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April 2, 1998

I am a former Commanding Officer of USS TUNNY (SSG 282). the Navy’s first Regulus guided missile submarine. I had the honor of commanding her for 2+ years (1957-1959). and commanded her when, in July 1958, she made an emergency deployment to the Northwestern Pacific when the U.S. went on a worldwide alert during the first Lebanon crisis. This was the first-ever deterrent missile patrol made by a submarine. My ship relieved an attack carrier on station and covered its targets, so that it could speed to the Indian Ocean to support the Marines.

I learned last spring that COMSUBLANT awarded the five Regulus Missile submarines the SSBN Deterrent Patrol Insignia for the 41 scheduled patrols they made commencing in September 1959. Vice Admiral Mies was unaware of the earlier unscheduled patrol made by TUNNY in 1958. When he got my letter describing that patrol, and had the facts verified, he awarded the SSBN Deterrent Patrol Insignia to my ship for that patrol. Recognition is only 39 years late, but better late than never!

I am now trying to notify all those crewmembers who made that pioneering patrol in TUNNY. If you could somehow include the attached notice (see page 15) in THE SUBMARINE REVIEW, I’m sure it would do much to get the word out to my crew. Thank you very much for your consideration.

Vice Admiral Bud Kauderer suggested to me (we were shipmates in putting ROBERT E. LEE in commission-I was his XO) that I write up the story of this patrol and send it to you for publication in a future issue of THE SUBMARINE REVIEW. That I will do at a future date if you think the story would be of interest to the membership.

Marvin S. Blair, CAPT, USN (Ret.)
24 Rubi Circle
Hot Springs N.P., AR 71909-3515


April 22, 1998

American Movie Classics
ATTN: Programming
150 Crossways Park W.
Woodbury, NY 11797

I am quite certain that you receive many letters requesting you air this or that movie. However, I am not so certain that this letter is in the same vein.

The catalyst for this letter is Lawrence Sud’s Sailing on the Silver Screen: Hollywood and the U.S. Navy, which was published by the USNI Press in 1996. Although not considered a genre film, those films produced prior to the 1940s depicting submarine service are aired little, if at all. I am attempting, in my own way, to have you consider airing the following films-some of which were landmark films in their own way:

Title Date Studio Director
Hell Below 1933 MGM Jack Conway
Men without Women 1930 20th Century John Ford
Submarine 1928 Columbia Frank Capra
Submarine D-1 1937 Warner Bros Lloyd Bacon

Surprisingly, I viewed a segment of Capra’s Submarine last evening during Real to Reel on AMC. All the more reason to air one of Captra’s early directorial efforts. I seriously doubt any of the above will ever reach the retail or rental market due to limited marketability. Some may even require preservation.

As Mr. Sud so aptly states at the end of his book, “If Sailing on the Silver Screen serves no other purpose, perhaps it will stimulate the release of some of the early movies.”

As I seriously doubt this will come to pass, is it not in AMC’s charter to foster an appreciation of all American film, regardless of film content or lack of critical, public, or industry acclaim? I would feel that these films merit, at the very least, a review of your programming staff to determine a future airing. Trusting that it may. I remain

Ronald L. Siem


22 May 1998

I read with great interest the article Submerged Backing Down by Captain Gordon Enquist, USN(Ret.) in the April REVIEW. While many submarines in the 50s and 60s regularly submerged with no way on and usually leading to a controlled hover, only a few were able to submerge with stemway and no others that I know of other than SPIN AX (SS 489) could continue astern at will with very good depth control and maintain that control while moving from all back full to all ahead full without the aid of blowing ballast, necessary at slow speeds.

The secret of accomplishing this maneuver and doing it well and freely was, first, having an installed retractable whip antenna which could tend either forward or aft, the radioman pumping the antenna vertical and then releasing it again as a no-way-on state was reached when reversing from headway or going ahead from sternway. The little fin that would make the antenna lie flat worked find in either direction! SPINAX had one of these antennas. Second, the battle station planesmen became astonishingly adept and proficient at maintaining depth control when faced with the challenges of going from full reverse (in SPINAX 6-8 knots) to full ahead and sometimes turning with full rudder as well. One secret here quickly learned was that when going astern at any speed, as soon as the ahead bell was rung up, the sternplanesman, handling his planes as bow planes, had to suddenly again regard his planes and their effect as stern planes. The result of this was the ability to maintain less than a 5 degree up or down angle uniil headway was regained. The competition amongst watchstanding planesmen and the pride shown by them when regular practice proved their skills was fierce, as was similar competition among SPINAX diving officers.

This extraordinary capability was used frequently and practiced often. It was especially useful during exercises and almost always successful in evading close-in surface units. Once I was caJled to the pre-sail conference for a final week’s training/graduation exercise for a squadron of destroyers about to deploy to WestPac. SPINAX was to be the target. The blustery (read highly confident) Squadron Commander asked me to “try his boys to the limit” and noted that the final day’s freeplay would be hard fought. I replied that SPINAX always tried to bring the surface units up to the edge of their capability during the week and that we too enjoyed the freeplay and would he like to wager a case of his favorite on the outcome. Considering the audience he had to agree.

All the ops officers had briefed their captains on the SPINAX listing in Jane’s which noted “fleet type, modified sail, max 8.5 kts submerged”. SPlNAX could, in fact, with the high capacity battery left over from SSR days, do almost all that in reverse and well over 12 knots submerged for a while. In the tradition of the Silent Service, I did not enlarge upon our capabilities at that moment.

The week of training came, SPINAX kept them at their edge all week and the final exam came. I proposed to the Squadron Commander that he form his four cowboys in a 5000 yard ring and that SPIN AX would submerge in the center of that ring. He agreed and at COMEX we submerged in the center with no way on. As we went down we started backing with a slight amount of turning rudder, then straightened out as we slowly passed 200 feet. You could almost hear the sonar chiefs urging the sonannen on and confirming “solutions” up above. We increased speed to full astern and soon reached over 8 knots. As the ODs all sent to short scale and one increased speed to start his initial run, we rang up al/- ahead-full. Our stemway slowed and stopped, the radioman pumped up the antenna and released it and our hugely cavitating screws built a mammoth knuckle of turbulence behind us. As we picked up headway you could again imagine the surface units plots and solutions going suddenly to hell with the attendant guidance from chiefs, ops officers, captains and surely that of the Squadron Commander becoming more and more incisive! As we passed through the hole in the ring we, now nearly at full speed ahead, slowed and coasted to a spot nearly 8000 yards away where we eased up to periscope depth and were able to watch them all feverishly working over that huge bubble of turbulence and with our radio antenna up, could hear the frantic Squadron Commander berating his hapless units. After an hour of observing the tumult, we radioed our posit to the Squadron Commander and broached a bit for visual confirmation. As we did, he called his units together and steamed off, hopefully to a positive and productive deployment after the undoubtedly unpleasant critique! He never paid his debt!

Once again, SPIN AX and her sisters showed that proficiency, attitude and imagination served well to keep the submarine alive for another day of battle.

CDR Jay K. Davis, USN(Ret.)
4619 JUZU Uuie NE
Kirkland, WA 98033


June 1, 1998

Per request in last issue I suggest the Committee help the Long Island Base of U.S. Submarine Veterans, Inc., with their project to establish a better public awareness of the first U.S. Sub Base at New Suffolk, NY. Contact John R. Saeli, 100 Skidmore Rd., No. Babylon, NY 11703 for an update on their work. It’s certainly appropriate as HOLLAND was there!

I also think we should name the New Attack Submarine the Holland class.

P. Cushing, Jr.

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