The most southern leg of the summer cruise would see the ships rounding the southeastern tip of Cuba and putting in at the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.  "Gitmo," as it is often called by sailors, is reputed to be the, "oldest U.S. base outside the continental United States, and the only one in a country that does not enjoy an open political relationship with the United States."  But the summer of 1955 was a relatively more innocent time.  This was a few years before the Castro takeover of Cuba and many years before it would gain questionable international notoriety for its prison.  For a group of Damato Midshipmen winding down their summer of training at sea, the few days at Gitmo was time to enjoy the tropical warmth and potent Cuban beer.


Sighting land after weeks at sea was welcomed, but the Cuban landscape was stark compared to the Scandinavian country we had seen earlier.

In the harbor, three of Keith's midshipmen friends strike a pose in front of the Damato's forward gun turret.

Soon it was time to go ashore, have some meals & drinks, explore the base a bit, and find photos ops -- not much else to do.

The most popular photo op prop was this old shore gun that must have had some serious history to let the barrel sag like this.

Here Keith & a fellow Damato midshipman strike their unoriginal pose on the gun.

Going back to sea and on the way back to Norfolk, Virginia, Midshipman Norris (?) stands ready by the ship's bell.

With the training cruise over, Keith would board a train that would take him from Virginia back to California.  However this time he would take the southern route and get a dramatic and memorable education about segregation and racism in that part of the US . . . but that is a different story.      Keith resigned his Navy appointment and did not return to UCLA, enrolling  instead in the smaller Chico State College.

Back to 1955 Cruise Index

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