Archive for May, 2014

The Early Bird Doesn’t Get Left Topside

In the midst of her tenth war patrol, on the night of 9-10 November 1944, USS BARB (SS-220) latched onto a target, the Japanese light cruiser Gokoku, near the naval base at Sasebo. BARB put two torpedoes into the enemy vessel at 0336 on the morning of the tenth, but the tenacious ship only heeled over to one side. At 0354, as BARB, running on the surface, opened her vents to submerge, the men in the conning tower heard a voice yell from outside the closed hatch overhead, “Hey! Let me in!” Quartermaster Francis Sever threw open the hatch and peered up. “Do you want to come in too, Mister Teeter?” he asked. A moment later, officer Dave Teeters, along with a torrent of seawater, dropped inside without touching a rung on the ladder.

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The Loss of USS STICKLEBACK (SS-415)

Commissioned on 29 March 1945, USS STICKLEBACK (SS-415) managed to squeeze in a two-day war patrol before the cease-fire was declared in mid-August. Less than a year later, she was decommissioned. But the Korean War brought the boat back into action; after the conflict ended she changed jobs again to take part in training operations.

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How About an Atom Bomb Shoulder Patch?

Ever Wanted Your Own POLARIS Sub?

The Sinking of USS SQUALUS (SS-192)

On 1 March 1939, USS SQUALUS (SS-192) was commissioned at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. By May, the boat was ready to stretch her legs in the waters off the coast of New Hampshire. Her first eighteen dives, which began on 12 May, were uneventful; there was no reason to believe that dive number nineteen, which began just after seven in the morning on 23 May, would be any different. Unfortunately for the 56 crewmembers and three civilian contractors aboard the boat that day, the dive would be anything but routine. At 0740, just after SQUALUS submerged, her main engine air induction valve failed, allowing water to gush into the aft compartments, drowning 26 men. Within moments, the boat had come to rest on the ocean floor, 60 fathoms (240 feet) beneath the waves.

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The Loss of USS SCORPION (SSN-589)

On 15 February 1968, USS SCORPION (SSN-589) departed Norfolk, Virginia, for a Mediterranean deployment. The boat was fresh off an overhaul, but only emergency repairs had been made during that period so the boat could deploy again as soon as possible. (Because of the extensive requirements of the SUBSAFE program that had been implemented after the loss of USS THRESHER (SSN-593) in 1963, a full overhaul now took 36 months, four times longer than it had previously.) By May, SCORPION was on her way home. On the twenty-first, the boat, which had been unable to reach Naval Station Rota in Spain, her normal contact, for at least 24 hours, radioed her position to a Navy communications station in Greece. At that point she was about fifty miles south of the Azores. It was the last time anyone would communicate with the sub.

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“Our Father’s Flag”

Mr. Landrum is at front, holding flag.

“Dennis Landrum was one of the many prisoners of war (POW) held at the Aomori prison camp in Japan during World War II. The POWs wanted a flag to greet their rescuers when they were liberated at the end of the war. Using a bed sheet and colored pencils, Dennis and the other prisoners painstakingly created what would represent the symbol of their freedom.

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Congratulations, NAUTILUS!

On 20 May 1982, Historic Ship NAUTILUS (SSN-571) was designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior. Although there are 85,000 sites on the National Register of Historic Places, only 2,500 or so are National Historic Landmarks. We’re proud to have one of them at our museum!

 

ENGLAND’s Triumph

Ensign John England was four days shy of his twenty-first birthday when the sun rose over his ship, USS OKLAHOMA (BB-37), and the rest of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 7 December 1941. The idea of an attack was probably the furthest thing from his mind that lovely morning: his wife was due to visit in just a few days. She would be bringing along their three-week-old daughter, Victoria Louise, whom England had not yet seen. So that he might have more time with his girls when they arrived, England had volunteered for an extra shift in the radio room. He was there when the Japanese attack began. OKLAHOMA never had a chance: she was struck by three torpedoes in quick succession, then two more hit home as she began to capsize. England escaped topside, but then ducked back into the quickly tilting vessel to assist several shipmates in the radio room who had not followed him to safety initially. He did this three times, pulling a man to safety on each occasion. He did not return from his fourth trip belowdecks. England was one of 20 officers and nearly 400 enlisted men who lost their lives aboard OKLAHOMA that morning.

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The Sinking of USS GUITARRO (SSN-665)

USS GUITARRO (SSN-665) was launched on 27 July 1968. Less than a year later, on 15 May 1969, the boat would have a much less positive experience with the water surrounding her: she sank at the pier. “The Guitarro should not have sunk,” a report on the incident later concluded. “It was not overwhelmed by cataclysmic forces of nature or an imperfection in design or an inherent weakness in its hull. Rather, it was sent to the bottom by the action, or inaction, of certain construction workers who either failed to recognize an actual or potential threat to the ship’s safety or assumed that it was not their responsibility. …Its sinking could have been prevented by the timely exercise of very little commonsense and the taking of a few simple precautions.”

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