|USS Sea Cat||SS-399|
|Reunions||History||Sailing List||Photos||Ships Store||Home||Guestbook||Taps|
Sea Stories and Other Stuff
Our thanks go out to Calvin “Frank the Crank” Mencken
for preserving this newspaper article".
This is a retyped article of the 1966 article in the Key West newspaper.
Seacat Comes Home
The USS Seacat tied up at pier 3 at the Naval Station
at 1:00 p.m. yesterday, as scheduled, after an absence of almost four
Lt. Cmdr. G.D. Ellis, Jr., and his officers and men wore broad grins of pleasure at returning home after more than 18,000 miles of steaming while attached to the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. Foreign travel is interesting, they said, but it’s mighty good to be home!
This is a retyped article of the 1968 “Meow News” Pages 6, 7 and 10.
(Courtesy of “Frank the Crank” Mencken)
The Creighton Progressive Award
As an incentive to our dinky non-quals an award has been proposed to inspire them to greatly achievements. Fittingly called “The Creighton Progressive Award”, It will have the appearance of an 8 x 16 inch cinder block with a suitable brass name plaque screwed on to register the name of lucky recipient. Awards will be made to each non-qual who succeeds in getting more than six weeks behind. Winners will have the privilege of displaying there awards on their bunks. A consolation award to runner-ups is being considered to be known as the “Jack Hensley I-lost-my-Book Award”. It will consist of what appears to be a pair of dirty dungarees tied to a long handle screw driver.
During the past five good will visits to San Juan by the sea, the lovable Sea Cat has established a remarkable, lasting impression on the islands lovely young fille de fores; particularly of the Club Rivera, Old City Bar social set. Competition among our top lovers was heated and close in their quest for the favors of the shy cultured maidens who plied their modest trade and sold records of endurance were shattered and greatly surprised. Some of our top performers really gave their all both in energy and finances to insure that they’d leave San Juan a much richer place than they’d found it.
There was one noticeable thing we could improve on however in our social conduct ashore, when and if we return later in the summer. Just a simple gentlemanly gesture that certainly would not go un-noticed. The enthusiasm greeting the returning hero back to the club after a speedy sojourn to the Hotel Royal to do his act has been impressive. The applause, the congratulations, the round of drinks bought, etc, were all well and good for the lover’s ego, but there has been little or no recognition for the lovely young thing who made the moment of joy possible.
Now it’s not the easiest job in the world trying to demurely can some sot out of fifteen dollars when his alcohol sodden brain is wandering all over creation and especially when he has to borrow the money on three pay days in the future; and there is the painstaking ordeal of trying to please the half hammered slob who usually forgets what it was he wanted to do in the first place once he decides to what he forgot.
Next time if we first give the little lady a bit of applause or some little meaningful recognition it would improve our good sportsman image, over public relations and maybe even reduce the gold out flow to say 8 and 5 for a quick trick.
Springboard 1968 – Infamous Quotes
Guess who has orders to Moscow…???
An undertaker’s hearse, returning from a funeral was stranded on Washington, DC’s Capital beltway. The driver had managed to pull off the road and used a nearby call box to summon aid.
A few minutes later a mechanic arrived. He raised the hood and inspected the engine. Then he turned to the undertaker, folded his hands and bowed his head.
“I’m sorry to tell you,” he intoned solemnly, “that your battery has just passed away”.
Can you Image
Just beyond the bridges
Us on the submarine Sea Cat
In the smoke and heat we work
Steaming along at 150
Here’s a hint for you draft dodgers
So do your two years happily
But when we reach those Pearly gates
Sea Stories by Gil Frydell
The USS SEA CAT(SS399) spent most of her resting hours in Key West during the years I was assigned to help keep her effectively operational. Of course, most of our training time was spent in the waters not far from the island many of us knew as North Cuba. After all, Key West is closer to Cuba than to the real mainland of Florida. Climaxing a Zundapp motorcycle ride from NLON via my Ohio home to Key West, I reported for duty during the summer of 1958. That southbound jaunt was quite a story in itself, as I carried a full seabag and more on the little 2OOcc two-stroke machine. Although this fourth duty assignment was but a stepping stone toward my eventual nuclear submarine duty, my time aboard the SS399 was probably the most meaningful part of my naval career. This ET completed sub school in New London directly after finishing Electronics Technician Class "A" school at Great Lakes.
I expected to find myself working on electronic equipment right away, but I soon found out that further training was going to be required before that would be likely. I learned how to operate the GDU long before I knew the distance between torpedo tubes 6 and 7 was more than a couple feet. I must admit it was quite a while before I got my sea legs and really bit into working toward getting my dolphins. Nonetheless, I did eventually make it to that point.
I don't remember just when this event transpired, but I believe it was during the period while I was still trying to get qualified, for I am sure I was on the helm during much of the activities that day. That day? Just what is it we're talking about, anyway? Just what was so special about that day?
Well, among the events of that day was the fact that the Base Commanding Officer's wife chose that day to take her ride in a U.S. submarine. That day was to find us playing Sea Cat and Mouse with one or two surface ships. I don't know which ships they were or whether they were Navy or Coast Guard types, but you remember what some of those skimmers were like during your boat's games. That day was also the culmination of some somewhat covert activities of a nameless (even if I knew their names) group of submarine sailors.
The aforementioned covert activities took place over an unknown period of perhaps but a few days. I think the whole operation (concept, design, manufacture, and rigging) might have been performed while we were in Gitmo. If that were the true case, the work was really top notch for so short a time. After all, how long should it take to make an accurate full size replica of the top ten feet or so of a periscope? Don’t forget to figure in the time to work out the launching method without any opportunities to experiment. Someone might have considered trying to get the skipper to take the boat out for a short jaunt to make a couple practice dives so they could know their launching method would be foolproof. Actually, I kinda think good ole Captain J.J. just might have been willing to help with that task -- unofficially, of course.
It really could have been that the whole scheme was born back at our home port. Maybe somebody started carving the stick a year before that day. I didn't know about things like that -- at least I did not know on that day.
It seems the #3 Scope launching setup was already rigged before we got word the Admiral's wife had picked that day for her venture into the undersea world. The idea of her checking out the conditions inside a giant pipe bobbing around under the briny really wasn't something any of the crew had been looking forward to, of course, but we knew it would be happening soon, nonetheless.
Quite some time after entering our operation area, we commenced to let the surface skimmers try to find Sea Cat with their PDCs. I'm not sure, but I think they might have found us after another day or so. You see, our diving officers didn't always rely on such things as the sinuous course clock. I recall many times when I was told to steer my own course, and who knows what a 22-year-old ETRSN might want to do with "his" submarine. Oh, I was warned in plenty of time if I got too close to the edge of our assigned area. Sea Cat had a really good crew any day, but on that day, our boat was really special.
After a moderate period of feeble attempts to dunk us for good, we made it certain they could see us, and after they were headed our way, we proceeded to release good old #3 Periscope. The model was rigged to release after #2 periscope was extended a certain approximate number of feet.
As accurate a plot as possible was kept so we might be able to retrieve the unit prior to returning to the ammunition pier (where visiting submarines berthed at Gitmo in those days) for the night.
One thing we certainly could not have predicted, however, was that on that day, two separate Navy pilots saw an unidentified submarine very close to the base. I never learned just where this "other" sub was supposed to have been spotted. I also don't know whether an actual submarine had been seen -- or if it might have just been a periscope that brought about the forthcoming orders to the Navy vessels there in Guantanamo Bay that day. At any rate, there was an order issued for all U.S. submarines (I think there was only one other boat at Gitmo at that time.) to return directly to port. If I'm not mistaken, all ships but those heavies at anchor were sent to search the area -- to try to find the Russian (?) submarine. Could either of those Navy pilot sightings have involved a certain experimental effort arranged by some actively naughty U.S. submarine sailors?
Because we were ordered to return to port, we couldn't try to find the scope while en route home. I guess our guest’s presence made the possibility even more difficult, too. Well, if we could have planned this whole episode as an attempt to get a chance to spend the afternoon lounging aboard our private theater barge back at the ammunition pier while a whole bunch of surface sailors were running all over the waves trying to find a ten-foot-long chunk of wood, I would say we did a pretty good job. We submariners always have been specialists at getting things done our way.
I have often wondered whether Sea Cat's #3 Periscope was ever found -- and if so, just where, when, and by whom. I asked a certain sailor serving at Gitmo about three decades later if he could dig up any scoop about this incident, but he was unable to come up any information at all ... and I'm sure if there were any scuttlebutt about it, his sources would have brought it to the surface.
My hope is that this might become enjoyable reading for some folks who might never have seen the interior of a diesel submarine except on paper -- and for some guys who really have some similar memories of their days aboard those best-in-the-business submarines.
(c) Gil Frydell1998
Down Ladder !
Of course, we submariners all remember the routine of yelling "Down ladder!" before climbing or sliding down the ladder from conn to control or to or from somewhere else. That warning -- after you had verified the course was clear -- gave you the right of way. It probably didn’t take any of us long to absorb such things into our systems so we knew what to do for certain specific situations.
If you weren’t mindful of the rules, you could have found yourself almost all the way down the ladder into the after battery from topside just as one of the mess cooks swung a wet swab your way. Or you might find yourself stepping into a bucket of some oily mess one of the enginemen was about to haul up topside. I’m sure some such things had occurred on the U.S.S. Sea Cat (SS399), a fleet snorkel submarine based in Key West, Florida.
Also, it is noteworthy to let non-dolphin wearers realize that the world of submarining is really the tight fit camaraderie of men of different ages and backgrounds. Our skipper, Cdr. J.J. Kelley, was of course the skipper, a well-engineered and educated man capable of leading our combined forces through the undersea realm, effectively fighting any declared enemy of our country. He was also a good friend, who – for instance – regularly joined together with some of the crew at the local hot rod club. A year after I would later leave the Sea Cat, he again proved to be a loyal guardian of maintenance of the integrity of my personal offering to the Navy in a way certainly far above any normal expectation. All in all, virtually every submarine commanding officer aligns with his crew: not just above the men.
This Sea Cat sailor was about to move down into the control room from the conning tower one day while we were underway. I peered down intently into control for a few seconds to be sure the way was clear. Then I yelled the commanding phrase, "Down ladder!" as I planted my shoes on the edge of the ladder and slid straight down . . . till I was sitting directly on the Captain’s head!
The skipper happened to be sitting on the stool affixed to the aft port leg of the control room table directly over the compass, and as the boat rolled one way, his stool swung over till he was directly beneath me. I climbed up a mite, then I continued down into the control room. The Captain’s eyes met mine directly, and he calmly said to me, "Frydell, I’ll bet that’s the farthest you’ve had the Captain’s head up your ass since you’ve been on the boat!"
After we both snickered a mite, I continued on to my intended destination, thinking to myself, "Boy, I sure am glad I’m not on a tin can! I’d probably be on report now."
Ó Gil Frydell
Sea Stories from the Internet
Are you true Navy Blue and Gold?
Me and Willy were lollygagging by the scuttlebutt after being aloft to
boy-butter up the antennas and were just perched on a bollard eyeballing a
couple of bilge rats and flangeheads using crescent hammers to pack monkey
sh*t around a fitting on a handybilly.
Now, For you Land Lubbers OR those of you who may have forgotten . .
aloft-------------up in the superstructure of a
bollard-----------metal mushroom on a pier or
deck to secure mooring lines.
handybilly--------P500 submersible pump
hard-assing-------Giving someone a hard time
pogey bait--------any sweet stuff like candy,
etc....(bought in the ge-dunk)
hatch-------------doors, entrances through a
dogged it---------activate a handle that puts the
locks into place
lay below---------to go to a lower level of the
ship...below the weather decks
binnacle list-----Medical department list of
personnel in a no duty or light duty status
deep six----------to throw overboard
breadburners------cooks [or stewburners or
twidgets----------men who work in electronics
balls to the wall ---full speed ahead
hit the beach-----go on liberty
brow--------------walkway from ship to shore
bosnias-----------Big old standard navy issue
port and bring lunch in a brown bag
westpac widow-----women whose husbands are at sea
Only a submariner realizes to what
great extent and entire ship depends on him
even difficult for us to
comprehend, but it is so!
protracted and distant operations
of submarines, the Navy must place
In each submarine there are men
who, in the hour of emergency or peril at sea,
each to the other for all aspects
of operation of their submarine. They are the
This is perhaps the most difficult
and demanding assignment in the Navy. There
of responsibility. His privileges
in view of his obligations are almost
greatest mariners - the men of the Submarine Service.
"Eternal Father, Strong to Save": The Navy Hymn
The song known to United States Navy men and women as the "Navy Hymn," is a musical benediction that long has had a special appeal to seafaring men, particularly in the American Navy and the Royal Navies of the British Commonwealth and which, in more recent years, has become a part of French naval tradition.
The original words were written as a hymn by a schoolmaster and clergyman of the Church of England, the Rev. William Whiting. Rev. Whiting (1825-1878) resided on the English coast near the sea and had once survived a furious storm in the Mediterranean. His experiences inspired him to pen the ode, "Eternal Father, Strong to Save." In the following year, 1861, the words were adapted to music by another English clergyman, the Rev. John B. Dykes (1823-1876) , who had originally written the music as "Melita" (ancient name for the Mediterranean island of Malta). Rev. Dykes' name may be recognized as that of the composer given credit for the music to many other well-known hymns, including "Holy, Holy, Holy," "Lead, Kindly Light," "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," and "Nearer, My God to Thee."
In the United States, in 1879 the late Rear Adm. Charles Jackson Train, an 1865 graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis was a lieutenant commander stationed at the Academy in charge of the Midshipman Choir. In that year, Lt. Comdr. Train inaugurated the present practice of concluding each Sunday's Divine Services at the Academy with the singing of the first verse of this hymn.
The hymn, entitled "Eternal Father, Strong to Save," is found in most Protestant Hymnals. It can be more easily located in these hymnals by consulting the "Index to First Lines" under "Eternal Father, Strong to Save." The words have been changed several times since the original hymn by Rev. Whiting was first published in 1860-61. One will find that the verses as now published differ from the original primarily in the choice of one or two words in several lines of each verse. However, inasmuch as it is not known whether the original words are now available in a hymnal, those original words are given below:
Eternal Father, Strong to save,
O Christ! Whose voice the
Most Holy spirit! Who didst
O Trinity of love and power!
It will be noted that in the Hymnal (1940) of the Protestant Episcopal Church, the second and third verses of the hymn are different from those second and third verses published elsewhere. These substitutions give recognition to changing aspects of our culture, particularly the advent of additional modes of transportation -- the automobile and the airplane. The Episcopal second and third verses are:
O Christ, the Lord of hill and
O Spirit, Whom the Father send
The Presbyterian Church, USA, likewise has added a new verse which recognizes the advent of the field of aviation. The best information available indicates that this new verse to "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" appeared in 1943 in a little booklet then entitled, " A book of Worship and Devotion for the Armed Forces," published by the Board of Christian Education of the Presbyterian Church, USA. All indications are that this new verse can be traced back to a completely separate hymn, "Lord, Guard and Guide the Men Who Fly," written by Mary C.D. Hamilton in 1915, during the First World War. From this hymn, the first verse and the last two lines to the fourth verse were taken to form this new verse to "Eternal Father, Strong to Save." This new verse, as appearing in the little Presbyterian booklet, is as follows:
Lord, guard and guide the men
Apparently, during or shortly after World War II, someone in the Navy familiar with the words above adapted this verse for choral rendition. The adaptation changed a word or two here and there and substituted two new fifth and six lines. What some might call the "Naval Aviation version" is a follows:
Lord, guard and guide the men
This version, together with the original first verse are the verses sung by the men and women of the Navy, particularly those in Naval Aviation.
The tune of "Melita," to which Rev. Dykes adapted the words of "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" in 1861, is, of course, a very moving and inspiring melody. Research indicates that the above additions and alterations to Rev. Whiting's original ode are not the only changes that have been or will be made to the hymn. From time to time, individuals have been and will be inspired to write verses other than those which are indicated in this brief background.
Here are some current alternates:
Eternal Father, grant, we pray
Lord, stand beside the men who
Lord God, our power evermore,
O God, protect the women who,
Creator, Father, who dost show
Eternal Father, Lord of hosts,
Eternal Father, King of birth,
Creator, Father, who first
God, who dost still the
Lord, guard and guide the men
O Father, King of earth and
And when at length her course
Text extracted from a publication of the Bureau of Naval Personnel
This hymn is often used at funerals for personnel who served in or were associated with the Navy. Eternal Father was the favorite hymn of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was sung at his funeral at Hyde Park, New York in April 1945. Roosevelt had served as Secretary of the Navy. This hymn was also played as President John F. Kennedy's body was carried up the steps of the capitol to lie in state.
Submarine verses of the Navy Hymn
"Bless those who serve beneath the deep,
And David Miller's verse
The Submariner by Dr. Joyce Brothers
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 the 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?
Bond Among 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 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 daredevil pursuits, such as driving a motorcycle through a flaming hoop.
There is nothing daredevil's 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 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.
Who heard the message and
answered the call
Sub School gave us the chance to
pass the test
You reported on board not
knowing what to think
You learn about Tradition and
learn about Pride,
You learn about the heritage
that's been passed on to you
You study that boat from bow to
Where and what makes that boat
go, how it operates and in what direction it flows
Draw those systems fore and aft,
blow the shitters, Check the draft
When you've learned all there is
to know about your boat
You go before the Qual Board,
card in hand
And when you think you can take
For what seems like eons, Time
But they congratulate you for
doing so good
Right of passage declares that
you must drink your "fish".
But you wear those dolphins on
your chest with pride
It seems like yesterday, it
seems like a dream
Most Boats are gone, a memory of
The Old Boats that are left, are
So here's to us, those that
To those past, present and even
So let's lift our glasses and
have a toast
HULL NUMBERS WERE OUR ADDRESSES
WISDOM - FROM THE MILITARY MANUAL
Website designed and maintained by Gene McLeod
Contact us at email@example.com