One day the signalman on watch challenged two destroyers inbound to the Bay. The communication was labored and very slow – obviously not a U.S. Navy signalman. After a time we got enough information to know that they were Russian Navy destroyers. We reported that to the Port Director. Very quickly the Port Director ordered us to direct the ships to turn about and return in a few hours.
That was unusual, to say the least, though once in a great while there was a temporary delay as Port Director located an anchorage or vacant dock. But then things became very unusual indeed. First, a small single engine airplane flew over us on the way out to inspect from the air. That had never happened before. Shortly after that a van showed up from the Port Director’s office. In it were two Naval Officers and two Japanese men, who turned out to be harbor pilots. That also had never happened before, even though our card catalogue of ships in and out of the bay bulged with the names of literally hundreds of ships.
Then we were ordered to deliver an officer and a pilot to each of the destroyers which had done their U turn and were now barely making way out in the ship channel. We all wanted to board the picket boat for the delivery chore. I was chosen for the three or four man crew, armed with a portable signal lamp, which was not used.
Off we sailed from our tiny harbor and single wharf to meet the destroyers. First we noticed that there was a Soviet flag flying at the appropriate yardarm. Not only that, but we noted with more than passing interest that the crew contained women members, notably a flaming redhead on the bridge. We waved and she waved back.
We delivered our passengers, turned back, and the destroyers, now under the guidance of a naval officer and a harbor pilot, proceeded on into the Bay and to their assigned locations. As noted before, we had never put Naval officers or harbor pilots on board ships sailing into Tokyo Bay. And we never did it again, even though we saw Navy vessels from Great Britain, France and the Netherlands and merchant ships flying the flags of many countries.
Postscript: Many years later it occurred to me that we had probably seen very early evidence that the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States began very soon after World War II ended.