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“Fight Her Till She Sinks, And Don’t give up The
Ship” Lawrence, U.S.N.
ABANDON SHIP DRILL
As in every drill you must know your station and the equipment to take with you. Every man is assigned a station and given responsibility for certain gear. This will differ with every boat. The following is set down in order to emphasize several essential points and matters in the procedure known as Abandoning Ship.
The prime rule is: Don’t give up the ship. If it is impossible to get your boat off a reef, it should be blown to bits. Leave nothing for the enemy. Demolition outfits should be on each boat. Learn how to use it. Above all, understand the difference between the time fuse and instantaneous fuse. The latter called Prima Cord (white or light core) burns at the rate of 20,000 feet per second. They are distinguished by the color of their cores. The importance of knowing the difference is too obvious to explain here. The time fuse (black or dark core) burns at the rate of 30-40 sec. per ft., thus 50 feet of safety fuse give you about 25 minutes to get away. Another distinction is that the time fuse is ignited more easily with a match than the prima Cord. Prima Cord usually requires a cap to ignite it.
Wearing of life jacket is a natural precaution. Everyone wears a jacket on patrol. Slipping on deck, stepping on loose expended shell casings, and sudden jolts have flung many PT men into the sea. Such an accident is well to discuss here for it is in fact abandoning ship, though involuntarily. Each man should prepare himself for this possibility. Be prepared. Have your life jacket on, have attached in some manner, a small flashlight waterproofed with rubber sheaths, whistle, a mirror, and your 45 caliber pistol strapped on loaded with a clip of 34 caliber tracer. A knife should always be carried on your person. If so equipped and you fall off over the side you have a variety signaling gear with which to attract attention to your plight and your position. Stay in the boat’s wake and in the same spot, if possible, and start whistling and firing your tracer. The boat on hearing or seeing the noise or flashes will immediately reverse course and pick you up.
It will be unusual for you to go out on patrol alone. There is generally another boat in your vicinity to give assistance. It is possible, though for both to be disabled at the same time and both must evacuate.
As a rule your boat will be fairly close to land if you meet disaster on a reef, from the shore guns, plane bombing, or naval gunnery. To reach land all you need is a fairly accurate knowledge of your position, a compass and a chart or map. The officer in charge should give the general course, south or NE or W, etc, to the base or friendly shore. Then if separated each can strike in the proper direction. It is best to stick together, however, for in numbers there is greater safety. Each man on board will be responsible for certain kinds of gear to haul along. A list can be made out from the following, but first let us go through the whole procedure.