What It Means To Be Qualified
In January 1949, BuShips issued a report on Depth Charge, Bomb, Mine, Torpedo and Gunfire Damage to U.S. Submarines Including Losses in Action from 7 December 1941 to 15 August 1945.
A survey of war patrol reports indicated that there were 110 separate instances, excluding (the 52 total) losses, in which our fleet type submarines sustained damage from attack by either enemy or friendly forces where the damage received was considered as more than negligible.
In 49 of the above 110 cases, the submarines were forced to terminate their patrols as a result of the war damage received.
“In the final analysis, it is apparent that the survival of many of our submarines after receiving war damage was due in very large part to the damage control efforts of their personnel. The long standing requirement that all hands in the submarine service know their ships thoroughly has paid priceless dividends in terms of human life and the successful prosecution of the war.”
We Are Submarine Sailors
by Mike Hemming
We are not the first of them and we will not be the last. Our heritage runs back to the first submarine. This heritage line continues forward into an unseen future. Each generation is trained by the one before. This will remain so until there is no more use for submarines, which will be never.If one of us goes aboard a new or old submarine, we are comfortable with the men there. For they are us and we are them. Stand us in a line in all our dress uniforms or naked in our coffins, we are the same. We are and forever will be submarine sailors. We are one.
We can have everything taken from us, uniforms, medals, our sanity and our lives, but we will always be recognized by others and ourselves as a submariner. This status cannot be removed from us. Our Dolphins worn on our chests then, hung on our walls now, or later pinned on molding uniforms in our graves mark us forever. We are first, last, and always men that stepped forward and worked long and hard to become what we are. We are unique among sailors for we sail down deep into dark and always dangerous waters. We do this not with foolhardy go-to-hell bravery, but with cool calculation and care. We challenge the dangers with training and practice. We know that the time for bravery will come when two shipmates close themselves in a flooding compartment, knowing that the whole boat and crew depends on them to control the flooding.
We believe in each other, because we must. Alone at sea, the crew and a pressure hull are all we have to reach the surface again. Men with confidence in each other dive and surface submarines countless times. Each man trained by others holds the lives of those shipmates in his hands. Dolphins are the symbol of this tradition.
Submarine hulls have numbers and men have hearts and souls. We carry those numbers in our hearts in life, and they mark our souls in death. Silver or Gold, Dolphins are the symbol of this.
To us Dolphins are it, no other symbol matters or means anything as important as they do.
“No one has done more to prevent conflict – no one has made a greater sacrifice for the cause for Peace – than you, America’s proud missile submarine family. You stand tall among our heroes of the Cold War.”
— General Colin Powell
“I saw the submariners, the way they stood aloof and silent, watching their pigboat with loving eyes. They are alone in the Navy. I admired the PT boys. And I often wondered how the aviators had the courage to go out day after day and I forgave their boasting. But the submariners! In the entire fleet they stand apart!”
— James Michener, Tales of The South Pacific“In over one hundred years of US Submarine Force history, sixty six submarines have been lost, almost 10% of all the submarines commissioned. During World War II, the U.S. Navy’s submarine service suffered the highest casualty percentage of all the American armed forces, losing one in five submariners. Forty-eight submarines of the United States Navy were lost in action during World War II. Some 16,000 submariners served during the war, of whom 375 officers and 3131 enlisted men were killed.”
During the Cold War with the Soviet Union from 1948 to 1991, the U.S. Navy launched more than 2,000 secret missions against the Kremlin. The men who manned these “underwater U-2s” have gone largely unheralded.
— David Colley
I served on the Holland over a century ago.
I still serve to this day on the Trident, Los Angeles & Seawolf class boats
and look forward to shipping on the Virginia, Texas, and Hawaii.
Places like Fremantle, Rota, LaMadd, Chinhae, Pattaya, Sasebo, and Subic stir my soul.
For I am a Submariner.
I rest in peace beneath many seas across this earth.
I was on the Barbel off Palawan, the Scorpion off the Azores and
the Bonefish in the Sea of Japan. We gave them hell in the
harbors at Wewak and Namkwan.
I am a Shellback, a Bluenose, a Plank Owner, a MCPO of the Navy, a CNO, and a President.
For I am a Submariner.
I heard Howard Gilmore’s final order, “Take Her Down.”
I heard the word passed, “Underway on Nuclear Power.”
I have done every job asked of me, from Messcook to Torpedoman to
Motormac to COB to Skipper.
I know “Snorkel Patty” and Admiral Rickover.
For I am a Submariner.
I have twin Dolphins tattooed on my chest and twin screws tattooed on my ass.
I know the difference between a Lady and a Hooker but treat both with equal respect.
I know Georgia Street and Magsaysay drive.
And although the Horse & Cow keeps moving I will always find her.
I know the meaning of “Hot, Straight, and Normal.”
For I am a Submariner.
I have stood tall and received the Medal of Honor and been
thrown in the Brig for being Drunk & Disorderly.
I know the reverent tone of “Diesel Boats Forever”
and the Gudgeon’s “Find em, Chase em, Sink em.”
I was on the Spearfish evacuating nurses from Corregidor
and the Skate when she surfaced at the North Pole.
I have spent time in the Royal Hawaiian.
For I am a Submariner.
I have gone by names like Spritz, Cromwell, O’Kane, Ramage,
Breault, “Mush” and Lockwood.
I have served on boats like the Nautilus, Thresher, Parche,
Squalus, Wahoo and Halibut.
On December 7th I was onboard the Tautog at Pearl Harbor.
I was also on the Tusk in 49 and sacrificed myself for my shipmates on the Cochino.
For I am a Submariner.
I have stood watches in the cold of Holy Loch and the heat of the South Pacific.
I know what the “41 For Freedom” accomplished.
I was on the Sealion at Cavite in 41 and the Archerfish in Tokyo Bay in 45.
I have endured depth charges and POW camps.
I was on the Seafox when we lost five sailors to a Japanese ambush on Guam.
For I am a Submariner.
I tip beers over sea-stories with my shipmates at yearly conventions.
We toll the bell and shed a tear for our buddies who are on eternal patrol.
Many pilots have been glad to see me, including a future president.
I have completed numerous highly classified missions during the Cold War.
Because “Freedom Is Not Free,” be assured that I am out there at this very moment.
For I am a Submariner.
By John Chaffey of Powell, Wyoming, SSN639, SSN687, SSBN619
Ever A Submariner
(…an unauthorized companion to “I Was A Sailor Once, And I Would Do It Again” by Mark Midgley)
I liked popping the hatch at the top of the sail (submarine’s bridge) at sunrise and being the first to savor the scent of fresh air for the first time in 8 weeks… watching dolphins race in the bow wave on the way back home to Pearl… the tear-drop hull of the boat beneath me silently slicing through the sea.
I liked the sounds of the submarine service (sounds that we alone could hear, as we were the Silent Service where others were concerned) – the ascending whine of the dive alarm sounding, and the haunting echos of “Cayooogah, cayooogah… Dive! Dive!” from the boats yesteryear, the gruff voice of a Chief headed aft… “Down ladder; Make a Hole!”, the indescribable creaking sound of hull-steel compressing at depths that remain classified to this day.
I was impressed with Navy vessels – bracketed in the aperture of Periscope #2, the crosshairs gently rising and falling across their silhouette on the horizon, while obtaining range, bearing and angle off the bow.
I liked the names of proud boats of every class, from the “pig boats” of WWI to the sea creatures of WWII, like Barbel, Dorado, Shark and Seawolf, and the Cold War boats that bore with honor the names of these and 48 others that are “Still on Patrol.” Boats honoring national heroes, statesmen and presidents: Washington, Madison, Franklin and more. Whole classes of boats honoring cities and states: Los Angeles, Ohio and Virginia.
I liked the tempo of opposed piston diesels and the “pop” in your ears when equalizing to atmospheric when the head valve first opens to ventilate and snorkel.
I miss the “thrill” of riding an emergency blow from test depth to the top at a nice steep bubble.
I enjoyed seeing places I’d only dreamed of, and some of which I’d heard from my grandfather who had seen them under very different circumstances and conditions… places like Pearl Harbor, Guam, Truk Island and Subic and Tokyo Bays.
I admired the teamwork of loading ships stores, the “brow-brigade” from pier to boat, and lowering them vertically through a 24” hatch to the galley below.
I relished the competition of seeing who could correctly guess how many days underway before the fresh eggs and milk ran out and powder prevailed upon us henceforth.
I loved my “brothers,” each and every one, whether their dolphins were gold or silver and regardless of rate or rank. We shared experiences that bonded us evermore, and knew each other’s joys, pains, strengths and weaknesses. We listened to and looked out for each other. We shared precious little space in which to live and move and work, and we breathed, quite literally, the same recycled air.
After weeks in cramped quarters, my heart leapt at the command, “Close All Main Vents; Commence Low Pressure Blow; Prepare to Surface; Set the Maneuvering Watch.” When safely secured along the pier, the scent of my sweetheart’s hair evaporated the staleness emanating from my dungarees.
Exhausting though it was, I even liked the adrenaline rush of endless drills, and the comfort in the knowledge that any dolphin-wearing brother had cross-trained just like I had… not only on basic damage control, but to the point of having a basic working knowledge of every system on the boat, such that when real emergencies inevitably arose, the response was so automatic and efficient they were almost anti-climactic.
I liked the eerie sounds of “biologics” through the sonar headphones, the strange songs of the sea in the eternal night below the surface of the deep blue seas.
I liked the darkness – control room rigged for red or black, the only illumination that of the back-lights compass and gauges of the helm and myriad of buttons and indicator lights across the BCP. I liked the gentle green glow of the station screens in the Sonar Shack and Fire Control.
I grew to like coffee, the only way to stay awake in the numbing darkness of the Control Room with the constant rocking of the boat during countless hours at periscope depth.
I liked “sliders” and “lumpia” and pizza at “Mid-rats” at the relieving of the watch.
I liked the secure and cozy feeling of my rack, my humble little “den,” even when it was still warm from the body-heat of the guy who just relieved me of the watch.
I liked the controlled chaos of the Control Room, with the Officer of the Deck, Diving Officer and Chief of the Watch receiving and repeating orders; the sound of Sonar reporting: “Con-Sonar: New Contact, submerged, designated: Sierra 1, bearing: 0-1-0, range: 1-0-0-0 yards, heading 3-5-0, speed: 1-5 knots, depth: 4-0-0’.”
I liked the rush of “Man Battlestations; Rig for Quiet” announced over the 1MC, and the “outside of my rate” role I played as CEP plotter during war games, and later… SpecOps – the window to another world that I was allowed to peer through… the tactics, stealth and tenacity of our Captain making prompt and purposeful decisions to see us safely and successfully through the mission.
I appreciated the fact that I was a 19 year old kid, entrusted with operating some of the most sophisticated equipment in the entire world, and the challenge of doing those tasks in a 33’ x 360’ steel tube, several hundred feet below the surface, in potentially hostile waters.
I admired the traditions of the Silent Service, of Men of Iron in Boats of Steel, where you were just a NUB until you were “Qualified” and had EARNED the respect of the Officers and crew. I revered past heroes like inventor John Philip Holland and innovator Hyman G. Rickover. Such men and those that followed, both Officer and Enlisted, set precedents to follow, standards to uphold, and examples of bravery and self-sacrifice like the world has seldom seen. We were taught to honor these traditions. Somewhere far below the ocean’s surface, I became a man… and not just any man. I became… a Submariner.
Decades now have come and gone since last I went to sea. The years have a way of dimming things, like looking at the past through a smoky mirror. I went, as many others, my separate way… raised a family, and moved on… but a part of me, my Sailor’s Soul, will always be underway… somewhere… in the darkness, in the deep, making turns for twenty knots and a pushing a hole through the water.
by Jody Wayne Durham, MM2/SS, USS Los Angeles (SSN-688), ’85 – ‘88
An article by Dr. Joyce Brothers after the sinking of the USS Thresher (SSN-593)
The tragic loss of the submarine Thresher and 129 men had a special kind of impact on the nation …..a special kind of sadness, mixed with universal admiration for the men who choose this type of work. One could not mention the Thresher without observing, in he same breath how utterly final and alone the end is when a ship dies at the bottom of the sea….. and what a remarkable specimen of man it must be who accepts such a risk. Most of us might be moved to conclude, too, that a tragedy of this kind would have a damaging effect on the morale of the other men in the submarine service and tend to discourage future enlistment. Actually, there is not evidence that this is so. What is it then, that lures men to careers in which they spend so much of their time in cramped quarters, under great psychological stress, with danger lurking all about them?
Togetherness is an overworked term, but in no other branch of our military service is it given such full meaning as in the so called “silent service”. In an undersea craft, each man is totally dependent upon the skill of every other man in the crew, not only for top performance but for actual survival. Each knows that his very life depends on the others and because this is so, there is a bond among them that both challenges and comforts them. All of this gives the submariner a special feeling of pride, because he is indeed a member of an elite corps. The risks, then, are an inspiration rather than a deterrent. The challenge of masculinity is another factor which attracts men to serve on submarines. It certainly is a test of a man’s prowess and power to know he can qualify for this highly selective service. However, it should be emphasized that this desire to prove masculinity is not pathological, as it might be in certain dare-devil pursuits, such as driving a motorcycle through a flaming hoop.
There is nothing daredevilish about motivations of the man who decides to dedicate his life to the submarine service. He does, indeed, take pride in demonstrating that he is quite a man, but he does not do so to practice a form of foolhardy brinkmanship, to see how close he can get to failure and still snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
On the contrary, the aim in the submarine service is to battle the danger, to minimize the risk, to take every measure to make certain that safety rather danger, is maintained at all times.
Are the men in the submarine service braver than those in other pursuits where the possibility of sudden tragedy is constant? The glib answer would be to say they are. It is more accurate, from a psychological point of view, to say they are not necessarily braver, but that they are men who have a little more insight into themselves and their capabilities.
They know themselves a little better than the next man. This has to be so with men who have a healthy reason to volunteer for a risk. They are generally a cut healthier emotionally than others of the similar age and background because of their willingness to push themselves a little bit farther and not settle for an easier kind of existence.
We all have tremendous capabilities but are rarely straining at the upper level of what we can do, these men are.
The country can be proud and grateful that so many of its sound, young, eager men care enough about their own stature in life and the welfare of their country to pool their skills and match them collectively against the power of the sea.
“To those whose contribution meant the loss of sons, brothers or husbands in this war, I pay my most humble respect and extend by deepest sympathy. As to the 374 officers and 3131 men of the Submarine Force who gave their lives in the winning of this war, I can assure you that they went down fighting and that their brothers who survived them took a grim toll of our savage enemy to avenge their deaths. May God rest their gallant souls.”
From a speech given in Cleveland, Navy Day 1945, by Vice Admiral C.A. Lockwood, Jr., Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet January 1943-January 1946.
Charles Andrews Lockwood (6 May 1890–7 June 1967) was an admiral of the United States Navy. He is known in submarine history as the legendary commander of Submarine Force Pacific Fleet during World War II. He devised tactics for the effective use of submarines, making the members and elements of the “silent service” key players in the Pacific victory.
Congress Congratulates Sub Force Sailors
On Dec. 2, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a concurrent resolution introduced by Rep. Norman Dicks (D-Wash.) congratulating the Sailors of the U.S. Submarine Force upon the completion of 1,000 deterrent patrols by Ohio (SSBN-726)-class ballistic missile submarines. The resolution had already passed the Senate, where it was introduced by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Ore.).
The House version appears below, followed by the names of all those who sponsored the concurrent resolution in both the House and the Senate.
H. CON. RES. 129
Whereas the Sailors of the United States Submarine Force recently completed the 1,000th deterrent patrol of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN);
Whereas this milestone is significant for the Submarine Force, its crews and their families, the United States Navy, and the entire country;
Whereas this milestone was reached through the combined efforts and impressive achievements of all of the submariners who have
Whereas, as a result of the dedication and commitment to excellence of the Sailors of the United States Submarine Force, ballistic missile submarines have always been ready and vigilant, reassuring United States allies and deterring anyone who might seek to do harm to the United States or United States allies;
Whereas the national maritime strategy of the United States recognizes the critical need for strategic deterrence in today’s uncertain world;
Whereas the true strength of the ballistic missile submarine lies in the extremely talented and motivated Sailors who have voluntarily chosen to serve in the submarine community; and
Whereas the inherent stealth, unparalleled firepower, and nearly limitless endurance of the ballistic missile submarine provide a credible deterrence for any enemies that would seek to use force against the United States or United States allies: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring),
(1) congratulates the Sailors of the United States Submarine Force upon the completion of 1,000 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) deterrent patrols; and
(2) honors and thanks the crews of ballistic missile submarines and their devoted families for their continued dedication and sacrifice.
For twenty years
This sailor has stood the watch
While some of us were in our bunks at night
This sailor stood the watch
While some of us were in school learning our trade
This shipmate stood the watch
Yes.. even before some of us were born into this world
This shipmate stood the watch
In those years when the storm clouds of war were seen brewing on the horizon of history
This shipmate stood the watch
Many times he would cast an eye ashore and see his family standing there
Needing his guidance and help
Needing that hand to hold during those hard times
But he still stood the watch
He stood the watch for twenty years
He stood the watch so that we, our families and
Our fellow countrymen could sleep soundly in safety, Each and every night
Knowing that a sailor stood the watch
Today we are here to say
‘Shipmate… the watch stands relieved
Relieved by those You have trained ,Guided, and Lead
Shipmate you stand relieved.. we have the watch…”
“Boatswain..Standby to pipe the side…Shipmate’s going Ashore..”
No crosses mark the ocean waves;
No monuments of stone.
No roses grow on sailor’s graves,
The Sailor rests alone
His tributes are the sea gulls’ sweeps,
Forever wild and free . . .
And teardrops that his sweetheart weeps
To mingle with the sea
I have spent most my life on ships of steel
Things of fiction now so real
I pray for my brothers who have passed
From every nation that laid their wrath
Under the water these ships can go
Where they go nobody knows
They are the oceans ghosts
Riding under the waves, Neptune’s host
These are mans magnificent machines
That patrol the waters so grim, so mean
The ones that survive and are here today
Pay tribute to those that have gone away
I often wondered if I would share their plight
And often slept a sleepless night
Imagining the thoughts that ran their mind
As their ship of steel met the unkind
A torpedo’s blow, a depth charge boom
Crumpled these hulls sent them to doom
Many a year I traveled the seas
Hoping this would not be my destiny
I pray for the men that put up the fight
To keep their ships from dying in the night
These brave men gave all for their country
Doing the deed, keeping us free
I have lived a beautiful life all around
Made possible by these men that are down
I just want to keep their memory
Very much alive for all eternity
There is much pride in the submarine force
So many men proudly stay the course
Following in their brothers steps
Hoping they will not be inept
I am about to retire and go ashore
And live my life forever more
Thinking about what these men did for me
And hoping that I lived up to their memory
If you read this poem please bow and pray
For the submarine force and the men that stay
They protect you while you are asleep at night
And are willing to die in the endless fight
Duane A. LaChance – 2012
From the depths of the Abyss we rise, silent and unseen. We live our lives in silence and darkness, bringing death to those that oppose the American Way. The Army may march, the Air Force will soar, and the Marines will crawl, but a Submariner is a force of nature that is unseen and unheard until it is too late. From beneith the waves we bring death from above and below. We rip the stars from the heavens to rain destruction around the world. Hidden by wave and shadow, escorted by the Leviathan, Posiedon himself bows to us. Fear us, for we are the unknown, the unknowable. We are Death.