An Outsider in Paradise – A Pocket Guide to Hawaii (1940’s) Reply

This information comes from the Navy Heritage Center. During the Second World War, Hawaii was the crossroads for the Pacific. Men, material, ships and planes on their way to the battles in the South Pacific and eventually Japan travelled through Hawaii in many cases. Not much changed over the many decades following the war since Korea and Vietnam were also located far from the shores of the mainland. Hawaii remains a vital part of America’s defense even today.

When I arrived in 1973, I really wish I had a book like this. As I read through the manual, my mind travelled back to those early days of being an outsider in paradise. Now that I am older and have been exposed to so many cultures around the world, I have a better understanding for the people of Hawaii.

Like most young men that get to see paradise up close and personal, the experience was one of the most influential of my life. Hawaii in 1973 was more advanced than it probably was in 1943 but there was still adventure and opportunity. I made it back there several more tours and have visited it once since retiring. Of all the wishes I have ever wished, one would be to go back and spend the rest of my life on the Big Island. But for too many reasons that will have to remain an unfulfilled wish.

By the way, I make no apologies for any cultural insensitivity that may be included in this handbook. It was the war after all and someone felt it was a good idea to at least take a stab at educating the troops. I present the unedited version for historical purposes only.

Aloha

Mister Mac

For use of Military Personnel only.

Not to be republished in whole or in part, without the consent of the War Department.

Prepared by

SPECIAL PROJECTS BRANCH, MORALE SERVICES SECTION

CENTRAL PACIFIC BASE COMMAND

 

Produced by

ARMY INFORMATION BRANCH

INFORMATION AND EDUCATION DIVISION

WASHINGTON, D.C.

A Pocket Guide to HAWAII

Illustration of mountains, hut, male native and farm animals.

THIS IS ABOUT HAWAII, to introduce you to a new country. New countries are like new friends. You can’t get to enjoy them until you’ve learned something about them – until you know the score. So here’s the score on Hawaii.

Your Hawaiian Islands are a chain of volcanic peaks reaching up out of the Pacific about halfway between the United States and Asia.

The base of this mountain range is some 18,000 feet below sea level; so if you climb to the top of Mauna Loa – the 14,000-foot volcano on the Island of Hawaii – you can boast that you’ve stood at the summit of the highest mountain in the world. Even when you’re at sea level you’re high up the mountainside.

Eight of the Hawaiian Islands are big enough to write home about. Some of the rest of them are so small that there isn’t a pen point fine enough to put them on the map.

Before the Japanese went berserk, the Hawaiian Islands had three salable products – sugar, pineapple, and climate. The sugar and pineapple were shipped to the Mainland (continental U.S.) where you ate them. The climate was used by an ever-increasing horde of enthusiastic tourists.

It all worked out pretty happily.

Then came December 7, 1941 – and the foul blow that brought us all to Hawaii, soldier, on the way to Tokyo.

The main island of the Hawaii group is called Oahu. It isn’t the biggest, but it’s the most important, because the city of Honolulu is on it. Oahu is only 40 miles long and 26 wide; but here you’ll find an astonishing variety of scenery, floral beauty, and bustling human activity.

Honolulu is 2,091 nautical miles from San Francisco and 3,394 from Yokohama.

This means that it’s a long way home from Honolulu.

The first thing you will notice about the city of Honolulu is that it’s full of drug stores, department stores, soda fountains, movies, offices, and even Americans. It has busses that charge 10 cents a ride, three tokens for 20 cents.

There are cops, public schools, dial telephones, churches, hot-dog stands, public libraries, YMCA’s, restaurants, daily newspapers, radio repair shops, gas stations, public parks, and playgrounds.

On the streets you’ll see such sights as newsboys hawking evening papers, people from offices jostling to get on busses so they won’t arrive home late for supper, taxicabs dodging traffic, red fronts of the 5-and-10, and the little wire baskets on wheels in the supermarkets.

So you’re not as far away from home as you think.

Of course, you’ll see palm trees, giant ferns, tropical flowers that may be unfamiliar to you. And in the background will be the mountains.

When you go outside the city, around the island of Oahu, you’ll see fields of pineapples stretching for miles. And more acres of sugarcane.

You’ll see people working in those fields. They’ll be just as American as you. And just as proud of it.

Illustration showing size of Hawaii compared to Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Maybe you’ll go to one of the other Islands in the group. The largest is Hawaii. Most people think that Honolulu is on Hawaii. But that’s only because they don’t know. Its 200 miles from Oahu to Hawaii.

The island of Hawaii is big – as big as Connecticut and Rhode Island put together. It is 83 miles long, 73 miles wide, and 283 miles around – more than 4,000 square miles of land.

Illustration of sugar as a king.

Some of the most beautiful scenery in the world is on Hawaii. There are snowcapped mountains, two of which are more than 13,000 feet high, and there are two volcanoes, active hot stuff.

The people out here say that sugar is king in Hawaii. That’s because the Islands produce so much. But they also are proud that one of the largest cattle ranches in the world is on the island of Hawaii – the Parker Ranch. When you eat fresh meat at mess out here, chances are it came from this ranch.

The other six large islands are Maui, Kauai, Lanai, Molokai, Niihau, and Kahoolawe. Sound like hard names to remember. But after you’ve been out here awhile you’ll learn how to pronounce them and they’ll become as familiar to you as Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, or Arkansas.

Maui is second in size of the Islands. It is called the “Valley Island” because of its several beautiful winding stream-beds. It’s famous for its hospitality and for a volcano 10,000 feet high with a burned-out crater 15 miles across.

Kauai is the “Garden Island” of the group, because of the breath-snatching beauty of its lush foliage and flaming blooms. Its highest peak is called Waialeale, which is pronounced Wah-ee-ah-lee-ah-lee, and means “rippling water” without the bubbles. A good name for a mountain peak that’s all wet with 500 inches of rain a year. Sixteen miles away, at Barking Sands, the annual rainfall is only 20 inches.

Kauai is also renowned for the astonishing beauty of the Canyon of Waimea, which is Hawaii’s own Grand Canyon.

Lanai is called the “Pineapple Island” because it is completely owned by a pineapple company.

Molokai is the “Friendly Island,” a title that has been earned by its hospitality to homesteaders and its harboring of the leper colony which Robert Louis Stevenson made famous in his description of the great and good work done by Father Damien, who devoted his life to the welfare of those afflicted with that tragic disease.

Kahoolawe is the stepsister of the Islands. “Goat Island,” or “Dust Island,” they call her. There are no streams or springs on the island and practically no foliage. Last figure on population was two (2) people.

Niihau is another dry spot, but it possesses a tableland which gives good grazing; entirely devoted to stock raising.

That’s the list of the big ones. You’ll come to be as proud of them as the people who live here are proud of calling themselves Americans.

 

WE, THE PEOPLE

There are a lot of civilians on the Islands. Most of them were here before the Japs attacked Pearl Harbor. And they have every intention of staying when we GI’s go home.

In 1941 there were 465,339 inhabitants.

You’re going to meet these people. They’re your neighbors. And it’s a good idea if, right at the start, you know a few things about them. It may prevent you from making mistakes.

There’s one primary point to remember. No matter what the color of their skin, no matter how they appear, the civilians you see in the Hawaiian Islands are Americans. They’re just as proud of the Stars and Stripes as you are. Never forget that.

You’re going to run into a lot of Japanese during your stay. In 1941 there were 157,990 people of Japanese descent here. That means that 34 out of every 100 civilians were Japanese.

Now get this straight. Most of these went to American schools. They learned to pledge their allegiance to the same flag you salute. They like American soft drinks. And one of their favorite radio comics is Bob Hope. They’re Americans.

What’s more, many of them have husbands, sons, and brothers fighting for Uncle Sam. These Japanese-Americans (Nisei) aren’t just talking patriotism. Their battalions proved, in the battle of Italy, that they are willing to die for it. Don’t sell them short.

The native Hawaiians are a much smaller group: In 1941 there were only 14,246 pure Hawaiians and 52,445 part Hawaiians.

These Hawaiians are fine folk. Don’t let any fantastic fiction you may have read about them back home throw you off the beam. These people have certain fundamental ideals: They believe in strong bodies, in clean living and in democracy.

The second largest group on the Islands is composed of the folks from back home who came over here to live, and their children. In 1941 there were 139,299 of them. Some arrived for a visit and liked the place so well they never went back. Others came out to work for a year, or two, fell in love with these hunks of America in the Central Pacific, and remained.

Talk to the business people in the center of Honolulu.

Again and again you’ll hear the same story: “I came over for a year in ’24. But I’m still here. I only wish you could see our city when we don’t have a war on.”

You’ve probably heard Hawaii referred to as the Crossroads of the Pacific. That’s an apt phrase. People from all the far-flung corners of the world have come to live in Hawaii. The big influx started back in the 1860’s when shipload after shipload came over to work on the plantations.

In addition to the Japanese on the Islands, there are 8,000 Puerto Ricans, 29,000 Chinese, 7,000 Koreans, and 52,000 Filipinos.

Today these people are fired with a common purpose – to do their level best to help win the war. Not only have a great many joined the armed forces, but they’re buying bonds, doing Red Cross work, taking part in all the civilian war activities the same as the people at home.

But keep this in mind, when you meet the people over here. They’ve been under attack. They’ve been living in a war atmosphere for a long time. They’ve been working long hours, suffering the inconveniences of overcrowding, curfew, gas rationing, and other necessary wartime restrictions.

They haven’t complained. They aren’t complaining now. But it hasn’t been easy for them. So give them a break, and they’ll meet you more than halfway.

A LITTLE HISTORY

If you’re ever on a quiz program and the $64 question is “From what race do the Hawaiians come?” you’ll take the money if you answer “Polynesian.”

Scientists who study races have plucked out their beards arguing the origin of the Hawaiians. But the most generally accepted theory is that they emigrated from Asia more than a thousand years ago, sailing thousands of miles across the Pacific in double canoes. Here they set up a feudalistic farm system.

Recorded history in the Islands begins with their discovery by Capt. James Cook, British, on a Sunday morning in January of 1778.

Cook had come from the Society Islands in the southeast Pacific and was hunting for a passage from the Pacific to the Atlantic. He had a quick temper, a flowing beard, a couple of ships, and a great uncertainty about where he was going.

When he arrived, he didn’t know where he was.

The natives were equally confused. Believing in a large number of gods and never having seen a white man, they hit upon the idea that Cook was a chief god (Lono). He had them eating out of his hand. The Islands (he called them the Sandwich Islands in honor of the Earl of Sandwich) were his. But he made the mistake of hanging around. The natives got to trading with Captain Cook and his boys. And pretty soon they came to realize that white men were a long way from being gods.

The natives, like all people who find their confidence betrayed, were considerably sore about it, and Cook’s men annoyed them still further by chopping up a couple of their sacred idols for firewood. During one of the ensuing scuffles a native chief, with close combat training, stuck a wooden dagger into Captain Cook’s back. He died on the beach at Kaawaloa on the Island of Hawaii.

The rest of the expedition took to their boats and no other white men visited the Islands for 7 years.

Up until 1795 there had been a number of little kingdoms throughout the eight islands. There was plenty of room for all of them, but a few big chiefs wanted more than their share. The result was war, plenty.

Then a chief of Kona, named Kamehameha, decided that this wrangling had gone on long enough. He was a big bayonet; you can see a statue of him in a golden feather cloak outside the judiciary Building on King Street in Honolulu. He decided the only way to crush force was with greater force. With the help of some white advisers he conquered all the other chiefs on the Island of Hawaii. Then he built a fleet of outrigger canoes, some mounting brass ordnance, and set out for Maui and Oahu. It wasn’t long before he had united all the islands under one rule, and he proceeded to govern with a firmness and wisdom which won him the title of Kamehameha the Great, and gained Hawaii real respect.

When Kamehameha was a boy, Hawaii was living in a stone-age culture, worshipping pagan gods, and was unknown to the rest of the world. Within one lifetime all this was changed. Stone tools and weapons were scrapped when metal tools and weapons arrived.

Wooden idols were burned and deadly tabus broken. Kamehameha 1 died in 1819. The next year a boatload of missionaries arrived from Boston. They spread Christianity and they started schools. Hawaii became a bit of New England in the tropical Pacific. As a result, by the middle of the 19th century, the Hawaiians were just as well educated as the average throughout the United States. Well-to-do families in California sent their children to Honolulu for schooling. The result is that when you’re in Hawaii, you’re in an enlightened part of the United States, and one of the most democratic. Dr. Sun Yat-sen, founder of the Chinese Republic, was educated here in Hawaii.

While this was going on, Western people and Western ideas were taking hold. Trading posts were set up. Ships docked to take on cargoes of sandalwood, salt, food, and water. Whalers established a great base here. In 1840 a British sea captain gained control of the Islands. But after a few months, his superior gave them back to the reigning king, Kauikeauoli, son of old Kamehameha, better known as Kamehameha III. His nephew, Alexander, who ruled as Kamehameha IV, also favored Great Britain, but this was balanced by strong American interests. The rulers were worried about the possible fate of the Islands as long as they remained independent. Apprehensive looks were cast toward Germany and Japan.

Back in the States, Washington was interested too. Hawaii was the perfect site for a naval base to guard our West Coast. Then, too, American economic ties with the Islands were growing stronger. For example, the Monarchy and Uncle Sam in 1876 signed a treaty which, among other things, let Hawaiian sugar enter the States duty-free.

In 1893 an internal bloodless revolution dethroned Queen Liliuokalani, and a provisional government, headed by Sanford B. Dole, was formed. Annexation to the United States was requested, but President Cleveland disapproved. Disappointed, the provisional government set up an independent republic. This functioned until 1898. Then a new move for annexation was made, and this time Congress ratified the treaty. President McKinley signed it, and Hawaii became American soil. In 1900, the Organic Act made it a full-fledged Territory.

 

By that act Hawaii became an integral part of the United States. (So from now on you’d better speak of the “Mainland.”)

You have only to look around to see the result – one of the finest demonstrations anywhere of practical Americanism. Democracy, to the Hawaiians, is taken sincerely. They practice it. And it works, knitting many people of different races together in a concerted effort to build a better, freer, and happier life for all.

Nowhere in the Pacific do Asiatics live so well. There are many problems to be met, as there are back home; but the people of Hawaii are tackling them as an American democracy in an atmosphere of freedom and good will. A striking example of what we’re fighting for.

Progress on the Islands since the turn of the century has been steady, but unspectacular. For example, in 1903 the biggest event, red lettered in all the books, was the opening of the Hawaiian Tourist Bureau.

In 1910 a daring young man by the name of Bud Mars made the first flight in Hawaii in an airplane.

The next 30 years saw the tourist boom. The swamps around Waikiki were filled in. Hotels and apartments were built. Hawaiian music became the rage back on the Mainland.

Life was placid and pleasant. It might have continued that way had it not been for December 7, 1941.

Subsequent history? You’ll help make it.

HULA AND HULA

You’ve heard a lot about the Hula. Hawaii and the Hula!

Maybe you’re one of those gullible guys who saw glamorous movie stars swinging their sarongs, against a gorgeous Hollywood tropical backdrop, and thought you’d find a babe just like her under every palm tree.

Well, you’re going to see the real McCoy now. So it’s a good idea if you get rid of any notions you may have had and learn the truth.

First of all, the Hula is not a dance!

“Not a dance,” you say. “Then what is it?”

The Hula is a style of dancing, or, if you wish, a “school” of dancing.

Before the white man came to the Islands, dancing was a part of the religious ritual of the natives. Each group worked out its own routines. These were complicated or simple to fit the occasion.

There were ceremonial Hulas and festival Hulas, Hulas for fun and Hulas for funerals. There was even a type of Hula for the chubby folk who preferred to go through the movements while sitting down. But all the various dance ceremonies worked out by all the groups wen known as Hulas.

Now, if you see a pretty Hawaiian girl wearing a grass skirt and dancing some form of the Hula, go easy. She may be a graduate of the University of Hawaii with a Ph.D. in – The Dance. Well, why not?

GOVERNMENT OF, BY, AND FOR

Government in Hawaii is pretty much like that back on the Mainland, with three big differences:

First, the Governor is appointed by the President, but he can’t be a malihini. A malihini is a newcomer.

Second, the people can’t ballot in the Presidential elections.

Third, Hawaii, not being a state, lacks a vote in Congress. But don’t get the idea that it doesn’t swing weight in Washington. It does – through a Delegate who sits on vital House and Senate committees, and otherwise carries the banner for the Islands.

Many of the people here favor statehood. After the war you can expect a lot of discussion pro and con. Whatever the outcome, Hawaii will continue to be a friend of the United States.

As a Territory, Hawaii has its own legislature. The Senators (15) and Representatives (30) are elected by the various counties. They meet, pass the local laws, and send them up to the Governor, to be approved or disapproved.

If someone tells you the Governor is operating at the “old stand” in Honolulu, he simply means that the Capitol used to be a palace. King Kalakaua held court there, as did his sister, Queen Liliuokalani.

You can remember the King’s name by looking at the corner signs on the avenue along Wakiki Beach. You won’t have any trouble with the Queen’s name either. Just remember that back on the Mainland they called her “Queen Lil.” You also might like to remember that Queen Liliuokalani was the composer of the haunting Hawaiian melody “Aloha Oe” which she adopted from an old American ballad entitled “The Lone Rock by the Sea.” Her song has become one of the most popular tunes in the United States.

When the United States annexed the Islands, all the treaty signing was done in an elaborate building, surrounded by beautiful grounds, which you’ll find in the civic center of Honolulu. This is the Iolani Palace. It’s a building worth seeing. You can pick up some local history by looking over the paintings in the halls and chambers. You can see how the kings of Hawaii lived in the days of the monarchy, and a glance at the woodwork will show you what good craftsmen can do with the wood of koa and kou trees.

But don’t expect to see any fancy titles on the doors in the Capitol or other government buildings. They’re the usual American: Attorney General, Treasurer, and Director of Institutions. There is even the familiar D.A.

For the local angle, you can drop in on the Territorial Circuit Courts (the President picks the judges), or the District Courts (the Territorial Supreme Court names the magistrates), and see how justice is dispensed in a Territory of the United States.

There’s taxes, too. We warn you that the Tax Collector will enter your life if you buy one of the Islands’ 78,000 cars; which leads us to advise you to pick out a light one. The tax is levied by the pound. Cars don’t grow here.

BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY! YES, INDEED!

Major industries on the Islands can be counted like twins.

Up until 100 years ago, sugarcane in these parts was simply chewing-gum-on-the-stalk. It just grew.

Then someone discovered that the word “sugar” meant money, and sugar refining began. From then on, it’s been a growing industry.

A million tons of sugar are produced each year on the Islands from a quarter-million acres, and bring in 50 million dollars.

The 40 major plantations used to average a thousand workers each, but now are down to half that number; we need guns more than sugar.

It takes about nine chunks of cane to get a chunk of sugar. Plus a year and a half to two years for growing. Plus a lot of water for irrigation.

Refining is done on the Mainland, except for one plant at Aiea. If you’re ever up that way (it’s on Oahu), a guide will be glad to show you the process.

In addition to raising a lot of cane, the Islands do a right smart business in pineapples, which is surprising when you consider that the pineapple wasn’t a Hawaiian fruit at all.

Pineapple, Model 1493: In that year it seems that, having found America, Columbus discovered the pineapple. But he discovered it on the Island of Guadaloupe in the Caribbean Sea. Apparently he left it right where he found it until an Englishman named Kidwell imported the Smooth Cayenne variety from Jamaica to Oahu.

That was in 1885 and the industry has been slicing right along ever since; 20 million cases are packed off 75 to 80 thousand acres and bring in 50 million dollars.

Eight big outfits run the show. When they can get them, they hire more than 30 thousand workers. Right now they can’t get that many.

Incidentally, don’t leave the Islands without going through a cannery. Just phone one of the larger ones and find out what day you can come. The tour takes only about 45 minutes – and you’ll be served all the juice you can drink.

After pineapples and sugar, come tourists. Pre-war they contributed 10 million dollars a year. There’s a lot of talk floating around about the trade having been killed off by the war. But that’s strictly a false rumor. Matter of fact, there are more visitors here than ever before. Granted, most of them are wearing white or khaki uniforms, but they pack a lot of purchasing power.

Before Pearl Harbor a lot of the sojourners came out on the big Pacific liners, successors to Capt. Bill Matson’s schooner the “Emma Claudine” which first said “So long, ‘Frisco; Hi, Hilo” in 1882.

After Pearl Harbor – they still came out on the big Pacific liners, temporarily under new management – U.S.N.

Right along in the “T” column with Tourists is Tuna. And there the war has hurt. In the “old days,” seven out of every ten tuna on your favorite grocer’s shelf were born right here. After the Jap attack, the lid clamped down. Now, Uncle has let a little commercial fishing resume, but not enough to excite even the tuna.

Another Hawaiian enterprise which you probably never saw in the movies is cattle-raising. It doesn’t begin to match sugar or pineapple production. But it’s still important, and sizable quantities of meat products, tallow, hides, and skins find their way to the Mainland.

THE ARMY

You’ve heard about carrying coals to Newcastle? Not that it has anything to do with the Army –

Except that, soldier, when you arrive in Hawaii, all fresh and snappy in your best GI CKC’s, you’re going to stand out just exactly like a chunk of coal in that Old English mining town.

The Army has been established on the Hawaiian Islands a long time. In fact two batteries of U.S. Artillery landed here as far back as 1848. They were on their way from Boston to Oregon by the long route around the Horn and dropped in for a friendly visit. When Hawaii became part of the United States, the Army became part of Hawaii.

When an army isn’t moving it needs posts, camps, and stations. To solve the housing situation, Major General Schofield came out to the Islands 72 years ago and made a survey. The Army has been busy building installations ever since. You’ll probably be stationed at more than one of them from time to time, so it will be well for you to know what traditions lie behind the names they bear.

Schofield Barracks is the biggest installation on the Islands. It was established in 1909 and was named in honor of that same Maj. Gen. John McAllister Schofield who made the survey. He had commanded the Army of the Ohio in the Civil War.

Fort Shafter was the first permanent post. Built in 1906, it was named in honor of Maj. Gen. William R. Shafter, who led the United States Forces which freed Cuba. Remember the Rough Riders, and San Juan Hill?

Fort Armstrong was named after Brig. Gen. Samuel C. Armstrong, who hailed from Hawaii, battled with distinction in the Civil War, and attained lasting fame as the founder of the Hampton Institute in Virginia.

Fort De Russy bears the name of Brig. Gen. Rene Edward De Russy, of the Corps of Engineers.

Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Ruger was another distinguished veteran of the boys in blue. His name was given to the coast defense Installations at Diamond Head.

Fort Kam, originally named Port Upton, after Gen. Emery Upton, was renamed in honor of as great a warrior as the Islands have ever known, their own King Kamehameha the Great.

Luke Field, on Ford Island, honors the name of Lt. Frank Luke, an ace of World War I, who was brought to earth behind the German lines after downing his 18th enemy plane and who shot it out with the ground troops rather than surrender. He was a Texan who died with his boots on.

Wheeler Field honors Maj. Sheldon Wheeler, killed in a crash on Luke Field; and Lt. Col. Horace M. Hickam, who died in a crash at Fort Crockett, Texas, is honored in the name of Hickam Field.

Today the Army is entrusted with the safeguarding of Hawaii. It is the Army’s job to make it a grim mistake for any enemy force which tries to land on any of these Islands. It is the Army’s job to make the Islands the springboard for the leap to Tokyo. Which are good points to bear in mind – because, soldier, you are the Army!

THE NAVY

In 1843, the U.S.S. Constellation visited Honolulu. In 1845, the U.S.S. Constitution came here. Salutes were fired to the Hawaiian Flag, and to King Kamehameha III, whose Kingdom had been restored to him by the British Government. About this time, the Navy discovered a harbor which would be big enough to float the fleet. This harbor, famous for its pearl oyster beds, came to be known as Pearl Harbor.

Now, when anyone says Navy in Hawaii, he means Pearl Harbor.

There are other bases, of course. Such as the one at Kanehohe, which is also on Oahu. But none of them can begin to touch Pearl Harbor.

Back about 1887, the Navy first secured the rights to set up a repair station at Pearl Harbor. Then it went to Congress – and came out with hundred thousand dollars.

The money was used to start the job.

First, a coral bar had to be amputated. It blocked the harbor entrance. And a big drydock had to be built. More funds were asked, and granted. Work moved along and the dock was about ready for business in 1913 when hydrostatic pressure wrecked the foundation.

The Navy revised its plans, got back to work, and in 1919 broke out a bottle of champagne for the dedication.

To date more than 50 million dollars have gone into making Pearl Harbor the world’s finest naval base. It is one which not only the United States but Japan long will have reason to remember.

THE MARINE CORPS

As usual, the Marines were first to land. A hundred and thirty years ago Lieutenant Gamble, U.S. Marine Corps, landed on Hawaiian soil as commander of a prize ship captured in the War of 1812. As a contact man he was a great success, winning from the Hawaiian people a lasting respect and friendship for the Marines.

Their first job on the Islands was in 1845, when Lieutenant Joseph Curtis, of the Marine Guard aboard “Old Ironsides,” made the Navy survey that showed Pearl Harbor to be the best site for a naval base in the Central Pacific.

Seven years later, Marines came ashore to help King Kamehameha III quell riots started by foreign sailors. They stayed awhile to train the King’s troops. This probably prevented an invasion of the Islands. A gang of adventurers from the California mining camps had chartered a ship for the purpose, but got cold feet when they found out what they were up against.

The Marines landed again in 1874, 1889, and 1893, to quell rioting, and each time they achieved success without bloodshed because of the respect the people had for the Leathernecks.

In 1898, the Marines took part in the ceremonies that raised the Stars and Stripes over the Hawaiian Islands. In 1904, they established a shore station and moved in to stay. Today the Marines are regarded as kamaainas (which means they are not only old-timers, but are a part of Hawaii itself).

THE COAST GUARD

Some time ago you discovered that a sailor with a small shield just over (he cuff of his right sleeve is a Coast Guardsman.

Established 1790, the Coast Guard is Uncle Sam’s oldest seagoing service, and all over the Pacific they’re going to sea. They landed Marines at Tulagi during the first Solomons attack. They helped to seize Amchitka and Kiska in the Aleutians. They landed soldiers and marines and equipment on the beachheads of the Gilberts and the Marshalls.

The Coast Guard now operates under the Navy, and its job never ceases. It provides port and water-front security patrols on shore and afloat. It operates cutters and patrol boats on war missions. It works 24 hours a day perfecting methods of rescue and life-saving under war conditions, and runs a training station here, where are learned all the tricks of the Service for duties at sea and ashore.

The Coast Guard is an important part of the combat team which is advancing us all to attack.

 

RECREATION

Girls are scarce in Hawaii. When you’ve been off the boat for as long as 23 minutes, you’ll find that telephone numbers here carry the same classification as war plans. They’re marked “Secret” and kept in money belts.

If, by hook or crook, you latch on to a few numbers besides the laundryman’s (and his isn’t as easy to get as you might think), you may wind up with a date. If this miracle occurs, the two of you can go swimming, walk, take in a movie, or dance. If you’re numberless, you can still go swimming, walk, or take in a movie.

Which is to say that a uniform here is about as novel as a light bulb in a pre-war sign on Times Square. And there simply aren’t enough wahines (gals) to go around.

Sooner or later (sometimes sooner than a week, sometimes later) you’ll get around to what philosophers call “Acceptance.”

You won’t have any trouble knowing when you’ve “accepted.” It’s the night you decide that what you really need more than anything else, in life is a double malted, chocolate flavor.

Having “accepted,” you can settle down to having a good time in your off-duty hours, because the Army knows the situation even better than you do, and is doing plenty about it. It has established a big Special Service Office which devotes its full time to seeing that you have ample opportunities for recreation.

Recreation means refreshment after toil or weariness. It means pastime, diversion, or play. The Special Services Division helps out on your recreation and athletic programs, operates your Army Library Service, and the Post Exchange. Special Services and the Signal Corps work together to bring you motion pictures. U.S.O. shows too are sent around by this outfit.

Another organization, the Information and Education Division, is designed to lend help to you in your more serious interests, especially about the issues and progress of the war. YANK, Armed Forces Radio Service, Orientation and Educational programs are a few of the things which come under this office of the War Department.

If you’re interested in swimming, dancing, seeing movies, sightseeing (on Oahu or the other islands), downing a bit of chow or drink of beer, shooting pool, playing golf, tennis or ping-pong, enjoying a concert of good jive or classical records, or doing anything else to really enjoy life – get up and go. Find out where the recreation centers are and make good use of them.

But suppose you’re one of those who know that an education is as good as money in the bank? Perhaps Pearl Harbor caught you right between your senior year and a diploma, and you want to use some of your spare time to catch up with your education. The Army can fix that, too.

Right here in Hawaii is a fully equipped branch of the U.S. Armed Forces Institute. USAFI can arrange a correspondence course that will make it possible for you to earn credits at your high school or college back home and keep abreast of the education that was temporarily halted. If it’s a business course or technical training you want, USAFI can fix you up with that, too.

Get in touch with your Information and Education officer and he will tell you how to go about it. If duty allows, you can arrange for group classes with the use of self-teaching texts that are turned out by the USAFI. They’re good stuff, and we hear that foreign language lessons can be fun in off-duty hours, the way they’re doled out through a phonograph record for the crowd to repeat in chorus.

 

“WELL AND SAFE, LOVE”

You Can Write . . . Once you’ve arrived in Hawaii, you’ll want to get off letters telling the people back home where you are and what it’s like.

Right then is where you run into one of the most misunderstood individuals who ever saved a soldier’s life or helped to win a battle. You know how it feels, now, to hope that your transport won’t be sunk by a submarine – by now you can find plenty of old-timers who can tell you how fervently you’ll pray that any attack you may be concerned in will catch the enemy with his pants far from up. Well, that’s where the CENSOR comes in. Censor is an old Roman word meaning censor. It’s his job to know just what information the Nazis or the Nips would like to have about our war plans, and to prevent that information getting out and about. To do that he’s got to look for it everywhere. So he scrutinizes all communications which leave this area. (Scrutinizes means scrutinizes. All means all. Communications means all that’s “written and transcribed.”)

At first you may not like it. You’ll say, “my folks know the score. They won’t spill anything they shouldn’t.” The answer to that is, sure they won’t – not intentionally.

But you know how we Americans like to talk. And the Axis knows it, and is listening. That’s why a word dropped over a coke in a Sheboygan drugstore, plus a name mentioned on a Charleston street corner, may add up to a grim finish for some of your friends on an island beach.

So you can see why you can’t discuss the activities of units when you write, or give the exact location of your own. Why you can’t name any ships, not even the one you came over on. Or tell when they sailed or when they docked. Why you can’t mention the number of men who are with you. Why you can’t say you’re stationed at Schofield, or Armstrong, or Ruger, or any of the other posts. Why, in short, you have to lay-off the military when you’re writing home.

You’ll have a couple of talks by your Censor on what you can write about, and you’ll find it’s plenty. You may be assigned to duties or sent to places where you’ll be under certain restrictions for an indefinite period, during which you can’t locate yourself in letters home any more specifically than as “somewhere in the Pacific.” But if you’re not under such restrictions, you can come right out and say you’re in

Hawaii. You can say you went to Honolulu on your last pass, swam at Waikiki, had a few beers at Maluhai. You can describe your dull love life, or tell of all the exciting afternoons you spend in the Public Library.

A good technique is simply to forget you’re in the Army and limit your writing to strictly non-military subjects. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be turning out long and interesting letters and relieving the Censor of a job of editing, which he doesn’t like any better than you do.

You Can Wire . . . If you’re slow on the letter writing. It’s a good idea to keep the folks from worrying by sending them a cablegram as soon as you are allowed to let them know you’re here. Your GI post office has stock messages (Expeditionary Force Messages) that will say almost anything you want. And for only 75 cents, (Self composed wires come higher and also have to be censored.)

You Can Phone . . . If you get too lonesome for the sound of a certain voice, and your communications aren’t restricted, and you’re still in the first flush of pay-day prosperity, you can take a whirl at the trans-Pacific radiotelephone.

You just have to check in with the Base Censor, fill out a form which asks who you’re calling, why, and what the topic of your conversation will be, have it approved by your Unit Commander, and put in your call. Pick up blanks at Base Censor’s office or at the Mutual Telephone Building. At either place they will answer any questions.

The cost? A 3-minute call varies from 10 dollars (West Coast) to 16 dollars (East Coast). If it’s the wrong side of pay day you can reverse the charges.

Maybe You Can Learn . . . By visiting the libraries and museums and civil center, and gardens, countrysides and villages, by getting to know the people and listening to their tales, you can learn to know the legends, the history and personalities of the Islands, their trees and mountains and natural wonders so well that Hawaii will soon cease to be a strange place to you. It will become a part of America, full of wonders to enjoy and of friends with new and different viewpoints, brought from the four corners of the world. Once you have learned to know Hawaii, the kindly sound of ALOHA will get under your skin and stay with you wherever you may go.

What Else Can You Do?. . . Well, here are three little words, three little matters to think about, even in blue Hawaii. But their importance is Army-wide.

If you just like to sit around and shoot the breeze in your spare time, that’s good. It’s Army. It’s that old refrain, the G.I. Bull Session. But take it easy on RUMORS, and remember about MILITARY SECURITY.

In Hawaii, you are at one of the busiest wartime crossroads. You might pick up a lot of so-called hot dope. Well, why not keep it to yourself? If you don’t, Nip spies may pick it up and go to work. Don’t blab, unless you want to give “aid and comfort” to the enemy. And no right guy wants to do anything like that.

You Can Help Yourself to Good Health . . . Hawaii is a healthful place compared with many other parts of the world. The Islands have a good record in disease control, and you ought to pitch in and keep up the good work. But the most important fact is that your health means a great deal to the Army, and to the total war effort of the United States against Japan.

Of course, it means something to you too. You are not like the Jap who will slice his gut at the drop of a hat for the sake of Hirohito. Neither do you want to kill yourself the slow way, by sickening with disease.

Well, there are rules to follow. They all add up to good sense. All you have to do is to take heed. Stay clean; stay in good shape; the result is simple, but good. You are in good health.

You won’t usually get sick if you take care of yourself.

For example, if you catch venereal disease, the finger points right at you.

The best way to avoid gonorrhea and syphilis is to refrain from sexual intercourse outside of marriage. If at any time you fail to live up to this code, be sure to make full use of all the Army prophylactic materials (pro kits) and facilities (pro stations) which are provided for your use.

You Can Save Some Dough . . . Storing up good health means that you are saving up something that will be valuable to you after the war. Putting away some of your pay each month will also mean something later. Mostly it is your own business, like your health, and the lst decisions are yours for keeps.

Adding up all the things you do for yourself today and tomorrow in Hawaii, along with what you are doing for the Islands and for the Mainland, you can feel right proud to be so much in the swing of things. From these mid-Pacific beauty spots, halfway between America and Asia, you’ll be glad to write home “Well, safe, and love.”

In the Waters of Pearl – Building the Pearl Harbor Submarine Base 1918-1945 3

 

I spent a number of years in my youth living and sailing out of Pearl Harbor. The last time we were there was in 2003 and the changes even then were astonishing. Many of the old buildings were still there but a modern bridge attached Ford Island to the mainland. The Chapel at Sub base was closed at that time and the Enlisted Men’s club was on limited hours as well.

But no matter how long you are away, some memories come back and overwhelm you. The smell of the many flowers as you arrive at the airport. The breeze of the trade winds that mask the heat of the bright sun. And the feeling of an unstated collection of long ago spirits that traveled through these islands on their war to long ago wars. As you stand by the finger piers looking across at the shipyards, you can hear the hammering and welding of broken warships being readied for another battle. The sound of the liberty boat fills your imagination of so many trips across the harbor, stopping only for the raising of the flag each morning and the lowering each night.

 

The day you get orders to Pearl Harbor for the first time, your life is changed forever. You are about to become part of a legend. No matter where you travel in life, you will always carry that memory inside of you.

Pearl Harbor was originally an extensive shallow embayment called Wai Momi (meaning, “Waters of Pearl”) or Puʻuloa (meaning, “long hill”) by the Hawaiians. Puʻuloa was regarded as the home of the shark goddess, Kaʻahupahau, and her brother (or son), Kahiʻuka, in Hawaiian legends. According to tradition, Keaunui, the head of the powerful Ewa chiefs, is credited with cutting a navigable channel near the present Puʻuloa saltworks, by which he made the estuary, known as “Pearl River,” accessible to navigation. Making due allowance for legendary amplification, the estuary already had an outlet for its waters where the present gap is; but Keaunui is typically given the credit for widening and deepening it.

Naval Station, Honolulu” was established on 17 November 1899. On 2 February 1900, this title was changed to “Naval Station, Hawaii”. In the years that followed, dredging and building continued and eventually the idea of stationing submarines in Pearl Harbor was broached.

This is the story of the submarine base up until 1945.

 

Pearl Harbor Submarine Base: 1918-1945

From the Official US Navy Records:

 

Shortly after the Armistice of World War I in 1918, the submarines R-15 to R-20 were ordered to the Hawaiian Area, arriving early in 1919 to establish the Submarine Base at Pearl Harbor. Previous to this, there had been other submarines operating in the Hawaiian Area, for in 1912 four “F” class submarines operated from the site of the old Naval Station, Pier 5, Honolulu.

Their activities, however, were concluded when the F-4 sank off Honolulu. After this tragedy in 1915, the remaining “F” boats were towed back to the mainland. Shortly after these submarines left, four “K” type submarines and the Alert arrived, staying until after World War I started.

The R-11 to R-20 were ordered to Pearl Harbor in 1920 and the R-1 to R-10 followed in 1923. When the “R” boats, under the Divisional Command of Lieutenant Commander F.X. Gygax, arrived at Pearl Harbor, he found only one finger pier at the present site of the Pearl Harbor Submarine Base, and to this the R-18 was secured. This was the first submarine to moor at todays most modern and most complete Pacific submarine home activity.

 

The area chosen in 1919 for a submarine base was covered with cactus plants and algaroba trees, which had to be cut down before any buildings could be erected. When the land along the waterfront had been cleared, concrete slabs were poured into the region to support portable structures which had been obtained by Commander Chester W. Nimitz (now Fleet Admiral Nimitz), who was the first Commanding Officer of the Pearl Harbor Submarine Base. These structures consisted of old aviation cantonment buildings that had seen service in France. Meanwhile, tents had been pitched, and the base personnel used these meager furnishings for their living and messing needs. Two months after the arrival of the first submarine division, the base had a temporary mess hall; administration building; machine, carpenter, electric, gyro-compass, optical and battery overhaul shops. For general stores, a floating barge was procured from the Navy Yard, housed over and pressed into service.

In 1923, the first permanent building, still in use as a battery overhaul shop, was constructed with approximately 85% of the work being done by submarine base personnel. Living quarters for submarine personnel were improvised by utilizing the cruiser Chicago, later renamed the Alton, which was brought in and moored where the present day base’s largest pier, S1, now stands. A causeway was built out to her, and the cruiser’s topside was housed over to provide bunk rooms for submarine officers, while the lower deck was given to the officers and men attached to the base. Also, in 1920, another finger pier was constructed.

In the years that followed, peace time years, the temporary buildings were gradually torn down and replaced by larger and more commodious structures, some of which provided excellent usage during World War II. In 1925, the base had approximately 25 buildings erected and the Navy had already begun to reclaim marsh and swamp land in order that further expansion could be possible. During the same period, two more finger piers were built. In 1928, the largest building on the present day site, the main “U” shaped barracks building, was spacious enough to accommodate all submarine and base personnel and, as late as 1940, was still utilized for this purpose, other barracks not being necessary until shortly before hostilities began in 1941. By 1933, berths 10 to 14 on a long quay wall had been completed and a thirty ton crane had been constructed on the outboard end of finger pier number four. Also by this year, the submarine rescue and training tank, the enlisted men’s pool, the theater (built entirely by submarine base personnel), and the main repair buildings had been completed.

The Administration Building, housing the base torpedo shop in the main deck of one wing and the Supply Department on both decks of the other wing had been completed. Above the torpedo shop, was located the Base Commanding Officer’s and Executive officer’s offices. Shortly after the completion of this building, an officer’s quarters was built close to the Administration Building. Since there was now housing and messing facilities for both officers and enlisted men, the Alton was no longer needed.

From 1935 until the outbreak of hostilities, many other buildings were added to the base proper, the majority of them small in size and nature. In addition, with the planting of coconut trees, palms and other shrubberies, the Submarine Base became not only a place military in nature, but also pleasant in appearance.

December 7th, 1941

Fortunately for America, and conversely, unfortunately for Japan, the enemy neglected to strike at Pearl Harbor Submarine Base on 7 December 1941. Quite possibly this could have been by design since the Japs conceivably paid little attention to the comparatively small submarine force the United States had operating in the Pacific, the majority of which, incidentally, was operating in the Far East.

For whatever reason, no damage was done to the base and for this oversight the Japs were to pay dearly since it was the submarine force in the Pacific that, almost alone, carried the war into the enemy’s waters in the first two years of the war, a feat that would have been improbable, if not impossible, had it not been for the excellent repair and supply facilities afforded by the Pearl harbor Submarine Base before other advanced bases could be established.

On 30 June 1940, there were 359 enlisted men stationed at the Submarine Base with this number slowly increasing to 700 on 15 August 1941 and to 1,081 in July 1942. Rapid expansion of the base reached its peak in July 1944, when there were 6,633 enlisted men serving on the Submarine Base proper. These were the men for whom there was no glory but who, nevertheless, worked excessive hours no matter what their job in order that our submersibles might roam the Pacific in excellent fighting condition.

As an indication of the tremendous amount of work accomplished by the Pearl Harbor base, four hundred submarines were overhauled, refitted, or repaired during the period from May 1944 until July 1945. (This should not be construed as 400 individual submarines, but rather as a certain number of subs overhauled numerous times). This meant four hundred submarines prowling the seas, destroying Japanese shipping relentlessly through the sole medium of repair and supply furnished by one base. Truly, the enemy missed a military objective by blindly overlooking the Submarine Base on the day of the “blitz”.

It is not a debatable question as to which departmental function was the most important at the Submarine Base, since without one the other would have been negligible. To all go the credit for the tremendous successes achieved as the result of basing submarines at Pearl.

Under the Supply Department during a three month period ending 1 September 1944, the Commissary Department furnished $410,000 worth of provisions aboard roving submarines; and for the entire war, the value of provision stowed aboard operating subs totaled the tremendous sum of $3,680,296, a good reason as to why submarine personnel are the best fed men in the world. The Disbursing officer paid $33,363,305.23 in salaries to submarine personnel in the last two and a half years of the war in 1,144 individual pay days to submarine crews. Clothing and Small Stores, another function of the Supply Department, issued $916,519 worth of clothing to submarine personnel in the last year and a half of the war. Supply was, without a doubt, a major issue of the war.

The Ordnance Department, from the outbreak of war until the cessation of hostilities, overhauled 15,644 torpedoes of which 5,185 were fired by combat submarines with 1,860 torpedoes resulting in successful hits. A remarkable record and one which can well be shared by the shore based personnel of the Pearl Harbor Submarine Base.

The Engineering and Repair Department consisting of technicians and specialists of every description commenced their work on submarines days before the boat ever berthed at the Base. For as much as a week prior to each submarine’s arrival, plans were drawn up for the work to be accomplished on the boat. On the day of arrival, the submarine furnished the E&R department a complete list of “ailments” and on the following day an arrival conference between Base officers and Ships’ officers was held. At this time, a detailed plan of repair action was made while, even at that moment, work crews from the various shops were ripping apart faulty equipment for overhaul and repair. In the short two week period that the submarine remained at the Base, every department observed every derangement, large or small, and made corrections and repairs as necessary or else replaced faulty equipment. Engineering was a factor of no small importance in the winning of the war because submarines, returning from patrol, ofttimes had almost unrepairable damage. In the month of September 1944 alone, the Engineering and Repair Department refitted twelve submarines and made voyage repairs to twenty-five others, a feat not only never before performed but not even dreamed of in the past.

The Medical Department achieved miracles in the treatment and prevention of ills and diseases. Upon the completion of a war patrol, each submarine crew was thoroughly examined by especially trained and unusually competent Medical, Dental and Psychiatric Officers. Should it develop that a man had an ailment, no matter how trivial, he was replaced, treated and, in most cases, restored to duty on board operating submarines. Many a story has been told of medical corpsmen on submarines who have performed such feats as appendectomies and the diagnosis of diseases like spinal meningitis while on a combat war patrol. Many of these men were trained and gathered experience at a well-equipped and efficient Dispensary of the Submarine Base at Pearl Harbor. In addition, it was the Base Medical Department’s responsibility that all medicinal supplies and drugs were furnished each submarine prior to its departure on war patrol.

And there were other departments, the First Lieutenant’s men worked day and night loading or unloading submarines, maintaining buildings and equipment, patrolling the base during the war’s most security conscious moments, and furnishing transportation for men and equipment.

There was the Rest and Recuperation Annex to the Submarine Base, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel with its 425 rooms and housing capacity of 935 guests. When this entire space was not required by the Submarine Force, it was made available to aviation activities, small craft returning from advance bases, forward advance Marine units, and in some isolated cases, to battleships and cruisers.

Then there was the Chaplain and his assistants who offered counsel and guidance to war-weary and nerve-torn veterans of the war patrols. There was the Ship’s Service Department which offered everything necessary to life and comfort from phonograph records to the latest books and novelties.

 

The Pearl Harbor Submarine Base was not a base erected during the heat of battle. Its permanent foundations were laid down in 1919 and through the years of peace it became stronger and healthier. At the outbreak of hostilities, it was incapable of accommodating the ultimate number of submarines that were to operate in the Pacific, but never once did this Base lag in its accomplishments of sundry duties. At times, the output of work far exceeded that expected or thought of, but always the submarines based temporarily at Pearl Harbor between moments of combat had their slightest needs fulfilled.

Upon the establishment of the Submarine Base at Pearl Harbor, Commander C.W. Nimitz was the Commanding Officer, a duty he held until 1922. He was succeeded in command by the following officers:

 

Commander L.F. Welch 1922-1925

Commander F.C. Martin 1925-1928

Captain A. Bronson 1928-1929

Captain W.K. Wortman 1929-1930

 

In 1930, Submarine Squadron FOUR commenced operating in the Hawaiian Area, and the two commands were united with the following officers pursuing duties as Commander, Submarine Squadron FOUR and Commanding Officer, U.S. Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor, T.H.:

 

Captain W.K. Wortman 1930-1932

Captain H.W. Osterhas 1932-1934

Captain R.A. Kock 1934-1936

Captain R.S. Culp 1936-1938

Captain F.W. Scanland 1938-1940

Captain W.R. Carter 1940-1941

Captain F.A. Daubin 1941-1942

Captain R.H. English March 1942-May 1942

Captain J.H. Brown, Jr. May 1942-January 1943

On 13 January 1943, the two commands were separated, due to the tremendous work load required of each command by war time operations. As a result, Captain C.D. Edmunds relieved Captain J.H. Brown, Jr., as Commanding Officer of the Submarine Base, with Captain Brown retaining the command of SubRon FOUR. In turn, Captain Edmunds was relieved by Captain C.E. Aldrich, who served in that capacity from September 1943 until October 1944, when he was relieved by Captain E.R. Swinburne, who remained in command of the base until after the cessation of hostilities. However, the Commanding Officer of the Submarine Base continued to come under the Squadron Commander until, in October 1945, with the reorganization of the submarine force, he was placed directly under ComSubPac.

 

The story of Submarine Base Pearl Harbor will continue in the near future…

Mister Mac

USS George Washington SSBN 598 2

When I requested a submarine for my first assignment after sub school , I wanted to be on a Diesel Boat first, a fast attack second, and a Boomer third preferably a 640 class.

003

That is probably why I received orders to the USS George Washington (SSBN 598B).

The trip to the boat took a while since she was in the process of transiting to Pearl Harbor but I was scheduled to go to Auxiliary Package Course in Charleston SC where she had just completed a shipyard period.

The school lasted through the spring of 1973 and upon graduation I flew through Travis AFB on my way to Pearl. I learned a little bit about the military rank structure that trip as I found myself being bumped off of the Mac flight I was assigned to. Interestingly enough, an Airman later told me it was because an Air Force General was taking his family on vacation and they did not have enough seats on the plane.

Being young and not as experienced as I would later become, I had no idea what to do next. I just remembered all of the lectures about missing ship’s movement in boot camp and knew that I was in deep trouble. It took three days for them to find me another seat but by the time I arrived, it was too late to catch the crew flight to Guam. Lucky me. I would spend the next few months in transient personnel units working on a barracks rehabilitation project on Sub Base Pearl.

Copy of HI 5

While waiting there, I had a lot of time on my hands and wrote letters. Very few of those letters survive (probably a good thing) but one written in 1973 was probably meant for my Dad. I found it in an old shoebox that had other memento’s in it and found it to be pretty interesting. Keep in mind that I wrote it before I had ever been on board the George fish for my first patrol.

Pioneers

A new breed of men range the oceans as zealously as their brave forefathers. Always ready, just as the minutemen of the early American times and just as bold as the early sailors who dared to try and overcome the vast unknowns of the oceans. The men who serve in solitude amidst the flashing lights and muffled sounds of machinery. They work and live in confined spaces beneath millions of tons of the matter which covers the majority of the face of the earth. But their purpose goes deeper than a military institution. Besides being a deterrent to nuclear holocausts and safeguarding our borders, these men also untap scientific resources by each patrol they make. They prove man’s adaptability to live beneath the seas in this day where space for living seems to grow less and less.

And the hardest thing is the isolation which they must face. Living separated from their loved ones with little communications and knowing two things; they can never tell where they have been, nor can they say that if they go down that they will ever come back again. These Pioneers, the Men of the “Silent Service”

Over the next twenty plus years, I would get a chance to see if any of that was true on five boats. I’ll save that for another day.

In the meantime, its time once again to remember the Boomer that started it all for the US Navy, my qual boat which was commissioned on December 30th 1959. I was five years old and did not attend. I was present at the Decom ceremony in Bremerton in January 1985. I have to admit it was a very sad day.

Washington Facts from the Navy’s website:

USS George Washington – Design & Construction:

Laid down on November 1, 1958 as USS Scorpion (SSN-589), USS George Washington was the world’s first ballistic missile submarine. Originally intended as a Skipjack-class fast attack submarine, orders were issued in December 1958 to convert Scorpion and USS Sculpin into vessels capable of carrying newly-developed fleet ballistic missiles. To accommodate this request, the keel of Scorpion was cut in two at Electric Boat in Groton, CT and a 130-foot missile compartment inserted between the control room and the nuclear reactor spaces.

With this alteration, work moved forward to complete the vessel under the new designation USS George Washington (SSBN-598). The former name was given to a new attack submarine which would be lost under suspicious circumstances in 1968. Sponsored by Mrs. Robert B. Anderson, George Washington entered the water on June 9, 1959. As with future ballistic missile submarines, George Washington possessed two crews, Blue and Gold, which rotated to ensure that the vessel could stay sea with few interruptions. Under this system, its first two captains were Commander James B. Osborn (Blue) and Commander John L. From, Jr. (Gold).

GW ssbn598_2

Making History:

Commissioned on December 30, 1959, George Washington departed Groton the following June under the guidance of Osborn. Arriving at Cape Canaveral, FL, the submarine embarked two Polaris missiles and program head Rear Admiral William Raborn. Putting to sea, George Washington conducted the first successful tests of the Polaris missile on July 20. Swapping crews, these tests were repeated on July 30 under the supervision of the Gold crew. Having tested the new weapon system, George Washington put into Charleston, SC where it was given a full complement of sixteen Polaris missiles.

Awarded: December 31, 1957

Keel laid: November 1, 1958

Launched: June 9, 1959

Commissioned: December 30, 1959

Decommissioned: January 24, 1985

Builder: Electric Boat Co., Groton, Conn.

Propulsion system: one S5W nuclear reactor

Propellers: one

Length: 381.6 feet (116.3 meters)

Beam: 33.1 feet (10.1 meters)

Draft: 28.9 feet (8.8 meters)

Displacement: approx. 6,700 tons submerged

Speed:
Surfaced: 15 knots
Submerged: 20 knots

Armament: 16 vertical tubes for Polaris missiles, six 21″ torpedo tubes

Crew: 12 Officers and 128 Enlisted (two crews)

A Nuclear Deterrent:

After receiving a Navy Unit Commendation and embarking the Blue crew, George Washington departed port on November 15, 1960, for the world’s first nuclear deterrent patrol. Slipping beneath the waves, the submarine did not surface for 66 days until arriving at New London in January to change crews. Leaving port, George Washington conducted another deterrent patrol which ended when the vessel arrived at Holy Loch, Scotland in April. Based at that port, George Washington conducted routine patrols until returning to Groton in 1964 for refueling.

During its initial deployment, George Washington sailed approximately 100,000 miles before putting in for a refit. Remaining at Groton into 1965, the submarine’s systems were upgraded to utilize the new Polaris A3. Leaving port, George Washington was transferred to the US Pacific Fleet and assigned to Pearl Harbor. Known as the “Georgefish,” the submarine conducted nuclear deterrent patrols in the Pacific for the next decade and a half as part of the US Navy’s growing ballistic missile submarine force.

598 1973 Pearl Harbor

Need a lift? Reply

August 8 1974 was the day when one of the most interesting events of the Cold War came to a dramatic point. On that day, the Glomar Explorer completed a journey and a mission that had been so well cloaked in secrecy, it is doubtful that we even know today all that transpired during the project that was known as “Azorian”.

 

glomar explorer

 

I need to assure you that even though I was a member of the USS Halibut during her final days as an operational US Navy ship, I have no personal knowledge or experience concerning any alleged role Halibut may have played. All of my references come from searches related to the FOIA activity surrounding the project. I have read in a number of locations that this particular project has generated more FOIA requests than anything since the start of the ability to do so. It makes sense why.

Having operated in some of the most state of the art submarines of their day, it still amazes me to think how hard it must have been to find the location of a submarine lost in the Pacific. The depths in which we often operated in are staggering when it comes to proportion and survivability. The pressures at those depths are also beyond imagination to the average person. Submariners are mainly aware of the pressures at great depths on the occasions when they find themselves operating there. I can assure you that in almost every case, I was happy to see the depth gages returning to a safer operating place.

The story has its real start in March of 1968. From the redacted CIA Report:

“The story of “Project Azorian” began on March 1, 1968, when a Soviet Golf-II submarine, the K-129 (the CIA history refers to the submarine by its pendant number – 722), carrying three SS-N-4 Sark nuclear-armed ballistic missiles, sailed from the naval base at Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula to take up its peacetime patrol station northeast of Hawaii. If war had broken out, the K-129 would have launched its three ballistic missiles, each carrying a one megaton nuclear warhead, at targets along the west coast of the United States. But something went terribly wrong, for in mid-March 1968 the submarine suffered a catastrophic accident and sank 1,560 miles northwest of Hawaii with the loss of its entire crew.”

golf_300

Not surprisingly, the CIA history does not mention the cause of the accident, mentioning neither how the agency came to learn of the sub’s demise nor the exact location of its resting place 16,500 feet below the surface of Pacific. This information was probably still Top Secret, and could not be included in the article at the Secret classification level.

The most fascinating thing for me was the information included about the three basic categories of lift that were being considered at the start of the project: total “brute force” or direct lift; trade/ballast/buoyancy; and at depth generation of buoyancy.

These methods are described as follows:

1. Total “Brute Force” Direct Lift was referred to as the Rosenburg Winch. This involved a series of massive floating winches with wire ropes of the needed strength to manage the total weight of the object which was thought at that time to be about 2,000-2200 long tons.

2. Using the Trade Ballast/Buoyancy method, buoyant material would be transferred to the bottom using excess ballast. The ballast would be jettisoned on the bottom generating sufficient positive buoyancy to free the target object and help lift it to the surface.

3. At Depth Generation of buoyancy would involve the generation of gas a depth to create sufficient buoyancy to lift the target. Some of the methods discussed included  electrolysis of sea water, cryonic gasses generation, and various types of chemical generation using active metals or hydrides.

Not surprisingly, the technical details of each suggestion were heavily redacted in the CIA papers. By late July of 1970, the heavy lift concept was clearly favored and from that point on it became the soul source of focus and activity.

 

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Many articles have been written since about the event and the players. I found the stories to be very interesting and the key players who appear in the articles kept coming back to the fore front from the early 1970’s all the way up until now.

If you have time, here is a good link with some useful background information and redacted copies of the material used in preparation for the history of this project.

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nukevault/ebb305/index.htm

37 years ago the following activities brought the project to its conclusion:

“The Hughes Glomar Explorer began lifting the K-129 off the sea floor on August 1, 1974, more than three weeks after the ship arrived at the recovery site. It took eight days to slowly winch the remains of the Soviet submarine into the massive hold of the Glomar Explorer, with the sub finally being secured inside the ship on August 8, 1974. The next day (August 9th, 1974), recovery operations were completed and the ship sailed for Hawaii to offload its haul.”

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Of course, as we now know the mission was not a complete success. Despite the expenditure of many millions of dollars, the critical components of the sub fell back into the ocean during the lift, never to be recovered. Its hard to say what we truly gained from the recovery. The Glomar Explorer was never again used for the designed purpose. But it is fascinating what could have been. Who knows, maybe someday the whole truth will be finally revealed.

Mister Mac