Archive for March, 2014

The Triumphs and Tragedies of Submarine Shuffleboard

You may think of shuffleboard as a game played on cruise ships by vacationers wearing Hawaiian-print shirts, but that isn’t always the case, as a McClure Shuffleboard Table Blog entry for 20 September 2013 tells us.

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The Loss of USS TRIGGER (SS-237)

By the spring of 1945, USS TRIGGER (SS-237) was the veteran of eleven war patrols and the recipient of three Presidential Unit Citations. By the time she departed Guam on her twelfth patrol on 11 March she had already sunk at least fifteen enemy vessels for a total of more than 85,000 tons of shipping. Motor Machinist’s Mate First Class Constantine Guinness immortalized these accomplishments in a poem he wrote, entitled, “I’m the Galloping Ghost of the Japanese Coast.”

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Hitching a Ride

Submarines have, over the years, played host to everything from pets to prisoners of war to presidents. But few have had guests as unique as a helicopter. An article in the Key West Citizen from 27 April 1956 describes the unusual event.

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The Loss of USS TULLIBEE (SS-284)

Clifford Kuykendall, center, reminisces with the children of George Ticknor.

On 5 March 1944, USS TULLIBEE (SS-284) departed Pearl Harbor on her fourth war patrol, arriving on station in the western Pacific’s Palau Islands, where she was scheduled to support air strikes, in just under three weeks. Less than a day later she spotted her first targets: a convoy of two freighters, a destroyer, and two escorts. The sub closed to 3,000 yards and, at 0315, launched two torpedoes. Gunner’s Mate Clifford Kuykendall was standing on the bridge, acting as a lookout, when the fish left the boat. “There they go,” he remembers his fellow lookout saying. “We’ll see what happens now.”

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The Loss of USS F-4 (SS-23)

F-4 in drydock in Honolulu, 1 September 1915. Note the implosion hole in her port side and the salvage pontoons used to support her during the final lift. This view shows F-4's port bow. She is upside down, rolled to starboard approximately 120 degrees from the vertical.

After her commissioning at Moran Brothers Shipbuilding in Seattle, Washington, on 3 May 1913, USS F-4 (initially called SKATE) (SS-23) joined the First Submarine Group, Pacific Torpedo Flotilla. She operated along the west coast of the United States and then moved to Hawaii in 1914. In was there, just off Honolulu, on 25 March 1915, that the boat made her tragic final dive. What exactly happened just after the boat slipped beneath the waves will never be known; what we do know is based on examinations of the sub after she was salvaged.

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The Loss of USS H-1 (SS-28)

The first USS SEAWOLF (SS-28) was authorized on 3 March 1909 and built by Union Iron Works in San Francisco, CA. Her name was changed to H-1 on 17 November 1911. Launched and commissioned in 1913, H-1 spent her early years operating with Torpedo Flotilla 2 of the Pacific Fleet, which included her sister ships USS H-2 (SS-29) and USS H-3 (SS-30). Those operations turned into patrols with the outbreak of World War I. In October of 1917, H-1 moved to the other side of the country to prowl the waters off New London, Connecticut. She provided much-needed real-world experience to a number of students at Submarine School.

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The Loss of USS LANCETFISH (SS-296)

On 24 March 1945, USS LANCETFISH (SS-296) was decommissioned after serving the shortest-ever term as a commissioned naval vessel—just 41 days.

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The Loss of USS KETE (SS-369)

KETE's official insignia, painted by Manitowoc (WI) Shipbuilding employee Ray Young.

USS KETE (SS-369) set out from Guam on her second war patrol on 1 March 1945. Aboard a boat that was less than a year old and fresh from a refit, the crew must have felt good about their chances of sinking their first enemy vessel.

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The Holy Submariner

For more than 75 years, two dolphin fish have rested their heads comfortably on the bow planes of the surfaced boat that slices through the seas on the submarine force’s warfare insignia. But sometimes, as described below by former Navy Chaplain Steve Jensen, one of those fish ends up giving up his spot.

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A Good Hand (or Two) of Cards

CDR Steven Harrison (left), C.O. of USS LOS ANGELES (SSN-688), hands O’Kane’s cribbage board off to CDR Howard Warner, C.O. of USS BREMERTON (SSN-698), when LOS ANGELES was decommissioned in 2010 and BREMERTON became the oldest submarine in the fleet.

Before Richard O’Kane became commander of the wildly successful USS TANG (SS-306), was awarded a Medal of Honor, survived a Japanese POW camp, and attained the rank of rear admiral, he served as executive officer of USS WAHOO (SS-238) under LCDR Marvin “Pinky” Kennedy and, later, the legendary submarine skipper LCDR Dudley “Mush” Morton. O’Kane would later credit Morton with helping him hone the skills that made him into an accomplished and much-loved C.O., but on 18 March 1943, O’Kane had something else to thank Mush for: an epic hand of cribbage.

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