Here Is a poem I wrote for the crew of the Key West
I am the USS Key West
I remember being decked out in red white and blue
As I looked around I knew I had a mighty crew,
My first taste of ocean water was July 20, 1985
And I couldnít wait to make my first dive.
As I slid into the blue ocean below
I said to myself, boy this is fun! let go,
With 12 officers and 115 enlisted men
I sailed out to sea with a mighty grin.
At 360 feet long and 33 feet wide
I knew I would give the guys a great ride,
Everyone seemed to be having fun
Even though I weighed over 6900 hundred tons.
I heard a sailor say my name was the Key West
And today is the day for my ultimate test,
I went out to sea filled with pride
Everyone aboard was thrilled for the ride.
I am powerful sleek and boy am I fast
And guess what? I donít even run on gas,
Itís something called a nuclear reactor
I think thatís what make me run faster.
I carry something called a MK 48
All I know is itís something my enemy will hate,
I also have some Harpoon Cruise Missiles inside
Which I can send almost anywhere far and wide.
My job is to protect this great free country
I hear there are others subs out there just to hunt me,
I went out to sea and performed lots and lots of test
I passed them all cause Iím the mighty Submarine
Called the KEY WEST
To the crew of the USS Key West (SSN 722)
Shan C Marler July 4th 2000
They'll sing a song in the Submarines
When the fleet goes out to sea.
Of the sissies on the Battleships
Who hug their battery.
They'll scorn the "Cans" and Cruisers too,
And laugh at all the Carriers
As they hide and glide in the undersea.
And weave through submerged barriers.
In the chilly gloom of their throbbing hull,
Where there's not an echo lost.
They'll dare a "feather" for a chance at a target...fingers crossed.
They will plane her down 'til their ears will ring
And the pressure drive them mad.
But the only thing that they'll lament
Will be shots they never had.
It's a simple thing to go to sea
With at least a chance to swim.
If sthe pesky shells start coming close
For at least the lights won't dim
And the bulkhead plates can strain and still
Your're not exactly done.
But the Submarine can never choose
If the battle isn't won.
(Polaris/August 1984, Author Unknown)
THE LAST PATROL
In the blackened deep 'neath the timeless windswept waves
Only an infinite stillness guards the untold nameless graves,
That lie amid the crumpled steel and seeping oil
Like scattered toys razed by their master's foil.
No muted bugle notes these brave men shall know
Which of these now is friend-and which is foe?
Nor will all our bitter tears or prayers appease
The powered minions of force-who will not cease
To taunt destiny's specter wrought by greed
And hence to doom, a generation's unknown seed.
Nay, these raucous Klaxon calls will sound no more
From primeval ooze of oceans floor.
So, rally close in strength-if need be, stand apart,
Lest we now abandon these proven, true of heart.
(Frank E. Perry)
All Submariners Old and Young
These ships are now black, they were all gray,
and that diesel oil smell it got worse every day.
These ships and their crews worked togeteh
as one and saved our country from the rising sun.
They ran over the oceans and under them too,
and never a grip or a whimper heard you.
The men of these ships were all tried and true, and oh yes,
these are boats not ships, to you.
Salt water makes them shine with a glimmer and sheen,
and those boats are called a diesel submarine.
When WWII was over and through, the Cold War started and Korea too.
Our men in the boats never missed a beat,
they reworked the damned things, now that was a feat.
They changed the sails, the shears and all,
they put snorkels and batteries and made her look tall.
They increased the speed both on top and below
and put new young men in her to handle the show.
She traveled far, she traveled wide and she listened and saw,
then on her return she reported it back to the Navy, Ops Bureau and all.
We would be gone 3 months a whack,
then lo and behold all of the sudden we're back.
No one dare ask where we had been
or had seen for Top Secrets the word and from us you'll not glean,
one bit of information, nor a word,
nor a sign and thanks to alland the new subs design.
But through all this you could not erase,
the smell of that damned Diesel Oil in your face.
It was allways there even though you scrubbed
and never went away no matter how hard you rubbed.
Then a fresh wind come blowing in and things began a changing.
A new type of power did increase the subs size and also her wordly ranging.
With Nuclear Power and the ICBM, the future for diesels was beginning to dim.
By the year 1975, there is hardly a diesel afloat, she's given way to nuclear power and now the Navy could gloat,
We've got a true submersible here, she's long, powerful and black and if it weren't for the crew in her, she never would come back.
But old timers still think of days, when in the boats we were young,
how we launched our torpedos, fired our guns
and escaped with the mumsen lung.
When everything we owned smelled of diesel,
the smell of the submarine sailor, and every 6 months
we brought new dress especially made by a tailor.
How we'd allways look sharp in our new jupers of blue
and those tight pants with a bell, but you could tell what kind of ships
we were from, because of that diesel oil smell.
So here's to the old time sub sailor, I raise my glass to you,
I toast your honor and courage and yes That diesel smell too.
The Diesel Boats served her purpose, her time has drawn nigh.
To our shipmates who've gone before us,
now dwell with the Lord on high, for you I write this poem,
And I'll finish with a sign, as soon as I make this request, just before I die!
This last request of the good Lord I make,
and its for all in heaven's sake, pleae dear Lord,
oh please hear me well, Can't we get rid of that diesel oil smell?
(Buck Conrad, QM1(SS), Ret.)
There are stories told about knights of old and the shooting of Dan McGrew
And the classic tale of the great white whale still thrills us through and through.
There's Farragut and John Paul but the saltiest of them all
Were the boys in blue from World War Two who answered Freedom's Call.
Now I won't boast so I'll drink a toast to the boys who went down under,
With Navy pride they fought and died when their boats were ripped asunder.
They learned their trade, our debt they paid in the world beneath the sea,
And there they sleep in waters deep, a part of history.
Those noble ships with sonar blips once fought their way to Glory
And the men inside, because they died, left none to tell their story.
Proud Argonaut, you had your shot , you and the Amberjack,
'Twas near Rabaul you gave your all and never more came back.
Pompano, you and Runner, too, were lost in forty-three,
Your gallant crew went down with you, defending liberty.
The Pickerel too, the sleek Wahoo, the Grampus, and the Herring,
The Albacore, all lost in war, have taken their last bearing.
So many more, subs by the score, went to their watery grave,
In silence deep, they lie asleep, the young lads and the brave,
But this I know, somewhere below lie those who paid the price,
Our debt is paid because they made the final sacrifice.
Robert L. Harrison,
October 16, 1997
USS BLENNY SS324
You wanna hear a story, son? Well, I can tell you gosh aplenty,
But the one I like the most of all is the one about the Blenny.
Blenny was a submarine; she was launched in forty-four,
And it didnít take olí Blenny long to get herself into the war.
From Groton to Pearl Harbor, then on her very first patrol
Twas then she learned some valued lessons, (a destroyer was her goal).
Torpedos fired but missed their target-what a lesson for the crew,
Then depth charges by the numbers-this was Lesson Number Two!!
With determination showing in the hearts of every man,
Blenny found and sank a sea truck and a Japanese tin can.
Next she sank a Japanese troopship, Kenzui Maru was her name,
Followed by Amato Maru-a tanker lost in smoke and flame.
Then one day there came a message from the submarine named Cod,
She needed help to find some sailors-whereabouts known but to God.
Found and rescued by the Blenny, six young sailors safe and sound,
Then a reunion with the Cod, all giving thanks that they were found.
So at last the war was ended but Blennyís tasks had just begun,
She did her part in War Korea, a subís job is never done.
Faithful comrade, gallant warrior, once proud boat, ship of the line,
After years of loyal service, she retired in Sixty -Nine.
June 7, 1989
Today they buried gallant Blenny, sent her deep beneath the sea,
While her shipmates looked on sadly, brave defenders of the free.
Now she lies in gloomy silence just twelve miles off Marylandís shore,
Noble Blenny, not forgotten, though youíll roam the seas no more.
June 4, 1999
TOLL THE BELL
Toll the bell, you submariners, for your brethren of the deep
Who went to sea so long ago and still their constant vigil keep.
Tell the nation who they are and where they lie beneath the sea,
Keep the faith with those brave comrades who patrol eternally.
While you strive to save Cavalla and the Torsk in Baltimore
Ever mindful of the sailors who will plumb the depths no more,
Inform the world of all our losses and the sacrifices made
By the men who manned the warships and the awful price they paid.
Toll the bell for Shark and Grunion, gallant warriors of the sea,
Toll the bell for brave Pompano, Grenadier, and Tullibee.
Sing your praises for the Thresher, Grayling and the Amberjack,
And for all the men who perished, mothers sons who wonít come back.
Toll your bell for Skate and Runner, Argonaut and Albacore,
Tell the story of Robalo; she was lost in forty-four.
Oft times we must be reminded to look deep within our souls
To proclaim to all the people for whom it is the death bell tolls.
February 4, 1999
SALUTE THE SUBMARINE
Born in the shops of the Devil,
Designed in the brains of a fiend;
Filled with acid and crude oil,
And christened "A Submarine".
The poets send in their ditties,
Of Battleships spick and clean;
But never a word in their columns,
Do you see of a submarine.
I'll try and depict our story,
In a very laconic way;
Please have patience to listen,
Until I have finished my say.
We eat whereíre we can find it,
And sleep hanging up on the hooks;
Conditions under which we're existing,
Are never published in books.
Life on these boats is obnoxious,
And that is using mild terms;
We are never bothered by sickness,
There isn't any room for germs.
We are never troubled with varmints,
There are things even a cockroach can't stand.
And any self-respecting rodent,
Quick as possible beats it for land.
And that little one dollar per dive,
We receive to submerge out of sight;
Is often earned more than double,
By charging batteries at night.
And that extra compensation,
We receive on boats like these;
We never really get at all,
It's spent on soap and dungarees.
Machinists get soaked in fuel oil,
Electricians in H2SO4;
Gunnersmates with 600W,
And torpedo slush galore.
When we come into the Navy Yard,
We are looked upon with disgrace;
And they make out some new regulations,
To fit our particular case.
Now all you Battleship sailors,
When you are feeliní' disgruntled and mean;
Just pack your bag and hammock,
And go to "A Submarine"
From the sands of Iwo Jima to the shores of Normandy
From the beach of Okinawa to the boot of Italy,
We fought the fight, the good fight, and received our just acclaim
From New York to Francisco, we got our share of fame.
But what about the other guys who came after World War Two,
The ones who fought beneath the waves wearing Navy Blue?
Theirs was the Silent Service and for that they got no thanks
Unlike the guys who flew the fighters and the ones who manned the tanks.
Their job was a stealthy one down beneath the ocean wave,
Constant vigil was required to avoid a watery grave.
But things go wrong on Navy ships with no hint of alarm,
And when they do on submarines, the crew has ďbought the farm.Ē
I know some men who sailed the seas, both Pacific and Atlantic,
ĎNeath the bergs of the Arctic where things can get quite frantic.
Thereís Sid and Dex and Joe and Tex and another one called SOB
And then thereís Ron and Bill and Don and even one named COB.
The list goes on, another Ron, he of the Warshot fame,
A guy named Chet, and old Ramjet who played the sonar game,
Thereís Jim and Fred, one called Red and another one named Bill
Throttleman, also Dan, and I think thereís one named Will.
Thereís CoolBob, another Rob, Bob Perry and olí Whalen
Another Joe, and olí Skibo, my memory is a-failiní.
Thereís Len and Ken , John Cole and Ben and finally John Kill
John Wynn and Roy, and old Cowboy and two by the name of Gil.
These are the boys who went to sea and came back home as men
But there were some who went to sea and were never seen again.
You know them well, you bubbleheads, the ones you called shipmate.
And when they died, you died some, too, and thus you shared their fate.
Now comes the time for each of us to thank you who held the line
In what we called the Cold War, a war of a different kind,
And so, I ask you people who for long have stood so mute,
Please give thanks to your protectors, altogether: "HAND SALUTE!!"
Robert L. (Bob) Harrison