Friday, May 04, 2007

Sterlet Crew Enjoying Hawaiian Sunshine

Any help with names would be appreciated. I believe the two on the right end are Whalen and Goetz. Email me if you can add some info. Thanks.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Letter from the Commanding Officer

The following is a copy of a mimeographed letter sent from the Captain of the Sterlet to family members of the crew. The letter was sent to my parents and my mother kept a copy which I recently found. The letter tells a little bit about the Sterlet's activities, but I think the main purpose was to let all the wifes and parents know that everything was going fine.


1 March 1963

Dear STERLET Friends and Families,

Since the last newsletter, a lot of water has passed over the bridge. Since departure from KOBE, Japan last January, STERLET has continued operating in support of Seventh Fleet exercises. With a few exceptions, the weather has been good. STERLET and her Ship's Company have been performing superbly.

During a recent important exercise in which STERLET made a significant contribution, the performance of LTJG William MCKINNEY, Chief Sonarman Albert WHITE and Sonarman Second Class Brent DAVIDSON was outstanding. It was primarily because of the efforts of these men, supported by the teamwork of the rest of the crew, that STERLET was able to give a good account of herself.

I especially wish to commend to all of you the professional efforts of LT Donald TARQUIN, our Chief Engineer, and his team of Electricians, led by Chief Electrician's Mate Donald NORVELL, Electrician's Mate First Class LARRY “C” CAREY and Harold LONG,Electrician's Mate Second Class Richard LASSEK and Nelson KIRSCH, and Electrician's Mate Third Class Edward MUHS, Rex COOK, and August NAGY, also Interior Communications Technician John WEISS. The efforts of this group have, throughout the cruise, kept our fine ship operational in the face of several ticklish technical difficulties.

By singling a few members of the crew for mention, I do an injustice to the remainder who by their continued faithfulness and steadiness at their watch stations are just as important to the success of the ship's endeavors as those who are singled out for their performance.

We had an enjoyable, but frigid stay in KOBE. The weather was cold and gusty. After KOBE, we enjoyed a ten day upkeep in Yokosuka, Japan. At this writing we are enroute to Hong Kong. By the time, this letter reaches you, we shall be on our way again. Hong Kong is the best recreational port in the Pacific for the Seventh Fleet. The harbor is very good and exceptionally attractive. The city itself is much different than those we have visited in Japan. As you may know, it is a British Crown Colony. It abounds with an international flavor accented by the British and Chinese influence. Shopping bargains are most prolific. There is hardly a Seventh Fleet sailor who does not possess a suit of clothes tailored in Hong Kong. Needless to say we are looking forward to the visit.

We are now past the halfway point of our deployment. I know that all the families in Pearl Harbor are eagerly awaiting the return of the STERLET. When I speak for myself, I speak for my crew. We are anxious to return home. It now appears that we will make that important landing at Sierra TEN, SUBASE Pearl as per schedule.

Our Wardroom has been filled out by Ensign William WARREN and Ensign Paul THOMPSON direct from the Submarine School at New London, and LTJG Gary BALLARD from USS GRAYBACK. Aft in the crew's mess, Harold CHRISTIANSON, ETR3(SS) from Nuclear Power School, Mare Island; Enrique SIMPAO, EN2(SS) from the USS SEA FOX; and Lloyd POULIOT, RMSA from U.S. Naval Submarine School, New London, have joined us. A warm Aloha was bid to Engineman First Class Albert KUKAR who left us at Yokosuka for Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training at Indian Head, Maryland, and Edward MUHS, Electrician's Mate Third class,to Nuclear Power School, Mare Island.

This February was examination time again for advancement in rate. I am anticipating authority to advance the following men by the time we return to Pearl Harbor:

William RUSCH to Torpedoman Chief
Clarence WAHLSTROM to Torpedoman Chief
Siegfredo PADLAN to Steward Chief
Harold LONG to Electrician's Mate Chief
Lyle TROTTIER to Quartermaster First Class
Brent DAVIDSON to Sonarman First Class
James HOWELL to Engineman First Class
Clifford CHANDLER to Engineman First Class
Kenneth WENDT to Interior Communications Tech First Class
Robert TREADAWAY to Yeoman First Class
Noe PEREA to Hospitalman First Class
Dennis LANGER to Torpedoman Second Class
Asa BIGELOW to Torpedoman Second Class
Bruce OAKLEAF to Torpedoman Second Class
August NAGY to Electrician's Mate Second Class
Rex COOK to Electrician's Mate Second Class
Joseph VESELAK to Commissaryman Second Class
Stanley BUSCH to Quartermaster Third Class
Robert FERRY to Quartermaster Third Class
Robert POLK to Torpedoman Third Class
Loren PELOFSKE to Torpedoman Third Class
Donald ROBERTS to Machinist Mate Third Class
Douglas SMITH to Machinist Mate Third Class
Noel ADAMS to Yeoman Third Class
Cesario ANIBAN to Commissaryman Third Class
Crispulo BANAYAD to Steward Third Class
Ted LEVECK to Sonarman Third Class

While in Yokosuka LTJG Peter BLEYLER, Quartermaster striker Robert FERRY, Electronics Technician Third Class Phillip WARNER, and Stanley BUSCH, Quartermaster striker qualified and earned the coveted Dolphins of the U.S. Naval Submariner. I am very proud of them.

I plan to write you one more newsletter next month to describe our stay in Hong Kong and our activities at the next port of call.


Robert F. SMITH, Jr.
Lieutenant Commander, USN
Commanding Officer

Friday, February 09, 2007

Topside South China Sea 1963

Another fresh air break. Jim Beam from Portland, Oregon is on the bridge, right side. White is croutching having a smoke. Other crewmember names are forgotten. Email me if you know. Jim Beam was a cook striker that passed his 3rd class test while on board.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Topside for Some Much Needed Sun

Recognize Anybody - Sub School, New London

This was a long time ago. Yours truly, at 18 years old, is second from the left on the bottom. I attended submarine school from January 1962 to March 1962. Afterwards, I was assigned to the USS Sterlet SS-392 in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Submarine Tank Arrangement

I recently found an old submarine school training manual and it brought to mind the fact that I almost failed the "tank" test in submarine school. Such a failure would have been catastrophic in that it would have immediately ended my future as a submariner. The tank arrangement was required to be memorized. Here is a photo of the arrangement of the tank system on the Sterlet It is typical for the fleet, diesel, submarines built during World War II. Every qualified submariner knew these by heart.

I can still hear the sound echoing in my ears, "Blow Bow Bouyancy, Blow the Forward Group, Blow the After Group......."

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Crew Goes Topside for Some Fresh Air

In this picture the crew takes a breather. TM1 Wahlstrom, in the white sweatshirt, has a line in the water in hopes of catching a fish. Lt. Rhinebeck looks over the side to see if Walstrom has hooked anything. Others appearing in the picture are Captain Bob Smith, Lt. Brainard, Yeoman Threadway, and Torpedoman Bigalow. The remaining crew are unidentified.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Two Years Before the Periscope. Lahaina at Last!

Just as hundreds of years ago when the natives would paddle out in outrigger canoes to greet Captain Cook or Captain Bligh, the natives come to greet the Sterlet as it pulls into the ancient whaling port of Lahaina, Maui. Sterlet remained anchored off-shore because there was no place to moor a submarine in Lahaina.

Swim Call! Crew goes swimming off the stern of the Sterlet while she is anchored off Lahaina. Gee, the Navy was fun!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

USS Charr SS-328 in Yokosuka Drydock

Here is our good friend the USS Charr getting some repairs after some "minor" problems. This picture was taken sometime in January 1963 by Bob Polk with his new camera bought at the Naval Exchange at the Yokosuka shipyard. A nice camera could be had at a very good price.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Sterlet and Charr SS-328 in Kobe Japan

Sterlet and Charr on a cold winter day in Japan

Looking forward from the aft end of the Sterlet. Crewman make repairs on top of the sail of Charr.

Sterlet is moored outboard Charr in Kobe, Japan.

Another view of Sterlet and Charr in Kobe.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Sterlet in Hong Kong 1963

The Sterlet SS-392 sits outboard the French Frigate "Victor Schoelcher" in Hong Kong Harbor. Victor Schoelcher, 1804–1893, was a French humanitarian and statesman. He was involved in the abolition movement, and presided over a commission that secured the abolition of slavery in French territory. Photo was taken in 1963.
Crewmembers watch the Hong Kong sights from the fantail while a little Sampan comes along side in search of discarded food. August Nagy sits on the cleat.
Clarence Wahlstrom, TM1, also known affectionately as "Cuddles" sits on the Sterlet gangplank enjoying a smoke.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving to All

Enjoy, your blessings and remember those who are not as fortunate. Perhaps, some deed of goodwill would be appropriate. Let us not forget the greatest gift we all have is life itself and that we have in our power as unique individuals to bring peace and joy to others or pain and suffering. The choice is not difficult.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sterlet in Yokosuka

Here I am in front of the Sterlet. We are docked inboard of Wahoo. My friend from Portland, Rich Haggerman, was on board Wahoo, unbeknownst to me. He spotted me coming up the after-battery hatch. It was an exciting reunion because we were so far away from home.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bars, Hostesses and Cherry Drinks

After a long patrol in the Sea of Japan, Sterlet sailors were glad to get a little time off on the beach. But there wasn't much time for sightseeing. Here is beautiful Yokosuka with night fall approaching, and all the lights on Honcho Street beckoned, "Come on in". But this was a quick way to go through your money. The truth is we were a long way from home and the ladies who worked in the bars, hostesses as they were properly called, were lovely and friendly. The introduction from the hostess was, "You buy me cherry drink?" The cherry drink was actually tea and it was very expensive. But probably worth it because it bought you some time with a friendly hostess. Pictures are from 1963.

Clarence Wahlstrom, aka "Cuddles" TM1(SS) Torpedoman on the Sterlet poses outside one of the many rest and recreation spots in Yokosuka.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Sterlet in San Francisco, Guam and the South China Sea

The Sterlet passes under the Golden Gate. Bigelow and Wallace are aft topside on anchor detail.

Here is another sailor getting ready to unfurl the flag as we pull into port.

The Sterlet steams past Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay

Crew in the After Battery Compartment somewhere in the South China Sea. White is to the left and Hirsh is to the right. Sailor in the middle is unnamed.

More rest and relaxation for Crewmembers in Guam. Nearest is our Yeoman. Center at the back is Rousch, Torpedoman's Mate 1st class. (My Boss).

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A View of 9/11 on 9/12

I guess I have been having a hard time dealing with the anniversary of 9/11. This was the most barbaric and murderous attack on innocent people in the history of the United States. The visions of Arabs dancing for joy in their streets still haunts me and my heart is filled with anger. 9/11 will always be a sad day for me. 9/11 has affected every life in this country and we will never be the same. I don't even know how to approach 9/11 in the blogosphere arena. So I just decided to post a picture I really like. Here it is. I hope you like it, too.