Deck Log: April 2021


April is the Month of the Military Child! It's also normally a rainy month, bringing with it the greenery of the Springtime. As people around the country are finally getting their COVID-19 vaccinations, we hope that soon things can return to normal. In the meantime, stay safe, and hoist a mug of Old Salt Coffee.

This month, we want to solemnly remember the loss of the USS Thresher (SSN 593), and celebrate the recovery of the Apollo 13 lunar mission. We also recognize 2 Old Salts. Finally, we invite you to participate in an event celebrating the USS Missouri which is scheduled to take place in May.

Eternal Patrol

The USS Thresher (SSN 593) was the lead boat of her class of nuclear-powered attack submarines in the United States Navy. She was the U.S. Navy's second submarine to be named after the thresher shark.

On 9 April 1963, Thresher, commanded by Lieutenant Commander John Wesley Harvey, left from Kittery, Maine, at 08:00 a.m. and met with the submarine rescue ship Skylark at 11:00 a.m. to begin her initial post-overhaul dive trials, in an area some 190NM east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. That afternoon, Thresher conducted an initial trim-dive test, surfaced, and then performed a second dive to half of test depth. She remained submerged overnight and re-established underwater communications with Skylark at 06:30 a.m. on 10 April to commence deep-dive trials. Following standard practice, Thresher slowly dove deeper as she traveled in circles under Skylark – to remain within communications distance – pausing every 100 ft of depth to check the integrity of all systems. As Thresher neared her test depth, Skylark received garbled communications over underwater telephone indicating " ...  minor difficulties, have positive up-angle, attempting to blow," and then a final, even more garbled message that included the number "900." When Skylark received no further communication, surface observers gradually realized Thresher had sunk.

By mid-afternoon, 15 Navy ships were en route to the search area. At 06:30 p.m., the commander of Submarine Force Atlantic sent word to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to begin notifying the crew's family members, starting with Commander Harvey's wife Irene, that Thresher was missing.

By morning on 11 April, all hope of finding Thresher was abandoned, and at 10:30 a.m., Chief of Naval Operations Admiral George W. Anderson Jr. went before the press corps at the Pentagon to announce that the submarine was lost with all hands. President John F. Kennedy ordered all flags to be flown at half staff from 12 to 15 April in honor of the 129 lost submariners and shipyard personnel.

The loss of Thresher was a watershed moment for the U.S. Navy, leading to the implementation of a rigorous submarine safety program known as SUBSAFE. The first nuclear submarine lost at sea, Thresher was also one of only four submarines ever lost with more than 100 people aboard.

Created to find and destroy Soviet submarines, Thresher was the fastest and quietest submarine of her day, matching the smaller, contemporary Skipjack class. She also had the most advanced weapons system, including launchers for the U.S. Navy's newest anti-submarine missile, the SUBROC, as well as passive and active sonar that could detect vessels at unprecedented range. 

Following Navy tradition, this class of subs was originally named Thresher after the lead boat. But when Thresher was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 16 April 1963, the class name was changed to that of the second boat, Permit, and Thresher is now officially referred to as a Permit-class submarine. Having been lost at sea, Thresher was not decommissioned by the U.S. Navy and remains on "Eternal Patrol."

We at Old Salt Coffee Company solemnly hoist a mug of Silent Service to the Old Salts of the USS Thresher.

Apollo 13

It was the seventh crewed mission in the Apollo space program and the third meant to land on the Moon. The craft was launched from Kennedy Space Center on April 11, 1970, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank in the service module (SM) failed two days into the mission. The crew instead looped around the Moon, and returned safely to Earth, splashing down on April 17, officially allowing us to call everyone on the crew an Old Salt. The mission was commanded by USN CAPT Jim Lovell with Jack Swigert as command module (CM) pilot and Fred Haise as Apollo Lunar Module (LM) pilot.

A routine stir of an oxygen tank ignited damaged wire insulation inside it, causing an explosion that vented the contents of both of the SM's oxygen tanks to space. Without oxygen, needed for breathing and for generating electric power, the SM's propulsion and life support systems could not operate. The CM's systems had to be shut down to conserve its remaining resources for reentry, forcing the crew to transfer to the LM as a lifeboat. With the lunar landing canceled, mission controllers worked to bring the crew home alive.

Although the LM was designed to support two men on the lunar surface for two days, Mission Control in Houston improvised new procedures so it could support three men for four days. The crew experienced great hardship caused by limited power, a chilly and wet cabin and a shortage of potable water. There was a critical need to adapt the CM's cartridges for the carbon dioxide scrubber system to work in the LM; the crew and mission controllers were successful in improvising a solution. The astronauts' peril briefly renewed public interest in the Apollo program; tens of millions watched the splashdown in the South Pacific Ocean on television.

An investigative review board found fault with preflight testing of the oxygen tank and the fact that Teflon was placed inside it. The story of Apollo 13 has been dramatized several times, most notably in the 1995 film Apollo 13 – based on the 1994 memoir co-authored by Lovell "Lost Moon" – and an episode of the 1998 miniseries "From the Earth to the Moon."

Although the mission didn't land on the moon, the successful return of these astronauts is to be celebrated. There have been 24 people who flew to the moon. Of the 12 that did not set foot on the moon, four were Navy. We'd also like to point out that of all 12 of the people who have actually walked on the moon, fully half represented the U.S. Navy, and two others (both Air Force) attended the U.S. Naval Academy. #HoistAMug of Brown Shoe Blend to the #Moonwalkers and crew of the Apollo missions!

Old Salts of the Month: Chief Gunner's Mates Mons Monsen and Robert E. Cox

Just 11 years after the official creation of the most salty of all ranks - Chief Petty Officer - Chief Gunner's Mates Mons Monsen and Robert E. Cox were both awarded the Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism. On April 13, 1904 the second USS Missouri (BB-11) was engaging in target practice when one of the ship's 12-in guns "flared back". By the way, a 12-inch gun round is WAAAY bigger than the round size of those other guys.  As the breech was opened for reloading, hot like from Hades gases were released into the turret, causing it to catch fire. The fire spread to a bag of propellant (also flammable) and from there it spread down to the ammunition handling chamber. Chief Cox's prompt action caused the fire to be brought under control with the aid of Chief Monsen, who himself dared to enter a burning magazine through the scuttle and endeavored to extinguish the fire by throwing water with his hands until a hose was passed to him. Although sadly 5 officers and 28 men lost their lives that day, the heroic action of these Chief Petty Officers contained the fire before it spread throughout the ship. We at OSCC #HoistAMug of Haze Grey to two Old Salts from the Goat Locker, Chief Monsen and Chief Cox. Hoo-yah!

On This Date in April...

1st: 1893 - Navy General Order 409 establishes the rate of Chief Petty Officer.
2nd: 1916 - Lt. R.C. Saufley sets an altitude record for a Navy aircraft, 16,072 feet in a Curtiss pusher type hydroplane at Pensacola, Fla., bettering the record he set on March 29 that was set with a record of 16,010 feet.
3rd: 1942 - Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, is named Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas (CINCPOA) and also retains the title of Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet (CINCPAC).
4th: 1776 - Continental Navy Frigate Columbus captures the British schooner HMS Hawk, making the first American capture of a British armed vessel. Columbus later captures the British brig Bolton.
5th: 1946 - USS Missouri (BB 63) transports the body of the late Turkish Ambassador to the United States, Mehmet Munir Ertegun, home for burial, on a mission that was also made to influence Soviet Middle East policy.
6th: 1909 - Cmdr. Robert E. Peary reports reaching the North Pole, dropping a note in a glass bottle into a crevice in the ice that states: "I have this day hoisted the national ensign of the United States of America at this place, which my observations indicate to be the North Polar axis of the earth, and have formally taken possession of the entire region, and adjacent, for and in the name of the President of the United States of America."
1968 - USS New Jersey (BB 62) is recommissioned for shore bombardment duty at Vietnam.
2013 - The commissioning ceremony for USS Arlington (LPD 24) is held at Naval Station Norfolk, the ship's homeport. The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship joins sister ships USS New York and USS Somerset to be named for the sites attacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. Steel salvaged from the Pentagon, based in Arlington, are showcased in the ship's museum.
7th: 1990 - The Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Albany (SSN 573) is commissioned at Naval Station Norfolk.
1979 - USS Ohio (SSBN 726), the first Trident submarine, launches at Groton, Conn. She is commissioned into the Navy in November that same year. Following a conversion to a guided-missile submarine in 2006, she is now SSGN-726.
2017 - USS Ross (DDG 71) and USS Porter (DDG 78) launch Tomahawk missiles into Syria in retaliation for the regime of Bashar Assad using nerve agents to attack his own people.
8th: 1961 - USS Laffey (DD 724) and USS Tanner (AGS 15) assist in rescue work and firefighting after the British passenger liner Dara catches fire in the Persian Gulf.
9th: 1959 - The first seven Mercury astronauts are selected, including three Navy aviators and one Marine: Lt. Cmdr. Walter M. Schirra, Lt. Malcom S. Carpenter, Marine Lt. Col. John Glenn Jr., and Lt. Cmdr. Alan B. Shepard.
10th: 1941 - USS Niblack (DD 424) picks up three boatloads of survivors from Dutch freighter Saleier, which was sunk the previous day by a German U-boat. The destroyer detects a submarine preparing to attack and drives it off with a depth charge attack. It is the first action between American and German forces in World War II.
1963 - During diving tests, USS Thresher (SSN 593) is lost with all hands east of Cape Cod, Mass., including her commanding officer and 17 civilian technicians.
11th: 1783 - Congress declares the cessation of arms against Great Britain, just a few days after British Parliament passed a similar resolution, thus ending hostilities of the American Revolution.
1970 - Apollo 13 is launched, commanded by Navy Capt. James A. Lovell. The ship endures an explosion forcing an immediate return to Earth. Recovery is by helicopters from USS Iwo Jima (LPH 2).
1992 - USS Annapolis (SSN 760) is commissioned at the Electric Boat Division at Groton, Conn. The 10th of her Los Angeles "Improved" class of attack submarines.
12th: 1861 - The Civil War begins with Confederates firing on Fort Sumter, S.C. The Union Navy plays an integral part blockading Confederates, keeping them diplomatically and economically contained from other nations.
1981 - The first re-useable Space Shuttle, Columbia (STS-1) is launched with an all-US Navy crew: Capt. John W. Young (Ret.) is the shuttle's commander and Lt. Cmdr. Robert L. Crippen is the pilot.
2003 - USS Mason (DDG 87) is commissioned at Cape Canaveral, Fla. The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer is the 37th in the class and the ninth of the Flight IIA variant.
13th: 1996 - USS Carney (DDG 64) is commissioned at Mayport, Fla., her homeport. The destroyer is the 14th of the Arleigh Burke-class and the first to be named after Adm. Robert Carney, the Chief of Naval Operations during the Eisenhower administration.
14th: 1898 - The first post-Civil War hospital ship, USS Solace (AH 2) is commissioned and soon participates in the Spanish-American War attending to wounded servicemen from battles in Cuba
1988 - During Operation Ernest Will, USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) strikes an Iranian mine off Qatar, injuring 10 sailors. Four days later, the US Navy retaliates with Operation Praying Mantis, which strikes Iranian oil platforms, sinks an Iranian frigate, patrol ship, and damages another frigate.
15th: 1961 - The first nuclear-powered frigate, USS Bainbridge (DLGN-25), is launched at Quincy, Mass.
1962- USS Princeton (LPH 5) brings the first advisory unit to Vietnam and the Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 362 SocTrang, Mekong Delta, South Vietnam.
16th: 1947 - Congress passes Army-Navy Nurses Act, giving Navy Nurse Corps members commissioned rank.
2011 - USNS William McLean (T-AKE 12) is christened and launched at San Diego, Calif.
17th: 1915 - Chief Gunner's Mate Frank Crilley, a naval diver, rescues a fellow diver who had become entangled at a depth of 250 feet during salvage operations for USS F-4 submarine that had sunk March 25, 1915, with the loss of her entire crew. For his heroism on this occasion, he is awarded the Medal of Honor in 1929.
1918 - USS Stewart (DD 13) is on escort duty in Quiberon Bay, France when nearby the American steamship Florence H suffers an internal explosion. Ship's Cook Third Class Jesse W. Covington and Quartermaster Frank M. Upton dive overboard to save an exhausted survivor surrounded by exploding power boxes. For their actions, both sailors receive the Medal of Honor.
18th: 1906 - U.S. Navy assists in relief operations during the San Francisco earthquake and fire. Sailors and Marines fight fires and ships carry the homeless and injured to Vallejo, where medical personnel established emergency facilities.
1942 - The Doolittle Raid begins with 16 Army Air Force B-25 bombers launching earlier than expected from USS Hornet (CV 8), approximately 650 miles off Japan, after being spotted by enemy ships. It is the first attack by the U.S. of the Japanese mainland since Pearl Harbor. Most of the 16 B-25s, each with a five-man crew, attack the Tokyo area, with a few hitting Nagoya. Embarrassed, the Japanese revise plans and six weeks later attack the American carrier group near Midway sooner than expected.
2009 - USS Stockdale (DDG 106) is commissioned at Naval Construction Battalion Center Port Hueneme, Calif. The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer is named after Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale.
19th: 1997 - USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) is commissioned at Staten Island, N.Y. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer is the second Navy ship named after the five Sullivan brothers who died when USS Juneau (CL 52) was sunk shortly after the Battle of Guadalcanal Nov. 13, 1942.
20th: 1914 - The first call-to-action of naval aviators is given, creating an aviation detachment of three pilots, 12 enlisted men, and three aircraft to join the Atlantic Fleet forces operating off Tampico during the Mexican crisis.
1964 - USS Henry Clay (SSBN 625) launches a Polaris A-2 missile in the first demonstration to show that Polaris submarines could launch missiles from the surface as well as from beneath the ocean.
21st: 1972 - Navy Capt. John W. Young, commander of Apollo 16, is the ninth man to walk on the moon. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Thomas K. Mattingly II is the command module pilot for the 11-day, 1-hour and 51-minute mission where 213 pounds of lunar material is collected.
22nd: 1778 - During the American Revolution, two boats of volunteers from the sloop-of-war Ranger, commanded by John Paul Jones, go ashore at Whitehaven, England, burning ships in the harbor and spiking the guns of the fort.
23rd: 1918 - USS Stewart (DD 13) races to the spot where two seaplanes are dropping bombs on a submarine. Stewart drops two depth charges and the explosions bring oil to the surface and the sub is declared a kill at the time, but it survives to surrender at the end of World War I.
24th: 1884 - USS Bear leaves New York Naval Shipyard on its way to the Arctic as part of the Greely Relief Expedition. USS Thetis and USS Alert join USS Bear on the mission. On June 22, the relief ships rescue the remaining seven members of the 27-man Greely Expedition at Cape Sabine.
1981 - USS San Francisco (SSN 711) is commissioned at Norfolk Naval Station, Va.
25th: 1998 - The first-in-class Impeccable (T-AGOS 23), an ocean surveillance ship designed to gather acoustic data, detect and track submarines, is launched from Pascagoula, Miss. The ship is given to Military Sealift Command to be operated by both civilian and military crew members.
2009 - Boeing's new P8-A Poseidon test jet, a 737-based submarine hunter for the Navy that will replace the P3-C Orion, flies for first flight from Renton, Wash., to Boeing Field, Seattle, Wash.
26th: 1960 - USS George Washington (SSN 598) conducts a Polaris missile test firing in Long Island Sound in the Atlantic Ocean.
27th: 1805 - With naval bombardment from USS Nautilus, USS Hornet, and USS Argus, Lt. Presley O'Bannon leads his Marines to attack Derne, Tripoli, and raises the first U.S. flag over foreign soil. The Battle of Derna was the Marines' first battle on foreign soil, and is notably recalled in the first verse of the Marines Hymn.
1963 - USS Daniel Webster (SSBN 626) is launched at Groton, Conn. Commissioned a year later, she serves until decommissioned in August 1990. She was converted into a Moored Training Ship and serves to this day at Naval Nuclear Power Prototype in South Carolina.
28th: 1944 - Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox dies. He expanded the Navy into a force capable of fighting in both the Atlantic and the Pacific during the early years of World War II.
29th: 1961 - USS Kitty Hawk (CVA 63), an oil-fired aircraft carrier, is commissioned at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.
30th: 1942 - USS Indiana (BB 58) is commissioned during World War II.
2005 - USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49) conducts its second significant drug interdiction operation in the first month of its deployment to the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command area of responsibility, disrupting the smuggling of 4.6 metric tons of narcotics from the fishing vessel Salomon.


The Stacy Strong Project

We'd like to give a shout-out to one Special Operator in particular, EOD Senior Chief Kenton Stacy, who is featured on our packaging for Green Eyes. On November 9, 2017, he was on his fourth combat deployment in nine years, training local soldiers in Raqqa, Syria, to clear improvised explosive devices. Near the end of the event, one of these IEDs detonated, severely wounding him. A U.S. Army medic on scene administered CPR during the MEDEVAC; and over the following weeks, Senior Chief Stacy endured multiple surgeries and procedures.

Nearly a year and a half later, he was able to return to his home. Paralyzed from the shoulders down and barely able to speak due to fragment injury to his neck, Kenton Stacy was welcomed home to the care of his loving wife Lindsey by a large crowd of his EOD shipmates. While the challenges are immense, the love of family has made it all possible.

Use discount code STACYSTRONG10 to get 10% off your order and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Stacy Strong Project. #HoistAMug of Green Eyes to #stacystrong! #stacystrongeodproject