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Sea Stories

 Master of manipulation

Master Chief Drahos(MMMC) was quite a guy and knew how people worked far to well. One day while on patrol he played the ego of one of our fellow M-div'ers MM2 Mark Buthcer. While back at the M-div work bench, the chief wanted to see how tough Mark was. He finally convinced Mark to put his thumbs in the bench vise and he started to tighten. Oh Mark was tough and he took more and a little more yet. Finally the vise was tight enough so Mark could not get his hands out. We all walked away and I don't know how Mark escaped.  "Slide" Siggins

Some thoughts...

Those Damn R-12's.

Freon and carbon apparently don't mix. We suspected the constant re-charging of the R12's and the daily re-brushing of the port and stbd 300kW MG sets were related. Did the flange-heads give a damn? - apparently not! We headed to sea for almost two weeks (I believe it was 1978) with what seemed like a West Pac loadout of brushes for those stupid MG sets. We spent most of the two weeks in a half power lineup on one side or the other, while the entire e-div was on port & stbd watches and port & stbd re-brushing. Mongo, Spike, Red-Band Joe, Sofie, Mac and a few others got REALLY PROFICIENT at re-brushing. We got even better cleaning that f*&$^% carbon out of our clothes and skin.
EM1(SS) MIchael R. Boutcher Lighter of Lights, Turner of Shafts :

I am on a roll now! I hope I don't have nightmares about the "Navy" days now. HA!!

The one thing I remember about Oltraver was his favorite saying:

"Let's go Kill Commies for Christ!!" (what a wild man)

I have another story to tell that might be long and drawn out. I will try to keep it to a Readers Digest minimum:

During the Mare Island Shipyard overhaul of 1983-1985, I came on board from the USS Haddock SSN-621 (imagine how dyslectic I have been since) in 1984. I already knew of one Rick "Schmeitz" Kluve before I came on board because of our time at Prototype. He had gained a reputation as one of the "cheapest" people on earth. He made Jack Benny look extravagant. I will tell of only a couple of his "cheap events" for time's sake:

1. On several occasions on the barge he was found to pick up "warm laying around" coke cans that were half full and take them over to the ice machine and stuff ice into the cans and drink them. (too cheap to buy his own)

2. One time he was lurking around the "gedunk" area and noticed a fellow sailor throwing away a sandwich that he bought on board our barge. Apparently the sandwich was bad because the mayonnaise had spoiled. Being the "Schmeitz" that he was, he lifted the sandwich out of the garbage can and promptly took it back to our "gedunk" mess (all wrapped up) and demanded his money back because it was spoiled. How did I find out about this - you ask?? Well Schmeitz was so cheap (and proud of it) that he would tell of his victories to everyone.

3. He was also spotted taking old donuts out of the garbage that normal people wouldn't eat (because they were hard) and put them in the microwave, heat them up, and eat them.

4. His latest accomplishment of "Schmeitz-ness" is going to be the reunion. He informed me that he was going to bring a tent and sleep in Golden Gate Park during the reunion because "that was free".I feel as though we had better watch him at the reunion because he is likely to pocket as much food as possible to feed himself for the rest of the year. HA!! PS: By the way - Rick is quite well off and has been working at Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant since getting out of the Navy in 1986. -EM1 Billy "Whitelegs" Foley


Brass Fittings

As for those brass fittings, there was one trip when they sent us out of San Diego with a load of practice torpedoes that had the pendulum pins installed, but without the replacement pins to let us fire them! I was taken off the watchbill to make them on the lathe, but they were never used. The Derrier of that ship swung worse than a bustle on a Maytag once she got above a 1/3 bell, and getting clean threads cut, much less a straight shaft, was next to impossible as we were carreening around the ocean playing tag with the rest of the fleet. Good training, I guess, but I invented a few new nautical terms. -MMC Claude "CC" Canterbury

Guardfish Sea Story

On the way to Hawaii, after commissioning, we had quite an "eventful" trip and made some lasting impressions on ComSubPac. I probably made the most lasting one in San Juan, but I will let someone else tell that one. :)
We stopped for a few days in San Francisco for liberty and of course spent a lot of time at the "old" Horse and Cow! The "High Point" of my career, I got to meet "Snorkel Patty"! My good friend MM1(SS) Tom Tulk, who had been selected for Chief and was just waiting for his date to put on the "hat" seemed to oversleep somewhere and missed ships movement! Later that day, after we had been underway for quite some time, the CO got a message that went something like this; from: MM1(SS) Tulk, to: CO USS Guardfish (SSN)612......... "enroute Bremerton Washington, incognito" The QM's kept two tracks after that, one for the boat and one for Tulk, overland!
Tom met us at the "Club" when we got to Bremerton but he soon departed for the boat and didn't go anywhere else until we got to Pearl! He did still get to put on the "hat" and everyone was glad of that! People still had a sense of humor back then!! -
LT Eldon Peck

"Drowning" in San Juan

There was a rum distillery across the harbor from where we were tied up in San Juan. A bunch of the guys decided to go over on a ferry for the tour because, as we all know, these tours end up as a free drunk. Well, the mission was a success; every one got their fill. On the way back, Eldon decided that he needed to go for a swim, so he jumped off the ferry into the water. I guess nobody saw him come up so they all thought that Eldon was a goner.
They had all kinds of boats and divers searching for Eldon, all to no avail. If I remember correctly, they might even have been dragging the harbor for his body. Finally, people started going back to the boat and guess who was sound asleep in his bunk, totally unaware of all the commotion he had caused, E L D O N. Then, we were asked to leave San Juan.
-MM2 Dennis LaHines

Eldon's side of the "Drowning" story

OK,,,,,here it is,,,,,,you do have it close, but here is the "NO SHIT" version!

The first part about the distillery was right, but we started out at the Black Angus then went to the distillery then started bar hopping in dirt floored, local bars. At one point about five of us were in a old, maybe 53 or 54 chevy taxi and locals were cheering us as we left a bar and someone, I think maybe Preston, got his wrist watch pulled off! Any way, we got to the ferry boat landing and it was going to be awhile till the ferry got there so we went in another bar at the landing. It is no secret that we were all shit faced by this time but Tom Tulk and I got into an argument and maybe exchanged a couple hands (not sure about that). So I got mad and left, I thought they all hated me! Well, they didn't want me to get hurt, in my condition, so they came out of the bar after me! In my condition, I thought they were all going to beat my ass, so I ran down the Ferryboat pier right off the end of it into the water! Tulk was afraid I would drown, as the Ferry was pulling in at this time, so he jumped in to save me. Well, I still thought he wanted to kick my ass so I hid behind a piling with backwash all around from the ferry pulling in. I got scared so I swam down the beach and crawled up into some weeds and passed out. I woke up in the morning and made my way back to the Boat, with soggy wallet, money, etc. When I came aboard, the topside watch looked like he had seen a ghost and told me I better get down to the wardroom, a lot of people were looking for me! I did and he was right, the wardroom was full, and Capt. Hines told me to get to bed, he would talk to me later! When I next saw Tulk I thought SURE he was going to kill me! About having to leave early,,,,I don't know. I know the CO talked to me when we were underway to San Diego and said if I volunteered to stay aboard in San Diego, that would be the end of it. I said, "I didn't want to go
anywhere in San Diego sir,I would be glad to stay aboard! That was the end of it,,,,,,thank God!
LT Eldon Peck

Guardfish On the Rocks

Yes, I can tell you what it was like during the grounding of the Guardfish....it was a nightmare!!!

My maneuvering watch station was in the diesel generator room; as you know, almost on the bottom and near the bow of the boat! I don't know what speed we were making for our approach to Papa Hotel but there was some trouble up in control getting the hatch open to man the bridge. All of a sudden there was the most terrible screeching and tearing sounds I had ever heard. The boat shuddered and bounced, then the noise subsided and we started to heel over to port, it seemed like it would never stop. For a few seconds I thought we were going to roll over! I was really scared but training took over and I started checking hull fittings and equipment to see if there was any damage or if we were taking on any water. Everything checked out OK and I reported to Control. Then I remember just listening as the CO and maneuvering kept talking back and forth as they tried to back down off the reef. I think maneuvering was afraid for the "plant" but the Captain wanted Guardfish OFF THAT REEF! I remember an order something like, "Keep that astern bell on until I tell you to take it off"! We blew main ballast tanks to try to raise the boat in the water and everything else the Captain could think of but nothing worked,,,,,we were stuck! The rest is history, we spent Christmas eve and Christmas day out there and they got us free about noon the day after Christmas, but not before a bomb scare when divers found an old bomb just astern of us. It turned out to be a practice bomb full of sand and the tow went off as scheduled at high tide. When we got in and tied up I was really embarrassed because not only was my Wife Marsha there to meet me but my Dad had come out from Ohio to visit and he was an old great lakes sailor. He always stressed to me how important it was to know your waters and keep your boat out of trouble! All I could say was "I don't drive the boat Dad"! We were all very tired but very happy to be home!
LT Eldon Peck

Another viewpoint on the grounding...

We were all at our maneuvering stations as Eldon stated. Mine just happened to be helmsman/lookout. Captain Hines was the first man up the sail and I was right behind him. We had just set up communications with the control room. I don,t know if we had taken the con at the moment. I had my safety harness on and was snapped in the cockpit but I was working out on the sail planes trying to get the safety lines rigged. All of a sudden, I was hugging the sail for dear life. I bet I left finger nail marks there forever. No matter what the Captain tried, we could not get free. We were pounding on that reef really hard. We had a constant 30 degree list and every time we rose up a bit, we would slam down again on the reef. Finally we vented the ballast tanks trying to settle down and relieve the pounding as much as possible. The worst part of the whole thing, after the situation stabilized, was the fact that we were within sight of the Air Force base right next to Pearl Harbor. We all could see our wives and family members on land through binoculars. It was one hell of a way to spend Christmas. The day after Christmas, we were pulled off the reef by two fleet tugs and an ASR and towed into port. We got liberty that day and had to report back early the next day to move to the dry dock. The damage was not as bad as everyone feared. We got a nice stay in the dry dock for a while and then went on our first WestPac cruise.-MM2 Dennis LaHines

The Official Story of Guardfish on the Rocks
Submarine Grounding

Brief: Submarine goes aground while entering port.

What Happened? A submarine was returning to homeport at night after deployment. Upon surfacing it was found that the bridge hatch was stuck shut. One of the two periscopes was inoperative. The OOD and navigator shared the remaining periscope to conn the ship and navigate. The maneuvering watch was fully manned with the exception of bridge watchstanders. Visibility was not a problem. An apparent gyro error of 8.7 with the operative periscope was being used. Thirty nine minutes after surfacing the ship had approached within 2 miles of the harbor entrance point and had ordered all stop from speed 12 knots. Navigational fixes obtained indicated that the ship would pass landward of the harbor entrance point but not to landward of the harbor entrance buoys. Forty eight minutes after surfacing the bridge hatch was successfully opened. The ship had advanced 2750 yards from the point of the all stop bell and was well to the right of the harbor entrance range having crossed the range from west to east. Thirteen minutes after the bridge hatch was opened the ship was ordered ahead 1/3 and then 2/3 to make the turn to enter the channel. The Commanding Officer went to the bridge with a lookout and a quartermaster. The lookout was busy rigging for entering port; the quartermaster was trying to call the signal tower by flashing light. About this time the Commanding Officer assumed the duties of OOD from OOD in the attack center. Neither had the channel entrance buoys in sight although the buoys were on the port bow at a range of about 1000 yards.
Navigational fixes obtained were open to question because of gyro transmission errors in the operative periscope and the poor bearing spread of available navigational aids. A course to enter the channel between the channel entrance buoys was recommended by the acting assistant navigator, an experienced QM1. This course was essentially concurred in by the navigator, however the recommendation was not sent to the bridge.
The two channel range lights and a buoy pair (5 and 6) with the same light characteristics as the entrance buoys (1 and 2) occupied the attention of the navigator and the Commanding Officer (OOD). The stage was set. As buoys 1 and 2 slid unobserved down the port side the submarine went aground.

Comments/Lessons learned:

A missing locking key for the periscope bearing transmitter, a stuck bridge hatch, one inoperative periscope - none of these directly caused the grounding. When the additional factors of haste, pre-occupation with details rather than keeping the big picture, inadequate communication between the navigator and the bridge and inadequate preparations are added, a casualty is in the making.

The sea merely lies in wait for the innocent but it stalks the unwary.
EM1 Herb Edmonds

Seems that as we were headed for Pascagoula, Mississippi..."The Magical" Marvin L. Coon (nuke type) was getting a little worried about using his real name in the shipyard, and the locals might not take so kindly to us yelling "COON" all around the shipyard and town... and this was the DEEP South in the 60's ..... so.....when someone from the shipyard says, "Well, son, who are you?" he quickly replied, "Well sir, I'm Alden Q. Farquar the 3rd." And so it stuck, and even had his I.D. tag made up with that name. And this is no shit.
ETN2 Richard "Twig" Armstrong

During the 1979 Westpac trip, I was not only the M-Div Chief, but also the Periscope Photographer. We somehow managed to get liberty in Thailand that trip. They sent us to Sadahip (sp?), which was a complete seaport for off-loading cargo vessels and tankers, built by the US during Vietnam, and afterwards turned over to the Thais. On the run in, after taking a complete periscope-camera panorama survey of the harbor, I took the camera topside to shoot anything I liked. When I got on the bridge, I heard artillery fire, lots of it, and I could see a thick pall of greasy smoke and some fire in the palms ahead of us. Oh great, we're having liberty in a combat zone! The closer we got, the louder the noise of the cannons and the more we could see and smell the smoke! Needless to say, it didn't seem like the kind of place you would take a nuclear submarine! All was well, however, as the Thai's were only burning brush in the Coconut groves, and the Thai Army was just having artillery practice in the hills beyond the groves. Thailand is a nifty place. Some of the crew went to Bangkok, and some of us went to a world famous resort town, Padia Beach.
I had very little money by the time we got to Sadahip, but I had a two inch TV set. At night I would take it over the brow and set it up on a bollard. The Asian Games was on every night. It was kind of an Asian Olympics. Pretty soon Thai sailors would show up. I guess they didn't have TV wherever they were billeted. When the kick boxing competition started, I would take out a Bot (a
large Thai penny), put it next to the TV, and point to one of the boxers and then to myself. Then I pointed to one of the sailors and to the TV and shrug my shoulders. It didn't take long for the Thai's to figure out what I was doing, and soon one of the Thais would put a Bot on the bollard and point to the other boxer. We kept that up for a couple of hours. I remember there were over twenty Thai sailors crowded around that little two inch screen, and they were having a great time.
MMC Claude "CC" Canterbury


I remember with fond and somewhat bleary memory the shakedown cruise. I read through the stories and can say without hesitation that I think most of them were true.
I do remember that we were asked to leave San Juan ahead of time. I'm relatively sure the trouble was not our fault. Obviously it must have been some surface crew that caused all the problems. Of course, there was that taxi ride and the upstairs bar/dancehall in Old San Juan. Seems like there was something about a John Deere tractor picture and first love, but that's another story.
Then there was the Panama Canal. To this day, I have never experienced worse coffee than we had during that maneuvering watch. To this day I still use sugar in my coffee. While we were passing through the canal we got the word that we were "persona non grata" in Panama City. The word was no nuclear subs, but I still think they got a phone call from San Juan.
Snorkel Patty was a really nice person. She was very friendly to all us sailors. I only wish I could have gotten to know her better (but the line was too long).
How come there are no stories about Bremerton? The fishing was great and I think we had a good time in Bremerton and Seattle. I got to go back several years later with another sub, but by them they seemed to have closed down the good bars and passed enough laws that it wasn't all that much fun any more.
Of all the subs I have been on and the experiences of a lifetime since then,I still remember the shakedown cruise. I still don't understand why people made such a big thing about a few guys trying to have a little fun.
Paul Marlin



We were underway on WestPac and this RM named Jim Herrera and I got an idea for a ship's newpaper. We called it the USS Guardfish "Used and Abused Report". We got the CO's and XO's permission to use the boat's Xerox(R) supplies to reproduce it and filled it with all kinds of bs. One of the segments was a "Man on the Street" question. We would think up a typical question and ask various shipmates their opinions, promising to not reveal their name, only their rate/rank (E-5, O-3, E-2, etc.) Well, things went along pretty well for about 6 issues with questions like "What do you think of us shooting down the Libyan jets?" and "What do you think the US should do to Iran?" and so forth till we got the "brilliant" idea to ask "What do you think of field days followed by Zone Inspections?" The responses were all negative from the lowest seaman all the way to the Navigator and the Engineer. Most thought they were probably necessary but not on a weekly basis as we were doing them. The CO (Cdr. Ray "Ravin' " Vaughn got PISSED!!!! (Duh) He called a meeting of all Petty Officers and Officers and reamed our asses but good. Said he could understand the seaman's viewpoint, but "To have my fu__ing NAVIGATOR and ENGINEER to say that these are overused and unnecessary?!?!! That really frosts my balls!" (Jim and I hadn't really given any thought to just how few O-4s there were on board). He ranted and raved for close to 30 or 45 minutes while we all squirmed and wished he would just shut up so we could hit the rack. Oh, no, my friends. We had a full out, balls to the wall, all ahead flank 12 HOUR field day, followed by the Zone Inspection from Hell.And that was the last issue of the USS Guardfish Used and Abused Report. Larry Holmes


Just two accounts of Capt. D.A. Oltraver,

I was just a second class Aganger at the time and while Snorkling in port the engine had a major causualty. Two scored cylinders and four melted pistons. The Skipper came to crews mess whirling a very large heat exchanger gasket and said to me..... "the only thing that ever kept me in port was this gasket". We said the engine would be rebuilt in a week and it was. Very good thing I suppose...what would he had done if not.

The second thing which proved that he was the "Fearless Leader" was this. We were conducting weapons exercises, in a place of undisclosed location, and had lauched a practice weapon. As the Torpedo retriever went to recovery the weapon, we had a surprise. A ship of "not so friendly" origin was making way to intercept our exercise fish. Capt. Oltraver was not about to submitt to this and ordered a real fish loaded and trained on the "bad guys". We positioned ourselves so as to protect the exercise fish for the retriever, ever ready for the "bad guys" to make a move. This was the most excitement thing one could have ever expected and he gained the crews utmost respect for which he deserved. God Bless his Soul !!!! A real sea story. Chris Borris


This is a picture of the Guardfish in the yards after the reef encounter. I missed that patrol by two days, so spent the time getting to know the area and the local Wild Life. When the ship returned, I reported aboard very happy and ready to learn! I was told to report "At 08:00 hrs sharp" by the ship YN, and "not to be late!" Who could be late for their first tour of duty? Well I showed up at 07:30 hrs the next morning. Much to my surprise the ship about 50 feet from the pier and heading out to sea! Or at least I thought so. All I could think of was that I had missed ships movement! Court-Martial and prison! My first ship and I missed it! What to do? Ilooked around and saw an officer, went up to him and on the verge of crying,saluted him and stated in quivering voice "I would like to report I havemissed ships movement - SIR". Well he looked around and asked what ship - I told him and he directed me to the back of a pickup truck. It already had four or five people in the back. The jail truck is all I could think of.Off to prison! Anyway it left and took forever to get to the dry dock andthere was the Guardfish! The officer, who was the weapons officer I believe, told me to report to ships office. What a day that was! Stan ICFN(SU)


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Dallas Preston

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