Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Commissioning of USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear-powered ship

On September 30, 1954 USS Nautilus was commissioned on 30 September 1954, under the command of Commander Eugene P. Wilkinson.

In July 1951 the US Congress authorized the construction of a nuclear-powered submarine, which was followed up by an announcement on 12 December 1951 that the submarine would be called Nautilus—the fourth U.S. Navy vessel officially so named.

Construction of Nautilus was made possible by the successful development of a nuclear propulsion plant by a group of scientists and engineers at the Naval Reactors Branch of the Atomic Energy Commission, under the leadership of Captain Hyman G. Rickover, USN.

Nautilus' keel was laid at General Dynamics' Electric Boat Division in Groton, Connecticut by President Harry Truman on June 14, 1952. After nearly 18 months of construction, Nautilus was launched on January 21, 1954 with First Lady Mamie Eisenhower breaking the traditional bottle of champagne across Nautilus' bow as she slid down the ways into the Thames River. Eight months later, on September 30, 1954, Nautilus became the first commissioned nuclear powered ship in the United States Navy.
Nautilus after being launched
On the morning of January 17, 1955, at 11 am EST, Nautilus' first Commanding Officer, Commander Eugene P. Wilkinson, ordered all lines cast off and signaled the memorable and historic message, "Underway On Nuclear Power."

Over the next several years Nautilus was used to investigate the effects of increased submerged speeds and endurance, shattering previous submerged speed and distance records.

On July 23, 1958 Nautilus set a course northward from Pearl Harbor Hawaii. She submerged in the Barrow Sea Valley 1 August and on 3 August, at 2315 (EDST) she became the first ship to reach the geographic North Pole. From the North Pole, she continued on and after 96 hours and 1830 miles under the ice, she surfaced northeast of Greenland, having completed the first successful voyage across the North Pole.
Navigator's Report: Nautilus 90N

In addition to normal deployments, over the next 20 years Nautilus participated in numerous exercises and evaluations to help the U.S. Navy and NATO develop effective ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) techniques and tactics.

In the spring of 1979, Nautilus set out from Groton, Connecticut on her final voyage. She reached Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, California on May 26, 1979 - her last day underway. She was decommissioned on March 3, 1980 after a career spanning 25 years and over half a million miles steamed.

In recognition of her pioneering role in the practical use of nuclear power, Nautilus was designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior on May 20, 1982. Following an extensive historic ship conversion at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Nautilus was towed to Groton, Connecticut arriving on July 6, 1985.

On April 11, 1986, eighty-six years to the day after the birth of the United States Navy Submarine Force, Historic Ship Nautilus, joined by the Submarine Force Museum, opened to the public as the first and finest exhibit of its kind in the world, providing an exciting, visible link between yesterday's Submarine Force and the Submarine Force of tomorrow.
Nautilus at the Submarine Force Museum

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bangor Sub Base Tour

Seattle Base Shipmates,

Dave Niemy, Base Commander of Bremerton USSVI Base would like to invite members of the Seattle Base to join members of Bremerton, Blueback, and South Sound Bases on a tour that he is organizing of the Trident Training Facility and a boat at the Bangor Submarine Base.

The tour date is set for October 26, 2010 and we are planning to meet up around 8:30 at the Keyport Undersea Museum or at Visitor Security Office just outside the main gate.

If you would like to go, you need to contact Dave Niemy or John Mansfield and provide them with your full name and last 4 digits of your Social Security Number. You will also need to provide proof of U.S. citizenship in person just prior to the start of the tour.

Dave is coordinating the number of slots and if there are enough slots available (he can have up to 35) then spouses and/or friends may accompany the SubVet on the tour. The guest must also provide their full name and last four digits of their Social Security Number for security checks when their name is submitted and have proof of citizenship before the tour.

When Dave gets the list together, everyone will be notified of who made it on the list.

So, if you are interested, please contact him with your information at prior to October 11th.

Dave and John both have the security and tour guidance instructions if you need more information. Just let one of us know.

Thank you,

John Mansfield
USSVI WD4 Commander
Seattle Base USSVI Tour Group from December 2008

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Binnacle List Update: Ted Taylor

Pat Householder just sent out an e-mail updating us on Ted Taylor's condition and I wanted to share it here.


As you probably know Ted Taylor has been having health issues this past few months, and been in and out of the hospital for care. The Doctors have finally figured out what is happening, and the news is not good. Ted has cancer and it has spread to multiple sites in his body. Ted started chemo treatments last Monday and they will continue at three week intervals.

Ted has served faithfully as Seattle Base Chief of the Boat these past 10 years, in addition to his duties in various positions in the Lockwood Chapter of SVWWII. Ted and Loma just celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary. Please keep them both in your thoughts and prayers.

I am sure Ted and Loma would appreciate any messages of encouragement and support.

If you would like Ted's address, e-mail, or phone number to send him some well wishes, you can contact me, Dave Schueler, or Base Commander Keith Watson. Just use the link on the right to go to the Seattle Base Home Page and you will find our contact information there. We will be happy to give you Ted's contact information.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Binnacle List: Bill Giese

Base Secretary and Storekeeper Bill Giese was diagnosed with Colon Cancer in May.  He had an operation that removed the part of his Colon with the cancer.  But his Doctors also discovered some of his lymph nodes were cancerous too, so he is now going through Chemotherapy to clear things up.

Bill says "Got to tell you it really kicks the shit out of you!  I will be doing Chemo until December, right before Christmas.  Then I get to recover from the cure.  Should be fun."
Bill at the Tolling ceremony
Please keep Bill in your thoughts and prayers while he goes through his treatments.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

September Meeting Announcement

Hello Shipmates,

This coming Wednesday, Sept. 15th, we will have our meeting at the same time, same place, but we will have a special speaker. His name is Robert Vickery and, as Jay Davis put it last meeting, he will be speaking about a subject that we all will face.

We will also share new information about the newly voted changes that will allow more of our submariners become eligible for membership in the Holland Club.

Also on the agenda, if we have time, we will be showing pictures of the Black Diamond Parade and colored submarines.

Hope to see all of you there.


Keith Watson
Commander Seattle Base USSVI

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Last Torpedo Sinking of World War II

On August 14, 1945 the last torpedo sinking of World War II by a U.S. submarine was carried out by USS Torsk (SS-423).
USS Torsk in Feb 1945 (from US Naval Historical Center)
Unaware that she was beginning her last and most successful day of war, Torsk was patrolling off Amarubi Saki on the morning of August 14, 1945 when she spotted a freighter accompanied by two escort ships and began to pursue the enemy. Plans for the attack had to be quickly modified as the freighter closed on the harbor at Kasumiko and Torsk had to open seaward to avoid entering the harbor. Torsk fired two torpedoes at the freighter, one of which exploded either on a shoal or on the harbor entrance anti-torpedo nets and the other missed the target. Alerted by the explosion, the two escorts moved to find and attack the submarine. Torsk defended herself by firing three torpedoes at the escorts, one at one escort and two at the other, sinking both escorts. As another anti-submarine ship and an airplane came out to continue the attack, Torsk made for deep water.

In this action, Torsk earned the distinction of sinking the last Japanese combatants of World War II, Coastal Defense Vessels No. 13 and No. 47, both Type C class escorts. 
Japanese Type C Escort (from the website)
On August 15, 1945 Torsk received word of the ceasefire. A few days later she returned to Guam, then sailed on to Pearl Harbor, the Panama Canal, and finally to New London.

In the Remarks section of the patrol report, Torsk’s commanding officer, Cdr Bafford Lewellen, wrote:

The TORSK hereby lays claim not only to having sunk the last ship of the war, but to being the only ship to sink two enemy men-of-war on the last day before the final gong. Substantiation of these claims would be appreciated.

This request would later be granted by the Navy.

In addition to this being an interesting historical note, the action by Torsk also has a link to the Seattle Base in that one of our base members, Ervin Schmidt, was on board Torsk during that last attack.

Ervin Schmidt
Ervin is a great guy and has an interesting history. His Naval service reads like an adventure novel where the fictional character is always around important historical events. Ervin’s wartime story begins on December 7, 1941 when, as a crew member of the battleship USS California (BB-44), he witnessed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. When the crew of the damaged battleship was doled out to other ships, Ervin ended up on the heavy cruiser USS Chicago (CA-29). While on Chicago, Ervin took part in the Battle of Coral Sea, the invasion of Guadalcanal, the Battle of Savo Island, and the Battle of Rennell Island, where Chicago was sunk by Japanese torpedo bombers. After that Ervin transferred to USS Saury (SS-189), making 4 war patrols on the sub. He was then rotated back to the US becoming a plankowner on USS Torsk and participated in the final U.S. submarine attack of World War II.
RM1 Ervin Schmidt (left) playing the guitar as Torsk returns from the second war patrol (from
While Ervin wasn’t at the official surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay, which would have been fitting, he was present at the first and last combat actions of the war, putting him in a pretty rare and historic group of people.

Binnacle List Update: Ted Taylor

Ted Taylor’s wife Loma recently sent out the following message updating us on Ted’s current condition:
Ted Taylor at the recent Tolling Ceremony

I know some of you know that Ted has been ill this summer, but maybe you didn't know the reason. This has been going on for a couple of years now, but I couldn't figure out what was happening. He just was not functioning like the old Ted!

We have figured out what may be the problem, so I thought I would explain it to all of you at one time.

It seems his problem is caused by a LOW SODIUM condition. Ted has always been such a very "bright" man, having things already planned before I started to think of what needed doing! When his sodium is low, his thinking is so slow and it is such a struggle for him. When his sodium goes up, he is really on the ball again! But right now it stays low more often than normal. He cannot drive as he might go too low again and have seizures or pass out.

In June Ted’s sodium level dropped to 110 and the doctors are not sure how he came through that episode without going into a coma, having massive brain damage, or dying.

But Ted is very strong willed and very positive! I had never heard about low sodium problems and what it does until this took place. When it gets low, the brain gets fuzzy and you cannot think straight, although you believe you are on top of everything! It's scary to watch it happen to someone. Ted thought he was in control and now he doesn't even remember what was happening to him.

They tell me that many seniors die not knowing what has happened to them.

The Emergency Room doctor found a shadow in Ted’s upper right lung and many small spots throughout his lungs. Another doctor told us that the tumor is most likely what has been causing Ted’s sodium to go crazy! A biopsy is set for Monday, September 13th and a Petscan is planned but not scheduled yet (but will be soon). Ted has a lot of problems! The brain scan showed some scars, but NOT Alzheimer’s, which is good news.

2010 USSVI Election Results and Awards

Here are the election results and a list of the National Awards winners as announced at the USSVI Convention.

USSVI Election Results:
National Commander: T Michael Bircumshaw
Senior Vice Commander: Jon Jaques
Junior Vice Commander: Al Singleman
Secretary: Tom Conlon
Treasurer: John Markiewicz
NE Region: Paul Orstad
SE Region: Bill Andrea
Central Region: Wayne Standerfer
Western Region: Jim Dunn
Proposed Amendments: all passed
Note: The 2013 Convention will be held in Rochester, MN. Starting in 2014, the conventions will be held in the even numbered years.

USSVI Awards:
Joe Negri "Shipmate of the Year" Award:
Gilbert ‘Gil’ P. Shaddock – Snug Harbor Base

Robert Link "National Commander Commendation" Awards:
James Irwin – Albany/Saratoga Base
Thomas M. Bowser – Mobile Bay Base
Lance Dean – Lockwood Internet Base
Leonard Stefanelli – Mare Island Base
John Clear – Olympic Peninsula Base
John Dudas – USS Gudgeon Base
Frederick ‘Fred‘ W. Borgmann - Bremerton Base
Robert Dromerhauser – Buffalo Base

Meritorious Award:
Base - USS Florida Base
Individual – Edgar T. Brooks - USS Gudgeon Base

District Commander of the Year Award:
Dick Kanning - Tarheel Base

Ben Bastura Award:
Charles R. Hinman - Bowfin Base

Golden Anchor Award:
Class One - Razorback Base
Class Two - Sea Dragon Base
Class Three – Central Texas Base

Silver Anchor Award:
Glenn E. Harris – Carolina Piedmont Base
Robert G. Medearis – West Tennessee Base

Newsletter of the Year Awards
Class One (Large) Newsletter of the Year:
Winner: Boat Notes - Groton Base
First Runner-Up: All Clear -- Tarheel Base
Second Runner-Up: Up Scope -- Dallas Base

Class Two (Medium) Newsletter of the Year:
Winner: Sea Poacher Base – Sea Poacher Base
First Runner-Up: The Straight Skinny – USS Chicago Base
Second Runner-Up: The Fast Cruise – Cincinnati Base

Class Three (Small) Newsletter of the Year:
Winner: The Dive Log – Trieste Base
First Runner-Up: Blow & Go – First Coast Base
Second Runner-Up: Dive-Dive – South Florida Base

Congratulations to  all the winners!

You can see all the award descriptions and winners on the USSVI National Website.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

South Sound Base Meeting Invitation

South Sound Base in Tacoma will be welcoming home shipmate Dave Gordon, Chief Journalist(SS), at our next meeting on September 9th. Dave has just returned from a year-long tour in Afghanistan and will be doing a presentation with photos he took while on duty there. Additionally, South Sound Base will be celebrating the start of its 9th year as a USSVI Base.

Dave Gordon

We will have a spaghetti feed starting at 6 p.m. and the meeting starts at 7 p.m. The dinner cost is $6.00 per person and includes spaghetti, salad, and dinner roll. Drinks can be purchased at the bar. We will also have a cake welcoming Dave home and celebrating our anniversary.

If you are planning on attending the dinner and meeting, please RSVP to John Mansfield (253) 202-6433 cell or (360) 569-0507 home, or as soon as you can.

South Sound Base meets at VFW Post 969, located at 3510 E. McKinley Ave., Tacoma, WA 98424

If you have any questions, please contact John Mansfield.

John Mansfield
South Sound Base PAO and WD4 Commander

Editor's Note: Dave Gordon is also a member of Seattle Base and gave us a presentation on the relief efforts for the tsunami in Thailand in 2005 that he helped document for the Navy. Welcome home Dave.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September - October Issue of The Dolphin Brotherhood is posted

The September-October 2010 issue of the Dolphin Brotherhood has been posted on the Seattle Base website.

This issue has pictures from the Kirkland Independence Day parade and Tolling ceremony (most of which you've seen here on the blog), along with the usual base news/events and other submarine related articles.

Ralph Sterly, Ervin Schmidt, Tom Rice, Fred Ensslin, and Adm Horton Smith at the Tolling ceremony

You can click the link to the right of just click here for a direct link to the newsletter.

Hardcopies should go out in the mail in a couple of days. I hope you all enjoy it.

Don't forget to check back here for base news updates and other articles.

Dave Schueler
USSVI Seattle Base Newsletter Editor