Going aboard... One last time.


Well, I got to go aboard the USS Somers one more time. I had known that she was at Port Hueneme, and I was trying to find out who to contact about going to see her. Then I got the following Email from Charlie Fatum. (Thanks, Charlie!)

Lloyd and I made the trip to Port Hueneme, told them who we were, showed them my Plankowners card and were allowed on board. When we drove around some buildings and she came into view, I couldn't believe it but my heart started pounding. We spent about 4 hours and were all over her. The man in charge of readying ships for their final cruises is Bob Fritzen. They call him Fritz. Very nice guy. I told him about your Somers website and asked if it was ok for you to get a hold of him in case you wanted to go there, and he said sure. He really got into our interest and our stories. He said a relative of Lt Somers had been there to see the ship.

Naturally after 16 years, there's not much left in the way of memorabilia stuff. I took an aluminum binocular case that was mounted on the bridge bulkhead below the windows, because I was a lookout and a helmsman. We got a few aluminum name tags that identified compartments or passageways, also the handle to the ship's whistle. There were a few lights in the inside passageway and the fore and aft sleeping quarters. We flash lighted back to the laundry and damage control and aftersteering. My rack was one of the ones still there. (aft) although not the same type. Ours were aluminum frames with a piece of canvas lashed on. I was amazed to see that the tile in the passageways and on the bridge was the same green tile. Lloyd and I agreed that our replacements sure didn't keep her "standing tall" like we left her. There were only a couple signs of fancy work, and our life lines were wrapped with canvas and sewn with a palm and then painted white, and snaking was placed between the lifelines and painted black by hand, literally. Of course she's pretty well stripped by now.

In the forward compartment where Lloyd slept (1st Div), the table was still there that he played cards on so we unbolted that and worked it out through the forward hatch. In our day, the table was masonite, but now had been covered with a piece of wood and had various names on it and a great drawing of a clippership. The pedestal had fancy work which we believe is possibly the original.

I took about 100 pictures (slides) and while inside, ran my flash batteries dead. We had Fritz take a few of Lloyd and me here and there. One was aftersteering cause we did that cause we were big and had the muscle for it.

Oh!! She is scheduled to leave on May 19th. So I'm glad we made plans fast and did it.


With this information, I called Bob Fritzen. He said to come on down, so down I came. As we drove up to the ship, I got the same "heart pounding" that Charlie talked about. We came around a corner, and there she was.

For being out of service for almost 16 years, she's in surprisingly good shape. She had been used as an experimental ship for about the last 6 years. They put a helicopter deck on top of the fantail, the ASROC and TARTAR launchers are long gone, but the gun on the front remains. Most of the physically movable things are gone, as is a almost all of the electronic gear, but most of the machinery remains. The washer and dryer are still in the laundry, all of the after steering gear is there, as is all of the engineering and boiler machinery. It's just not cost effective to remove that stuff. Even a lot of the bunks are still there. A lot of little things are there, too. On the Mess decks, the sneeze guard over the chow line still has the labels that say... "Prepared by" and "Calories:"

Going through the ship was like going back in time. As we walked through the spaces, old memories came flooding back. Like the time my friend Steve Long and I were mess cooking and working in the scullery. He had splashed me with water, so I shot a stream of water at him through the window the crew passes their dirty trays through. Steve ducked, and I *nailed* a first class right in the chest with the water. He was not pleased.

Anyway, to make a long long story short, it was simply amazing going aboard the Somers again. it's hard to believe that she's been out of service for almost 16 years. She will be towed out of Port Hueneme on the 19th or 20th for the last time. She's heading toward Pearl, where she will be sunk as a target. It's sad to see an old ship come to it's end, but as I've said so many times before, I'd rather see her sunk than cut up for scrap metal.


 View Going aboard... One last time and leaving Port Hueneme on YouTube.
YouTube videos are limited to 10 minutes, so the  last visit and leaving Port Hueneme are broken up into 4 parts.

Last visit #1    Last visit #2    Last visit #3    Leaving  Hueneme

Courtesy of Alan Cantu


Return to the quarterdeck