THE LEGEND OF THE SILENT SERVICE

Various classes of U.S. Navy SS-class and SSN submarines from pre-WWII with some serving into the 1970s.

As we look back over the growing distance of time, submarine veterans realize, our service in the Navy’s submarine force was an important pinnacle of life experiences. The shipmates we served with, we carry a special bond for life.

Life under the sea in a nuclear powered submarine is packed full of a myriad of systems to understand and operate in the performance of our missions while surviving for months under the ocean. These are amazing experiences to reminisce upon.

Most of us did not spend much time reading submarine history when we served, when we weren’t in school we were doing what most young sailors are up to doing, often getting into trouble or trying to stay out of it. Much of the history learned came from submarine school where gallantry and heroism of submariners of the past adorn the walls of the memorials throughout the base in Groton, Connecticut. We’ll never forget the immortal last order of WWII Commander Howard W. Gilmore shouting “TAKE HER DOWN!” as he lay mortally wounded on the bridge of the USS Growler SS-215, engaged in close combat with an Imperial Japanese warship.

When we trained to serve on submarines we needed to get heavy on the latest equipment, operations and strategies relevant to the day. We were too busy responding to the demands of understanding the working details and operations of the submarines we served on. We didn’t think too much about legacy as young men, most of us not far graduated from high school when we became QUALIFIED IN SUBMARINES and awarded the coveted Submarine Dolphins. Living the submariner’s life was more than enough.

Various classes of US. Navy SSN class submarines from 1960s through current times.

When devoting some time to reflect, not only of the bold actions of the generation of Cold War submariners, but beyond to theSilent Service as a whole, from today’s technology rich multi-mission environment to the total warfare of WWII, we can be faced with a heightened and broadened picture of the silent service’s reality and how we were and are an important part of it.

To understand the crisis and relation of the powerful nature of the submarine in unrestricted war is to developed a deep respect for the vision, the innovation and the heroic daring of the WWII submariners. America was caught on her heels by the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and the initial small fleet of submarines responded in the fight for survival. Those who fought in the fleet subs overcame many epic obstacles including archaic doctrine and tactics, long deployments far from any support and deep in enemy territory, short upkeep periods in-between, the horrific experience of depth charging, the close and closed often fetid and oxygen depleted nature of surviving submerged, and the supreme frustration of their own torpedoes that failed to perform in a variety of ways including some  that circled back home in that nightmare scenario.

Another unique problem encountered by U.S. submarines on patrol, often operating in radio silence secret deep in enemy held seas and needing to frequently run on the surface to recharge batteries, was being attacked by allied aircraft who were unable to identify U.S. submarines or were just too exuberant to exercise any care.

Nevertheless, despite being shot at by our own fighter planes when not involved in joint operations, the Silent Service provided the best safety nets for downed pilots. Many were rescued by the submarines going into harm’s way often within range of the enemy planes and shore batteries. Perhaps the most famous rescued pilot was President George H.W. Bush, then a young navy lieutenant.

Machine and man were destined to be drawn together to fight the unrelenting forces of the ocean and of the enemy.  The intelligent resourcefulness, tenacity, fortitude, collaboration, and lack of tolerance for bullshit embodied by the U.S. Navy submariners were instrumental in turning the tables on a powerful foe in dramatic fashion – leading to ultimate victory.

The impact of WWII leadership in submarine warfare and the establishment of a well maintained and leading edge U.S. Navy submarine force, ready for war but with a vision of peace, has shaped the world as we know it.

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Two of the Silent Service’s legends of WWII, Dick O’Kane and Skipper Dudley “Mush” Morton return to Pearl Harbor from Wahoo’s3rd war patrol in 1943.

IMPACTING NAVAL WARFARE

In World War II, there were seven submarine captains who were awarded the Medal of Honor for their “Conspicuous Gallantry and Intrepidity at the risk of this life above and beyond the call of duty…” They are:

CAPT  John Philip Cromwell, USS Sculpin

CDR Samuel David Dealey, USS Harder

RADM Eugene Bennett Fluckey, USS Barb

CDR Howard Walter Gilmore, USS Growler

RADM Richard H. O’Kane, USS Tang

VADM Lawson P Ramage, USS Parche; and

CDR George Levick Street, III, USS Tirante.

To offer you a snapshot of the impact of the WWII Fleet submarines, I want to quote RADM Richard “Dick” O’Kane from his book “Wahoo”.

“Our submarines sank over 1,300 merchantmen, half again the number sunk by all other forces combined. Over 200 warships were sunk, which exceeded even the number sunk by U.S. Naval Air; and, in addition, there were 300 special missions. All of this was accomplished by a force manned by only 2% of the United States Navy’s personnel. After the war, Japanese admirals and generals alike place U.S. submarine operations first in the factors leading to the fall of the Empire.

“The results were not achieved without the most severe penalties…”

52 submarines were lost out of about 263 that made war patrols and 3,505 shipmates are still on patrol“our submarines had the highest casualty rate in the armed forces, six times that in surface ships, for boats engaged the enemy continuously throughout the war, except for about 3 weeks between 2-month patrols.”

Navy Medal of Honor – source quietwarriors.wordpress.com – (image may be subject to copyright).

 

 

Support the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum

Don’t miss the opportunity to support the legacy of the Silent Service while providing recognition of SSN-698with a tax-deductible gift. It’s a twofer. Make your donation before January 1st 2020 in our effort to achieve special honors for USS BremertonSSN 698. Donations of any amount are welcome!

The museum is involved in a substantial and exciting new revitalization of their facility to help better educate the public about the Silent Service. As alumni of the Bremertonwe have an opportunity to help make an impact as well as driving at achieving special sponsorship status and recognition with respect to USS Bremerton SSN-698. Please click on the link/image of the Bowfin below for more information.

All donations are made through the Bowfin.org websiteand go directly to their renovation and expansion efforts. Corporate sponsors welcome.

.

 

Captain Wes Bringham dub-honors 698

as the “American Classic”

Go to this link for the story and video. or click on the image

CDR Wes Bringham and the famous O’Kane cribbage board.

 

 

698 LOOKING FORWARD

USS Bremerton, the most senior not yet de-commissioned submarine in the United States Navy, is currently at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard preparing for her date with destiny. Decom ceremony and reunion in Bremerton are tentatively scheduled for Spring of 2021, that puts BadFish on course for a 40 year run.

Cheers – from RMCS(SS) Don Jones, Plankowner, SSN698

 

SAVE THE 698

Join the Movement. Are you passionate about preserving the USS Bremerton in any way shape or form after her decommissioning for the benefit of the public and of naval history? You are invited to a new closed group forum on Facebook “SaveThe698” to be involved in public discussion related to Saving 698. You can see the group site by clicking HERE.

Copyright © 2019 bremertonreunion.net

 

 

THE “AMERICAN CLASSIC”

Editor’s notes:

The following article is a republication of an original work in 2016 by contributing writer and plankowner Russ Woods who offers his insights to life on the Bremerton during the early days as she began her ocean going journey out of the shipyards. Although we in the early generations of 698 crews did not refer to our boat as the BadFish, Russ offers this as a token of respect all the submariners who were ever part of the vital life blood and spirit of the Bremerton.

Not only does Russ Woods offer valuable crew member insights of the early years of the Bremerton, he also offers it with a certain retrospective sharpness, humility and self-disclosure that I appreciate as a fellow submariner and shipmate.

For the volunteers who fulfilled the mission of the United States Navy’s Silent Service, those precious years often become a legacy we never planned on.

“American Classic” is the age-defying honor publicly given to the BadFish by then Bremerton Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Wes Bringham, in the Kitsap Sun video published on February 28, 2016. To see the popular video featuring Captain Bringham, go to the link at the bottom of the page.

EastPacmanningbridge1
The new shining star of the US Navy’s submarine fleet, USSBremertonarriving in Bremerton, Washington, Fall 1982. Image courtesy of Donald Jones, Plankowner, USS Bremerton.

 

 

USS BREMERTON: AN “AMERICAN CLASSIC”

By Russ Woods

In my time I served in three different submarines: Bremerton, Henry M. Jackson and Michigan. I was fortunate enough to be a Plankowner in Bremertonand Henry M. Jackson.

I must confess in my youth I did not demonstrate the affection for my Submarine as I seem to these days. I was just as quick to make comments like “This boat sucks” or “I hate this boat” as many of my shipmates did at one time or another. Case in point “C.A.R.T.” – If you were there you know what this means.

How naïve I and we were. As many of you have experienced or at least heard, the ’98 boat was a problem child. She was impudent and cantankerous. She did not seem to want to come out of the gate. We, my Plankowner shipmates and I, collectively through hard work, inspiring dedication and endurance of significant hardships brought her out. We were also one of the last to hear the phrase “Rig for Rickover”. Those who were there know exactly what that means.

How were we to know then we were serving in a history-making Warship? The first clue should have been her maiden voyage around the southern tip of Africa and into the Indian Ocean, where she performed flawlessly while we troublemakers steered her into troubled waters and performed sneaky spy stuff on the unsuspecting Soviets and the hapless Libyans motoring around in shallow waters that they felt they were the masters of. Yea, not so, says Badfish 698.

Then a short few months later our girl goes out on a pleasure cruise to visit her namesake city and allow us steely eyed denizens a “fun run” to reward us for our great service to America. But in an instant the Badfish phone rang and Uncle Sugar needed us to re-think our priorities and turned our “fun run” into a Spec-Op. And of course our thoroughbred answered the call and hit full stride on our run to the Pacific North West to counter Ivan’s nefarious plans. She made history then by becoming the fastest submarine in the fleet and by extension the fastest in the world.

The Captain’s log from commissioning forward reads of one challenging exploit after another that our girl accepted and excelled at.

When I reflect back on my sometimes crappy attitude that at times I demonstrated I feel a strong pang of regret deep inside my soul. I am hopeful any of my shipmates who occasionally shared my bad behavior have been fortunate enough to feel remorse for their wicked tongue that blasphemed against what is now our pride.

She is now beyond a shadow of a doubt the finest of the 688 class. Testimony to the professionalism of her first august crew and every single crewman who has served in her since. We my shipmates own a part of history. No matter what those evil yard birds do to her after she is finally decommissioned, she will always belong to the Ages. Her name will be there at the top of the list of longest serving submarines in our country’s history. Our great grandchildren and beyond will see her name in Jane’s fighting Ships. They will be able to say with pride, “My great-grandfather served in her.”

Yes, any of us who besmirched her name even once should feel justly ashamed. Because USS BremertonSSN 698 was taking us all on a ride in history. Marking us as a very privileged group. A brotherhood of the Badfish, an “American Classic”.

russwoodsRuss Woods,Plankowner, back in the day.

 

 

****

698 News

Support the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum

Don’t miss the opportunity to support the legacy of the Silent Service while providing recognition of SSN-698 with a tax-deductible gift. It’s a twofer. Make your donation before January 1st 2020 in our effort to achieve special honors for USS Bremerton SSN 698. Donations of any amount are welcome!

The museum is involved in a substantial and exciting new revitalization of their facility to help better educate the public about the Silent Service. As alumni of the Bremerton we have an opportunity to help make an impact as well as driving at achieving special sponsorship status and recognition with respect to USS Bremerton SSN-698. Please click on the link/image of the Bowfin below for more information.

All donations are made through the Bowfin.org website and go directly to their renovation and expansion efforts. Corporate sponsors welcome.

Click on me! USS Bowfin.org

 

Captain Wes Bringham dub-honors 698 as the “American Classic”

Go to this link for the story and video. or click on the image

CDR Wes Bringham and the famous O’Kane cribbage board.

 

LOOKING FORWARD

USS Bremerton, the most senior not yet de-commissioned submarine in the United States Navy, is currently at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard preparing for her date with destiny. Decom ceremony and reunion in Bremerton are tentatively scheduled for Spring of 2021, that puts BadFish on course for a 40 year run.

 

SAVE THE 698

Join the Movement. Are you passionate about preserving the USS Bremerton in any way shape or form after her decommissioning for the benefit of the public and of naval history? You are invited to a new closed group forum on Facebook “SaveThe698” to be involved in public discussion related to Saving 698. You can see the group site by clicking HERE.

Copyright © 2019 bremertonreunion.net

 

 

Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum – 698 Group Sponsorship

I posted this article on my personal website since originally it began as a personal donation to the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum also known was USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park. It quickly morphed into something larger than myself and something worthwhile to share with the alumni.

The museum is involved in a substantial revitalization of their facility and as alumni of the Bremerton we have an opportunity to help make an impact as well as possibly achieving special sponsorship status with respect to our boat. Please click on the link/image of the Bowfin below for more information.

All donations are made through the Bowfin.org website

USS Bowfin SS-287. Source Bowfin.org

 

 

LOOKING FORWARD

USS Bremerton, the most senior not yet de-commissioned submarine in the United States Navy, is currently at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard preparing for Decommissioning.

 

SAVE THE 698

Join the Movement. Are you passionate about preserving the USS Bremerton in any way shape or form after her decommissioning for the benefit of the public and of naval history? You are invited to a new closed group forum on Facebook “SaveThe698” to be involved in public discussion related to Saving 698. You can see the group site by clicking HERE.

Copyright © 2019 bremertonreunion.net

 

 

 

“Tug Boat” Annie’s

Some of the Bremerton Boys at Norm’s and Annie’s Lounge in Groton, CT. (circa 1979)
Bottom Row: Ken “Colonel” Collins. Tom “Mac” McPhillips, Donald Jones, Ray Rich, Tim “Burt” Noble.
Top row: Jim Rowe, Peter Berns. Timmy Naylor, Jim “the Rev” Jones, and Russ Woods (photo courtesy of Russ Woods). More photos at the end of article.

 

 

 

How Norm’s Lounge and the Bremerton Boys came to be

Story by Russ Woods, Plankowner

 

It was late in 1979 the Bremerton Boys were in search of a place to hang out and let our hair down. Someone in our posse heard the soon to be legendary Tommy Cox, was gonna be playing at Rosa’s Cantina. Of course being newly minted sailors fresh out of Sub School we flocked to see this balladeer of the Submarine.

As it turned out Tommy Cox, was a good ole boy who welcomed us nubs as though we were salty veterans of the deep abyss. We danced and cheered as Tommy sang songs of daring do, done by bad ass boat sailors. After his show he willingly engaged us in conversation and informed us he and his band mates would be playing regular at “Tug Boat Annie’s” AKA Norm’s Lounge beginning the next week. Well of course we marked the date and time in our calendars. We eagerly arrived as early birds and staked out prime real estate in the corner near the fire place which was never used. This became our corner.

Tommy and his band arrived and played our songs mixed with some nice covers of the day’s standard country music fare. We all felt like this was a cool place to be. Moving forward every Friday and Saturday night from then until Bremerton left for Hawaii save for a handful of times we were at sea the Bremerton Boys were there in our corner.

We developed a strong bond with the owners Norm and Annie. Yes, Tug Boat Annie, was Norm’s wife. I have no clue how she got that moniker. We were such a fixture in our corner of the bar on those few occasions when we had to go to sea, the staff would close that section off lest some interlopers might attempt to stake it out as theirs.

There were nights at Norm’s when one or more of us would be nursing a single beer for an hour. The waitress would see this and magically that sailor’s beer would be refreshed on a regular basis. Gratis. I know this to be true because I was the beneficiary of this kindness on at least one occasion. I know from conversation others in this group were treated with equal generosity.

Many magical things occurred at Norm’s. My A#1 good buddy Peter Burns met the love of his life Lori there. Another charter member and very dear friend Timmy “Tithead” Naylor, got real good acquainted with his lifelong love Daphne while hanging at Norm’s.

Many of our Bremerton shipmates would stop in every so often some more often than others. We always had a party going on in our corner. We were as much a fixture in there as Tommy and his band. We would be dancing and singing along and on occasion there would be dancing on the tables. The harder we partied the more energetic Tommy and his boys played.

 

Norm and Annie were also very forgiving. In my youth I was not always patient with folks and on some occasions there were ner’ do wells who sought to interject themselves into our party in what might be considered a rude manner. Normally a discrete trip out to the parking lot would allow a solution for the problem. On one occasion the misunderstanding escalated quickly and someone got a bloody nose right there in our corner. Of course that behavior was frowned upon by most civilized folks and Norm. He came over after the offending group had left.

He had a look on his face and I was sure I was about to get banished forever. I was very sad and angry at myself for behaving as I had.

Norm sat in a chair and motioned for me to sit beside him. The Bremerton boys all moved away as far as they could in the corner giving us space. I think they sensed Woody was about to get the boot.

 

Norm looked at me like I was the Beaver, and he was Ward Cleaver.

In a very fatherly tone he asked me “What happened?”

I explained in the most contrite manner I could muster up the miscreant who had just been smited about the head and shoulders was talking trash about this place and those of us who were there.  “…I took offense and lost my temper and I am sorry.”

Norm smiles puts his arm around my shoulder and says,

“Well, we’re gonna do better to stay calm next time. Right?

“Yes Sir, I certainly will.”

He got up and never said another word.

 

On other times during Christmas and New Year’s Norm would close the bar – It would be invitation only. Steamship round and beer. The beef was free we paid for the beer. Tommy would be playing and of course the Bremerton Boys were VIP’s.

Norm bought the building next door. He asked if we would be able to show up on Saturday and help knock down the wall between the two buildings. We did not understand how God could grace us with such great luck. A really cool bar, with a really cool owner, Tommy Cox Band playing AND we get to come in and tear shit up without getting into trouble. Well understand we took great glee in knocking down that wall. Our only regret is we weren’t allowed to knock down the wall on the other side. Norm paid us off in cold Miller beers.

During the time we haunted Tug Boat Annie’s. A number of the Chiefs and Officers including Capt. Anderson made visits on a Saturday night. In our brief time together, in our little corner of a small bar in Groton, Connecticut, we were all royalty. It was a grand time to be alive and none of us will ever trade our time there for anything.

 

After Bremerton sailed us around to Pearl, Tommy Cox continued to play at Norm’s a few more years. We left there in 1981 and I returned in 1983 for my second trip through Elastic Boat. I of course made my way in there. Our waitress was still there, she hugged me and said Friday and Saturday nights were never the same after we left. I replied the same was true for us.

 

RW

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Candid shots of Norm and Annie’s Lounge with the Bremerton Boys

Photos courtesy of Larry and Marianne Tharp.
Larry and Marianne Tharp had their wedding reception at Norm and Annie’s Lounge with Tommy Cox and his band providing the entertainment.
The Tommy Cox Band, Larry Tharp and Marianne on the dance floor

 

Jeff Dietrich, Mary, and “Balladeer of the Submarine” Tommy Cox

 

Peter J. Berns and Ken Burnside with the epic smoke hanging off his lips.

 

Clemon “C.C.” Cager

 

Sharon and Ken Burnside with friends of the Tharps, Patty, howard, Shirley, and Ronnie.
Jeff Dietrich and Larry Tharp with their ladies.

 

 

Marianne Tharp with Tommy Cox’s father

This token is courtesy of Marianne Tharp and she shares this story to go along with it: “Tommy Cox gave it to me one night. We have his album and his CDs. Larry [Tharp] and I met at Norm’s Lounge in January of 1980 and he asked me to marry him in February 1980…. and got married on May 10th, 1980. Seems like after that someone got married every few weeks… so much fun we all had. Good memories for sure!”

 

Editor’s Note: If anyone is able and willing to contribute a few qualified photo’s of Norm’s Lounge with 698 Shipmates and/or especially photos of Norm and Annie or the store front. please contact me through this website. I will amend this article with the appropriate photos.

 

LISTEN TO TOMMY COX SING

“The Dives We’ve Known” and more on You-Tube including “Still on Patrol” which mentions the Bremerton

click on the image

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LOOKING BACK – Bremerton’s Sister-Ships at Electric Boat

 

Electric Boat yard, USS Ohio (SSBN-726) and the USS Jacksonville (SSN-699). Photo source U.S. Navy Institute.

 

 

LOOKING FORWARD

USS Bremerton, the most senior not yet de-commissioned submarine in the United States Navy, is currently at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard preparing for Decommissioning.

 

SAVE THE 698

Join the Movement. Are you passionate about preserving the USS Bremerton in any way shape or form after her decommissioning for the benefit of the public and of naval history? You are invited to a new closed group forum on Facebook “SaveThe698” to be involved in public discussion related to Saving 698. You can see the group site by clicking HERE.

Copyright © 2019 bremertonreunion.net

 

The Birth of the BAD FISH

Article by Clint Ceralde & Challen Yee

Originally titled and published in April 2017 as: SSN-698: The Origins of the BAD FISH.  It is being republished as part of an effort to consolidate popular 698 stories under BremertonReunion.net.

 

The history of the U.S. Navy’s Los Angeles Class fast attack submarine USS BREMERTON (SSN 698) would have been changed foreverhad it not been for an unresponsive and unmanned Air Force recruiting office, delinquent in their duties to respond to the calls of a young man named Clinton Ceralde.

Back in 1992, Clint found himself captivated by a billboard sign advertising the good life in the Wild Blue Yonder.

He made the trip to his local military recruiting office to discover the flyboys not doing their duty, the office was closed. Soon he found himself a magnet for the nearby ARMY and MARINE recruiters, sort of like being a prospective buyer in a used car lot. Clint found himself clearing datum when he crossed the bow of a couple of sailors lounging in their recruiting office telling sea stories.

Not wasting a trip to the recruiters, Clint entertained the Navy opportunity and steeled himself up to ask the two Navy men, “What does the Navy have to offer me?”

To that, one of the Navy recruiters asked him, “What do you have to offer the Navy?”

It turns out Clint was up for a challenge.

The Air Force will never know who they missed out on.

 

 

The Plan of the Day (POD) announcing the winning design (Image courtesy of Clint Ceralde). Yes, the USS Bremertonis the longest serving active duty submarine in the US Navy, going back to year “1”. 😉

 

ONE BAD FISH, TWO BAD FISH…

 

The origins of the BADFISH logocome from the artistic talent of Clint Ceralde while stationed aboard USS Bremerton SSN 698, where he served as a Quartermaster from 1992-1996. There he achieved the rank of QM2/SS.

Inspiration can bring out your talent, as Clint puts it, “I did not have any prior graphics experience, except that I liked to draw.” He entered his idea in a command drawing contest for the boat’s softball team in 1993.

His passion, imagination, and willingness to work on his idea helped provide the winning design for the team’s logo along with the name Bad Fish.

Thanks to shipmate Keith Cyr, we have proof of the first generation “Bad Fish” design, a T-shirt still in excellent condition, complete with a Bremerton Travel Mug. The Bad Fish design was created by Clinton Ceralde. This was the pre-1995 version (photo courtesy of Keith Cyr).

Clint recalls some thoughts in the process of the naming of his character, “The drawing was originally “One Bad Fish”, later shortened to just “Bad Fish”. He also credits shipmate QM2 Michael Rhodes for contributing the idea of including the mine in the right hand in the 1995 design (see below).

 

A second generation of Bad Fish  (Image source courtesy of Clint Ceralde).

The “Westpac 95-USS Bremerton” drawing is a major evolution of Clint’s original design. “If you look under the stern, you can see my signature “Salty”, which was my nickname onboard. Next to Salty, is the letter Z, to give credit to the officer who did the lettering [a rider from the USS Alabama (SSBN 731)].”

In the late 1990’s, Clint’s mighty submarine character was again reunited with the name “Bad Fish” as QM2/SS Michael Rhodes entered them into another command contest. Ultimately the winning design was shopped to a professional graphics artist to compose what most of the public knows today as the Bremerton’smuscular six-pack-ab equipped “BadFish” character with the fists full of torpedoes. The image has since been reproduced on a number of collectible items ranging from paperweights to cigarette lighters and coins to stationary, just to mention a few.

The boat’s official logo is copyrighted by the professional artist, but now you all know how our own Clinton Ceralde brought the popular Bad Fish character to life.

 

Where is he now?Mr. Clint Ceralde has since made a big career move by earning his Commission in 2006. At the time this article was written in 2017, he was serving at Commander Naval Surfaces Pacificin sunny Coronado, California.  Here is a photo (below) of Clint and some of this shipmates back in the day…

BACK IN THE DAY:USS Bremerton SSN 698 Submariners, enjoying the Hawaiian sunshine and amine-free air after returning from Westpac in 1996. Top Row: Thomas Arnold, Kelly McKinnon, Clint Ceralde, Nat Cowell, and Jason Williams. Kneeling: Dante Craig and Darryl Wright (image courtesy of Clint Ceralde).

 

 

The Bremerton’s Official professionally designed Bad Fish logo inspired by Clint Ceralde’s  artwork which was submitted in a command contest in the late 1990’s.  Image source google.com images.

I

The Proliferation of the Bad Fish (just a few samples)

 

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”

– Charles Caleb Colton

Two shirt designs from the collection of Clint Ceralde, spinoffs produced by professional graphic artists inspired by the original Bad Fish

The best we can tell, the artists name is “Steve Goupil” (photo by Clint Ceralde).
We are unable to detect the graphic artist’s signature. We are seeking the name of the professional artist  (Image courtesy of Clint Ceralde).

 

Editor:The Bad Fish Challenge Coin at top of article, image source is shipmate Mike Meehan EM1/SS.

CY

 

 

USS Bremerton SSN 698 News

Emergency Surface – USS Bremerton SSN698 (image source google.com).

 

LOOKING FORWARD

USS Bremerton, the most senior not yet de-commissioned submarine in the United States Navy, is currently at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard preparing for Decommissioning.

 

SAVE THE 698

Join the Movement. Are you passionate about preserving the USS Bremerton in any way shape or form after her decommissioning for the benefit of the public and of naval history? You are invited to a new closed group forum on Facebook “SaveThe698” to be involved in public discussion related to Saving 698. You can see the group site by clicking HERE.

Copyright © 2019 bremertonreunion.net

 

Yokosuka Approach

Editor’s Note: This sea story was originally posted in July, 2017 and titled “SEA STATE 698”.  It is being republished as part of an effort to consolidate popular 698 stories under BremertonReunion.net.

Yokosuka Approach

BY CHUCK MERKEL

 

God rest those seven souls lost very near to where this story took place so many years before.

As news of the tragedy of the collision between USS Fitzgerald and the merchant ship broke last week, I relived a number of close calls that had occurred in my 30-years as an officer in our Navy’s Submarine Force. I served on four fast attack nuclear powered submarines that were all based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. As such, I visited Yokosuka, Japan many times. Ask any submarine officer who with significant experience in the western Pacific and most will tell you that their experience of going into Yokosuka was one of the most challenging of their careers.

My thoughts focused on an event over 31 years ago, when my first boat (submarine) USS Bremerton (SSN-698) surfaced off Tokyo Wan on a dark and stormy night for what was planned to be a quick one-day stop in Yokosuka. I very clearly remember our Captain, Alan Beam remarking (rather prophetically) to me that he did not think that this (the port stop) was going to be worth the trouble.

As we reached periscope depth and prepared to surface, I relieved as Officer of the Deck (OOD) in the ship’s Control Room so that the officer I relieved could man the Bridge when we surfaced. The weather was bad. Our boat was rolling before we ascended to periscope depth – never a good sign. Even as we broached to surface we continued to take water over the fully raised periscope. When we attempted to man the bridge, there was a torrent of water through the bridge hatches. We were lucky that none of the men who were sent to the Bridge were lost. That effort was soon abandoned when the Captain sent the Executive Officer (XO) to the Bridge to retrieve them. Hatches were shut and the men who had been sent up, came down shivering and soaking wet.

Many men became ill, and there were calls for reliefs throughout the boat. Even today I clearly recall my shipmates who were on watch with me in the Control Room during this event. Several others that responded to my Facebook post with their recollections as well. I soon found myself the only officer able to look out the periscope. The radar was operating, but we would soon learn that the mast was bent by the waves that continued to crash over us.

We had our running lights on, and I could see contacts around us and we dodged and weaved through them. When I sighted them, there was only time to make a quick assessment of the relative location (what bearing?) and aspect (which way is he drawing?) before determining if a maneuver was necessary or not. Contacts on the left side drawing left, and contacts on the right drawing right were OK – the others required more attention and a possible course change.

There was no time for formal observations, to make reports and recommendations to the Captain and then give orders. It was up to me – a 25-year-old Lieutenant. I was two years in to my initial sea tour, and had been qualified in submarines less than a year. Here I was looking out the periscope with one eye responsible for the safety of our ship and the lives of my shipmates. At some point, the XO was able to return to the Control Room. All he could do was lay on one of the benches in the Control Room and watch what I was doing. I remember a couple of brief conversations as I rotated the periscope to follow a contact that was passing close to us.

XO: “Are you on a contact?”

Me: “Yes, sir.”

XO: “He must be close.”

Me: “Yes, sir, but we’re not going to hit him.”

After a period of time that grows every time I talk about this event some of my fellow officers recovered sufficiently to assist and eventually relieve me.

We had been operating on Zulu or Greenwich Mean Time, so although it was in middle of the night by local time, we were serving the evening meal when we surfaced that night. Leaving the darkness of the control room, I was unsteady on my feet after looking out into the darkness for several hours. Although the evening meal had been served several hours before, the Crew’s Mess and Galley had not been cleaned up – no one was able to clean. To this day, I remember the meal that was served – breaded (dreaded) pork chops.

I was not ill, but I was not hungry. I went to my bunk and was able to sleep until I was awoken for my next watch.

While I slept, we had obtained permission to submerge until the storm cleared, but had been unable to do so because the radar mast would not lower. When it became light enough and the seas calmed down a little, several men were sent to the Bridge in an unsuccessful attempt to lower the radar mast.

We rode the storm out and arrived safely in Yokosuka. A couple of days late, but exhausted and safe. The radar mast was not repaired, but forced (pounded) down and welded in place by the Ship Repair Facility at Yokosuka, so that we could get underway.  It was the height of the Cold War, and we were needed elsewhere in a hurry, but that is a story perhaps for another day.

CM

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Blog Editor’s note: It is a privilege to be able to reprint with permission the recollections of shipmates to bring to life the history of the USS Bremerton. Captain Chuck Merkel, USN (Ret), served as the Combat Systems Officer (Weaps) onboard Bremerton between 1984-1987. Chuck later became the skipper of USS Key West (SSN722) from 2000 -2003. You can read more about Captain Merkel and his experience aboard Key West at the outbreak of war after 9/11 by clicking here

Seascapes used in this article were provided by the blog editor are  inspired and enhanced from details of various Google images. 

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USS Bremerton SSN 698 News

Emergency Surface – USS Bremerton SSN698 (image source google.com).

LOOKING FORWARD

USS Bremerton, the most senior not yet de-commissioned submarine in the United States Navy, is currently at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard preparing for Decommissioning.

 

SAVE THE 698

Join the Movement. Are you passionate about preserving the USS Bremerton in any way shape or form after her decommissioning for the benefit of the public and of naval history? You are invited to a new closed group forum on Facebook “SaveThe698” to be involved in public discussion related to Saving 698. You can see the group site by clicking HERE.

Copyright © 2019 bremertonreunion.net

698 Legends: MM1(SS) McGann

Editor’s Note: I want to thank Russ Woods, ICC/SS USN (Ret) for keeping the memory alive with another great candid eye-witness reflection about one of the original USS Bremerton SSN 698 sailors.

This is a republication of an original posted in January 2017 in effort to consolidated some relevant 698 history and sea-stories in the bremertonreuion.net website.

If you would like to submit an “unclassified” 698 sea story for publication, please contact me, Challen Yee, for assistance.

 

MM1(SS) Michael Riley McGann

By Russ Woods