Articles

U.S. ships in World War II had 'phantom decks'

While the U.S. was lucky to fight World War II away from its shores, that meant it had to move massive amounts of supplies across the ocean.


With German submarines sinking American vessels and shipyards busy rebuilding the fleet after the Pearl Harbor attacks, America needed a creative way to pack as much gear on each ship as it could.

P-47s arrive in an Irish port while riding on a meccano deck on a tanker in World War II. (Photo: Government Printing Office)

Enter the "phantom deck," also known as a "skeleton" or "Meccano" deck. Developed by the West Side Iron Works, these decks were frames built on top of the normal top deck of the ship. This allowed the vessel to carry up to 10 percent more cargo.

The decks were normally about 8 feet above the original top deck but could be as high as 15 feet. Separate platforms were bolted to holders to make the deck, and pad eyes were welded on so that cargo could be tied down.

Planes stacked on the false deck of a liberty ship. Photo: Government Printing Office

The platforms were built so high to allow any large waves to wash across the original top deck without knocking cargo from the skeleton deck. The ships rode lower in the water due to the additional weight, and so were more vulnerable to waves.

While the modifications were originally introduced on normal cargo ships, they eventually were fitted onto tankers and any other large vessels making the trip across the ocean. The platforms and pad eyes could be quickly removed if the ship needed to be reconfigured or the platforms were needed on another vessel.

Tankers were generally kept in the center of a convoy so that they were better protected. So, additional cargo space on those ships was especially valuable.

(Photo: The Mast magazine, April 1944)

More than 600 tankers received these false top decks and shipped over 20,000 aircraft to Britain in the final years of the war.

Because of the salt water, vehicles and planes on these false decks had to be coated with heavy lubricants or other chemicals to prevent corrosion. Before the Army learned this lesson, many of the tanks that arrived in theater needed extensive work to remove rust before they were fit for service.

When the war ended, the need for phantom decks subsided and the temporary innovations were removed.

History

That time US troops found 200 tons of stolen Nazi gold

In the closing months of World War II, the defeated Nazi Army scrambled to hide the hundreds of tons of gold they had despicably stripped from various nations during their occupation. As they hurriedly stashed their ill-gotten gains, they were unaware that the Allies were drawing near.

Keep reading... Show less
Articles

How R. Lee Ermey's Hollywood break is an inspiration to us all

While there have been many outstanding actors and celebrities who have raised their right hand, there has never been a veteran who could finger point his way to the top of Hollywood stardom quite like the late great Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee Ermey.

Keep reading... Show less
Lists

10 military spouses you should unfriend on Facebook immediately

Often, there comes a point when people decide to give their Facebook friends list an overhaul.

They completely change their social landscape online by avoiding accepting friend requests from certain types of people, and they give their current friends list a good, hard scrub.

Everyone has their reasons. Maybe they're doing it for security purposes, or because a handful of people's posts drive them crazy or they want to keep a more professional profile. Military spouses in particular might do so because they want to focus on positive, stress-free relationships – that is, the ones that bring wine, wear sweat pants, and check judgment at the door.

Keep reading... Show less
GEAR & TECH

This JASSM variant could replace the Harpoon

For a long time, the AGM-84/RGM-84 Harpoon missile has been the primary anti-ship weapon of the United States military. Over the years, with improvements, it's successfully held the line. But, as is perpetually the case, time and technological advances have forced the U.S. Military to look for a missile with even more reach and punch.

Keep reading... Show less
Entertainment

7 Marvel Cinematic Universe movies to watch before 'Infinity War'

Not planning a two-day Marvel Cinematic Universe marathon right before seeing "Avengers: Infinity War?"

Nobody has time for that.

To accommodate fans who want to freshen up their knowledge, we collected a list of the most essential MCU movies to watch right before you see "Infinity War," which is scheduled for release April 27, 2018.

Keep reading... Show less
Military Life

7 drill sergeant sayings that really mean, "you're screwed"

Every recruit needs to make it through Basic Training before they earn the right to be called Soldiers. Drill sergeants have just two goals: to break the civilian out of their platoon and to give recruits a crash course in military lifestyle.

Keep reading... Show less

Strange reports in Saudi Arabia spark rumors of a coup attempt

Twitter and news outlets came alive with spotty, unconfirmed news reports of an incident in Saudi Arabia that some sources were describing as a possible "coup attempt." There has been no official verification of significant or organized action in the region and no reports have surfaced as of 00:30 Riyadh time on the BBC World News, but the volume of Twitter reports and private messages received by this reporter seem to indicate an incident of some significance.

Keep reading... Show less
GEAR & TECH

The F-35 has a fatal flaw that makes it vulnerable to F-22 tech

Lockheed Martin, the leading manufacturer of stealth aircraft in the world, proposed a new hybrid between the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning on April 22, 2018, for Japan to purchase, and it could easily outclass the US Air Force.

Japan has, for decades, wanted in on the US Air Force's F-22, a long-range, high-capacity stealth fighter that perfectly suits its defense needs, except for one problem — the US won't sell it.

Keep reading... Show less