In the days before digital, photographers made contact prints. Developed film was cut into strips of six shots. The negatives were placed on a piece of photo paper. Glass was placed on top of the negatives to keep them flat. This sandwich was placed under an enlarger and exposed for about five seconds. The result, direct prints of the exposures, about the size of a large postage stamp.

Contact prints were like a cutting room floor for still photographers. Most of the contact prints were junk, the stuff photographers did not enlarge. But contact prints are also a rich archive. Contact prints give perspective to the shots which are selected and enlarged. Contract prints show the context in which the photographer worked, a sense of time and place.

In December 2011, I examined a contact sheet of an "UNREP" (underway replenishment). This exercise took place in the Caribbean around 1972. The HERMITAGE and the YORK COUNTY (LST-1175) both refueled from the MARIAS (T-AO-57), one ship on each side of the oiler.

The negatives were overexposed. While on the HERM, I printed two shots---the HERM and the MARIAS parallel and signal flags. I ignored the others as too dense to print.

In December 2012, I printed most of the shots on the contact sheet. The context of the exercise were
revealed. I could see the teamwork of the men on the HERM and the men on the MARIAS. I could sense the action of the water as the ships drew close. I could see the bright sun. I could see yet another ship behind the HERM. I could see the action on the bridge of the MARIAS. I could see our captain (Commander H. T. Walsh, Jr.) watch as readings were taken of our position. I felt the excitement of being underway. The HERMITAGE and crew were returned to life.

Thanks to Bill Baetzel, Bill Freed, Greg Hausler and Richard Ray for help with identifying the MARIAS and shipmates in the photos.

The Marias and York County approach the Hermitage. Greg Hausler writes: "I referenced my 1976-1977 copy of JANE'S FIGHTING SHIP'S, and can positively identify the Oiler as the MARIAS T-AO 57. She was a  Fleet Oiler built at the Bethlehem Steel Corporation yard, Sparrow Point, Maryland in 1943. This yard incidentally was where the Hermitage went for refit following her 1985-1986 Med. cruise. The Yard was essentially void of other vessels except us; and I recall it took about 20 minutes for the shuttle bus to take crew members from the ship to the gate. The city of Baltimore in general, and Mayor William Donald Shaffer in particular, adopted the ship and crew and treated us to all the hospitality the area had to offer."
BM3 Ward has goatee and sideburns.
BMC unidentified on far left, BM3 Ward on right.
SN Shephard (spelling uncertain)
BM3 Ward handling a line.
Richard Ray writes that the Marias was "disposed of by USN sale in 1995 after being stricken from record in ’91 or ’92." It appears that a bag of mail or correspondence is being transferred between the Hermitage and the Marias.

The man on the left looks like SN Johnny "Seadog" Sutton.
Left to right: SN Jan "Better Known as Kool" Lawrence (deceased), SN Primus Owens, BM3 McCorkle.
York County (LST 1175) refuels the same time as Hermitage.
Action on the Hermitage.
On the right of the photo are three officers. Bos'n Lawrence is the first officer going left to right.
Action on the oiler.



Bridge on the oiler.


Back on the Hermitage. To the left is SN Johnny "Seadog" Sutton. On the right looks like SN Dittenber (or Dittenbur).
Captain Walsh on the left. To his right Lt. Amidon, who was the Navigator, and may have been OOD for this exercise. Two sources say that Captain Walsh is deceased.
Man on left might be SN Danny White.