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Battle Practice 50 Years Ago - 1939
USS Mojave CG

By Lieutenant Colonel Ted Allan Morris, USAF, Retired

Aboard the USS MOJAVE CG, the designation given to what would now be called USCGC MOJAVE.

This ship was one of four sisters: the TAMPA, MODOC, HAIDA, and MOJAVE.  Built- in 1921 at Oakland, CA, these ships were named for Indian tribes.  Displacement was about 1800 tons, 240 foot length with a 39 foot beam.  Powered by a 200 KVA electric motor turbo generator which was driven by two Babcock and Wilcox boilers.  A single screw could push her along about 15 knots.

USS Mojave CG, 1939 a Tampa Class Coast Guard

USS Mojave CG, about 1939
(click on the picture for a larger version of this photo)

In 1939 the MOJAVE mounted two 5 inch 51 caliber guns, one forward and one aft.  One 3 inch 50 caliber gun was also mounted forward.

The accompanying photos show the forward 5"/51 cal. gun during battle practice offshore from Egmont Key in the Gulf of Mexico sometime during the summer of 1939.

The gun captain is Chief Boatswain Mate Earl J. Morris.  He recalls they were allotted ten rounds, three fired to starboard, three to port and three over the bow.  The final shot could be in whichever direction the crew believed they could get the best score.  Notice the absence of any protective battle gear and the interested onlookers.

Mojave forward 5-inch gun.  Target is to port.  Note the "interested onlookers".  Gun is in full recoil.

The 5"/51 was a bag gun, the projectile was loaded and rammed home, the bags of powder were loaded behind the projectile.  The gun captain then inserted the detonator and closed and locked the swing breech.  Note the ramming rod held by the rammer crew member and the package of detonators in the left rear pant's pocket of Chief Morris in this photo of the shot to starboard.

Over the Bow.  Gun starting recoil.

The MOJAVE was homeported in Miami, Florida, during the nearly 5 years Chief Morris was assigned (1938-1942).  Two Commanding Officers were CDR ABEL and CDR WHITBECK.  Some crewmates from those days were Chief Gunners Mate Edward MacLean (later 1,T CDR, now deceased), Seaman First Class Stephen L. Lvon (now retired CWO) and Seaman First Class J.C. Entrekin (note retired AD1) to whom I am indebted for these photos.  For a Crew Photo taken in Miami Beach, February 11, 1939, CLICK HERE.

Miami, Florida, may have been homeport but during 1940-41 the MOJAVE .was assigned to the U-S.  Neutrality Patrol and later Weather Patrol in the North Atlantic Ocean.  The photo shows the forward gun while the bow takes the sea during one of those patrols.

Chief Boatswain Mate Morris's nearly 24 years of service included the days of the Prohibition War on board the Coast Guard Destroyers DOWNES and FANNING and duty with the "sixbitter fleet" - on CC 100, 290 and as officer-in-charge of the CG 105, 145 and 193. lie was medically retired in 1944 in charge of the Coast Guard Recruiting Office in which he had originally enlisted in Minneapolis, MN.

USS Mojave CG Crew Roster, circa 1939

Copyright 2000 by Ted A. Morris