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Memories of Donald Dresch,

I was on the Bergall during the years of 1956 and 1957 and was an ET3.    

Did he just say that????

One of the things that happened with some regularity while cruising on the surface was that the the OD (Officer of the Deck) would order an air charge.   The purpose was to make sure the boat's air tanks were charged to full capacity; this comes in real handy when you need to surface.   The high pressure air blows out the water from the ballast tank and Voila!, the boat rises to the surface.

Back in '56 or so, a new officer came aboard, Lt.jg Bob Karcher.   Not a bad guy at all, but very green.  Anyway, we were out off the New England coast one day and he happened to be the OD.   Everything was going along fine when the OD relayed a command to dive to a depth of about 150 feet or so.   We reached target depth, leveled out.   Everything was cool and the OD was feeling pretty comfortable (I was on the bow planes.).   He looked around for something to do, so he ordered the COB to do an air charge.   Everyone in the control room threw a questioning look at the OD, when Moose stepped out, and in a calm but steady voice asked the OD, "And where, Mr Karcher, do you propose to get the air?"   Lt.jg Karcher choked and he had this "Uh-Oh" look on his face.   At this point the enlisted men were busy studying the gauges and controls, anything to grab their attention.   But when Moose stepped back into the Officer's Quarters, there was a lot of coughing and wheezing going on in an attempt to stifle the laughter.

How to use or abuse the head!

One of the more interesting features on a boat is the sanitary system.  All sewage is collected into sanitary tanks, then disposed of when the tanks are full. The main sanitary tank has about a 900 gallon capacity and is located amidships, roughly.   It collects all sewage from the enlisted personnel and galley.  When sailing on the surface, it is a fairly easy procedure to dump the contents of the sanitary tank to the ocean.  The tank is opened to the sea and air pressure is applied to force the contents into the ocean; the tank is then sealed and the air pressure inside the tank is vented outboard; it's at this point that you want to be heading upwind.

While submerged, things get a little more interesting.   The procedure is pretty much the same as on the surface, except 1) the tank is not emptied completely; roughly 50 gallons are left inside so as not to send a bubble to the surface, and 2) the tank  must be vented inboard (for the same reason).  The vent is located (where else?) in the overhead of the mess area and although the air is vented through charcoal filters, the filters come no where being able to remove the stench from the vented air.  When is the best time to vent?   How about dinner time?   That happened a few times, either due to a perverse schedule or scheduler, probably the latter.  I believe that the origin of the term "pig-boat" must have come from this procedure. It sure takes your appetite away.

All of this lead to a "fun" type of prank.  If a person was standing the midnight to 4AM watch on a Saturday night and if the boat was in port and if the tide was going out during the hours of say, midnight to 2PM and if there were one or two new guys aboard and if they were out drinking and came back a bit under the weather (this always happened), then conditions were just right.  The guy on watch would blow the sanitary tank during an ebb tide following the same procedures as when the boat was on the surface, EXCEPT, instead of venting the tank completely, he would leave about five pounds of pressure inside the tank.  The unsuspecting victim would stagger aboard and use the head.  To flush the head, one had to reach down behind the toilet and push a lever, which operated a flapper valve and allowed the contents of the toilet to flow into the sanitary tank. The lever was just off the deck, forcing the operator's face and shoulders to be centered perfectly over the opening of the toilet and just inches away; a most diabolic design.  When the lever was pushed, the operator would likely be wearing the contents of the toilet  on his head, shoulders and uniform. If your sleep was interrupted during these hours, and you heard footsteps overhead with a great deal of cursing,  shouting and death threats, you knew what had happened.  It didn't take long for a person to learn to check the sanitary pressure valve before flushing.

Looks easy, huh?                                     

 The cleaning of the sanitary tanks was a scheduled maintenance procedure whenever the boat went into the shipyards.  Two guys, each wearing a 1940s style space suit would climb down into the tank and steam-clean the insides.  A real nasty job!   For several reasons this was called diving the sanitaries.   Piss off the COB and you were almost assured of this joy!

My friend, Ralph, and his nasty habit.

There was a shipmate of mine, a guy named Ralph.   Ralph was a great guy - friendly, easy-going - he'd give you the shirt off his back if you asked for it.   He was a lot of fun, but he had this one personality quirk that was a bit dangerous, both to himself and to those around him.   It seemed that he harbored a deep dislike for marines and surface-sailors, in that order and this hatred surfaced after he had ingested only a few beers.   If a group of his potential adversaries were close by and with no exchange of insults or anything like that, he would politely excuse himself from the crowd, walk over to a table full of marines (not just one or two marines, but a table full - five or six - the more the better).   He'd yell "Fuck you, Jarheads!" and in a matter of seconds he'd be on the deck and wind up in the brig.   A few weeks later the same thing would happen.  Given the same situation; he never learned.  I picked him up several times, the morning after, at the brig and drove him back to the base.   Except for a few bruises he was back to normal, easy-going, jovial, etc.   I could never figure it out but he must have had a death wish.  

I came from a fun loving family, who might, on occassion, have a sip of the mead.

I joined the Navy, went through schooling and made it past sub school to be assigned to the USS Bergall.

Looking from the stern to the bow, the line handlers were busy laying out and stowing the lines
after leaving port.

And, looking aft, you can see there were plenty of lines... and this was just the back end.

Our home at port was lovely New London, Ct.   With the dive tower to the rear, it wasn't
day that was sparkling clear and glorious... but we were young.

Here's a bit better view of the tower.

All submariners have duties that had to be done.  Even deck watch had to be performed with
focus and attention.

Here's some friends manning the maneuvering room, on the left is Steve Sheperack EN2SS

A couple more taking a break.

They fed us well on the boat and we always had plenty of room.

The same room was used for movies, cards, training... well, it was our front living room.

The port side of the Control Room held the bow and stern planes.

The starboard side held the control for ballast, trim and transfer.

The Aft Torpedo Room could be a lonely end of the boat.

The Forward Torpedo Room was much livelier, but never as adventurous as the Aft Battery.

Training, training, training... Here the USS Irex is pulling along side and we will both
get training.

The training was in Buoy Line transfer.  This was a common method of transfer of food,
movies or in this case a handy chief (J J Ott).

Half way, the lines can sag and there's a tremendous effort to keep it taught and not dip into
the sea... even if it WAS a chief on the line.

Then there was the occasional "swim call".  One of my friends comes out of the forward
Torpedo Room escape hatch with his movie camera to enjoy the day.

With look-outs set to watch for hazards (sharks), we would get to cool off in the wonderful
water and play.

Sometimes we were even sent out to "hunt down targets"... even if they usually WERE
our own boats.

Here I am with my boat buddy, Don Midyett with his '56 Ford.

It was Don Midyett's birthday, in late October, and we went to Joe and Larry Weissbach's
parents house for the weekend. They lived on the ocean in a suburb of Boston. The house was
three  stories high. On the top floor were big commercial sewing machines. Mrs. Weissbach and
another  lady made custom drapes for people. The Weissback family treated us like kings, and
were always  feeding us something. We sure did not go hungry. I remember Mr. Weissbach's
Ale, he had an ice box on all three floors.

We all went to a Halloween Party, and a couple guys dressed me up as a girl.
Larry still has that picture on an 8 mm movie film the last I hard.
I guess we all were the cut ups at the party, and had a ball.

When we were at Portsmouth, NH, and the 320 was in for repairs, we would drive up to
Dover, Maine to the University of Maine and ice skate on their out door skating rank.
After they closed, we would play a little hockey late at night.

Don (kneeling) and I (in blue jacket) with Joe and Larry Weissbach.
Mike Grosser was with us and I think he took the picture.

Midyett again with ??

Three more sailors...

Throw a beach party and they flat multiply!

And there was always the happy moment when you got your shore liberty and, throwing
on your dress whites, you got to scramble around to find an actually hat that was "white"
so you could get away.

At the left, I'm relaxing.   Was it THAT long ago that we were so young and gay?

Don Dresch

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