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A Personal View

About three years ago I felt honored when asked to become a member of the SUBMARINE REVIEW Editorial Board. In that role, I now feel privileged to read these articles before you see them the sense of a researcher who suddenly knows something no one else in the world knows. As I sit at the kitchen table early Saturday morning reading these articles (before my bride of 35 years begins to stir), I suddenly realize how much I have shared with each of these authors-and how meaningful it is to be a Submariner.

Several articles for this April REVIEW are bringing back memories of my era. That compelling urge to put thoughts and feelings on paper is here, similar to the time I stayed up all night writing my first published paper in 1969. Fix Expansion and the 3rd Dimension in Submerged Navigation was printed in the SUBLANT QIB. The following year, at the urging of Bill Yates (CO SUBSCOL), it was presented at the Institute of Navigation (ION) 25th Annual Symposium and published in their Proceedings. That article, written during PCO School, was the result of reading investigations of the collisions, bottomings and groundings which plagued the rapidly expanding nuclear submarine Force. As commissioning navigator of the latest FBM. I questioned the wisdom of following the new CINCLANT high speed post patrol track taking us between two seamounts five miles apart. How good was our SINS DR after many hours without a fix?

This, and other questions facing a new Gator, led to that all-nighter tome which was written to stimulate some thinking on the subject. I learned last year from Bob Spear (now CO FLORIDA), that my paper had taken on near biblical force in SUBPAC and was now being questioned as too restrictive. (I would certainly hope so after 25 years!) (The Submarine League has copies in case anyone is interested in that piece of history.)

Meanwhile, as I dutifully review the articles before me, nostalgia and a sense of perspective take over. While reading Lieutenant Cosgriff’s prize essay on Shaping the Future (with women aboard submarines), I start to chuckle. Having both a son and daughter as graduates of USNA on active duty, I should be thinking of EEO. However, my mind slips back to 1970 at the Air Force Academy. I am standing before that audience of about 300 and delivering my submarine navigation paper to the ION. Realizing that I was the only naval officer in a sea of Air Force blue and speaking on a rather narrow topic-probably of little interest to this group of fighter jocks-1 stated that I would be happy to answer any questions on this paper or submarining in general. The first question was from a uninformed AF general.

Q. “How long do you remain submerged on those FBM?”
A. “Two to three months, sir.”
Q. “That’s a long time. Any thoughts ever given to women on board, e.g., as cooks?”
A. “Yes sir. In the early FBM concept development, the subject came up, but cooler heads prevailed. And if you would like a little more insight on that, my wife is here in the first row.” She told me later that was the correct answer.

My tour at ONR as Assistant Chief of Naval Research (under Rear Admiral Brad Mooney-see Mike DeHaemer’s scholarly article on Research Submersibles) and later as CO of NRL gave me a certain kinship with Captain C.C. Brock. His tribute to those unsung heroes who brought the enabling technology of SINS to submarines was terribly meaningful to me. At that same ION meeting, I met wonderful people like Len Sugerman and General Bob Duffy. Later, as Deputy under Vince Argiro and acting Head of the Navigation Branch at SSPO in the late ’70s, I worked with and greatly respected Doc Pickrell. But the next name, Dom Paolucci, really hit home. After four years of Latin and three years of Greek in high school, I was not terribly well prepared for Admiral Rickover’s Self Study Program in 1962. Advanced Calculus for Engineers was worse than Greek. When no one aboard could help, my skipper (Howard Crosby), suggested calling Commander Paolucci (Ph.D. in Math) on the SUBPAC staff. An hour a week of his patient expertise in the application of calculus lifted me over that hurdle. When I was accepted by the KOG, I left a bottle of the best scotch available in Pearl on Dom’s desk with a note “Thanks to you”.

My tour in BASHAW (one of the earlier B girls and sister ship to BREAM-see Captain Rees’ article this issue), with a deployment to WESTPAC and Special Op north of Adak, gave me a great appreciation for two other articles. George Fraser’s Get Me Down was vivid, but Bill Rube’s article is a classic about the toughness of the wwn sub vets. One of those was CS1 Pappy Ayers. Reporting to BASHAW in Yokosuka as the new Commissary Officer, I remember meeting my new LPO. Pappy was puffing on his pipe and engulfed in mountains of paper at the crew’s mess table. I asked if they had that much paper in WWII? Answer: “No sir, we just fed the crew.” I asked if I could help. “Yes sir. Just sign the menu.” I did-without a change as I recall.

Then, after reading Dr. Lindell’s article on restoring the TDC, I recalled the incident when a gear stripped our wardroom plotter in WESTPAC. After a week of searching for the spare part, Chief Engineer Bob Sarocco said, “Sorry Captain, it’s permanently OOC”. Skipper Bob Maxwell gently asked for a file and proceeded to make a gear! The red tag {if we had one) was removed and the plotter remained in commission for the rest of the deployment.

The stirring deactivation remarks of George Harper and Jim Patton brought back memories of my two 16 hour/day new construction tours and the selfless dedication of each shipmate. Also, the devotion we each developed for our steel mistress and the world’s political challenges of that period, which now seem so distant. However, Rear Admiral Barret’s sage letter reminds us of the need to study (and recall) history, lest we repeat it.

That was quite an era and I firmly believe we made a difference-which gives life meaning. Now, reading the pages of the SUBMARINE REVIEW brings back that great feeling of accomplishment-and a thought. How many of our former shipmates are missing these precious moments of nostalgia? When I asked a submariner friend last evening if he got the REVIEW, the silence was deafening. (An application from the last page of the last REVIEW is in the mail.) Well, so much for reminiscing. It’s time now to finish these articles for the April issue-and to thank each of you who took the time to share your piece of our proud heritage.

Naval Submarine League

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