The Shake Down Cruise

After the commissioning, the plank owners and the new crew members reporting aboard became familiar with their new home and their duties as destroyer men. Stores and ammunition were loaded for the first cruise. The ship was ready for sea duty and the shake-down cruise to test her power plants, guns and torpedoes and to train her crew in their routine duties, as well as their assignment and training at a General Quarters station in preparation for combat. The Special Sea Detail was ordered to prepare the ship for leaving its mooring. The BRAINE slipped silently from its mooring, got underway and sailed out of Boston Harbor toward the Atlantic Ocean. The first day the BRAINE sailed to Casco Bay, Maine near Portland to test for power and maneuverability.

Men from small towns who had never seen the ocean were awed by its beauty and vastness and soon learned to respect her power. As the engines revved up to flank speed the BRAINE crashed through the sea with water boiling up behind her. The first signs of sea sickness appeared among the green crew. Tests were conducted daily and the ship returned to anchor every evening.

The crew members were assigned to their watch station and their General Quarters station. While at sea, the crew stood watches at their assigned station for four hours with eight hours off during which time they performed the regular duties of their rate, took care of their personal hygiene or slept.

Although some men were assigned a General Quarters station connected with the duties of their rating, most were assigned some other station. The strong, husky men of any rate were usually assigned as loaders in the ammunition magazines or the main battery handling rooms and turrets. Others were assigned as spotters for enemy aircraft, damage control parties and manning the smaller 40mm and 20mm anti-aircraft guns.

One duty from which there was no exemptions was the loading of ammunition and stores. Lines were formed and the powder charge and projectiles were passed along to their final location. The loading of food stores was handled in a similar manner, but occasionally a case of pineapple or pears would disappear down a hatch to the engine room.

After several days, the BRAINE departed for Bermuda for additional testing and training. The first morning they heard for the first of hundreds of times the irritating bleating sound, designed to break through the deepest sleep--the call to General Quarters for dawn alert.

The men would scurry through the passageways and up the decks colliding with each other. It took a few tries before they learned that to go forward on the starboard ladders and deck and aft on the port side. The two weeks in Bermuda were spent on intensive training of the crew. Testing and training of the ship’s armament consumed hours of time. Planes hauled a target drone for anti-aircraft practice.

For the first time the thunder of the five inch guns were heard as they were tested and the handlers drilled in their operation. Other gun crews were trained on the twenty and forty millimeter anti-aircraft guns. Crew members stationed inside the ship (in the engine and fire rooms, the radio shack, magazines, etc.) soon learned to identify the different sounds of the guns.

The torpedomen soon put to use their school training on the actual firing of practice torpedoes. They were so good that they fired a dummy torpedo into a sister ship. Spotters were trained on the bridge to spot and identify various types of enemy aircraft. New officers learned and practice navigation skills and manning the conn--the responsibility for operation of the ship underway.

After completion of testing in Bermuda, the ship returned to Casco Bay. The Captain had been alerted to the operation of German submarines in the area and proceeded north with caution in the company of another destroyer. During a mid-watch a surface target appeared on the radar and the crew went to real General Quarters for the first time. The target did not respond to a radio or signal light challenge . With guns loaded and tracking, the BRAINE closed to 4000 yards and illuminated the target with searchlights. A very scared and mad merchantman was revealed.

As the ship passed between the two destroyers, the merchant captain cursed us and told us to turn out the goddamn lights before the Germans got us all. Fortunately for the two green crews of the destroyers, it was not the enemy. This is the first report of “enemy action” for the BRAINE but it was never entered in the logs.

The BRAINE then proceeded on to Casco Bay for more testing and training. The BRAINE returned to the Navy Yard at Charlestown in Boston for additional outfitting and loading of stores in preparation for her trip to the Pacific and the unknown hazards that lie ahead.

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