USS PUFFER SSN652

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WESTPAC 71 | Commanding Officers | Plank Owners | Decommissioning Crew

Puffer transiting into Apra Harbor, Guam on Halloween of 1994
Photos and text by Jason Atkin
click on images to get full size picture

pufferguamhalloween.jpg (8482 bytes)

I was going through some stuff today, and found a ton of Puffer pictures I took while I was onboard 1993-1995. Since periscope/ship's photographer was one of my collateral duties, I have many pictures.

nelsonatkinringler.JPG (9431 bytes)I've attached a couple samples. One shows (from the left) ET3 Nelson, RM3 Atkin (yours truly) and QM3 Ringler at the forward plot on the manuvering watch coming into San Diego at the end of Puffer's last WestPac. The other was taken on the transit into Apra Harbor, Guam on Halloween in 1994. Morale was sagging a bit, so the Captain decided we should dress up as pirates when we pull into Guam to give everybody a bit of a surprise. It was incredible how the crew was able to make genuine looking pirate garb with t shirts and magic markers! My buddy ET3 Nelson made a couple parrots out of crumbled balls of colored stickies, glued to a cardboard body...both turned out really well.

You can see one on the port, aft end of the flying bridge, and the other on the Captain's shoulder (kind of slumped over). A naval tug pulled alongside, and I got to transfer over to it to take pictures as the boat pulled in. Got some really nice ones.

guaminbound.jpg (42994 bytes)

shot of the "pirates" manning the sail. Notice the floating wire antenna sticking out of the rear of the sail.
guaminbound3.jpg (51387 bytes) another shot of the transit into Apra Harbor. On the left is FT2(SS) Inmon. He was also a graduate of the periscope photography class, and joined me to snap some shots from the tug. The naval tug pulled alongside, and we got to jump over from the fairwater planes. Pretty cool! I jumped first, and when Inmon jumped, he dropped a very expensive lens for the Nikon camera I was shooting with. Nearly falling overboard, I reached out and caught the lens. The bridge of the Puffer erupted with applause, and the Captain gave me a Bravo Zulu and a thumb's up.
tugskipper.jpg (45419 bytes) this is the skipper of the naval tug. I forget his name, but he was a warrant officer. Let me tell you, this dude was a salty old sea dog, as you can probably see from the picture!
tpsidehongkong.jpg (38570 bytes) anchored out in Hong Kong Harbor. From the left, STS1(SS) Martinez, MM2(SS) Curtis and MM3(SS) Todd. We were tied up next to a naval tug, which was the unfortunate victim of a SAN 2 flange connection failure. They got crap and toilet paper blown all over the side of their superstructure. Seems I remember their Aux of the watch got hit by flying crap. They had to do a late night freshwater washdown of the tug.
medecom.jpg (50143 bytes) me just after the Puffer's decommissioning ceremony. At this point in time, I believe I was on temporary duty with the subase police as a result of my back surgery. First time I ever saw numbers on the sail of the boat.
meontug.jpg (49402 bytes) me on the tug with my nose mashed into the camera.
mesail.jpg (38812 bytes) just after the maneuvering watch into Sasebo, Japan. Our trip here was an unplanned diversion, due to a fishing net wrapped around our prop shaft. Some how or other, the Japanese learned of our arrival, and sent out a boat load of protesters out to remind of us how much they hated nuclear power. I think we were there for 3 or 4 days while divers removed all the nets. Daily, the Japanese sent a small boat over to take water samples near our boat to make sure we weren't pumping nuclear waste into Sasebo Bay. Funny. Wait till you see what they printed about us in Suva, Fiji!!!!
fijitimespufferstory.jpg (284435 bytes) as happened in Japan, our visit to Suva, Fiji brought out protesters. Our nuclear power was met with knee-jerk, touchy-feely jeers and fears by the locals, based entirely on their ignorance. Their ignorance is brought to the pulpit by this ludicrous article in Fiji's top newspaper. My favorite line in the story is "...in case of an explosion, much of Suva would be gone." Comical! What are your thoughts on their claim that there was a nuclear incident in 1978?
beardwow.jpg (59162 bytes) sorry for having so many pictures of myself...I'm certainly not trying to be vain, but a large portion of my pictures feature me :) I believe this is in the pump room showing off my underway beard.
cannon.jpg (116507 bytes) another shot from the Halloween 1994 transit into Guam. From the left, EM2(SS) Palmer, MM2(SS) Curtis, MM3(SS) Alacio, ET3(SS) Nelson. The cannon fired balls filled with talcum powder. I'm uncertain of the mechanism, but I remember the A-Gangers ran an LP Air hose up to the thing at one point. When you consider that most of the props and pirate outfits were made with stuff all on board the boat in a couple days time, it just illustrates what skill the men had, and what a morale booster it was!
captain.jpg (86547 bytes) the captain on the bridge on the way into Guam. The civilian pilot is on the left. Note the parrot on the Skipper's shoulder. The idea of dressing up was the Captain's. After nearly 60 straight days out at sea submerged, it was the perfect pick-me-up to get us ready to wreak havoc on Guam. Captain Wright really believed in working hard and playing harder. When I first reported to the boat, I heard stories of the Captain, drunk off his ass, driving on the sidewalk in Scotland after partying hard at a local bar. I really liked Captain Wright, he was a decent, fair man.
green.jpg (78595 bytes) MS3(SS) Green striking a rather gay looking pose in the bow compartment berthing. I can't remember what it was called....24Man??? Anyway, this was taken just before my first underway in 1993. I was mess cranking at the time, and I suppose that's why I took a picture of a cook I suppose.
meandgorman.jpg (68405 bytes) waiting for chow before watch on deployment. On the left, me, on the right, ET3(SS) Gorman. I can't remember who the nuke was leaning into the library.
decommissioned.jpg (115335 bytes) a decommissioning cover I bought off of eBay
chouest.jpg (103544 bytes) this is a shot I took of the Dolores Chouest pulling into SD Harbor. This was a practice shot I took through the scope while the boat was in port. You can see magazine bunkers on Naval Air Station North Island in the background.
periscope688.jpg (74736 bytes) a picture through Puffer's periscope of a submarine of "The Orange Nation". This was taken by a J.O. during wargames off the coast of San Diego somewhere. The boat is the U.S.S. La Jolla if memory serves.
steamsuitmorons.jpg (51750 bytes) MM2(SS) Curtis and MM3(SS) Alacio. Decommissioning is great. You get lots of cool free stuff when they start cleaning out and throwing away junk they don't want to haul up to Washington. These steamsuit helmets were such a treasure. MM3(SS) Alacio was my roommate at the barracks.
subasesd.jpg (100993 bytes) here's a nifty shot of the base taken from the Ft. Rosecrans Cemetary up on the top of Point Loma. The boomer pulling in is the U.S.S. Michigan. You can clearly see the U.S.S. McKee, San Onofre and Arco, along with two 688 boats in port. The e-club out on Ballast Point is also visible, as is a good chunk of North Island.

 

 Best Regards,
Jason Atkin
http://www.martinihenry.com