Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Remember Pearl Harbor


Let it never be said, that we don't remember.
What Submariners have done, since that day in December.
The sun shown bright, on that Pearl Harbor morning.
When the enemy attacked, with little or no warning.

The Tautog was there, with no time to think.
And splashed one Japanese plane, right down in the drink.
She sent twenty-six ships, to the depths of the sea.
And came to be known, as the "Terrible T."

The Sealion at Cavite , was the first to be caught.
She was moored to a pier, but bravely she fought.
Two bombs exploded, through the hull they did rip.
And many brave submariners, died in their ship.

There were many proud boats, like the Perch and the Finback.
The Kraken, the Haddock, the Scamp and the Skipjack.
We remember the Halibut, Blenny and Darter.
And never forget, Sam Dealey in Harder.
Cutter and Seahorse's, torpedoes ran true.
She targeted the enemy, and sank many Marus.

And although the enemy, was quite filled with hate.
"Red" Ramage and Parche, showed many their fate.
"Mush" Morton and Wahoo, never backed down from a fight.
Fluckey and Barb, entered Namkwan Harbor one night.
Many airman were saved, by O'Kane and the Tang.

Some owe their lives, to Seafox, Tigrone and Trepang.
We remember the honorable, boat called Barbel.
Before she was lost, she gave the enemy hell.
The Sturgeon, the Trigger, the Pollack had heart.
The Torsk, made the last two frigates depart.

Nowadays the cold war, seems to be a big factor.
And submarines are powered, by nuclear reactors.
The proud names are still there, the Tautog did shine.
But her hull number by then, was Six Thirty Nine.

Many boats gave their all, with heroic namesakes.
Like Thresher, Scorpion, Nautilus and Skate.
The Seadragon, Swordfish, Richard B. Russell and Dace.
Have all stood out to sea, and heard the enemies trace.

We remember "Forty-One For Freedom," whose patrols couldn't fail.
The George Washington, Andrew Jackson and Nathan Hale.
Now the Alaska and Nebraska , and other Tridents are here.
They patrol the deep oceans, so aggressive nations have fear.
There are new boats on the line, called Cheyenne and Wyoming .
They will all do us proud, like the old Gudgeon and Grayling.

So take time each day, and think of the past.
Then toast the new Seawolf, for she's quiet and fast.
Let it never be said, that we don't remember.
What submariners have done, since that day in December.
The sun still shines bright, every Pearl Harbor Morning.

But never forget, the enemy attacks without warning.

By John Chaffey of SSN639, SSN687, SSBN619

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Obama Shuts Down Norfolk Navy Base

I got a call today from an irate retired Master Chief that still works onboard Naval Station Norfolk. It seems that early liberty was called today for all hands at about 1430 so that the base would be clear for Air Force One to deliver the President to a campaign stop at Old Dominion University for Democrat candidate for Governor, Creigh Deeds.

The Master Chief had a few choice comments for shutting down the entire base for BHO to come politicking: "How much money was wasted today on politics when Chiefs are about to be Rif'd out of the Navy?"

Now, I love a good early liberty just like the next guy but why did they have to get rid of the entire base so Obama could fly in to the old NAS field? Were his handlers afraid he'd run into a couple of salty blueshirts? Did they have to shut down I564 too when all he needed was to go 5 miles down Hampton Blvd?

Just don't tell the hard charging sailors of Subron 6 that their favorite watering hole across from ODU, Friar Tuck's is off limits until after his highness departs; then you will have a riot on your hands.

I'd have to classify this situation as All Slack, No Attack.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

WWII Memorial Needs Update

I recently had the chance to go to DC for a conference and I ran across the World War II Memorial. While this memorial is a somber structure that conveys the sacrifices made by the American people, it lacks a certain focus.

The only thing missing is the fleet boat conning tower emerging from the middle of the reflecting pool. Maybe there needs to be a Submarine Memorial in Washington. Any suggestions?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Where is the Bull Dolphin?

In the last few weeks, I have run across the retirements of some senior sailors that were recognized as the most experienced members of their fields.

The "Bull Frog", the Senior SEAL retired from the Navy last month while the "Ancient Albatross", the Senior Officer Aviator, retired from the Coast Guard.

Both of these items got me to thinking about whether or not the Submarine community recognizes its senior members. The Subvets make a big deal out of the Holland Club for those submariners with more than 50 years of qualification but is there really a recognition for the senior most Submariner on active duty?

The Coasties really get into this kind of thing. In addition to the Albatross, they also have the Ancient Mariner (Gold & Silver) for the longest serving Cuttermen and the Ancient Keeper for the senior most member of the boat service. The even wear the antique style headgear.

So is there a Bull Dolphin?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

CPO Standards

The following email is making the rounds and I thought it would make good reading for anyone from the old navy.

Never forget this, a Chief can become an Officer, but an Officer can never become a Chief.. We have our standards!

Recollections of a WHITEHAT.

"One thing we weren't aware of at the time, but became evident as life wore on, was that we learned true leadership from the finest examples any lad was ever given, Chief Petty Officers. They were crusty old bastards who had done it all and had been forged into men who had been time tested over more years than a lot of us had time on the planet. The ones I remember wore hydraulic oil stained hats with scratched and dinged-up insignia, faded shirts, some with a Bull Durham tag dangling out of their right-hand pocket or a pipe and tobacco reloads in a worn leather pouch in their hip pockets, and a Zippo that had been everywhere. Some of them came with tattoos on their forearms that would force them to keep their cuffs buttoned at a Methodist picnic.

Most of them were as tough as a boarding house steak. A quality required to survive the life they lived. They were, and always will be, a breed apart from all other residents of Mother Earth. They took eighteen year old idiots and hammered the stupid bastards into sailors.

You knew instinctively it had to be hell on earth to have been born a Chief's kid. God should have given all sons born to Chiefs a return option.

A Chief didn't have to command respect. He got it because there was nothing else you could give them. They were God's designated hitters on earth.

We had Chiefs with fully loaded Submarine Combat Patrol Pins, and combat air crew wings in my day...hard-core bastards who remembered lost mates, and still cursed the cause of their loss...and they were expert at choosing descriptive adjectives and nouns, none of which their mothers would have endorsed.

At the rare times you saw a Chief topside in dress canvas, you saw rows of hard-earned, worn and faded ribbons over his pocket. "Hey Chief, what's that one and that one?" "Oh hell kid, I can't remember. There was a war on. They gave them to us to keep track of the campaigns." "We didn't get a lot of news out where we were. To be honest, we just took their word for it. Hell son, you couldn't pronounce most of the names of the places we went. They're all depth charge survival geedunk." "Listen kid, ribbons don't make you a Sailor." We knew who the heroes were, and in the final analysis that's all that matters.

Many nights, we sat in the after mess deck wrapping ourselves around cups of coffee and listening to their stories. They were light-hearted stories about warm beer shared with their running mates in corrugated metal sheds at resupply depots where the only furniture was a few packing crates and a couple of Coleman lamps. Standing in line at a Honolulu cathouse or spending three hours soaking in a tub in Freemantle, smoking cigars, and getting loaded. It was our history. And we dreamed of being just like them because they were our heroes. When they accepted you as their shipmate, it was the highest honor you would ever receive in your life. At least it was clearly that for me. They were not men given to the prerogatives of their position.

You would find them with their sleeves rolled up, shoulder-to- shoulder with you in a stores loading party. "Hey Chief, no need for you to be out here tossin' crates in the rain, we can get all this crap aboard."

"Son, the term 'All hands' means all hands."

"Yeah Chief, but you're no damn kid anymore, you old coot."

"Horsefly, when I'm eighty-five parked in the stove up old bastards' home, I'll still be able to kick your worthless butt from here to fifty feet past the screw guards along with six of your closest friends." And he probably wasn't bullshitting.

They trained us.. Not only us, but hundreds more just like us. If it wasn't for Chief Petty Officers, there wouldn't be any U.S. Navy. There wasn't any fairy godmother who lived in a hollow tree in the enchanted forest who could wave her magic wand and create a Chief Petty Officer.

They were born as hot-sacking seamen, and matured like good whiskey in steel hulls over many years. Nothing a nineteen year-old jay-bird could cook up was original to these old saltwater owls. They had seen E-3 jerks come and go for so many years; they could read you like a book. "Son, I know what you are thinking.. Just one word of advice. DON'T. It won't be worth it."

"Aye, Chief."

Chiefs aren't the kind of guys you thank. Monkeys at the zoo don't spend a lot of time thanking the guy who makes them do tricks for peanuts.

Appreciation of what they did, and who they were, comes with long distance retrospect. No young lad takes time to recognize the worth of his leadership. That comes later when you have experienced poor leadership or let's say, when you have the maturity to recognize what leaders should be, you find that Chiefs are the standard by which you measure all others.

They had no Academy rings to get scratched up. They butchered the King's English. They had become educated at the other end of an anchor chain from Copenhagen to Singapore . They had given their entire lives to the U.S. Navy. In the progression of the nobility of employment, Chief Petty Officer heads the list. So, when we ultimately get our final duty station assignments and we get to wherever the big Chief of Naval Operations in the sky assigns us, if we are lucky, Marines will be guarding the streets. I don't know about that Marine propaganda bullshit, but there will be an old Chief in an oil-stained hat and a cigar stub clenched in his teeth standing at the brow to assign us our bunks and tell us where to stow our gear... and we will all be young again, and the damn coffee will float a rock.

Life fixes it so that by the time a stupid kid grows old enough and smart enough to recognize who he should have thanked along the way, he no longer can. If I could, I would thank my old Chiefs. If you only knew what you succeeded in pounding in this thick skull, you would be amazed. So, thanks you old casehardened unsalvageable sons-of-bitches. Save me a rack in the berthing compartment.. "

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Silent Service UA in New Navy Ad

Check out this slick new recruiting ad from the USN.

Now, can you tell me what's missing?

It might be fun to ride the rubber boats around with the Expeditionary Forces and fly in the whirligigs but where is the Sub Force in this latest interpretation of the Navy?

Maybe we get our own commercial, right?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

New CO For DSU

I ran across a little item from ComSubPac:

Cmdr. David Lemly relieved Cmdr. Jay Spencer as commanding officer of Deep Submergence Unit (DSU) July 17 during a ceremony held at the DSU facility.

Lemly, a graduate of North Carolina State University (Go Pack!), has been serving the submarine force for 20 years with early sea tours on USS Salt Lake City (SSN 716), USS Helena (SSN 725) and USS Tucson (SSN 770). Most recently, he served as the deputy for Submarine Material Readiness for Submarine Squadron 15.

Deep Submergence Unit provides submarine rescue for the U.S. Navy and foreign navies. Rescue systems include the Submarine Rescue Diving Recompression System and Submarine Rescue Chamber Flyaway System. Assigned assets include, the Advanced Diving Suit 2000, and primary rescue module called Falcon. Both systems are operable in depths of up to 2,000 ft of seawater. Staffed by active duty, reserve, contractor, and civilian personnel, DSU provides a lifeline for distressed submarines worldwide.

Incidentally, the Gold DS Dolphins pictured above can be worn by enlisted personnel if they have qualified officers watches making it one of the few gold badges to be worn by blueshirts. The others that come to mind incude the SSBN 20 Patrol badge, Parachutist wings, SEAL's Trident and Aircrew wings.

Congrats CDR Lemley and may you have a boring tour at DSU!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Submarine Torpedoman Departs on Eternal Patrol

Several years ago I was shocked to learn that one of the deacons at my church was in fact a retired torpedoman hiding out in North Carolina. I got wise to him since he had one of those airdale jackets with all of his command patches sewed on it.

TM1(SS) Chester Berryman, USN Ret. passed away this summer after complications from cardiac surgery. He will missed by family, friends, shipmates and younger sailors like me. He was from the old boats and it showed.

Despite going to church with him for years and having him pass me his copies of American Submariner when he was done with them, he didn't tell a lot of sea stories. I at least know he served on USS Piper (SS409) and USS Bergall (SSN667).

I always assumed he retired as a chief. It wasn't until I talked with his son that I learned about his pre-navy military career. Chester served in Korea and was wounded in combat with the army. He was medically discharged as a Staff Sgt. and returned to the States where he was sent home to Arlington, Va. He never made it home. He spotted a Navy recruiter at Union station and talked his way into the fleet.

So since he already had served in the army for a couple of years, he didn't need to do a whole 20 year hitch in the navy to qualify for retirement so he when he put his papers in, he was still a TM1. By my calculations, he made E5 in the mudfeet and E6 in the Subforce so that makes him an E11! Either way, I still call him Chief.

Notice the big grin in the photo. I have a feeling that grin kept him in red hash marks. (When did we start using gold hashmaks for good conduct?)

Chester was sent on his final patrol by members of the the Tarheel Subvets Base. A member of the church sang the Navy Hymn. He was interned by a honor guard from the North Carolina National Guard that acted as pallbearers and firing party and three Navy Petty officers from Naval Reserve Center Raleigh who folded the colors and sounded taps on the bugle.

We need to do better job of learning all we can from this wise old warriors while they are still with us.

When we say goodbye, the families and friends should know that we, as a community of Submariners, have the wherewithall to show respect for our shipmates as they pass. If you are not involved with the Subvets in your area, get off of your couch and turn to. Put together an honor guard for Submariner funerals and make it happen. Tarheel Base will be putting together a quartet to sing the hymn with the right lyrics at funerals in the future.

So Long, Chief. Your spot in the Torpedo room is vacant and your coffee cup is empty. I miss you.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How the SEALs Took Down the Pirates

Now the story can be told of just how SEAL team snipers took out 3 Somali pirates. When I first heard about this my head was spinning. Consider the variables:
  • Firing from a moving platform
  • At a moving target
  • Headshots required
  • Three separate targets
  • All target must be eliminated simultaneously in order to save the hostage.

Now, to be fair, I didn't know about the tow cable or the range but even still, this was the finest piece of marksmanship in the modern era since the Canadians took out a Taliban mortar team from a mile and half away with a McMillan 50 Cal.

BZ SEAL team X. Just goes to show what years and years of training and regular combat can accomplish.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Remember Polish Sub Orzel

70 years ago today, WWII began with a German Naval bombardment of Westerplatte, Poland. The Red Army attacked from the East and Polish military forces either fought to the death or figured out how to live to fight another day.

Submariners aboard the Polish Sub Orzel (Eagle) sought the imagined safety of Estonia but were surprised to learn that the would be interned at the request of the Germans. While the Orzel was being declawed by having her torpedo's removed, the crew had other ideas.

(For some reason, the Swedes made a movie of the Orzels deeds back in '58.)

Waiting for the right moment, the crew overpowered two Estonian guards, cut shore power and made for the open sea.

Despite the fact that the Estonians had removed all navaigational charts from the Orzel, the crew managed to make it all the way to Rosythe in Scotland.

The Orzel later would extract a small measure of revenge by torpedoing a Wehrmacht troop transport off the coast of Norway.

The Orzel was later lost at sea in 1940. Take a moment of your time today and remember the men of the Polish Eagle still on patrol and over due.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Nubs in the News

I can't believe that Stars and Stripes would send a reporter about a submarine....(wait for it...I am surprised they know the Navy exists, let alone the Sub Force.) ....and write a story about of all things, NUBS!

Seriously, I am glad that SandS took the time to shed a little light on our world. Check out the story. The USS Seawolf gets first class attention in a whole series of articles.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Crybaby Dolphins to be Mandatory

The Master Chief of the Navy Rick West (SS/SW) is jerking chains. In a recent Navy Times cover story, West explains that commands that have a high rate of warfare qualified personnel are more prepared for the real deal.

"Show me a crew of Sailors where every one of them earned their pins through a tough, comprehensive warfare program and I'll show you a group of warriors who can fight together and accomplish any mission.

"That," said West, "is what the goal should be."

I guess he's referring to everybody NOT in the subforce. For you skimmers and REMF's reading this, Submariners all have to qualify or die.

My only question is this: Will non tip of the spear rates have "earn" their fake warfare devices or will they be required to earn a real warfare device?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Easy's Shifty Powers Passes

Another one of the greatest generation has passed into history after having made so much of his own history during WWII. Darrell "Shifty" Powers died on Friday June 17, 2009. Powers was a founding member of Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division and saw action on D-Day at Normandy, Market Garden in Holland and into Germany with the push to the Elbe.

Shifty was often cited as the best shot in Easy Company. A true country boy, Shifty learned to shoot by helping put food on the table during the depression by hunting. His marksmanship was well remembered by the veterans of Easy Company.

His talents weren't limited to shooting. He once spotted a German observation post by noticing that a certain "tree" had not been there the day before.

He kept a busy schedule up till the end. Two years ago, he visited soldiers in South Korea and in Japan. Last September, had he not fallen ill, he would have made a stop in Iraq.
“I had his suitcase packed,” his daughter said. Missing the trip overseas disappointed him, she said, especially the worry of disappointing the soldiers there.

No doubt about it, Shifty Powers was definitely "No Slack, Fast Attack."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Why Women in the Navy Are Problomatic

I know many folks think we are soooo past the issue of women in the military but the problems that arise with their presence, keep on rising. Take a look at this article from Stars & Stripes. Four women from the USS Bataan had to be left in port during a deployment because they were found to be preggers.

Here's the rub: the women didn't know they were pregnant when the ship left homeport. So either we have four women that need a remedial class on health education or they really did know they were with child but decided to use it as a get-off-of-the-deployment card.

Here are a couple of question to cut to the heart of the matter:
  1. Does the Navy prohibit any sailor from having children while in the force? No.
  2. When these women signed their contracts, were they pregnant? No.
  3. If the Navy doesn't allow pregnant women to be assigned to a sea billet, then why the hell are surprised when they get knocked up.
  4. Who replaces these women on the ship and who loses a shore billet because of it?
Perhaps a sea billet contract is required that includes the use of a long term, but reversible, birth control device such as Norplant (My Catholic friends may want to take a deep breath and remember that all of this is voluntary). Let's not forget that serving in the military is not a right, it is a privilege and not everybody is cut out for it.

I didn't make women different from men, the Good Lord did and he did so for a reason. Its time the Navy and the rest of the service figured it out too. I'm just glad we don't have these problems in the Sub Force.

Military Smoking Ban On the Way?

In case you missed your copy of the most vacuous and irrelevant newspaper in the country on Friday, USA Today had a front page headline on efforts by our Commander and Chief to outlaw smoking in the military.

Now, I have never been a smoker (despite having two grandparents that worked at the American Tobacco plant in Durham, NC that got two cartons a week free) but I have pretended to be one occasionally while at Uncle Hyman's preschool for wayward boys and in the fleet in order to get the much loved smoke-break. I despise smoking and smokers. They have no regard for the rest of us in the world and constantly intrude into my personal space with their smoke, ashes and odors.

Having said that, there is no way I have the right to tell anyone what they may or may not do with the bounds of legal behavior under the Constitution of the United States and the UCMJ. Unfortunately, it looks as if Obama doesn't share my belief.

So we will have a military where homosexuality can't be banned but smoking can be. This situation reminds me of a Lincoln story about soldiers and their vices.

"Grant is a drunkard," asserted powerful and influential politicians to the President at the White House time after time; "he is not himself half the time; he can't be relied upon, and it is a shame to have such a man in command of an army."

"So Grant gets drunk, does he?" queried Lincoln, addressing himself to one of the particularly active detractors of the soldier, who, at that period, was inflicting heavy damage upon the Confederates.

"Yes, he does, and I can prove it," was the reply.

"Well," returned Lincoln, with the faintest suspicion of a twinkle in his eye, "you needn't waste your time getting proof; you just find out, to oblige me, what brand of whiskey Grant drinks, because I want to send a barrel of it to each one of my generals."

Let's try to remember what the purpose of the military is; To Kill Certain People and Break Things. Who cares if they want to smoke a damned cigarette?

The Obamanation's experts all whine about how much smoking costs the DoD and the VA. You think healthcare costs are high now? Wait until all of those potential chain smokers that die off at 55 stick around until they are 80!

Smoke'em If You Got'em!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Uniform Sanity Breaks Out in Fleet

After significant pissing and moaning about the new Navy Working Uniform's regulations for wearing it off base, a submariner has fixed the problem. MCPON West has come through for the blueshirts! has the Navy News story. I know the subforce tends to have a lot more common sense than the rest of the fleet (Nukes excepted, of course) but this is really like Christmas in June.

Just be ready for the civilians to start screaming "THE INMATES ARE LOOSE!" when they see the aquaflage on Hampton Blvd. or 32nd Avenue.

Nonetheless, Good call MCPON West (SS)!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mighty Forrestal to be Sunk

The scene of some the most deadly naval action of the VietNam war had nothing to do with the VietCong or North Vietnamese Navy. On July 29, 1967 the carrier USS Forrestal had an accidental luanch of a Zuni missile on the flight deck that ignited 2 planes fully loaded with ordianance and fuel. The resulting fire did more damage than some Japanese attacks during WWII. The Navy has decided to scrap or sink the Forrestal.

Forrestal, named for former Navy Secretary James Forrestal, was the site of the fire off the coast of VietNam that killed 134 men and destroyed 21 aircraft. One of thse planes belonged to a young shit hot aviator who followed in some of his father and grandfather's footsteps at Annapolis and the fleet; though he spurned the Submarine Service, opting for the daring do of Navel Aviatin (Why would you call it anything else?) This young airdale escaped the flames to go on to be a US Senator and candidate for President.

The "Forrest Fire" Incident also revealed heroes. The rocket's impact dislodged and ruptured the Skyhawk's 400-gallon external fuel tank and ignited the jet fuel which poured out. A 1000-pound bomb also fell to the deck, into the spreading pool of flaming jet fuel. Within 90 seconds the bomb "cooked off" and detonated. That explosion resulted in a chain reaction as the closely-packed aircraft were first engulfed in and then contributed to a massive fire with repeated high-order bomb detonations. The ship's "plat" cameras, mounted on the island and embedded in the deck itself, provided ample video coverage of the initial accident and the subsequent catastrophe.

Chief Aviation Boatswains Mate Gerald Farrier can be seen in the plat tapes running toward McCain's Skyhawk immediately after the rocket strike. The fuel tank had already ruptured and burning fuel was spreading around the aircraft. Chief Farrier had, as his weapon against this blaze, a hand-held fire extinguisher. He had not yet reached the Skyhawk when the first detonation occurred . . . he simply disappeared in the blast. A number of air- and deck crew were trapped in the inferno; many died there, while others were able to escape to the deck-edge catwalks.

Crewman Gary L. Shaver was there that day.

"Chief Farrier at the time of the first explosion without hesiation grabbed a PKP fire extinguisher and ran at a full gate to what was to become our HELL on earth. He began attempting to cool a bomb laying on the deck surrounded by burning fuel. The entire deck was turning into chaos. Not one time did Chief Farrier loose sense of his immediate duty. Moments later there was an explosion. With my own eyes I saw Chief Farrier destroyed by the blast. There was never a look of fear or doubt in his eyes as he fought the growing fire. Only the look of determination to do his job! I know because I was no more than 20-25 feet from my Chief. I had exhausted a PKP bottle to no avail only moments before. He looked at me waved his arm as if to say "get the hell out of here." Virtually before I could move there was an explosion and Chief Farrier was gone. Chief Farrier was my flight deck Chief, friend, teacher, and most of all a leader of men. I ask that his name and efforts be forever recorded in the history of the U.S.S. Forrestal, CVA59 Respectfully and with Honor."

Despite his sacrifice, I have only been able determine that Chief Farrier was awarded only the standard VietNam camapign decorations. Should his valor be recognized by a higher decoration? If you were a Sublant sailor, you probably went to fire school at the Gerald Farrier Fire Training Facility in Norfolk but we can do better than just naming a building after him.

When you hear the final fate of the Forrestal, take a moment and remember Chief Gerald Farrier and all of the other men that lost their lives onboard her. Chief Farrier was without doubt, No Slack, Fast Attack. Let's get him the recognition he is due; he earned it.