A Submariner's Poem
by Al Alessandra - July 3, 2005
Run silent, run deep
For freedom we fought to keep
How we spent so many days
Beneath the shimmering waves
A terrible foe we fought
And gave our lives; and freedom bought
Now our souls forever lie
Restlessly beneath the waves
So silent now, so deep
For it is not enough for you to weep
For we shall not have died in vain
Lest you forget for what we gave
We gave our lives, freedom to save
For if you forget our deeds
Then we shall never sleep
Though we lie so silent, so deep
by Bob Harrison, Greenfield Indiana, 9/4/2000
Long before the advent of the hippie and the yuppie
There was a class of warship that was fondly called the Guppy.
Now the Guppy was a submarine, in case you didn't know
Long and black and sleek she was, and always on the go.
In World War Two, the submarines were our first line of attack
Many of them went out to sea and some did not come back.
Now the submariners knew this but still they went to war
To defend their nation's freedom was what they were fighting for.
After World War Two had ended, when the Japs and Germans quit
Someone thought the old subs should be streamlined just a bit.
So they re-designed the old boats and named them Guppy Class
With snorkels, better batteries and a hull to make 'em fast.
They went to sea both north and south from east to setting sun
They never knew when night was o'er and daytime had begun.
Theirs was a life of silence and the darkness of the deep
Sometimes their only pleasure were a few hours of blessed sleep.
They ploughed the seas from Pole to Pole in defense of freedom's goals
From Pearl Harbor and Yokosuka to the faroff iceland shoals.
To spy on Soviet submarines and other ships of war
Was the job of these brave lads who roamed the ocean floor.
They ran patrols from Greenland to the shores of Timbuktu.
The GIUK GAP and MED RUN were just nothing for a crew
Of Guppy sailors who thought the NORTHERN RUN okay.
Then take shore leave in Norfolk for another night of play.
How many Guppies were there? Far more than I could name
And each has earned an honored place in the Guppy Hall of Fame.
They fought the war with Soviets in secrecy and guile
Until the foe gave up the fight, which made it all worth while.
Now they're gone, as all ships go when their tour of duty's o'er
Brave Guppy stalwart warriors, they roam the seas no more.
They've gone to graves far out at sea and this should be their lot
Gone from the sight of those they served but not to be forgot.
Final Remarks of Piper's Third War Patrol
by Lieutenant Commander Edward L. Beach, Commanding Officer, USS
PIPER - 1945
The Commanding Officer may be pardoned, surely, for feeling a little
disappointment at the fact that, after eleven War Patrols in subordinate
capacities, he finally achieved command, and entered one of the last areas
still considered potentially productive with a ship and crew trained to a
high condition of readiness, only to have the war end ten hours after he
arrived in the area.
It is, however, with a soul full of emotion that he adds these final
remarks to what may well be the last War Patrol of the Submarine War.
Having served in Submarines Pacific since the start of the war, since
those dark days of 1942 when disaster appeared to be pressing steadily
closer and closer, having seen (and been part of) that thin grey wall
which held the enemy in check while the nation looked at despair and came
raging back - - having fought beside men who laughed at futility, who spit
in the face of the dragon, who quietly and gaily interposed their puny
bodies athwart the course of the Beast - - having grieved at those names
who inspired us and left their legacy - - HARDER, SEAWOLF, WAHOO, TRIGGER,
GUDGEON, TANG, BONEFISH, GRAYBACK - - he hopes that he may be forgiven for
a bit of sentimentality.
The realization is growing swiftly that no more will the warheads announce
our answer to the barbarians; no more will the loins quiver and spine
tingle at the chase; no more will the heady champagne of conflict steady
our aim; nor will experience the fierce joy of a sturdy hull, a steady
hand on the helm, four engines roaring a bit more than their rated full
power, of riding our steel chariot bridge right into the teeth of the huge
foe, tearing out his vitals while in terror he vainly shoots his guns and
helplessly tries to get away.
Never again the blind groping of the water mole, listening, always
listening - - nor the steaming, sweating, drenching heat, the decks and
bulkheads solid water, perspiration running down your bare chest and back,
soaking the rags and towels you vainly throw around you, soaking your
trousers and shoes - - while you pay no attention, act unconcerned (if
they only knew), keep reliefs going to the planes and steering, keep
checking all compartments after each salvo, keep the soundman on - - He's
dead tired but you couldn't get rid of him anyway - - and you listen, and
guess, and maneuver, and wait. . . . .
And now, the small perspective grows large. It wasn't just one sub against
Japan. In that cloudy sky, there are no longer enemy planes, out to get
that sub. In those white-capped waves are no longer the periscopes of the
foe, but only our own. In these contested waters floats a mighty fleet,
but it flies the stars and stripes. On that distant shore there is a great
army, but it calls itself "G.I." instead of "Son of Heaven". Suddenly the
truth stands as high and broad as the free air we breathe. We were never
alone! Japan, poor fool, you never had a chance! The thin grey line never
faltered - - couldn't falter - - as long as we had faith. And never was
faith more fully, more gloriously justified. Our thin grey line suddenly
exploded with the accumulated wrath of years of toil and patience, became
overnight, the grey juggernaut of revenge, and it ground, slowly at first,
then faster and faster, more audaciously, finally with breath-taking
speed, but always exceedingly fine.
Pearl Harbor, you will never be forgotten. The day of infamy will live in
the memories of men who gazed, with shocked eyes, on the pride of our Navy
sprawled in the mud. It will never be forgotten by a people who suddenly
found that their vaunted steel walls had been betrayed by a complacent
public, and all but destroyed by a vicious enemy. But that day welded our
country into a force, backed by outraged reason, righteous indignation,
and burning shame, which has not rested until the debt has been paid. Yes,
Pearl Harbor, you have been amply and truly avenged. And, as we dwell upon
this destruction we have wrought upon the perpetrators of that crime, we
may well give thanks to Almighty God that, although the price was heavy,
we have reaffirmed the faith of our fathers, the founders of this great
nation. The flag of our country stands, now more than ever, as a symbol of
liberty, and everlasting triumph of a free people against the putrescent
hordes of the Beast. Long may it wave on high!
Cribbage Trivia for Submariners
contributed by shipmate Charlie Patch
Cribbage has been popular with mariners for hundreds of years, enjoying
especially widespread play in the Navy during World War II. It was thought
of as the unofficial game of submariners, who played round the clock as
they patrolled for Japanese ships.
The most famous incident related to cribbage in the Navy occurred in 1943
aboard one of the war's most celebrated submarines, the USS Wahoo. For the
Wahoo's fourth war patrol, it was ordered to head to the extreme northern
reaches of the Yellow Sea, an area where no sub had gone before. The
waters near the Dairen Peninsula were shallow, and crewmembers grew
nervous as they glided into dangerous territory. To take their minds off
the tension, the sub's commander, Dudley "Mush" Morton and his executive
officer, Richard "Dick" O' Kane, began a game of cribbage. Morton dealt O'
Kane a "Perfect 29" hand, four fives and a Jack, the highest possible
score for combinations in a single cribbage deal. Back-of-the-envelope
calculations were done, and 216,000 to 1 were the odds thrown out as to
the chances of that happening. The crew's spirits were bolstered by what
they felt was a very lucky omen. O' Kane had his fellow officers sign the
five cards and he framed them.
Rear Admiral Richard Hetherington "Dick" O' Kane has the distinction of
directly participating in more successful attacks on Japanese shipping
than any other fighting submarine officer during the war. Good fortune did
prevail on the patrol - at its end the Wahoo had set a record for the
number of ships sunk. It continued for O' Kane too. When he was detached
from the Wahoo and given command of the Tang, that sub broke the former's
record for most ships sunk in a single patrol. And while he was captured
by the Japanese when the Tang was sunk by an errant torpedo that circled
back and hit it, O' Kane survived the war, and was awarded the Medal of
Honor for his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" during his
submarine's final operations.
O' Kane's lucky cribbage board has become an important submariner
tradition; since WWII it has been passed along to the oldest active
submarine in the United States Pacific Fleet. Once the sub is
decommissioned, it is given to the next oldest submarine, where it is
placed in the wardroom.
The famous crib board currently resides aboard the USS Bremerton SSN698,
which launched in 1978.
Blow Bow Buoyancy!
by shipmate Tom Taylor Lt.(SS)(Ret) USN
After the war wound down in 1945 the Piper was assigned to school boat
duties at the sub base in New London. I had been aboard about six months,
got a promotion to Fireman First Class and had received my dolphins which
at that time were worn on the left sleeve of the blue and white jumper. I
had been assigned to the Auxiliary Gang and my watch station and battle
station at sea was the air manifold in the Control Room.
Early in 1946 a new officer reported aboard who had spent most of the war
years in a Japanese prison camp. Because of the ravages of time my memory
no longer allows me to come up with the name of his sub that was sunk off
the coast of Japan in '42. Anyway, his rank was Ensign when he was picked
out of the water by the Japanese. After the war and his release and
through the magic of the pentagon and the US Senate he was awarded the
rank of LtCdr. He was still slightly emaciated from his time in captivity.
After about a week aboard the Piper he was assigned as diving officer
during training exercises.
There was a time early one morning about 0600, the Officer Sub School
class came aboard for a one day training cruise. During the time at sea
the trainees were alternated between the various stations including
steering bow and stern planes, Maneuvering Rom, Conning Tower TDC and both
Torpedo Rooms. On this day our brand new LtCdr was diving officer and for
the first few dives all went well. Targets were tracked and water slugs
from both Torpedo Rooms were fired.
We were on our fifth dive when the conning Tower ordered the Forward
Torpedo Room to make two tubes ready to fire water slugs. A routine order.
Although no water had been shifted by the trim manifold, the boat suddenly
took a down angle. I was on the air manifold and could see the bubble and
depth gages from my station. Along with down angle the depth gage showed
we were going past periscope depth. I looked at the Diving Officer
anticipating an order to do something. In the sub navy no independent
action is taken unless an order is given or there is extreme danger to the
boat or crew. The diving officer had a death grip on the conning tower
ladder hand rail and did not appear to comprehend what was happening. When
we passed 250 feet I spoke up "request permission to put a bubble in bow
buoyancy sir!" This seemed to have stirred something in him and he replied
"permission granted". The skipper made it to the Control Room about the
time I made my request to bubble bow buoyancy. He didn't say anything so I
guess he wanted to see how this officer performed under pressure.
We finally got to a zero bubble attitude but we were still heavy and
slowly increasing our depth. I asked permission to blow main ballast tanks
and he again responded "permission granted". We surfaced without further
incident. An investigation later found that the trainee officer in the
torpedo room had flooded two tubes from sea instead of using water from
the WRT tank. This had given us about 2000 pounds in the bow which created
the problem. All's well that ends well.
Two weeks later the LtCdr was transferred. I never did find out where he
Thomas Black - Holland Club Induction Address
June 4, 2011
(Tom, IC3(SS), served on Piper 1963 - 1964)
The US Navy is an Adventure! My "Adventure" began Jan. 7, 1960. I had
wanted to be a Sailor as long as I can remember and my desire never
wavered. My first duty station was the Great Lakes Training Command where
I did "Boot Camp". After which, I attended Interior Communications
Electrician 'A" School. Upon graduation, I was ordered to Submarine
School, New London, CT, to learn the basics of Submarine. The training
also included boarding a Submarine for the day and sailing down the Thames
River to the Long Island Sound where we did 16 Dives and hopefully 16
Surfaces. That first trip was a wondrous and memorable experience. I
absolutely loved every part of it. The noise, the intensity of the crew,
the power of the engines, the raucous sound of the Klaxon for the first
time, the quiet when we submerged and the delicious aromas that came from
the Galley. I was enthralled with every aspect of Submarine Duty.
In October I was assigned to the USS Corsair SS 435 (no Snorkel and 2 Main
Inductions). When "She" was decommissioned in 1963 I was transferred to
the USS Piper SS 409, the last "Boat" to come back from War Patrol in
1945. There is a familiar phrase that states, "Join the Navy and see the
World" and I DID! Just to list a few; Halifax, NS; St. John's, NB;
Bermuda; Christmas in Monaco with Princess Grace Kelly; transit the Suez
Canal; Thanksgiving in Djibouti, SA; entered the Red Sea; refueled in the
Port of Aden and continued on to Karachi, Pakistan. It was at his time we
returned to the Mediterranean Sea to begin our trip home. Let me point out
that there was also Liberty Call in Italy, France, Spain and Portugal.
As great as all the sights, sounds and smells were, it was your shipmates
and friends that was truly impressive. Besides having to volunteer for the
Submarine Service a Sailor is required to pass rigorous mental and
physical screening, the failure rate is very high. These men also have to
be fearless and brave. I had the distinct honor to serve with Chief Joe
Negri, COB on the USS Piper. He was a big man, who was caring and patient
with the many sailors that he supervised. It goes without saying that he
was a great leader who lead by example. I can recall an incident that
typifies the silent courage that he possessed. While we were traveling
south in the Suez Canal, I was standing, topside forward of the Sail, next
to Chief Negri and off our starboard side, in the distance, was an
Egyptian Air Base. At the time the Egyptians had close ties with Russia
and we were close enough that we could observe that they had MIG fighter
jets on the tarmac. Needless to say, it was a great opportunity to take
some pictures through the periscope. As we were doing this, I could hear a
roar coming up the Canal. As I looked I saw an Egyptian fighter bomber
rapidly approaching and he was only 75 feet off the deck. As he came
closer, I could see the Bomb Bay Doors opening. Fighting the urge to jump
over the side, I looked to the Chief for guidance and with that I saw this
man, who suddenly grew to 10 or 15 feet and had to weigh a muscular 500
lbs, turn his body so that he faced this plane full on. At the same time,
I saw what appeared to be a camera being lowered from the bomb bay.
Without hesitating in the least, Joe raised his right arm and gave a one
finger salute, as they flew over us. He was fearless.
Joining me today are my 8 grandchildren, 3 daughters, 2 son in laws, 2
nieces and their husbands and my wonderful wife of 46 years. Who met the
"Boat" upon our return from the "Med".
This prestigious ceremony today gives us an opportunity to say "Thanks" to
all Submariners, past and present and God Bless all those on Eternal
Booster, Booster, Who's Got The Booster?
by Robert F. Marble TMCS(SS) USN (Ret), Piper 1954-1960
I was looking through the "Piper Shipmates On Eternal Patrol" and decided
that I'm the only one alive to relate this story. It has been a well-kept
secret until now.
Piper got underway from N'Lon and headed North for it's first Cold War
deterrent patrol in September, 1957. We had tin cans in all the bilges and
all over the torpedo room decks; spuds in the AB hatch trunk and showers.
We had a full load of MK 14-3A steam-driven and Mk 27 electrical acoustic
torpedoes in both rooms.
As we neared the Texas Tower near Boston, MA, sonar picked up a contact.
It wasn't one of ours, so the CO ordered a MK 27 made fully ready to shoot
the FTR. Lester McEwen, TM2 and I worked the forward room. We broke out
the Operation Procedure for the MK 27 and looked at the photos of the
warhead and its components. Then we got a MK 142 Exploder mechanism out of
its stowage and searched for a booster, but could not locate one. I
checked the torpedo log for the day we loaded our ammo from the subBase,
and could not find any boosters on the list. The Torpedo Officer had
signed that receipt........
I went to the ATR and asked Robert Taylor, TM1 and Joseph P. Dooley TM2 if
they knew where the boosters were. They never heard of one, until I showed
them the photo of one in the MK 27 OP.
A couple days prior to getting underway, we asked the torpedo shop for
some instructions on the MK 27 acoustic torpedo, but they were very busy
getting warshots ready for all the boats that were going to sea, and they
just told us to check the OP, all the info is in there. None of the
torpedo gang had been to school on this new torpedo.
Needless to say, we had to do something fast..........We decided to insert
the MK 142 exploder mechanism in the nose cavity of the torpedo, make it
fully ready and tube-load it. We reported "MK 27 loaded in #1 tube" to
Control and got a "Control, aye" response on the 7MC. We now had a secret,
and swore not to divulge it to anyone, not even to "Shorty" Wolters, the
Some time later Sonar lost the contact and we continued on our merry way
to the Faroe Islands for our patrol, hoping that if we shoot it, the
evidence will go with it. When we got back to the base in N'Lon, we
off-loaded the MK 27s and never heard any more about the missing booster.
We checked with the TMs on The USS SEA ROBIN (SS-407) (Taylor's old boat
that made the same patrol) and they didn't have any boosters
Keep your eyes on the bubble,
by Robert F. Marble TMCS(SS) USN (Ret), Piper 1954-1960
Back on 7/19/1958, PIPER got underway to check out two newly installed
"goodies"...... One was the new Magnetic Underwater Log, replacing the old
Pitlog and a newly-installed depth (Fathometer) sounder. After
successfully completing the checks and calibrations, we were en-route to
the Faroe Islands near Soviet Territory to do things that make "Blind
Man's Bluff" believable.
RMC Barney D. Wixom was COW on the 0400 to 0800 watch, and EMC "Dinny"
was his relief. PIPER is laying off Wood's End at Provincetown, MA waiting
for sunrise to run the measured mile to calibrate the new Magnetic log and
check out the new Fathometer.
I was up early and passed through COC with coffee in hand, when Barney sez
"acccording to the trace on this new-fangled thing, we're aground." The
Conning Tower was manned by Skelton QM2, taking "fixes" every 15 minutes,
logging them and reporting to LT. "Willie" Lent, the OOD on the bridge and
the Operations Officer LT. Rowan. He noticed something wrong immediately,
PIPER had stopped swinging in the morning breeze as had been the case
earlier. He logged this and reported as before. The OOD acknowledged and
the OPS Officer told him not to sweat it and lay back down on the Conning
Tower deck mats, to go back to sleep. Wixom was relieved by the COB,
The IC electrician on watch in COC noticed the clinometer reading at the
COC Emergency Helm, 'twas about a bubble off, indicating a list. The COW
dispatched the off-watch lookout to notify CO LCDR. Bowcock, Jr. who was
asleep in his stateroom. He came into the COC in his shorts to find out
what was happening. It was obvious we were aground on a sandbar. The CO
ordered the COW, Dinsmore, to open all MBT vents, so that the incoming
tide would not force the boat any higher on the sandbar. The CO got
dressed and practically yanked me out of the "Goat Locker" and sez "Get
topside with Chief Dinsmore and standby to rig for tow."
The COB got a relief, donned his gear and headed out on deck through the
Conning Tower. I followed after summoning a few guys from the "topside
gang" to assist. We broke out #2 nylon mooring line and "heavies" ready to
send to a Coast Guard Cutter that inevitably would show up as soon as they
got the word. Just about then, a Piper Cub-type (very appropriately
designated) flew over with its starboard window down yelling "Are you guys
stuck in the sand?" It made a few passes and lo and behold it wasn't long
before a trusty Coast Guard cutter showed up and via radio offered to get
PIPER off the sandbar. The PIPER CO dare not refuse his offer. (The name
of the cutter was FREDERICK C. LEE based in Povincetown, MA.)
PIPER was still holding fast on the sandbar as the tide rose and as the
water was nearing topside deck level. Back in the engine rooms, the
enginemen were checking the strainers for the diesel seawater cooling and
the electricians in the Maneuvering Room were checking the Main Motor
seawater cooling system for sand intrusion.
Via radio, the CO agreed to accept a tow and a 5" nylon hawser was
dispatched by the cutter's whaleboat, where its eye was placed on a port
cleat adjacent to the sail. The procedure was for PIPER to shut the MBT
vents, blow the ship's whistle to signal the cutter to start the tow, and
PIPER would "Blow and Go" ahead Full on two engines. When this was
executed, the poor little cutter was being dragged along stern-first, with
the sea swamping his after decks due to his "cracker-box" shaped stern. He
was screaming on his radio to cease the tow, and the CO sez "What did he
say?" I could see a little smirk forming on his face as he took his time
to cease the tow. The CO radioed his thanks to the cutter's captain and
wished him a safe return to port. The guy must've been "apeshit" after he
received that message.
Prior to all this excitement, COMSUBGP 2 had been notified and CAPT.
William Hazzard had embarked in USS SUNBIRD (ASR-15) and left New London,
CT at 0930, arriving quite sometime later as we remained underway making
no headway. A sort of critique was convened and it was agreed that no
apparent damage was sustained to PIPER, so we all headed back to N'LON,
tied up at pier #2 awaiting entry in the marine railway nearby.
A board of Inquiry was convened after PIPER was thoroughly gone over, and
no damage was found, except some sand was found in the strainers as a
result of the "Blow and Go" and full ahead on two main engines.
The CO, LCDR. C.S. Bowcock was relieved by LCDR. Samuel Francis and we got
XO, LT. A.B. Crabtree who came below and caught me in the "goat locker"
sucking on a cup of coffee and sez "Congratulations, you're PIPER'S new
COB, find Chief Dinsmore and send him to my stateroom, immediately." I did
that, catching his stress on the word "immediately." When Chief Dinsmore
arrived at his stateroom, the XO handed him his service record and orders
to another boat and sez to him "Don't ever ask why."
Chief Dinsmore went into the "goat locker" where all the chiefs were
crammed in their bunks and standing around to find out what was happening,
pushed them out of his way and stuffed all his belongings (except his
uniforms) into a "fartsack" cover, and left the boat with me trailing
behind with his uniforms in his Valpack. I never had a chance to speak to
him about all this and often wondered what the reason was. It's a good
thing I was a curious sort, 'cause I used to hang around the COC,
observing what each man's job was, especially the COW's duties whenever I
could be spared in the FTR and ATR. When the XO told me that I was now the
PIPER'S new COB, I almost wet myself when that exploded in my face.
The OOD, at the time of the grounding was LT. "Willie" Lent (son of ADM.
Lent) and the OPS Officer were transferred and so was the XO (can't think
of his name either). Contrary to all the newspaper articles, the PIPER did
not "run aground", however, a grounding no less. The last I heard about
LCDR. Bowcock's whereabouts, he was on "Dewline Patrol" in the Atlantic on
an LST, a broken man, no doubt. The USS SEAWOLF (SSN-575) relieved PIPER,
after just returning from a Med cruise. A lot of unhappy campers and their
brides were created as a result of their new assignment.
A calibration of the new magnetic speed indicator and the new Fathometer
was accomplished at a later date far away from Provincetown, MA.
Blow Negative To The Mark
by Robert F. Marble TMCS(SS) USN (Ret), Piper 1954-1960
Some time ago before I made acting Chief Torpedoman on PIPER, we were out
on the briny doing independent operations. I was running hot coffee to the
FTR, passin' through COC as we started to dive. I held up the delivery,
just aft of the air manifold, observing the procedures, carefully, 'cause
shortly I'll be on the hydraulic manifold training for COW.
The speed, course, depth and bubble were ordered and then the order "BLOW
NEGATIVE TO THE MARK" and the auxiliaryman on watch dutifully did his
thing as the COW was watching the Negative Tank liquidometer for signs of
water being expelled, when a sort of muffled "bang" occurred near the
Negative Tank flood valve operating gear. The COW is now noticing water
movement on the liquidometer and as the indicating needle approaches the
8,000 mark, he signals the air manifold operator to secure the blow and
attempts to shut the Negative Tank flood valve and reports that Negative
has been blown to the mark, but when he puts his hand on the Negative Tank
control valve handle, he finds it already in the "SHUT" position. He sez
"OH SHIT, I THINK I BLEW THE FLOOD VALVE OPEN WITH HIGH-PRESSURE AIR."
Well, that's exactly what he did.
The Diving Officer orders "CYCLE NEGATIVE TANK FLOOD VALVE ONE TIME." The
COW obeys and the indicator lamp on the Christmas Tree doesn't show any
change. Negative Tank flood valve is still open (it sets with sea
pressure). The IC electrician has informed the CO and he comes charging
into the COC, as the bow is rising to the surface. He sez" I HAVE THE
DIVE, SURFACE, SURFACE, SURFACE."
After surfacing and a normal 12-minute blow with the low-pressure blower,
COW (Chief of the Auxiliary Gang), his EN1 and the COB have chit-chat with
CO, XO and Engineering Officer on what to do. The EN1 sez he has spare
valve likages and pins in the pump room. Now to find out who can go over
the side and try to replace the busted stuff in Negative Tank. Those were
when no one on board was a qualified diver. I had played around with some
simple shallow-water diving gear on a destroyer in WWII, but that was
years ago. The COB had all the right gear aboard and the knowledge how to
use it, so he
volunteered to attempt the job; and we had over 100 volunteers to assist,
it meant going topside for some sun and fresh air.
The COB ran an air hose off a 100psi reducer, tied into the 225psi air
system and took all his gear up through the Conning Tower hatch with a
stream of "volunteers" signing in with the quartermaster in the Conning
Tower and me
following close behind. He rigged a 21-thread manila safety line to a port
near the steps cut into the superstructure side plating and fastened it to
weight belt worn over his dungarees. (yes, dungarees........... we weren't
worried about being "politically correct" then). Our "Ship's Diver" then
lashed the the new linkage, two 12" adjustable open-end wrenches
(crescents), diagonal side-cutters (for the cotter pins) to his belt using
Marline with slip-knots for easy removal down below; put the new 5/8"
diameter pins and cotter pins in a pocket of his homemade diver's belt,
turned on his air, checked out his mask
out and climbed down into the Atlantic Ocean to do his trick in #2 MBT at
the bottom centerline of the PIPER'S hull.
The adjustments to the linkage were made by the COB satisfactorily the
first time due to the fact that the EN1 knew just how to explain the
procedure to the COB and knew his stuff. After the COB came back topside
and rested awhile, the Negative Tank flood valve was cycled and the
Christmas Tree indication was satisfactory, he went back down and watched
for air bubbles around the flood valve seat after the EN1 applied 225psi
air slowly into Negative Tank, and everything was OK.
I spoke with the COB later after his successful attempt in restoring and
adjusting the linkage, and he sez he had to go into the Negative Tank,
partially to remove the damaged stuff, and he got so scared that he pissed
himself. We didn't have any "dry suits" at the time, just dungarees or
shorts, so no one was the wiser.
No one got chewed-out by the CO, 'cause he was delighted to have his COB
aboard safe and sound and the repair was a success. He went to his
pulled the curtain shut and said a long prayer of thanks to his Maker.
This is the kind of stuff submariners are made of and I learned a lot from
my COB. (Thanks, Shorty, wherever your last patrol has taken you) before
he was transferred much later on, about using that diving gear and how to
take care of it. He sez "Don't let anybody use it but yourself if you want
to use it in an emergency."
Incidentally, I was one of the 100 volunteers that signed in the with the
Quartermaster that day, and am glad that I did. Sub guys can really pitch
in and help each other out without being "volunteered"........ they just
"Get With It."
COB was Jerome"Shorty" Wolters TMC(SS)
EN1 was John Mikolay EN1(SS)
COW was Fleischer ENC(SS)
by Philip D. Lecky EM2(SS), Piper 1957-1960
Here is a Chief Marble story:
I clearly remember the day we were tied up in New London doing our thing.
I was on the seaman gang, chipping paint. Chief Marble had two large cans
of paint, one in each hand, that probably weighed close to 50 pounds each.
He started to come aboard and the brow, which was not secured properly,
slipped off the pier when the boat shifted. Marble went down like a rock
and was completely submerged, but quickly popped up still holding onto the
cans of paint. I was impressed by his strength and tenacity.
At the ship's reunion in 2001, after not seeing Marble in 44 years I,
asked him why he did not just let the paint cans go as he was falling.
Marble answered, "I had to do a lot of comshaw to get that paint, and I
was not about to let it go."
by Ralph Clark
Piper was on a Med Run, tied up outboard a Tin Can. Some of the skimmers
were asking Ralph about what submarine sailors had to do to qualify. Clark
told them that they had to be able to stay underwater, on their own
lung-power, for a minimum of five minutes. They were skeptical, so Clark
and three of his buddies bet them. Then they dove into the water, swam
into Bow Bouyancy, and then seven or eight minutes later they swam back up
to the surface, blowing air and sucking wind like they'd really been
holding their breath for all that time. Piper sailors win the bet.
Skimmers are amazed.
by Richard Collins CS3(SS), Piper 1954-1958
Piper was operating in Long Island Sound, practice firing torpedoes and
retrieving them. We had a new arrival on board, a Chief Electrician from
Nautilus who had just gone to "90 Day Wonder" school. He had the Con. We
fired one aft and retrieved forward. He forgot to compensate for the
weight shift by pumping water. On the next dive, we went straight down,
more than a 20 degree bubble. Thank Christ we had a good Aux Man on the
air manifold. He got us back up. The "Old Timers" in the crew stormed the
Control Room; they were hot. We had held on for our lives. I had been
holding onto the After Battery ladder and was looking straight ahead at
the overhead! So this guy says everything is okay now, and we dive again.
Same thing happened! Control blew Negative and everything but the
"shitters" forward. We made it back up, but before we made port, the "Old
Timers" had started turning in papers to get the hell off the boat. The
old man made sure that "wonder boy" was gone before the last line was
secured to the pier. Pretty scary at the time, but funny to think back on
The Way it Really Happened
by Robert F. Marble TMCS(SS) USN (Ret), Piper 1954-1960
I read Richard Collins' story about PIPER'S deep angled dive, but I'll
give you my version, OK?
This new man, ENS, Mueller, wearing silver dolphins, (former EMC from USS
NAUTILUS (SSN-571) dove the boat with a not too good trim, due to his
failure to compensate for the MK 14 torpedo that was fired aft. When he
dove the boat and tried to level off after blowing Negative to the mark,
he noticed he was heavy forward. He then ordered the trim manifold
operator to pump from Forward Trim to After Trim, and the operator
acknowledged his order by repeating it. Now, normally the air manifold
operator checks to see if there's a suction on Forward Trim and venting on
After Trim........ but the air manifold operator was making a coffee run
at the COC after WT door, waiting for his full coffee mugs and not
checking his air manifold.
The Diving Officer, ENS. Mueller, saw he was still heavy forward and
slowly losing ground in getting the bow back up, so he ordered the trim
manifold operator to continue pumping from Forward Trim tank to After Trim
tank and the trim manifold operator repeated his order again. By now
there's a lot of excitement throughout the boat and the air manifold
operator is back at his manifold, but not checking it.
The IC electrician notified the XO, LT. Oliver "Jollie Ollie" Hallett and
charged into the COC and he ordered "SILENCE IN THE CONTROL ROOM; DIVING
OFFICER, I HAVE THE DIVE; AIR MANIFOLD OPERATOR CHECK YOUR MANIFOLD AND
REPORT; TRIM MANIFOLD OPERATOR, SECURE THE TRIM PUMP, SECURE YOUR
MANIFOLD, CHECK YOUR MANIFOLD LINE-UP AND REPORT." With the depth guages
indicating approach to excessive depth, he ordered "BLOW BOW BUOYANCY,
BLOW NEGATIVE DRY."
After checking his trim manifold line-up, the operator noticed that he had
been pumping from After Trim tank to Forward Trim tank all the time and
the air manifold operator confirmed this before the trim pump was secured.
RMC Barney D. Wixom drew a mark on the sight glass of the snorkel-whip
antenna hydraulic tank, just outside the Radio Shack, at that critical
angle for later reference.
Jimmy Mohon, TM2, from the south, was crapped-out in a FTR port "pull-out
bunk" and woke up during this depth excursion, ran between the torpedo
tubes, climbed on the "jeep" seat and was clawing away at the overhead
trying to find a way out, He was having a living nightmare. The hold-down
straps on the torpedo skids were straining in both the Forward and After
Torpedo Rooms, but held.
The galley was a friggin' mess, needless to say. Quite a few "brownies"
appeared in the crew's shorts after that event. The CO, LCDR Joseph
Beadles remained in the COC and observed the coolest performance he had
ever witnessed by any submarine officer, when his XO took the dive.
"Ollie" was some sharp cookie........
A "critique" was held in the wardroom after everything had settled down
and the final results were not "published" to the crew at the time, but
ENS. Mueller did get transferred when PIPER returned to port. Needless to
say that some ass-reaming did occur to the persons responsible for the
fiasco. I got shook up just like the rest of the crew, I don't even
remember who the COW was and I was in COC training to stand watches in
that capacity. When the XO ordered "ALL NON-WATCHSTANDERS CLEAR OUT OF THE
CONTROL ROOM", I high-tailed it to the FTR to see what was happening
there. I saw a lot of pale faces in the Forward Battery
and the FTR, but none as white as that TM2 sitting in a bunk shaking like
a palm tree in a Florida hurricane.
Here's a little story about USS PIPER'S XO, LCDR Oliver S.
by Robert F. Marble TMCS(SS) USN (Ret), Piper 1954-1960
PIPER made its first "cold war" patrol around the Faroe Islands during the
"Jerusalem Crisis" at the end of 1957, and we carried reel-to-reel tape
recorders, monitoring USSR radio traffic, whenever the seas permitted us
to get the snorkel whip antenna up.
Barney D. Wixom, RMC(SS) and the XO would stay up all night listening to
the tapes in Russian. The XO was a "spook"....
Sometime later, after PIPER was back in N'Lon, "Jollie Ollie" as the XO
was nicknamed, was transferred to the Soviet Embassy in Moscow. His family
went too, and his wife got a job at the U.S. Embassy as a receptionist.
One day, a young fella came in and dropped his passport on the counter and
sez "I want to renounce
my U.S. citizenship, immediately" The young fella was Lee Harvey Oswald!
Upon completion of his Moscow tour, "Ollie" was assigned to to JFK's staff
and on November 22, 1963 he had the duty in the Situation Room at the
White House when JFK was shot.
The first thing he did was to have the Marines lower the colors to half
mast. Upon receiving confirmation of the Commander-in-Chief's death, he
ordered the Cabinet Member's plane to return to Washington immediately.
(They were on their way to Pearl Harbor)
Strange coincidence isn't it? You can find all this good stuff in William
Manchester's book "Death of a President," available in any library.
Created by Fred Durrette EN3(SS) USS Piper 1963-65
Created by Fred Durrette EN3(SS) USS Piper 1963-65
Shot and a Beer
by Frank Whitty FTG2(SS), Piper 1965-1967
We, the U.S.S. Piper (SS409), were tied up at the Submarine Base pier in
St. Thomas U.S.V.I. It was in the mid-sixties, and we had just left San
Juan. The island of Puerto Rico was once again dealing with the threat of
nationalists who had been causing all sorts of hate and discontent. We had
to rig med-lights for our stay and post a double topside watch. Although
we were now in St. Thomas, we were cautioned to be alert to any potential
It was afternoon. I had below-decks watch. I got a call from topside that
a pleasure craft had been "buzzing the boat" and yelling shit at the
watch. I popped up through the after-room hatch, and sure enough, a
boatload of young civilians, probably a draft dodger or two among them,
was having a grand old time in "daddy's" speed boat.
I dropped down into the room and grabbed a six-pack of "medicinal" beer
from beneath a skid, which, of course, was packaged at that time in steel,
church-key-only cans of that era. I don't recall who my "gunny" was, maybe
Pinkston, but I rigged the ejector and told whomever it was to "shoot" on
I went up the ladder and gave the command to launch a test shot. Harkening
back to FTA school in Bainbridge, and based on the pressure setting and
impact spot of that trial round, I calculated my solution and gave the
command to reload and stand by. My head just above the coaming, and on
their next approach, I launched my first war shot. No stable vertical at
my disposal, it flew over the target, but the track was good. They never
saw it, however, because they went back out into Charlotte Amalie harbor
and began their next approach.
Steady now... I whispered below, in an icy, controlled tone; now... now...
SHOOT! I gave the command and watched as the next round landed about
twenty yards directly into their path, a modest burst of Caribbean water
kicking up as their bow crossed the spot. They sure-as-shit saw that one!
Swerving away in an evasive maneuver, I thought that I'd made our point,
but the ememy was arrogant and persisted.
RELOAD! Here they come... Final solution and then... Stand by... Stand
by... SHOOT! Perfect Excellent. Fantastic. Pissa. It bounced right off
their superstructure. I could hear the impact and their alarmed shouts of
dismay. You could see them looking over at us, wondering what the hell was
They hove to a few hundred yards away, and after pointing their
well-manicured fingers and shouting effete threats and infantile
obscenities, broke off their lame attack and withdrew to the marina, no
doubt, for cocktails and anti-military invective.
Once again, Piper had won the day. The topside watch was truly impressed.
Of course, I regretted the loss of the beer, but a man has to do what a
man has to do.
Beetle Bailey's Ultimate Explosion
by Arnie Miliefsky EN2(SS), Piper 1958-1961
Around 1959, we used to go to the Sub Bar on Bank Street, where it was
always crowded. One night, Beetle and I walked into the bar, and inside
his Navy jumper was a hot water bottle filled with Campbell's Condensed
Vegetable soup. We squeezed in tightly among the boys at the bar. Beetle
hit his chest, which made the vegetable soup look like projectile vomit.
Then I took a spoon and ate the soup!
Those who didn't throw up, ran from the bar. His prank cleared out the
place, and the rest of the Piper crew came in to claim the bar.
And now for the big explosion! Beetle Bailey was running a snorkel test in
the Forward Engine Room. The word, as usual, was passed, "Do not open the
Forward Engine Room hatch, snorkel test in progress." When it hit three
inches of vacuum, Beetle cracked the hatch. Two guys were sitting on the
head, and shit went flying! When the snorkel test was completed, they
chased Beetle all over the sub base. Lucky they never caught him, cause he
never would have survived.
Mascot of the USS Piper SS409
by Bill "Beetle" Bailey EN1(SS), Piper 1958-1964
Piper was in the Phila Naval Shipyard for overhaul and as always shipmates
get bored and looking for something new, a mascot was brought to the
surface. After some discussion, a collection was taken and we ended up
with $40. We wanted to get a monkey but they were too expensive, so we
looked at the alligators and found them to be too nasty - it bit my pencil
in two. So, we found the snake, "VO". The other shipmate that was
in on the adventure was Polovitch. We brought the snake back and I kept
him in my locker in the barracks until we found a cage. We had food for VO
and it was a rat from the pet store (snakes only eat live things). We then
took VO to stay in the engineman's cage in the shipyard.
One night Scotty and I took VO to the Acey Ducey Club and turned it loose
on the bar and that cleared out the whole place. We then turned it loose
at Bingo, two stories up, and they all took off. We were both banned from
the club for one year (we could never understand why). Next, Satch and I
went to Packers Bar in town and turned VO loose on the bar. Primo Darwood
(bartender) took out a 45 gun and threatened me and VO. Our next trip was
to the Pink Poodle, a black bar on Broad Street and he cleared out the
whole bar. The people were terrified! The only place we were allowed was
in the AKA Dolphin bar.
Each week we had the Snake vs Rat. Rat always lost. Hecklesmiller's job
was to obtain the rats. The rest was routine until Piper was ready to
leave Phila. The Commanding Officer, V. O. Harkness, told us if the snake
came aboard he would bust Chief Paris to Fireman and me to Fireman
Recruit. This left us in a bad spot as to how we were going to get the
snake up to New London Sub Base. Mother Burke let me put VO in a duffle
bag and put him in the trunk of his car. When we got back to New London,
the snake had died from heat and carbon monoxide. We held a burial at sea
at pier 12. LT Sutliff delivered the eulogy.
May "VO" rest in peace.
Seems there was going to be an inspection of the boat, Shorty wasn't in a
good mood and said to shit-can anything that was left hanging out. Can't
remember the TM striker who was in charge of the 'field day'. Anyway,
there was a set of dress blues left hanging up and they ended up in the
'Shitcan'. After inspection, Shorty couldn't find his dress canvas and
wanted to know if anyone had seen them. I'm not sure who told him to check
the 'Dumpster' on the pier.
If I remember this right? Satch and Pertiko were behind this stunt. I
think Doc wanted to be woke up for a card game around midnight. Anyway,
Satch wanted this to be a different kind of wakeup call. Him and Frank
went back to 'Hogan's Alley'. Frank picked up a battle lantern and held it
by Doc's feet. Satch went up by his head and made a noise like a train
blowing it's whistle. He said, "Doc, get up quick! You're on the track and
the train is coming". Doc must have believed him and forgot that he was
sleeping in his bunk. He hit his head real hard trying to bail out of that
rack. Satch and Frank ran real fast for the after torpedo room. I'm not
sure if Doc ever found out who woke him up.
Send a sea story for all to enjoy to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Iíll bet we have a cartoonist amongst the membership that could render a
sketch that portrays each of these Sea Stories in a single frame or a
multi-frame strip. I would like to add some pizzazz to our website by
publishing a cartoon to go along with each Sea Story. Credit will be
given to the shipmate who provides the cartoon. Cartoons can be sent to
me via email attachment or to my home address:
W3821 Waucedah Road
Vulcan, MI 49892-8483
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