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. . . lights out. I didn't know what had happened, whether we had struck a mine, been bombed, or torpedoed. I finally groped my way through utter darkness to the ladder and to my cabin. I stood there in the dark for a moment wondering what the hell I was supposed to do. I thought of putting on my tin hat, but abandoned that idea in favour of one suggesting that I go and ascertain what the hell it was all about.
Going out on the forecastle deck, I found a group of men in various stages of undress, many without shoes, and many with life belts. Evidently preparing to abandon ship. It seemed, however, that all that had happened was that we had got a sub contact and dropped a depth charge. So I went to bed.
Feb. 22. Jose, a Filipino mess attendant, gave me a hair cut. He has been in the Navy fifteen years, joining up at Caviti. Has one brother in the US Army and two in the Philippine Army. His young wife and his parents are in the Philippines, and he has had no word from them since the war started.
Slowed down to seven knots for two days by adverse currents. We had been making between nine and ten knots, which is about the limit of what the Shaw could safely do with only one screw. But that was six or seven knots more than we had been led to expect that the Minneapolis could make. We were a fine bunch of cripples, with the McKean about ready to fall apart from old age. Had we run into a Jap task force, or even a couple of determined subs, we should have been easy prey.
Feb. 23. Crossed the Equator at 9:26 PM. It was too dark to see it. I have now crossed the Equator twice; but have not met Father Neptune, thank the Lord.
Feb. 24. At 11:20, while I was reading in the wardroom and waiting for 11:30 and dinner to happen, the order came over the loud speaker: "Stand by for depth charge attack!" I ran up ladders to the bridge as fast as I could go - which wouldn't have set any world record. We were circling at 15 knots - the best we had done yet. But there were no further contacts. After dinner I started a murder mystery story to pass the time. None of those I had read had enough corpses to wholly satisfy me, so I decided to write one myself. When it was finished, it had fourteen corpses, including that of the author.
Feb. 25. Good News! We had escaped adverse current, and were making 9.1 knots. Two PBY's came out from Palmyra to protect us. The waters from here on in to Pearl are considered exceptionally dangerous. Late in the after noon the destroyer Boggs joined us, coming from Palmyra. She will accompany us to Pearl.
The McKean fueled at sea from the Mississippi. It was done without reducing speed, the ships moving at identical speeds about fifty feet apart. A boom from the battleship held the fuel pipe over the destroyer.
After Croft took our position this evening, he said that our ETA was Tuesday, March 2nd. ETA = Estimated Time of Arrival.
Feb. 26. One of the planes towed a sleeve target, and all five ships fired at it as it passed them. The Minneapolis fired when the target was between her and the Shaw. We were directly in line of fire, and the tracers passed close above us. They told me ships and men are occasionally hit at target practice. I watched our starboard 20 mm gun fire, and then Croft suggested we go down and play bridge.
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