Saturday, January 17, 2009

U.S. Navy M1 Repair Party Helmet


This sailor coming down the ladder means some shipmate's about to be rescued from a very dangerous situation.

When there was fire or flooding aboard ships of the United States Navy it was the job of the men of the repair parties to save the ship. And the helmet they wore from 1942 until the early 1990s was the good old McCord M1.

The standard M1 shell painted red and labeled with concise information regarding the number of the team or repair party locker that the team was operating out of.  The larger the ship the more repair lockers and parties.

This photograph is from the 17th edition of the Bluejacket's Manual, the traditional handbook of the American sailor for over a century.   These black and white photos were copied from my BJM from 1970.

The sailors in this damage control party are preparing to enter a burning space.  Hoses are charged and at the ready, the men are wearing OBAs (oxygen breathing apparatuses) and are crouched below the smoke and heat level ready for the leading petty officer to undog the watertight door and send them in.  Although every sailor was trained for this duty, the shipboard parties were comprised of specialists, hull technicians, and damage controlmen.
Every other sailor, not a part of the party, stands by as a ready labor pool to be utilized as needed.


Damage Controlman

      Hull Technician

Nearly all repair party helmets were equipped with battery-powered helmet-mounted lamps.  Often these provided the only illumination in a space in which flooding or fire had shorted out the electricity.

The waterproof black hose connects the wiring from the headlamp to the waterproof battery box.

The battery box clipped to the sailor's belt.  This is a typical WWII repair party M1 in all respects.

This rear view provides a glimpse of the battery box and also identifies the helmet as belonging to repair party two, and stowed in repair locker two.  The repair lockers were located in strategic areas of the ship and were completely redundant in equipment.

Though not brilliant by the standards of today's technology, these little headlamps did help save ships for over 40 years.

This battery box is well marked, another in my collection is not.

Clearly marked "OFF", whatcha call "sailor proof".

Note the original green corked finish under the thick layer of sand and flat red paint.

Marking on the rear of the helmet.

A similar helmet I'll be posting at another date is a "REP-3" helmet (and now you all know what that means).   Marking the helmets in the rear made it handy to keep track of who was who in a smoky chaotic situation.

Close up of the front seam on this earlier M1.

You can just make out the heat treatment numbers.

This model has the swivel bales,

and some pretty "salty" (literally) hardware.  Seagoing M1s could be exposed to a lot of salt spray and corrosive powder smoke.  While I was on destroyers, I seldom saw a pristine M1.

The marking "UNIT 22" causes me to think that this helmet was from a larger ship.  The sooty grime and firefighting foam residue on the surface also leads me to believe that it has seen action.

These were the good guys,

and this trusty M1 was their helmet for nearly half a century.

See you next week with another Navy M1



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Mannie Gentile said...
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