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.)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Crew's Messes On Parade

I always enjoy it when the Navy website posts a photo of some sort of briefing in the Crew's Mess on a submarine. It's one of the few spaces that a boat can personalize, and I like to see what the various subs have done with their freedom of expression. Earlier this week, a picture of a briefing on the mess deck of USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723) was published:

From this angle, there seems to be a disappointing lack of uniqueness. If you look at the hi-res version of the picture, you can see they've put engravings of submarine-appropriate rating symbols on one glass locker door, and another glass door has what appears to be a silhouette of the bucking bronco symbol you see on Wyoming license plates. Overall, OKC's Crew's Mess isn't very impressive in terms of personalization.

The COB's haircut, on the other hand, is extremely impressive. Low maintenance, low drag... the perfect underway hairstyle.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forget the decor. The real question is who all the (to be stereotypical) Japanese businessmen are.

3/27/2008 7:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I visited the USS Indianapolis while they were decomissioning. Their command passageway was tiled with alternating black and white tiles to form a very large "checkered flag". It was certainly appropriate considering their namesake, but it sure did jump out at you. Couldn't miss it.


3/27/2008 10:06 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first boat was the USS Shark (SSN-591). We had a sharks mouth and eyes painted on the hull. You couldn't really tell while we were parked at Groton, but you could see them when we were in clear water, like in St. Croix. I always thought this was a very cool way to personalize the submarine.

3/27/2008 10:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Brothers boat the USS Connecticut would have a huge pair of Dice proudly displayed when they would come into port at Groton. A very cool sight. THe Warriors of the Double Duece. SSN22 I saw the pictures and thought to myself... Pretty cool.


3/27/2008 11:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the Thomas A Edison (SSBN 610) we hada Steinway piano in the crews mess. You can find details of it here:

The only full-size piano ever installed aboard a submarine conducting nuclear deterrent patrols is scheduled to go on display this summer at the Steinway Company Museum in New York.

The exhibit, celebrating the 150 years of the famous piano company, is scheduled to display a different piano for each decade.

The Steinway Company felt that this piano was of huge importance because of the historical background and the interesting events that led to its placement on the boat.

“We thought it would be a point of interest. Someone contacted a dealer of the Steinway Company in Boston and told them about the piano. We felt that since there is a 150 years celebration and they are having a piano for each decade, we thought it would be very nice to have it on display,” said John Patton, spokesman for Steinway & Sons.

The piano had been on USS Thomas A. Edison (SSBN 610) from the sub's construction in 1961, until it was put out of commission in December 1983. Background information about the historic piano came from former crew members recalling it on the boat, and discussing the events that led up to it being there with representatives of the Steinway Company.

Lt. John G. “Black Jack” Fletcher, the Blue Crew’s assistant weapons officer with the collateral duties as first lieutenant in charge of deck seamanship remembered, "About a month before launching the Edison, the shipyard was preparing to weld shut the large hull openings left open in the pressure hull to move large equipment into the ship. One of these openings was topside centerline just forward of the sail."

Capt. Cy Young told him he wanted a piano aboard, and that Fletcher would be in charge of loading it. With that, the captain proceeded to New York City and struck a deal with the Steinway Company, buying the famous piano new for $1,500.

“It was a beauty, nary a scratch on its finish,” said Fletcher, but he was concerned. He was not about to be the first one to mar the piano, and so to prevent this, a special stainless steel felt lined box was made for it.

Later, on a second shift (where questions were less likely to be asked), the piano box was quietly loaded through the hull opening down through the interior of the submarine, until it reached the forward bulkhead of the crew’s mess. There, the box was inconspicuously kept until the submarine was closed up.

The piano was then removed from the box when all of the crew’s mess area was completed and strapped to the forward port bulkhead with stainless steel bands. Fortunately for Fletcher, no damage had occurred to the piano during its move.

All this covert effort resulted in a unique form of entertainment for the crew, particularly during the Mid-Patrol Proms.

Now part of the artifact collection of the Naval Historical Center, the piano is being loaned out in return for a complete restoration. As part of the restoration, the Steinway Company has agreed to clean and restore the piano to its previous working condition by restringing it. They will also refinish it to the original black lacquered finish that at some point had been removed.

Chief Torpedoman

3/27/2008 1:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It also looks like OKC doesn't have the marcom system, where you can pick up a phone and patch into the 2JV, JA, 1MC, Radio, Ship's alarms, and what-have-you. One of those keypads and phones was installed on our boat where that flat-panel display is mounted.

Man, a piano would have been awesome. Finding a piano tuner with a red badge probably isn't so easy, though. Heh.

3/27/2008 2:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finding a piano tuner with a red badge probably isn't so easy, though. Heh.

When the boat had its second overhaul at Mare Island Shipyard in 1973-74, a piano tuner was brought down to work on it.

Chief Torpedoman

3/27/2008 2:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks like the COB is describing ACMs.

3/27/2008 3:35 PM

Anonymous CS2/SS Poole said...

To: RClark
Is your brother BClark?
If so he is the coolest full bird I have ever met.

3/27/2008 4:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

cs2/ss Poole:

Yes that is my big Brother. We are very proud of his time served and I enjoy following the silent service through the blogs I read. Note to Joel: " Keep up the good work with this informative blog. Whether a person is still in the service, retired from the service, or a guy lke me who has a family member in the service, the information is great. Thanks Rclark

3/28/2008 4:52 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I use to work in the repair department aboard the McKee and had opportunity to go aboard alot of subs...I was always amazed at their ingenuity. However, there seems to be a move afoot to "Stalinize" everything and remove personnalization from subs, under the guise of "it's not professional looking". Another reason I'm retiring after 26 years instead of going back for another tour...the fun is gone!

3/28/2008 7:26 AM

Blogger Sacrilege said...

The Wyoming (SSBN 742) had rodeo decor galore throughout the ship. There were various Wyoming state trophies and memerobilia of the previous Wyomings.

The Maine (SSBN 741) had the Maine flag, which was over a hundred years old in Officer country, which every table was covered in Maine postcards, lobster pictures. The portraits of every lighthouse in Maine were on the mess decks as well.

The OKC is at best, drab and lacking, imo.

Granted, I was a boomer sailor.

3/28/2008 8:07 AM

Blogger DukeRulZ said...

I went onboard HMCS Okanagan (S74)while the usetafish was on liberty in Halifax. They had this Nazi U-boat poster hidden behind the crew's mess door. I think it was this one:
I always wondered how they kept its existence secret from the PC police. (This was the 90's.)

Our crew's mess was sterile. No ships's plaques, nor awards although the ward room did have a stuffed flying fish (SSN-673)

3/28/2008 9:39 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey "Chief Torpedo Man"...this is Joel's blog!! (just taking care of a Shipmate)

3/28/2008 12:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sillouette of glass cabinet on the right bears the name of the crew's mess.... "Cattlemen's Cafe". That's a decent personalization.

Over the door to maneuvering we had a sign "Tautog Power and Light" that came and went depending on who was onboard.


3/28/2008 12:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anonymous at 3/28/2008 12:20 PM

Darn right, this is Joel's blog! I greatly enjoy reading it and love to read the amount of participation he gets from readers comments.

BZ to Joel.

Chief Torpedoman

3/29/2008 10:07 AM

Anonymous COB 723 - Giddy up!!! said...

Here's some first hand info:
The Japanese guests were members of the Japanese Defense Industry. They were in country to tour Norfolk Naval Station and we gladly had them aboard OKC. Like most messes, ours is named. It's named after a famous (in Oklahoma City) restaurant called the Cattleman's Cafe which is home to the best T-bone I've ever tasted. I won't defend the personalization of the mess except to say that the money available today for things like that is not what it used to be. We have stained glass, lantern lights, nauga with images, and that's about it. My "low maintenance" haircut has been substantially augmented by heredity/nature. Thanks for your interest in the OKC. Know that we're doing our part and then some.

4/02/2008 6:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to know what they did with the signed football and jersey from the Sooner's National Championship. I was the LYN onboard when we received them and I had both in the ship's office. Also what happen to the Cattleman Cafe Sign that we had hanging and steer horns.

4/03/2008 10:55 AM

Blogger gnomingroam said...

HMCS Okanagan also had a pink panther painted on the front of the conning tower as this was the boat's mascot. We also had a big stuffed pink panther stowed away for open visit days that we would bring out and occaisionally sit him at the helm.

8/08/2011 7:35 AM


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