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Memories of "Navy Bob" Steele, '45 - '48

Fond memories of Pearl Harbor Shipyard in Spring of 1946. I was engineer officer, Lt Homer Woodie Chellew was our First Lieutenant, Lcdr John F. Jones was our XO and Commander Thomas K. Kimmel was our CO. The boat had been in Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in New Hampshire in 1945 for war damage repair so our stay in Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard was to have an improved SJ Radar installed.. The crew and most of our spare parts were moved off, the crew to the Submarine Base Hotel and the duty section stayed on a barge near the dry dock.

Seems we were there during Thanksgiving. Betty and I live in a Quonset Hut that was in an abandoned Naval Hospital called Monaloa Ridge Naval Hospital. Chief Radioman Bob Curtin and his wife were our neighbors also Ltjg Stuart Bowcock and our Skipper and his lovely wife, Nancy Kimmel lived nearby. Things were a
little rugged but the breezy Quonset Huts were better than nothing.

Our yard period went well.  The workers at Pearl were excellent experienced workers. Many had been imported from other Naval Shipyards in the states and many had been involved in repairing ships damaged on 7 December 1941.   Our crew were an outstanding group of men and a number of them had been in Bergall during her five war patrols. Momm J.J. Ott was one of them. A young Fireman Willie Williams was another fine young sailor. Momm Frank Vodopitch and a Momm Bird Legs Lewis , Rm 1/c Gray and Kiddie Carr EM 1/c stand out in my memories. Also a Gunners Mate Guinn was one of our leaders. He later became a mason in my lodge Pearl Harbor Lodge AF&AM Masons #598.

During Bergall's deployment to Alaska, we operated in the Bering Sea keeping and eye on the Russians who were not to cross the international date line. We submerged during daylight and surface during darkness. We saw the Priboloff Islands and operated up to the solid ice several times. We made a short visit to Attu on the western end of the Aleutian Island chain and port visits to Adak, Dutch Harbor, and best of all to Kodiak Island. Rear Admiral Daubin was Com Seventeen and was a great host to us. His son Scott Daubin was a Naval Academy Classmate of mine at Annapolis 1941 to 1944.

After some bathless weeks in the Bering Sea we visited Seattle, Washington where we entered Lake Washington and dove the Bergall in fresh water on the day of the University of California vs University of Washington crew race. It was the first time many of us had seen TV and a crew embarked in Bergall to take TV shots of us. Later we visited Astoria, Oregon where we took Naval Reservists to sea for several days to train them. Then on to San Francisco Bay and a port visit to Richmond, California.   My uncle, Robert W. Steele and his wife Julia Steele from Pasadena California came aboard in Richmond for lunch. Then off to San
Diego for a visit. Our Skipper called his wife in Pearl Harbor and she asked him to come home Tom , so our port visit was cut short and we sailed for Pearl and our Home Port and our families. I did have time to fuel the Bergall and we did managed to get the crew back before we sailed.

Happy Days they were,

Bob Steele
Captain U.S. Navy Retired

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