February 2002

 

THE HISTORY BEHIND THE EARLESS BLACK CAT

As told by Joe Colson

The following occurred while undergoing ship repairs in the graving dock at Sasebo, Japan, in 1962.

Jenkins, Quartermaster First Class, was designing a plaque for the Constant. He came up with a black cat sitting on a mine with the motto, "WE LEAD THE SHIPS THAT LEAD THE FLEET." It was cast and the ship’s plaque was put on the quarter-deck. Several patches were also made and I was lucky enough to get one.

A couple of weeks later, Jenkins painted the black cat emblem at ground-level on the graving dock, at the top of the first set of steps, leading down. ( It was approximately 40 feet to the bottom of the dock made up of 4 sets of stairs.)

The following weekend, on Saturday evening, we had our ship’s party in town. After the party Dale Hines, Boiler-tender Second Class and some others were playing at the top of the dock. Everyone started running toward the stairs to go down to where the ship was docked. Hines ran off the top and fell to the bottom and was killed. The site he fell from was just above the Black Cat emblem. Because of this terrible accident, the ears of the Black Cat were painted over and the ears on the ship’s plaque were ground off. From then on, any patches made after the accident had the ears trimmed off, also.

And this is the history of the Earless Black Cat Patch.

Courtesy of Charles Eaton.

 

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