Bill Lockie LCDR/USN/RET
“The Golden Rivet”
After visiting this website and reading some of the stories of shipmates I decided to add one of my own.
I guess anybody that has been in the Navy for some time has heard the mythical tale of the “Golden Rivet”. I searched the internet for this subject and here is what I found…..
The "mythical" last rivet used to complete construction of a ships hull. "Boots" were often sent into the bilges with a can of "Brasso" and a rag to seek out the "Golden Rivet" and polish it.
THE GOLDEN RIVET
An old mythological story was that one of the rivets in the lower parts of the ship's hull was made of gold. The golden rivet is as fabulous as the Key of the Starboard watch and a Hammock ladder and, like them, has covered many a new entry with confusion.”
As part of the pre-commissioning crew I was in San Francisco Shipyard (Hunters Point) getting things ready for when we would take DLG-23 to sea. There were Ship’s Regulations to write. The organization of the crew. The gathering of all the NovOrd manuals and inserting change thereto. And a host of other duties.
We did not have any other duties after work so a number of the officers would retire to the Officer’s Club for relaxation. We played liars dice, ate peanuts and pretzels and played other bar games. Eventually we noticed that there were about five officers that were almost always there. The Chief Engineer, LCDR D.K. Barnes, the Main Propulsion Assistant, Ensign Larry Lake, the Supply Officer, Lieutenant Don De Shaney. The Electronic Material Officer, Lieutenant Junior Grade, Jesse Armstrong and myself the Fire Control Officer, Lieutenant Junior Grade Bill Lockie.
With a lot of time on our hands we naturally told sea stories and thought out loud about something that would make a mark and maybe outlive ourselves.
We wanted to do something like sailors did when the Frammed destroyers got the tripod mast. They would put coins under the legs of the mast before it was welded down. It was supposed to bring “good Luck” to the ship. Sailors are such a superstitious lot.
Don De Shaney was the commissary officer at Hunter’s Point before being assigned to Halsey so he knew a number of the people assigned there, namely the dentist.
So we decided to bring reality to the mythical “golden rivet”. We would place a real “golden rivet” somewhere in the bowels of Halsey and not tell anybody where.
So Don De Shaney talked to his dentist friend and arranged for him to fashion a quarter inch rivet about three quarters of an inch long from small bits of gold he had saved from each procedure he did in the dental office. When he was finished we, the group, would place the rivet in some inconspicuous spot deep down in the bilges of Halsey.
It was some time before commissioning, in 1963, that the rivet was finished. We five took a quarter inch drill and bit and went down to the forward pump room where D.K. Barnes proceeded to drill a hole in the bottommost I-beam on the ships centerline. It took some time and he had to be relieved by Larry Lake but the hole was finally through. It was a simple matter to insert the rivet and peen it into place. In the meantime we had the shipyard make two brass plates with inscriptions on them. One of the plates was affixed to a place adjacent to the installed rivet. Probably never to be seen again. The other plate was affixed to the forward bulkhead in the crew mess hall. It had the date the rivet was installed and the names of the above five officers. The plate was inscribed something like….”on this day a “golden rivet” was installed on USS Halsey in a place unknown to anybody except to these individuals.” Then the names of the above mentioned officers were inscribed.
A few days later the brass plate was removed from the forward bulkhead of the crews mess hall never to be heard of again. There was a rumor that at the direction of the Executive Officer, CDR. E. West, this was done. However, none of the five knew for sure. We thought that maybe because we didn’t include the Captain or Executive Officer in our little caper the plate was removed.
THE BRASS PLATE WAS GONE BUT HALSEY STILL HAD A “GOLDEN RIVET” IN PLACE.