USS Carson City and the U-boat killers

The USS Carson City's portrait somewhere in the Pacific Ocean displaying her camouflage paint. The camouflage paint disrupts an enemy from obtaining an accurate fix when viewing the ship through a periscope for a torpedo attack.

The USS Carson City's portrait somewhere in the Pacific Ocean displaying her camouflage paint. The camouflage paint disrupts an enemy from obtaining an accurate fix when viewing the ship through a periscope for a torpedo attack.

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Carson City citizens, here’s your pop quiz for today. In the 50 United States of America, how many states have a community called Carson City? The correct answer is three. For a total of 100 bonus points, name the states. If you named Nevada, Michigan and Mississippi, you remembered what you read from yesterday’s reading assignment.
As soon as Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939 the United States began preparing for war. On Sept. 16, 1940 the Selective Service required all men ages 21-45 to register for the draft, our first peacetime draft.
In 1940, 1 million men were drafted into the Army for basic training. Before the draft our Army was smaller than Albania’s army. Without using “Hey Google” can you name one country Albania shares a border or its capital? Albania borders Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Greece. The capital of Albania is Tirana. Are any of those countries on your vacation radar?
In early 1942 the U.S. Navy began awarding contracts to shipyards to construct a total of 100 Tacoma class patrol frigates. Our Navy needed “sub killers” to locate and destroy enemy submarines so convoys could dock and unload their vital cargo in a UK port in order to supply the Allies with everything needed to defeat Germany, Italy and Japan, the Axis Powers.
Who controlled the North Atlantic shipping routes for the first three years of World War II? Nazi submarines, U-boats. U-boats received hero’s celebrations when they returned to their home port. During the entire war, the Allies lost a total of 3,500 merchant ships and 175 warships compared to 783 U-boats (80% of their U-boats) and 47 Nazi warships. Most of the Allies 3,500 merchant ships were lost in those first three years of the war. In the UK food supplies were at a critical level, close to the point of starvation.
FYI the Tacoma class of patrol frigates were named after small cities across the 48 states. (Alaska was admitted into the union on Jan. 3, 1959 and Hawaii on Aug. 21, 1959.) Can you guess for which city PF-50 was named? The ship was named for Nevada’s capital, not the Carson City in Michigan or Mississippi.
On Dec. 29, 1940, in a “fireside chat” radio broadcast almost a year before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, was the first time President Roosevelt referred to America as “The Arsenal of Democracy” against the Axis nations.
Did you know that on Nov. 1, 1941, 37 days before the U.S. Congress declared war on Japan, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8929 moving the USCG from the Department of Revenue to under the command of the U.S. Navy?
How do you distinguish between an enlisted Navy sailor and a Coastie by his uniform? The enlisted Coastie “wears a single gold shield on the outer right sleeve of Dress or Service uniforms 4” above the cuff centered between the front and back creases. Like their commissioned counterparts, Warrant Officers never wear a CG shield as a sleeve device on uniforms that call for Shoulder boards.” Now you’re almost an “old salt.”
On Dec. 8, 1941 Hitler ordered Nazi U-boats to sink any ship flying “the stars and stripes.” Three days later Germany officially declared war against America. The same day Congress voted to declare war on Germany. There weren’t any no votes in the U.S. Senate nor the U.S. House of Representatives.
I entered my teen years in 1954 and remembered being told by several of my relatives stories about American merchant ships being torpedoed within sight of the Massachusetts coast at night during the latter part of December 1941 and into 1942. The flames from the explosions were seen by my relatives from the local beaches. In a day or two, cargo and dead bodies of American merchant sailors would wash ashore. Suddenly the war wasn’t thousands of miles away, it was off our shores.
In fact, during the war, 73,000 U.S. merchant sailors lost their lives when Nazi torpedoes sunk our merchant ships. If a merchant sailor was in the frigid North Atlantic waters for 15 minutes, he became a permanent resident in “Davy Jones Locker.”
PF-50, the USS Carson City, was built in the Consolidated Steel Corp., shipyard in Wilmington, California, west of the city of Long Beach. She was sponsored by Mrs. C. B. Austin, launched on Nov. 13, 1943 and commissioned on March 24, 1944 to serve in the Pacific Ocean where she earned two Battle Stars, a proud lady.
On Aug. 26, 1945, PF-46, the Bisbee, PF-47, the Gallup, PF-48, the Rockford, PF-49, the Muskogee and the Carson City, PF-50 were decommissioned and lent to the Soviet Union. The Carson City was renamed EK-20.
Anyone familiar with dealing with the Soviets, once an item is in Soviet control, the return of that item is a drawn-out process at best. EK-20 was returned to the USN on Nov. 1, 1949, more than four years later, at Yokosuka, Japan.
The USS Carson City served in the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force as JDS Sakura from 1953-1971. The Carson City municipal government proudly displays the ship’s bell and commissioning pennant in the City Hall.
FYI my dad, Art Beaton, was 20 years young when he enlisted in the USCG in September 1936 and retired as a CWO-2 on Oct. 31, 1956. Before enlisting in the Coast Guard, he served 18 months in the Civilian Conservation Corps in East Jaffery, N.H.
My parents were married in December 1937, four years before I was born in 1941. I served 15 years as a Coast Guard brat.
In 1943 Dad was ordered to the Leathem D. Smith Shipyard Co., in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin to be an original crew member of PF-67, USS Peoria. Mom and I arrived within days after dad in Sturgeon Bay. The Peoria was launched on Oct. 2, 1943, sponsored by Agnes Renolds and commissioned on Jan. 2, 1945 in Houston.
The Peoria’s first assignment was to be one of the U-boat killers escorting a convoy across the Atlantic. Mers El Kebir, Algeria was their first port of call. I have to share with you that my mom had to know where her husband and her sons were at all times. All mail was read and censored from American men serving in the military. You couldn’t write home and share where you were located, security reasons. So, dad sent mom a picture of him riding a camel which solved the problem, where’s Art Beaton instead of “Where’s Waldo.”


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