Archive for June, 2014

A Winning Design

The keel of USS GROTON (SSN-694) was laid down at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, CT, on 3 August 1973. The bow of each new submarine is covered with a custom-designed nose cone when she is launched, so as GROTON neared completion her prospective commanding officer, Commander William Vogel, III, went looking for a design. Traditionally, ideas came from boats’ crews, but Vogel felt that this time, “since this is the first submarine to carry a name that is famous throughout the Submarine Force, it seems only fitting that we give Groton people a chance to design our insignia.” So Vogel announced a contest and within weeks he had 65 entries.

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The Saga of the White Hat, Part II

From left: Chief Petty Officers Leslie Giuy, Ashley Kelly, Wade Martinson, and Edgar Nunez prepare to lower a coffin containing the white hats of first class petty officers from Navy Medicine Training Support Center promoted to chief petty officer in 2013. The white hat burial ceremony signifies transition from first class petty officer to chief petty officer and occurs during the final phase of an intense, six- to eight-week training period for selectees. Usually secluded, the ceremony was held to recognize and share chief petty officer and Navy traditions with staff and students. This was the third white hat burial ceremony NMTSC chief petty officers conducted on board Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston and was done in commemoration of the 121st Chief Petty Officer birthday. (Photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist L.A. Shively)

Ever wondered how the Navy white hat, also known as a dixie cup, came to be? Author Marke Hensgen told all in the November 1988 edition of All Hands magazine. The title of the article: “To Cap It All Off… A Fond Look at a Navy Trademark: Uses (and Abuses) of the ‘Dixie Cup.’ ” Check out Wednesday’s “Tidbit” for the first part of the article; today’s portion is the second and final.

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The Loss of USS RUNNER (SS-275)

Built at Portsmouth Naval Yard in Kittery, Maine, and commissioned on 30 July 1942, USS RUNNER (SS-275) remained on the eastern coast of the United States only long enough to conduct shakedown exercises before setting out for Pearl Harbor.

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The Saga of the White Hat, Part I

Ever wondered how the Navy white hat, also known as a dixie cup, came to be? Author Marke Hensgen told all in the November 1988 edition of All Hands magazine. The title of the article: “To Cap It All Off… A Fond Look at a Navy Trademark: Uses (and Abuses) of the ‘Dixie Cup.’ ” Today and Friday in “Tidbits” we’ll learn all about white hats, including how you can give them a distinctive style all your own, and what role a toilet can play in keeping them clean.

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Baptism in a Bell

As far as we know, only one baby has ever been christened aboard Historic Ship NAUTILUS (SSN-571). Her story, “Nautilus Baby Returns to Submarine as a Bride,” written by Jennifer Grogran and published by the New London Day on 28 June 2008, is the subject of today’s “Tidbit.”

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The Loss of USS S-27 (SS-132)–But Not Her Crew

In March of 1917, the U.S. Navy authorized the construction of a new S-class submarine which was laid down two years later at the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation in Quincy, MA. She was commissioned as USS S-27 (SS-132) on 22 January 1924. After stints in New London, San Diego, and Pearl Harbor, and an overhaul at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, she was sent to Alaska in May of 1942 to patrol the frigid northern waters in support of the war that America had only recently entered.

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The Loss of USS O-9 (SS-70)

A side-scan sonar image of O-9.

On 27 July 1918, the United States commissioned USS O-9 (SS-70). Her crew stretched their new boat’s legs in the waters off the United States’ eastern coast, protecting the shores from marauding U-boats. On 2 November 1918 she left Newport, Rhode Island, for Europe, where she was scheduled to undertake her first wartime patrol. Fortunately for the world as a whole, but unfortunately for O-9’s eager crew, hostilities ceased before the boat arrived in Britain.

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Where is the First and Finest Ensign?

On 19 May 1959, the New London Day published an article entitled “Nautilus Flag Presented [to] New Junior Naval Cadets,” part of the text of which is transcribed below. It has been 55 years since the ensign was passed to its new caretakers; its current location is unknown to the Museum. If you have any idea where it might be, please don’t hesitate to respond to this post. We are looking not necessarily to acquire it, but to know where a piece of our boat’s heritage has found a home.

“Long before the atomic Submarine Nautilus made her historic trip under the polar icecap at the North Pole on Aug. 3, 1958, she came alive to her officers and crew, when she was commissioned as a ship of the fleet, Sept. 30, 1954 at the General Dynamics Corp. Electric Boat Division Shipyard in Groton.

“Capt. Eugene P. Wilkinson, commanding officer of Submarine Division 102, guest speaker and honorary national commandant of the Junior Naval Cadets of America, last night told 75 guests and parents of the 29-member East Lyme Ship Nautilus, ‘When our first colors were raised, it was at that moment we knew the Nautilus was a good ship.’

“ ‘…I treasure our first flag,’ he said, ‘and know that if our colors are entrusted to you cadets of the first ship commissioned under the banner of the Junior Naval Cadets of American, you too will cherish our flag and guard it well.’


“Cadet First Class Paul Bizaillon accepted the flag from Captain Wilkinson, as Cmdr. John McCaffery, organizer of the new group and Lt. Ernest L. Ballachino, commanding officer of the Flagship Nautilus of East Lyme, stood by.”

The Loss of USS BONEFISH (SS-223)

A view through the periscope.

Built by the Electric Boat Company of Groton, CT, USS BONEFISH (SS-223) was commissioned on 31 May 1943. Less than two months later she was on her way to her new homeport in Brisbane, Australia; her first war patrol began on 16 September. The month-long prowl, which earned the boat her first Navy Unit Commendation, resulted in the damage of a freighter and two cargo ships and the sinking of two transport ships (9,900 and 10,000 tons, respectively) and a cargo vessel (4,200 tons). It was an auspicious beginning.

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Making a Clean Sweep

The MSC's broom of victory.

When one thinks about submarines, the image of a straw broom is not likely to be among the first images that crop up. But strangely, these cleaning implements have a long and storied relationship with sea-going vessels. In the mid 1600s, Dutch admiral Maarten Troop, having just won an important naval battle in the First Anglo-Dutch War, had a crewmember hang a broom from one of the ship’s masts to signify that he had swept the British from the seas. Legend has it that his opponent, British admiral Robert Blake, responded by hanging a whip from one of his own masts to indicate that although he had lost this battle, he still intended to whip the Dutch into submission. (Ultimately, Blake and Great Britain would emerge victorious from the conflict.)

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