Were Shunned Sailors Banished to a ‘Red Seat’ Aboard the USS Slater in Albany?
A vital and historic piece of World War II history sits in her glory, restored and anchored in the waters of Albany's Hudson River. The USS Slater DE 766 in fact, is the only ship of its kind to remain afloat in the entire USA. But until recently, nobody talked about why one of the seats inside the ship is painted red, yet all others are painted black. What's the seedy story behind the "red seat" on the USS Slater?
During WW2, The USS Slater was one of 553 Destroyer Escorts that was used to battle Nazi U-boats on the Atlantic as well as Japanese submarines and Kamikaze airstrikes on the Pacific. Its sole purpose was to protect our men and protect our cargo, and The USS Slater was one reliable and powerful ship.
Today, the USS Slater sits in the waters of the Hudson where it's viewed and toured by thousands of people every year. In fact, Tripadvisor lists the tour of the ship as the #1 "Thing to Do in Albany."
According to a recent USS Slater Facebook post, an interesting urban legend popped up within the Historic Naval Ship Community about the single "red seat" on the ship.
According to the legend:
"Old troughs had one seat painted red for use by Sailors with sexually transmitted diseases. We are beginning to have doubts about this legend. We've researched loads of original instructions, and can find no reference to Red Seats."
Imagine being on a Destroyer in the middle of a war and being called out by your fellow shipmates for having the clap?
While there doesn't seem to be any official historical data backing up this claim, there are numerous reports spread across the internet that suggest that the red seat was indeed a way to keep those with "crotch crickets" from spreading their STD.
But it is believed to have been a red-painted toilet seat, not a seat in the deck. If you're to believe this unconfirmed story, that red seat shown in the photo would be to "hide the sight of blood from the wounded and to help keep them from going into shock."
So maybe it's true, maybe it isn't. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Either way, it makes for a great conversation piece to add to the lore of this historic ship that sits in Albany with endless stories to tell.