Sea Stories

Part One

Issac Paul Perkins, 1908-2002

Issac Paul Perkins, 1908-2002

“In the fall of 1939 I was transferred from Industrial Salesman to the Virginia Division of Standard Oil of New Jersey (Esso) to Washington, D.C. to serve as representative of our New York Sales Engineering Division to the federal government agencies, including the military. A most interesting part of the Washington work was the solicitation of launching lubricants at U.S. East Coast ship yards. In view of the European war and the possibility of our involvement, Walter D. Lee, manager of Sales Engineering, foresaw an increase in ship building in this country and requested Standard Oil Development Company to place highest priority on formulation of superior launching lubricants.

An in-depth study of launchings revealed that launching lubricants (base coat and slip coat) should possess certain properties to perform well. The Esso laboratories formulated top quality Esso Basekote, consisting of modified petroleum waxes and Esso Slipkote, a special lime soap grease. I was invited to many launchings and it was a genuine thrill to see the ship slide smoothly down the ways and into the water…. The Navy Department could rely on Basekote and Slipkote to get their ships in the water, and these products were a real credit to the Esso brand.”

-Isaac Paul Perkins (1908-2002)


“Her red and gray hull looming high over the navy yard, the North Carolina is under a 24 hour guard, maintained by yard police and marines, who have been assigned to guard against sabotage.”

-New York Times, June 9, 1940


Souvenir pin from the launching ceremony

Souvenir pin from the launching ceremony


“The whole state of North Carolina feels real pride in this colossal battleship. Its very power is fascinating. The ship commands our respect and it will help us to command the respect of the world. It speaks a language even a dictator can understand. It represents another effort of our great nation to provide us an adequate defense.”

-North Carolina Governor Clyde R. Hoey





Part Two

Launching – June 13, 1940

“I definitely have a memory of attending the launching of the Battleship in June 1940 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard when I was eight years old. I recall a clear day with bright sun bathing the starboard side of the hull resting on the slipway where my parents and I stood about midway down the vessel’s endless length. She rested on a forest of wooden supports about a foot square and four feet long. Workmen were knocking some of them out. The slipway was covered with a carpet of grease, yellow-orange in color, three to four inches thick. The dull red lower hull bulged out and then in again to where it met the thin black waterline. Above that the smooth gray hull stretched to the sky. Ceremonies were going on at the bow, out of sight to me.

A worker with a sledgehammer stood next to each of the remaining wooden supports and when a great shout went up each of them knocked out his block and the hull began to slide toward the water at my left. As it picked up speed the grease seemed to start smoking. As the bow went past we could see the anchor chain being picked up and pulled along. That would stop the ship someone said. Just before we left I was hoisted up onto the slipway and told to stand on one of the wooden blocks, now lying flat, while a picture was being taken. It was a big step up for an eight year old.”

-Herbert Turkington who attended the ceremony


“Mud boiled from the bottom of the Wallabout Basin yesterday; tugboat captains in the East River held down their whistles and 50,000 persons cheered as the battleship North Carolina slid down greased ways at the navy yard in Brooklyn to her first taste of the salt. The 35,000 ton ship-newest and greatest of the world’s ships of the battle line-was only about 75 percent completed as to hull, less than that as to machinery, at her launching, and it will require more than a year to complete her. But there was grace in her long lines and a tremendous impression of strength in the huge bulk of her…. There are many innovations in her construction-most of them closely guarded naval secrets.”

-New York Times, June 14, 1940