Posted by Lex, on May 18, 2008
It is one of the more poignant images from the Silent Service’s Cold War days: Dozens of families huddled on a Norfolk pier in foul weather, waiting for their husbands and fathers to return from patrol aboard the USS Scorpion, a Skipjack-class attack submarine:
The 1 p.m. arrival time came and went. Eventually, the commander of a sub tender moored nearby invited the cold, wet families to wait aboard his ship.
Hours later, with no sign of the submarine, the worried families headed home.
Later that night, televisions across the U.S. broke news that broke hearts in Norfolk: The Scorpion was missing.
Yesterday, I took my nephew to see Alcatraz Island. I really don’t like to go into San Francisco unless I have to – parking alone was $30 – with surly attendants at no extra charge – but there are some interesting things to see at Fisherman’s Wharf, besides the boat that leaves for “The Rock”.
About a 20 minute walk from that embarkation point was the restored Liberty Ship Jeremiah O’Brien and the WW2 Sub USS PAMPANITO (SS-383).
This was a quick tour as we had to get back but I thought you would like to see these photos taken as I toured the boat.
One things really impressed me about this – the tight spaces – there wasn’t even a shower – and 75 man crew crammed into this tube for 70 days at a time.
Yet some years ago, when I was in Chicago I toured one of the few captured German U-Boats – and the Pompanito looked like a limo compared with the U-Boat.
The silent service has always been all volunteer, and claustrophobics need not apply.
We’ll start at the access hatch towards the stern and work our way out to the hatch near the bow.
Welcome aboard. Continue reading
I’m currently reading Theodore Roscoe’s United States Submarine Operations In World War 2. This particular edition was probably a first edition published in 1949(!) by the United States Naval Institute Press. It’s even looks like it was published in 1949:
From the preface:
This volume is not the official operational history. Strictly speaking, it is not a history, nor is it to be studied as such. Herein, in the narrative form, the reader will the inspiring saga of submarining. For the student, the technical side is featured. And many aspects of submarine warfare which would ordinarily be excluded from a purely historical text are detailed and discussed.
It’s in my care for now, on loan from the Pritzker Military Library. I wanted to see if there are historical parallels between the sub campaign in the pacific to seeing how reasonable it would be to use SSNs/SSKs to contain the PLAN within the first island chain.
Going through the first chapter I found this enclosed in the book:
It’s an unknown newspaper clipping detailing the moorings of Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941 at 7:55am.
The other side of the clipping features an ad for a book called “Home Before Dark” by Eileen Bassing. According to a quick Google search it was first published in 1957.
That leads me to believe the map and newspaper were published in 1957.
The map itself is very interesting as it details most of the ships in port and even tells I what some witnesses were doing moments before the attack.
Even more unusual, the paper left a stain on the page which makes me believe maybe it hasn’t been seen since 1957. Who knows.
Anyway, this is a treasure map and maybe, if the reader know more than I, of some historical significance.
Just amazing…you never know what you’re going to in and on these books.
Ave atque vale
Originally published August 29, 2007.
(Note: As the case with many of Lex’s older posts, one or more of his embedded links to news sources may no longer work).
The Thing About Subs
Originally published August 4, 2009.