SEA STORIES





A Submariner's Poem
by Al Alessandra - July 3, 2005

Run silent, run deep
For freedom we fought to keep
How we spent so many days
Beneath the shimmering waves

A terrible foe we fought
And gave our lives; and freedom bought
Now our souls forever lie
Restlessly beneath the waves
So silent now, so deep

For it is not enough for you to weep
For we shall not have died in vain
Lest you forget for what we gave
We gave our lives, freedom to save

For if you forget our deeds
Then we shall never sleep
Though we lie so silent, so deep


THE GUPPIES
by Bob Harrison, Greenfield Indiana, 9/4/2000

Long before the advent of the hippie and the yuppie
There was a class of warship that was fondly called the Guppy.
Now the Guppy was a submarine, in case you didn't know
Long and black and sleek she was, and always on the go.

In World War Two, the submarines were our first line of attack
Many of them went out to sea and some did not come back.
Now the submariners knew this but still they went to war
To defend their nation's freedom was what they were fighting for.

After World War Two had ended, when the Japs and Germans quit
Someone thought the old subs should be streamlined just a bit.
So they re-designed the old boats and named them Guppy Class
With snorkels, better batteries and a hull to make 'em fast.

They went to sea both north and south from east to setting sun
They never knew when night was o'er and daytime had begun.
Theirs was a life of silence and the darkness of the deep
Sometimes their only pleasure were a few hours of blessed sleep.

They ploughed the seas from Pole to Pole in defense of freedom's goals
From Pearl Harbor and Yokosuka to the faroff iceland shoals.
To spy on Soviet submarines and other ships of war
Was the job of these brave lads who roamed the ocean floor.

They ran patrols from Greenland to the shores of Timbuktu.
The GIUK GAP and MED RUN were just nothing for a crew
Of Guppy sailors who thought the NORTHERN RUN okay.
Then take shore leave in Norfolk for another night of play.

How many Guppies were there? Far more than I could name
And each has earned an honored place in the Guppy Hall of Fame.
They fought the war with Soviets in secrecy and guile
Until the foe gave up the fight, which made it all worth while.

Now they're gone, as all ships go when their tour of duty's o'er
Brave Guppy stalwart warriors, they roam the seas no more.
They've gone to graves far out at sea and this should be their lot
Gone from the sight of those they served but not to be forgot.




Final Remarks of Piper's Third War Patrol
by Lieutenant Commander Edward L. Beach, Commanding Officer, USS PIPER - 1945

The Commanding Officer may be pardoned, surely, for feeling a little disappointment at the fact that, after eleven War Patrols in subordinate capacities, he finally achieved command, and entered one of the last areas still considered potentially productive with a ship and crew trained to a high condition of readiness, only to have the war end ten hours after he arrived in the area.

It is, however, with a soul full of emotion that he adds these final remarks to what may well be the last War Patrol of the Submarine War. Having served in Submarines Pacific since the start of the war, since those dark days of 1942 when disaster appeared to be pressing steadily closer and closer, having seen (and been part of) that thin grey wall which held the enemy in check while the nation looked at despair and came raging back - - having fought beside men who laughed at futility, who spit in the face of the dragon, who quietly and gaily interposed their puny bodies athwart the course of the Beast - - having grieved at those names who inspired us and left their legacy - - HARDER, SEAWOLF, WAHOO, TRIGGER, GUDGEON, TANG, BONEFISH, GRAYBACK - - he hopes that he may be forgiven for a bit of sentimentality.

The realization is growing swiftly that no more will the warheads announce our answer to the barbarians; no more will the loins quiver and spine tingle at the chase; no more will the heady champagne of conflict steady our aim; nor will experience the fierce joy of a sturdy hull, a steady hand on the helm, four engines roaring a bit more than their rated full power, of riding our steel chariot bridge right into the teeth of the huge foe, tearing out his vitals while in terror he vainly shoots his guns and helplessly tries to get away.

Never again the blind groping of the water mole, listening, always listening - - nor the steaming, sweating, drenching heat, the decks and bulkheads solid water, perspiration running down your bare chest and back, soaking the rags and towels you vainly throw around you, soaking your trousers and shoes - - while you pay no attention, act unconcerned (if they only knew), keep reliefs going to the planes and steering, keep checking all compartments after each salvo, keep the soundman on - - He's dead tired but you couldn't get rid of him anyway - - and you listen, and guess, and maneuver, and wait. . . . .

And now, the small perspective grows large. It wasn't just one sub against Japan. In that cloudy sky, there are no longer enemy planes, out to get that sub. In those white-capped waves are no longer the periscopes of the foe, but only our own. In these contested waters floats a mighty fleet, but it flies the stars and stripes. On that distant shore there is a great army, but it calls itself "G.I." instead of "Son of Heaven". Suddenly the truth stands as high and broad as the free air we breathe. We were never alone! Japan, poor fool, you never had a chance! The thin grey line never faltered - - couldn't falter - - as long as we had faith. And never was faith more fully, more gloriously justified. Our thin grey line suddenly exploded with the accumulated wrath of years of toil and patience, became overnight, the grey juggernaut of revenge, and it ground, slowly at first, then faster and faster, more audaciously, finally with breath-taking speed, but always exceedingly fine.

Pearl Harbor, you will never be forgotten. The day of infamy will live in the memories of men who gazed, with shocked eyes, on the pride of our Navy sprawled in the mud. It will never be forgotten by a people who suddenly found that their vaunted steel walls had been betrayed by a complacent public, and all but destroyed by a vicious enemy. But that day welded our country into a force, backed by outraged reason, righteous indignation, and burning shame, which has not rested until the debt has been paid. Yes, Pearl Harbor, you have been amply and truly avenged. And, as we dwell upon this destruction we have wrought upon the perpetrators of that crime, we may well give thanks to Almighty God that, although the price was heavy, we have reaffirmed the faith of our fathers, the founders of this great nation. The flag of our country stands, now more than ever, as a symbol of liberty, and everlasting triumph of a free people against the putrescent hordes of the Beast. Long may it wave on high!


Cribbage Trivia for Submariners
contributed by shipmate Charlie Patch

Cribbage has been popular with mariners for hundreds of years, enjoying especially widespread play in the Navy during World War II. It was thought of as the unofficial game of submariners, who played round the clock as they patrolled for Japanese ships.

The most famous incident related to cribbage in the Navy occurred in 1943 aboard one of the war's most celebrated submarines, the USS Wahoo. For the Wahoo's fourth war patrol, it was ordered to head to the extreme northern reaches of the Yellow Sea, an area where no sub had gone before. The waters near the Dairen Peninsula were shallow, and crewmembers grew nervous as they glided into dangerous territory. To take their minds off the tension, the sub's commander, Dudley "Mush" Morton and his executive officer, Richard "Dick" O' Kane, began a game of cribbage. Morton dealt O' Kane a "Perfect 29" hand, four fives and a Jack, the highest possible score for combinations in a single cribbage deal. Back-of-the-envelope calculations were done, and 216,000 to 1 were the odds thrown out as to the chances of that happening. The crew's spirits were bolstered by what they felt was a very lucky omen. O' Kane had his fellow officers sign the five cards and he framed them.

Rear Admiral Richard Hetherington "Dick" O' Kane has the distinction of directly participating in more successful attacks on Japanese shipping than any other fighting submarine officer during the war. Good fortune did prevail on the patrol - at its end the Wahoo had set a record for the number of ships sunk. It continued for O' Kane too. When he was detached from the Wahoo and given command of the Tang, that sub broke the former's record for most ships sunk in a single patrol. And while he was captured by the Japanese when the Tang was sunk by an errant torpedo that circled back and hit it, O' Kane survived the war, and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" during his submarine's final operations.

O' Kane's lucky cribbage board has become an important submariner tradition; since WWII it has been passed along to the oldest active submarine in the United States Pacific Fleet. Once the sub is decommissioned, it is given to the next oldest submarine, where it is placed in the wardroom.

The famous crib board currently resides aboard the USS Bremerton SSN698, which launched in 1978.


Blow Bow Buoyancy!
by shipmate Tom Taylor Lt.(SS)(Ret) USN

After the war wound down in 1945 the Piper was assigned to school boat duties at the sub base in New London. I had been aboard about six months, got a promotion to Fireman First Class and had received my dolphins which at that time were worn on the left sleeve of the blue and white jumper. I had been assigned to the Auxiliary Gang and my watch station and battle station at sea was the air manifold in the Control Room.

Early in 1946 a new officer reported aboard who had spent most of the war years in a Japanese prison camp. Because of the ravages of time my memory no longer allows me to come up with the name of his sub that was sunk off the coast of Japan in '42. Anyway, his rank was Ensign when he was picked out of the water by the Japanese. After the war and his release and through the magic of the pentagon and the US Senate he was awarded the rank of LtCdr. He was still slightly emaciated from his time in captivity. After about a week aboard the Piper he was assigned as diving officer during training exercises.

There was a time early one morning about 0600, the Officer Sub School class came aboard for a one day training cruise. During the time at sea the trainees were alternated between the various stations including steering bow and stern planes, Maneuvering Rom, Conning Tower TDC and both Torpedo Rooms. On this day our brand new LtCdr was diving officer and for the first few dives all went well. Targets were tracked and water slugs from both Torpedo Rooms were fired.

We were on our fifth dive when the conning Tower ordered the Forward Torpedo Room to make two tubes ready to fire water slugs. A routine order. Although no water had been shifted by the trim manifold, the boat suddenly took a down angle. I was on the air manifold and could see the bubble and depth gages from my station. Along with down angle the depth gage showed we were going past periscope depth. I looked at the Diving Officer anticipating an order to do something. In the sub navy no independent action is taken unless an order is given or there is extreme danger to the boat or crew. The diving officer had a death grip on the conning tower ladder hand rail and did not appear to comprehend what was happening. When we passed 250 feet I spoke up "request permission to put a bubble in bow buoyancy sir!" This seemed to have stirred something in him and he replied "permission granted". The skipper made it to the Control Room about the time I made my request to bubble bow buoyancy. He didn't say anything so I guess he wanted to see how this officer performed under pressure.

We finally got to a zero bubble attitude but we were still heavy and slowly increasing our depth. I asked permission to blow main ballast tanks and he again responded "permission granted". We surfaced without further incident. An investigation later found that the trainee officer in the torpedo room had flooded two tubes from sea instead of using water from the WRT tank. This had given us about 2000 pounds in the bow which created the problem. All's well that ends well.

Two weeks later the LtCdr was transferred. I never did find out where he went.


Thomas Black - Holland Club Induction Address
June 4, 2011

(Tom, IC3(SS), served on Piper 1963 - 1964)


The US Navy is an Adventure! My "Adventure" began Jan. 7, 1960. I had wanted to be a Sailor as long as I can remember and my desire never wavered. My first duty station was the Great Lakes Training Command where I did "Boot Camp". After which, I attended Interior Communications Electrician 'A" School. Upon graduation, I was ordered to Submarine School, New London, CT, to learn the basics of Submarine. The training also included boarding a Submarine for the day and sailing down the Thames River to the Long Island Sound where we did 16 Dives and hopefully 16 Surfaces. That first trip was a wondrous and memorable experience. I absolutely loved every part of it. The noise, the intensity of the crew, the power of the engines, the raucous sound of the Klaxon for the first time, the quiet when we submerged and the delicious aromas that came from the Galley. I was enthralled with every aspect of Submarine Duty.

In October I was assigned to the USS Corsair SS 435 (no Snorkel and 2 Main Inductions). When "She" was decommissioned in 1963 I was transferred to the USS Piper SS 409, the last "Boat" to come back from War Patrol in 1945. There is a familiar phrase that states, "Join the Navy and see the World" and I DID! Just to list a few; Halifax, NS; St. John's, NB; Bermuda; Christmas in Monaco with Princess Grace Kelly; transit the Suez Canal; Thanksgiving in Djibouti, SA; entered the Red Sea; refueled in the Port of Aden and continued on to Karachi, Pakistan. It was at his time we returned to the Mediterranean Sea to begin our trip home. Let me point out that there was also Liberty Call in Italy, France, Spain and Portugal.

As great as all the sights, sounds and smells were, it was your shipmates and friends that was truly impressive. Besides having to volunteer for the Submarine Service a Sailor is required to pass rigorous mental and physical screening, the failure rate is very high. These men also have to be fearless and brave. I had the distinct honor to serve with Chief Joe Negri, COB on the USS Piper. He was a big man, who was caring and patient with the many sailors that he supervised. It goes without saying that he was a great leader who lead by example. I can recall an incident that typifies the silent courage that he possessed. While we were traveling south in the Suez Canal, I was standing, topside forward of the Sail, next to Chief Negri and off our starboard side, in the distance, was an Egyptian Air Base. At the time the Egyptians had close ties with Russia and we were close enough that we could observe that they had MIG fighter jets on the tarmac. Needless to say, it was a great opportunity to take some pictures through the periscope. As we were doing this, I could hear a roar coming up the Canal. As I looked I saw an Egyptian fighter bomber rapidly approaching and he was only 75 feet off the deck. As he came closer, I could see the Bomb Bay Doors opening. Fighting the urge to jump over the side, I looked to the Chief for guidance and with that I saw this man, who suddenly grew to 10 or 15 feet and had to weigh a muscular 500 lbs, turn his body so that he faced this plane full on. At the same time, I saw what appeared to be a camera being lowered from the bomb bay. Without hesitating in the least, Joe raised his right arm and gave a one finger salute, as they flew over us. He was fearless.

Joining me today are my 8 grandchildren, 3 daughters, 2 son in laws, 2 nieces and their husbands and my wonderful wife of 46 years. Who met the "Boat" upon our return from the "Med".

This prestigious ceremony today gives us an opportunity to say "Thanks" to all Submariners, past and present and God Bless all those on Eternal Patrol.


Booster, Booster, Who's Got The Booster?
by Robert F. Marble TMCS(SS) USN (Ret), Piper 1954-1960

Hello Mike:

I was looking through the "Piper Shipmates On Eternal Patrol" and decided that I'm the only one alive to relate this story. It has been a well-kept secret until now.

Piper got underway from N'Lon and headed North for it's first Cold War deterrent patrol in September, 1957. We had tin cans in all the bilges and all over the torpedo room decks; spuds in the AB hatch trunk and showers. We had a full load of MK 14-3A steam-driven and Mk 27 electrical acoustic torpedoes in both rooms.

As we neared the Texas Tower near Boston, MA, sonar picked up a contact. It wasn't one of ours, so the CO ordered a MK 27 made fully ready to shoot from the FTR. Lester McEwen, TM2 and I worked the forward room. We broke out the Operation Procedure for the MK 27 and looked at the photos of the warhead and its components. Then we got a MK 142 Exploder mechanism out of its stowage and searched for a booster, but could not locate one. I checked the torpedo log for the day we loaded our ammo from the subBase, and could not find any boosters on the list. The Torpedo Officer had signed that receipt........

I went to the ATR and asked Robert Taylor, TM1 and Joseph P. Dooley TM2 if they knew where the boosters were. They never heard of one, until I showed them the photo of one in the MK 27 OP.

A couple days prior to getting underway, we asked the torpedo shop for some instructions on the MK 27 acoustic torpedo, but they were very busy getting warshots ready for all the boats that were going to sea, and they just told us to check the OP, all the info is in there. None of the torpedo gang had been to school on this new torpedo.

Needless to say, we had to do something fast..........We decided to insert the MK 142 exploder mechanism in the nose cavity of the torpedo, make it fully ready and tube-load it. We reported "MK 27 loaded in #1 tube" to Control and got a "Control, aye" response on the 7MC. We now had a secret, and swore not to divulge it to anyone, not even to "Shorty" Wolters, the COB.

Some time later Sonar lost the contact and we continued on our merry way to the Faroe Islands for our patrol, hoping that if we shoot it, the evidence will go with it. When we got back to the base in N'Lon, we off-loaded the MK 27s and never heard any more about the missing booster. We checked with the TMs on The USS SEA ROBIN (SS-407) (Taylor's old boat that made the same patrol) and they didn't have any boosters either........

Keep your eyes on the bubble,

BUBBLEHEAD BOB


SANDPIPER
by Robert F. Marble TMCS(SS) USN (Ret), Piper 1954-1960



Back on 7/19/1958, PIPER got underway to check out two newly installed "goodies"...... One was the new Magnetic Underwater Log, replacing the old Pitlog and a newly-installed depth (Fathometer) sounder. After successfully completing the checks and calibrations, we were en-route to the Faroe Islands near Soviet Territory to do things that make "Blind Man's Bluff" believable.

RMC Barney D. Wixom was COW on the 0400 to 0800 watch, and EMC "Dinny" Dinsmore was his relief. PIPER is laying off Wood's End at Provincetown, MA waiting for sunrise to run the measured mile to calibrate the new Magnetic log and check out the new Fathometer.

I was up early and passed through COC with coffee in hand, when Barney sez "acccording to the trace on this new-fangled thing, we're aground." The Conning Tower was manned by Skelton QM2, taking "fixes" every 15 minutes, logging them and reporting to LT. "Willie" Lent, the OOD on the bridge and the Operations Officer LT. Rowan. He noticed something wrong immediately, PIPER had stopped swinging in the morning breeze as had been the case earlier. He logged this and reported as before. The OOD acknowledged and the OPS Officer told him not to sweat it and lay back down on the Conning Tower deck mats, to go back to sleep. Wixom was relieved by the COB, Dinsmore.

The IC electrician on watch in COC noticed the clinometer reading at the COC Emergency Helm, 'twas about a bubble off, indicating a list. The COW dispatched the off-watch lookout to notify CO LCDR. Bowcock, Jr. who was asleep in his stateroom. He came into the COC in his shorts to find out what was happening. It was obvious we were aground on a sandbar. The CO ordered the COW, Dinsmore, to open all MBT vents, so that the incoming tide would not force the boat any higher on the sandbar. The CO got dressed and practically yanked me out of the "Goat Locker" and sez "Get topside with Chief Dinsmore and standby to rig for tow."

The COB got a relief, donned his gear and headed out on deck through the Conning Tower. I followed after summoning a few guys from the "topside gang" to assist. We broke out #2 nylon mooring line and "heavies" ready to send to a Coast Guard Cutter that inevitably would show up as soon as they got the word. Just about then, a Piper Cub-type (very appropriately designated) flew over with its starboard window down yelling "Are you guys stuck in the sand?" It made a few passes and lo and behold it wasn't long before a trusty Coast Guard cutter showed up and via radio offered to get PIPER off the sandbar. The PIPER CO dare not refuse his offer. (The name of the cutter was FREDERICK C. LEE based in Povincetown, MA.)

PIPER was still holding fast on the sandbar as the tide rose and as the water was nearing topside deck level. Back in the engine rooms, the enginemen were checking the strainers for the diesel seawater cooling and the electricians in the Maneuvering Room were checking the Main Motor seawater cooling system for sand intrusion.

Via radio, the CO agreed to accept a tow and a 5" nylon hawser was dispatched by the cutter's whaleboat, where its eye was placed on a port cleat adjacent to the sail. The procedure was for PIPER to shut the MBT vents, blow the ship's whistle to signal the cutter to start the tow, and PIPER would "Blow and Go" ahead Full on two engines. When this was executed, the poor little cutter was being dragged along stern-first, with the sea swamping his after decks due to his "cracker-box" shaped stern. He was screaming on his radio to cease the tow, and the CO sez "What did he say?" I could see a little smirk forming on his face as he took his time to cease the tow. The CO radioed his thanks to the cutter's captain and wished him a safe return to port. The guy must've been "apeshit" after he received that message.

Prior to all this excitement, COMSUBGP 2 had been notified and CAPT. William Hazzard had embarked in USS SUNBIRD (ASR-15) and left New London, CT at 0930, arriving quite sometime later as we remained underway making no headway. A sort of critique was convened and it was agreed that no apparent damage was sustained to PIPER, so we all headed back to N'LON, tied up at pier #2 awaiting entry in the marine railway nearby.

A board of Inquiry was convened after PIPER was thoroughly gone over, and no damage was found, except some sand was found in the strainers as a result of the "Blow and Go" and full ahead on two main engines.

The CO, LCDR. C.S. Bowcock was relieved by LCDR. Samuel Francis and we got a new XO, LT. A.B. Crabtree who came below and caught me in the "goat locker" sucking on a cup of coffee and sez "Congratulations, you're PIPER'S new COB, find Chief Dinsmore and send him to my stateroom, immediately." I did that, catching his stress on the word "immediately." When Chief Dinsmore arrived at his stateroom, the XO handed him his service record and orders to another boat and sez to him "Don't ever ask why."

Chief Dinsmore went into the "goat locker" where all the chiefs were crammed in their bunks and standing around to find out what was happening, pushed them out of his way and stuffed all his belongings (except his uniforms) into a "fartsack" cover, and left the boat with me trailing behind with his uniforms in his Valpack. I never had a chance to speak to him about all this and often wondered what the reason was. It's a good thing I was a curious sort, 'cause I used to hang around the COC, observing what each man's job was, especially the COW's duties whenever I could be spared in the FTR and ATR. When the XO told me that I was now the PIPER'S new COB, I almost wet myself when that exploded in my face.

The OOD, at the time of the grounding was LT. "Willie" Lent (son of ADM. Lent) and the OPS Officer were transferred and so was the XO (can't think of his name either). Contrary to all the newspaper articles, the PIPER did not "run aground", however, a grounding no less. The last I heard about LCDR. Bowcock's whereabouts, he was on "Dewline Patrol" in the Atlantic on an LST, a broken man, no doubt. The USS SEAWOLF (SSN-575) relieved PIPER, after just returning from a Med cruise. A lot of unhappy campers and their brides were created as a result of their new assignment.

A calibration of the new magnetic speed indicator and the new Fathometer was accomplished at a later date far away from Provincetown, MA.


Blow Negative To The Mark
by Robert F. Marble TMCS(SS) USN (Ret), Piper 1954-1960

Some time ago before I made acting Chief Torpedoman on PIPER, we were out on the briny doing independent operations. I was running hot coffee to the FTR, passin' through COC as we started to dive. I held up the delivery, just aft of the air manifold, observing the procedures, carefully, 'cause shortly I'll be on the hydraulic manifold training for COW.

The speed, course, depth and bubble were ordered and then the order "BLOW NEGATIVE TO THE MARK" and the auxiliaryman on watch dutifully did his thing as the COW was watching the Negative Tank liquidometer for signs of water being expelled, when a sort of muffled "bang" occurred near the Negative Tank flood valve operating gear. The COW is now noticing water movement on the liquidometer and as the indicating needle approaches the 8,000 mark, he signals the air manifold operator to secure the blow and attempts to shut the Negative Tank flood valve and reports that Negative has been blown to the mark, but when he puts his hand on the Negative Tank control valve handle, he finds it already in the "SHUT" position. He sez "OH SHIT, I THINK I BLEW THE FLOOD VALVE OPEN WITH HIGH-PRESSURE AIR." Well, that's exactly what he did.

The Diving Officer orders "CYCLE NEGATIVE TANK FLOOD VALVE ONE TIME." The COW obeys and the indicator lamp on the Christmas Tree doesn't show any change. Negative Tank flood valve is still open (it sets with sea pressure). The IC electrician has informed the CO and he comes charging into the COC, as the bow is rising to the surface. He sez" I HAVE THE DIVE, SURFACE, SURFACE, SURFACE."

After surfacing and a normal 12-minute blow with the low-pressure blower, the COW (Chief of the Auxiliary Gang), his EN1 and the COB have chit-chat with the CO, XO and Engineering Officer on what to do. The EN1 sez he has spare flood valve likages and pins in the pump room. Now to find out who can go over the side and try to replace the busted stuff in Negative Tank. Those were the days when no one on board was a qualified diver. I had played around with some simple shallow-water diving gear on a destroyer in WWII, but that was years ago. The COB had all the right gear aboard and the knowledge how to use it, so he volunteered to attempt the job; and we had over 100 volunteers to assist, 'cause it meant going topside for some sun and fresh air.

The COB ran an air hose off a 100psi reducer, tied into the 225psi air system and took all his gear up through the Conning Tower hatch with a stream of "volunteers" signing in with the quartermaster in the Conning Tower and me following close behind. He rigged a 21-thread manila safety line to a port cleat near the steps cut into the superstructure side plating and fastened it to his weight belt worn over his dungarees. (yes, dungarees........... we weren't worried about being "politically correct" then). Our "Ship's Diver" then lashed the the new linkage, two 12" adjustable open-end wrenches (crescents), diagonal side-cutters (for the cotter pins) to his belt using Marline with slip-knots for easy removal down below; put the new 5/8" diameter pins and cotter pins in a pocket of his homemade diver's belt, turned on his air, checked out his mask out and climbed down into the Atlantic Ocean to do his trick in #2 MBT at the bottom centerline of the PIPER'S hull.

The adjustments to the linkage were made by the COB satisfactorily the first time due to the fact that the EN1 knew just how to explain the procedure to the COB and knew his stuff. After the COB came back topside and rested awhile, the Negative Tank flood valve was cycled and the Christmas Tree indication was satisfactory, he went back down and watched for air bubbles around the flood valve seat after the EN1 applied 225psi air slowly into Negative Tank, and everything was OK.

I spoke with the COB later after his successful attempt in restoring and adjusting the linkage, and he sez he had to go into the Negative Tank, partially to remove the damaged stuff, and he got so scared that he pissed himself. We didn't have any "dry suits" at the time, just dungarees or shorts, so no one was the wiser.

No one got chewed-out by the CO, 'cause he was delighted to have his COB back aboard safe and sound and the repair was a success. He went to his stateroom, pulled the curtain shut and said a long prayer of thanks to his Maker.

This is the kind of stuff submariners are made of and I learned a lot from my COB. (Thanks, Shorty, wherever your last patrol has taken you) before he was transferred much later on, about using that diving gear and how to take care of it. He sez "Don't let anybody use it but yourself if you want to use it in an emergency."

Incidentally, I was one of the 100 volunteers that signed in the with the Quartermaster that day, and am glad that I did. Sub guys can really pitch in and help each other out without being "volunteered"........ they just "Get With It."

COB was Jerome"Shorty" Wolters TMC(SS)
EN1 was John Mikolay EN1(SS)
COW was Fleischer ENC(SS)


Comshaw Paint
by Philip D. Lecky EM2(SS), Piper 1957-1960

Here is a Chief Marble story:

I clearly remember the day we were tied up in New London doing our thing. I was on the seaman gang, chipping paint. Chief Marble had two large cans of paint, one in each hand, that probably weighed close to 50 pounds each. He started to come aboard and the brow, which was not secured properly, slipped off the pier when the boat shifted. Marble went down like a rock and was completely submerged, but quickly popped up still holding onto the cans of paint. I was impressed by his strength and tenacity.

At the ship's reunion in 2001, after not seeing Marble in 44 years I, asked him why he did not just let the paint cans go as he was falling. Marble answered, "I had to do a lot of comshaw to get that paint, and I was not about to let it go."


Lung Power
by Ralph Clark

Piper was on a Med Run, tied up outboard a Tin Can. Some of the skimmers were asking Ralph about what submarine sailors had to do to qualify. Clark told them that they had to be able to stay underwater, on their own lung-power, for a minimum of five minutes. They were skeptical, so Clark and three of his buddies bet them. Then they dove into the water, swam into Bow Bouyancy, and then seven or eight minutes later they swam back up to the surface, blowing air and sucking wind like they'd really been holding their breath for all that time. Piper sailors win the bet. Skimmers are amazed.


Wonder Boy
by Richard Collins CS3(SS), Piper 1954-1958

Piper was operating in Long Island Sound, practice firing torpedoes and retrieving them. We had a new arrival on board, a Chief Electrician from Nautilus who had just gone to "90 Day Wonder" school. He had the Con. We fired one aft and retrieved forward. He forgot to compensate for the weight shift by pumping water. On the next dive, we went straight down, more than a 20 degree bubble. Thank Christ we had a good Aux Man on the air manifold. He got us back up. The "Old Timers" in the crew stormed the Control Room; they were hot. We had held on for our lives. I had been holding onto the After Battery ladder and was looking straight ahead at the overhead! So this guy says everything is okay now, and we dive again. Same thing happened! Control blew Negative and everything but the "shitters" forward. We made it back up, but before we made port, the "Old Timers" had started turning in papers to get the hell off the boat. The old man made sure that "wonder boy" was gone before the last line was secured to the pier. Pretty scary at the time, but funny to think back on now.


The Way it Really Happened
by Robert F. Marble TMCS(SS) USN (Ret), Piper 1954-1960

I read Richard Collins' story about PIPER'S deep angled dive, but I'll give you my version, OK?

This new man, ENS, Mueller, wearing silver dolphins, (former EMC from USS NAUTILUS (SSN-571) dove the boat with a not too good trim, due to his failure to compensate for the MK 14 torpedo that was fired aft. When he dove the boat and tried to level off after blowing Negative to the mark, he noticed he was heavy forward. He then ordered the trim manifold operator to pump from Forward Trim to After Trim, and the operator acknowledged his order by repeating it. Now, normally the air manifold operator checks to see if there's a suction on Forward Trim and venting on After Trim........ but the air manifold operator was making a coffee run at the COC after WT door, waiting for his full coffee mugs and not checking his air manifold.

The Diving Officer, ENS. Mueller, saw he was still heavy forward and slowly losing ground in getting the bow back up, so he ordered the trim manifold operator to continue pumping from Forward Trim tank to After Trim tank and the trim manifold operator repeated his order again. By now there's a lot of excitement throughout the boat and the air manifold operator is back at his manifold, but not checking it.

The IC electrician notified the XO, LT. Oliver "Jollie Ollie" Hallett and he charged into the COC and he ordered "SILENCE IN THE CONTROL ROOM; DIVING OFFICER, I HAVE THE DIVE; AIR MANIFOLD OPERATOR CHECK YOUR MANIFOLD AND REPORT; TRIM MANIFOLD OPERATOR, SECURE THE TRIM PUMP, SECURE YOUR MANIFOLD, CHECK YOUR MANIFOLD LINE-UP AND REPORT." With the depth guages indicating approach to excessive depth, he ordered "BLOW BOW BUOYANCY, BLOW NEGATIVE DRY."

After checking his trim manifold line-up, the operator noticed that he had been pumping from After Trim tank to Forward Trim tank all the time and the air manifold operator confirmed this before the trim pump was secured.

RMC Barney D. Wixom drew a mark on the sight glass of the snorkel-whip antenna hydraulic tank, just outside the Radio Shack, at that critical angle for later reference.

Jimmy Mohon, TM2, from the south, was crapped-out in a FTR port "pull-out bunk" and woke up during this depth excursion, ran between the torpedo tubes, climbed on the "jeep" seat and was clawing away at the overhead trying to find a way out, He was having a living nightmare. The hold-down straps on the torpedo skids were straining in both the Forward and After Torpedo Rooms, but held.

The galley was a friggin' mess, needless to say. Quite a few "brownies" appeared in the crew's shorts after that event. The CO, LCDR Joseph Beadles remained in the COC and observed the coolest performance he had ever witnessed by any submarine officer, when his XO took the dive. "Ollie" was some sharp cookie........

A "critique" was held in the wardroom after everything had settled down and the final results were not "published" to the crew at the time, but ENS. Mueller did get transferred when PIPER returned to port. Needless to say that some ass-reaming did occur to the persons responsible for the fiasco. I got shook up just like the rest of the crew, I don't even remember who the COW was and I was in COC training to stand watches in that capacity. When the XO ordered "ALL NON-WATCHSTANDERS CLEAR OUT OF THE CONTROL ROOM", I high-tailed it to the FTR to see what was happening there. I saw a lot of pale faces in the Forward Battery and the FTR, but none as white as that TM2 sitting in a bunk shaking like a palm tree in a Florida hurricane.


Here's a little story about USS PIPER'S XO, LCDR Oliver S. Hallett
by Robert F. Marble TMCS(SS) USN (Ret), Piper 1954-1960

PIPER made its first "cold war" patrol around the Faroe Islands during the "Jerusalem Crisis" at the end of 1957, and we carried reel-to-reel tape recorders, monitoring USSR radio traffic, whenever the seas permitted us to get the snorkel whip antenna up.

Barney D. Wixom, RMC(SS) and the XO would stay up all night listening to the tapes in Russian. The XO was a "spook"....

Sometime later, after PIPER was back in N'Lon, "Jollie Ollie" as the XO was nicknamed, was transferred to the Soviet Embassy in Moscow. His family went too, and his wife got a job at the U.S. Embassy as a receptionist. One day, a young fella came in and dropped his passport on the counter and sez "I want to renounce my U.S. citizenship, immediately" The young fella was Lee Harvey Oswald!

Upon completion of his Moscow tour, "Ollie" was assigned to to JFK's staff and on November 22, 1963 he had the duty in the Situation Room at the White House when JFK was shot.

The first thing he did was to have the Marines lower the colors to half mast. Upon receiving confirmation of the Commander-in-Chief's death, he ordered the Cabinet Member's plane to return to Washington immediately. (They were on their way to Pearl Harbor)

Strange coincidence isn't it? You can find all this good stuff in William Manchester's book "Death of a President," available in any library.



Created by Fred Durrette EN3(SS) USS Piper 1963-65



Created by Fred Durrette EN3(SS) USS Piper 1963-65


Shot and a Beer
by Frank Whitty FTG2(SS), Piper 1965-1967

We, the U.S.S. Piper (SS409), were tied up at the Submarine Base pier in St. Thomas U.S.V.I. It was in the mid-sixties, and we had just left San Juan. The island of Puerto Rico was once again dealing with the threat of nationalists who had been causing all sorts of hate and discontent. We had to rig med-lights for our stay and post a double topside watch. Although we were now in St. Thomas, we were cautioned to be alert to any potential threats.

It was afternoon. I had below-decks watch. I got a call from topside that a pleasure craft had been "buzzing the boat" and yelling shit at the watch. I popped up through the after-room hatch, and sure enough, a boatload of young civilians, probably a draft dodger or two among them, was having a grand old time in "daddy's" speed boat.

I dropped down into the room and grabbed a six-pack of "medicinal" beer from beneath a skid, which, of course, was packaged at that time in steel, church-key-only cans of that era. I don't recall who my "gunny" was, maybe Pinkston, but I rigged the ejector and told whomever it was to "shoot" on my command.

I went up the ladder and gave the command to launch a test shot. Harkening back to FTA school in Bainbridge, and based on the pressure setting and impact spot of that trial round, I calculated my solution and gave the command to reload and stand by. My head just above the coaming, and on their next approach, I launched my first war shot. No stable vertical at my disposal, it flew over the target, but the track was good. They never saw it, however, because they went back out into Charlotte Amalie harbor and began their next approach.

Steady now... I whispered below, in an icy, controlled tone; now... now... SHOOT! I gave the command and watched as the next round landed about twenty yards directly into their path, a modest burst of Caribbean water kicking up as their bow crossed the spot. They sure-as-shit saw that one! Swerving away in an evasive maneuver, I thought that I'd made our point, but the ememy was arrogant and persisted.

RELOAD! Here they come... Final solution and then... Stand by... Stand by... SHOOT! Perfect Excellent. Fantastic. Pissa. It bounced right off their superstructure. I could hear the impact and their alarmed shouts of dismay. You could see them looking over at us, wondering what the hell was happening.

They hove to a few hundred yards away, and after pointing their well-manicured fingers and shouting effete threats and infantile obscenities, broke off their lame attack and withdrew to the marina, no doubt, for cocktails and anti-military invective.

Once again, Piper had won the day. The topside watch was truly impressed. Of course, I regretted the loss of the beer, but a man has to do what a man has to do.


Beetle Bailey's Ultimate Explosion
by Arnie Miliefsky EN2(SS), Piper 1958-1961

Around 1959, we used to go to the Sub Bar on Bank Street, where it was always crowded. One night, Beetle and I walked into the bar, and inside his Navy jumper was a hot water bottle filled with Campbell's Condensed Vegetable soup. We squeezed in tightly among the boys at the bar. Beetle hit his chest, which made the vegetable soup look like projectile vomit.

Then I took a spoon and ate the soup!

Those who didn't throw up, ran from the bar. His prank cleared out the place, and the rest of the Piper crew came in to claim the bar.

And now for the big explosion! Beetle Bailey was running a snorkel test in the Forward Engine Room. The word, as usual, was passed, "Do not open the Forward Engine Room hatch, snorkel test in progress." When it hit three inches of vacuum, Beetle cracked the hatch. Two guys were sitting on the head, and shit went flying! When the snorkel test was completed, they chased Beetle all over the sub base. Lucky they never caught him, cause he never would have survived.


Mascot of the USS Piper SS409
by Bill "Beetle" Bailey EN1(SS), Piper 1958-1964

Piper was in the Phila Naval Shipyard for overhaul and as always shipmates get bored and looking for something new, a mascot was brought to the surface. After some discussion, a collection was taken and we ended up with $40. We wanted to get a monkey but they were too expensive, so we looked at the alligators and found them to be too nasty - it bit my pencil in two. So, we found the snake, "VO". The other shipmate that was in on the adventure was Polovitch. We brought the snake back and I kept him in my locker in the barracks until we found a cage. We had food for VO and it was a rat from the pet store (snakes only eat live things). We then took VO to stay in the engineman's cage in the shipyard.

One night Scotty and I took VO to the Acey Ducey Club and turned it loose on the bar and that cleared out the whole place. We then turned it loose at Bingo, two stories up, and they all took off. We were both banned from the club for one year (we could never understand why). Next, Satch and I went to Packers Bar in town and turned VO loose on the bar. Primo Darwood (bartender) took out a 45 gun and threatened me and VO. Our next trip was to the Pink Poodle, a black bar on Broad Street and he cleared out the whole bar. The people were terrified! The only place we were allowed was in the AKA Dolphin bar.

Each week we had the Snake vs Rat. Rat always lost. Hecklesmiller's job was to obtain the rats. The rest was routine until Piper was ready to leave Phila. The Commanding Officer, V. O. Harkness, told us if the snake came aboard he would bust Chief Paris to Fireman and me to Fireman Recruit. This left us in a bad spot as to how we were going to get the snake up to New London Sub Base. Mother Burke let me put VO in a duffle bag and put him in the trunk of his car. When we got back to New London, the snake had died from heat and carbon monoxide. We held a burial at sea at pier 12. LT Sutliff delivered the eulogy.

May "VO" rest in peace.


Shorty's Blues
author unknown

Seems there was going to be an inspection of the boat, Shorty wasn't in a good mood and said to shit-can anything that was left hanging out. Can't remember the TM striker who was in charge of the 'field day'. Anyway, there was a set of dress blues left hanging up and they ended up in the 'Shitcan'. After inspection, Shorty couldn't find his dress canvas and wanted to know if anyone had seen them. I'm not sure who told him to check the 'Dumpster' on the pier.


Doc Bowman
author unknown

If I remember this right? Satch and Pertiko were behind this stunt. I think Doc wanted to be woke up for a card game around midnight. Anyway, Satch wanted this to be a different kind of wakeup call. Him and Frank went back to 'Hogan's Alley'. Frank picked up a battle lantern and held it by Doc's feet. Satch went up by his head and made a noise like a train blowing it's whistle. He said, "Doc, get up quick! You're on the track and the train is coming". Doc must have believed him and forgot that he was sleeping in his bunk. He hit his head real hard trying to bail out of that rack. Satch and Frank ran real fast for the after torpedo room. I'm not sure if Doc ever found out who woke him up.


Send a sea story for all to enjoy to: mikebray@chartermi.net.

Cartoonist Wanted
Iíll bet we have a cartoonist amongst the membership that could render a sketch that portrays each of these Sea Stories in a single frame or a multi-frame strip. I would like to add some pizzazz to our website by publishing a cartoon to go along with each Sea Story. Credit will be given to the shipmate who provides the cartoon. Cartoons can be sent to me via email attachment or to my home address:
Mike Bray
W3821 Waucedah Road
Vulcan, MI 49892-8483
mikebray@chartermi.net.


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