Dry Dock Fishing at Pearl Harbor

All Hands Magazine May, 1946


While technically neither R&R (this was assigned duty) nor Humor, it just seems to fit in this category.  It is difficult to tell who is laughing more or having more fun: the sailors doing the 'fishing' or the spectators who are cheering them on. 

Credit for this page is to be shared:  It was first sent to me by Tom Coulson EM2(SS) USS Batfish (SS-310) 1954/1957 who also credited it to New Jersey Tin Can Sailors, CMD Jerry Stone.   As it turns out, the full text ultimately came from the All Hands page on the website, which has every issue archived in PDF format.  There is a link at the bottom of the page for further All Hands reading.

"Dry-dock fishing" was the term attributed to the activity of clearing the fish that were trapped in the dry-dock after it was closed.  As the water was pumped out sailors went in to 'wrangle' the fish using any method they could, including dip nets, dragnets and even their bare hands.  Take note of the price paid for fish at the time and the sizes they caught.  At the time, the record was 500 fish, with the largest weighing 70 pounds!

dry dock fishing


fishing 1

Pearl Harbor dry dock workers using dip nets and dragnets to capture elusive fish trapped when dry dock is drained.  With fish selling for .40c to $1 per pound on Oahu, it is a profitable sideline for shipyard workers.

fishing 2

Floundering fish can be seen in the open grating in the lower right hand corner of the picture on the left.  The workers are unmindful of the wetting they take as they gambol about for the prize fish at 60 feet below sea level.

The first "issue" of All Hands was printed as the Bureau of Navigation News Bulletin No. 1 (dated Aug. 30, 1922). Twenty years later, the title was changed to Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin. As America claimed "Victory in Europe" on the cover of June 1945, the magazine's new banner read, All Hands, and the name stuck. In January 2003, a two-year project was completed that archived every back issue (more than 80 years worth) in Adobe Acrobat® format.

The above story was actually an excerpt from the full issue of May, 1946.  All issues going back to 1922 can be seen here.

Related link: Full issue of All Hands Magazine from May, 1946