Category Archives: Submarines

Ave atque vale

By lex, on August 29th, 2007

What do we say when a lion of the service crosses the brow ** for the last time? When a medal of honor winner who sunk 29 Japanese ships from his submarine crosses into the clearing at the end of the path? A submarine CO with four Navy Crosses who – not restricted either in his imagination or by his natural element – sent a raiding party ashore to the Japanese coast in order to blow up a troop train?

The nicknames of Rear Adm. Eugene B. Fluckey — “The Galloping Ghost of the China Coast” and “Lucky Fluckey” — meant to bring a little levity to the exploits of one of the most decorated sailors in history.

But as loved ones and shipmates approached an urn on display under the vast dome of the Naval Academy chapel yesterday to say a few words, many stopped in awe, bowing slightly as a last homage to the man who sank 29 Japanese ships as a submarine commander in the Pacific on his way to receiving the Medal of Honor and four Navy Crosses.

About 250 people gathered to pay their respects to Fluckey — an Annapolis resident who died June 28 at the age of 93 — including members of Congress, past Navy luminaries, top academy officials and 10 men who served under him.

We who stand in awe of his accomplishments cannot be grieved when someone of his stature is taken from us in the fullness of time, but rather grateful that such men walked ever among us when we needed them.

So we say, “Hail, farewell and godspeed.”

** 08-14-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.

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New Sub

Posted by lex, on August 9th, 2011

Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding has delivered the future USS California to the Navy for commissioning over eight months ahead of schedule, according to the UPI:

“The quality and professionalism of our Navy/shipbuilding team is evident in California’s outstanding performance during its recent sea trials and early delivery,” said Program Executive Officer for Submarines Rear Adm. David Johnson.

California required 65 months to build. It is the eighth Virginia-class submarine and is the first delivered under the HII–NNS banner, the company said.

The next major event for California will be its commissioning Oct. 29 in Norfolk, Va.

California’s commissioning is the second-to-last major acquisition milestone for the Virginia-class program in 2011.

Unlike her namesake, the California will only spend part of her time under water.


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Losing the Scorpion

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.

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Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Lex, Naval History, Neptunus Lex, Submarines

Tour of a WW2 Sub


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


Filed under Naval History, Navy, Submarines

Treasure Map

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.


Filed under Books, Navy, Sea Stories, Shipmates, Ships and the Sea, Submarines, Uncategorized

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).



by | August 29, 2012 · 3:25 am

The Thing About Subs

Originally published August 4, 2009.


by | August 4, 2012 · 4:13 am