GENE SLOVERS
US NAVY PAGES

Battleship USS Missouri, Mighty Mo BB-63,

Holystoning




 

Holystoning"Holy Stone is actually soft sandstone, a sedimentary rock formed by the consolidation and compaction of sand and held together by a natural cement, such as silica. Holystone is all one word in the USN and you really don't want to be the one doing it.  When you Holystone Teak you use liberal amounts of sea water. (It's only done in peace time.  During WWII the decks were painted deck gray, which is really a dark blue, to camouflage the ship from air attacks.)  After holystoning the teak becomes sort of ashen white and it's really pretty. Our shoes had black rubber heels and you could put a black mark on the teak. If you did, you damn well better not let a boatswain see you or you would be doing hours of holystoning."    Gene

The teak decking used on the US BB's is 2" thick which is an old dimension from when a 2 X 4 was actually a 2" X 4" measurement. All other boards were measured the same. In the USN the teak is bolted to the steel decking and the nut and washer are recessed into the teak and a teak plug goes over the nut. The natural oils in the teak make it pretty weather resistant and it is also a very good insulator against heat. Footing is good on teak and is used extensively on sail boats for that reason.

Teak has and retains for a very long time a very nice aroma and this makes it a prime wood on cruise ships as well as cruise ship decks. Thus the high usage of teak makes it come with a high price as well in to days world. Even though teak has natural oils a ship at sea has much salt water which the teak does soak up and this swells the teak and keeps it tight fitting. Left in the sun and little water the teak will shrink and become loose.

The USN applied the teak directly to the steel decks and the oils in the teak keep the steel from rusting. In areas such as the bridge the teak is usually put together with about 1 inch spacing and is lacquered. It is in sections and is installed so there is about a 1 foot space below it for sea water to run off. The sections can be lifted to clean underneath. The quartermasters keep this teak polished and waxed. The gang planks and landings are also made this way. The spacing in the teak in these areas is a bit hazardous to women's high heels. Some of the women that the officers brought aboard sometimes lost 1 or more of their high heels on a few ships I was on. I suspect that caused a bit of a problem for the relationships and I always had a good laugh about that. 

Another source of teak from older battleships was that the side armor was frequently backed by several inches of teak. This was certainly true of many of the British ships of the WWI era. I note that in the diagrams of the JNS Kirishima the side armor was backed by 50mm (2 inches of teak). Since the Kirishima was built to a British design, it is most probable that teak backing for the armor was used on other ships built during the same period. In addition to its hard wearing and weathering properties, teak in warships has another big advantage, anti-microbial. Teak oil has antibiotic properties, so teak splinters do not tend to become infected, whereas wood form oil poor woods do. Many carpenters work on renovating old wooden pieces and oak is very dangerous, indeed most European woods are dangerous to work with in the case of splinters; teak isn't. Gene


2 minute video