USS SLC...Enlisted Navy...Charles Klouck, Rate Unknown
Feb. 6th, 2003
Plank Owners of the USS SLC
Letter found in SLC Memorabilia written to Paul
Grevencamp on June 19, 1985
Dear Mr. Grevencamp;
Thank you for your good letter and its enclosures, which I have read with keen interest. It
is obvious to me the SALT LAKE CITY Association is a highly viable group.
I reported to the Receiving Station, Philadelphia, as a member of the pre-commissioning
detail in September, 1929. The detail rapidly grew in numbers until it became a sizeable
detachment. At the same time the USS PENNSYLVANIA BB38 entered the shipyard to undergo major
modernization and the PENNSYLVANIA’s crew required basing ashore. There simply was not the
space available in the RecSta for both crews. As a solution, sometime during the fall of
1929 (after the weather had turned cool) the SALT LAKE CITY's pre-commissioning crew was
moved aboard the old, decommissioned, hospital ship, USS MERCY for berthing purpose. A rather
small donkey boiler was provided at the dock to supply heating but it was totally inadequate.
I can only remember that is was C-O-L-D!
Naturally, we were all happy on commissioning day, Dec. 11, 1929, when we could move on board
the ship. I do not recall when we first got underway after commissioning, but I do recall
that we made a short voyage to Newport, RI and shortly thereafter had a fire break out on the
boat deck which caused minor damage. Thereafter we returned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard
for repairs. Some time after new Years 1930 we departed on our "Shakedown Cruise", with
ports of call in the Virgin Islands and at Rio de Janeiro, and Bahia, Brazil. The visit at
Rio coincided with the big annual Mardi Gras festival, which we all enjoyed very much. At
that time, Americans (USA citizens) were not very popular in Latin America and as I recall we
were not exactly welcomed by the citizenry of Rio, but it involved nothing more than
occasional insulting remarks.
Upon completion of the Rio de Janeiro and Bahia visits we went to Guantanamo Bay followed by
a voyage to New York City where the entire US Fleet was gathered and the city gave us all a
most happy and memorable reception.
At that time, the main US Fleets were the Battle Fleet, consisting of BBs, CVs, and SS and
based in the San Pedro, Lon Beach, San Diego areas; on the East Coast was the Scouting Fleet,
consisting of CLs, CAs, DDs, SS, and three OBBs, the ARKANSAS, WYOMING, and TEXAS. The TEXAS
flew the flag of CinCUS and spent most of its time on the East Coast with occasional trips to
the West Coast.
The SALT LAKE CITY was going to be an East Coast based ship and I had formed a negative
opinion of East Coast sailoring. I knew that the USS TEXAS was making one of its periodic
trips to the West Coast and when a Radioman from that ship visited the SLC looking for a
swap, I promptly offered to swap ships with him. I managed to clear the red tape details at
my end and the swap of ships was made. It worked out well, as when the TEXAS joined the
Battle Fleet in Seattle Harbor in the summer of 1930, I was able to manage a transfer to the
USS NEW YORK which turned out to be a fine ship.
So, although I was not for long a member of the SLC's crew, I do remember the ship with
affection. And when
John & Elaine Greksouk mentioned in a recent letter that they were going to San Diego for the dual purpose of attending the reunion and to visit with one of their sons and his family.
By way of further clarification of the make-up of the Scouting Fleet, the CLs were all of the old four-piper cruisers (except the USS OMAHA which was the flagship of Commander Destroyers, Battle Fleet) and at the time that SALT LAKE CITY joined the Fleet, she was the first of the new treaty cruisers, quickly followed by her sister, USS PENSACOLA and the six ships of the Northampton class. Afterwards, towards the mid-30s the Scouting Fleet was transferred to the West Coast and re-designated as the Scouting Force and the Battle Fleet, then became the Battle Force. That was long ago and I fail to recall anything approaching exact dates.
Very best regards,
No family contact at this time.