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Saturday, November 09, 2019 09:02 PM





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The Loss of USS Scamp (SS 277)

The deaths of these 5 sailors changed how US manned military Units

Veterans Day Event set for Nov 11 in Bremerton

Tragically Unlucky – The Sad Tale of the USS Sculpin

Six sub officers snagged in Seattle area drug cases

Success Requires Self-Direction

The Loss of USS Growler (SS 215)

One-of-a-Kind Coast Guard Icebreaker Visits Juneau on Way Home


The Loss of USS Scamp (SS 277)

Naval History and Heritage Command


Commander J.C. Hollingsworth

Leaving Pearl Harbor on 16 October 1944, Scamp (Commander J.C. Hollingsworth) headed for Midway, topped off with fuel there, and departed that place for her eighth patrol on 21 October 1944. Scamp was to patrol in the vicinity of the Bonin Islands. On 8 November, her area was changed to the vicinity of 29°-00'N, 141°-00'E.


On 9 November, Scamp was told to stay clear of the Bonins area south of 28°N during B-29 raids and she acknowledged, saying she was in 28°-44'N, 141°-44'E, and had made no torpedo attacks.


 This was the last communication received from Scamp. In order to provide rescue services for downed aviators during Saipan-based B-29 assaults on Tokyo, Scamp was ordered to lifeguard duty on 14 November. She was told to proceed to a point just east of the peninsula which forms the eastern boundary of Tokyo Bay, on Honshu. Between that date and 26 November 1944, numerous messages were sent toScamp which required no acknowledgment, thus rendering it impossible to tell whether she received any or all of them.


Scamp (SS 277)On 29 November 1944, information was received of an enemy minefield in the vicinity of Inubo Saki, a point on the previously mentioned peninsula, and all submarines in that area were warned. Since all transmissions to Scamp after 9 November 1944 remained unacknowledged, and she had not appeared by 21 December 1944, she was reported as presumed lost on war patrol in enemy waters.


Since the end of the war, the following facts have been learned from Japanese sources. On 11 November 1944, a J apanese patrol plane bombed what appeared to be oil trails left by a submarine, in 33°-38'N, 141°-00'E. A coast defense vessel was led to the scene by the plane and dropped some seventy depth charges in three runs on the target whereupon a large oil pool appeared. The position of the attack is one in which Scamp might be expected to be on 11 November, in proceeding toward her lifeguard station. On 13 November Greenling, herself on a lifeguard station, contacted a ship at 29° -41'N, 140°-10'E. Due to the nature of radar interference, Greenling thought that her contact was on Scamp, although she was unable to sight anything.

On 16 November two attacks were made by the Japanese, one in 32°-10'N, 139°-30'E, the other in 29°-21'N, 141°-30'E. Amplifying data on these attacks reveal that on the latter attack, "Great explosive sounds came as a result of this attack." It would seem then, that Scamp was attacked several times during her period of life-guard duty. Whether she was badly damaged and with-drawing from the Japanese coast at the time of the last two attacks, is impossible to say. No attack cited here ties in with any anti-submarine attacks reported by submarines returning from patrol. It is probable that damage to Scamp became progressively more serious as she absorbed each successive attack, and she may have been withdrawing from the Empire without transmission facilities when the end came.

Decoration by Admiral Lockwood


Scamp, in the seven patrols completed before her loss, sank six ships, totaling 49,000 tons, and damaged eight, for 40,400 tons. Her first patrol was in the southern approaches of the Japanese Empire in March 1943. Plagued by poor torpedo performance, she could only damage a tanker and two freighters. In the Bismarcks-Solomons area on her second patrol, Scamp sank a large freighter. The same area was the scene of her third patrol, which netted Scamp a submarine and a large tanker, both damaged. Scamp's fourth patrol was in the same area as the previous two, this time she sank a freighter and a freighter-transport, and damaged a destroyer escort.


On her fifth patrol this ship covered the Truk-Kavieng traffic lanes. She sank a freighter-transport, and damaged a heavy cruiser and a transport. Her sixth patrol, in the same area from mid-December 1943 to February 1944 resulted in the sinking of a single large tanker. In her seventh patrol, conducted in the New Guinea-Palau-Mindanao area, Scamp sank a small trawler by gunfire. During this patrol, Scamp was severely damaged by a close enemy aircraft bomb, and was saved only by the heroic work of her Commanding Officer and crew.



In the late evening and early morning of Nov. 12-13, 1942, the United States and Japan engaged in one of the most brutal naval battles of World War II.


Minutes into the fight, north of Guadalcanal, a torpedo from Japanese destroyer Amatsukaze ripped into the port side of the American light cruiser Juneau, taking out its steering and guns and killing 19 men in the forward engine room.


The keel buckled and the propellers jammed. During the 10-15 minutes the crew was engaged in battle, sailors vomited and wept; to hide from the barrage, others tried to claw their way into the steel belly of their vessel. The ship listed to port, with its bow low in the water, and the stink of fuel made it difficult to breathe below deck.


The crippled Juneau withdrew from the fighting, later that morning joining a group of five surviving warships from the task force as they crawled toward the comparative safety of the Allied harbor at Espiritu Santo, in the New Hebrides.

Fumes continued to foul the air in the holds; many of the ship’s original complement of 697 sailors — which included five brothers from Waterloo, Iowa — were crowded together topside, blistered from the sun.

At 11:01 a.m., a Japanese submarine tracking the vessels fired another torpedo into the already off-kilter Juneau.


A sudden, furious explosion ripped it apart; underwater blasts followed, likely as its boilers burst. The forward half of Juneau at once disappeared. Then the sea swallowed the stern.


The blasts shot an array of material into the air and fragments of the cruiser struck its sister ships. The turret from a huge antiaircraft gun flew from the vanishing vessel to within 100 yards of another.


Body parts fell from the sky.


The men below deck almost certainly drowned at once. The explosion’s aftereffect might have sucked most of those on deck to the bottom, while the blast blew others to bits.


Many of those pitched clear soon died of their injuries, or of poisoning from the black fuel oil, scalding water, or flying metal. They were burned from the fire of the blowup, covered with thick oil, belching salt water.


The dead, the quickly dying, and assorted human carnage floated in a huge oil slick.


Almost two months later, in early January 1943, the Navy gave fuller details of the eventual American victories at Guadalcanal, but also announced the great cost of the engagements.


Among the losses on Juneau were the five brothers from Iowa, the Sullivans: George, 27; Francis, or “Frank,” 26; Joseph, known as “Red,” 24; Madison, or “Matt,” 23; and Albert, or “Al,” 20.


It was — and remains — the single greatest wartime sacrifice of any American family.


The Navy immediately picked up a thread begun before the brothers’ deaths to weave a story about the Sullivan family — one continued by newspapers, filmmakers, and Midwestern and national leaders. It was American myth-making at its finest, serving to distract a grieving family from its loss, misdirect attention from a series of Navy bungles, and help accustom a nation to the idea of sacrifice for the greater good.


Varied authorities with mass media pull would convince Americans of the boys’ luster as the brothers and their family became cogs in a propaganda machine that would transform them all into heroes — individuals unrecognizable to their Waterloo, Iowa, hometown.


Read all


Veterans Day event set for Nov. 11 in Bremerton

Event will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Kitsap Sun Pavilion

by Tyler Shuey |
Saturday, November 9, 2019 10:30am

Local organizations are joining together to host what they are calling the largest Veterans Day program in Washington, Nov. 11, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Kitsap Sun Pavilion in Bremerton.

Twenty-five military booths will be on display, including vintage uniforms and vehicles. Over 1,800 people are expected to attend the event, according to a press release.

“This will be the 16th year,” Sandra Smith said, Navy League Bremerton-Olympic Peninsula Council and Veterans Day Event Committee Chair. “The first two years it was somewhat smaller so it was in the Presidents Hall. By the third year, we had already advanced to the pavilion.

At 10:30 a.m., the actual program begins with pomp and circumstance of a formal Parade of Colors. Captain Alan Schrader, Chief of Staff of Navy Region Northwest; and Guy Stitt, Bremerton Navy League Ambassador, will welcome those in attendance. County Commissioner Robert Gelder will introduce all of the military and political dignitaries, while the Bremerton High School Band will provide the tunes.

“We usually fill up the pavilion, they put out almost 2,000 chairs. In Kitsap, this [event] is basically it.”

The Bremerton-Olympic Peninsula Council of Navy League provides the coordination and funds for the event, along with 42 other organizations. This year, the keynote speaker is Lt. Cmdr. Richard Roberts USN (Ret.). He served as a crew member on P2V’s during the Cuban Missile Crisis and was subsequently commissioned as an Aviation Maintenance Officer, serving aboard the USS Forrestal, USS Enterprise, USS Midway, and USS Independence.

Smith noted that rain often deters some folks away from the event, so she is hopeful the weather stays clear on Veterans Day.

“The parking lot always fills up and then you have to park out on the grass,” she said. “Grass kind of turns to mud when it rains. I’m hoping my anti-rain dance is effective this year.”

Crazy Eric’s Drive-In will be on hand providing free refreshments following the program. A container will also be available for retiring American Flags to be properly retired.

“It takes a lot of people to put this together,” Smith said. “Other people have really stepped up.”


We Subvets usually show at this event!


Tragically Unlucky – The Sad Tale of the USS Sculpin

Matthew Gaskill

The conventions for naming American submarines depends on the time when they were commissioned and the type they were. Today, submarines are generally named after states or cities, or sometimes great Americans.

During WWII, US submarines were named after fish or sea mammals, and their numerical designation was prefaced by the letters “SS”, for “steam screw”. SS-191 was the USS Sculpin, the first of three boats to carry the name.

The sculpin is an ugly deep-water fish with big bulging eyes to help it see in the depths. It also has specialized barbs in its fins and gills that not only allow it to anchor itself to the sea bottom, but also work to repel attackers. SS-191 very deservedly took its name from this tenacious deep-sea fish.


Commissioned in 1939, the Sculpin was an “S-class” submarine, of which there were ten. All of the subs in the class were named after fish or mammals whose name began with the letter “S”. The subs were powered by either direct-drive or diesel-electric engines/auxiliary battery and displaced 1450 tons surfaced and 2350 tons submerged.

They were 310 feet (about 94 meters) long and 26 feet (almost 8 meters) wide. They had a top speed of 21 knots surfaced and 8.75 knots submerged. The boats had an incredible 11,000 mile (17.7 kilometers) range and were able to remain submerged for forty-eight hours at two knots.

The subs were tested to 250 feet (76 meters), but sometimes were forced closer to 300 feet (91.4 meters). The crew consisted of 5 officers and 54 enlisted men manning eight 21-inch torpedo tubes and 24 torpedoes, one 3-inch deck gun, and a combination of .50 or .30 machine guns.

In 1943, the Sculpin was the chief boat in Submarine Division 43, a group of three submarines in the Central Pacific. They were stationed to defend the sea lanes approaching the Gilbert Islands, which was to be the site of the famous invasion of Tarawa in late November.

Commanding the 3-boat sub division was Captain John P. Cromwell. The captain of the Sculpin itself was Commander Fred Connaway. The two other boats with Sculpin were the Sargo-class boat Searaven and Balao-class sub Apagon.

Captain Cromwell, like many Navy men, was from a land-locked state: Illinois. Born in 1901, Cromwell graduated from Annapolis in 1924. He served in a variety of duties before the war, including on the battleship USS Maryland. In the pre-WWII Navy, a battleship was a desirable assignment, but Cromwell was drawn to the submarine force.


In 1936, Captain Cromwell was given command of his own sub, USS S-20. By the time war broke out in 1941, Cromwell had served not only as captain, but in a variety of staff positions in Washington as well as Engineer Officer for the submarines across the entire Pacific Fleet. He had fostered connections and was well-respected.

Commander Connaway was ten years Cromwell’s junior, but also from a land-locked state – New Mexico. After graduating from the Naval Academy, Cromwell served aboard the battleship Texas for two years, and then transferred to submarine school.


By 1939 he had commanded two subs, and at the start of the war was commanding sub S-48. In 1931 on a submarine voyage across the Atlantic, Connaway wrote to his mother, relating the conditions aboard the boat:

“For three weeks I am an engineer. Besides having two lectures a day and having to sketch the entire engineering plant and electrical system, and having to write up the lectures, and having to stand eight hours’ watch every day at the most unearthly hours in the fire room, temperature 130 degrees F, I don’t have very much to do except try to find time and a place to sleep.”

By November 1943, the Sculpin had undertaken eight war patrols. During those patrols, the men of the Sculpin had taken the fight to the enemy, consisting of eighteen Japanese ships, including one cruiser. Not all of the men aboard Sculpin had been on every mission, including Cromwell and Connaway, but many of them had some combat experience, and on the boats’ ninth war patrol.

This would be extremely important as both Commander Connaway and Captain Cromwell had not been on war patrol before. Both men had served on subs and the submarine fleet in a variety of ways, but neither had seen a war patrol in an active combat zone.

On November 16th, 1943, Sculpin, Searaven and Apagon took position near Truk, west of the Marshall and Gilbert Islands, protecting the sea lanes from any approaching Japanese ships.


The Americans had a number of serious advantages in the Pacific – and Commander Cromwell was in possession of some of them. He was privy to the knowledge that the Allies had broken both many of the German naval codes and the primary Japanese code (“JN-25” or “Purple”) as well.

He also knew the position of most of the subs in the Pacific and had detailed knowledge of the coming invasion of Tarawa. Additionally, the Americans, including Cromwell’s Submarine Division 43, knew where most of the Japanese fleet was, or was heading. The deployment of the three subs at Truk was intentional.

On the night of the 16th, Captain Connaway sighted a convoy of Japanese ships steaming at high speed in the direction of the Gilberts. In the darkness, Connaway drove Sculpin on the surface, parallel to the Japanese convoy, getting ahead of it in the early morning hours, then submerging in wait.

When dawn broke, Sculpin surfaced, but was spotted by a Japanese destroyer, which soon made right for it. Connaway ordered an emergency dive and took the boat as far down as possible. Inside the sub, Cromwell, Connaway and the crew of the Sculpin listened as the Japanese convoy passed overhead.

Believing they were clear, Connaway rose to periscope depth in the hope of catching the enemy convoy before it moved out of range. This time, another Japanese destroyer, the Yamagumo, was heading straight at him. Once again the Sculpin dove deep.

Many people have expressed the sentiment that war is “mostly boredom, punctuated by moments of terror”. Of all the moments experienced in war, perhaps none is more terrifying than being in a submarine while it is being depth-charged.

Unnaturally confined in a steel box in the first place, then sent under the waves, men in a sub are then subjected to oil-drum sized explosive charges on them in the hope that the explosions will crack open the hull of the submarine, and all aboard her will be sent into the deep ocean.

There are so many terrifying aspects to this that it is hard to single out just one, but many submariners who have been through a depth charge attack will tell you that among the worst things about it is the inability to shoot back – you are at the mercy of the enemy.

After hours of being attacked and searched for (the dreaded “ping” of sonar), Sculpin surfaced at noon. When the boat reached 125 feet, the depth gauge stuck. When the boat surfaced, it was rather abruptly, as no one aboard was quite sure how deep Sculpin was. In the conning tower, Connaway once again found himself staring at a Japanese destroyer heading right at him.

Screaming for an emergency dive, Connaway slammed the hatch behind him and the Sculpin descended once again. This time, eighteen depth charges fell near the boat in quick succession. One of the charges effected the subs’ ability to control its depth.

The boat rapidly dove past her maximum depth of 250 feet, heading to 300. Leaks appeared throughout the boat as rivets and seams began to give. Any deeper and Sculpin would crush – the water pressure of the ocean around her would simply cave in her hull like a paper bag.

Connaway and his crew managed to stop their descent, but only by powering through the water at full-power. This in turn gave the Japanese sonar-men above more noise with which to target the Americans. Eventually, one of two things was going to happen – neither of them good.

One, the sub could continue to try to make way under full power, but eventually fuel would run out, or the engines would be damaged beyond repair. Then the boat would stop, sink, and everyone in it would be crushed by the deep. Second, the enemy could easily score a fatal hit. The probability of either happening was very high.

That left one possibility: surface and fight it out as long as possible. That’s what Commander Cromwell and Captain Connaway agreed to do. When Sculpin blew her ballast tanks and surfaced, Captain Connaway and the gun crew ran out onto the deck to man the boats’ 3-inch gun. The first Japanese shell hit the American sub, killing Connaway in the conning tower and all of the men of the gun crew.

The boats’ second in command took over, and he ordered the boat scuttled – primed with explosives and sunk. The crew would abandon ship as best they could before their boat exploded. As difficult as that order was to give, one man had a worse decision to make.

Below deck, Commander Cromwell was faced with a choice – be captured and likely give up the secrets he held under torture, or…die in the ocean’s depths. Cromwell informed those around him of his decision and ordered them to abandon ship.

The dive officer, Ensign W.M. Fielder, elected to remain behind with Cromwell to help make sure the boat did indeed sink. A number of severely wounded men, knowing what treatment they would receive at the hands of the Japanese, also elected to stay behind.


Forty-two other men abandoned ship. Immediately they realized the stories about Japanese treatment of prisoners they had heard were true – one wounded man was thrown back into the sea to drown as the rest were brought into captivity.

Read another story from us: The End of the Rising Sun – The Japanese Surrender in Color

Eventually put aboard the Japanese carrier Chuyo for transport to a POW camp, the men of the Sculpin and others were torpedoed by the USS Sailfish, whose captain and crew were unaware of the POW’s aboard the enemy ship. Ironically, four years before, the crew of the Sculpin had rescued the crew of the Sailfish after an accident off the New England coast.

Only twenty-one men from the Sculpin survived the war. Cromwell was awarded the Medal of Honor, Connaway the Silver Star. 





Your Navy

Six sub officers snagged in Seattle area drug cases

By: Geoff Ziezulewicz    12 hours ago

The Navy recently prosecuted or administratively punished six submarine officers at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor for narcotics offenses, officials confirmed this week.

Two of those officers — Lt. j.g. Riley W. Hoffmann and Lt. Alexander J. Egber — served on the Blue Crew of the ballistic missile submarine Pennsylvania, one of the Navy’s “boomers” that carry nuclear weapons.

A third submariner, Lt. James W. Hendren, was assigned to the guided-missile submarine Michigan.

Three other officers overseen by Submarine Group 9 have been administratively disciplined for drug offenses this year, according to Lt. Mack Jamieson, a group spokesman.

Declining to elaborate on the nature of their alleged crimes, Jamieson cited federal privacy rules for not providing the names and ranks of the officers who received non judicial punishment.

Asked whether military leaders were concerned that this rash of officer drug cases might signal a broader problem plaguing the underwater fleet, Jamieson told Navy Times they “take all allegations of drug use seriously.”

“The Navy has a robust drug prevention program in place to inform sailors not to use illegal drugs and ensure sailors are aware of what can happen if they violate this policy,” he said.

The Navy’s probe began after a junior officer popped positive for an unnamed illegal drug during a routine urinalysis, Jamieson told Navy Times.

As the investigation widened, it netted Hoffmann, Egber and Hendren, Jamieson added.

Hendren and Hoffmann have pleaded guilty in recent weeks, while Egber is scheduled for arraignment later this month.

Egber is charged with using cocaine, the stimulant Adderall and the synthetic mood-changing drug MDMA —better known by street names “Ecstasy,” “Ex” or “Molly” — in San Francisco and Berkeley, California, in October and November of 2017, according to his charge sheet.

The following month, he used and distributed cocaine in Seattle and also solicited another unnamed person to distribute it, military prosecutors allege.


Egber’s civilian defense attorney, Jason Greene, declined comment this week.


Prosecutors charged Hoffmann with using and distributing cocaine in Seattle in late 2017, plus possessing MDMA.


As part of a pretrial deal, he pleaded guilty on Oct. 9 at a special-court martial hearing to using and possessing the drugs, Jamieson said.

The military judge sentenced him to forfeit $6,000 in pay over the span of a year, a reprimand and two months of restriction on Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.


Under the terms of the plea deal, however, both the pay forfeiture and restriction were suspended, Jamieson wrote in an email to Navy Times.


Hoffmann’s civilian defense attorney, Steven Krupa, declined comment.


Hendren pleaded guilty Oct. 23 to conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman and illegal drug distribution in Seattle, where he lived, according to Navy spokesman Joe Kubistek.


He was sentenced to 150 days behind bars, a letter of reprimand and $20,000 in pay forfeitures over the span of five months, Kubistek said.

Hendren’s civilian defense counsel, Michael Berens, questioned the severity of the sentence.


“The conduct was relatively minor, but the exposure and tack taken by the prosecutors was rather extreme,” Berens said.


Berens told Navy Times that a fellow officer who had missed his ferry home arrived at Hendren’s apartment and asked if he had any cocaine. Because he shared the drug — what the attorney called a “buddy distro” — Hendren drew the charge.


Hendren’s conduct unbecoming plea stemmed from putting a civilian in touch with a drug dealer on July 26, after he’d already had been hit with the original charges, Berens told Navy Times.


“Lt. Hendren was facing charges and then he pleaded guilty to arranging an additional drug deal,” Berens said. “He basically put a civilian in contact with a drug dealer when he was facing charges.”

Records provided by Berens allege that Egber snitched on Hendren.

In an Aug. 23 affidavit attached to a search warrant request targeting Hendren’s cellphone, Naval Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent Chris Garlinghouse wrote that Egber said Hendren facilitated a July 26 coke buy.

Garlinghouse described Hendren and Egber meeting two unnamed civilians at a Seattle bar that night after work.

Over the next few hours, Hendren texted a dealer and then took the civilians to an apartment building to get drugs, according to the affidavit.

Hendren said he "did not want Lt. Egber to witness anything,” so he went upstairs but arranged to meet later to go to dinner, Garlinghouse wrote.

On the way to the restaurant, Egber asked Hendren what happened but was told “it’s not his business,” the affidavit stated.

Egber kept asking until Hendren “became defensive and stated he does not know what he is talking about,” the agent wrote.

Hendren walked into work on Aug. 23 and was met by NCIS agents who seized his phone, according to an affidavit penned by Hendren five days later.

“Lt. Hendren was placed into handcuffs and leg shackles and then paraded through Navy medical spaces, and then driven to his off-base downtown Seattle apartment and was forced to walk outside on public streets while shackled in uniform,” Hendren’s Navy attorney, Lt. Cmdr. Michael Whitican, added in an Aug. 29 motion.

Hendren’s affidavit accused the Navy of preventing him from calling for family or legal counsel for three days after he was incarcerated.

“We’ve got parents thinking their son might be dead, and mum’s the word,” Berens said. “Why couldn’t the command reach out?”

Hendren spent two months behind bars before he entered a plea. The initial 13 days were spent in solitary confinement and he faced two more days in the hole after his plea hearing, according to his attorney.

“This is a relatively minor drug charge,” Berens said. “We’ve got somebody in solitary for two weeks.”

Navy spokesman Jamieson said authorities "followed standard procedure as laid out in the manual for court-martial throughout the process.”

Hendren’s commitment to the Navy was slated to expire in May, and he’d told superiors he was leaving the service before the probe kicked off, Berens told Navy Times.

To Berens, Hendren’s deepening substance abuse problem and his decision to depart a promising military career stemmed from the same cause — unspecified “risks taken by superiors at sea.”

Hendren was on “several top-secret missions,” where “the command had made decisions that put everyone at risk,” Berens said.

In a clemency request forwarded Friday to the commander of Navy Region Northwest, Rear Adm. Christopher Gray, Hendren’s legal team argued that the lieutenant drew a harsh sentence compared to those meted out to peers with similar charges.

They’ve asked Gray to lop 30 days off Hendren’s confinement at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Northwest Regional Correctional Facility, about an hour’s drive from his submarine’s base.

“Please also know there is some evidence that LT Hendren’s command suspected that he may have an alcohol dependency issue, stemming in part from being involved in two perilous incidents at sea, that was never properly addressed by (Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program) providers,” the attorneys wrote.

“Had LT Hendren received counseling and treatment when the command identified the possibility of an alcohol dependency issue, LT Hendren may have separated as planned in May/June 2019 under Honorable conditions.”

In a letter to Gray, Hendren added that his mother had suffered a stroke and “it is probable this will be her last holiday season.”

“I have not spent a holiday season at home for the past 3 years due to forward deployments on USS Michigan,” he wrote. “I am writing to ask for 30 days removed from my sentence, so I may spend the holidays with my mother as her only child.”

Berens said he hopes to receive an answer soon.




Success Requires Self-Direction

By Vice Admiral Albert H. Konetzni Jr., U.S. Navy (Retired)
October 2019 | Proceedings | Vol. 145/10/1,400

A teacher told me years ago that if a young person worked to do a little better every day, that individual would be the ultimate leader and role model by the age of 30! The comment may be an oversimplification of “self-direction,” but we all can agree that continuous improvement results in top-performing organizations and individuals.

To continuously improve, organizations and individuals need a game plan. An individual who just wakes up and thinks I will just see what happens today will not get far. Organizations that operate without a plan are almost always doomed to mediocrity or failure.

As I think about self-direction and game plans, I am reminded of examples that make self-direction more easily understood. For years I kept a sign in my office that simply stated, “Keep the main thing, the main thing!” This short statement highlighted the fact that if everything is important, then nothing is important! To clearly underline the “main thing,” we stressed a minimum number of key objectives. As the Pacific Submarine Force commander, I was committed above all else to safety, people, and operational excellence. These are certainly broad areas, but they put a spotlight on what truly needed to be “the main things.” Perhaps more important, these focus areas prioritized the organization’s efforts and were reinforced daily by me and the chain of command. If something else came up, it was measured against the top three “main things” and acted on accordingly.

“Keeping the main thing the main thing” supports self-direction, as this simple phrase provides the ability to set goals related to the main things and supports communications clarity by focusing the team on the critical aspects of our responsibilities. It allows a leader to create an atmosphere where continuous improvement is part of the culture. Self-direction supports intellectual growth for individuals as well as organizations.

One example that encompassed all three of my personal main things was the initiative to establish a fast attack nuclear-powered submarine squadron in Guam, Marianas Islands. Confronted with the difficult challenge of meeting the high demand for submarines in the Pacific theater, my staff enlisted and officer members alike realized that a submarine squadron in Guam would contribute to strengthening all of our key objectives. Submarines homeported in Guam would contribute to safe submarine operations in the Pacific by relaxing the time between deployments and the overall hectic pace of operations. It would reduce the number of deployments from the continental United States necessary to support national defense objectives. On top of the operational advantages, the concept would boost the morale of our submarine crews as time at home would be increased. Finally, the added submarine presence in the western Pacific would provide for enhanced interoperability with our allies and give the geographic combatant commanders a better ability to meet their operational commitments.

This main thing or focused self-direction allowed my team to overcome all the obstacles that existed to successfully establish Submarine Squadron 15 in Guam in early 2001. Members of this team, some two decades later, recommended to Navy uniformed and civilian leaders that the squadron headquarters building be named Konetzni Hall. Approval of this initiative came in December 2018. As one can imagine, I was shocked when I was informed by the Chief of Naval Operations that the headquarters building had been named for me. Deep feelings of humility, honor, and happiness remain with me even today.

The truth, however, is that I had little to do with the submarine squadron’s establishment in Guam. Self-direction throughout the entire organization was the pivotal factor to this success. Twenty years after the establishment of the squadron they remembered our mutual efforts, the team’s success, and proposed naming the building in my honor; and heck, I am still alive to boot! They followed the mantra “Keep the main thing the main thing” and made a dream, Submarine Squadron 15, come true! With self-direction most anything is possible for individuals and organizations.

Editor’s Note: This is part nine of a ten-part series on behaviors that Vice Admiral Konetzni learned during his years of service. They apply to individuals and define superb organizations. Admiral Konetzni believes these ten behaviors can give people energy to thrive and overcome obstacles. For the rest of the series, click here. Part 1: Self Image. Part 2: Self Motivation. Part 3: Self Projection. Part 4: Self Control. Part 5: Self Discipline. Part 6: Self Esteem. Part 7: Self Image. Part 8: Self-Direction. 




The Loss of USS Growler (SS 215)

Naval History and Heritage Command

(SS-215: displacement 1,526 (surface) 2,424 (submerged); length 311'9"; beam 27'2"; draft 15'3"; speed 20 knots (surface); 8.5 knots (submerged); complement 66; armament 1 3-inch, 1 .50 caliber machine gun, 10 (six forward, four aft) 21-inch torpedo tubes; class Gato)

The third Growler (SS-215) was laid down on 10 February 1941 at Groton, Conn., by the Electric Boat Co.; launched on 22 November 1941; sponsored by Mrs. Robert L. Ghormley; and commissioned on 20 March 1942, Lt. Cmdr. Howard W. Gilmore in command.


Sailing out of Groton to conduct her first sea trials on 23 March 1942, Growler made a series of Condition II dives and operated her engineering plant at full speed. She returned to her builders’ yard to have the “night shift repair minor defects and leaks.” The next day, she reported for duty to Adm. Ernest King, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Fleet (ComInch), and Vice Adm. Royal E. Ingersoll, C-in-C, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (CinCLant). For the rest of the month of March, Growler continued to conduct intensive training for her crew at sea, and returned at night to Groton for minor repairs.


On 1 April 1942, Growler participated with the submarine rescue vessel Falcon (ASR-2) to conduct various drills and training, including torpedo and night approaches as a part of Task Force (TF) 25.6, New Construction Submarines, operating under Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Operating in the Submarine Sanctuary off New London, Conn., she continued her commissioning and training underway. The next day the No. 8 torpedo tube’s outer door and shutter malfunctioned due to an indeterminate cause while conducting torpedo approaches with Falcon. On 3 April, Growler docked in the Marine Railway, Electric Boat Co., for repairs to her No. 8 torpedo tube. During the course of repair, the workers discovered three of her starboard propeller blades were bent. Over the next few days, the shipyard workers repaired her starboard propeller, fixed the shutter and door on the No. 8 torpedo tube, and checked and cleaned her other torpedo tubes as well.


Proceeding to the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, R.I., on 8 April 1942, Growler loaded fourteen Mk. XIV-1 torpedoes, spare parts, and accessories as approved by the Bureau of Ordnance. With her torpedo tubes now full, she prepared to get underway when Vice Adm. Ingersoll made an informal inspection of the submarine. On 9 April, she made way to New London and continued contract torpedo firing and afterwards, brought on board ten more torpedoes. Over the course of the next few days, Growler operated out of New London, conducting drills and installed radar shielding in accordance with instructions of the Bureau of Ships. Provisions and stores brought on board, she then operated with the coastal yacht Sapphire (PYc-2), conducting torpedo approaches on 14 April.


After firing several torpedoes and completing a successful deep dive with passengers from the Bureau of Ships and Submarine Base, New London, on board to conduct radar tests on 17 April 1942, Growler faltered after an unsuccessful attempt to conduct four hour full power runs. Things went from bad to worse when the boat developed minor engine problems which may have contributed to failing the power runs. Repairs were made at sea, and after calibrations to her DQ direction finder, she operated with Finback (SS-230), Grunion (SS-216), and O-10 (SS-71) before returning to New London’s State Pier on 19 April 1942. Two days later, all four boats operated with Army Air Force planes from Springfield, Mass., to practice day and nighttime operations. A successful four hour full power trial was conducted on 22 April, before Growler returned to Electric Boat’s Marine Railway for emergency repairs to her safety tank flood valves (after a gasket blew out) on 24 April. She spent the next few days in dry dock, before getting underway to conduct night approaches, with Sapphire acting as the target. By the last day of April, after running through more drills and night approaches, Growler conducted low visibility surprise attacks during the day, operating with Finback and Sapphire.


Growler returned to New London for upkeep prior to her departure for Hawaii on 1 May 1942. Three days later, after being degaussed and

assigned to Task Unit (TU) 25.6.6, she got underway for Pearl Harbor via the Panama Canal. On 12 May, she arrived at her rendezvous station 52 miles from the Colon Breakwater, while being escorted by the motor torpedo boat tender Niagara (PG-52) to Coco Solo.


Clearing Balboa, Canal Zone, on 15 May 1942, Growler received her new assignment to TU 7.8.2, and arrived in Pearl Harbor on 31 May, escorted to the submarine base by Litchfield (DD-336). The following day, she commenced a period of training and special availability. The special training and availability period concluded on 19 June, and she departed Pearl Harbor for Midway the next day, conducting daily training dives and drills en route.


Growler’s first war patrol began on 29 June 1942, after Task Force 8 sent orders assigning her a patrol area in the Aleutians. After refueling and charging torpedoes at Midway, she arrived at her assigned area on 30 June, patrolling Kiska Harbor. Sighting what Lt. Cmdr. Gilmore believed at first were three cruisers leaving Kiska on 5 July, Growler closed for a submerged torpedo attack and then surfaced. The enemy ships proved to be destroyers, and she “approached DD’s at slow speed, silent running in case they were maintaining sound watch.” Firing a spread of torpedoes, one each struck the Asashio-class Kasumi, and the Kagero-class Shiranui, severing her bow and killing three men. Both enemy destroyers suffered severe damage that left them unable to fight back.


Growler next fired two torpedoes at the third destroyer, Arare. While the first torpedo missed, the second struck her amidships. By sonar and by ear, Growler’s crew heard three heavy explosions and “53 lighter ones.” Lashing out at her attacker, Arare managed to fire off two torpedoes in desperation. As the Japanese torpedoes "swished down each side" of Growler, she dived deep, but no depth charges followed. Arare sank, taking 140 men down with her. The badly damaged Shiranui managed to rescue Cmdr. Ogata Tomoe, Arare’s commanding officer, and 42 survivors. After escaping a short depth charge attack the day after striking the Japanese, Growler put in at Dutch Harbor for an inspection and light repairs on 9 July. She departed Dutch Harbor on 11 July, and completed her successful patrol without finding any more targets. Escorted by Tracy (DM-19), Growler berthed at Pearl Harbor on 17 July.  Read all about Growler's 11 war patrols     






One-of-a-Kind Coast Guard Icebreaker Visits Juneau on Way Home

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The USGC Healy visited Juneau, mooring downtown Oct. 27 on its way home to its homeport in Seattle.

The Coast Guard's only medium icebreaker, the Healy has been conducting scientific research in the Arctic with researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and the University of Washington, said Ensign Trevor Layman, the Healy's public affairs officer.

"We're a completely unique United States Coast Guard vessel," Layman said. Healy is the only one of its class, a modern medium icebreaker built from the hull out to support science missions in the Arctic Ocean.

The Coast Guard's other icebreaker, Polar Star, is a heavy icebreaker, and mostly supports keeping shipping channels open in the Antarctic, Layman said. The Coast Guard is looking to enhance its ability to operate in the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice with the construction of three medium and three heavy icebreakers called Polar Security Cutters in a recently awarded contract.


The United States military currently has no other seagoing icebreakers.


"If we lose the Polar Star, we lose the power to break ice in the Antarctic," Layman said. "America's icebreaking capability is pretty tenuous right now, so we'll see how things change."


The vessel can generate more than 35,000 horsepower with four generators driving two motors, said Petty Officer 1st Class Camille Sutton, a machinery technician in Healy's engineering department. The engineering department consists of 24 Coast Guardsmen who keep the massive engines running smoothly, Sutton said.


Layman says the ship's unique hullform, called the "ice knife," and horsepower are key to operating in the sea ice of the Arctic. Regular ships aren't built and reinforced specifically to smash the ice like the Healy is, Layman said, which limits their usefulness above the Arctic Circle. The ship is also equipped with a unique bridge in the aft of the ship, to support backing up and ramming thicker ridges of ice, Layman said. The ship also has bow thrusters for precision maneuvers and ice operations.


"The single biggest thing is the shape of the hull," Layman said. The hull is designed to ride up on pack ice and use the ship's weight and forward motion to break through.


The Healy uses this to accommodate the 50 scientists on board as they carry out a number of scientific missions in the Arctic, including biological, meteorological and oceanographic research, Layman said. The science is focused on two main missions, Layman said: biological research in open water, and monitoring the ice itself.


"Our bread and butter is monitoring how the ice is melting," Layman said. "Healy has a bunch of science sensors that have multiplied over time."


The scientists have returned home already, Layman said, flying out of Dutch Harbor with their data while the ship returns to Seattle with the equipment where it can be more easily offloaded.


Healy is also capable of supporting other missions, including flight operations, search and rescue, and even vessel interdiction, although without a combat information center, Layman said, it's most effective as a scientific research vessel. The Coast Guard would use its MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters to resupply the Healy roughly once a week while underway, Layman said.


The Healy will return to its homeport in Seattle as this year's three-month deployment ends.





Salute to Veterans

Willy Williams, the most decorated enlisted sailor in Navy history

In the history of the U.S. Navy only seven men have earned all of the “Big Three” valor awards: Medal of Honor, Navy Cross and Silver Star Medal. Six were World War II officers, including one aviator and four submarine commanders. The seventh was enlisted sailor James Elliott “Willy” Williams in Vietnam.


In 1947, Williams, a 16-year-old from Fort Mill, South Carolina, enlisted in the Navy with a fraudulent birth certificate. His first 19 years in the Navy included service aboard the destroyer USS Douglas H. Fox during the Korean War and tours on a variety of naval vessels from 1953 to 1965.


In May 1966 Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Williams was assigned to River Squadron 5 in South Vietnam to command Patrol Boat, River 105. The approximately 30-foot fiberglass boat usually carried a four-man crew who patrolled inland waterways to prevent the Viet Cong from using them to transport troops and supplies.


On July 1 Williams led a patrol that came under fire from a Viet Cong sampan. His deft maneuvers and accurate fire killed five VC and resulted in capture of the enemy boat, earning Williams a Bronze Star Medal with a “V” for valor. Twenty-two days later the capture of another sampan brought Williams a second Bronze Star for valor. Less than a month later, he received a Silver Star and his first Purple Heart.


On Halloween, Oct. 31, 1966, Williams was commanding a two-boat patrol on the Mekong River when he was fired on by two sampans. He and his crew killed the occupants of one and then went after the other. That pursuit put the Navy boats into a VC staging area containing two junks and eight sampans, supported by machine guns on the river banks. Williams called for helicopter gunship support while holding the enemy at bay. During this movement he discovered an even larger force. Not waiting for the armed helicopters, Williams attacked. Maneuvering through devastating fire from enemy boats and the shore, his two-boat patrol fought a three-hour battle that destroyed or damaged 65 VC boats and eliminated some 1,200 Communist troops. For his actions, Williams was nominated for the Medal of Honor.

On Jan. 9, 1967, the Navy dredge Jamaica Bay was blown up by mines in the Mekong Delta, and PBR-105 arrived to pick up seven of the survivors. Another man was trapped in the rapidly sinking dredge. Williams dove into the water and, with a rope attached to a nearby tug, pulled clear an obstruction, then swam through a hatch to recover the sailor.


Six days later Williams was wounded while leading a three-boat patrol that interdicted a crossing attempt by three VC heavy-weapons companies of 400 fighters. He and his boats accounted for 16 VC killed, 20 wounded and the destruction of nine sampans and junks. Williams was awarded the Navy Cross.


When Williams returned home in spring 1967, he had a list of awards unmatched by any enlisted man in Navy history. He retired after 20 years of service and began a career in the U.S. Marshals Service.


On May 14, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson presented Williams with the Medal of Honor. For his lifesaving actions at the sinking Jamaica Bay, he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, often called “the noncombat medal of honor.”

During his last seven months in the Navy, Williams received every sea-service award for heroism including the Legion of Merit with “V,” two Navy Commendation Medals for valor and three Purple Hearts.


Williams died on Oct. 13, 1999, and in 2003 his widow, Elaine, watched the launching of the Arleigh Burke class destroyer, USS James E. Williams.


Doug Sterner, an Army veteran who served two tours in Vietnam, is curator of the world’s largest database of U.S. military valor awards.




American commando raid to kill al-Baghdadi was launched from al-Asad airbase, rehearsals conducted in Erbil
By: Shawn Snow and Howard Altman | Military times | October 28, 2019

The American commando raid that bagged Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was launched from the sprawling al-Asad airbase in Anbar province Iraq, according to a source on the ground with direct knowledge of the operation.

The source told Military Times on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record that U.S. forces rehearsed the raid in Erbil, Iraq, using concrete T-walls to practice breaching. While on the ground during the raid to capture or kill the ISIS leader, American forces blew a hole in the side of the compound — avoiding the booby-trapped entrance,
President Donald Trump detailed Sunday morning.

American commandos also launched from a second location in Syria, the source said. But its
unknown if the target of that raid force was al-Baghdadi. Military Times is withholding the location of where U.S. forces launched from within Syria due to operational security concerns.


The site is home to a Joint Special Operations Command base hosting Delta Force and Army Rangers.

Just hours after the ISIS leader’s demise became public, Syrian Democratic Forces — the U.S.-backed anti-ISIS force in northern Syria — an
nounced that a close associate to al-Baghdadi, Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, was killed.

Mazloum Abdî, the commander of the SDF, tweeted Sunday that al-Muhajir was killed due to SDF in
telligence shared with the U.S. military.

The Pentagon would not confirm the launch points for the operation when asked by Military Times, citing operational security. Officials with Operation Inherent Resolve — the U.S.-led mission to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria — did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


On Saturday, nearly 100 American commandos launched a brazen nighttime heliborne raid in al-Qaida-infested Idlib province, Syria, to kill the elusive ISIS leader al-Baghdadi.

Cornered in a dead-end tunnel with American military working dogs bearing down on him, al-Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest killing himself and three children he had dragged into the tunnel with him.

A working dog was injured in the blast. But Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Monday at the Pentagon that the dog has since returned to duty with his handler.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told the Sunday morning ABC news show “This Week” that American troops rehearsed actions on the objective about a week before the raid.

Milley said Monday that two adult males were pulled off the target site where al-Baghdadi was killed and are being held in at a secure facility. Milley provided no other details about the location of the detainees.

Al-Baghdadi’s remains were moved to a secur
e location where they were identified and later disposed of in accordance with the law of armed conflict, according to Milley.

American troops were amid a withdrawal from Syria prior to Saturday’s raid that killed the founder and leader of ISIS. Trump has since slightly backtracked on the decision to vacate northern Syria entirely — opting to keep a small residual force to protect oil wells and counter a potential ISIS resurgence.

Esper reiterated Monday during a Pentagon press briefing that U.S. forces moving back into Syria will included some “mechanized” forces. But the Pentagon has not provided any details on what kind of mechanized forces will move into eastern Syria near the oil fields.

Esper told reporters Monday that he still expects U.S. force numbers to be below the roughly 1,000 troops that had been based in the country before Trump’s order to withdraw. But experts argue the use of American armor to protect oil fields in Syria could require additional forces and put a strain on military logistics.

The oil fields in eastern Syria are a contentious issue.

This area has been the scene of unusual confrontations with U.S. forces, such as a one-sided battle in February 2018 in which a pro-Syrian government force reported to be mainly private Russian mercenaries unleashed an artillery barrage near a small U.S. military outpost. As then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis recounted the episode in congressional testimony two months later, he ordered the attacking force to be “annihilated — and it was” after Russian authorities insisted the attackers were not their troops.

The Pentagon has consistently stated that the U.S. mission to protect the Syrian oil fields is to aimed at keeping the oil out of the hands of a potential ISIS resurgence.

However, Esper acknowledged Monday, that American forces in the region would also block access to the lucrative oil fields from Syrian and Russian forces. Esper said that the SDF rely on funds from the oil fields to help fund their forces and maintain ISIS prisons.

Esper also said American forces protecting the oil fields where prepared to use “overwhelming military force” in self defense of their forces.

Esper said Monday that he has seen no sign of Syrian or Russian forces challenging U.S. control of the oil fields.

The Associated Press, citing a U.S. official, reported that the U.S. has detected what appears to be a massing of Russian and Syrian forces on the western side of the Euphrates River near Deir el-Zour.

Russian officials were contacted by phone, and the U.S. was given assurances that the staged forces would not move east, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive issue.

Jim Jeffrey, the Trump administration’s special envoy for Syria, seemed to refer to this episode when he said last Friday, “We are currently very concerned about certain developments in the south, in the Deir el-Zour area. I’ve talked to my Russian colleague about that and we’re having other contacts with the Russians concerning that situation. We think it is under control now.”

After expelling Islamic State militants from southeastern Syria in 2018, the Kurds seized control of the more profitable oil fields to the south in Deir el-Zour province.

The U.S. will also keep a small number of U.S. troops at the Tanf garrison near the Syria-Iraq border. American commandos housed at Tanf are tasked with training an anti-ISIS force separate from the SDF mission.

This story contains information from the Associated Press.



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