Tuesday, August 31, 2010


While engaged in the annual fleet maneuvers to the westward of Hawaii, in the spring of 1935, the USS S-27, one of our small submarines, was assigned to a patrol station to the south of Midway Island during one phase of the exercises.  The patrol was established in order to observe and report the possible approach of "enemy" forces toward Midway.

Until "enemy" aircraft or surface units were known or suspected to be in the immediate vicinity of a patrolling submarine it was standard proactice to remain on the surface and to submerge at the first indication of the presence of any "enemy" unit.  This required many hours of dreary observation with no contacts to report and in some cases boats would return from the exercise without once having made a report.

While cruising on the surface one day during the progress of the maneuvers, the officer-of-the-deck, a helmsman, and necessary lookout were stationed on the bridge of the S-27.  An istant state of readiness to submerge was maintained and all that was required to go down was to sound the diving alarm.  All hands were prepared to abandon the bridge hurriedly and to take their stations for a quick dive.  The Captain was normally either on the bridge or below decks, depending upon how tired he happened to be or upon the immediate situation as far as the fleet problem was concerned.

On the S-type of submarine there were two access hatches to the bridge from below decks.  One hatch came up through the conning tower and gave access to the bridge proper and was usually used for passage between the control room and the conning station.  The after battery room, however, just aft of the control room, was also provided with a hatch to the after bridge structure.  Although this hatch served as an emergency exit and was especially designed and fitted for making escapes from submerged submarines, it was a favorite exit for personnel not desiring to intrude upon the officer-of-the-deck or other formally stationed bridge personnel.  For instance, the ship's cooks and electrician's mates stationed in the after battery room liked to get a breath of air now and then and invariabley they used the the after battery room hatch.  This was a custom believed to be generally observed on all S-boats.

On the day about which this account is concerned, S-27 personnel were alertly watching for signs of "enemy" activity and the officer-of-the-deck and bridge crew were intent on performing their assigned duties to the best of their ability.  The Captain was in his stateroom and was taking a nap or otherwise relaxing.  There were no signs that this would be any different from the other days that had been tediously checked off.

The bridge personnel were so concentrated on their lookout duteis that they did not notice an off-watch member of the crew, an electrician's mate, come up on deck via the battery room hatch.  This individual closed the hatch softly and very carefully lest he disturb those on watch on the bridge.  Then he proceeded to stretcfh out on the afted bridge structure, hidden from the sight of all, for the purpose of taking a short nap.  Since the battery room was hot and poorly ventilated the man simply desired to get some fresh air.  He decided to combine his desire for fresh air with a nap.

Several minutes of time ticked by and the mas was fast asleep, the officer-of-the-deck, necessarily oblivious of the presence of the sleeper, scanned the horizon continuously for the approach of the "enemy."  Suddenly a speck was detected which materialized rapidley into an aircraft, headed straight for the S-27.  This was what had been awaited.  The O.O.D. instantly sounded the diving alarm, jumped down the ladder, and supervised the closing of the conning tower hatch after all the personnel had evacuated the bridge.  [That is, all except one perfectly relaxed member of the crew, out of sight and asleep.]

Upon hearing the diving alarm, the Captain rushed to the control room and manned the periscope to inspect the contact.  All the noise and quiet confusion connected with the rapid submergence of a submarine transpired and seconds later the boat was diving.

The man on deck first realized that something was amiss when he was rudely awakened by sea water lapping about his ears.  Incredulously he passed a few seconds tring to figure out what had happened.  Not for long, however.  The realization came to him, and swiftly, that boat was submerging without him.  He was wide awake all at once.  His first frantic desire was to get below.  The hatch nearest to him, the one used to come on the topside, was definitely secured so he rushed forward to the conning tower.  While moving toward that hatch the boat was slowly settling downward.  By the time the man reached the hatch the water was about waist high.  He lunged for a heavy emergency wrench kept on the topside and tried to use it to attract attention.  Unfortunately his beating and flailing fell upon solid sea water and made no sound below.  About this time the periscope began moving slowly upward.

In accordance with a decision previously reached, the Captain had fully intended to go down to at least 100 feet depth in order to be safe from the eyes of the pilot of any plane encountered.  On this occasion, however, he had reason to believe that a possiblility existed that the sighted plane would turn out to be "friendly."  Planes had special markings for the fleet problem, and a look through the periscope was deemed in order.  As the periscope slowly went up the Captain grasped the handles and got ready to make an ovservation.  But there was something wrong!  The periscope seemed frozen.  With some difficulty the periscope was rotated and trained toward the reported bearing of the aircraft and finally the eyepiece came to t he level of the eyes of the Captain.  All this had transpired in a matter of seconds.  When the Captain looke through the periscope he was horrified to see a human face staring back. Without an instan'ts hesitation he orderd "Surface!" and made preparations to rescue the man on the topside.

When his attempt to attract attention by pounding of the wrench had failed, the man on topside had grasped the rising periscope as the only material object to which to cling.  The surface of the periscope was covered with a thick grease used to protect the metal from contact with the water and to act as a lubricating medium for assistance in housing the periscope into the lowered position.  This grease successfully lubricated the attempts of the man to hol on and he moved one way as rapidly as did the periscope the other.

At the top extremity of the periscope was the conventional few feet of painted vertical surface.  No grease was required since this portion was always exposed.  This portion of the periscope was finally reached and the man held on for dear life.  His arrival at the top of the periscope must have coincided with the instant that the Captain was in a position to make an observation.  Coincident with the latters attempt to make an observation the man outside did likewise and they came face to face with each other.

Upon surfacing, a badly shaken man was recovered.  He was so completely unnerved that he could not speak.  It was sometime before his story could be gotton out of him.

In normal circumstances the submarine would have gone deep and the man would not have had a chance for survival.  He would have been cast adrift to certain death and it would have been hours before his loss would have been discovered.  The mystery of his disappearance would have been complete and  it could not have been solved.  The decison of t he Captain to take one "last look" saved the life of the man and saved the Navy the necessity and difficulty of establishing how and wen a member of the crew of S-27 vanished completely without a trace....

Oh and by the way....."The plane happened to be 'friendly'"


Bud Shortridge

Sunday, August 29, 2010



“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a poster is worth a thousand enlistments.”

So spoke James Montgomery Flagg, the famed World War one-era artist about building up America’s Navy shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Indeed, Flagg knew all about the power of compelling pictures. His famed “I Want You” poster of Uncle Sam urging men to join the Army had incited thousands to enlist in the Great War. More than five million copies of Flagg’s posters were circulated in 1917/18. Millions more would be printed after 7 December 1941.

With visions of mangled warships still fresh in everyone’s mind, a new war cry now resounded throughout the nation - “Remember Pear Harbor!” Posters beseeched, “Join today!” - The Navy wanted 10,000 men to sign up immediately. Three times that number rushed to military recruiting centers - many selecting the U.S. Navy because it had been the principal victim of Japan’s aggression. The poster war had begun anew and was soon to entice hundreds of thousands of young men and women into wearing navy blue.

Yet, naval recruiting was only one aspect of America’s overall war effort. The public needed to be appraised and reminded of what it would take to win the global war thrust upon America’s shoulders. Colorful and impossible to ignore posters were well-proven tools of communication.

The need was to convey brief, important messages and ideas to as large a segment of the population as possible. Soon assisting naval recruiting efforts, as well as similar manpower drives for the other armed services and civilian industry were hundreds of Office of War Information (OWI) government sponsored posters covering a variety of subjects critical to the war effort.

The above article happens to be a very early attempt of my simple attempt at you'll have to excuse the mistakes....which are many....but still I think I conveyed to the reader just how much of an influence 'posters' had on what was needed...and actually what took place in the war effort.

If you'd care to give this one a casual can click on the title: HOW POSTERS HELPED THE NAVY WIN WW II  and this will take you to the article.

Hope you enjoy this "Archived Article" of mine.

Bud Shortridge

Friday, August 27, 2010


I always have enjoyed a 'good' sea of those that the old salts set around a table, with there mug of 'Ale'....and swap tales they've encountered.  How much of the stories are true, or how much has been added to 'dice' up the one will ever know.....but as the "Ale" slides down and the chat becomes intense....landlubbers that listen in.....sure do get an ear full. is one of those 'tales'....and it is 'all' true.....this tale, regardess of how much 'Ale' flowed, was not even diced up.

On 16 December 1943, the U. S. Flagged merchant vessel Blue Jacket, making just under 16 knots in over cast and misty weather and a brisk wind, plied through rolling swells toward her distination. With changing viability up to five miles, the lookouts kept a sharp watch for enemy U-boats.  About 500 miles northeast of the Azores, one of the ship's armed guards, Seaman First Class Robert Edmonds, stationed at the 4-inch gun aft, spotted a read blinker light off the starboard quarter.  His report to the bridge began one of the most unlikely and unusual surface engagements of World War II.

Now this article is not a 'long drawn out' page after page of story...only 5 or so if you'd care to give it a 'read'...along with sipping that cup of 'joe' and maybe finish up that last bite of muffin that has been just setting there inviting your attention...just click on this title: FRIEND OR FOE and give it a few minutes of your time....

And.....please leave a comment if you so wish

Bud Shortridge

Monday, August 23, 2010



Due to my hobby ....if you wish to call it that...on banging out these so-called articles....I was asked by some of my "Local Watering Hole Buddies"...[old salts that like to get together at the local bar and swap lies on occasion] produce a loose fitted "Naval Newsletter."

Well one thing led to another and so about a couple of years ago I put the "Scuttle-Butt" newsletter on paper....and passed it around to my Vet buddies at some of the local watering holes I visit..."only on occasion."

This "Scuttle-Butt News" is comprised of varied Naval subject matter...of all countries...some are recent above pic of the USS Nimitz, .........and then there is some that is historic items of interest...such as the above pic of the "Kalakala"...the pics are  accompany by a short  versions of the subject matter. this 'issue' oh my is 14 pages long....and it is just filled with subject matter: Operation "Unified Response" in Haiti; Dazzle Panting; Why a ship Model; X47B UCAS {unmanned Combat Air System}....and many more short informational stories.

So...if you'd care go see one of my "Scuttle-Butt" Newsletters....well now is your chance.  Just click on Scuttle-Butt and this will take you right too the newsletter....  And if you have a comment...don't hesitate to "let it be known"....always willing to accept...
Hope you enjoy

Saturday, August 21, 2010


The First Marine Division was being relieved by the Second Marine Division...and the below quote was what the "First" stated to the "Second"
"When a Marine, Coast Guardsman, sailor or airman reaches heaven, to Saint Peter he will tell - another veteran reporting from Guadalcanal: 'I've served my time in Hell'"
Oh yes folks we did obtain the airfield that "we" were two ways about that....but we did so at a heavy cost ....Solomon Islands was a battle where many lessons were learned.....THE HARD WAY!!!
Do you realize that the dead alone....and this is just an extremely rough estimate....was somewhere in the range of 15,000 to 20,000.  A total of 1450 aircraft lie on the bottom of "Ironbottom Sound/Sealark Sound.....of these 330 are American....1120 Japanese.  One hundred fifty seven Japanese ships were damaged...and 37 American ships were seriously damaged.  Actually in this count...two Japanese battleships, eight American cruisers, 20 American destroyers, and 21 Japanese destroyers, as well as dozens upon dozens of transports, APD's, PT boats....and the list goes on and on.

Yes...Naval wise 'we' got our butt whipped... real good....and why?....  Well for one we and the Allies didn't know one thing about "night fighting".....ships going to "Condition II" when the whole Japanese fleet was in the immediate area we learned was taboo!!.....and get this: Certainly commanding officers should never hang out a "do not disturb" sign in order to catch 40 winks.

To say the very, very least...the communication system amoung the fleet as well as the radar used showed  alot to be desired.....

Ok....I could go on and on about this article titled "GHOST SHIPS OF IRONBOTTOM SOUND".  But really ...don't take my word for it....if I generate some interest for you to cast your eyes on this article just "Click" on the above title...and this will link up with the article....  I think after you read will simply 'blow your mind."

Let me know what you think if you will....I'd sure appreciate it.






I get to looking back into Naval history and the more I read the more I have to stop and attempt to wrap my mind around on "How in the world did we actually progress from 'Point A to Point B' in the development of the vessels and equipment we are familiar with in todays master of the seas?"

One such of these 'pieces of equipment' was Aircraft Carriers.  Did you realize that 'Carrier Aviation' began without a single purpose-built Naval Fighter in the Navy's inventory?

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a huge follower of Naval Aviation history....but when it inter-connects with how the vessels that inter-act with this evolution then that grabs my attention.

So...if your interested in the U.S. Naval Fighter and how it all came about...this two-part article maybe just the ticket on some insight to seeing how we got from "A to B" in this much historic event.

If any one factor became apparent in the remarkable growth of Naval aviation during WWI, it was that the Navy felt little need to develop a modern Naval fighter. Indeed, out of a force that numbered more than 2000 recently-acquired Naval aircraft, most were flying boats,seaplanes and training types. Less than 100 in the Naval inventory were fighters and these were largely a mix of worn out foreign-built aircraft totally unsuited for Naval needs. So it was that as the guns on the Western Front fell silent and the Navy contemplated acquiring its first long deferred aircraft carrier, little thought had been given to the potential role of fighters in the as yet undeveloped doctrine of Naval airpower

Now as I stated above....this is a "Two Part" if you wish to give "Part I" a look-see....then just click on this: PART I  and then if this part one captures your interest and you want to continue...then just click on: PART II

Hope you enjoy the article

Thursday, August 19, 2010


A recently commissioned Ensign became embroiled in a double mystery that has never been solved

If there was to be a murder on the high seas, what would be one of the most likely places for that violent act to occur?  Homicide usually brings with it an aura of mystery.  So, if we select the Bermuda Triangle, we wouldn't be too far off the mark.  Mysterious events abound within the confines of that body of water.  If we had the opportunity to select the victim of that foul deed, it might center on someone who exerted an extraordinary amount of authority, and perhaps abused that trust - someone who might be the Master of an ocean-going ship.  The exact time of the mysterious happening would be countless, but if we opted for a time that would provide cover to the exposure of the incident, a war of significant magnitude such as WW II might be such a time.

The place was the Bermuda Triangle and the time was during WW II.  The victim was the Master of an ocean-going ship with a mutinous crew.

In late fall 1942, the USCG cutter Triton was one unit in the escort screen of a southbound convoy out of New York Harbor en route to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  On the morning of the seventh day since departing New York, the convoy was positioned in the waters surrounding the southeast part of the Bahama Islands, heading for the Windward Passage between Cuba and Hispaniola.  The ETA at Guantanamo was early the following morning.  The trip had been for the most part, uneventful.  The ship had made a couple of depth charge attacks along the war on sonar contacts, with dubious results.  The convoy had made it that far without incident.  The weather was exceptional, almost flat calm with a mild breeze.  Germany's U-boat armada along the Atlantic East Coast had been reduced considerably.  The crew of the Triton was looking forward to some relaxation and drinking some Hatuey Beer at the U.S. Naval Base in Gitmo.

Shortly after daybreak, one of the ships in the convoy was sighted displaying their steaming colors in the upside-down mode, indicating that they were undergoing some type of difficulty.  The Escort Commander, on board a destroyer, radioed the Triton, advising that his whaleboat was underway and wold be arriving soon to embark one officer and one yeoman to assist in an intervention of the problem on the vessel in the convoy.  The Commanding Officer ordered the Executive Officer and the Chief Yeoman to accompany the investigation party.  The whale boat took them to the merchant ship and returned to the destroyer.  Three- or 4-hrs later, the group was picked up by the whale boat and it returned with only the office, but took the Chief Yeoman to the destroyer for purposes of typing out the notes he ahd taken during the investigation.  The crew as told he would be returned after the vessel arrived in Guantanamo Bay.

While the whale boat was alongside, six of the merchant ship's Indonesian crew were put on the Triton for safekeeping.  They were part of a mutiny that occurred on the ship and were considered to be the instigators of the uprising.  They were issued mattresses, put under guard on the fantail of the Triton, to be later turned over to the Marine Brig at Gitmo.  The crew learned that the unrest among them stemmed from what they felt was unjust treatmen from the ship's Master.  Apparently one member of the crew had entered the Master's Cabin during the change between the mid watch and the 4- to 8-watch.  He shot the Master in the middle of the forehead as he slept, using a small caliber gun, killing him instantaneously.  Upon Triton's arrival at Guantamo Bay, Naval Base Shore Patrol member came on board to remove the mutineers.

Shortly thereafter, the Triton received a message by flashing light from the destroyer asking whether the Chief Yeoman had returned to the Triton.  He had not.  The Commanding Officer hurriedly went to the destroyer, seeking an explanation for the question put to the Triton regarding the whereabouts of the Chief Yeoman.

Upon his return, the Triton's Commanding Officer told an amazing story.  After completing the transcription of his notes, the Chief had an evening meal.  He was last seen shortly before sunset, walking aft on the starboard side of the weather deck.  His foul-weather jacket was picked up off the deck near the vessel's stern.  A search of the destroyer brought negative results.  Everything indicated that the Chief Yeoman was lost at sea - a calm sea with a gentle swell.  The reason for his being lost was never determined and it remains a mystery.

As to the murder of the Master, the only information the captain had was that an ongoing investigation was continuing, with assistance to the Navy being rendered by the FBI and U.S. Marshals from the Justice Department.  Whether one of the so-called mutinous "instigators" the Triton carried on board  might have been teh murderer, likewise, was never made know to the Triton crew.  The mutiny was quelled with arrival of the investigative party on the merchant vessel.  What might have been a fasinating news story in other times fell victim to the overshadowing of the events of WW II.

Now the question remained - what had happened to the Chief Yeoman?  He had had an unblemished career with no known quirks or mental disorders.  Everyone on board the Triton like the Chief and he in turn, the Chief seemed to like everyone. Nor did he have any known enemies on the Triton, or aboard the destroyer on which he simply vanished.  Neither did he owe any money resulting from any overindulgence of gambling.  Yet he vanished without a clue on a starry night in calm seas.  At this late date som many years later, the answer will never be known.

The riddle of the Captain's murder/mutiny on the freighter en route to Gitmo is just as mysterious.  A week or so later, a casual inquiry of a port official into the status of the investigation was answered with a casual shrug.  What mutiny, he seemed to say, as if it had never happened.

Never in the intervening years has anyone heard or read anyting about either incident that the Triton was involved in.  Such is life on the high seas in wartime when high crimes are forgotten by the clanging of an "action stations" alarm and crewmen go missing without too much fuss being made about the circumstances of their loss. 

Would you have to wonder what the War Department telegram told the missing Chief Yoeman's family aobut his disappearance.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Designed to assist the Fleet's large ATF tugs, their small but powerful ATA-class cousins gave the Navy 30-years of unpublized but distinguished service.

The big "battlewagons" and all the other fighting ships that helped win the wars we were involved in.....when you get right down to it are only as good as those that keep them seaworthy and in fighting trim.

Oh yes...the "Big Boys" are in the news...they get the eyes of the public, throwing there huge shells seveal miles inland to pound the beachs and dug-in pill boxes....but what happens when they are 'hit'....or a serious mal-function happens with her power-plant....they can't manuver to stay out of harms way???  Most of the time when this takes place they are thousands of mile from established bases that can offer to assistance to "fix the problem"....and put them "back to what those fighting ships do best"....

So....some how those battlewagons has to get from point A to point B....Point B being that haven of a repair base....well low and behold ....this is where the "mighty of the mighty show up....the "fleet tugs" as they were called or "ATAs".

So....this is what this article is all about....first there were the ATF's [kind of a 'Jack-of-all-trades' tug]....then this led to a smaller version....and 89 of these might migets were deck space, could not carry much in food for the crew...[most of the time they would run out of provisions in under a week]....and limited in 'bunks'...crew had to 'hot bunk' (share beds in shifts)....but despite all this...they got the job done.

So...if you'd care to give this article a read....just click: HERE  to read the article titled