Hanger Deck Fresh’ie



My first time in a storm…

  When I joined the Navy in 1953, as like others, I went to boot camp at the Great Lakes Training Center. From there I went to Norman, OK for Aviation Prep schooling, not knowing at that point I was going to be assigned to the Intrepid. When I completed my schooling they sent quite a few of us to Norfolk, VA…I’d say…I spent about 2-3 months on the base. We then got our orders to Newport News, VA.

Before re-commissioning, we lived and slept on a Birthing Barge anchored two docks from the Intrepid. We were told to help clean up and to get familiar with the ship, seeing this will be our duty ship come re-commissioning time. Also, at that time, the new super carrier Forrestal was being built.

The first time out at sea, that I can remember in ’54, we were in a hurricane later named Hazel. I was standing in Hangar Bay 3 looking forward to Hangar Bay 1 and noticed it was higher. I thought the ship was going to snap! Not knowing at the time – until being told – the expansion joints were working, otherwise the Intrepid would have cracked in pieces. Then, we had the Hangar Bay 1 port side Curtain, across from the O.O.D.s deck, bust thru by the big waves. Hangar Bay 1 was loaded with sea water and rolled back to Hangar Bay 2. We were told to get Dust Pans and Buckets and shovel-up the water and dump in over the side. When we finally got all the water we could get over the side and drained the Hangar Bays dried-up leaving a layer of rust. Chief V. Withrow, at the time got a Tug Bumper from a Tug (how he got it I’ll never know) but it was cut in half and rigged to be able to be dragged behind a tractor which was used to help get up the rust.

To make it look good we sprinkled graphite on the deck…and Boy!.. did it shine! But…when you walked over the deck the graphite stayed on the soles of your shoes…”You should have seen what the Officer’s Deck area on the Strbd side looked like!…black footprints on a white painted deck! Clean-up was quite a task getting the graphite off the deck. We had to hose down the Tug Bumpers…get them clean and dry and keep cleaning the deck until the graphite wouldn’t  be spread to other areas. I was an Airman at this time.

One of the most boring things for a Hangar Bay Crew Member was being on Watch in a Configuration Fire Station. There were 3 of them…1 in each Hangar Bay with the main one in Hangar Bay 2 that controlled all 3 Bays. Bays 1 & 2 only controlled their own Bays.

For one thing, it was hard to keep awake. It got so warm in those stations you would try to keep the hatch open so not to get to warm and fall to sleep but you were suppose to keep them closed…but not if we could get away with it! 

During Flight Ops, it wasn’t so bad. When the planes were flying at night the Hangar Division Crews would get some rest on the Hangar Deck behind the #2 Configuration Station and once in a while you could get a Hangar Deck Crewmen to chat with you, breaking up the boredom of your watch.

At one time, in Hangar Bay 1, someone or a ‘Short’ tripped one of the Fog Foam Cones on the Port side by the Hangar Bay doors…Boy!…was that a mess to clean up. Sticky and Smelly…fortunately the Cones have to be pointing to the Bulkhead or the whole Hangar Bay would get it. After a while, I was in charge of the #3 Elevator.

At one time I remember being in New York working around the Elevator when they called for Liberty. Well, I had to close the big doors to the elevator, so I pushed the ‘Close’ button and then I started down the ladder to the Division Compartment, which was a short distance when all of a sudden there was a loud noise and the ship shook. Someone later on told me that the doors lifted about a foot off the deck and fell back down. When I ran back up I saw the doors were still open and the Locks were engaged in the ‘Lock’ position.

I found that the Safety Switches on the lock handles that were suppose to cut the power were not working. Someone had locked the doors in the OPEN position which I always had them UNLOCKED for an EMERGENCY closing.

The one cable that closes the door was forced to the limits. It lifted the doors and snapped. A new cable was installed but I was ordered to rewind it on the Motor Pulley and fix it. Boy! Did I have a time making the doors ‘meet’ just right in the center. I made sure those door locks were UNLOCKED before I closed them again!

I’ve heard a few stories (sic) on No. 3 Elevator…one about the car that was damaged!!!

I was the Hangar Bay Operator of Elevator No. 3 and it can’t be moved with the help of the ‘A’ Division crew. They had to give me power to move it and all they had to do was open valves to get the fluid moving when I used the Manual Handle to raise it, lower it or fold it with full power.

When I heard the order over the P.A. system ‘Emergency of Raising the No. 3 Elevator’ I ran up and low and be-hold, it got this Ford car by the roof and was dragging it along the dock.

It stopped when it hit the mooring head, and the Elevator just cut it open even before I could get it up.

At that time, I was laughing inside…not to let anyone see me laughing…for I could have been put on report.  I read one person said it hit a fire plug!…I have to disagree…there wasn’t a fire plug to be had where we where. I’ve been called the ‘Car Killer’ from a lot of shipmates and many other things even to this day…OH! TO BE AN OFFICER AND PARK ANYWHERE!!!…It WAS an Officer’s car.

At one time, I was a Plane Pusher, like so many of my fellow shipmates in the V3 Division. The Division Officer at the time was Lt. Smith…Well!…he took me off of the Plane Crew and moved me to Safety Man when planes were being moved around in the Hangar Bays…then…when at sea we had some rough weather.

When moving a plane the ship was rolling and I blew the whistle to stop the plane but it was to late…the plane moved to the side with the front wheel off the deck and hit another plane’s refueling…Well!…the Nozzel went right in the center of the “O” of the 3 number of the planes nose (a Cougar)…the No. could have been ‘206’. That was my short lived Safety Man’s postion!

I remember all of this even if it has been years back and I must say there were a lot of other things that went on but who can remember them all. At our ages we’re lucky to remember anything!!!

I’m still in contact with a few from V3 Division to this day. But, many have passed away that I know of and may they Rest in Peace.

By going to reunions, my wife Marylou and I have met a lot of other great people from WWII and later until Intrepid was retired.

As a FCM, I plan on going to as many reunions before I won’t be able to anymore…at least…if more reunions are scheduled!



FCM Richard Oberheim, V3 Division, ’53-57

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  1. Greetings! Very useful advice within this article! It is the little changes that make the largest changes.
    Thanks a lot for sharing!

    • Jeannette, thank you for you comments, but I have a question! Within the notice I received of your ‘comments’ being submitted to my Blog (ref: Hanger Deck Fresh’ie) there was also a showing of the following …”HANGER DECK FRESH’IE My first time in a storm… When I joined the Navy in 1953, as like others, I went to boot camp at … “. I am curious as to what the rest of this particular comment was or did you inadvertently ‘submit’ your comment prematurely? I anticipate your reply, and I will be glad to post on my Blog. You can reply back to cv11texfcm@gmail.com . Have a great day.


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