by David W. Asche
The MOLDER rating in the United States Navy is one of not so long a history, but it is a good and proud rating, to be sure.
Day one, lesson one in Molder A School was about SAND. A single grain of sand. We learned about what it was made out of, about its shape and what kinds of things can be mixed with it to make it do so many wonderful things. SAND is a Molders most important tool.
Molders create castings from making molds and cores from sand mixtures and melting and pouring various kinds of metals into those molds. Molders also reline bearings with new babbitt metal for the various places such bearings are use aboard Navy ships. All types of parts, from hatch dogs to anchors, have been cast by Navy Molders
Molders have tools that are not found in most normal mechanic's tool boxes. Trowels, slicks, spoons, vent rods, lifters and sprue cutters are just a few of the tools a Molder uses in his work. Molders also use such tools as rammers, chippers, sand blasters and the ever popular abrasive cut-off saw. They can also operate the differtent types of furnaces to melt the metals to pour castings from.
One tool a Molder uses quite often is a SHOVEL. Since most Navy Ship-board foundries have a few TONS of molding sand, it is not unusual to find a shovel, or a whole rack of them, someplace in a foundry! Needless to say, a molder is one who can appreciate having OTHER PEOPLE help out once in a while with the shoveling of all that sand! I was given the wonderful opportunity to have the ship's Master At Arms send me some EXTRA DUTY men to deal with the sand shoveling problems we had! It was soon found to be a hated place to work by the extra duty people and they dreaded coming down to my world!
Molders have served aboard Battleships, Destroyer Tenders , Submarine Tenders and Repair ships and a few shore stations since 1917 and were aboard ships in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked. Some of my Molder Brethren died that day.
Molders were taken off the Battlewagons in 1942 to make more room for more anti-aircraft weapons and gun crews and to store more anti-aircraft ammunition, but that didn't slow down the need for Molders, foundries and the Molders brothers in the trade, Patternmakers. There was still plenty of work to do serving the fleet and many tons of metals have been melted and poured in shipboard foundries in all the years Molders have served our Navy.
The Tenders and Repair ships were cut from the Navy Rosters in 1996 by President William Jefferson Clinton and the Molder rating was done away with at that time. Those who were Molders at the time had to change rating or were just given their walking papers and got out of the Navy to pursue other careers or be Molders in other civilian foundries.
The career training I received as a NAVY MOLDER is one I have used and added to my other skills and have profited from it and made good use of it over the years. It was a sad day when the Navy lost so many skilled craftsmen to the budget cuts made by the government. I believe it reduced our Navy's ability to be able to keep our ships in action and able to defend our country.