Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Monday, June 20, 2005

"Give Me Liberty or Give Me..."

...a new meme, courtesy of Skippy-San. As I'm busy trying to get SubBasket excited about the concept of an "Instalanche" (she's concerned that I'll spend all morning blogging and won't get my vacation lawn-work done) I find that I've been tasked to do a meme about port visits that Yankee Sailor originated. This one's about liberty ports, and I've actually been dreading something like this. You see, although I've been coming off as a big, tough, world-travelling fast attack Sailor (which is mostly true) my two Engineer tours were mostly in the shipyard, so I got a total of two(!) port visits between those two boats. Also, all (OK, both) of my regular deployments took pretty much the same route, so my numbers here will be a little light.

Number of ports I've visited: 21. Here, I'm defining a "visit" as a place where we actually tied up (or anchored out) and went ashore; lurking off-shore and looking at it through a periscope doesn't count...

Most recent port I've visited: Warsaw, Poland. I'm gonna take Yankee Sailor's caveat here and include a TDY I did at a non-Navy command; otherwise, the answer is Pearl Harbor, which is kind of boring. Went there three times when I was TAD to CENTCOM, trying to figure out how to work the money arrangements for the Polish-led division in Iraq. Seeing and talking with people who were really sticking their necks out for the U.S. while trying to grow out of 65 years of Nazi and Communist domination was inspiring to the extreme. (Plus, the young women of Warsaw were quite a treat for the eyes...)

Port I Never Want to See Again: Mina Sulman, Bahrain. First time I went there was back in '92 for a three week mid-deployment upkeep on the good ship Topeka; this was the first port visit of a submarine in the Arabian (Persian) Gulf. The people were unfriendly, the cab drivers openly charged 10-50x more for Americans, it was hot, the club on base played "Achy-Breaky Heart" every third song... in short, I couldn't wait to get back to sea. One night we were driving to the base XOs house for a party out in town; our Navigator got us lost, and we ended up driving through a part of Manama where the local mosque had a sign out front that said, in English, "We live for Saddam, we will die for Saddam". I ended up going back for 4 days on USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) when I was the Submarine Liaison Officer for the BG staff on their 2000 deployment. I volunteered to stand duty a lot. There worst thing is that there's this "Tree of Life" where local tradition holds that if you don't go visit it when you're in Bahrain, you will be doomed to return until you've seen it. I never saw it...

Three Ports that were the Most Memorable:

1) Hobart, Tasmania: I talked to quite a few sub Sailors in my time, and every time I ran into someone who'd been to Hobart, they agreed that it was the best liberty port in the world. The people are friendly, the beer's great, and you got to see Tasmanian Devils in the roadside petting zoos.

2) Chinhae, South Korea: Not really a good port, but it was memorable for me in that it was the first time I'd gotten off base in a foreign (non-U.S/Canadian) port. It was my 29th birthday; we started out at the only English-speaking bar in town (the "Green House" -- don't Google it, some really disgusting sites show up). Drank so-ju there (our STSCS tried to stick his tongue down my throat), then got in a cab for some reason and went to a hotel bar about 10 miles to the northwest. Ate these dried minnows I found in my pocket. Did a John Travolta-type dance in the middle of a circle of 300 grinning and clapping Koreans. Got in at the end of a six Sailor bunny hop, and then felt another set of hands on my shoulders; turned my head, and saw a grinning Korean guy had joined us. Had a really bad headache the next morning.

3) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Really, really tall buildings. Had dinner in a rotating restaurant about 1,000 feet in the air. Saw an economy that seemed to be based entirely on selling pirated software and entertainment products.

Going deep...


Blogger ninme said...


6/20/2005 12:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't think Bahrain (various stops in '98 and '01) was that bad....

Number of ports: 30.
Most recent: Gibraltar.
Never want to see again: Subic Bay, Philippines
Three most memorable: Koper, Slovenia; Roosevelt Roads, PR (not that great a port, really, but it was my first time ever outside the US); Trondheim, Norway.

RM1(SS) (ret)

6/20/2005 3:53 PM

Blogger ninme said...

A lady that used to work for my dad, who was in the...air force and her husband was in the navy? Or vice versa... Anyway they lived in Bahrain for a couple years, and they have a family webpage with pictures of that hotel in Dubai shaped like a sail, with the camera pointing up all the balconies over the lobby, and they took a trip to the tree of life, but they didn't mention the curse. Neat old tree, but like the trees at Versailles, they'd better hope they don't get a stiff old windstorm.

Did you go into the Petronus Towers? The history channel or TLC or one of them had a show on the building of those things, which isn't something I would ordinarily watch but we tripped over it and couldn't turn it off. It was fascinating.

6/20/2005 5:29 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Actually, I didn't make it to the top of the Towers. A bunch of people did, but I ended up going on off with a tour group to the interior; I think I would have rather gone to the top of the Towers. (Basically, if you've seen rural Thailand, you've seen rural Malaysia...)

6/20/2005 6:44 PM

Blogger ninme said...

Yeah, when I saw rural Thailand, I said to myself, "you know, ninme, I think I feel like I've seen rural Malaysia."


I would've gone to the top. You can never say you've been on top of the man-made world unless you've been on top of it, after all.

6/20/2005 11:31 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

I so much wanted to go to the Pole. Connecticut went a couple years after I left; they had these neat shots of a polar bear chewing on the rudder. What I thought would have been the coolest would be to go right to the Pole and have "around the world" races. (Go through all 360 degrees of longitude in a minute or so...)

6/20/2005 11:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

AAAhh, I remember Mudville's first instalanche. I felt the same as your wife, so what, then I met you all in the ring.

Now I help run Mudville with Greyhawk and run MilBlogs on my own.

Aside from military duties, our rule is Family and Home first, Blogging second. Make her happy go cut the grass. :)

6/21/2005 3:10 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Mrs. G -- I did get the grass cut; and played some "Attack UNO", and many other fun things. I ended up figuring out that there's only so long you can surf over to all the new sites that have linked to you.
Thanks for all you do, Mrs. G...

6/21/2005 8:54 AM

Blogger chaoticsynapticactivity said...

Fine reporting....and here's to only going back to "those" places by choice now...

6/22/2005 9:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vote for worst port: Sousse, Tunisia. This was before the days of terrorism but who could tell? Walked through town and this kid started badgering me to shine my shoes. I was wearing white running shoes and he had black polish. I finally told him to buzz off, so he flung some polish at me. People looked at you suspiciously wherever you went. Nobody was friendly, but the bars did serve whatever you ordered and paid for.

The port brief said that the brothels served only Muslims, but liberty returnees stated that 1)that was a lie, and 2) you probably didn't want to go in anyway.

Spent a duty day with a pack of Cub Scouts stranded on board because the seas came up. They all got seasick - unbelievable mess. You'd think that if somebody was going to throw up they'd be able to get to a head in time.

6/23/2005 1:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, Hobart, Tasmania was awesome. Once you run the usual gauntlet of the anti-nuke kooks, the city was outstanding. Visited there twice on the Vinson CVN-70 when I got stranded outside the sub community once the QM rating dried up into the ET rating and overmanning orphaned me whilst on shore duty. I got a raw deal and that hastened my departure from the service. Three years spent on that floating monstrosity before I could engineer my departure........

5/25/2011 4:21 PM


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