From: New England, USA
In the tradition of other AAR's told from the point of view of one ship, so shall this one be - to some extent. There are times where I may wander outside of the parameters of storytelling to comment on events or describe other actions not privy to Helena. But for most intents and purposes, this will be her story for as long as she exists.
At this time, I wish to cite several sources from which that I may pull material, either in part or whole, so as to properly credit those authors:
-Department of the Navy, United States of America. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Vol. 3, pp.287-289. United States Department of the Navy, 1968
-Casten, Ray J. USS HELENA The Machine-Gun Cruiser. Self Published, 1991
-Dibner, Martin. The Admiral. Doubleday, 1967
-Morris, Craig G. with Hugh Cave. The Fightin'est Ship: The Story of the Cruiser Helena. Dodd, Mead & Company, 1944
-Morison, Samuel Eliot (RAdm., USN Ret.) History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Vol. X. Little, Brown and Company. 1947-1962
USS Helena, the second Navy ship bearing the name of the city of Helena, Montana, was launched on 27 August 1939 by the New York Navy Yard, sponsored by Ms. Elinor Carlyle Gudger, granddaughter of Senator Thomas J. Walsh of Montana, and commissioned on 18 September 1939, Captain Max B. Demott in command.
Helena departed 14 October 1939 from New York Navy Yard for her sea trials and shakedown cruise. She arrived in Annapolis on 22 December 1939 and departed there on 27 December 1939 for her first voyage to South America. She stopped in many ports including Norfolk, Virginia from 27 December 1939 to 3 January 1940 and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba from 6–7 January 1940. She crossed the equator on Longitude 40 West on 13 January 1940.
Helena visited Buenos Aires, Argentina from 22–28 January 1940. From 19 January to 3 February 1940, she stopped at Montevideo, Uruguay, where her sailors boarded the wreck of the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee. Further stops included Santos, Brazil from 5–10 February 1940, Guantanamo Bay from 12–24 February 1940, and Norfolk from 27 February to 1 March 1940. She arrived back at the Navy Yard in New York on 2 March 1940.
In November 1940, Helena transferred to the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Capt Robert Henry English in command. Most of 1941 was spent on training excercises in and around Pearl, with the occasional jaunt out with the carriers or the Battle Fleet.
Today, however, is the first Saturday of December, and Helena is tied up to the 1010 Dock in Pearl, as she is on modified in-port stand down for liberty. Even though she is tied up pierside and drawing power like Pennsylvania would be if she were tied up here, Capt. English's standing orders are that Helena is to keep one of her eight boilers lit at all times.
By 07:30, James Mayfield, Chief Shipfitter of Helena has already been to breakfast. His family calls him by his middle name, and to his friends he's "Jim", but aboard ship, it's "Chief" or "Chief Mayfield" (and sometimes worse behind his back). He's the kind of man who will gladly do you a favor or help a man in need, but at 6 feet and 190 pounds, Heaven help you if you cross him.
As he steps out on to the deck, he circles over to the starboard side forward five inch dual-purpose gun mount, and takes his first lungsful of air on what is the beginning of a beautiful day outside here in God's paradise. He leans on the rail, looking out across to Ford Island where the big girls are moored, the Battle Line of the US Pacific Fleet. He could do worse, he thinks. His biggest decision for tonight is whether to go ashore for liberty, or stay on board for the movie...
< Message edited by Admiral DadMan -- 6/23/2015 7:18:39 PM >
A Lion uses all its might to catch a Rabbit