MIDWAY: The 698 Connection

 

 A SUBMARINER’S VIEW OF THE MOVIE “MIDWAY”(2019) 

and the 698 Connection 

Article by Challen Yee and Sherman Smith, without whom this article would not be written.

 

Some of you, well probably a lot of you (given my audience) went to see the feature film “Midway” (2019), the action packed “historically accurate” movie that covered a breathtaking amount of epic events in a cinematic whirlwind lasting nearly 2 hours and 20 minutes.

The movie hits you with history that would be best served in a mini-series, though those who are interested may be inspired to go more deeply into a number of subjects as a result of watching the movie. The storyline includes the pre-war relations between Japan and the U.S., the development of the intelligence services, Pearl Harbor with an up-close and personal connection to the USS Arizona, the Marshalls-Gilberts Island raids,  daring Doolittle’s raid on Tokyo and its China connection, an education in the intricate nature of dive bombing, of course, the Battle of Midway, and the interpersonal dramas on both sides that goes along with each chapter…. (okay, I’m catching my breath now….).

Computer generated images have come a long way in recent years and the grand fleet actions could not be reproduced with any historical accuracy without the impressive CGI used by Hollywood with their legions of artists and the latest high performance computers. However, there are some things, that are still better when you have the real McCoy, as we will see later.

The movie  portrays these transformative world events in fast paced Hollywood star-studded style taking on several characters from Admiral Chester Nimitz to LCDR William Brockman, Jr.. Who is William Brockman? You need to brush up on the submarine history. Keep on reading.

 

A submariner, Admiral Chester William Nimitz, Sr served as Command in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet in World War II. Source: en.wikipedia.org
Woody Harrelson as Chester Nimitz. Source: Fandango

Admiral Chester Nimitz is portrayed by Woody Harrelson. Harrelson brings enough looks, gravity and charisma to the key role to make a powerful and believable impression. A much better match, may I say, than Matt Damon playing Carroll Shelby in Ford v Ferrari, a movie that also came out in late 2019.

As much as I admire Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles, there’s no comparison. Chester Nimitz and the servicemen and women of the armed forces fighting for the survival of the United States and the free world is a course defining crisis that must be remembered and honored as part of our critical past.

 

 

USS Nautilus SS-168

USS Nautilus SS-168. After her “modernization” was equipped with advanced radio, new engines, air conditioning, “topside” torpedo tubes. Her huge deck 6 inch guns were used well in her many shore bombardments Source en.wikipedia.org/NHHC.

 

ENTER THE SILENT SERVICE

Lovingly mixed in with the entire aircraft carrier, fly-boy mega-drama is the story of the USS Nautilus SS-168, a Narwhal/V-Class boat stationed out of Pearl Harbor under the command of LCDR William H. Brockman Jr.

LCDR William Herman Brockman, Jr. Commanding Officer, USS Nautilus, who was awarded the Navy Cross with two gold stars, a Silver Star, and a Presidential Unit Citation for the Nautilus. Source: en.wikipedia.org

At the time of the Doolittle Raid, April 18, 1942, the developing story suggests there is a submarine aspect of the Battle of Midway as the audience is introduced to characters serving onboard the Nautilus, moored along a pier at subbase Pearl Harbor. In real life, the Nautilus was being modernized at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, California and was not in Pearl. The timeline is reasonable close as Nautilus departs Mare Island for Pearl in late April.   Hey, we’re within a few weeks, close enough for government work. The producers sought to give the Silent Service its due beginning by portraying life on a sub and we are grateful.

The first scenes are well crafted beginning with a nest of the submarines at Pearl Harbor. We enter crews mess with a close up of the antique radio as crew members are tensely focused on a radio broadcast from Tokyo. we get some close ups of our star submariners including the skipper (portrayed by James Carpinello).

As the story develops and the warring battle groups position themselves, we follow Nautilus and her crew into harm’s way, the intensity of the action with depth charges and torpedoes is worth the price of admission. It could be the first movie ever to realisticly detail the skipper doing a face plant into a raised periscope during a depth charge attack. The torpedo room scenes of readying a torpedo tube for firing are a beautiful site. I believe the post theater version has a few more torpedo room scenes.

Through the portrayal of Nautilus’ story, we further record the crucial role the submarine played in the success of the Battle of Midway as the key flight of dive bombers under the command of Wade McCluskey and Richard “Dick” Best, flying without any idea where the Japanese carriers are, sight the destroyer returning to its task force at flank speed after laying down depth charges around Nautilus. On McCluskey’s hunch, the bombers follow the ship back to the Japanese fleet and the rest is history.

How authentic were the submarine scenes in the movie Midway? According to Capt. Chuck Merkel (ret), the Executive Director at The Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum and USS Bowfin Memorial, the producers used the USS Bowfin for all interior scenes. Bowfin is in outstandingly restored condition, giving all the authenticity needed for WWII era scenes and providing all the actors a good taste of what it was like to fight in the tightly enclosed and complex spaces of a WWII submarine.

 

So how does the Bremerton connect to this incredible World War II flick?

 

The BADFISH via SANTA FE connection to MIDWAY

What you may not know is the producers sought some real live Navy men to fill some of the roles in the film, and it is a pleasure to report that our shipmate Sherman Smith’s son, MMN1/SS Sampsun James Smith, plays a speaking part of one of the dungaree wearing submariners.

A super-cool still shot from the MIDWAY movie set aboard the USS Nautilus (actually USS Bowfin). Sampsun Smith is looking quite comfortable as he finally gets to wear dungarees in an official Navy role. Captain Brockman is standing at left, portrayed by James Carpinello. The XO is sitting at right. The guy seated is, not sure, but looks a helluva lot like past CNO Admiral John Richardson masquerading as a enlisted man,who portrays a phone talker in the combat scenes. OK who left the darned cell phone and a plastic bottle of water on the table? Don’t they know this is 1942? “PROPS: Replace those two items with four packs of cigarettes!” (Image courtesy of Sherman Smith).

 

Sherman, who served as a QM/SS aboard Bremerton in the 1980s quipped, “[Sampsun] always wanted to wear dungarees,” since dungarees are currently not part of the official seabag for Navy enlisted personnel.

Petty Officer Smith, the younger, was attached to his first submarine, the USS Santa Fe (SSN-763), stationed at Pearl Harbor when he got the opportunity to audition for the movie. He certainly made an impression on the movie staff since he was awarded a speaking part portraying one of the WWII enlisted submarine sailors.

 

The following is reported to me from shipmate Sherman Smith:

Sampsun was stationed on the Santa Fe when the call for extras went out. He walked up to Squadron and got picked. Because he got a line to speak he got his own trailer. The support staff called him ‘Mr. Smith’.

It’s kind of funny how his 7-word line kept on getting shortened, but a line is a line.

He is in 2 or 3 shots, two in control and one on the mess deck.

In the Movie

We are introduced to Sampsun with the best closeup of a crew member in crews’ mess during the Nautilus at Pearl Harbor scene.

In the battle, Nautilus audaciously weaves her way into the Japanese battle group, as the enemy warships are swarming all around her. This high density threat combat condition was perhaps unprecedented in US Navy submarine history, as Brockman is determined to sink a carrier and not just any of the heavy escorts. Count on a submariner to go for the gusto.

The scene in the conning tower seems rigged for red for effect, there’s the skipper and the XO working the periscope, and our man Sampsun is in a key role manning the TDC (Torpedo Data Computer) where as the spinning dials are set he calls out the confirmation that the periscope observation and the TDC solution “MATCH”.

Are there more roles for Mr. Smith?

Impressed with the young Mr. Smith, the studio has sought him for additional roles with a part in the next Kong movie, according to Sherman. Seems like Join the Navy see the World has a new meaning.

Now we know where he gets his good looks. 🙂

Sampsun Smith is currently serving aboard the moored training ship MTS-626, formerly the USS Daniel Webster SSBN-626, in Goose Creek, South Carolina.

 

Our Submariner Stars onboard a 688

Sherman Smith (SSN-698) and his son Sampsun (SSN-763) having some fun in the athwartship passageway during a cruise aboard the Santa Fe. Photos courtesy of Sherman Smith.

 

So what did you think of the movie MIDWAY?

 

 

 

698 News

USS BREMERTON’S COMMANDING OFFICER

CMDR. CHRISTOPHER C.  LINDBERG

Staying with the Pearl Harbor theme, this is a photo of Cmdr Lindberg during a 2017 change of command ceremony held onboard USS Missouri. (U.S. Navy photo).

 

 

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 © 2019-2020 bremertonreunion.net

 

 

698 for PFSM – The Final

USS BREMERTON – SSN 698

GROUP CAMPAIGN

 

All numbers have been tallied and here are the final results from the Bremerton alumi efforts to support The Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum at Pearl Harbor.  The total of all donations and pledges is equal to $11,845.00!

This amount qualifies us to be on the Interior Campaign Donor Wall, a place reserved to recognize the museum’s biggest donors.

Our efforts to secure a permanent plaque in recognition of the USS Bremerton in “the most visited submarine museum in the world” will be a source of pride and personal connection for every alumni, his family and friends.

It will make your return trip to the islands a little more special.

As we get more details on the plaque, we will let you know, though you may read about the general details at the museum’s Capital Campaign page.

Sincere thanks to every donor and for the moral support from all. Your contributions went beyond the call of duty to help with this effort!

 

PFSM Looking Forward

The Bowfin Memorial in conjunction with the new and exciting developments offered by the PFSM will be a worthy tribute to the Silent Service and something to look forward to in the future on your next trip to Pearl Harbor. Here’s are few words from the Museum about what’s been happening and where they are headed…

 

NOW PRESENTING…

An interview with Captain Merkel

Captain Chuck Merkel is interviewed by Island Focus about the PFSM and submarines (courtesy of Bob Miller).Click on photo or link to see.

 

If you haven’t seen the great and powerfully introduced Capital Campaign video yet  it is narrated by former USS Bremerton skipper RON COX who now serves as Chairman of the Board of the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum. One more time, here’s the link https://www.bowfin.org/capital-campaign
*

When you, your family and friends come out to the Islands, put the Bowfin and the PFSM on your list of PLACES TO SEE!

 

 

 

 

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 © 2020 bremertonreunion.net

 

Mission Accomplished

 

PACIFIC FLEET SUBMARINE MUSEUM GROUP DONATION UPDATE  31 DEC 2019

We’ve Reached Our Goal!

Yes shipmates, we have reached our goal of $10,000 before the end of 2019

 

Every single contribution is sincerely appreciated in the effort of providing recognition for the Bremerton and support for the creation of The Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum at Pearl Harbor.

We’ve secured something every USS BREMERTON SSN 698 alumni, their family, and friends can take pride and interest in.

We had a great range of support from alumni plus some corporate matching.

Based on the numbers that I have (and there may be more coming in by the end of the 31st) we are at $10,190 of completed donations and pledge commitments transacted through the museum.

A spot for USS BREMERTON on the Interior Campaign Donor Wall is secured honoring the campaign’s biggest supporters!

With one day left before the end of 2019, we’ve reached our amazing mutual goal. So let’s party!…

Wait – One

There is one piece of business that’s not yet resolved, at least not until the strike of midnight Hawaii time and that is, who will get the Angel’s Envy Award?

Currently, the Angel’s Envy Award will go to two shipmates (who have chosen to remain anonymous)  whose donation/pledge amounts are $3000 each. In order for someone take top spot for the prize, pledge a greater amount than $3050 by midnight or perhaps go for the gusto, another $15,000 more either individually or collaboratively and that will launch us to the next lofty donor level.

Hey, what can I to say, when there is still time left on the clock?!

 

CONGRATULATIONS SHIPMATES, WE MADE A CLEAN SWEEP OF THE $10K GOAL

RAISE AN ADULT BEVERAGE IN A TOAST TO:

 

OUR SHIPMATES

and

THOSE ON ETERNAL PATROL

 

 THE BREMERTON

and

THE SILENT SERVICE

 

THANK YOU AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

 

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO MAKE ADDITIONAL DONATIONS TO THE MUSEUM

For your convenience, your pledge may be paid in installments over a 5-year period.

All contributions are tax-deductible as allowed by law and made directly to The Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum via the Bowfin.org website.

TO DONATE GO TO THE WEBSITE BELOW:

https://www.bowfin.org/capital-campaign or click on the Bowfin 

 

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

 

 

 

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.

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