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By John Nicholas

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Sheely’s contingent reached Baltimore May 14 and proceeded directly to Neptune, then taking on supplies at the B&O Railroad grain elevator terminal at Locust Point. Officers Whiting, Griffin, Chevalier, Conger, Sinton, and Michel accompanied them. 8 The last days in port introduced landlubbers to a more authentic nautical experience. m. m. ” Even a ship in port required maintenance. Seamen had to chip rust, paint, and swab decks all day and sleep in a hammock at night. They received only half a pail of fresh water each day to do all their washing.

The historic port had endured continuous bombardment for years, and damage caused by large bombers and a huge German naval gun mounted several miles up the coast was instantly visible. The harbor itself appeared narrow and crowded with destroyers, monitors, submarines, and other vessels, studded by a forest of ships’ masts, poles, gantries, and towers, all significant impediments to aviation. Whiting commenced his visit with the obligatory round of introductory meetings, then conducted a detailed inspection of a French seaplane base (Centre d’Aviation Maritime de Dunkerque) situated on the eastern side of the harbor just behind the city walls.

The following day a lookout sighted a suspicious object, causing the captain to initiate a high-speed, twohour run to the south. When Perkins steamed alongside to take on oil, water, and supplies, the rolling sea caused the ships to scrape against each other, tearing away parts of the destroyer’s bridge, breaking her forward shrouds, denting her stacks, and flattening a ventilator. ” As the collier and her escorts approached Europe, men received orders to wear life preservers and sleep in their clothes.

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