Construction and Commissioning

The Bureau of Ships contracted with Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine to construct several Fletcher class destroyers including Hull 630. The Bath Iron Works is steeped in history of ship building. In 1607 the first U.S. Merchant Marine ship was built in Bath. In 1777 the U. S. Navy was launched there with the construction of an 18-gun sloop commanded by John Paul Jones. The present Bath Iron Works was founded 1884 and soon developed a reputation for excellence in "Bath-Built" ships. They constructed many Fletcher class destroyers in World War II and was selected to build the first of the latest destroyer design--the Aegis missile destroyer the USS ARLEIGH BURKE -DDG51 class, named for the famous commander of the World War II Destroyer Squadron 23, “The Little Beavers”.

The keel for the USS BRAINE-DD630 was laid at the Bath Iron Works on October 12, 1942. Accelerated construction continued until launching on March 7, 1943. During the construction period, the assembly of officers and crew began.

The first officer to report was Ensign Arthur F. Moricca, a graduate engineer of Rennsalear Polytechnic Institute. The first Commanding Officer, Commander John F. Newman, Jr., USN soon reported to Bath. He was followed by officers Ensign John D. Hotchkiss, Asst. Engineering Officer; Lieutenant John T. Evans, First Lieutenant; Lt(jg) Henry J. Watters, Communications Officer; Ensign William M. Eastman, Supply Officer; Lieutenant George W. Montgomery, Gunnery Officer.

The new officers and crew observed the construction of the ship to become familiar with the its components and operation. Although it was winter, the crew members enjoyed the serenity of Maine and the delicious sea food served in the many restaurants in the area.

On a crisp and breezy winter Maine day with ice still on the river, the sponsor’s party assembled. Mrs. Daniel L. Braine, Brooklyn, New York and wife of the grandson of Admiral Daniel Lawrence Braine, USN for whom the vessel was named, wielded the bottle of champagne. With traditional words, Mrs. Braine christened the new destroyer UNITED STATES SHIP BRAINE - DD630 and launched her into destroyer history.

As the ship came to rest in the middle of the Kennedec River, it was obvious that there was still a lot of work to be done before the BRAINE could join the fleet. Installation of boilers, turbines, electric panels, gun mounts, communication and navigation equipment, as well as all the items to accommodate the crew’s living quarters.

Meanwhile, in Boston, Massachusetts, the first roster of officers and crew were assembling. The core of the crew were old men of twenty-five, battle-hardened veterans of Coral Sea and Guadalcanal. Newly commissioned officers fresh from college were being trained in navigation, gunnery, communications and engineering.

Around the country in training schools, men were being trained for special ratings--Radar men, Gunners Mates, Torpedomen, Machinists Mates, Water Tenders, Quartermasters, Cooks and Bakers, Radiomen, Yeomen, Sonar Operators and Electricians. Recruits from Great Lakes, Sampson and Bainbridge Boot Camps were getting their first look at a destroyer. They would soon develop the rolling walk that proudly identified them as Tin Can Sailors.

On 11 May 1943, after two months of additional outfitting at the Bath Iron Works, the USS BRAINE - DD630 embarked on a short voyage from Bath to Boston, manned by the skeleton Navy crew land construction workers (including some women) from the Bath Iron Works.

In the afternoon of May 11, 1943,. at 1500 at the Charlestown Navy Yard, in the shadow of the USS CONSTITUTION and Bunker Hill, the United States Ship BRAINE - DD630 was commissioned. The Captain of the Yard turned the ship over to her first Commanding Officer, CDR John F. Newman, Jr., USN. The Ensign, the Jack and the Commission Pennant were hoisted and the first watch set.

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