Accommodation ladder (and whaleboat) watch

On the U.S.S. Chicago, there was a ship’s whaleboat, a small motorboat that was pointed at both ends (we carried several on the ship) which ran regularly between the Broadway Pier and our ship when we were in port in San Diego. We went down an “accommodation ladder,” which was a narrow flight of portable steps, from the side of the ship to the whaleboat. The watch officer for this entrance was generally a Second Class Petty Officer like myself, so it was easy to pass the inspection for exiting the ship if I took the whaleboat. No problems with my beard!

In my early days on the Chicago, I often was assigned to the accommodation ladder watch which served the whaleboats. Not many people used the accommodation ladder and the whaleboats came by very infrequently. So I had a lot of time to watch the seagulls flying overhead, and to observe the boats on the bay. There was no one who was watching over my shoulder, as there would have been if I were on the fantail watch or the quarterdeck watch. The main problem was helping people to transfer from the bobbing whaleboat to the more stable Chicago. The accommodation ladder moved with the big ship, and the little whaleboat had a different rhythm.

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