Friday, October 21, 2005

Submarines - Always Silent and Strange

Qualified submariners know "Christmas Tree" as the lighted display of valve and hatch riggings. One Cold War submarine also claimed a Sequoia (Redwood) tree to commemorate its keel laying. In 1956, three admirals and a captain planted the tree (how many would it take to decorate it?) for construction of Mare Island's first nuclear submarine. The sapling grew to become the Shipyard's Christmas tree from the 1980s until the yard closed in 1996. (US Navy tree photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker) Could it still be there?

SARGO SSN-583 , the third SKATE - class nuclear attack submarine, received four Navy Unit Commendations in addition to a Meritorious Unit Commendation during 30 years of operations. One of its crew, MM3 (SS) James Smallwood, was posthumously awarded the Navy and Marine Corp Medal for heroic action during an oxygen explosion and fire that occurred innocently in 1960.

In 1965, Sargo collided with USS BARB (SSN 596) during local ops. In 1969, Sargo sank the USS STERLET (SS-392), off of Oahu, during torpedo testing.


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