Sea Stories
USNA Class of 1963

... a collection of stories submitted by classmates.  Some are salty, others should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt. You decide ...

You are requested to send in a couple of your favorite sea stories to:

Authenticity of Cannonball Recipe                                    -  Bill Kennedy
 I can attest to the authenticity of the cannonball recipe.  I served them to the crews of both USS Lester (DE-1022) and USS John Marshall (SSBN-611).  The latter was celebration of mid-patrol of the last run before returning to the ZI for refueling and overhaul.

What was notable to me, but probably inappropriate for the cannonball citation
was that I was able to obtain the CO's permission to use medical brandy to make
the hard sauce.  We had phoney brandy and rum flavorings we used for mincemeat
pies and fruitcakes, but for hard sauce they ain't makin' it.  Before I taught
the baker how to make them, I had been ashore and made some hard sauce with
brandy from the USAF Class VI store.  We made cannonballs for a wardroom
dessert and I presented the captain with two containers of hard sauce; the one
I had made with brandy and the other made with galley flavoring.  When the
wreckage was cleared away there was none of my hard sauce left, the other
barely touched and the captain instructed the doctor to prescribe brandy when
ever I was going to make hard sauce.

Thus the site has annotated the cannonball recipe with a citation or
certificate of authenticity noting that they had been served in John Marshall
on the 38th submerged day of the last patrol before overhaul inside the Arctic
Circle at 105 feet and five knots (standard patrol depth and speed for a
prompt stop, hover, and launch).   Bottom line:  sailors like cannonballs too. 

Submarine Supply Officer vs XO                                             -  Bill Kennedy

    I need to sketch in some background briefly so this will make sense.  Jim
Forsythe grew up in the school of hard knocks.
He is one of the finest naval officers it has been my privilege to serve.
He took command of Polk gold after his tour in John Marshall.  He played bridge like
an assassin (self taught) read voraciously, and was bald as a cue ball, some
by God, the rest by razor.  He had four words for his department heads "Fix it"
and "Well done".  Now you know the man, now the story will work.

XO was sitting at the table in his stateroom, I was standing in the doorway
trying to persuade him that Ship's Office should prepare a report that would
be prepared by the Supply Office on a ship with a supply officer.  At that
time submarines were classified as without a supply officer, fewer than twenty
had one.  I maneuvered, bobbed, and weaved and made four or five points that
got the "Fix it" response.  I got deeper into the technicalities of why I
thought his yeomen should do it rather than my storekeepers, each attempt
greeted by "Fix it".  I was getting desparate, it appeared that he was going
to insist that I do something I certainly knew how to do.  I finally blurted
that since the CO was technically the "accountable officer" for the general
mess (he was, normally the porkchop is), this was a Ship's Office job.  He
dropped his head so that he was looking up at me through his bushy eyebrows and
held up his left collar point with his finger pointing to the gold oak leaf.
"Bill, does this look like a CROSS to you?  FIX IT!"

Lesson learned, report prepared and submitted, but I'll never forget it.  I hope my description of the man and recitation of the facts gave you a grin.  I've never tried repeating the tale other than orally, I hope it worked for you in phosphor.  He had a distinguished career and retired from his last job as COMSUBRON Two in New London.

Communications:  George S. Patton, Jr.                               -  Bill Kennedy

George S. Patton, Jr. is one of my heroes.  I am an attentive student of Patton lore.   His oral expression was such that his men never misunderstood what he was telling them.  An old time friend of my father was Gen O.P. Weyland who was Patton's air officer commanding XVIII Tactical Air Force.  When I was unable to get to where my folks were for leaves I often went to Langley AFB and stayed with the Weylands.  I sucked his brain dry of Patton recollections.  I'll repeat one, you may have heard it.

Eisenhower had become irritated with the excruciating details in Patton's after battle reports.  He went so far as to have his chief of staff, Bedell (rhymes with beetle) Smith admonish Patton and insist he report just the factual highlights.  After the Battle of the Bulge Patton penned and sent a report:

"Crossed Rhine, pissed in same, Patton."

That's all it said, I saw Opie Weyland's copy of it.  Patton did, in fact, urinate into the Rhine before crossing.  That much is well known, how he reported it to Eisenhower isn't.
[ story submitted in response to's Pride & Tradition page posting of Patton's speech to his troops prior to D-Day, 1944]

Hard Luck Destroyer: The William D Porter                               -  Mike Shelley

Click here for a remarkable story of how The Porter almost sank the USS Iowa and other mishaps.

Most Exciting Six Minutes                               -  J.J. Calande

As a VP Pilot I was assigned as a rag instructor from 1968-70.I was chosen as one of the seven pilots to go to Lockheed to get their training and delivery of the P3C when it was ready for the navy. We then returned to train the other instructors to get ready for fleet RAG training. These are the most exciting six minutes of my twenty year career. The C.O. called me in and asked me to get something ready to introduce the Navy's newest aircraft (P3C orion) to the public at the proper time. I inquired as to what he wanted and he said it was up to me and my imagination because because there was a fund raiser by a local navy league with the Blue Angels as the main event. I was on the same adjenda but was to follow in my new P3C My only limitations were NATOPS and the six minutes I was assigned by the tower (NAS Patuxent River) and the FAA personnel. So I ended up doing the following little airshow to introduce the new P3 to the 250,000 spectators who had just seen the Blues perform. I began 25 miles out to sea where I could build up to max speed at low altitude and appear over the tree tops at 405 kts IAS down the center of the runway as a beginning. I also had my total of 53 photoflash cartridges loaded in the fuselage so that when I hit the jettison switch they would all fire off at once with a loud bang and a flash that looked like a lightning bolt attached to my tail. I pulled the nose up nearly vertical to decrease the speed and do a port wingover up to 3000 feet! after the 180 degree turn, I did a short field landing of 800 feet at slower speed. Then I used reverse props to back up to my short field takeoff position at light weight and max power, I took off in a short distance trying to impress my audience with my new aircraft abilities. After I landed at the end of my six minutes, I asked my wife what she thought and she really liked my show but when I asked her what she thougyht impressed the big audience the most she sighed and said it was my backing up to take off because they had never seen an aurcraft go in reverse. OH WELL IT WAS MY MOST EXCITING SIX MINUTES AND I WAS HONORED TO BE ON THE SAME ADJENDA AFTER THE BLUE ANGELS.
J.J. Calande

The sinking of the USS Buttercup                               -  Steve Coester
Click Here for this Second Class Summer story.

Last updated:
September 27, 2007
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