Blockades and Submarines – An Opinion From a Master Submariner in 1939 Reply

Simon Lake was by any measure a Master Submariner.

A prolific inventor, he held over two hundred patents at the time of his death in June of 1945 (just a few months short of the end of the war that was largely shaped by submarine warfare).

American Inventor and entrepreneur Simon Lake (1866-1945) was on of the most influential early submarine constructors and introduced many innovations still in use today. His Lake Torpedo Boat Company designed and/or built 33 submarines for the U.S. Navy between 1909 and 1922

Lake was a dreamer and had many ideas about peaceful uses for submarines. As a young man, he had read Jules Verne’s 1870 novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Lake and was intrigued by the prospects of undersea travel and exploration.

This article was written in October 1939 as the world was gearing up for a war that would touch every single corner. On the very day this article was published, the last of the Polish army resistance fell to the German onslaught and the lights were beginning to grow dim all across Europe. Orders were secretly issued at the Reichstag to prepare for the occupation of Belgium and France. The Navy’s of the world were about to be tested like never before.

Lake made many predictions in the press through his lifetime. This one was very curious considering the time and ongoing incidents. It is interesting to look through the prism of history and see what actually happened.

Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.), 10 Oct. 1939. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress

Submarine Believed Capable of Voiding Blockade

Future of Convoy System Is Made Dubious, Says Inventor

War under the sea! What has been proved about it so far? What will the future hold? This is discussed here by the man who, more than any other individual, gave the world the modern submarine. He invented the even keel submarine, and every submarine made today uses at least 25 of his patents.

By SIMON LAKE.

NEW YORK. Oct. 10 (N.A.N.A.).— According to the British admiralty, German shipping has been swept from the seas in the first month of the war and England, as ever, rules the waves.

But Germany, according to my information, had 60 submarines before the war started, had parts for an unknown number more waiting to be assembled, and the shipyards and equipment to turn them out at the rate of 12 a month when needed.

With German shipping swept from the seas, it would seem that the blockade is on in force and the iron belt has been drawn tight around the Reich’s middle. , Supplies from nations that are in a position to and are willing to feed Germany overland are of an unknown quality.

But what if the submarine can smash a blockade by surface craft and can establish a blockade of its own? What if the submarine can become a cargo carrier and can run under any blockade that can be established by surface craft?

Depth Bomb Limited Weapon.

As was noted earlier, the depth bomb is a severely limited weapon, and the hydrophone—the only means by which a surface craft can possibly detect a submerged submarine and “aim” its depth bomb—works better for the undersea craft. In addition, no ship can be armored sufficiently to withstand a blow from underneath.

The submarine has other capabilities and potentialities which make the future of the convey system—on which Britain is relying so heavily—dubious.

The modem submarine is a vessel that can be built to almost any size desired. Just before the United States entered the last war against Germany, I was negotiating with the German government, for which I had done work before, for the construction of submarines that would carry 5,000 tons of cargo.

Our declaration of war, of course, ended the negotiations.

Reich Has Small U-Boats.

Germany’s fleet of submarines, according to the information I have, consists mainly of small U-boats.

I saw none there over 500 or 600 tons and longer than 150 feet, These craft carry six 21-inch torpedoes weighing about l ton each – each one capable of destroying a battleship—and make about 16 knots on the surface and 10 knots under water. This is slow, but the only time a submarine needs speed is when it is submerging.

Modern submarines can submerge, while traveling at 16 knots on the surface, to periscope depth (about 28 feet) in less than one minute. A submarine I built in the early 1920s did it in 56 seconds, and that time has since been bettered.

These submarines are built to operate chiefly in the North Sea and the English Channel. They have to stay close to their source of supplies. It is perfectly obvious that such submarines, operating in sufficient force, can block any harbor entrance or sea estuary that the controlling power desires.

Once the submarine became soundless and fired soundless, invisible torpedoes that sped through the water without leaving any streak, the only means of detecting it while submerged was through its periscope. The periscope left a wake if the submarine was traveling at periscope depth. But it is perfectly possible to build a periscope that will leave no wake. I know, because I have built one.

Periscope Unseen Now.

The periscope is a little arm about as large across as a silver dollar, camouflaged and hugging the surface of the sea. It is practically impossible to see, and yet there is just that bare possibility. However, science can now obviate even that.

I know—and, again, from my own research—that a submarine can be made that would be able to see a ship on the surface even while the submarine itself was submerged to a depth of 200 feet or more. Not only can it be made able to see the ship, but it can also fire on it from the bottom of the sea. Then, indeed, will ships be spurlos versenkt (sunk without trace). They will never know what hit them and will never be able to find out.

Against such submarines, all the convoy system does is offer more targets and greater opportunity for damage. Such submarines could not only smash or seriously cripple a blockade, but set up a blockade of their own. In the last war undersea mines and vast systems of heavy chain nets were used to keep submarines from harbor mouths, but submarines can be equipped readily with antennae that will feel out the mines. Once a submarine locates a mine, it can send a diver out to “capture” it and take it home for a souvenir.

Submarines can also be equipped to lift nets, or, if the nets are too heavily weighted, there is nothing to prevent them from feeling them out and sending a diver ahead to cut through them with a torch.

As a man who has devoted his life to the submarine, I can say that these are grim truths that I have been relating, and there is no cheer in them for me. I relish the defensive prowess of the submarine, and I shall always remember with joy what Admiral Sims told me in 1932, after the Japanese had gone up the river back of Shanghai and blown holes into the city with their ships.

“If the Chinese had had two of the submarines you built 20 years ago,” the admiral said, “the Japanese wouldn’t have come within 5O miles of that river.”

But the submarine has become a dark, almost invincibly deadly thing, striking with tremendous force from impenetrable cover. I envisaged— and still do—a gentler use for it.

Someday the submarine will make man richer. It will take food from the sea for him and oil and gold and coal and radium, all of which have been discovered in great masses at the bottom of the sea. Someday, when war will be no more.

sunk apr25 1943

Mister Mac

Blockades do work 11

One of my earliest memories as a kid was the story about the Cuban Missile Crisis. While there were many parts to this story, the one that I remember most was the Naval Blockade.

October 22, 1962 – President John F. Kennedy orders a surface blockade of Cuba to prevent Soviet offensive weapons from reaching Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. By forcefully employing U.S. naval forces, President John F. Kennedy is able to achieve his strategic objectives and deal with a dangerous and well-armed Soviet Union without war.

I would be interested to hear from those who served during that time about their experiences.

Mister Mac

The Origin of Submarine Dolphins – The Fourth (and I think) Final Chapter 4

The rest of the story

This will hopefully be the final segment in my saga of how the Submarine Dolphin insignia came to be. Each stage along the way has been a lot of fun as I have sifted through magazines, articles on line, historical societies, the Library of Congress and a source which contains electronic copies of nearly every book that has been printed in the world for the past hundred plus years.

This chapter finally answers the question of who should get ultimate credit for the actual design that Bailey Banks and Biddle used in the 1920’s to create the emblem.

Here is his story:

“Let Us Never Forget” Submarine Dolphin Designer, Developer of First Submarine Sonar, USNA 1926, Captain William Crawford Eddy, USN

Captain Eddy designed the Submarine Force Dolphins worn by those qualified in Submarines from the 1926 Naval Academy Class Crest. Assigned to submarine duty but hard of hearing he developed the first submarine sonar. Forced out of the Navy because of his hearing problems, he went on to become an electronic wizard. He setup and ran Chicago’s first television station and trained 70,000 Navy personnel on the new technology…radar. For his leadership he was awarded Legion of Merit medal.

William Crawford Eddy was born on August 22, 1902 in Saratoga Springs, New York to William D. Eddy and Ethel J. Eddy. He attend high school at New York Military Academy. On July 25, 1922, he entered the United States Naval Academy as a Midshipman. In 1922, Midshipman Fourth Eddy and accomplished cartoonist and a submarine enthusiast was a member of the Class of 1926 Crest Committee. He designed his class crest using a bow on photo of the submarine USS O-2 and adding two dolphins rampant, with dolphins rapped around swords.

In June 1923, when Captain Ernest J. King (USNA 1901), Commander, Submarine Division Three (later Fleet Admiral and Chief of Naval Operations), suggested to the Secretary of the Navy that a device for qualified submariners be adopted. He submitted a pen-and-ink sketch as an example. A Philadelphia firm, Bailey, Banks and Biddle, was contracted to design a suitable badge.

In 1924, Mr. George Meale of that firm mentioned to Midshipman Eddy that they were looking for a design. The firm was familiar with Midshipman Eddy for his work on the Class Crest Committee and as Chairman of the Class Ring Committee. Midshipman Eddy, using sketches of the 1926 Naval Academy class crest that he designed, and by simply removing the eagle, anchor, swords and flattening out the dolphins, resulted in the present day submarine insignia.

While at the Academy Midshipman Eddy was a member of Log Staff; Associate Editor of the Lucky Bag; Class Secretary; UMCA Director; Christmas Card Committee; Class Crest Committee; and Chairman Ring Committee. He earned his Navy “N” in varsity crew and was Head Cheerleader first class year. Unfortunately, he developed a slight hearing problem but kept it secret by reading lips. Midshipman Eddy graduated 294 of 456 from the Naval Academy on June 3, 1926.

Submarine USS O-2 in dry dock in 1928. A bow on view of the O-2 was used by Midshipman Eddy in the design of the USNA Class of 1926 crest and Submarine Force dolphin insignia.

In the 1926 United States Naval Academy Lucky his roommate wrote:

“You would know that this lad could pull an oar just by looking at him. His failing for boats began Plebe summer. He bought one Second Class year and thought it would float – until launching.

There are a few things that Crawf would rather do than talk. One of them was to draw a slip which read: “Sketch and describe.” Then his mark for the day was secure. There were drawbacks to living with this human Vic for four years, but he has a line that seldom if ever, gets monotonous.

Being a Red Mike he was supreme in joy as master presenter of bricks. This fact kept many would – be snakes from the clutches of wily Crabs. Incidentally, the fair lady who captures Crawf will surely be “different.” “Regulation” is a word that rarely, if ever, occurred to him, but we feel that he will make a successful officer.”

(Note: Red Mike was the term used for midshipmen who dated rarely and Brick was the term used for an award given to the midshipman who dated the homeliness girl that weekend as judged by midshipmen of his Company.)

On August 9, 1926, Ensign Eddy was assigned to light cruiser USS Cincinnati (CL-6). Cincinnati was assigned to Atlantic and Caribbean operations until early in 1927. On February 17, 1927, Cincinnati sailed from Balboa, Canal Zone, for duty in the Far East. Cincinnati was initially sent to Nicaragua to “fight the Banana Wars,” then dispatched to China to protect American interests and “show the flag” along the Yangtze River.

Cincinnati was based at Shanghai until October 1927, then at Manila, and again at Shanghai from February to April 1928.

On July 11, 1927, Ensign Eddy married Christine L. D. Woolridge in Hankow China. Together they had three children, son William Crawford Eddy Jr and two daughters Nancy Eddy and Diana Eddy Van Ordan.

In 1928, Ensign Eddy requested and received a transfer to the submarine service. At six-foot six, he was almost too tall for submarines.

On January 1, 1929 to November 1929, bypassing submarine school, Ensign Eddy was assigned to the submarine USS S-35. During the summer and into the fall, S-35 conducted similar operations out of Tsingtao, China and, in November, she returned to the Philippines for winter operations. With his hearing problem unknown to his superiors, LTJG Eddy was assigned as Sound Officer on a boat which had the old binaural SC tubes which required perfect hearing in both ears to locate and track the target. As a result S-35 had a dismal record in submerged attacks. To compensate for his hearing problem, he designed a visual display for audio tracking signals. Thus creating the first submarine sonar…this apparatus was widely used on submarines for many years.

While on board S-35, LTJG Eddy completed qualifications for command of submarines. His submarine dolphins were the first stamped from his design.

On January 1, 1930, LTJG Eddy received orders to report under instruction at Naval Submarine School, New London Connecticut. Although already qualified to command a submarine, he still had to complete submarine school.

On June 16, 1930, LTJG Eddy was assigned to submarine USS O-3.

On April 1, 1931, LTJG Eddy was assigned to the submarine USS R-3.

By January 1, 1933, LTJG Eddy was assigned to submarine USS R-14.

On July 16, 1933, LTJG Eddy was assigned to Submarine Base New London, Connecticut. LTJG Eddy set up an electronics course for officers. He had his own laboratory for conducting research in underwater sound gear and signal communicating from a submerged position; his research resulted in four secret patents. When standing a physical examination for promotion to Lieutenant, his hearing loss came to light, and he was forced into disability retirement at the close of 1934.

On December 1, 1934, LTJG Eddy retired from the Navy due to a medical discharge.

In 1936, Mr. Eddy met Mr. Philo Farnsworth in Philadelphia while the electronics pioneer was beginning experiments in the transmission of television pictures. Over the next two years, the Farnsworth team, including Mr. Eddy, developed what is known as the saw tooth scanning television transmission.

Mr. Eddy later worked for RCA, creating special effects and lighting for early telecasting.

In 1941, Mr. Eddy set up the Chicago station WBKB-TV, handling all aspects of the business.

From August 11, 1942 to September 1, 1945, Eddy was Commanding Officer of Radio Chicago. On January 29, 1943, Eddy returned to active service as a Lieutenant Commander. Few United States Navy ships had radar and almost no personnel were trained in the secret technology. This lack of training became the responsibility of LCDR Eddy. In 1942 the Electronics Training Program was started in mid-1942 as a combined effort of six engineering colleges and several highly advanced Navy schools. The training program was of almost unbelievable intensity, cramming the major topics of a standard electrical engineering curriculum into less than a year. LCDR Eddy was largely responsible for its coordination. An admissions examination, commonly called the Eddy Test, was used in selecting the students.

On September 7, 1943, LCDR Eddy was promoted to the temporary rank of Commander.

On November 5, 1944, Commander Eddy was promoted to the rank of Captain.

Captain Eddy graduated nearly 70,000 electronics experts from his school during World War II, using the facilities of Chicago’s old WBKB, a television station he built for movie palace owner Barney Balaban in 1939. For his efforts Captain Eddy was awarded the Legion of Merit.

Legion of Merit Awarded for Actions during World War II

The President of the United States takes great pleasure in awarding Captain William C. Eddy, United States Navy, the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Commanding Officer of Radio Chicago from 11 August 1942 to 1 September 1945.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 346 (January 1946)

Service: Navy

Rank: Captain

Captain Eddy died in his Michigan City, Indiana home at 87 after a long illness. Captain Eddy is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington Virginia.

This will be my last article on the Dolphins. Looking at the design and the final results, I am more convinced than ever that a Dolphin is just a Dolphin.

Mister Mac

Submarine Dolphins Part Three – The Artists that created the Insignia 4

It must be true, I saw it on the Internet

The great thing about living in the age we do is the incredible access to resources on the internet. I have a number of historical reference sites that I use to build my stories and enjoy finding nuggets form time to time.  I take it as a matter of pride to never accept anything I see on the internet without first understanding the source and cross checking with a number of sources for the more controversial stuff. In the past week, one of the subjects that has generated a lot of conversation has been the origins of and meaning of the Submarine Dolphins worn by American Submariners.

For a qualified submariner, they are the most significant and cherished emblem of all.

There are so few that have earned them when you look at the history of American submarining so the ownership is very personal and special. to gain them, you are subjected to many hours, days, weeks and months of some of the hardest lessons you will ever learn. It is a unique combination of physical and mental testing. But once attained, they become a part of who you are. Years after you leave the Navy, they still remain a single standing qualifier that many hold on to with passion.

I am no different, I suppose. Achieving the rank of Chief Petty Officer and later Chief Warrant Officer were very proud moments. But those five boats that I can claim as “my boats” stand apart. Each was different. Each had a unique challenge. All combine to make a very memorable chapter of my life.

In 1974, I earned my Dolphins on board my first boat, the USS George Washington. I was happy at the time since it meant the end of a very trying period. But I do not think a twenty year old boy from McKeesport Pennsylvania really understood the significance. That would come later as I learned that it was my turn to help others earn theirs. I truly never thought about the Dolphins as anything other than a unique brand that I shared with many others. Not until my retired years.

So Part three of this saga spends a little time on the Chapter about where the pins came from.

While I have still not determined the name of the artist who won the final design, I now know what company they worked for. First, a reminder of how they came to be:

Evening star. [volume], September 28, 1924, Page 11, Image 57

Army and Navy News by M. H. McIntyre

Announcement was made this week by the Bureau of Navigation, Navy Department, prescribing the qualifications for officers and enlisted men for wearing the submarine insignia, which was approved by the Secretary of the Navy last March.”(a) Officers qualified for submarine command in accordance with chapter 3. Paragraphs 203-209, Submarine Instructions, November. 1919,”are authorized to wear this insignia. The insignia will be worn at all times by the commissioned personnel as specified in (a) while they are attached to submarine units or organizations ashore or afloat, but it may not be worn at any time by officers when not attached to submarine organizations.

The following enlisted men are authorized to wear this insignia: (a) Men found qualified for submarine duty in accordance with chapter 3. Paragraphs 214-215. Submarine Instructions, November, 1919, whose certification of qualification appears on their service records.

(h) Men who prior to the issue of Submarine Instructions, November 1919 were found qualified for submarine duty and whose certification of qualification appears on their service records.

As specified in (a) and (b) the insignia will be worn at all times by enlisted men while attached to submarine units or organizations, ashore or afloat. Enlisted men will not be authorized to wear this insignia if they are not attached to submarine units. A change in the Uniform Regulations covering the details of the insignia and the manner of wearing it is in course of preparation and will be issued to the service shortly.

These qualifications will be incorporated in the Bureau of Navigation Manual when reprinted.

So who actually designed the final set of Dolphins?

The answer is Baily Banks and Biddle of Philadelphia.

By the late nineteenth century, BB&B had a successful insignia department which designed and manufactured medals, ribbons and honor awards for the U.S. government and military and naval academies. For nearly a century, BB&B produced the Congressional Medal of Honor, the first 40,000 Purple Hearts awarded, and class rings for West Point and Annapolis. Among the medals designed or produced by the firm’s corps of artists, die cutters, engravers and illuminators were the Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Cross and Distinguished Flying Cross. Charles Lindbergh and Admiral Richard E. Byrd received the first two Distinguished Flying Crosses in 1927. The current version of the Great Seal of the United States was designed by a BB&B artist in 1904. The Stationery Department, according to company legend, produced the invitations for the presidential inauguration of James Buchanan in 1857. President Abraham Lincoln was familiar with the company’s work after receiving a silver cup and plate personally crafted for him as a Christmas gift.

1917 – America’s need for new military insignia and medals continues. It is this year that Bailey Banks & Biddle is contracted to produce the first Pilot Wings. These Wings are for Naval Aviators, America’s first military pilots.

http://www.navalunderseamuseum.org/submarine-dolphins/

“Submarine dolphins have represented submariner identity for so long, it might be surprising to learn the Submarine Force lacked any warfare insignia for the first 24 years it existed. The idea to create one arose in the summer of 1923, when future fleet admiral and Chief of Naval Operations Ernest King (then a captain) suggested developing a symbol to identify qualified submariners. At the Bureau of Navigation’s solicitation, possible designs were proposed by several sources, including one from King himself. Concepts featured elements such as dolphins, submarines depicted from different angles, shields, and sharks.

One of the earliest versions of the submarine warfare insignia, circa the 1920s.

The Bureau hired a firm named Bailey, Banks, and Biddle, out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to create a final design out of the submissions. The firm narrowed the ideas to two designs which were integrated to produce the final emblem: a surfaced O-class submarine flanked by two dolphins resting their heads on the sub’s bow planes. (Dolphins were deemed a fitting symbol twice over: as the supposed patron of Sailors, and because they dive and surface similarly to submarines.) The design became official in March 1924 when it was approved by Acting Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt Jr. It has undergone only minor changes since its introduction 93 years ago.”

There is a very good chance that not a single one of the artists or craftsmen employed by Bailey, Banks and Biddle had ever actually stepped foot on a submarine and certainly had no first hand knowledge of dolphins, porpoises, dolphin-fish or any other sea creature. The jewelers of that generation would be classically trained and as evidenced by their other period pieces familiar with heraldry. That would explain why something that should not have scales or an odd configuration of fins would end up having them.

But one thing I have learned is that will be those who shout from the roof tops that the Dolphin portrayed is something else altogether.

I still remain open to seeing actual evidence in the form of artists notes or drawings. I am currently searching the archives of the patent office to see if there is a more complete description.

So far, none has surfaced (see what I did there?)

Mister Mac

Previous related posts:

https://theleansubmariner.com/2018/10/16/the-origin-of-submarine-dolphins-part-deux/

https://theleansubmariner.com/2018/10/13/the-origin-of-submarine-dolphins-all-hands-magazine-january-1961/

The Origin of Submarine Dolphins – Part Deux 8

Nothing like stirring the pot… (you can always count on a Submariner to do something  like that).

In the last couple of days, the Post about the Origin of Submarine Dolphins has been one of the most viewed articles on the blog in a long time.  Along with the views came the comments. Some were pretty nice. But many decided to attack the messenger. I have been getting messages and posts on Facebook about dolphin and fish etymology and all the reasons why the “Dolphins” couldn’t possibly be anything but fish. Not a single person could source a design note or explanation from the creator of the original insigne that their intent was to commemorate anything other than a pair of dolphins nestling their heads on the bow planes of a submarine.

I have even had my credibility questioned with one guy asking snarkily “Who is this Mister Mac anyway???” Since I qualified on five boats, I typically do not respond to people who only rode one boat for a couple of years in times like that. I still respect them for their service and sacrifice but when they ask nub questions without knowing who I am, they really don’t rate a response much more than “who the hell are you?”

Yep, there were lots of interesting discussions on Facebook and on the blog about where our “Dolphins” came from. Many readers have extrapolated from the design that the “Phins” are truly fish since they resemble the dolphin-fish in shape and configuration. The earlier article quoted from a nineteen sixties era All Hands Magazine that the idea for the submarine insigne originated from an idea by then Captain Ernest King in 1924.

Homework

The nice thing about being a researcher is being able to discover documents which are no longer in print but are available through reliable resources. I decided to take a quick cruise (four hours) through some of my favorite on line “haunts” and dig up a few more tidbits on the insigne that we call “Dolphins”.

Without judgment or prejudice, the results of tonight’s search are included here. They come from two separate sources that existed in 1924. The first was a Newsletter called  Our Navy, the Standard Publication of the U.S. Navy during that timeframe. The second comes from the 19214 amended uniform regulations November 1924 Change bulletin which was the first time that the submarine insigne was authorized for wear.

They are included here:

Our Navy, the Standard Publication of the U.S. Navy, Mid April Issue 1924, Volume XVII, Number 24

SUBMARINE INSIGNIA

The Bureau of Navigation has secured the approval of the Department to add an insignia, to be worn on the breast by qualified submarine officers and enlisted men. The design will be somewhat similar in size and material to that now worn by aviators.

The center of the device is the bow of a submarine with the conning tower in evidence, flanked by a bow diving rudder, and supported by dolphins on either side. The Bureau of Navigation will shortly issue detailed uniform regulations as to the conditions under which the insignia may be worn.

From the November 1924 Changes to Uniform Regulations

 

CHANGES IN UNIFORM REGULATIONS NO. 1.

NAVY DEPARTMENT,

Washington, 12 November, 1924.

The following changes in the Uniform Regulations United States Navy, 1922, are hereby ordered to be made immediately upon receipt of this order.

CURTIS D. WILBUR,

Secretary

  1. Submarine insignia (Plate 34, fig. 3).-

(a) A bronze gold-plated metal pin, bow view of a submarine, proceeding on the surface, with bow rudders rigged for diving, flanked by dolphins in horizontal position with their heads resting on upper edge of rudders; the device to be 2% inches long. (U. R. C. 1.)

(b) Officers “qualified” for submarine command in accordance with requirements outlined in “Submarine Instructions” shall be entitled to wear the above insignia. The insignia shall be worn at all times by officers, while attached to submarine units or organizations, ashore or afloat, and may not be worn at any time by officers when not attached to submarine units or organizations.

(c) Enlisted men “qualified” for submarine duty in accordance with “Submarine Instructions” whose certification of qualification appears on their service records or men who, prior to the issue of the Submarine Instructions, November, 1919, were found qualified for submarine duty and whose certification of qualification appears on their service records shall be entitled to wear the above insignia embroidered in silk, in white on blue for blue clothing, and in blue on white for white clothing. The submarine insignia shall be worn at all times by enlisted men qualified to wear it, while attached to submarine units or organizations, ashore or afloat, and may not be worn by enlisted men when not attached to submarine units or organizations (Plate 34, fig. 4), except that enlisted men transferred to other duty shall be permitted to wear the insignia for six months after their detachment from submarines or until they have been permanently assigned to other naval duties. (U. R. C. 3.)

(d) To be worn with dolphins horizontal—by officers on the left breast and just above the center of ribbons or medals; by enlisted men on the outside of the right sleeve, midway between the wrist and elbow. (U. R. C. 1.)

(e) A miniature submarine insignia (pin type), scale one-half that of the original, shall be worn when miniatures are prescribed. (U. R. C. 6.)

How did it get started?

The original submission from Captain Ernest J. King was very different from the final version. His version is the top one on this picture:

 

Who made the final design?

Suggestions at the time ranged from matched seahorses to a divers helmet to a wide range of submarine and dolphin configurations. One old salt on the S-1 Boat even recommended that a shark design was most appropriate. He argued that a shark would be more reflective of submariners who he said “are a fearlessly resolute bunch.”

In the end, dolphins were the most popular idea and the final design was crafted by a Philadelphia jewelry firm (the same firm that designed the naval aviator insignia. Theodore Roosevelt Jr., Acting Navy Secretary approved the final design in March 1924. As the documents above show, it was incorporated into Naval Uniform regulations shortly after that and has survived to this day.

The design

The design was a bow view of a submarine proceeding on the surface with bow planes rigged for diving, flanked by dolphins with their heads resting on the upper edge of the bow planes.

I find it interesting that Theodore Roosevelt’s father was the first sitting United States President that ever rode a submarine. TR rode the USS Plunger in a historic ride that played a key role in recognizing the future of submarines and submariners.

http://militaryhonors.sid-hill.us/history/gwmjh_archive/Documents/Roosevelt.html

None of this credibly answers whether the dolphins Submariners wear are actual dolphins (mammals) or dolphin fish (fish).

It would be interesting to ask the Jeweler in Philadelphia what was in his mind when he crafted the pins. Interesting but probably impossible since he has more than likely died.

I also find it interesting that many nations have chosen the Dolphin for their submarine insigne since it was the traditional attendant of Poseidon, Greek god of the sea. It turns out that dolphin mythology goes back pretty far.

I’ll just leave this piece of medieval artwork with Old Poseidon and his Pet Dolphin here for all the people who want to hate:

“Hey, that thing has scales”

Mister Mac

The Origin of Submarine Dolphins – All Hands Magazine January 1961 13

Submarine Warfare Insignia

One way to distinguish a United States Navy Submariner from any other sailor is to see the dolphins predominantly displayed on his or her uniform. Officers wear a gold version and enlisted wear a silver version. I have seen many stories over the years about the origin of the insigne but this article from the Navy’s All Hands Magazine seems to sum it up nicely.

The common name for the insigne is Dolphins although in my time, they were also known as “Fish”. That’s interesting in some ways since a dolphin is a mammal and not a fish.

Dolphins of course are mammals because they have all of the major characteristics of mammals; they breathe through lungs, they are warm-blooded, they produce milk for their offspring and they have hair. They also have blowholes and must return to the surface for air.

Where did the “Fish” come from?

I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that the name fish came from a smartass Submariner who was making a snarky comparison to the men who were fishy enough to volunteer to be locked up in a steel tube that submerges for extended periods of time.  Submariners have a quirky sense of humor which can either be endearing or annoying depending on who is on the receiving end of their brand of humor.

I have heard many times that once you wear the dolphins, they are forever emblazoned into your heart. I can’t speak for all submariners, but it is certainly true for me. I am proud of the American flag and I am a humble servant of the Risen Lord. But there is a part of me that will always be a part of a very unique family known as Submariners.

One caveat: Like all good Naval Yarns that are passed along, this one probably has some elements of truth to it and some conjecture. I will leave it up to historians to decide which is which.

Mister Mac

Little did I realize when I posted this that it would generate such “critical” acclaim.

This is now the first of a two part article.  The rest of the story is found here:

https://theleansubmariner.com/2018/10/16/the-origin-of-submarine-dolphins-part-deux/

 

ALL Hands Magazine JANUARY 1961

Dolphins

“A high point in the career of many a Navy man occurs when he becomes a qualified submariner. At that time he is authorized to wear dolphins.

The correct name for the dolphins is submarine insigne. It is one of the items of uniform included under the category of breast insignia, including naval aviator, aviation observer and parachutist insignia, among others.

The submarine insignia came into use in the Navy nearly 37 years ago. It was on 13 Jun 1923 that the commander of a New London-based submarine division, took the first official steps—by way of an official recommendation. That officer was Captain Ernest Joseph King, USN, who later became Commander-in-Chief U.S. Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations.

Captain King recommended that a distinguishing device be adopted for qualified submariners, both officers and enlisted men. With his recommendation he submitted a pen-and-ink sketch of his own. The sketch showed a shield mounted on the beam ends of a submarine, with dolphins forward of, and abaft, the conning tower. The recommendation was strongly endorsed by Commander, Submarine Divisions, Atlantic Fleet, the following day and sent on to the Chief of the old Bureau of Navigation.

Over the next several months the Bureau solicited additional designs from various sources. Several were submitted. Some combined a submarine-and-shark motif. Some showed submarines and dolphins. Some used a shield design.

On 20 March 1924, the Chief of BuNav recommended to the Secretary of the Navy that the dolphin design be adopted. A few days later the recommendation was accepted by Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., Acting SecNav.

The final design shows the bow view of a submarine proceeding on the surface of the sea. Her bow planes care rigged for diving. Flanking the submarine are stylized dolphins in horizontal position with their heads resting on the upper edge of the bow planes.

As with other breast insignia (and enlisted distinguishing marks), qualifications are outlined in the Bupers Manual, while the method of wearing, a description of the design and an illustration of the design are to be found in Uniform Regulations.

The submarine insignia in the early days were awarded only to those officers qualified for submarine command. Later the criteria became “Qualified in sub- marines.” Also in the early days, the insignia were worn (both by officers and enlisted men) only when attached to submarines or submarine organizations. Under current directives however, once qualified, the insignia may be worn regardless of the duty being performed.

As first authorized, the insigne for officers was a bronze, gold-plated metal pin. Later, both a gold embroidered insigne and a gold-color metal pin became authorized.

Today enlisted submariners may wear either a silver-color metal pin or an embroidered dolphin. The latter is either white or blue, depending on the uniform worn.

Originally, the embroidered insigne was worn on an enlisted man’s right sleeve, midway between the wrist and elbow. To day it is worn on the left breast.”

ALL Hands Magazine JANUARY 1961

21 Days Under Water – The USS Pickerel’s 5200 Mile Journey at Periscope Depth 1

In 1950, the US Navy was coming to terms with its peacetime role in a Cold War setting. The Russians had obtained the German submarine technology along with the rocket scientists from captured territory. No longer content to be a coastal navy, the Russians were building their own fleet of new submarines with the ability to stay at sea for longer periods of time.  Atomic power was being worked on in secret but diesels still ruled the waves for the world’s navies.

This is a unique story about the USS Pickerel’s voyage from Hong Kong to Pearl Harbor. The entire voyage was made submerged at periscope depth. The depth allowed the boat to use its diesel’s for propulsion the entire length of the trip. I can only imagine making that run at periscope depth. Submarines are notoriously bad “rides” when they are going through any kind of seas and keeping the snorkel mast above the water line would be critical no matter what the waves brought.

The second part of the story talks about life on board the boat during the trip. Most submariners can appreciate the experience.

Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.), 10 April 1950.

21-Day Undersea Trip Of 5,200 Miles Made By U. S. Submarine

By the Associated Press

On March 15 a United States submarine dived into the Pacific off Hong Kong and didn’t surface again until 21 days later at Pearl Harbor.

In the meantime, the submarine had covered 5,200 miles. The Navy told of the trip yesterday. It did not claim a record, but officers said that this was the longest underwater run they had ever heard of. The precise time during which the submarine, the Pickerel, relied on its snorkel “breathing” apparatus was given as 505 hours, one hour over 21 days.

Importance Stressed.

The achievement, disclosed as the submarine service prepared to celebrate its 50th anniversary tomorrow, pointed up the growing importance being attached to undersea craft by Navy planners.

Recent tests showing that submarines can be used to launch guided missiles have made them a threat against coastal targets as well as sea commerce, thereby stepping up their potentialities in any future war.

At Pearl Harbor, Comdr. Paul R. Schratz of the Pickerel called the long voyage “all in the day’s work, just a routine test.”

He was asked whether the sub could be seen on the cruise, and without elaborating he said: “We had indications to the contrary.”

Pickerel Is New Craft.

The Pickerel was built at the Portsmouth, N. H., naval shipyard and was commissioned April 4, 1949. She went to the Pacific Fleet last fall.

The Snorkel apparatus with which the latest United States subs are equipped is a breathing tube which extends to the surface.

It was developed by Germany during the war, from a Dutch idea. By using the device, the submarine can operate under the surface on its diesel engines, which give it much more speed than can be had from the electric motors previously relied upon for submerged runs.

There is the added advantage of not having to come up to re charge batteries exhausted by the motors.

Fuel Supplies Only Limit.

Thus with the Snorkel equipment the time a submarine can stay down has little limitation other than fuel supplies. Pressure is being applied in this country to development of means to stretch that limit almost infinitely by application of atomic power.

Work is progressing on such an engine which would lift even the fuel and batteries requirement. An atomic-operated engine would operate indefinitely without refueling, for all practical purposes. The Westinghouse Corp. has acknowledged that it is working on an atomic power plant, but its development is expected to take from two to ten years.

American interest in submarine and anti-submarine devices has been spurred by reports that Russia is building the world’s mightiest undersea fleet—estimated currently at 250 to 300 vessels, only a small percentage of these are said to be snorkel-equipped.

German Plans Captured.

Like this country, Russia is reported to have captured German plans for a hydrogen-peroxide engine that would require no breathing tube at all. What is being done in that field either here or in the Soviet Union has been kept secret.

Along with submarine development work, the United States Navy is pushing defense measures against undersea craft.

Admiral Forrest Sherman, chief of naval operations, has assigned Vice Admiral Francis S. Low, wartime chief of anti-submarine work, to survey needs in that field. And Admiral Sherman himself has said that the Navy’s No. 1 project right now is to get more patrol planes and destroyers—both major weapons against submarines— back into the active fleet.

Along the same line Rear Admiral C. B. Momsen, assistant chief of naval operations for undersea warfare, said in an address here March 27 that he has reason to believe there will be an early development which will enable the United States to “drive submarines off the seas.”

21 Days Under Water Means Lots of Beards, 30 Movies

By the Associated Press

PEARL HARBOR, April 10.—

What do you do under water for 21 days and 5,200 miles? Comdr. Paul R. Schratz supplied the answers yesterday after commanding the snorkel-type submarine Pickerel from Hong Kong to Pearl Harbor without surfacing.

“If you feel like getting a good workout,” he said, “you just lie down until the feeling’s gone. Our main athletics were cribbage and acey-deucy.”

The 34-year-old skipper added in an interview:

“We took 30 movies along on the trip. We saw them all by the time we hit Pearl.”

Comdr. Schratz said the 67 enlisted men and eight officers abroad the 300 – foot sub “Just didn’t feel like eating much” during their underwater voyage from March 15 to April 5.

Most of the officers tried to make up by growing goatees and mustaches. Most of the crew grew full beards. These adornments didn’t last long once the men arrived here. Wives and sweethearts met them at the dock with leis and kisses.

“And. as soon as they got home, with scissors,” Schratz added.

The pickerel’s crew also whiled away some time watching tropical fish in a small aquarium they took along. The skipper, who plays first violin in the Honolulu symphony orchestra when he isn’t doing his day’s work under the Pacific, didn’t take the violin along.

Comdr. Schratz himself suggested the underwater cruise after taking part in exercises in Philippine waters.

“We used the snorkel breathing tube the entire voyage,” he said.

The Pickerel made the complete distance at periscope depth and made an average speed of about10 knots. The usual number of torpedoes for Pacific Fleet submarines was carried.

The 1,850-ton Pickerel is a standard fleet type submarine—only streamlined and with higher propulsive power than others of her class.

Mister Mac

 

A Letter No Submariner’s Father Ever Wants – Lieut. Tsutoma Sakuma and Japanese Submarine No. 6 4

Submarines have always been dangerous.

The early submarines were even more so because of the emerging technologies that had not yet evolved. The men who rode the early boats were a different breed. This story is about one of them who was a national hero in Japan and left a legacy that would have implications for decades to come. The story is about the Last Letter he ever wrote to his father. It is certainly a letter no submariner’s father ever wants to receive.

The beginning of the Japanese Submarine Fleet had its roots in America

The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) acquired its first submarines during the Russo-Japanese War on 12 December 1904 where they arrived in sections at the Yokohama dockyards. The vessels were purchased from the relatively new American company, Electric Boat, and were fully assembled and ready for combat operations by August 1905. However, hostilities with Russia were nearing its end by that date, and no submarines saw action during the war.

The submarines that Electric Boat sold to Japan were based on the Holland designs, known as Holland Type VIIs similar to the American Plunger-class submarines. The five imported Hollands were originally built at Fore River Ship and Engine Company in Quincy, Massachusetts under Busch’s direction for the Electric Boat Company back in August–October 1904. They were shipped by freighter from Seattle, Washington in Knock-down kit form to Japan, and then reassembled by Arthur Leopold Busch at the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal, which was then Japan’s largest naval shipyard, to become Hulls No. 1 through 5 and were designated Type 1 submarines by the Japanese Navy.

Frank Cable, an electrician who was working for Isaac Rice’s Electro-Dynamic and Storage Companies along with Rice’s Electric Boat, arrived some six months after Busch, training the IJN in the operation of the newly introduced vessels.

In 1904 Kawasaki Dockyard Company purchased plans for a modified version directly from Holland, and built two boats (Hulls No. 6 and 7), with the help of two American engineers, Chase and Herbert, who had been assistants to Holland. The Kawasaki-type submarines displaced 63 and 95 tons when submerged, and measured 73 and 84 feet in overall length, respectively. Both vessels measured 7 feet at the beam. This contrasted with the original five imported Holland type submarines which had arrived that same year, at over 100 tons submerged, 67 feet in overall length and 11 feet beam. The Kawasaki Type #6 and #7 submarines had gained extra speed and reduced fuel consumption by 1/4. However both boats could launch only one 18″ torpedo, and each was manned by 14 sailors, whereas the imported Holland-type submarines could fire two torpedoes and could be operated by 13 sailors. This new type was designated the Type 6 submarine by the Japanese Navy, and was used primarily for test purposes.

The Kaigun Holland #6 was launched at Kobe on 28 September 1905 and was completed six months later at Kure as the first submarine built in Japan. It sank during a training dive in Hiroshima Bay on 15 April 1910. Although the water was only 58 feet deep, there were no provisions at all for the crew to escape while submerged. The commanding officer, Lieutenant Tsutomu Sakuma, patiently wrote a description of his sailor’s efforts to bring the boat back to the surface as their oxygen supply ran out. All of the sailors were later found dead at their duty stations when this submarine was raised the following day. The sailors were regarded as heroes for their calm performance of their duties until death, and this submarine has been preserved as a memorial in Kure, Japan

SINKING OF JAPANESE SUBMARINE No. 6

When the Japanese submarine No. 6, which foundered while maneuvering in Hiroshima Bay on April 16, was raised, the following message was found. It was written by Lieut. Tsutoma Sakuma, the commander, after it became evident that the submarine could not be raised by the efforts of the crew. The translation appeared in the Kobe Herald, and is as follows:

Although there is, indeed, no excuse to make for the sinking of His Imperial Majesty’s boat and for the doing away of subordinates through my heedlessness, all on the boat have discharged their duties well, and in everything acted calmly until death. Although we are departing in pursuance of our duty to the State, the only regret we have is due to anxiety lest the then of the world may misunderstand the matter, and that thereby a blow may be given to the future development of submarines. Gentlemen, we hope you will be increasingly diligent without misunderstanding (the cause of this accident), and that you will devote your full strength to investigate everything, and so insure the future development of submarines. If this is done we shall have nothing to regret.

While going through gasoline submarine exercises we submerged too far, and when we attempted to shut the sluice valve the chain in the meantime gave way. Then we tried to close the sluice valve by hand, but it was then too late, the rear part being full of water, and the boat sank at an angle of about 25 degrees. –

The boat rested at an incline of above 13 degrees, pointing towards the stern. The switchboard being under water, the electric lights gave out. Offensive gas developed, and respiration became difficult.

At about 10 a. m. on the 15th the boat sank, and under this offensive gas we endeavored to expel the water with a hand pump.

At the same time as the vessel was being submerged, we expelled the water from the main tank. The light having gone out the gauge cannot be seen, but we know that the water has been expelled from the main tank. We cannot use the electric current entirely The electric liquid is overflowing, but no salt water has entered, and chlorine gas has not developed.

We only rely upon the hand pump now. The above has been written under the light of the conning tower, when it was 1145 o’clock. We are now soaked by the water that has made its way in. Our clothes are pretty wet and we feel cold.

I had always been used to warn my shipmates that their behavior (on an emergency) should be calm and delicate while brave; otherwise we could not hope for development and progress, and that, at the same time, one should not cultivate excessive delicacy lest work should be retarded. People may be tempted to ridicule this after this failure, but I am perfectly confident that my previous words have not been mistaken.

The depth gauge of the conning tower indicates 52, and despite the endeavor to expel the water, the pump stopped, and did not work after twelve o’clock. The depth in this neighborhood being ten fathoms the reading may be correct.

The officers and men of submarines must be appointed from the most distinguished among the distinguished, or there will be annoyance in cases like this. Happily all the members of this crew have discharged their duties well, and I feel satisfied.

I have always expected death whenever I left my home, and therefore my will is already in the drawer at Karasaki. (This remark refers only to my private affairs, and it is not necessary.

Messrs. Taguchi and Asami ! Please inform my father of this.)

I respectfully beg to say to His Majesty, I respectfully request that none of the families left by my subordinates shall suffer. The only thing I am anxious about now is this.

Please convey my compliments to the following gentlemen:

(the order may not be proper) : —Minister Saito; Vice-Admiral Shimamura; Vice-Admiral Fujii; Rear-Admiral Nawa; Rear Admiral Yamashita; Rear-Admiral Narita. (Atmospheric pressure is increasing, and I feel as if my tympanum were breaking.)

Captain Oguri; Captain Ide; Commander Matsumura (Junichi); Captain Matsumura (Riu); Commander Matsumura (Kiku) —my elder brother. Captain Funakoshi; Instructor Narita Kotaro; Instructor Ikuta Kokinji. –

12.30 o’clock, respiration is extraordinarily difficult. I mean I am breathing gasoline. I am intoxicated with gasoline.

Captain Nakano

It is 12.40 o’clock.

 

After the submarine was lifted from the sea, the tone soon changed to praise of Sakuma and his crew for the glorious way they died while carrying out their duty.

Lt. Sakuma was in the conning tower, just as he had been when commanding his crew in majestic fashion, but instead lying in eternal repose as though still alive. The helmsman had expired with his hand still on the handle of the rudder … That they kept their composure is the mark of military men, and their devotion to the duty in the face of death is moving in the extreme. *

* Tokyo Asahi Shimbun, April 20, 1910. Furthermore, in the Kobunbiko Maki 26-2, Dairoku Sensuitei Sounanji ni Okeru Teinai Eisei Jokyo ni Kansuru Chosahokoku (Report on the Conditions Inside the Vessel at the Time of the Submarine No. 6 Accident), Lt. Sakuma is described as having been found at the aft side of the bottom of the conning tower.

The newspapers published a copy of his original letter. The original letter was stored at the Kure Naval Shipyard and was destroyed in a fire during the Great Kanto Earthquake.

I have read through the letter three times now.

It reminds me of a dream I used to have a long time ago.

Mister Mac

Post Number 637 – Commemorating the USS Sturgeon SSN 637 7

Workhorses of the Cold War

Over forty years ago when I first volunteered for submarine duty, one of the hottest boats in the fleet was the boats of the 637 Class. These workhorses were responsible for so many missions during the Cold War that it would be  impossible to catalog them all on a single blog post.

Most people will never know how many times these boats performed missions that protected our country. Their missions were secret then and many probably remain so now. But like all submarines, they are only as good as the men who manned them. I salute the service and sacrifice that each crew member made in the defense of this great nation. Submariners receive the designation of “SS” when they become qualified.

Service and Sacrifice seem to fit that title very well.

To all who served on these fine submarines, hand salute.

 

SSN-637 Sturgeon class

STURGEON class submarines were built for anti-submarine warfare in the late 1960s and 1970s. Using the same propulsion system as their smaller predecessors of the SSN-585 Skipjack and SSN-594 Permit classes, the larger Sturgeons sacrificed speed for greater combat capabilities.

They were equipped to carry the HARPOON missile, the TOMAHAWK cruise missile, and the MK-48 and ADCAP torpedoes. Torpedo tubes were located amidships to accommodate the bow-mounted sonar. The sail-mounted dive planes rotate to a vertical position for breaking through the ice when surfacing in Arctic regions.

Beginning with SSN-678 Archerfish units of this class had a 10-foot longer hull, giving them more living and working space than previous submarines of the Sturgeon Class.

A total of six Sturgeon-class boats were modified to carry the SEAL Dry Deck Shelter [DDS], one in 1982 and five between 1988 and 1991. They were SSN 678-680, 682, 684, 686 were listed as “DDS Capable” — either permanently fitted with the DDS or trained with them. In this configuration they were primarily tasked with the covert insertion of Special Forces troops from an attached Dry Deck Shelter (DDS). The Dry Deck Shelter was a submersible launch hanger with a hyperbaric chamber that attaches to the ship’s Weapon Shipping Hatch. The DDS provided the most tactically practical means of SEAL delivery due to its size, capabilities, and location on the ship.

Rapidly phased out in favor of the LOS ANGELES and SEAWOLF Classes of attack submarines, this venerable and flexible workhorse of the submarine attack fleet has been completely retired now. Attracting little publicity during its heyday, this class of ship was the platform of choice for many of the Cold War missions for which submarines were now famous.

SSN 637 USS Sturgeon

Sturgeon’s keel was laid down by General Dynamics Corporation, Groton, CT, 10AUG63; Launched: 26FEB66; Sponsored by Mrs. Everett Dirkson; Commissioned: 3MAR67 with Cdr. Curtis B. Shellman, Jr. in command; Decommissioned: 1AUG94

USS STURGEON (SSN637) was the third ship of the line to bear the name STURGEON and the lead ship of 37 nuclear fast attack submarines of the Sturgeon-class.

STURGEON departed Groton, Connecticut in April 1967 and conducted her shakedown cruise down the east coast with ports of call in Norfolk, Virginia, Charleston, South Carolina, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, St. Croix in the American Virgin Islands, and Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. In September she conducted the first of her many extended submarine operations. Upon return to port, STURGEON was transferred to Development Group 2. In January 1968 the boat began a five week antisubmarine exercise to evaluate the relative effectiveness of the STURGEON and PERMIT class submarines.

In late May and early June of 1968 STURGEON participated in the search for the lost submarine USS SCORPION (SSN-589) in the vicinity of the Azores. She then participated in tests and evaluations of a new sonar detection device from December 1968 to February 1969. After a brief visit to the Naval Academy in March 1969 her crew held intense training for her deployment in May. STURGEON was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal for her outstanding service in 1968. She received a second Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal for completing a special project for the CNO.

From January to April 1970 STURGEON was deployed. She then spent several weeks aiding and evaluating aircraft anti-submarine warfare tactics and equipment. She also participated in intense submarine exercises and sound trials. From October 1970 until October 1971 STURGEON was in overhaul in Groton, Connecticut, where she received the Navy Unit Commendation Medal for exceptional Service in 1970.

After completing her overhaul STURGEON was transferred to Submarine Squadron Ten based at New London. She completed her refresher training and shakedown cruise and then participated in two antisubmarine exercises before returning to Groton for a restricted availability period. Once completed, STURGEON began extensive tests on sonar systems until the end of 1972.

Starting in 1973, STURGEON conducted extended submarine operations in the Narragansett Bay Op Area. In April she sailed to the fleet weapons range in the Caribbean where she ran aground and was forced to return to Groton in June to repair damage. She then conducted extensive local operations and finally entered Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to effect bow repairs. She remained in the yard until April 1974.

After sea trials and a ten day upkeep STURGEON sailed to Norfolk to join other fleet units participating in Atlantic Readiness Exercise 1-73. In November of that same year STURGEON sailed for the Mediterranean for a six-month deployment with the 6th Fleet. STURGEON spent Christmas and New Year’s in Naples, Italy, and then spent the next few months conducting sea trials, ASW exercises and various other operations in the Med. She returned to New London in May 1975 and conducted post deployment standdown. For the rest of 1975 she conducted midshipmen operations and participated in exercises MOBY DICK and OCEAN SAFARI which ended with a port visit in Rosyth, Scotland.

In June 1976 STURGEON was transferred from Squadron Ten to Submarine Squadron Four homeported in Charleston, South Carolina. STURGEON again deployed to the Med in May 1978 here she conducted many special operations and also participated in the Mediterranean ASW Week and National Week XXV. She was highly commended by COMSIXTHFLT for here outstanding performance. She returned to Charleston in November and commenced a well deserved standdown.

In 1979 STURGEON was again making preparations to deploy. She deployed from June until September and had various port visits which included Holy Loch, Scotland and Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Upon return to port she conducted a Selected Restricted Availability period at the Charleston Naval Shipyard.

In September 1980 STURGEON again departed to the Med where she conducted ASW operations and participated in USN PASSEX with the 30th Airwing of Italy. She returned to Charleston in February 1981 for standdown and upkeep. In August 12981 STURGEON participated in OPERATION OCEAN VENTURE 81, Phase IV and crossed the Arctic Circle on 1 September 1981 at 006 41′ East. She was awarded the Battle Efficiency “E,” engineering “E,” the Antisubmarine Warfare and Operations “A” and the Damage Control “DC” for fiscal year 1981.

From January to March 1982 STURGEON conducted special operations. She was the first U.S. nuclear submarine to visit Brest, France, and the first U.S. nuclear submarine since 1969 to visit any French port.

In March 1984 STURGEON provided support for a multi-national task group engaged in amphibious operations in the eastern Atlantic and Norwegian Sea. She also visited Trondheim, Norway where she hosted the Lord Mayor of Trondheim, Commander Trondelag Naval District, and the U.S. Ambassador to Norway.

During January 1985 STURGEON provided vital SEAL support during diver operations. STURGEON at that time completed a record number Lock Ins/Lock Outs for SSN diver operations. She also conducted a number of SEAL full mission profiles and developed new techniques to improve success, particularly in the area associated with rendezvous and recovery. In February STURGEON conducted two special CNO operational evaluations on USS FLYING FISH (SSN-673). In March STURGEON hosted commander Submarine Group SIX.

RADM Stanley Catola, and a group of local businessmen and community leaders on a dependent’s cruise. STURGEON then entered the yards for a non-refueling overhaul at Charleston, South Carolina Naval Shipyard which lasted until November 1986. While in the yards, STURGEON updated her Sonar to the BQWQ-5C, Fire Control to the CCS MK-1 and gave the ship the capability to shoot Tomahawk Missiles.

In early 1987 STURGEON completed all tests and certifications for here new systems satisfactorily. In August she deployed to the Mediterranean, the first deployment since 1985. STURGEON remained in the Med for the rest of 1987 and while there developed new operational procedures for employment of the MK-67 SLMN mines. She returned to Charleston on 31 January 1988.

1988 was highlighted by STURGEON passing a surprise ORSE with superior performance, a TRE with a grade of above average and a NPTI with a grade of outstanding in 10 of 12 categories. She then went into SRA to update the fire control system to give her the capability to shoot ADCAP MK-48 torpedoes. For her efforts in fiscal year 1988 STURGEON was judged as one of the outstanding submarines of the Atlantic Fleet. The boat was awarded a second consecutive Battle “E”, engineering “E” and the Supple “E” for Submarine Squadron Four.

In March 1989 STURGEON deployed to the Arctic Ocean for ICEX 1-89. While deployed she hosted a Congressional delegation on the ice pack. STURGEON also conducted several missions of scientific importance and a joint operation with the British Navy to further develop ASW capabilities. She returned to homeport in June. In September 1989 Hurricane Hugo devastated the South Carolina coast. STURGEON remained in port due to a Steam Generator Inspection and came through the storm with no damage. In the aftermath of the storm STURGEON sailors assisted the local community and provided assistance to 643 families.

STURGEON was again deployed from June to September 1990 and was awarded the Battle “E,” Engineering “E,” ASW “A,” and the Supple “E” for that fiscal year.

In January 1991 STURGEON was included in the highly successful operation SWAMP FOX, a multi-unit exercise that took her to a port visit in Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. From April to June STURGEON completed another highly successful deployment. STURGEON then entered a Selected Restricted Availability and underwent a complete refurbishing, leaving the drydock in mid-October. For her effort in 1991 STURGEON once again was awarded the Battle “E”, ASW “A”, and the Communications “C.”

1992 saw STURGEON completing another highly successful exercise SWAMP FOX 92. After the exercise STURGEON spent a week in Cap Canaveral, Florida. In late August, STURGEON deployed to the North Atlantic, diverting to Faslane, Scotland for repairs. After leaving Faslane for tests in the Irish Sea, STURGEON became entangled in an Irish fisherman’s net. No one was injured and minor damage was done to both vessels. STURGEON then returned to Charleston for repairs.

1993 was STURGEON’s final full year of operation. Intensive training for a highly sensitive CNO project occupied the majority of STURGEON’s time. However, STURGEON had a chance for a port visit to Port Everglades, Florida in July. In early October STURGEON departed Charleston to participate in SWAMP FOX 93-1 and then deploy. STURGEON returned to Charleston in late November following the completion of another very successful deployment.

In December 1993 and January 1994 STURGEON’s crew once more conducted an intense upkeep, preparing for her deactivation ceremony, several short operations, and final transit to Bremerton, Washington for decommissioning. She was deactivated in Charleston, South Carolina on January 14, 1994, and decommissioned on 1 August 1994. She was scrapped at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, 11 Sep 1995.

On September 15, 1995 at the Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport, Washington, a ceremony commemorated the transfer of the USS STURGEON (SSN637) sail from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. The sail, now located in the museum parking lot, is the only detached sail from a nuclear fast attack submarine on display anywhere in the United States.

Correction from a shipmate: I really enjoy your posts. However, I would like to point out that my qual boat, USS Lapon (SSN 661) sail is on display at American Legion Post 639 in Springfield Missouri. Lapon was also a Sturgeon Class boat.

So Apparently there are two! Good to know but the bucket list just grew again.

The USS Surgeon and I were both decommissioned on the same day (August 1, 1994). As I look at the world around us, I sure do wish both of us could sail again to counter the threats that are emerging. Thank God we have new boats and new submariners willing to raise their hands (twice) and service this great nation.

Mister Mac

 

 

Submarines: “from a boy to a giant” 4

One of my favorite pastimes is discovering unique stories about the United States Submarine force and the development through the ages.

There is no better witness to the phenomenal growth than that of one of the most profound influences on submarine operation and development: Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz. The most fascinating thing about this man was that he came from such a humble beginning in Fredericksburg, Texas where he originally desired an appointment to the Military Academy. Fortunately for the world, he failed to gain entry and instead went to the Naval Academy where he graduated  with distinction in his class.

His service record is covered elsewhere but one thing was common throughout was his understanding of the potential for a submarine force even when the very idea was being kept in check by the Admirals.

The Navy published a series of submarine brochures but these quotes come from the 1969 edition. Admiral Nimitz had already gone on final patrol but his Forward was kept as a tribute to his memory.

In late 1965, Nimitz suffered a stroke, complicated by pneumonia. In January 1966, he left the U.S. Naval Hospital (Oak Knoll) in Oakland to return home to his naval quarters. He died at home at age 80 on the evening of February 20 at Quarters One on Yerba Buena Island in San Francisco Bay. His funeral on February 24 was at the chapel of adjacent Naval Station Treasure Island and Nimitz was buried with full military honors at Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno. He lies alongside his wife and his long-term friends Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, Admiral Richmond K. Turner, and Admiral Charles A. Lockwood and their wives, an arrangement made by all of them while living

But his words live on in eternity. So does his impact on Naval Sea Power

United States Navy Submarine Brochure

As a Midshipman at the Naval Academy, l had my first ride in the United States Navy’s first submarine – USS HOLLAND. Thus in the brief span of my life, l have seen the submarine grow “from a boy to a giant” of the Polaris submarine with strength untold for our land of freedom.

(The airplane and the submarine both began to join the Fleet early in this 20th century, as invention and engineering provided reliable internal combustion engines and other engineering wonders. Each of the strange new means of warfare promised to destroy the power of Fleets – at least in the minds of enthusiasts. Instead, they have brought incredible new power.

l early joined submarines as a young officer, engaged in experimental developments, commanded the submarine forces of the U. S. Atlantic Fleet, studied diesels in Germany and helped to introduce them into our Navy.

For years afterward l continued to serve in submarines afloat. Then, as naval duties took me away from the submarines, l followed their steady development with undiminished interest.

When l assumed Command of the Pacific Fleet, l hoisted my flag in USS GRAYLlNG (SS-209).

When detached, after V-J Day which owed so much to the valor, skill and dedicated service of submariners, l lowered my flag from the gallantly battle-tested USS MENHADEN (SS-377).

While Chief of Naval Operations, with imaginative leaders like my Deputy, Vice Admiral Forrest Sherman, Vice Admiral Charles A. Lockwood, Naval Inspector General, who brilliantly commanded our Pacific submarine operations during much of World War ll, and Vice Admiral Earle Mills, Chief of Bureau of Ships, l was happy to initiate the development of nuclear power afloat.

The decision was based in considerable part on a major study completed by Dr. Philip Abelson of Naval Research Laboratory in early 1946. All the foregoing officers were enthusiastic about the prospects. lt struck me that if it worked we would be far in front in the ceaseless race in armed strength to keep our country strong and free. The fantastic speed and unlimited radius of action offered by atomic power gave promise of at last making possible the true submarine with indefinite endurance submerged. Its feasibility had been explored in the Navy in the early ’40’s but the development had been set aside by the war and the single goal in atomic energy of the Manhattan Project. Now was the time to get underway. What remarkable results have followed.

Thus for much of my life, l have had faith in the submarine as l have had faith in the rest of the Navy and our great land of America. Each by being true to itself—seeking efficiency and power for noble ends—has been a blessing, just as for ignoble ends, it could be a curse. l am convinced that the mighty Polaris submarine, bearing imperishable names like Washington, Lincoln and Lee, will prove a blessing to America of the future and to all men as they reach upward to the light.

Chester W. Nimitz

Fleet Admiral, U. S. Navy

Two of the boats from 41 for Freedom.

1969 Submarine Brochure Introduction

Fleet Admiral Nimitz’s foreword, written for an earlier edition of the Submarine Brochure some 3 years before his death, points up the vast and growing influence of the sea to our destiny. ln this growth, the submarine fleet in particular has made such strides that we have found it necessary to issue a new edition of this compact account every few years.

The first submarine brochure came out under the skilled direction of Commander D. V. Hickey, USN, now retired, and Lieutenant Henry Vadnais, USNR, of the Curator section. This latest edition has been ably modified by Commander V. J. Robison, USNR, now directing the Curator section, Commander C. F. Johnson, USN, Commander H. Vadnais, USNR, and the diligent application of Mr. Robert L. Scheina. We also owe special appreciation for assistance to the following commanders and their staffs: Admiral lgnatius J. Galantin, Chief of Naval Material; Vice Admiral J. B. Colwell, Commander Fleet Operations and Readiness; Vice Admiral Arnold F. Schade, Commander Submarine Force, Atlantic Fleet; Rear Admiral Walter L Small, Commander Submarine Force, Pacific; and Captain Leon H. Rathbun, Commander Submarine School.

The swift growth of the under sea part of the trident Navy reflects the broad growth of sea power as a whole and of its effect upon the fate of nations in our time. Throughout history the sea has stood for freedom— free horizons, free transit without frontiers or barriers, free opportunity for him who ventures boldly and skillfully. Fortunate indeed then is it that this increase in power at sea has come when the United States has received responsibility for the leadership of civilization. May she meet this charge wisely, courageously, and well

M. Eller

“He goes a great voyage that goes to the bottom of the sea.”

George Herbert, 1651

Mister Mac