One of the "snipes" from the engine room came back on board from liberty two nights before our scheduled departure with a little too much grog under his belt, grabbed a hammer and began smashing gauges down below in the engineering spaces. Before he could be restrained, he had done a pretty good bit of damage, enough, it turned out, to delay our departure another two days, giving us Christmas Day in the States. Of course, the hammer‑wielding snipe was slapped into our makeshift brig‑‑the peacoat locker‑‑but to many, he was an unsung hero.
It can now be told: Something of a Keystone Kop episode happened in the process of carting the malingerer down to the peacoat locker. Having recently reported aboard, Lt. Joe Meridith, who was the OOD that night, had his .45 drawn as he marched the culprit down the narrow ladder. The lanky Meredith's foot slipped and the pistol went off, ricocheting the slug around the steel plates below. No one was hurt, however, only Joe's pride.
With the gauges replaced and shipshape, the STEPHEN POTTER eased out of its berth just before 16:30 on December 26, 1943, into the bay, and slowly glided under Golden Gate Bridge. A small delegation of officer's wives had gathered on Telegraph Hill to catch a glimpse of the ship as we sailed off to win the war in the Pacific. Ship's log records that as we steamed out of San Francisco Harbor en route Pearl Harbor, Captain Crichton had the conn and Lt.(Jg) A.C. McDearmid was the COD.