The China Fleet Country Club has a remarkable history.

Here’s the basic timeline of one of my favorite places. 🙂

1901 – The mudflats of Victoria Harbor were bought for $2.50 per square foot by a Hong Kong businessman who began charging for tipping rubble from the growing colony.

1903 – The land began selling for $25.00 per square foot. Short of buyers for the land, the businessman joined with the personnel of the Royal Navy’s China Fleet to raise funds for a Royal Naval Canteen.

1929 – The canteen proved to be extremely successful and was soon demolished to make way for a new building.

1933 – Using the club funds and with a generous loan from the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank; Admiral Kelly, Commander in Chief, China Station, laid the foundation stone for the seven-story China Fleet Club building. For the men who served on the China Station “The Old Blue” as it was known provided a place for refreshment and decent accommodation away from their crowded ships.

1941 – During the battle for Hong Kong, the Japanese occupied the Club using it as the Navy HQ.

1945 – The Club was extensively refurbished and returned to its former use after the Royal Marines and Royal Navy liberated the colony.

1950-53 – During the Korean War, the Club became a major rest and recreation center for the UK and allied Sailors.

1959-73 – During the Vietnam war allied and American Sailors used the club extensively between tours of duty boosting club profits.

1980 – Land values escalated and the trustees sold the air space over the Club. A developer paid for temporary facilities while building a new luxury club on the first nine floors with 14 more floors of office space above.

1985 – Fleet House opened and because of the agreement to hand back Hong Kong to the Chinese in 1997 the search began for a suitable successor to the China Fleet Club in the UK.

1986 – A proposal to build the China Fleet Country Club at Saltash in Cornwall was put to the Hong Kong Sailors Committee and Trustees.

1987 – The feasibility study was approved by the Hong Kong Sailors committee, the land was purchased and design of the complex began.

1989 – Building work began on the 180-acre Saltash site.

1991 – The new China Fleet Country Club was officially opened on June 1st along with its prestigious golf course. The designer of the golf course was Dr. Martin Grant Hawtree who worked on the controversial course for billionaire Donald Trump in Scotland.

1992 – On 30 November 1992 the Hong Kong China Fleet Club closed its doors for the last time ready for the Chinese takeover of Hong Kong. Me in middle 1967 USS WHITFIELD CTY LST 1169 HONG KONG

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Unauthorized Absence

Unauthorized Absence

By Garland Davis

Ike was a Commissaryman, a career Third Class. He had fifteen years in and could retire in another six years. It’s not tha he wasn’t ambitious. He had made Second once, had even took the test for First, but had been busted to third before the results came back.

I was the night baker and Ike was a Watch Captain on one of the Galley watches. We had nothing in common. Ike was in his thirties and I was a seventeen-year-old kid, just out of boot camp. He was my friend for a while. I sometimes went drinking with Ike. He knew places where the bartenders weren’t interested in checking my ID card.

After the ship deployed, he took me under his wing and taught me the ropes in Westpac. He introduced me to the world of dive bars and the PI Wedding Night with the meter running.

After we returned to Port Chicago, the Chief closed the Bakeshop and bought bakery products from a civilian bakery. I was moved to Ike’s watch so the other cook could go on leave.

As cooks, we didn’t stand duty in a duty section. We could go ashore every night if we desired. I usually stayed aboard when Ike and I had to cook breakfast the next morning. Usually, it was me doing the cooking while tried to beat a hangover or sober up napping in the bread room before the Chief arrived.

A couple of weeks after I moved to the galley Ike went UA. We had breakfast the next morning and I decided to stay aboard. I was saving money to go home. I had orders to a Navy school and could get thirty days’ leave before reporting. Ike borrowed ten bucks from me and left with BM3 Pico for the Bank Club.

I cooked breakfast and dinner by myself the next day. No Ike! Actually, he and Pico were gone for 21 days.

When they reported back to the ship Ike told me that he and Pico had caught a ride to Oakland. They drank up all the money they had and mugged a drunk sailor to get money to pay their fare back to the ship. He told me a cop was chasing them and they ran into a rail yard and hid in a boxcar.

The train started and didn’t stop or slow down enough for them to get off until somewhere in Montana. He said they worked odd jobs to get drinking money and bus fare back.

I made third the day Ike was busted to Seaman and sentenced to thirty days in a Red Line Brig. I transferred before he returned to the ship.

I sometimes wonder whatever became of Ike.


Pearl City Tavern

Pearl City Tavern

As early as the 1960’s the Tavern became known as the Monkey bar. The monkey cage was outside with a long glass viewing wall behind the Bar, and was lighted at night. The monkeys would do what monkeys want to do, including rub one out onto the glass, so your wife or date needed to not be easily offended.

The Tavern opened in 1939 and it closed in the mid ‘90s.. Following the Attack, the Tavern served sandwiches and lunches to shipyard workers repairing the damaged ships and port facilities. A lot of history there.

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By John Petersen

Back aboard, yet again. She doesn’t get underway for at least another six hours, maybe a couple more, yet her mission cannot be fulfilled if I’m not here early, I need to ensure she’s ready to go at a moments notice. Gave the wife a kiss, and one lightly on each sleeping child, and silently slip out the door, hoping traffic is light so I can make it to the ship on time. Already have everything I need stowed away in my rack, so I’m good.

Got to the ship early, gives me some time to put a few things away, the photo album, the snack stash from the wife, good luck charm from my daughter who knows I’ll be away for a long time. Had the good fortune to enjoy some midrats, and after a plate of sliders and fries with some cherry bug juice, I’m ready to go. A few minutes on the fantail, and down to the hole I go.

No sooner than I hit the deck plates I hear the order given over the 2JV from main control to light fires. My watchstanders are on deck, as top watch this I’m required to ensure, therefore as fires are lit on the other side of the bulkhead we are making preps. Cracking condensate drains, ensuring lube oil flow in sight glasses on the mains, bringing up the evap as steam pressure builds to feed hungry boilers. Main and aux steam lines pound angrily as they heat up, steam begins to replace water in the drains. Bring up the SSTG, performing the overspeed trip as required, maintain vacuum by feathering the gland seal at .5 to 2 psi. Within two hours, the shift from shore power to ships power. Just the beginning of a long six-hour watch, hours before she gets underway.

Dawn is upon her, her shadow grows small. Illumination gives way from fluorescent to natural, throughout this luminescent transition those not already aboard do so, rested and eager to go. A good healthy breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast, life is good for those who made it aboard before the brow is lifted. All the lights and air conditioners and computer screens work as they expect, for without their proper planning and plotting our job would be nothing more than practice. Yet that is not our concern, we are the heartbeat and life’s blood of her, and without us we go nowhere, we’ll steam inport indefinitely if needed.

We’ve performed every check required, spun the mains both forward and astern per the SOP; ensured proper flow in all lube oil sight glasses, we’re ready to answer all bells. Hearing the call over the 1MC, “Underway, shift colors”, our lives take on a completely new level of business. This is the real thing, shipmates, no time for lollygagging or horsing around. In this engine room, the six of us are the ones who will make this girl go forth, to answer her orders. From now until we embrace our loved ones again, we’ll rely on our brother BT’s on the other side of the bulkhead to give us steam, so that we may push this ship continuously forward, give those above decks fresh water to drink and ensure proper hygiene, and above all else keep the lights on and radars going. In return, we will not allow the Evap’s to salt up, for in doing so will shut down the boilers, therefore rendering this ship useless. Not gonna happen on my watch.

I am the top watch. I am the one that is looked upon to ensure that this engineroom runs as efficiently, safely and smoothly as would be required. I am the one that knows that each of my watchstanders; messenger, lower level, upper level, evap, throttleman, the lone electrician off to the side, is fully trained and aware of the responsibilities they are entrusted to perform. I give my knowledge to them knowing that, with this knowledge, they will have the experience and fortitude to, should the need arise, save not only themselves but all of his or her shipmates. They will have gained through my endless training and required answers the ability to one day lead a group of snipes in their own engineroom. It is my responsibility, and mine alone, to guide my young and eager snipes and mold them to become a shadow of myself, For if I, the topwatch, should ever fail in my duties, so then will those who look up to me, and in the end the mission of this ship will fail as well.

I, for one, as the top watch, flat out refuse to allow this to happen. Can’t wait to get home! I own my engine room, I will make her sing!

MM1 Petersen


Covid19 and the Asia Sailor

Covid19 and the Asia Sailor

By Garland Davis

Over the last few days, I have seen a myriad of doctors and politicians on TV and read numerous articles telling us of the precautions we must take to prevent catching the common cold. Of course, they also work for Corona Virus (Covid19) which is, you guessed it, another iteration of the common cold.

I have put together a sensible list of precautions to take to prevent a cold and, of course, Covid19. I guess they are also effective for the first 18 Covids.

1. Avoid contact with others as much as possible. I try to limit it to my wife when she delivers my sammiches to my den and picks up the empties. Lock yourself in the head while wife cleans your den. Recommend that you take a good book. It may take some time for her to cool down,

2. Avoid crowds unless it is absolutely necessary like, you know, when your beer supplies or stock of toilet paper get low.

3. Ensure your wife wears a facemask and medical grade gloves when she is preparing your sammiches. Caution: This may cause some slight grumpiness on her part.

4. If you are not as prepared as me, move a reefer into your den. Make sure everyone knows it is for chilling your beer and should not be contaminated by storing foodstuffs. Caution: If your wife is Japanese you will find Natto, pickles, and pots full of leftovers when you wake up from your naps. The only advice I can give is, “Learn to live with it.”

5. If your home has more than one head, designate one of them for your personal use. If your home only has one head, I recommend contracting for a Port-a-Potty in the yard for the wife and kids to use. If you live in the country just tell them to shit in the woods.

6. Alcohol based hand sanitizers. Don’t believe the marketing hype that sanitizers must be 60% alcohol. Everyone knows that alcohol kills disease thingies (aren’t you impressed by the medical jargon I use) that make you ill. Hangovers are the result of your body attempting to rid itself of thingy corpses. So, drink copious amounts of alcohol based drinks. A good, or whatever you can afford, 100 proof whisky, whiskey (there that should placate all you frustrated spelling bee champions) chased by a 4.5% alcohol beer will keep the disease thingies under control. This method has been tested and perfected by “Mac” McAllister and your esteemed author over many nights of long distance experimentation.

I recommend that you do as I have and designate your den the Moderation Room. That way you won’t be lying when you assure your doctor that you, “Drink in Moderation.”

Don’t believe those on Facebook who tell you that hand sanitizer can be made from vodka. That is just a waste of vodka. The only way it can sanitize your hands is if you clumsily spill it on them.

If you take these few precautions, you may still catch Covid19, but it won’t be your fault and you won’t give a fuck.

Then again don’t do any of this shit. Just live your life as you always have. As a shipmate so succinctly put it, “Don’t stop living to stay alive.”


She and San Miguel

She and San Miguel

By Garland Davis

Well, here I go again

Savoring that Shit River wind

Waiting for liberty to go down

Made it up Cemetery Hill

Hell bent on getting down

To the lights of Barrio town

Cause she and San Miguel drive me crazy

Tonight, I have the Pesonality

I think this night might kill me

Once is one time too many and twice just ain’t enough

Thirty days and nights

Putting up a fight on that gunline

Subic is there with Shit River on the wind

It’s not easy to forget

Her face the morning I left

I swore I’d make it there again

When it comes to San Miguel and her

Oh, the damage she can do

It’s always her favorite sins that do me in

Once is one time too many and twice just ain’t enough

Never enough, she and San Miguel


USS San Jose AFS-7

USS San Jose AFS-7

By John Petersen

She was no Battleship, not by any stretch of the imagination. She wasn’t a Super Carrier, a sleek Frigate or Destroyer, nor a guided missile toting Cruiser or unseen sub, though she most likely dreamed of being such. Yet she was the unsung heroine, there at all times along with her stablemates of the auxiliary fleet, at the ready to ensure those big carriers and other fierce and stealthy ships were always fueled and full of needed supplies to fulfill their duties. She steamed the oceans continuously, a quick stay inport to load up, then back out to to replenish her warriors. Tired as she may have been at times she never stalled, for she knew what was required of her, and she, along with a dedicated and seemingly tireless crew, gave everything to keep going. And going. Life in Engineering was no picnic, as I know life in any other of departments were, but it was a challenge, to say the least. I miss her, as I’m sure all who’ve toiled aboard her do, she was and will always be a part of my life that will never be forgotten.

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