Library - Reading Room

Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!

Connie Sailors Refuse Duty

132 men including 10-20 whites were removed from the USS Constellation after blacks demanded an investigation into procedings to give general discharges to blacks. The ship was under pressure to transfer or discharge 250 men due to overcrowding. This condition was thought to be a personnel fuck-up.

The brass was trying to get rid of blacks by using their low Quarterly Marks. (Quarterly Marks are efficiency ratings which are done semi-annually.) This rating system is completed by high level brass unfamiliar with the caliber of the workers. The brass were giving general discharges to blacks who had nearly finished their three years of service, and who, aside from their Quarterly Marks, had good work records.

The minority challenge to the Captain of the Constellation began on Friday, October 3 at 8:00pm when approximately 80 blacks gathered on the mess decks demanding an audience with the Captain. By the next morning, nearly 500 had accumulated and the Constellation was ordered to port with the excuse that the water supply was low (this is a lie since they had left with 3216 and landed with 67% capacity). The human relations committee had managed to urge the Captain to show, but his piggy attitude hardly assuaged the men's anger.

132 "trouble makers" were removed and are presently being held in non-disciplinary status; possibly awaiting general discharge. The men believe that the 10-20 whites were included to dilute the obvious racial implications of the action. These whites were people with UA and drug histories, and the brass wanted to get rid of them. There was no indication of any organized support of the blacks' protest by the whites.

The Captain told the 130 men that he wanted them to be back on board by 8 am Thursday. The 130 sailors mustered at the pier. In a demonstration with about 100 supporters they refused to go back. They demanded among other things, that they be allowed to stay on shore and get their problems solved. The Captain negotiated with the men and their lawyers, backed down and agreed to let them stay on shore. However, 120 of the men are being given Captains Mast for their unexcused absence from duty.

Camp News, vol. 3, no. 2


© 2005 Displaced Films. All Rights Reserved