over 200 hungry mouths when a company of soldiers or Marines came aboard.

Stanley G. Galik described his father's World War II experience as a ship's cook on the USS LCI 35 in the Mediterranean and English Channel:

The ship did not have a movie projector or even a washing machine for laundry. Frozen food was stored in a 20-cubic inch chest freezer (when it wasn't broken) that also served as the base for a mess table for crew meals. In the galley the ship's cooks, including my father, used a four burner oil stove to prepare meals for a crew of 20-30 sailors and the 3-6 officers on board.

By all accounts, the senior Stanley Galic was a "good cook who made the most of what he had to work with."

"He was the only one that could make Spam taste like chicken or steak," said two former shipmates. No doubt two years as a cook for Civilian Conservation Corps Company 3356 in Hot Springs, New Mexico, taught him the impact a good cook had on morale.

I could get used to cooking on a cozy ship like the Ten Ninety One. The marriage of the compact galley, tucked away on the starboard side of the deckhouse, and tight nit crew could make for a pleasant cruise.

No comments:

Post a Comment