USS John C. Calhoun (SSBN 630) Veterans Association
Sea Stories
 
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OK Shipmates - Here's your space to relate all of those stories you've been telling all these years!  Eventhough most "Sea Stories" usually begin with the phrase "This is a no - shi---er", please leave out all the expletives so we don't have to shield young eyes from our site.  Please tell us of your favorite times, great stories, liberty exploits, or whatever floats your boat.  If you need more space, just submit a second time and our webmaster will combine them for you.   Edit Text

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Ray Lough (ST 65-69 Blue)  Sea Story                        

On one of those delightful "northern patrols" I had the Sonar Supvr watch. Cdr Stacey 'wandered' into the sonar shack and put on a headset and commenced to track a contact. When asked what it was I reported the contact as a merchant vessel. The Cdr. disagreed and insisted that it was a warship! After 'trying' to explain the differences Cdr Stacey was insistent that we had a warship bearing down. I asked him if he was relieving me of the watch. His reply was to "get the COB (A.J.Lord) out of the 'rack' to classify the contact. After a few minutes poor COB listened to the contact and looked at our 'other' devices for classification and confirmed my call. Cdr. Stacey wasn't satified with that so he got Don Harrison out of the rack since he was our SOSUS expert. Don confirmed what the COB and I thought. Still not satified Cdr Stacey called for a periscope verification of the contact.

We came to periscope depth and looked at the contact.

It was the QEII on her maiden voyage from London. After leaving the Conn Stacey never came in the 'Shack' again while I had the watch. You can bet I walked softly the rest of my time on Calhoun!

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Rockie Graziano, (RM1 63-66 Gold) Sea Story:

Everyone remembers the floating wire.  About a 1000 feet of this cable was reeled out through water tight fitting.  This floating antenna was our main source of receiving communications while on patrol.  Every once in awhile we would lose a section of wire.  Usually cut by the boat's propeller.  This loss of cable length would affect communications and had to be repaired immediately.  This reel of wire, the fitting and all connections were located in the boat's sail. Someone had to go up into the sail and make the necessary repairs.

This was radio's equipment. Being a radioman I had gone up into the sail to make repairs a few times.  The first time I went up by myself.  The second time it was decided to also send an EN up.  I knew the basics of the wire, the connections, and how to feed the cable out or reel it in. The EN would have more experience with the mechanical equipment if something happened.

Max got the call. This was Max's first time doing this. We went up into the sail. A tight fit for two people. I positioned myself by the reel and Max had to climb up the ladder leading to the top of the sail. A short ways up just so we fit better. Once we were in position the hatch leading down into the control room was pulled down and secured by someone below. Now this wasn't my favorite place to be. It did[n't] seem to be Max's favorite either.

Our conversation went something like this. " I don't like this" Max said a few times.  "why do they have to close the hatch" Even being a little nervous myself he had me laughing.  I figured I would have some fun with Max. "Just in case it floods in here" I answered.

I started to reel in the floating wire and Max said "wait" "what keeps the water from coming in after the wire is pulled in" I said "you do" "I don't like this"

We would talk about that time at the reunions and have a laugh.  When the reunion was over we would hug. "I love you Max"
"I love you Rock"  "See you at the next reunion".

I will miss seeing Max. But I will smile when I think of him On the next patrol, when I am asked to go up and repair the wire, sorry Max, I'm going to insist you come with me.




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Bill Sutton (ETN3 72-75 Blue)

I cannot remember if it was my first patrol, the 75 day one from Charleston to Holy Loch, or my second patrol.  I do know it was the final patrol for Captain Thomas Jewell.
During the patrol some pretty nice stuff was raffled off and on this patrol it was a Rolex Submariner that got everyones attention, especially Captain Jewell's.  Whoever was in charge of the raffles enjoyed creating maximum suspense and held off on the Rolex until hump night.  My department chief, affectionately known as the Buddha, held the winning ticket instantly becoming the most hated man on the boat.
Nobody was more disappointed than the Captain who did not seem to mind showing all his ass.  His behavior worsened exponentially when it was discovered that  several tickets had fallen out of the hat prior to the drawing.  One happened to be the old man's.
This information did not come to light until days later after the watch had been presented.  There was considerable discussion as to what should be done and a final decision was slow in coming. I was not privy to all the details, but it looked like Buddha was going to get to keep the watch.
Apparently the old man made life miserable for more that a few of the crew after that and there was not much they could do about it, or so I thought.
Life on board was boring hours punctuated by drills, especially engineering drills.  Then, one day close to the end of the cruise, a frantic voice came over the 1MC; CAPTAIN TO THE CON-CAPTAIN TO THE CON!
Cold chills ran up my spine as I jumped out of my chair in NAV.  The con was rigged for red and we were white.  I frantically turned off lights so I could open the door to the con.  Then I heard the XO's a cool emotionless voice as he repeated the conning officers frantic call; Captain to the con, Captain to the con.
I headed out the aft door of navigation and forward to control, and then I saw him, naked except for a towel he was trying to hold around his waist, covered in soap and slipping and sliding down the passageway  from the captains state room towards the con.  I think, this looks serious.  Maybe I should get back to my duty station and I did.
What seemed to be an inordinate time went by.  No general alarm, no more announcements, but the air was electric.

"Captain, on behalf of the officers and crew, and in sincere appreciation of the leadership you have given all of us during you time as Commander of the USS John C. Calhoun blue crew, I am pleased to present you this gift, one that we all know you will appreciate greatly"

This presentation by the XO over the 1MC was followed by silence on the con and throughout the ship.
Those who had been in the know were having a hard time holding back.  The rest of us realized pretty quickly what was going on.  We would have been rolling on the deck, but we didn't know how the captain was going to react.  Finally we heard the old man's low tense voice. He sounded like he was talking through clenched teeth.  He thanked the crew in 2 short sentences and was off.
The crew had taken up a collection to buy the watch from Buddha.  A small group of officers and stewards had conspired to get the timing down.
It was perfect.  The best "rig" ever.

Al Gould (MM 66-72 Gold) Sea Story

Jon Fader (MT 64-69 Gold) "Sea Story"


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Here's where you'll find the start of the seafaring tales!  Simply scroll down the page to see the stories. 

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Gerald Stine (QMSN 68-68 Gold) Sea Story

I was on the fairwater planes and having normal conversation with everyone else on duty. For some reason the talk turned to my beard. I've never had a heavy beard, and in boot camp I could go 2 or three days without shaving. Well, the Officer of the deck made the comment that my beard was sorry looking. Watching my gauges and not turning to look at him I commented, "It's not any worse than the Captain's."
Just then the Captain walked past heading forward. About 15 minutes later he returned, clean shaven, stopped put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Stine, if I were you, right after watch, I would go shave."
I did!

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Jerry Tierney (ST 64-67 Blue) Sea Story:

Bill Hylers e-mail containing The Thanksgiving Menu of the blue crew in 1966 brougt back to me ,another memory of that 4th blue crew patrol.
How many that made that patrol recall listening to what is now referred to as the imfamous tie between The Universty of Notre Dame and Michigan State University Football Teams in November of 1966.We stayed at periscope depth and received it on The Armed Forces Network. It was great practice for the diving team! Capt. Connally was a big college sports fan.
The following Saturday it was Army VS Navy.We arrived in Charleston a couple of days before Christmas and turned the boat over to the Gold crew on Christmas Eve. I have many fun memories ofmy days aboard The Calhoun, many happy, a couple sad. Hope to hear some sea stories from my shipmates.
Jerry

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Jim Magin (MM 65-70 Gold) Sea Story:

One Mid Watch on a cold Arctic Patrol I was making a steady 33 turns at the SPCP when Capt. Frank wandered aft to visit his favorite space - Maneuvering Room.

Seizing the opportunity, after he had been hanging around for awhile, I asked if he would relieve me so I could make a trip to the head. Accepting the EOOW's permission to be relieved, I journeyed to the ULAMR2 head. Relieved, I took my time to return. It was a slow night. After a visit with Chief Sherman hanging out at the ULAMR2 workbench I returned to the back side of the SPCP. Earlier, we had stowed a coil of 1/4" tygon tubing (for use by the ELT's, of course)with one of its ends strategically placed under one of the gauges on the vertical section of the board. The gauge was directly in view of the Throttles operator.

Enjoying one last puff of a Lucky Strike, I wafted my exhale into the other end of the tube, slowly releasing the smoke under the gauge and billowing out and upward over the front of the gauges.

Being the ever alert and excellent watch relief that he was, the Skipper loudly announced "Fire in the Steam Plant Gaugeboard!" The EOOW dutifully repeated the alert over the 2MC and summoned me to return immediately to my station. The smoke dissipated, the drill was announced over, and, as he clamped my right hand to the forward throttle wheel with his huge fist, with pressure I'll always remember, the Skipper announced, "Magin has the throttles - PERMANENTLY".

During my final SS quals, conducting his review, he asked me to list all the sources of potential fire in the vertical section of the SPCP.

What a Leader and friend to all his Gold Crew Capt. Frank Thurtell was!

 

 

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Gary Christensen (ETCM 71-73 Blue) Sea Story:

Coming into the Firth on our way to the Loch on one of those days you pray the RADAR doesn't die--fog so thick you can't see more than a few feet--and it does. I had worked on this RADAR for many years and within minutes I knew one or both of the 4PR-60's had gone bad, they were the electron tubes that made the thing work or not work. I told the captain that the problem was found, but we couldn't fix it as we had no more spares aboard. He said, "Chief, I order you to fix the RADAR." I told him, "It won't work without those tubes." He said, "Well do something, anything, make it work." I went over to the scope console and laid my hands on it and said, "Heal, Heal." The captain was not impressed and told me to go to the Chief's Quarters. He did not have much of a sense of humor that day--can't say that I blamed him, I wasn't having such a good day myself.

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Joe Shook (Lil' Joe) (MT2 64-67 Gold)

Here's one from Pre-Comm in Newport News while we were tied up alongside three other boomers and USS America CV-66:

I was walking off the pier headed for one of the shops there in the shipyard when a little red sportscar came flying through the gate and pulled into the rather limited parking area there at the head of our pier.  Between myself and the parking lot, LCDR Bush, our Gold crew XO, and another officer were also walking, and I recall overhearing him say "I just know this is one of mine!"  Well, unfolding out of the car to greet the startled gate guards who were in hot pursuit, was our new doctor, one LT (MC) Jonathon Weisbuch!

Mr. Bush got to him about the same time as the gate guards, accepting responsibility for him, his actions, and possibly adding to Doc Weisbuch's nonchalant air that everything was A-OK.  I could sorta make out the different insignia the doctor had adorned his brand new khaki uniform with and they were not standard for a Medical Corps Lieutenant (more ammo for the XO).  So, the XO (and I can vouch for this from personal experience) began disassembling this new Lieutenant's pride, sense of self-worth, and just about everything else he could, right there in that parking lot.  What a way to report and be welcomed aboard!!

I, sad to say, continued on my way to the shops, so I can not factually attest to anything else that might have transpired there, however, I do know that the LCDR Bush and Doc Weisbuch had an ongoing Love-Hate relationship from that time forward...in a friendly manner of course.

They were both tremendous shipmates, as well as keystone members in our highly efficient and fantastic crew, and I sincerely enjoyed serving with both of them.  I have some more tales from when I was training Doc Weisbuch as Chief of the Watch and Diving Officer.  But, I'll save those for the next reunion!  Hopefully, Mr. Bush and the Doc will both be there to enjoy and "substantiate" them as well.


 

 

Steve Christenson, (STS3 70-72 Blue) Sea Story:

It was a Saturday morning, maybe the 2nd Blue crew patrol after the Poseidon conversion. We were in field day mode and steaming back to the Loch. David Becker (Johnny Eagle), Doc Wheeler and I were on watch in Sonar. We were south of The Gap, running at less than 200' on a sunny, relatively calm day. We had received an intelligence report that one of the bad guy's flat-topped helicopter transports was coming south thru The Gap. Sonar was kind of like magic, cause you classified contacts by nature of sound and had no way for sure to know if you were correct unless you took a peek. Suddenly I heard something, it was getting louder and sounded just like a helicopter. Becker and Doc both agreed it sounded like a helicopter so we reported it to the Conn. "You hear a what?" was kind of the attitude. After a few minutes the sound faded away, only to come back a little later. The helicopter seemed to hover near us for several minutes and then fade away. This happened several more times in the next couple of hours.

Finally as the helicopter sound was fading away for the last time, we went to periscope depth to take a look. Nothing was seen thru the scope and another questionable report from Sonar probably was chuckled about during lunch in the Wardroom. We sent a tape we made of the helicopter to the Sonar Technical Information Center in DC and several weeks later received word back that it was indeed one of the bad guy's helicopters. Years later at a USSVI event I told this story to an old salt and he wondered if they had seen the floating wire.