and then Fraser lost her mast."
by Shipmate Jim Robertson
"I am turning downwind to retrieve my mast" came the flashing light signal from HMCS Fraser to the senior ship in the 2nd Canadian Destroyer Squadron at 0700 on an early February morning in 1959. HMCS Crescent, a WWII designed and built "C" class destroyer was that senior ship with Captain Pratt commanding the ship and squadron. I was the junior signalman on watch that quiet morning somewhere in the Central Pacific enroute from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to San Diego, California. The sea was very calm, the weather slightly overcast but expected to be bright and sunny into the forenoon watch and the squadron was lolling along minding its own business and then Fraser lost her mast. On Crescent the junior sig's watchkeeping station was on the open, or "flying" bridge, in all kinds of weather and for the usual four-hour watch save for the dog watches. The lookouts, often enough only one, spent but an hour in the elements before being relieved to slouch around somewhere below decks, warm and cozy and able to get a cup of "kye" or coffee at will. Not so the brave signalman on watch: that poor wretch had to endure the entire watch subject to the vagaries of the weather.