Care of Fleet Post Office
New York, New Youk

31 October 1962


This "Familygram" is our of keeping you informed of the current whereabouts of your fiance, son, or husband, aboard the U.S.S. ALTAIR (AKS-32), Service Force, Sixth Fleet, and to provide a summary of information about the different places he has been. Also highlighted are the aims, missions and accomplishments of this great Navy of ours in the Mediterranean.

During the last month we have made a fairly complete tour of the Mediterranean, coming to port in seven different cities, in four different countries. To start with, we were in our homeport of Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona is the capital of the province of the same name, and the principle city of the region of Catalonia. It has a population of over 1,500,000. It is situated between the Besos and Llobegat rivers, with the Montjuich and Tibidabo (1,745 feet) rising behind it. Barcelona is a typical European city with its narrow, winding streets in the old quarter, and handsome boulevards in the modern part. Scenic areas are provided from the Ramblas to the central Plaza de Cataluna, the heart of the city, for those who enjoy sightseeing and picture taking. We generally spend about 25 to 30 percent of our time in Barcelona. The remaining time is spent replenishing the Sixth Fleet and anchoring at other ports around the Mediterranean.

After Barcelona we went to Naples, Italy, situated in the compartment of Campania on the western shore of Italy, 135 miles southeast of Rome. The city occupies one of the most magnificent sites in the Mediterranean, providing an area of scenic beauty and great historic interest. It is the second largest port and third largest city in Italy, with a population of 1,131,386. Some of the places of interest to the men have been the ancient ruins of Pompeii, or the tremendous volcano, Mount Vesuvious, with a cable car journey to the top. Others include: Herculanean, Paestum, Sorrento. Amalfi, Salerno and the beautiful islands of Capri and Ischia, all close enough for the men to visit.

Next stop on the journey of foreign countries of the Mediterranean was Athens, Greece, a major port in the Mediterranean. Many of the men had enjoyable times seeing the historical ruins which were once the buildings of the great writers, philosophers, playwrights and artists whose works are the foundation of the western culture and society. Athens is the capital of Greece and is situated at the southern end of the plain of Attica. The city is admirably situated: Ringed by a semicircle of protective mountains, it opens up onto the Saronic Gulf, with its excellent harbors and stratagic position on the main trade routes. The modern city, like the ancient, is built around the Acropolis and has a population of about 1,500,000.

Leaving the mainland of Greece we journeyed about 260 miles in a southeasterly direction among many picturesque islands to Rhodes, Greece, an island lying 16 miles off the coast of Turkey. Rhodes, the largest of the Dodecanese Islands, has a population of 28,000 and , like the other cities of the Mediterranean, has an interesting history as shown in the ancient buildings, statues, etc. The weather, as usual, was beautiful, so many of the men rented bicycles and rode up and down the hills sightseeing and taking pictures of the historical city. Many of the men went swimming in the famous blue waters of the Mediterranean along the many beaches of Rhodes. We found the people there very friendly and we feel confident our visit led to a better understanding between the Greeks and Americans.

Suda Bay, Crete, was our next stop, not very far southwest of Rhodes. The Suda Bay area consists of an important base of the Royal Hellenic Navy, a small commercial port and the two towns of Suda and Cania. Again we see the remains of the historical past. From 3500 B.C. to World War II the protected harbor and surrounding area have been the battle field of many different countries. Many of the men took pictures from the ship of the old fortresses on the steep mountains surrounding the bay. The various inexpensive shops in Cania gave some of the men a chance to make some terrific buys.

For the next week we remained at sea replenishing the ships of the Sixth Fleet, after which time we returned to Naples for a few days. During the rest of the month, while at sea, we replenished and were replenished by other ships, but during this one week period every month the Service Force replenishes thy entire Sixth Fleet. These replenishments are the life blood of the fleet and furnish the combatant ships of the Sixth Fleet with all the necessities of human life and material readiness. Food, Clothing, Repair parts, ammunition, oil and gasoline are examples of the tremendous supply of goods issued to the Fleet. The ALTAIR alone supplies the fleet with 20,000 different items. The replenishing is done while the ships are underway, thus allowing the Sixth Fleet to remain independent of all shore based facilities. By this means of replenishment-at-sea, the Sixth Fleet remains a highly mobile force ready at all times to be of assistance wherever needed.

The British Crown Colony of Gibraltar, a fortress and naval base situated on a peninsula at the eastern end of the Strait of Gibralter, was our next stop. It occupies an area of about two square miles and has a population of about 28,000. A narrow strip of land called the Neutral Ground connects Gibraltar to the mainland of Spain. Over this strip of land thousands of troops have marched in fourteen different sieges of the Rock. Many of the men took a tour of the 1,396 foot rock, seeing the Moorish Castle, the Upper Galleries, St. Michael's Cove and the "Barbary Apes". Gibraltar, being a free port for many items, provided an excellent chance to do some shopping. From Gibraltar we traveled up the eastern coast of Spain to our homeport of Barcelona, the origin of our month long tour of the Mediterranean.

As your can see, it has been a wonderful cruise for us. We meet many different people from many countries and see their varied ways of life, thus broadening each of us to a better understanding and cooperative spirit toward these people and their countries. the President's People-to-People Program is advanced tremendously by the friendships of Navymen with the people of these lands, and rightly so, in this troubled world of today.

I hope your fiance, son, or husband on board the ALTAIR has been writing you regularly, and you writing to him. The mail the men receive is a big factor in determining morale. We have mail call at the different ports and also when we receive a mail bag from another ship. Everyo9ne waits hopefully, so keep the letters coming.

Sincerely yours,