USS Atule (2nd) Commissioning and Shakedown
I received your return e-mail concerning my updates to the sailing list for Atule. I can give you a good bit more but am lacking in many details for them. I recall those I knew from the 1950-54 tour by last names (or nicknames) only. A half-century has dimmed the views of a seventeen-year-old seaman duce.
joined the pre-commissioning crew of Atule in December of 1950 after graduating
from Submarine Enlisted Class 65. Snow covered the Navy Yard at Portsmouth and
blew around in the wind like dust. Atule sat on chocks in dry-dock - all cold
iron - no superstructure or topside piping and little save partial decks inside
the pressure hull.
Taylor was the Officer in Charge and GMC Gleason was the COB. Among others who
were in the crew at this time were Stan Adamkowski SN, Gerry May SN, Trafton
EM3, "Dutch" Larch TMC, Bailey ENC, E.C. Mung) Smith EN1, and
"Stinky" Davis EN1.
we moved toward the commissioning date more of the crew and wardroom continued
to report. We lived in a large barracks there, which had living space on the
second deck and the mess hall, small stores, disbursing office, and the
"Pump Room" (EM Club) on the ground floor.
duty section slept on a living barge moored at the head of the dry-dock and
performed those duties we are familiar with from overhauls.
As a Seaman Apprentice I mainly stood fire watches until being assigned
to mess cooking
understand this is called "cranking" now - beats me!). I ran the
scullery machine until it crapped out and I began washing the trays by hand and
boiling them in a large cooking kettle.
day I was taking trays being returned after the meal when a Chief with more gold
on his sleeve than I'd seen since I enlisted handed me his tray.
This was QMC Bueb (later COB) who had just reported – I asked how much
time he had in and he said, " Twenty Six years."
I met him again on Entemedor ten years later and asked him the same
question. "Twenty Six years." was still the answer.
was commissioned again in March of 1951.
LCDR Benjamin C. Burnside was CO; LCDR Thomas R. McCants was XO, LCDR
Paul Mc Cambridge (Recalled USNR) was Communicator, LT Robert Lichtenburg was
ENGR, LT Taylor had Torpedo & Gunnery, ENS Clark had Supply, and I think an
ENS Knowles was 1st Lt.
Others not previously mentioned included Ronald Butterfield SA, Scofield
SN (later SO3), Dale McCord RM1, Stetson RM1 (Recalled USNR - fastest man with a
"bug" I ever saw.), Lockhart TM3, and Hull ENC (made Warrant).
first dive was not too good - we'd been ballasted seventeen tons heavy forward.
We used lots of air and was back in dry-dock shortly to have lead ballast
The test dives after that went well and we soon departed on a shakedown cruise
to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
We were supposed to snorkel all the way. The second day out the air
conditioning system failed.
It got pretty miserable as we continued snorkeling - the coolest spot on
the boat was the conning tower where it was 115 Deg F. Control stayed at about
125 Deg F and Maneuvering Room registered hottest at 150 Deg F.
It was at 145 Deg F in the Engine Rooms and Battery Compartments were
about 130 Deg F. I forget the temperatures in the Torpedo Rooms. The decks were
absolutely slick from moisture - sweat and sea air combined to raise the
humidity to 100%.
We worked in cut-off dungarees and sandals and slept in shorts if we
could. We also had rough weather that cycled the head valve almost continuously.
Maintaining depth control was some kind of hard and physically demanding
since the planes were in constant motion.
days of this had us near Bermuda's latitude.
We had an EM2 – I believe he was named Law - down with seasickness and
heat exhaustion. He was in bad shape and had lost nearly forty pounds; the
Pharmacist Mate thought he might die if we continued snorkeling so we surfaced
and put in at Bermuda to transfer him to the hospital.
He recovered and was discharged.
He was as surprised as any of us at this result since he had made six war
patrols in WWII.
snorkeled again enroute to San Juan - the air conditioning was restored to
operation after two more days and we were operating normally and
- and in good weather - by the time we arrived. The cruise to New London
arrived in New London to join SubRon 8 being thoroughly "shaken down."
can give you more about Atule's operations during 1950-54 and 1960-62 if you'd
also have slides of her interior and can have prints made for your web site if
also have photos taken aboard - I'll check to see what they are and let you
ET(SS) and then LT(SS) on the Atule