Monday, January 28, 2013

A Visit to the DARTER in 1965

The following is an eyewitness account of sailors exploring the wreck of the DARTER, with color photographs, no less!

In the summer of 1965, August I believe, I was stationed on the USS PERCH APSS-313.  We were based in Subic Bay. Our skipper was Tom Dyker Jr.  While returning to Subic, we stopped at Bombay Shoal.  We went aboard the remains of the USS DARTER, SS-227.  DARTER ran aground while doing an "end around" in 1944.
From a distance, you could tell that the wreckage was that of a submarine.  Once on board, you could see that everything but the engine blocks had been stripped away.  The forward and aft rooms were destroyed.  But I found several rollers, still free to turn, on a torpedo rack.  
 The boat had major damage caused by demolition charges and deck guns fromn other US submarines.  You could see the trenches caused by the submarines DACE SS-247 and ROCK SS-274.  They both fired several torpedoes at her.  The pot holes caused by explosions were visible in the coral reef.  Many of the PERCH crew went aboard her.  A lot of photos were taken.  The water around DARTER was only three to four feet deep.  It was a real thrill to go aboard the DARTER as she is part of the history of the Submarine Force.  In tribute, I left a PERCH plaque attached to the remains of the main induction valve prior to leaving the site.
~Larry Reuter, EN2(SS)
USS PERCH APSS-313 (1964-1966)

Here are two of the photos featured on this now possibly defunct website:

All the Photos of the Darter Wreck, 1944-1998

The following are all photos of the wreck of the USS DARTER from the air or from sea level that can be found, dated and in chronological order.
Watercolor of the DACE rescuing the crew of DARTER in the early morning hours of October 24, 1944. Undated artist's impression by Gerald Levey.

Taken by a low-flying reconnaissance aircraft shortly after its grounding. October 1944. The holes in the sides from hits by the USS DACE's deck gun are visible.

View from bow of USS DACE the next day. October 24, 1944.
A view of the DARTER grounded on the reef. As we can see her full outline of the hull is out of water.  More damage on the sides are visible from torpedo hits and the DACE's deck guns.

View of the ruined conning tower while standing on the deck.
Standing on the bow of the wrecked Darter. The paint is damaged on the deck plates from the fire which tore through the sub.
The deck and conning tower of the DARTER "After taking 50 shells" empty mount in foreground could be for an anti-aircraft gun.

Low-flying aerial photo of the DARTER aground in 1944.

This is a photo from the Navy archives that Hugh had to wait 10 years to get a copy of. His framed print hung on the wall in his radio room for many years. I think this was his favorite picture and he liked to look at it as a reminder of what he had been through.

Another aerial photograph taken after 1945. The wreck was used for target practice in bombing runs and it broke into sections. An interesting note, the inner structure of the sub is visible.

The rusted hulk of the DARTER being explored by submariners in 1965. A nuclear submarine that patrolled in the Phillippines used to pull alongside the DARTER wreck and let people walk around inside the hull. At the time it was intact enough to climb around in.

Last known photo of the DARTER, taken in 1998.  Parts of this ship were still there when my grandpa was alive.  I wonder if he knew about it.  This photo was taken three years after his death.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Keys to a Ship-shape Marriage


 Ahoy, mate! Is Your Marriage Ship-Shape?

You men who are everlastingly wed to the witching waters of the world, but who incidentally have a wife based on land, may fathom some new helmsman tactics in a marriage contract unearthed by an Edinburgh lawyer from an old deed box. Drawn up by a seafaring man who thought of marriage in terms he knew best, it envisages each mate's duties in a ship-shape union, Bristol-fashion. What a pity his logbook is lost to posterity!

Having read to her the Articles of War, I explained to her the conditions under which we were to sail in company on life's voyage, namely:
 She is to obey signals without question when received;
She is to steer by reckoning;
She is to stand by as a true consort in foul weather, battle or shipwreck;
She is to run under my guns if assailed by picaroons or privateers;
I am to keep her in due repair and see that she hath her allowance of paints, streamers, and bunting as befits a saucy craft;
I am to take no other craft in tow, and if any be now attached to cut her hawsers;
I am to revictual her day to day;
Should she chance to be blown on her beam ends by winds or misfortune, I am to stand by her and see her righted;
I am to set her course for the Great Harbour in the hope that moorings and ground to swing may be found for two well-built craft when laid up for eternity."

--From the Naval Historical Foundation Newsletter - Fall 1980. Typewritten by Hugh Siegel to his wife Jeanette

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Song and Poem about the DARTER

A Poem Written About the Darter
(by Francis Elaine Anderson, girlfriend of QM3/c Tom Bates, SS-227)

"The Darter"

The Darter was her name, sir
And a mighty craft was she
There never was a prouder crew
Than on the day she hit the sea.
Our sub she was, sir, all of her
To always love and honor true
The flag she carried waving high
Symbolized our cause in Red, White and Blue.
As I stood there on the bridge
I knew I'd not forget the sight
Of this beauty, long and silvery grey
and silent as the moonlit night.
We knew not what our destiny
But this we all did know
That where she sailed 'ere near or far
With her to the end we'd go.
This was my first time out to sea
And thoughts ran through my head
Somehow I could not help but fear
A fear half longing yet half dread.
The Skipper's order came, submerge
And silence closed upon the men
As down she sank fathoms deep,
Would we bring her up again?
I tried to think of my duty here
To push this thought aside
I looked to Andy at my right
Was this a man or coward side by side?
I who had feared no man nor beast
Would shirk from depths so great
I prayed to God for courage
That I might stand and face my fate.
My prayer was answered as I prayed
I felt my tears dissolve and courage come
And knew whatever harm should threat
I'd guide the Darter safely home.


A Song About Darter

(sung to the tune of "Thanks for the Memories" with apologies to Bob Hope)

No thanks for the memories
Of sixty days at sea,
Fake sunshine given free,
And little pills to cure ills,
Why did this have to be?
No thank you so much.

No thanks for the memories
Of fifteen hour dives,
Of ringworm and the hives,
Of leaky heads, flooded beds,
And Japs to plague our lives.
No thank you so much.

No thanks for the memories
Of each monotonous run,
The lack of air and sun,
Of sinking ships and radar pips,
And never having fun.
No thank you so much.

No thanks for the memories
Of hearing corny jokes,
And listening to the blokes,
Tell what they did,
While down in Syd,
Their tales are all a hoax.
No thank you so much.

No thanks for the memories
Of combat pins and stars,
And all the glory bars,
Navy crosses,
Navy bosses,
I'd rather be on Mars.
No thank you so much.

No thanks for the memories
Of blood and sweat and tears,
All the valves and gears,
Of vents and floods,
Torpedo duds,
And all the other fears.
No thank you so much.

No thanks for the memories
Of firing one to ten,
Of going down and then,
You hear a blast,
Think it's your last,
But then they come again.
No thank you so much...

--By the radio gang of the USS Darter off the coast of Mindanao, 1944.