Saturday, May 23, 2009

Curious Submarine Notes

The following curiosities are occasioned by today's 70th anniversary of the
well-documented USS Squalus (SS-192) tragedy, which killed 26 in 1939.
During post-commissioning sea trials a fouled main induction valve caused the Squalus to sink to a shallow ocean bottom of 40 fathoms.

* The tragedy was apparently exploited for profit by a civilian worker at the Portsmouth, NH Navy Yard where the recovered sub was being inspected and repaired.

* Squalus's CO, 35-year-old Lt. Oliver F. Naquin, was among the final 8 men rescued on the FOURTH DESCENT of the McCann Rescue Chamber.

* Several of the Squalus survivors would serve aboard SS-192 again in war patrols. Lt. Naquin, the sub's first CO, would never serve on a submarine again. Submariners will instinctively know the reason.

Naquin who had been born in New Orleans would go on to guide the heavy cruiser New Orleans to an American base for repairs in 1942. He was awarded the Bronze Star for this after the cruiser was struck by a Japanese torpedo, blowing off 120 feet of the bow. Naquin fared better in the Navy than this Captain who would later commanded the battleship Louisiana.

* Oddly, the decommissioned Squalus was recommissioned as USS Sailfish and went on to survive 12 war patrols during the Second World War. Of Squalus-Sailfish's 9 sister submarines (Sargo class), 3 would be sunk and 1 heavily damaged in Pacific war patrols. Of these casualties, USS Swordfish (SS-193) was sunk on her 13th war patrol, and USS Seawolf (SS-197) was sunk in error (all hands lost) on her 15th war patrol by USS Rowell.

We hope readers have found the selected tidbits above interesting. They were collected while researching whether or not submariners are a superstitious lot. We have always been of a firm belief that submariners are, by necessity, control freaks (during his presidency ex-submariner Jimmy Carter was often accused of being a micromanager). People who focus extensively on important details while chaos occurs around them are hardly superstitious folk.

As we find after the first two Seawolf boats (SS-28 and SS-197) were lost, two more subs were later named Seawolf. Hmmm!

And while Squalus was oddly recommissioned as Sailfish, the hull's history could not deter survivors serving war patrols in her belly. Capt. Naquin, too, would later have the battleship California, sunk beneath his feet sunk in Japan's 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

Opinions vary slighlty, however, but we interpret this submariner's opinion with the humor it obviously exudes:

ETC(SS) said...
Maybe its just me but I don't think I would want to sail on her. Call it a sailors superstition but sailing on SF would give me the willies. Then again, what do I know...I sailed on SSN 666 and felt safe as could be... 4/09/2009 7:32 PM

Need more? Try here, or here.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



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