Archive for December, 2013

Chilly Ball

The national pastime, on ice. In the photo, a Sailor from USS SEADRAGON (SSN-584) waits for the delivery of the first baseball ever pitched at the North Pole, August 1960. (The crew laid out their diamond with the pitcher’s mound right on the Pole.) The C.O. later claimed to have hit a fly ball at 4:00 PM on Wednesday that wasn’t caught until 4:00 AM on Thursday.

The Perils of Icy Weather

Don’t you hate it when your car door freezes shut? Then be thankful you weren’t part of the crew of USS TREPANG (SSN-674) when she visited Ice Camp Opal, a research station on the polar ice cap, in 1985. In this photo, Sailors remove chunks of ice and snow from one of the boat’s hatches.

Happy Holidays!

Cold-weather décor in a warm-weather port: Christmas decorations adorn the deck of USS KEY WEST (SSN-722), Naval Station Pearl Harbor, 2005. Happy holidays from the Submarine Force Museum!


The Loss–and Avenging–of USS SEALION (SS-195)

December of 1941 found USS SEALION (SS-195), commissioned in 1939 and the veteran of one war patrol, in the midst of a routine overhaul at Cavite Navy Yard in the Philippines. She would never make it back to sea. On 10 December the Japanese struck, pounding the facility with bombs dropped by waves of aircraft. SEALION was hit twice. The first bomb landed on the aft section of the conning tower, exploding just over the control room but outside the hull. The second hit was far worse. The bomb sliced through a ballast tank and the pressure hull and blew up in the aft engine room. The four men who were working there—Chief Electrician’s Mate Sterling Foster, Chief Electrician’s Mate Melvin O’Connell, Machinist’s Mate First Class Ernest Ogilvie, and Electrician’s Mate Third Class Vallentyne Paul—were killed. (Another crewmember, Chief Machinist’s Mate Howard Firth, would end up being captured by the Japanese after they occupied the facility the following month; he would die in a POW camp.) Water poured in through the gash in the sub’s side, submerging nearly half her main deck and causing her to list to starboard. The yard, devastated as it was by the attack, could do nothing to fix her, so workers stripped the sub of all useable equipment and set up explosive charges. On Christmas Day, SEALION was destroyed.

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The Holiday Appendectomy

On 25 November 1942, USS SILVERSIDES (SS-236) completed her third war patrol when she pulled into Brisbane, Australia. By 17 December the boat had refitted and was headed back out. Within days she was passing the Louisiade Archipelago, a string of volcanic islands that lie 125 miles to the southeast of New Guinea. But as the boat neared her assigned area, a complication arose: “In the forenoon [of 22 December] it was reported that PLATTER, G.M. F3c was suspected of appendicitis,” the commanding officer, Creed Burlingame, wrote in the patrol report. “By late afternoon it was evident that he had an acute attack.”

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Christmas Words from IREX

IREXGRAMS, familygram messages from USS IREX (SS-482), were sent out by the C.O., D.V. Murray, to the families of the entire crew on at least four occasions during a deployment that lasted from the fall of 1964 into the new year. Below is a portion of the Christmas message. Although the words are spiritual, the sentiment transcends a specific faith in asking us to keep in our thoughts those families that have been parted by service to our nation and hope that they may be reunited soon.

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Hi everbody!
Loooooook!!!!! It’s the NAUTILUS! I made it! I am soooo excited! I know you can’t tell from these pictures, but she is huge! Look at how small I am, standing in front of her.
The picture on the left shows me standing in front of the NAUTILUS sail, which shows her hull number (SSN 571) as well as three letters. NAUTILUS has a white “E”, a red “E” and a white “A” painted on the sail. These letters represent awards that the ship received for being the best in its class.
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ALVIN and the Swordfish

ALVIN (DSV-2) is a deep-diving research submersible that is operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, although she is owned by the Navy. ALVIN, which began her service in 1964, has carried up to three people at a time on over 4,000 dives and is perhaps best known for her exploration of the wreck of HMS Titanic. But she has had other moments of excitement over the years, one of which is described in the following press release by a scientist, Edward F.K. Zarudzki, who actually experienced it.

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Today’s Submarine Sea Story

Today’s submarine sea story comes from Larry Smith, who served aboard USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (SSBN-600). It is entitled, “The Barber Chair.”

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The Loss of USS F-1 (SS-20)

On 18 December 1917, the U.S. Navy issued a brief statement revealing that “the American submarine [USS] F-1 [SS-20] has been rammed and sunk by the submarine [USS] F-3 [SS-22].” The incident had happened the day before in the waters off San Diego, CA. Given that the U.S. was at war, “how this accident occurred has not yet been announced,” the release concluded. No more information would be available for a number of years. In the December 1998 issue of The SubCommittee Report, Jim Christley pieced together what happened to the five-year-old submarine.

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