I've just got a few words. [Tom holds up three pages of his speech] [Laughter] I got on there in 1982, and I have to tell a little story about this, first of all. Originally, I was nuclear trained, I was surface, and I was the Chief Petty Officer and I decided -- I wanted to go submarines. So, I shifted over my NEC and, lo-and-behold, they gave me the USS Tullibee as my first submarine; as the chief petty officer; as a machinist's mate; and I'm going, "I'm proud and I'm ready to go," okay? So, that's where this story begins in March of 1982. [Unintelligible response from audience member] Yeah, I hit my head a lot, but ah... [Laughter]
Shipmates, ladies and gentlemen, you know one thing that -- it's on a web site and it's probably been around for quite a time -- but those of us that served on board Tullibee, we know how special she was to us, and to the Navy, and to the nation. She was a first, one-of-a-kind nuclear fast attack. Nothing else was ever built like her. They tried to mimic her in other later versions, but they never made her again. But, she holds a special place in submarine history along such names as Holland, Albacore, Squalus, Grayback, Nautilus, [Glenard P.] Lipscomb, Narwhal--these are all the one-of-a-kind special submarines. And, of course, all the other boats that plowed the depths of the ocean.
Tullibee, however, may not have captured the honors of some of the more famous boats. But, to those of us that served on our ships [they have] a special place in our hearts. The first submarine with a spherical sonar dome, the first with angled torpedo tubes, the first with a nuclear turbo-electric drive, making her the quietest submarine to be built in her time. And we can attest -- those of us that took her on her last Med appointment, we were just kinda reliving this in a bar -- we went up against, uh, Deano, correct me if I make this mistake -- we went up against two French diesel boats in the Mediterranean. Was it two, or three? We kicked their butt! And that was in 1985! We kicked their butt -- they couldn't find them. We had them the whole time.
As Paul said, I served on her from March of 1982 to September of 1986. I found Tullibee to be stubborn and an engineering headache. [Laughter] She did not want to leave that pier. [Laughter] I knew that this was not going to be an easy tour of duty. For a while, on sea trials from her last overhaul, the reactor scrammed and we sat on the surface for a good sixteen hours while repairs were made. We hadn't even been gone for eight hours. [Laughter]
And this was just the beginning. We found ourselves constantly overhauling every aspect of her as the months went by. The biggest were the replacement of five propulsion turbine generators. I remember Martin Kippley having the upper lever watch when a fireball shot from one of the PTGs. Marty, did you ever recover? [Laughter]
[Martin Kippley replies] No. [Laughter]
[Tom] A complete redesign of the PTGs finally occurred when we went to the Mediterranean for what was going to be her last appointment in her history -- the fun was just about to begin. Immediately upon clearing Brace Rock, we lost our towed array over the side due to heavy weather. So, we lost half of our sonar capability.
It took twenty days to cross the Atlantic--most ships make it in ten.
Hydraulic rupture in the engine room--we spent days cleaning up hydraulic oil from every aspect that you could think of. I wish Burt Coons (sp) was here to relive that experience. He became allergic to hydraulic oil after that. [Laughter]
We had flooding in the ASW bay. We had an encounter that is still classified to this day. The hovering every night on our return trip home to clean up the degrading propulsion motor; it was touch-and-go as to whether we would need a telephone or not.
There were others, but we did have some good times, also:
New Year's at the USO in Toulon, France. The Johnny Carson Show in a barracks in LaMaddellina -- I probably need to explain that a little bit, for those of us there kinda remember it. But, the chiefs--we had one barracks room and it seemed like every night a member of the crew would come in and we would be drinking beer and just having a good old time. And it was just like the Johnny Carson Show. The interviews going on: "Well, what do you think about this?" The captain always showed up, every night, because that's the only place he knew where to go have fun at. So, it was a good time.
- The crew--sleeping in anyplace they could while at [unintelligible] weapon's certification. And that's because all of the bunks were removed in the torpedo room, so we could handle weapons--and we spent hours on the range there--and I can remember one crewmember curling up in the shower of the Chief's Quarters just trying to get some sleep. A-Gang overhauling the diesel underway--literally. That 'Jimmy' sure liked to suck valves, didn't it, Frank?
- Cannibalizing the drain pump from the [USS] George Washington [SSN-598] -- we were replacing ours in thirty-plus hours to make it to sea. TDU muzzle ball valve leaking by so badly, you only had minutes to load the trash before the water was in the boat.
- It being hot all the time.
- Water hours.
I could go on. But regardless of the event or the hard times or the amount of work that had to be done to get her to sea and keep her at sea, it was the crew that was the heart and soul of this boat -- for they kept her going.
I was lucky to serve with the greatest submarine sailors in the Navy at the time. We Chiefs used to talk about having the same crew on a new 688. We would be untouchable. Nobody could hold a candle to us. Our only limitation was the fifteen knots that Tullibee did. That was on a good day, downhill! [Laughter]
In fact, I'm going to interject a little story here. We were going down to [unintelligible] and we had blown up a PTG about three days -- maybe two days -- after we left New London and we didn't know where we were at. We didn't know where we were at and so, we surfaced because Tullibee didn't have an inertial navigation system. But, due to our own DR, we couldn't figure out where we were at because of the Gulf Stream. So, we surfaced and came in close enough so we could see the water tanks off the Florida coast to figure out what town we were on. During that period of time, we had a sailboat pass us. [Laughter]
[Tullibee Veteran] Did you ask directions? [Laughter]
[Tom] No, the captain was too embarrassed. That was actually discussed--"Why don't you ask that sailboat over there." [Laughter] No, that was our tow truck, right?
But, during my twenty-five years in the Navy, I never saw a tighter crew. They worked hard together and they played hard and when something needed [to] get done, they were there to get it done and the boat out to sea. When a fellow crewmember needed help, there was always a helping hand from a fellow shipmate.
I want to say thanks to the guys I sailed with and those that preceded us for the opportunity to have served on this great ship to defend this great nation. She may not be at the top of the list for arms, but don't talk bad about her to me.
I want to thank Paul and his hard work in making this possible for us today...and thank you all for coming.
[Paul] Thank you Tom.
Next, we have Mark Arnstam -- served on Tullibee from October of 1973 to October of 1977. Please give him a round of applause.