by the CHIVO Crew
You have all heard those ridiculously unbelieveable sea stories about submariners and submarine life. Finally, the CHIVO crew will bring to you the real story - the no BS - the straight skinney - coming to you hot off the mess decks with almost no embellishment.
And if it's not 100 per cent true then I never caught that 47 lb large mouth bass in the lake behind my house. But, as you can see, I have the picture to prove it! So, Goat Boat Sailors, send in your sea stories to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll post them below. But be careful, because I am going to hang your name on your tale, and the entire crew will be keeping you honest.
(April 2020) I received these Chivo memories from EN1(SS) Donald R. Beane (1962-1964):
At Submarine School they teach you everything about a submarine and how it works. We also had to qualify at the diving tank doing a free ascent from 50 feet down in the water. We were put in an air chamber 50 feet down on the side of the tank. Then they let the water in the chamber and pressurized it so the water only comes up to your neck. We had to duck down and step out on a platform in the tank. Blow out all the air in our lungs and continue blowing as we floated to the surface. If you quit blowing, there were divers in the tank that would punch you in the stomach to make you continue to blow. If you didn't keep blowing the air out, you would blow up like a balloon by the time you got to the top. The first time I stepped out I was going to cheat and not blow out all the air. I wanted to save some to blow out on the way up. I got yanked back into the chamber before I started up and really got chewed out. I didn't think I could do it but I tried again and did it right. What you don't realize is when we were pressurized we had that pressure in our lungs and as you ascend that air that is left in your lungs expand as you go up, allowing you to continue to blow out.
I passed the Submarine School course and all my physicals and was sent to the Engineering School where they taught some of the machinery that was on the Submarine. The diesel engines, purifiers for the oil, pumps that were used onboard, air compressors, hydraulic pumps and evaporators for making fresh water.
After all my schooling was complete I got orders to the USS Chivo SS-341 in Charleston, South Carolina in September 1962.
My wife stayed with her sister, Rachael, in North Carolina while I went to Charleston to check aboard the submarine and find a place to park the mobile home and get it moved from Norfolk, Virginia to Charleston, SC.
The ship was at sea when I got to Charleston. I was standing on the pier as it was coming in. As it was coming alongside the pier, one of the guys on the ship saw that I was an engineman and motioned if I was coming onboard. I told him yes, and all the guys started laughing. I didn't know what they were laughing about until I went aboard. They had flooded an engine while running submerged.
For about a week I was working 12 hours on and 12 hours off. In the mean time the ship was on daily operations, and I was busy working. I didn't feel out the sensation of the first time we went down. Before I realized it, we had already submerged and surfaced about a dozen times.
It took about a week to overhaul that engine, a GM 16-278AS, and all my clothes were dirty. I finally got liberty and went ashore to wash my cloths and look Charleston over. I was so tired I got a motel room and was going to take a little nap, then do my washing and tour Charleston. I didn't wake up until 5 A.M. the next morning, so I had to hurry and wash my cloths and get back to the ship by 7:30 A.M.
After things settled down on the ship I found an empty lot at a trailer park at 5654 Rivers Avenue lot # 16. I had the trailer moved down and set up there. I went to North Carolina and moved the wife down to Charleston.
One time we were at sea operating with some destroyers out of Norfolk and on 22 October 1962 there was some trouble came up in Cuba. The ship got orders to return to Charleston and take on a war load and proceed to Cuba. We got back late at night. All the submarines from Key West, Florida were tied up to our piers, and we had to tie up outboard of them. We took on a full load of torpedoes and food. I was fuel king, so I had to stay onboard and fill our fuel and water tanks. All this work was extra hard because there was a couple submarines between us and the pier. A few of the men were lucky and got to go home for a couple hours. Come daylight we got underway and headed for Cuba.
While we were off Cuba the command ship had us trailing a Russian submarine. They figured if the submarine knew someone was following them they wouldn't try anything.
My annual salary in 1962 was $2966.39. In 1963 it went up to $4094.14. Money went a little further back then, but it was still tight and we had to budget any big items.
When you go aboard a submarine you have to qualify besides stand your watches and do your normal work duties. You have six months to do this. During this first six months you are very busy with very little extra time. To qualify you have to know everything about the boat you are on. Every compartment, tanks and equipment. Mechanically and electrically how everything works plus everybody's duties on watch around you. Your life depends on everybody doing the right thing at the right time. One mistake by one man could sink the boat and kill the whole crew. Since you know everyone's duties if someone does the wrong thing you can spot it and report it. I went on the ship in September 1962 and qualified 24 January 1963.
May 16, 1963 we had a baby girl born at the Naval Hospital in Charleston, S.C. We decided to name her Sheila Renee. It was a coincidence that I was promoted to E-6, 1st class Engineman that same day. When the Executive Officer presented me with my promotion certificate he told me double congratulations were in order.
Once a hurricane was coming near Charleston, and I had just got home from the ship when the word came out on radio and television for all sailors to report back to their ships. The ship had also sent a couple guys out to personally contact all of our crew. This was so there was no excuse that you didn't get the word. I went back in and after all the crew was onboard, we submerged the ship right along side the pier until the hurricane blew over.
The fuel tanks on the submarine are always full of either fuel or water. This eliminates any air in the tanks therefore preventing the possibility of a fire or explosion. When fuel is used from the tank it is replaced with water from outside the ship. Fuel oil being lighter than water stays on top and water at the bottom. We ran the engines about every third day to recharge the batteries and the fuel used is replaced with the muddy Cooper River water. After a period of time in port in Charleston we had put a lot of this water in the fuel tanks. Then we made a trip to Bermuda. While import in Bermuda we were taking on fuel, and as the fuel went into the tanks, it pushes the water out. Well this muddy yucky water was coming out into the clean clear water in Bermuda. This showed up right away in the clear blue water, and we had a lot of big wheels on us that we were polluting their harbor. It was just muddy water, but we couldn't convince them so they brought in a couple tank cars for us to put this water in that was being discharged.
Once we went on a special mission near the White Sea. We stopped in Portsmouth, England to top off our fuel tanks and load food. We had food stored in every crack and hole inside the submarine. Then we proceeded on station.
In the day time we would run on the batteries and go to the White Sea as far as we could go because of the ice buildup and take pictures through the periscope of the activities going on and at night we would go back out into the Arctic Ocean and recharge our batteries. We did this by raising a pipe out of the water and sucking fresh air into the ship. This fresh air would circulate through the ship and into the engine. This was called snorkeling. The exhaust from the engine was discharged under water, so we didn't make any noise or let out any steam or vapor from the exhaust. Then before daylight after charging our batteries we would again go back into the White Sea and take pictures. In the day we ran off batteries and at night go back out and recharge them. We did this for near 2 months. It was cold up there, and we couldn't run the electric heaters on the ship because they put out an electric frequency that could be detected. I wore my long johns the whole trip. We had to conserve freshwater, so it was only used for cooking and for the engines. After I shut the engines down after snorkeling, the engine room would heat up for about 15 minutes. Using a tin can I would wash from my waist down the first half of the week and the last of the week I would wash from the waist up. I was one of the few that sneaked a bath during that 2 months we were at sea. Only the cooks and engine room had access to the water.
While in England a couple of us in the engine room picked up a piece of 1 inch square steel stock, and in our spare time we filed the medal down to make the silhouette of the upper half of a submarine. This was something to occupy us and keep our minds clear and not think of the dangers of what we were doing.
The nine guys in the engine room stuck together. In the morning after breakfast we would congregate in the engine room and talk about anything. If someone came through they saw us talking and would stop by us. We wouldn't say a word. Then when they gave it up and left, just before they walked out of the engine room they would look back and we would be talking away.
Then one day while we were in the White Sea we got detected by some destroyers. We then high-tailed it out into open sea, but they were on our tail. They threw P D C's at us. That is about equal to a hand grenade. This is a warning that we were detected and to surface. We didn't, and kept trying to evade the destroyers. Finally after hours we were able to get away, and they lost us. We had been down for over 17 hours and our oxygen was running out. You could strike a match, and it would flare up and immediately go out. We started opening cans of Lithium Hydroxide putting it out on the flash covers of the bunks. This would absorb carbon dioxide and generate oxygen for us to breathe. When we were far enough away to run the pipe up to run the engine and get fresh air, some of the cells in the batteries had reversed polarity because we had ran them down so low.
The captain of the ship was an ordained minister, and back in Charleston if anyone got in trouble for drinking, he would really be rough on them. Also at 10 P.M. every night everyone had to go to bed. You couldn't stay up and play cards etc. Everyone hated the captain, but after he pulled us out of this close call everyone really praised him.
The most miraculous thing about the whole trip was our cook CS1 Nixon. He made the menus and ordered the food before the trip and for those 60 plus days, we had 3 different meals each day. We ran out of peanut butter our last week out and the day before we got back to England we ran out of coffee. The 4 to 8 morning watch made a big pot of coffee for the crew, so it would be ready when they got up. Since there was no coffee the watch made a big batch of tea. The 1st class engineman got his coffee and took a big swig of it. He went wild when he tasted the tea. He was expecting coffee. He didn't know we had ran out of coffee.
We stopped at Plymouth, England to take on food and fuel before we proceeded back to Charleston, S.C. After we got back to Charleston, half the crew was split up and transferred all over the United States. I got orders to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to the Fleet Submarine Training Facility. I didn't want to take a big car to Hawaii, so I bought a 1961 Triumph TR-3 and put the 1963 Mercury up for sale.
I had 30 days leave before I had to be in Hawaii, so we went to Berlin, Wisconsin in August 1964 where my parents were living. I had so much free time so I got a job at the Berlin Tannery while I was on leave. That was a real stinky place but it wasn't so bad after you had been there for a while. They told me any time I could work would be appreciated so I worked my own hours. If they gave me a job I didn't like I would go home early. I made an extra $136.15 while working at the tannery. My annual Navy salary now was over $6,000.
Don Beane (1962-1964)
(July 2016) I received this email from LTJG William E. McCarron (1957-1958) :
Thank you for these great memories. Chivo was a happy boat when I was aboard (July '57 to Dec '58). The Captain, Cdr. Warren Dietrichson,'46 USNA. R.I.P., was a very low key skipper. Our exec and engineer were superb also. My job was Torpedo and Gunnery, with Diving Officer job as well. The Skipper was a great man and so well respected. Not much seemed to shake him. The Chief of the Boat was a most loved man and an inspiration to all enlisted and office alike. My memory really slips trying to recall his name. Please dig it up and let me know any details about his life.
Our one silly assignment, surfaced, was at the Arctic Circle to defend against Russian vessels coming our way, in the cold of winter, with very high waves. Our skipper agreed we could do better down deep than on the surface.
Great trip to Havana when Castro forces were on the outskirts, made us go home a day early before New Years Eve.
My buddies on board, Jim DeGroff,'55 operated FBM boats for his career, and Roy Collins, '56, made Admiral later on, in the Reserves. R.I.P.
I missed knowing LTJG Warters and Lt. Grunwell, '57 and '54, but am sure they were very appreciative as was I, for learning to operate a WW 2 Guppy sub, and trying to recall the fierce warfare they faced back then.
I was off to the new show of Nuclear School. Hello Admiral Rickover. Skipjack for 2 1/2 years. In 1962, I resigned and went to Medical School, in Galveston, Texas, then Cardiology training at Georgetown U. with a career in Austin, Texas.
Any other stories of these old times are very welcomed. Thank you very much,
Bill McCarron (1957-1958)
(July 2016) Dan All, an ET on board USS Fremont (APA-44) sent 5 pictures of Chivo at sea. He explains, in the spring of 1960 USS Fremont (APA-44) was returning to Norfolk, VA from Vieques, Puerto Rico. USS Chivo operating off the Atlantic coast had a medical emergency on board, and a rendezvous was set up to do a high line transfer.
The weather was stormy, the seas rough and it was late in the day, so we were not able to complete the transfer. I am only attaching one picture. You can see all 5 pictures on Chivo's web site page: "Boat and Crew Pictures," "1960 pg. 3"
LTJG Robert L. Warters (59-61) sends: I was on board Chivo when we attempted to transfer a person who had appendicitis to Fremont. It was too rough to make the transfer, so we continued to the nearest port which was Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The corpsman was in radio contact with some doctors and kept the patient under close observation. The corpsman was prepared to operate, but we got the patient to a hospital before it was critical. The man recovered.
Robert Warters (1957-1958)
And now, a new story introduced by LT James G. Grunwell (59-61): I was aboard CHIVO in 1960. I do not recall any medical emergency, but suspect it may have been during the time we were tracking a Soviet sub. We were operating with GRENADIER; one boat submerged and tracking, the other surfaced and charging batteries. The objective was to keep track of the sub until it ran out of battery and had to surface. It was suspected of having missile tubes, and such was the case when it finally surfaced and aircraft flew over to photograph it. The pic showed their crew frantically trying to cover the tubes (aft of the sail) with tarpaulins.
James Grunwell (1959-1961)
(May 2013) I received this email memory from HMC(SS) Leo A. "Doc" Carter (COB - 1949-52) shortly after I sent out the Eternal Patrol notice about RM2(SS) "Ollie" Horton.
Brownie hung the nick name of "numb nuts" on Ollie, and it stuck. 50 years later in some email correspondence he joked about the nick name.
Leo "Doc" Carter (COB - 1949-1952)
(April 13) I received this email memory of Chivo from Rick (he asked me not to use his last name). Rick was never a Chivo crew member nor was his father, but the subject line on his email was "I sailed aboard USS Chivo".
Dad was veteran of the last 6 months of WW2 in the Pacific. He was discharged when the war ended and re-upped a year later. Dad was QM and my earliest memories of him, as a young boy in the late '50s, are of him in his dress whites.
In late 1964, Dad was a Lt.jg, and was stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was assigned to Fleet Training Group there. In the summer of 1965 Mom and us kids flew to Cuba to live for the rest of Dad's duty there. I was 11 when I moved there.
Anyway, the point of my letter is to tell you that in 1966, as a 12 year old boy, Dad took me to visit the USS Chivo, which was in port in GTMO, and was having a Father and Son Day. About 9 or 10 other Fathers and sons were there also. I remember they divided us up into 5 groups to tour the sub. I had no idea of what to expect, but remember I was thrilled to go aboard a submarine. ( I had been on many surface ships).
After we were all aboard, the USS Chivo closed all the hatches and I was excited as heck to find out we were going out into the Caribbean! As we were shown around the sub and about 5 major duty stations, the USS Chivo submerged and surfaced 5 times, so we could experience what submarine duty was like.
I especially remember seeing the forward compartment where the torpedoes were rolled into their tubes. We watched them load them and we fired 5 torpedeos during our trip. I also especially remember getting to operate the periscope as we cruised at periscope depth, and saw USN surface ships operating nearby!
Overall, it was one of the most exciting days of my 12 year old life, and I have never forgotten it. When we returned to port that afternoon, I was given a wallet card with my name on it, decaring me as a Jr. Submariner.
Dad retired from the Navy in 1971 as an LDO, LT, and Navy Navigator. Sadly, Dad passed away in 1991 at age 65. He was a true hero to me.
(February 11) I received this email from RM2(SS) James Bromley (1970) shortly after I sent out the message about locating one of the Air Force C-54 crew members that the Chivo crew rescued in 1947.
That was the year I was born. I was lucky enough to serve my "Short Timers" time on the Chivo with a "Great" short time mustang skipper. I was on board that day on duty when the pier was lined with brass on the day he got released from duty. I had never seen so many admirals with 3 & 4 stripe gophers in one place.
Thanks for the update about the Chivo. Those were great days.
Jim Bromley (1969-1970)
I have to agree with Jim, Chivo had some great crews and wardrooms, and I was fortunate to be one of the "Young" Goats.
(January 11) I received this email memory from EN2(SS) Jerrell R. "Jerry" Wright (1957-58) shortly after I sent out the Eternal Patrol notice about TMC(SS) Harold J. "Joe" Funke.
So sorry to hear about Joe. Joe and I went through Sub School together January of 57. Joe was a TM 3 and I was a EN 3.
We each got orders to the USS CHIVO SS 341. We reported on board her in Spring of 57 when she was in dry dock in Charleston NSY. We each qualified on her and served to-gather until I was transferred to the Pre Com Crew of the USS SKIPJACK SSN 585 in June of 58.
I ran into Joe once again while I was attending school on the Sub Base in NL in 66. He was on shore duty at the brig on the SB.
At the time Joe had part time job at Rail Road Salvage in Gorton CT. I was standing in that store checking out some oil for my car. This guy came up from behind me and grabbed me. I turned around and it was Joe. We talked for a while and he found out that I was going to school at SB and said, do you want a job? I said doing what? He said well, you were a good Auxiliary Man and a good jury riger, and I could use you here helping me. Joe was in charge of maintenance for the Rail Road Salvage Store. I said sure, and we went up to see the Assistant Manager of the Store. Joe introduced me and told him he wanted me to work with him. On Joe's recommendation I was hired to work six nights a week from 1700 till closing at 2200. We worked together for about ten weeks until my school was completed, and I was transferred to the USS PERMIT SSN 594 on the West Coast.
The last night I worked, the assistant manager of the store gave a party at his home for me. That was the last time I saw Joe.
At the time Joe was a TM1(SS). Happy to know he made TMC(SS). Joe was a good TM and a very good Shipmate.
(August 10) I received this email memory from RMCS(SS) Kato Lee Davenport (1957-58) shortly after I sent out the Eternal Patrol notice about Lt. LeRoy Collins, Jr.
LT(jg) LeRoy T. Collins Jr. was a shipmate at the time I served aboard Chivo. I knew him well. He was always in hack with the CO because he played around instead of working on his quals. His father was Gov of Florida at the time, and was always sending a limo down from Miami to pick him up for some kind of event.
Lt Collins had a small green sports car and once he came back rather inebreated and drove the front wheels off the end of the dock. We got him out of the car and left it there the rest of the night. The next day they brought the cherry picker down from the torpedo shop and picked the front end up and deposited it back on the pier. Needless to say, that didn't sit well with the CO....
Lee Davenport (1957-1958)
(July 10) I received this e-mail from LT William G. Read (1951-55).
Bill Read, officer on Chivo for three years, '51-'54. Charlie Trumbull and Russ Ward were the skippers. We went to the Med twice on great trips with carrier groups, and runs to Panama, (and into the Pacific having to reballast the boat due to significant salinity difference between Atlantic & Pacific oceans).
Played ball for the Chivo and had a good team. Rode out several hurricane-like storms coming back. Had to tie ourselves into the bridge. 40- 50' waves. Conning tower manned the scopes to help lookouts.
The crews on the Chivo were outstanding.
Haven't been able to make the reunions. Had some prostate cancer, but battled it for three years, wound up getting 44 high density radiation treatments, but docs say the cancer is gone. Reached 84 last week, hope to make 95.
All the best to all of you Chivo sailors, you are the BEST.
Bill Read (1951-1955)
(July 10) I received this letter from one of our former crew members, SN(SS) Richard Tozer (1945-46). Before Chivo, Richard served on USS Tuna (SS-203).
Dear Stan and Shipmates:
Thanks for the newsletters concerning the Chivo. It brings back memories of times past. My wife and I are in good health however, we will probably never get back to your area for a reunion.
I served on the Chivo 1945-46 as a young seaman that spent a lot of time on the sheers as a look-out and a lot of time on the bow and stern planes. So far I have had a full life as an owner of a small business, 30 years in law enforcement and in real-estate plus other adventures.
Two years ago I went on a cruise of the islands of WW2 and wore my submarine veteran cap and got a lot of great comments.
As we used to say upon leaving port... "Good Hunting".
Richard T. Tozer (1945-1946)
(November 09) I received this email from Robert Bovee, a Chivo rider in 1947:
In 1947 I was attending a two weeks sub school class at Mare Island. I was a GI student at the University of Southern California and in the Naval Reserve. I had served in the Navy during WW II taking part in Iwo Jima, and the surrender at Toyko Bay.
Now I was enrolled in a sub reserve unit. Several of the students were at the officer's club and this fellow in civilian attire came in. We got to talking. He said we wouldn't know if we were submarine material by going to the class, and he asked us "if you could, would you go to sea tomorrow as part of sub crew?" Every one but me said no. I said I would love to go. Idle conversation I thought. Next morning at 0600 a sailor from the USS Chivo was at my door with orders for me to report to the boat. The fellow in civilian clothes was William Crutcher.
We submerged outside of San Francisco, and headed for San Diego. It was a wonderful experience. The Captain gave me a good report saying I was suitable for submarine training.
At 85 years of age I am now wondering what became of the "Captain."
A footnote from Stan - CDR William R. Crutcher was Chivo's first Commanding Officer from 1945-48. He departed on Eternal Patrol on August 24, 1993.
(January 09) I received this email from Jim Ousterhout, a CHIVO rider in 1968:
My name is Jim Ousterhout. I was a civilian working with the Navy when I was aboard the Chivo, having a civilian equivalent of Lt. JG rank. I was a GE Sonar Electronic engineer and road the Chivo on its run from Charleston to St. Georges, Bermuda in Oct/Nov 1968.
We left port with only three engines and met with extremely bad weather about 300 miles south of Bermuda, and lost two more engines. The trip was slow and tedious into St. Georges, on one engine in a hurricane, where it was hoped the parts for the engines could be secured.
After docking the crew became quite wild and there were parties and good cheer, I saw a couple of the pictures of the crew at the Whitehorse in St. Georges at your website. All I wanted to do was rest, but my room, (I think it was at the St. Georges hotel) was invaded by several crew members and I didn't get much sleep. It was a wild night.
As I remember I stuck around on the island for a couple more days, but then realized that the boat was not going anywhere for some time so I flew back to my home office in Syracuse NY. I was aboard to do testing on a breadboard DIMUS digital passive listening sonar system developed by my company. I was one of the main developers of the system. It was a crude piece of junk, but everything had to start somewhere.
Attached is my official Honorable Membership into the Order of Deep Dunkers and signed by M. E, Young. certifying my presence aboard the boat.
I have to admit the short time aboard the Chivo was an experience. My bed was under a torpedo in the fwd torpedo room. The mattress was bubble pack and one navy issue wool blanket. The head in the fwd room promptly plugged up upon leaving port and the wonderful aroma was certainly something that will never be forgotten. The fwd T room was quite aromatic for most of the trip and it seems nothing could be done to alleviate the odor. I just turned 28, newly married and was not sure I would return home in the same condition I left. (J/K) Actually I would not trade one minute of my experience with the crew and being aboard the Chivo for anything. It was truly a life experience that I will always cherish.
(June 08) Gerald W. Bultmann TM3(SS) 45-46 emailed the following information and a question about CHIVO:
Thanks for the news letter which is much appreciated. Yes, the SubVets WWII national organization is ceasing to exist in 2009 and just about all the WWII vets (myself included) down here have been part of SubVets Inc for years already.
Of interest....there has been recent material released, including the latest Polaris issue, that covered captured Japanese subs in particular the I-400 and that it was sunk off Oahu in '45-'46 time frame. I'm reasonably sure that we were the ones that torpedoed it to it's final resting place with a MK 14 out of the forward room.
On one of the photos I sent you years ago, there was a Japanese sub in the back ground and I believe it was the I-400.
Please ask the few others that were there in '45-'46 if they remember it (or am I hallucinating?).
(June 08) Charles Hicklin EM2(SS) 44-45 Plankowner sent in some additional information about CHIVO's rocket launchers:
Somebody jumped to the wrong conclusion about the rocket racks. I was on CHIVO when the base installed the racks just ahead of the forward torpedo hatch (below the deck line). They had two side-by-side sets of rockets ,a swing gate at the bottom allowed the second set of rockets to hit the firing pin. Rockets were loaded up through the hatch form the FRW TORP ROOM. The firing key was passed to the bridge via an electric cord from below. Only two men at most were exposed topside to load. The first time we test fired the rockets they shot off so fast that the bridge declared a hang fire and waited a long time before allowing anyone to check. They hardly believed the report that all rockets were gone.
Think about the topside exposure, the electrical connections, and the reload problems if one believes the pics on the website.
Charles R Hicklin (1944-1945 Plankowner)
(January 07) Paul Seery, a radioman aboard the USS Fred T. Berry DDE-858 in May 1954, sent in this fond memory about working with USS CHIVO during an Atlantic crossing and subsequent Med run.
I came upon a photo taken in Genoa, Italy, May 6, 1954 that shows the USS Joseph P. Kennedy DD-850, USS Fred T. Berry DDE-858, USS McCaffery DDE-860, USS Norris DDE-859 and the USS Chivo SS-341. We were part of a Hunter Killer Group CortDesRon 6 and trained/operated with/against the "Chivo" on our Atlantic crossing. The thing that stands out in my mind was the number of times the "Chivo" sank the accompanying Carrier and us as well as many others, I am sure. I seem to recall hearing that the Chivo sank us 14 times on the way over to the Med.
While our time together in Genoa was short, I can still recall the cavalier attitude of the crew of the "Chivo." They were great guys and as radiomen we shared a lot of laughs and a few bottles of Chianti wine.
(January 07) Charles Hicklin EM2(SS) 44-45 Plankowner sent in this information about CHIVO and her rocket launchers. Modern submarines with their Tomahawk cruise missiles have nothing on the Goat Boat.
STAN here is the skinny on the rockets. I was on the Chivo when they were installed in June or July of 1945. They did not replace the 5" gun. They were just in front of the torpedo room hatch, behind the bow tank, and deep in the superstructure. All torpedoes except the ones in the tubes in the forward room were removed and replaced with 5" rockets which had to be loaded by hand through the hatch. We were going to destroy Jap radar stations for the invasion.
The first time we test fired the rockets with a firing key on the bridge, we got a swoosh and nothing; so we thought we and a hangfire. After a long time we sent a TM out the hatch to look and all 6 or 8 or how many we loaded were gone and none left.
We also had new ECM gear to jam Jap radar while we tried to destroy it. We had the two 5" guns and 40's. They took out the Chief 's bunk and put in a stable element gyro to be able to fire the 5" at night by radar. All of that plus the 50 cal's required 52 men to man and pass ammo. One other sub was equipped the same, but I do not remember the name.
The leading TM in the forward room unvoluteered for subs and they let him transfer. A baker named Spinalli tried, but they would not let him go so one night after making sure all the officers were in their bunks he opened the a main vent valve in the galley and the noise got their attention. He was gone the next day, but in 1947 I saw him back on a sub when I was on the TORO. I ask him how and he reminded me of his chocolate eclairs.
Charles R. Hicklin (1944-1945 Plankowner)
(January 07) Terry Rehmann EM3(SS) 44-46 Plankowner - More Rockets:
Forgot to tell you about our Rockets -- It was my job to go out the forward hatch and into the super structure to plug them in and retreat back below. There were 15 shells in each bay and they rolled on a sprocket when they fired. I don't remember anyone getting hurt, but it sure knocked hell out of the deck. They also installed these on the Chopper-- same results -- Total of 90 shells.
Terry Rehmann (1944-1946 Plankowner)
(December 06) Kurt von Gehr ETR2 (SS) 63 - 65
While reviewing the new names on the muster list, from the latest e-mail newsletter, I saw a few that brought back this memory. We were on a classified operation and to pass the time a contest emerged among the three watch sections to see which section could log the most EW and SONAR contacts. Each team had a name. Seeing the names on the roster reminded me of two: Hodde's Humpers and Lavery's Lackadaisicals.
Kurt von Gehr(1963-1965)
(December 06) Terry Rehmann EM3(SS) 44-46 Plankowner sent in the following:
I was aboard when Chivo made her test dive. We started at 0 ft and dropped 50 ft at a time to check for problems, continued down to 612 FT. In the forward room we hung some line from port to starboard with a slight bow in it, and when we surfaced the line was taut. They said the hull compressed approximately 2". Sea water pressure is 44 lbs. per sq in at 100 feet, so we had about 260 lbs per sq in on the hull.
Terry Rehmann (1944-1946 Plankowner)
A footnote from Stan - I
never went that deep on Chivo. When I was aboard (late 60's)
we were limited to 412 feet, but USS Chopper (SS342), Chivo's
sister ship ended her career with a dive to at least 1000 feet
...but not on purpose... She was operating on daily ASW
training ops in GITMO and had just rang up a full bell ahead.
Then she suffered some AC power failures and lost normal indicators
and power for the diving planes. For some reason the
emergency indicators were not working. Ended up they ran the
planes into the stops on full dive and couldn't tell manuevering to
take off the full bell. Chopper was out of control and
driving herself towards crush depth. The senior electrican
on watch in maneuvering was eyeballing the depth gage and finally
went to all back emergency on his own. By this time they had
about a 70 degree down angle, and they were blowing everything up
forward trying to get the angle off.
When the speed finally came off, the Chopper went to an even greater up as she shot up to the surface. One deck plate in the foward torp room fell through the open forward battery watertight door and stuck itself in the goat locker bulkead. And a chief, coming out of the goat locker, fell from the forward battery through the control room breaking his shoulder on the air manifold as he went by.
At the same time the destroyer working ASW with Chopper was totally unaware of any of this and was beginning an attack run on Chopper. When Chopper came busting out of the water the destroyer almost ran over them.
Chopper came so far out of the water on surfacing, that her own weight cause her to sink back to almost four hundred feet before stopping the second time. After everthing settled down, Chopper returned to GITMO, and she never dove again. The sea pressure had warped and twisted several hatches so badly that they couldn't even be opened.
They did a study and measured how high the bildge water came up the bulkheads, how much angle it takes for coffee cups to fall out of their holders, etc. to see what kind of angles Chopper experienced. As unbelieveable as it sounds, the inquiry calculated that Chopper exceeded 1000 feet and never experience any major flooding, just many, many leaks.
good boats even after 30 years of hard use.
Stan Pollard(1968-1971 Decom)
(December 06) Terry Rehmann EM3(SS) 44-46 Plankowner sent in an additional tale:
Thought of another event worth passing along. On the way to Pearl Harbor from New London, Lt Talifaferro dropped a ring from his finger in the head in the forward room on the way from New London to Pearl Harbor (and he wanted it back). Once we got to Pearl Harbor he got the ok to remove the lid on the tank and dressed in his shorts he lowered himself into the tank. After a short while he surfaced with a smile and the ring and a VERY STRONG ODOR. Quickly leaving the room he went topside for a hosing. If he ever shows up ask him if he still has the ring. I was one of his aides helping him to remove the lid------
Terry Rehmann (1944-1946 Plankowner)
(November 06) Robert Machen EM1(SS) (68-69) sent in this information. It was originally written by Michael Skurat, a Member of the Groton Base USSVI & Central CT Chapter of SubVets WWII. It's sort of long but contains lots of interesting information.
There have been many major changes in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service since the WWII Diesel Boat Era. It might be interesting historically to note some of them. Initially there were only seven pay grades (actually eight). They ran from one to seven with Apprentice Seaman (AS) as one, Seaman Second Class (S2/c) as two, Seaman First Class (S1/c) as three, Petty Officer Third Class (e.g. MM3c) as four. Petty Officers Second and First Class as five and six. Chief Petty Officers were initially promoted to "seven A" for one year (Acting Appointment) and then to Chief Petty Officer as pay grade seven. There were no Master or Command Chief, etc. The "C" for Chief Petty Officers preceded the rate designation, for example CMM not MMC as today. For all of the seaman ratings there was a comparable Fireman (F).
The Officer's rank structure has remained consistent with minor exceptions. During WWII a five star Fleet Admiral rank was added and bestowed on Nimitz and King. No one has been promoted to that rank since WWII. Another thing there was no Commodore rank utilized. Officers were promoted from Captain to Rear Admiral (lower half) and thence to Rear Admiral (upper half). The Rear Admiral (Lower Half) was replaced by the Commodore rank. As it is customary to call any Commanding Officer "Captain;" it also was customary to call a Submarine Squadron Commander "Commodore."
Before WWII an Apprentice Seaman's pay was $21.00 per month. Pay was increased in WWII with Apprentice Seaman at $50.00 per month and to around $120.00 per month for a Chief. All personnel on Submarines got 50% submarine money and 20% sea duty pay. When added together added up to about 80% extra pay. If you were married and/or had dependents your pay was reduced by $28.00 per month, the U.S. Navy supplemented another $22.00, and your dependent was sent a monthly check for $50.00. Consequently, an Apprentice Seaman would get $22.00 per month. However, enlisted personnel below pay grade four could not marry without the permission of their Commanding Officer. This was breached more often than observed and obviously many sailors entered the service married.
At one time the Navy Paymasters would pay personnel with $2.00 bills, so that when spent it would indicate to the local economy the impact of the service. Also when being paid by the Paymaster on board a tender you would line up with your "pay chit" to draw your pay. When you reached the pay desk you would salute the Paymaster, put your fingerprint on the "pay chit," and draw your money. There was a posted pay list indicating what you had on the "books," and you could draw all or whatever amount you desired.
Submarine and sea pay were a real boon especially when sea store cigarettes were six cents a pack and a bottle of beer on Bank Street was twenty-five cents. Later when you came in off patrol you would have that back pay and be really flush.
Due to rapid expansion of every aspect of the U.S. Navy, if you could cut the mustard, promotions were forthcoming. Many enlisted personnel were commissioned (called mustangs) or advanced in rating because of the enormous need to fill billets in new construction and replace casualties. Classes at the U.S. Naval Academy graduated early. Personnel with special qualifications were coming into the service already rated and/or commissioned. You could see a Chief Petty Officer with no hash marks. These ratings were derided and called "slick arms" (no hash marks) and/or "Tojo" ratings by the old-timers.
Some enlisted personnel commissioned as regular line officers, Warrant Officers and Limited Duty Officers (LDOs) in specific areas. Such commissions initially were considered temporary with revertion back to their permanent grades at the conclusion of hostilities. They created many specialty ratings. In their "Crow" the specialty designator was a diamond with a letter inside, e.g., the letter "A" would be for a coach or professional athlete who would conduct physical conditioning, etc. Most, if not all, of these ratings ceased to exist with the end of the war. Some referred to these as "square knot" rates.
There were right arm and left arm rates. Right arm rates were considered "Sea Going Rates" (BM, QM. GM. SM, FC, TM, etc), and the "Crow" was worn on the right arm. Left arm rates were ancillary and were MM, Y, EM, RM, MoMM, ET, etc. Right arm rates were senior to left arm ratings. There was no Boatswain Mate Third Class, they were called Coxswains. Seamen and Firemen wore a "watch stripe" round the right shoulder - white for seamen red for firemen. There was other colors of "Watch Stripes" for aviation, CBs, etc. Indication of rate was on the uniform cuffs. One white/red stripe for AS/FA, two for S2c/F2/c and three for S1/c and F1/c. The present diagonal 1, 2, or 3 stripe(s), in color, was originally for WAVE uniforms and after WWII were adopted for the present enlisted uniform and the watch stripe was eliminated.
The "T-Shirt" as a part of the enlisted uniform initially served two purposes. (1) It was to be worn without the Jumper on work details, especially in tropical locations. (2) It was meant to have the high white neckline to show in the "V" of the Jumper. Some personnel, to enhance the appearance would cut the shirt tab off and wore the "T-shirt" backward for a better appearance especially if with age and washings it seemed to sag. The popularity of the T-Shirt expanded into wide public acceptance after WWII and it is now utilized, not only as an undergarment but as outerwear with various designs, logos, etc.
There were no Silver Metal Dolphins for enlisted personnel. Dolphins for enlisted personnel consisted of embroidered "patches" (white for blues and blue for whites) sewn on the right forearm. Silver Metal Dolphins for enlisted personnel was authorized after WWII.
All enlisted personnel wore embroidered "patches" as distinguishing marks e.g., if you were a designated striker you could wear the insignia for that specialty on the left upper sleeve. Other distinguishing marks for enlisted personnel were "patches" on uniforms, e.g., an Expert Lookout patch - "binoculars", a diver - "divers helmet" (M for Master) with degree of qualification indicated on the chest section of the helmet. These were worn on the right upper sleeve and there were many of them.
One "perc" that has persisted is the wearing of gold rating insignia and hash maarks for those with 12 years of good conduct. Chief Petty Officers merely pinned their fouled anchor hat insignia to the front top of their hat covers. The black band and background for the insignia was initiated after WWII. Officers did wear Gold Metal Dolphins as they do today.
Unknown today was also the fact that there was a dress white uniform for enlisted personnel. The collar and cuffs were blue and were adorned with piping. What is worn today are "undress whites". Pictures of them are in old "Bluejacket Manuals". Officers wore swords for ceremonial occasions as they do today, but back before WWII Chief Petty Officers had a cutlass for ceremonial dress occasions.
Another uniform item that is now passe is the flat hat. Once the ribbon had the name of your ship, but this was discontinued for security reasons and all flat hats merely had U.S. Navy in gold on the ribbon.
In boot camp all of your uniform items were stenciled with your name and service number. There were no doors on lockers and each item had a prescribed method of folding and stowing. It was even prescribed as to how you would pack your seabag.
Originally, the entire submarine base was literally below the railroad tracks. Later as the base expanded it was called "lower base". Most of the upper base buildings, i.e., Morton Hall, Dealey Center, etc., were constructed for WWII. The road from the present main gate past the golf course was the Groton-Norwich road. About half way up the road was an overhead railroad bridge. The entrance to the base was under the bridge and the Marine guard was stationed there in a guard shack. The base commander's office was housed in a small brick building about half way between the training tower and the Torpedo Shop.
Submarine School was six weeks for enlisted and three months for officers. Of some 250,000 men who applied for submarine duty less than 10% made it to Sub School, and many of those washed out. Submarine School was the sole tyrannical domain of one Chief Torpedoman Charles Spritz. Submarine School was called "Spritz's Navy". He ruled with an iron hand and was feared by instructors and students alike. He had little regard for rate whether you were a Seaman First Class or a Petty Officer First Class. To call him eccentric was a gross understatement. He did not smoke, did not drink, and was single. It is open to debate as to if he ever even pulled a liberty. His total devotion was to the Submarine School. It was universally conceded that he had gone "asiatic", not 100% stable, and perhaps as a youngster he might have been dropped on his head. He insisted that personnel, at all times, be properly and neatly attired in the regulation "Uniform of the Day" without exception. No tailor mades, proper rolled neckershief down to the "V" in the Jumper with immaculate white T-Shirt showing, shoes well shined, etc. He did not permit smoking nor any type of horseplay. He demanded that all personnel move at a fast pace. Chief Spritz had the uncanny ability to be everywhere at all times and pity the poor individual who crossed his path. His discipline was swift and sure. He felt it was his personal mission to ascertain that anyone leaving sub school for submarine duty was in every respect ready. He had many axioms, but his favorite was "There is room for anything on a submarine except a mistake".
Sub school students were not "boots", many, if not most, had time in the U.S.Navy and were rated. There is an article in POLARIS issue of August, 2000 (Submarine Saga segment) which delves into more detail relative to Chief Spritz and is briefly incorporated here as it is a definite part of the Diesel Boat Era. Sub Vets of WWII in recognition of respect and a fealty obligation to this once feudal lord and master wear a "Spritz's Navy" patch on their vests.
It would seem that the screening at Sub School served us well. Friction between members of the crew was unbefitting and unacceptable. If an individual demonstrated an inability to "get along" he could be transferred to another boat. If the same conduct prevailed there he would be transferred out of submarines.
The training tower caused many a wash out for both physical and mental reasons. If a person could not "pop" his ears, it could cause pain and even bleeding from the ears. You voice changed dramatically to a high pitch under pressure. All personnel had to qualify from the 100' lock with the Momsen Lung. Right after the war it was noted that some German submariners had made emergency escapes using free ascents. A number of crews from boats went to the tower and made free ascents.
We had less pomp insofar as the ceremony observed when a member of the crew qualified than is apparent today. The individual was thrown over the side and then sewed dolphins on his uniforms. He wore them with pride. They have always been, and always will be, a badge of honor regardless of manner in which bestowed.
There was less reverence on some other occasions also., e.g., when a "Good Conduct Medal" was awarded to a member of the crew it would be given by the Captain (or perhaps the Exec) at quarters amid "hoots and hollers" with cries of "Undiscovered Crime". There was also a bonus system for awards ranging from $1.00 per month for the Good Conduct Medal to $5.00 per month for the Congressional Medal of Honor.
"Tailor Made" dress blues were the uniform of the day for liberty. The jumper was skin tight with a zipper in the side so that it could be taken off. Accentuated bell bottoms were mandated. The inside of the cuffs were decorated with embroidered color decorations, usually dragons, etc., and were only visible when the cuffs were turned up.
When you made Chief you initially bought the cheapest hat you could find since it was also considered appropriate and properly respectful to have all of the crew urinate in your first hat.
Sad to note in this day and enlightened age, all of the military services of the United States were segregated during our era. The practice was abolished by President Truman over 50 years ago. Stewards, at that time, were recruited from American territories and from American minorities. Even in such a tight knit group as American Submarines two racks in the Forward Torpedo Room hung off the overhead beneath The Torpedo Loading Hatch were reserved for the Stewards. Rated Stewards wore uniforms similar to Chiefs.
The submarine sailor was a very irreverent individual with an avid distaste for regulations, etc. The average life span of a submarine sailor was four patrols (about a year). Despite bravado, that thought always prevailed to varying degrees depending upon the individual. That premise however, was unsaid but used as an excuse for hell-raising. Rarely mentioned in tales of WWII submarine lore was the fact that going through minefields was as apprehensive as being depth charged.
Submarine Officers and crews were very young - anyone past thirty was a very old man.
Admiral Charles Lockwood (Uncle Charley) ComSubPac was most forgiving, as were Skippers and Execs, of transgressions of both Officers and men. Returning from patrol crews were treated extremely well. Another "perc" of the submarine force was that any record of "minor" disciplinary action that a member of the crew suffered would be entered into the "page 9" of his service record. Virtually all disciplinary action was handled internally on the boat. However, both the original and the carbon copy (BuPers Copy) were retained in his jacket. When transfered, the original and the copy were removed by the Yeoman to be deep sixed. Unless there was a serious offence personnel were transferred with a clean record.
Many friendships were formed in sub school, plus other training and schools and transfers were not uncommon due to the needs of new construction, promotions, etc. Consequently, the force became even more closely knit. It was the rare boat that did not have personnel whom you knew.
Submariners were very independent and resourceful, both individually and as a group. Needs (and desires) of the boat as prescribed by the U.S. Navy, did not always coincide with what was considered proper nor adequate. Therefore, a system of "midnight requisitioning" and "midnight small stores" was developed to enhance efficiency. This avenue of acquisition was considered a solemn duty in promoting the war effort. Those proficient and innovative in this endeavor were greatly admired. It was an art as well as a science executed individually or as a group cooperative effort. Some of these escapades took great ingenuity as well as "brass balls". As a term of affection they were called "scroungers" and/or "dog robbers". If a Skipper or Exec made an "innocent" passing remark that some particular thing might be "nice," it would appear mysteriously in due time.
Although we had an evaporator to make fresh water, battery watering was primary. In the design and scheme of things, personal hygiene or washing of clothes did not seem to be considered. One Engineering Petty Officer, called the "Water King" ran the evaporators. Personal hygiene or washing of clothing was an afterthought. The use of after-shave lotions, deodorants and especially talcum powders prevailed. Large cans of "Lilac" were the norm, purchased inexpensively and sprinkled liberally.
When conditions approached that of a Chinese garbage scow junk with an over flowing head and the crew in dire need of fumigation, the Skipper might decide to allow showers piecemeal by sections. You lined up to enter the shower, the Chief of the Boat turned on the water for 2 seconds and shut it down while you soaped down. You were then allowed a correspondingly brief rinse.
Each member of the crew was allotted one locker which measured about 12" high, 18" wide and about 18" deep. You kept your uniforms under your mattress. Your rack had a plastic zip around cover. Your mattress was encased in a "mattress cover" which was akin to a oversized pillow case. The matress cover could be turned over once and some even turned them inside out and got two more uses. Less the uninitiated be stunned by that you must be cognizant of lack of water for regular laundry.
To reenter a submarine after handling lines etc. when returning to port was a shocking revelation. It was impossible to believe that you had survived that malodorous environment. Politely put the atmosphere was conducive to a shanty town house of ill repute that also was inundated by a back up of its sewer system. Pity the poor relief crew that had to come on board and make the boat shipshape again.
Ribald humor was the tenor of the day. No topic or human frailty was off limits. Nothing was sacred. Horseplay and trickery were the order of the day. The antics and demeanor of the crew, both at sea and ashore, would not be socially acceptable nor politically correct nowadays. I fear that the late Admiral Rickover would have been aghast.
One real advantage was food, especially when you first went out. Although they were ridden without mercy the cooks did an excellent job of feeding the crew. We ate family style off china plates. Our officers ate exactly what the enlisted personnel did. The stewards would come back to the After Battery Galley and fill their serving plates and bring it to the Forward Battery for the Wardroom.
When leaving port rations were stored in every conceivable space (including the shower since it wouldn't be needed). However, as supplies diminished the cooks were hard pressed to come up with varied favorable menus. All boats had "open icebox," so you could prepare and cook anything you wanted at any time as long as you cleaned up after yourself. The After Battery "Mess" was for chow, off duty recreation, meeting space and a hang-out.
On board an informal, but professional, attitude prevailed. To the unacquainted it could appear that the rapport between Officers and men was quite informal and to a degree it was, but it in no way detracted from efficiency, military courtesy, tradition or discipline. There was a strong mutual respect. Aye-Aye Sir, Very Well, and Well Done were accorded as appropriate. The vast majority of the crew was rated and competent in their skills. Obviously so were our officers.
There was no such thing as stenciled ratings on dungaree shirts so a person coming aboard a submarine at sea would have a difficult time determining any individual's rate. Also there was an axiom that in submarines "you left your rate on the dock". Ability was the hallmark.
This is an attempt at recollection after the passing of a half-century so any errors or omissions hopefully forgiven as "senior frailties". Much of this is collective memory and is a compilation of boats in general. There is no pride of authorship so any comments, additions, corrections and/or deletions are welcome and appreciated. This is merely a historical comparison as best one can do and is in no way a negative reflection between "then and "now".
GOD BLESS ALL SUBMARINERS - Past, Present and Future
Michael Skurat Central Connecticut Chapter U.S. Submarine Veterans World War II
(November 06) SN(SS) Daniel Chun (65-66) sent in
this tidbit with the header: Hey, this is no
During the Gitmo cruise of 1965 The Goat Boat made a weekend stop in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Jack Lehnert and I (as well as the rest of the liberty section) got an overnight liberty and planned to make the best of it. Jack and I bought swimsuits and matching shirts (ya gotta remember, it was the sixties) to get around the ban at that time on enlisted men wearing civvies on liberty in a foreign country.
We got a hotel room in a nice place and rented a motorbike. Jack let me drive because I told him I was experienced. At that time he didn't pay too much attention to the many scars on my legs. Sliding along on concrete and running into fixed objects on a motorcycle is still "experience." Right?
Today I would opine that riding a motorbike in a swimsuit, while drinking copious amounts of rum, at night, in a foreign country where everybody drives on the wrong side of the road, is not a bright idea. Well, back then I wasn't known for being the brightest bulb on the tree. Those who know me today might say nothing has changed.
So there we were, Bacardi'd up, cruising all over the place, narrowly averting death as Jack let loose in my ear with terrified screams when I took the right fork in the road instead of the left.
We found ourselves in a shanty town up in the hills thinking that we might be lost. Then, in a crowd of people we recognized some of our shipmates (who shall remain forever anomyous for obvious reasons). The others in the crowd were Jamacian, er..., ladies of the evening.
One of the ladies, rather large and smelling worse than a pig boat crewman, being the hard working girl she was, left her sailor and sauntered over to us. She made a business proposition that I recall was something like, "Hey mon, you want go poo-see shop?" I sort of stared at her, swallowed hard and responded with, "Huh?" To eliminate any doubts we may have had as to the nature of her proposal she reached over and grabbed me where my legs straddled the seat of the bike and said, "We go f**k now."
I made a whimpering noise and Jack, just trying to be polite asked, "How much?" She released her grip on the jewels and turned her attention to him as I gunned the two point something horsepower engine and got the hell out of there. We were back on the coast in short order and enjoyed the rest of our stay. In spite of the efforts of my shipmates, I managed to remain chaste that night and until my wedding night several years later.
Daniel Chun (1965-1966)
(October 06) In a letter Samuel "George"
Daniels QM2(SS) (57-58) wrote the following:
I would like to have the name of the Chief of the Boat when I reported on board the Goat Boat - Jan 1, 1957. (He was) a heavy set Chief Commissaryman with a raspy voice and about 50 gold hashmarks !! (Remembember how old a 37 year old seemed when you were a teenager !!)
He was very influencial in my life. He asked if I was married - I said yes.
Did I have kids? - I said no.
He asked why not? - I said I am only an E-2 and can't afford them.
He said if you wait till you can afford kids - You'll never have any !! He told me to go home right now and get started.
I did, and we did ! ( I told Jan - the COB said ) and our first two daughters were born in the Naval Hospital, Key West.
George Daniels (1957-1958)
A footnote from Stan - George and Jan are still married and celebrated their 50th. wedding anniversary on April 29, 2006. They live in Escondido, CA and plan on coming to our next reunion.
Another footnote from Stan - Does anyone know who the COB was in 1957. Some crew members suggested that it was TMC(SS) Tex Reilly, but our records show that he left the boat in 1956, so it must be his relief.
(October 06) Got this email from John C.
McGuckin MM2(SS) not a CHIVO crew member, but a brother
to our own Charles "Mac" McGuckin FN(SS)
I had the below decks watch on board the Amberjack, SS522 one night in 1967. We were outboard the Gilmore and the Chivo was outboard us. You were attempting a battery charge and had some problems. We had to assist twice on the 12 to 4 with OBA canisters, spare fire extinguishers, tools and electrician's tape.
About 0300, I discovered a extremely dirty, desheveled, and demoralized engineman, covered with soot and with his eyebrows burned off, sitting in our after battery. He identified himself as "nine finger Ables", the leading engineman from the Chivo. He asked for a cup of coffee because their coffee machine was "no more good".
I got him a cup along with a generous shot of 190 from my auxiliaryman's "cleaning fluid" stash and he sat and drank it and asked for another. I went off and made my rounds and when I came back he was still there except that he had an officer who also looked like he had been on fire talking gently to him, trying to get him to come back and try the battery charge again.
Ables replied that he "liked this submarine because it wasn't on fire and there was no smoke or fireballs bouncing around the decks." After a while, he agreed to go back, and he thanked me for the good coffee and encouragement. I guess he was successful because the Chivo left the next day.
Several years later, after I had got off active duty, my younger brother, Ed McGuckin came out of Sub School and sure enough, he got his orders to the Chivo. Ables was still on board and became Ed's sea daddy and helped him get qualified in record time.
I still wonder if it was the coffee or the gilly.
John C. McGuckin
(October 06) Robert Machen EM1(SS) (68-69) sent me this poem:
by Buck Conrad
These ships are now black, they were all grey,
and that diesel oil smell it got worse every day.
These ships and their crews worked together as one
and saved our country from the rising sun.
They ran over the oceans and under them too,
and never a gripe or a whimper heard you.
The men of these ships were all tried and true
and oh yes, these are boats not ships, to you.
Salt water makes them shine with a glimmer and sheen
these boats are called a Diesel Submarine.
When WWII was over and through,
the Cold War started and Korea too.
Our men in the boats never missed a beat,
they reworked the damned things, now that was a feat.
They changed the sails, the shears and all;
they put snorkels in her to make her look tall.
They increased her speed both on top and below
and put new, young men in her to handle the show.
She traveled far, she traveled wide and she listened and she saw,
then on her return she reported it back to the Navy Ops Bureau and all.
Why , we’d be gone three months at a whack,
and low and behold all of a sudden we’re back.
None dare ask where we’d been or had seen,
for top secrets the word and from us you’ll not glean,
one bit of information, nor a word, nor a sign
and thanks to all and the new subs design.
But through all of this you could not erase
the smell of that damned diesel oil in your face.
It was always there even though you scrubbed
and never went away no matter how hard you rubbed.
Then a fresh wind came blowing in and things began a changing.
A new type of power did increase the subs size and also her worldly rangings.
With Nuclear Power and ICBMs, the future for Diesels was beginning to dim.
By the year of 1975, there was hardly a diesel afloat.
She’d given way to nuclear power and now the Navy could gloat.
We’ve got a true submersible here, she's long, powerful and black
and if it weren’t for the men in her, she never would come back.
But us old timers still think of days, when we in the boats then were young,
when we launched our torpedos, fired our guns and escaped with the Momsen lung.
When everything we owned smelled of Diesel, the smell of the submarine sailor
and every 6 months we bought new dress blues especially made by a tailor.
How we always looked sharp in our new jumpers of blue and those tight pants with a bell,
but you could tell what kind of ships we were from because of that diesel oil smell.
So here’s to the old time sub sailor, I raise my glass to you.
I toast your honor and courage and yes, that diesel smell too
The Diesel Boat served her purpose; her time has drawn nigh.
To our shipmates who have gone before us and now dwell with the Lord on high,
it’s for you I write this poem and I’ll finish with a sigh,
as soon as I make this last request just before I die.
This last request of the good Lord I make
and it’s for all in Heaven’s sake,
Please dear Lord, oh please hear me well, can’t we get rid of that
Diesel Oil Smell?
by the CHIVO Crew