This is a post I've been meaning to do for a while but it has been sitting on the back burner. Mainly because my memory needed a little bit of jogging. Anyway, here goes.
I guess one of the places where I got a passion for ships was from my Grandpa on my mom's side. He died when I was around 10 but I was the only of his grandchildren that really got to know him. We used to go fishing and numerous other things. It was cool. Sadly, I wasn't old enough to appreciate asking him questions about his life before knowing me. So this has been pieced together from bits and pieces. I guess like many things in life.
It's not often that I will use other people's pictures on this blog but it's not like I can go back in time to take them. So I do want to give a thanks to the people that did post these pictures.
The ship pictured above is the steamer Aetna. I don't have too many details on the ship itself as I found the picture here. He worked on her from 1937 to 1941. He was a coal passer which I assume is the person that shovels coal from the bunkers into the burner. It sounds like pretty hard and dirty work. I would imagine it was pretty hot in the summers as well.
It's kind of ironic because he would have been on the ship at the time the above picture was taken. It was also taken in front of the cement plant where he would later work.
The ship itself was known as the S.S. Vittoria and Rapallo and was built in Italy in 1922. At breakout of war, she found herself interned in Columbia. Shortly after the US entered the war, she was purchased by the US government and renamed the Polonaise. She was used to transfer fuel along the east coast.
In 1944, she was acquired by the Navy and given the name Manileno and designation IX-141. She served as a floating oil storage ship in the Pacific until the end of the war. The above picture was taken from the U.S. Navy historical site. It is another really good resource for ships.
It's funny, when we think of Navy ships, we tend to think of things like aircraft carriers, battleships, etc. We never think of the ships that are necessary to support them. It is for this reason that I like Mr. Roberts.
I think there are some holes in the above story but again, I was piecing it together from the bits and pieces of information that I had. Like I said above, I never took the time to ask but then again I don't think was really a priority with me until later in life. But at any rate, I do miss my grandpa.
So I guess when I am sitting out on the Detroit River taking pictures of the ships, I can feel at least one connection to him. Even though the ships are much different, I think there are still some common elements amongst sailors.