Contact Us   |    Join   |    Donate


August 10, 1998

I was distressed and saddened by Dick Boyle’s tribute to Waldo Lyon (Waldo Lyon: A Legacy of Dedication, THE SUBMARINE REVIEW, July 1998, pp. 115-117). To use a tribute to a great submarine pioneer for an unbalanced attack on Navy leadership was wrong. Waldo Lyon gave so much to the Submarine Force that any written eulogy to him should have been devoted to his achievements and contributions.

I have often compared Dr. Lyon and his role in the development of Submarine Arctic Operations to that of Admiral Rickover and nuclear power. Service to country, insistence on quality, and dogged determination to achieve goals were common traits. Both were individuals usually correct … and both were not universally popular. I ask that you recall the sentiment around Washington as Admiral Rickover’s career drew to a close and his life clearly was nearing its end. He became a bit out of touch, as I remember. But in death, and certainly to the Submarine Force, Admiral Rickover was a true hero and was addressed as such.

Similarly, your publication should have remembered Dr. Lyon in a wholly positive way. The insinuations of ignorance on the part of Navy leadership, (which are unfortunate and wrong), should be the subject of separate articles with a balance as to current realities. I firmly believe our Submarine Force leaders are doing as much as they can in the Arctic in a funding environment that is not understood by many, including Dr. Lyon or Boyle.

Dr. Lyon’s legacy will live forever in the Force. He created a capability when we needed it most, and the Force’s current (and recent past) leadership know and appreciate that fact. The bottom line follows: Dr. Lyon was a real hero and national treasure. He should be remembered as such.

George B. Newton
20104 Woodtrail Road
Round Hill, VA 20141


March 18, 1998

Recently I was given a copy of the book The Navy Times Book of Submarines by Brayton Harris (THE SUBMARINE REVIEW, July 1998, p. 138). I found it of great interest, particularly since I spent about 22 years of my 30 year Navy career in the submarine service. The book is generally well written and very enjoyable. However I did notice several factual errors concerning matters about which I have first hand knowledge.

On page 347 the author states ” … but two submarines were converted as commando delivery systems by adding recycled missile hangars (see Chapter Thirty-Two) … ”

Comment. The page 347 statement that missile hangars were “recycled” is not accurate. USS PERCH (ASSP 313) and USS SEA LION (ASSP 315) were converted from fleet type submarines (SS) to troop carrying submarines, designated as ASSP in 1948, well before the first conversion of other submarines for Regulus missile duty. PERCH had a hangar which could carry either a HUP-1 helicopter or a landing vehicle tracked (L VT). I served in PERCH (based in San Diego), my first submarine assignment, in 1955 and 1956. To my knowledge, the hangar on PERCH was built by Mare Island Naval Shipyard for the PERCH conversion and was not a recycled missile hangar. In PERCH up to one hundred Marines were berthed in the forward, midships and after troop compartments. These troop berthing compartments were converted from the forward and after torpedo rooms, and from the forward engine room. The hangar on PERCH was only used for stowage of outboard motors and gasoline during my tour on board. Despite a contrary statement in The Fleet Submarine in the U.S. Navy by John D. Alden, there was not internal access to PERCH’s hangar from below decks. The hangar could only be accessed from topside by opening the hangar door.

On page 368 the author states “GRA YBACK and GROWLER were the first boats converted to handle Regulus, by using PERCHtype troop compartments as hangars.”

Comment. USS TUNNY (SSG 282) and USS BARBERO (SSG 317) were the first two submarines converted to handle the Regulus missile, well before GRA YBACK and GROWLER. Both TUNNY and BARBERO had hangars similar (in size) to the hangar on PERCH, perhaps not surprising since Mare Island Naval Shipyard accomplished all three conversions.

Following retirement of the Regulus I missile system in 1964, USS TUNNY was converted from a SSG to a troop carrying submarine to replace USS PERCH. Her conversion involved carrying troops in her former Regulus hangar. The hangars in GRA YBACK and GROWLER were quite different since they were designed to hold one Regulus II missile each, a missile twice the size of the Regulus I carried aboard TUNNY and BARBERO. The Regulus II never entered service, having been canceled in favor of the Polaris missile system. GRA YBACK and GROWLER carried two Regulus I missiles in each of their two missile hangars for a total of four missiles each. The hangars aboard GRA YBACK and GROWLER were never “PERCH-type troop compartments”, they were designed specifically to carry Regulus II and Regulus I missiles.

Much later, after their deterrent missile patrol days were over, both GRA YBACK and GROWLER were planned for conversion to support SEAL operations. GRA YBACK’s missile hangars were converted to carry swimmer delivery vehicles and allow submerged lock-out and recovery. She operated in that role in the Western Pacific for a number of years. Because of the cost of the GRAYBACK conversion, about $30 million, plans to convert GROWLER were canceled. I served in Guided Missile Unit 10, which supported the Regulus boats, as a nuclear warhead officer in 1958 and 1959. From 1959 to 1960 I was on Submarine Squadron One staff as Regulus missile flight planning officer and prepared Regulus missile training flight plans and supervised Regulus missile training operations for BARBERO, GRA YBACK, GROWLER, HALIBUT and TUNNY. From 1960 to 1962, I served in USS BARBERO, making three deterrent missile patrols. From 1963 through 1966 I served as Assistant Operations Office on the Pacific Submarine Force staff, and prepared operation orders for the Regulus deterrent patrols. Later in the 1972-1974 period I served as Chief Staff Officer for Submarine Flotilla Seven, under which command USS GRA YBACK operated.


August 16, 1998-Haifa, Israel

I was carried away by the courageous act of Oskar Kusch, the Gennan U-boat commander in WWD; he was an extraordinary man (THE SUBMARINE REVIEW, April 1998, p. 136).

To throw Hitler’s portrait into the trash can on board a German submarine in wartime-that’s something which can be understood and appreciated only by those who themselves lived and served under a dictatorship, and I was one of them-I served in a Soviet submarine. I would rather expect a Soviet navyman to become a human bomb than mustering the courage of throwing Stalin’s portrait into the trash can.

I admire very much Commander Oskar Kusch and would like to find out as much as possible about this remarkable man. Can you help me, please?

Yours sincerely,
LCDR Joseph B. Y. Roitman, SN(Ret.)


September 9, 1998

My name is Scott Callaham and I have served five years as a submarine officer, from 1993-1998. During that time, I was a Naval Submarine member and representative for the wardroom of USS JEFFERSON CITY (SSN 759).

I left submarine service in May of this year to pursue my calling to become a Navy Chaplain. I am now a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

I am performing research in the area of chaplain ministry to the Submarine Force. I would like to ask if it would be possible to be put in contact with people who could help me in this task. Such people include chaplains who have served with submarine squadrons, staffs, etc. and submariners who have benefitted from chaplain ministry.

There is no specific period of history that I am concerned with. Rather, any and all information you might have in this area would be immensely appreciated and of great assistance.

Scott N. Callaham
1812 J.T. Luther Apt. 3, Ft. Worth, TX 67115
(817) 921-1608 e-mail:

Naval Submarine League

© 2022 Naval Submarine League