Red Headed Stepchild
(The Barrett family memoir of Navy Life)
by Sophie Ruth Meranski with photos


Jack Barrett in his office in charge of Branch Naval Hydrographic office New York l940 p 39 #941
Jack was stationed at New York Branch Hydrographic Office September 1939 through June 1940 and replaced retiring Captain Baggaley in charge spring l940. He considered his promotion to Commander an "Irish promotion." as he was scheduled for retirement June l940, but all retirements were cancelled June 1940 because of Woirld Wai II emergency. Charts and weather information were made available not only to Navy ships but to commercial ship captains of all nations, who in turn submitted information the Branch Office collected on winds, weather and hazards to navigation, including wartime mines and military operations, which were forwarded to the Hydrographic office in Washington, where Jack's old friend Gershom Bradford was editor of Naval Hydrographic Office "Notices to Mariners." In the spring of 1941 Jack was consulted by Charles Edey Fay of Connecticut, who had access of Atlantic Insurance Company records of the disappearance of the five man crew of the New Bedford fishing schooner MARY CELESTE November, 1872. Fay wanted Jack's interpretation of certain navigational notes of the MARY CELESTE near the Azores. He suggested the crew suddenly abandoned ship and got into small boats because they feARED AN EXPLOSION OF ALCOHOL VAPORS FROM CARGO. Gershom Bradford published in American Neptune magazine his theory that waterspouts are frequent near the Azores in November - local severe tornados that draw water and sometimes fish high in the air and threaten small ships. Jack kept four of Fay's letters from around the time the Barretts left for Pearl Harbor mid-l941. The Branch Hydrographic office was in the New York Customs House but had to be relocated - Jack helped obtain an accessible new location where sea captains would continue to find visits convenient, as their information was often useful to the Navy. Jack's former teacher at Revenue Cutter School Captain Dempwolf United States Coast Guard considered the issue important and worte letters supporting many commercial shipping companies in keeping the office at a convenient location. This was one of many contacts Jack Barrett maintained all his life with friends from Revenue Cutter School l909-l911, which became modern Coast Guard Academy.The motto of the Coast Guard was "Semper paratus" - Jack applied this motto in his efforts to avert the Pearl Harbor disaster December 7, l941.
Subject: {J}Commander Jack Barrett in charge at New York Br
Year: 1940