Saturday, July 31, 2010

New Book Tells True Stories of Navy Enlisted Submariners on Patrol in the Pacific during WW II

With this post I wanted to pass along some information about a new book on submariners during World War II.

If you like the short description given here, be sure to click on the linked book title for more about the book and where to buy it.

I'm hoping to bring more information about submarine related books and reviews to the blog.

Dave Schueler
Seattle USSVI Base Newsletter Editor

More than 3,500 men, more than 23 percent of the American submarine force, never returned from their World War II missions. Their submarines had few crew comforts, and duty on “the boats” was one of the most statistically deadly, physically demanding and emotionally challenging assignments for those serving in the U.S. Navy. War patrols were so exhausting that submarine sailors were often given a month of rest after each 30- to 60-day patrol. With all the hardships, one might think the Navy would have trouble finding recruits. However, the men worked long, trained hard, and used their wits to fight for a coveted place on the front line of the Pacific war.

The Men: American Enlisted Submariners in World War II recounts the real story of these undersea warriors, told by the men who lived it. The author’s interviews with submarine veterans allow these unique and important stories to be told from first-hand reports. Descriptions of depth charge attacks, crew activities and traditions, and even capture by the enemy add thrilling details to this rich historical account. Never before published photographs and informative charts provide a unique glimpse into the conditions faced by these brave enlisted men. Readers will be hooked by this fascinating examination of the men who lived, fought and died on the front lines of World War II’s Pacific submarine war.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

USSVI National Elections Reminder

Hey Shipmates,

I really need your help with your USSVI vote. Only 14 of us have voted so far!  

Please take some time to make your voice heard. The process of voting on line is very streamlined.  Just go on line and log in at and then click on the ELECTION 2010 button (just below Member Login). The men running have devoted a lot of time and effort to the USSVI and would really appreciate your support and so would I. 

There are also some important potential revisions to our national constitution and bylaws under consideration which many of our shipmates have devoted time and energy to bring before you.

Please take some time to vote as soon as possible.  

If you can't vote online or it you know a shipmate that can't vote online, you can download and print out a paper ballot by clicking: USSVI Paper Ballot.

This completed ballot must then be mailed to the National Election master, who will enter the information into the online voting system for the voter. (The system only allows one ballot per member, whatever the source)
John Peters Election Master
P.O. BOX 2911
AIEA, HI 96701- 8411

The closing date for submitting votes is August 24, 201.


Keith Watson
Commander Seattle Base USSVI 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Inside the World's Most Advanced Submarine

Many of you will have seen links to the recent article about a visit to USS North Carolina (SSN-777) by CNET News staff writer Daniel Terdiman. I wanted to post a few pictures from the article, along with some excerpts from the article.

If you haven't had a chance to read the whole article, you can see it (along with more pictures and some videos) at Daniel Terdiman's Geek Gestalt blog on the CNET website. You can also see a slightly different version on the Australian ZDNet website.

I hope you enjoy the pictures, I've included the captions from the article, with some of my comments in parenthesis.

Dave Schueler
USSVI Seattle Base Newsletter Editor

Welcome aboard USS North Carolina.

"Seen here is a zoomed in image of the classic submarine Nautilus, at the museum that is adjacent to the New London Submarine Base. The Nautilus is a full mile away from the North Carolina, meaning that the image on this screen--which is very crisp--is extremely magnified.
In the lower right quadrant of the screen, the slim wedge represents how much of the 360- degree view from the North Carolina the periscope is looking at. The more zoomed the image, the narrower the wedge."

"This is a view of the pilots' station, with two seats and a full set of controls for the pilot and the co-pilot."

"This screen showcases all the digital trim controls, those that are used to bring the submarine down or up in the water, based on how much air is in the ballast tank." (This isn't quite the old BCP I was used to.)

"Commander Schlauder (North Carolina's Commanding Officer) looks at two of the North Carolina's weapons, a Mark 48 torpedo (left) and a Tomahawk missile (in the sheath on the right), which are being held in cradles. The submarine can carry as many as a dozen torpedoes at any time (officially, the Virgina class can carry up to 26 weapons in the torpedo room, in addition to the 12 Tomahawk missiles carried in vertical launch tubes), but if necessary, the torpedo room can be largely cleared out--it is mostly modular--and a Special Forces crew of as many as 36 can be housed here."

"Most of the crew stay in six bunk rooms, and up to eight crew members can share those rooms." (I haven't seen the berthing on a Virginia class sub, but I think there are at least 12 bunks in this picture.)

"The crew's mess on the North Carolina. Each table in the mess is adorned with sports homages to one of the five major North Carolina universities."

"This is the North Carolina's diesel engine, which is an emergency generator of power if the nuclear reactor stops working and the battery banks aren't producing enough power as backup."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

July Meeting Announcement

Hi Shipmates,

I hope you are enjoying our Summer. We are having our monthly meeting this coming Wednesday, July 21st. In addition to our normal business meeting, we will be looking at pictures of the 4th of July Parade. It was quite a turn out and very well attended by our shipmates. Thanks to all of you who helped make it a success.

I'm looking forward to seeing you next Wednesday.

Keith Watson

Commander Seattle Base USSVI

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A New History Blog and a Little History

Earlier this year the U.S Naval Institute and the Naval History & Heritage Command joined together to create the Naval History Blog. The blog is designed as a place to honor our naval heritage, explore its unresolved debates, uncover new information, and respectfully stimulate an honest, thoughtful discussion. It is also meant to be a meeting place where renowned scholars and self-taught history buffs linger and share ideas and perspective on naval events that shape nations.

I've added a link to the blog in the list on the right, you may want to bookmark it and check it out every now and then.

And speaking of history, here is a little WWII history that involves the the Pacific Northwest.

Up in the Sky - it's a bird, it's a plane; No, it's a Japanese submariner!

Throughout World War II, the Japanese Admiralty clung tenaciously to the desire to attack the continental United States. When the opportunity did present itself, of course, the responsibility for the attack fell to the Japanese submarine force.

At the start of the war, eleven Japanese submarines were outfitted with deck hangers, designed to carry one single-engine, catapult-launched, two-man floatplane; the Yokosuka E14Y (code named Glen by the Allies). The Japanese nicknamed these aircraft the ‘Geta’ because of the resemblance of their floats to a common Japanese clog-like shoe of the same name. The Geta had a top air speed of only about 150 knots and was capable of staying in the air for a little over 3 hours. These small planes were stored for transport in 12 separate pieces and assembled just prior to launch. Recovery took place when the aircraft returned to the mother ship, landing nearby on its floats, was pulled aboard by crane and then disassembled and re-stowed.

A Yokosuka E14Y 'Glen' in flight

While originally designed to assist the host submarine in long range recon missions for the fleet, a resourceful submariner-pilot eventually concluded that by attaching a few bombs to the aircraft, the Geta might be put to a more lethal use. This idea is attributed to Warrant Officer Nubuo Fujita who was then stationed aboard the Japanese submarine I-25. While Fujita's original idea was to arm the Geta for use in assisting attacks upon the U.S. surface ships in fleet actions (he believed that by doing this he could not only find the ships but attack them as well), when the Japanese Admiralty got wind of the idea, they had a grander mission in mind.

Briefed by no less than Prince Takamatsu, the Emperor's brother, Fujita was instructed to test his theory's effectiveness on the American mainland itself! However daring this mission would be, it quickly became one of strategic convolution - rather than a direct attack on one of the many targets of significance along the U.S. west coast, the orders given to Fujita were to drop his bombs in one of the forests in the Pacific Northwest!

The reason for the Japanese decision was recorded as ‘Rather than inflicting limited damage on industrial targets, since the northwestern U.S. is full of forests, we will start a blaze in the deep woods. The resulting forest fire will be very difficult to stop. Whole towns will be destroyed, creating panic in the population.'

After many months of training and fitting out the Geta with incendiary bombs, I-25 began its slow transit of the Pacific, arriving off the coast of Oregon in late August 1942. Ten days were spent on station by the anxious crew with seas too high to launch the floatplane. Finally, it calmed sufficiently to execute the mission. On 9 September, 1942, Warrant Officer Fujita and his observer, Petty Officer Shoji Okuda boarded their Geta and set off for the forests of Oregon.

The Japanese Submarine I-25

Flying 50 miles inland, completely undetected, Fujita and Okuda became the first and only Japanese aircraft to successfully bomb the continental U.S. during World War II. They returned safely to I-25 to report that both bombs exploded perfectly and two large fires were burning. However, what Japanese intelligence either did not know or failed to account for was that the target area in Oregon had been saturated with several weeks of recent rains and the fires quickly burned themselves out with negligible damage to the forests. No towns were destroyed and, for the most part, the attack went unnoticed. However, the U.S. government did learn about the attack, but kept the bombing secret until after that war.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Independence Day Parade Recap

There was a good turnout of submarine veterans, including the Silent Service Motorcycle Club, at the Kirkland 4th of July Parade on Sunday. Once again, Kirkland did a wonderful job of welcoming active duty military personnel and veterans. Before the parade the city provided snacks, pizza, and water for us and each veteran was given a carnation boutonniere.

The weather was cloudy and cool, but there was no rain and the temperature made it comfortable for marching along the parade route. Even with the cloudy weather, there was a good turnout of people lining the parade route and they gave us a warm welcome as we made our way through the city streets.

We were even able to do a little recruiting, finding several submarine veterans that didn't know about our organization. Overall it was a good day and a fun experience.