About Naval Reservists and Naval Reserve Ships

(Pre 1995)


Note: This is about the Naval Reserve Ship program during the '60s, '70s and '80s.  The program has changed a bit since then.

There were basically two types of reservists;
  1. Ready Reserves  - Those on regular drilling status and belong to specific reserve unit.
  2. Standby Reserves - Those who were not required to perform training nor be part of any specific unit. They did, however, create a pool of trained individuals who could be readily mobilized, if necessary.
The US Navy had reserve centers all over the country where Ready Reservists would attend one evening drill per week or one weekend drill per month, depending on the unit.
(A drill is four hours long.  Some units drilled once per week.  Some units drilled on weekends where a drill weekend had 2, four hour drills per day.)
(reservists were paid one days pay per drill and drills accrued retirement points)

Additionally, in certain ports, there were Reserve ships.
On the west coast there were Reserve destroyers in Seattle, WA, Tacoma,WA, Portland, OR, Long Beach, CA and San Diego, CA.  There were also Reserve minesweepers in Seattle,WA, Tacoma, WA, San Francisco, CA and San Diego, CA.   For a short time there were also Reserve amphibious ships in San Diego, CA.

Reserve ships were manned and maintained by active duty personnel at about 2/3 (or less) of the normal compliment.
The rest of the ship's compliment was made up by the SelRes (Selected Reserve Crew).  As the name suggests, it was a Select Crew.
The requirements were;
1.  The reservist should live within 50 mi of the reserve ship's home port.
2.  There must be a billet available for the reservist's Rate/Rating.
3.  The reservist must be selected to fill that billet.
The SelRes drilled one weekend each month aboard their ship with the regular crew, often with an extra Friday night drill.  The idea was that, if mobilized or a national emergency, it would become a fully trained ship with a complete crew, ready at a moments notice.
The down side was that the SelRes only drilled one weekend each month.  For the rest of the month the ship carried on with an undermanned crew and, although not deployed overseas, the ship often spent a lot of time underway without the reserve crew.  The regular crew was required to "cross rate" and learn each others job, filling in as needed.  I once had four General Quarters stations, depending on the GQ condition - I was a sonar operator in Sonar Control, or I was technician in the sonar equipment room, or I was the POIC (Petty Officer in Charge) of the upper handling room of a 5 inch 38 gun mount or I was a QMOW (Quartermaster of the Watch) on the bridge.

All reserves are required to have two weeks of AcDuTra (Active Duty for Training) each year.  This can be performed almost anywhere, but usually it was aboard a reserve ship.  Reserve ships would set set out on Summer Cruises, touching port and switching out reserve personnel every two weeks.  Each work center hoped that at each swap out, they might get qualified reserves to help out.  Sometimes there was - sometimes not.