As a training ship, Joy carried about 80 "ship’s company", and every two weeks she would rotate a new group of about 100 "reserve trainees" for their two-week training cruises. The ship’s crew consisted of a combination of Navy Regulars and reactivated Naval Reservists. For most of the reservists, being called away from their families, homes and jobs was quite a personal sacrifice. Many of the regulars were career Navy with service during WWII, while a few of the other regulars were first enlistments with no experience with which to compare the Great Lakes duty with that of an ocean fleet.
After a couple of years in the Pacific Fleet, I thought the Joy was great duty, a real "Joy Boat". I was assigned to the 9th Naval District for "Limited Duty for Humanitarian Reasons", which was to complete my remaining obligation of a four-year enlistment after the loss of a second brother in the military. One disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle in a Navy PBM in July 1945, and the second was KIA Korea in the Army in March 1953. That DE was far better than being in the Pacific, plus I could I get home about once a month to see my parents.
It was a great little ship, and cruising that little gunboat around in the Great Lakes, fully decked out with 5in mounts and twin 40mms, always created quite a stir with the locals. (We fired those things.) One problem we had was finding suitable places to moor. We would tie up to telephone poles and anything else available. Sometimes we were in narrow areas where it was dangerously shallow. Without the benefit of tugs, we would back into places, guiding with the rudders and screws. For example, at St. Joseph, MI, we would back about a half mile up into a small river and moor to a narrow dock next to a large warehouse. At Escanaba, MI, we
eased up to a concrete wall at a lakefront city park.
Attached are two pictures of the stern of the ship in a floating dry-dock at Milwaukee, WI. They may not be of much value to you, but they show how her starboard screw was dog-eared while maneuvering into the mooring at Chicago. She backed a little too far and hit something solid at the bottom of the shallow channel.
Thanks for a terrific website. Whenever I see a guy wearing a "U.S.S Something" ship reunion cap, I tell him about Navsource.
This page created 12 January 2005 and is maintained by Mike Smolinski