Essentially this provided two completely independent engineering plants

Essentially this provided two completely independent engineering plants

  • Forward (#1) Fire Room containing #1 and #2 Boilers and associated forced draft blowers, fuel pumps, and associated equipment.
  • Forward (#1) Engine Room containing the Starboard (#1) Main Engine, #1 ship service generator, a 12,000 gallon per day distilling plant, and associated auxiliary equipment. This was designated as the Control Engine Room and it was the station for the Engineering Officer of the Watch (usually a CPO) who was responsible for coordinating the operation, including communications with the bridge. This was the Chief Engineer’s station when entering or leaving port or under battle conditions.
  • After (#2) Fire Room containing #3 and #4 Boilers and associated equipment. Except for the starboard shaft running through it, the space was essentially the same as the Forward Fire Room.
  • After (#2) Engine Room, essentially a mirror image of the Forward Engine Room containing the Port (#2) Main Engine, #2 generator, and associated equipment.

Normal steaming configuration was with two boilers on the line in a “Split Plant” configuration with one boiler in each fire room supplying its associated engine and all valves connecting the forward and after plants closed. Two boilers were capable of providing speeds up to 28 knots which was adequate for most operations.

Access to each of these spaces was by hatches and vertical ladders to the Main Deck above. There was no access between spaces below the Main Deck. To go between machinery spaces it was “up and over”.

Living accommodations were nothing to brag about

An environmentalist would look askance at ships of this era. All commodes and urinals discharged directly overboard. When I was Chief Engineer, my night orders told my sailors to only pump bilges at night while in port. We still had the capability to lay smoke screens. All trash and garbage was dumped overboard at sea. The ships had to take on sea water ballast directly into the fuel tanks to maintain stability under light loading conditions and deballasting operations at sea took several hours during which we would be discharging a nasty looking oil slick. The machinery spaces were loaded with asbestos insulation. Fortunately, we do much better today at protecting the environment.

Sailors were berthed by division in 4 high tiers of canvas bunks with upright lockers. The practice of placing portholes in the side for ventilation had gone away and there was no air conditioning. The galley was on the main deck and all food had to be carried down in large trays to the mess deck below. A drawback to the ship design was the lack of a fore and aft passage inside the ship, making it possible for the two ends of the ship to be cut off from each other during bad weather when it was unsafe to go out on deck.

There were two means of egress from each space, one port and one starboard

The Chief Petty Officers had their own mess. But their berthing accommodations were not much better than those of the crew. As officers we lived somewhat better, but our accommodations were not very sumptuous either. The captain had his own cabin and head He also had a small sea cabin adjacent to the bridge. The wardroom and officers mess was on the Main Deck forward, just aft of Mount 52. All of the rest of us lived one deck down in “Officer’s Country” in small two man staterooms. We all shared the same head. Only the Executive Officer had his own stateroom.

The Fletcher class destroyers are still regarded as the best destroyers produced by any navy during World War II. The Sumner (DD 692) and Gearing (DD 710) class ships were essentially improved versions of the Fletchers. But they did not really get into the war soon enough to make as much of an impact. Because the navy had a surplus of ships after the war, many of the Fletcher Class destroyers, including Halsey Powell were decommissioned, and placed into reserve fleets in 1946.

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