WWII Navy Ice Cream

USS Quartz (IX-150), a contemporary of the ice cream barge, used as a “crockery” ship

To say that ice cream was popular in the Navy is an understatement. When the carrier USS Lexington was left sinking at the Battle of the Coral Sea and the captain ordered the crew to abandon ship, some of the crew went into the reefers[1] on the mess decks first and ate every drop of ice cream she had before going over the side.

In 1914, General Order No. 99[2] banned liquor aboard naval vessels, and it was shortly followed by the 18th Amendment[3] making alcohol illegal across the entire United States. As a result, ice cream became the de facto staple for boosting morale.

That fierce dedication to frosted sugar dairy for the morale of the troops led the Navy to spend $1 million on an ice cream barge. They borrowed a concrete barge from the Army and retrofitted it as an at-sea ice cream factory and parlor.

They were stationed in the Western Pacific and shuttled ice cream to those ships that didn’t have their own ice cream-making facilities aboard. They were able to create 10 US gallons of ice cream every ten minutes, 500 US gallons per shift, and could store 2000 US gallons.

Although the WWII ice cream ship was a staple on the seas during World War II, the Navy never actually ended up naming its most prized possession. The concrete boat had no engine of its own and had to be pulled around by tug boats. Regardless of any difficulty, it was a sailor’s favorite because it brought them a pretty good reward for service.

  1. A reefer (shortened and adapted from the refrigerator) is a ship, lorry, or another form of transport designed to carry refrigerated cargo
  2. CHANGE IN ARTICLE 827, NAVAL INSTRUCTIONS. On July 1, 1914, Article 827, Naval Instructions, will be annulled and in its stead, the following will be substituted: “The use or introduction for drinking purposes of alcoholic liquors on board any naval vessel, or within any navy yard or station, is strictly prohibited, and commanding officers will be held directly responsible for the enforcement of this order.” JOSEPHUS DANIELS – Secretary of the Navy. [Back]
  3. The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes,” is ratified by the requisite number of states on January 16, 1919. [Back]


Military Times
Veteran Life
The Straits Times

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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