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Bergall Cartoons

Memories of Richard Mahler
While on board, I dabbled with drawing cartoons about some of our events.   As an "artist", I use the name "Chard", a nickname I received because my little sister couldn't say Richard... it came out "Chard" and it stuck.

The first is called "The Ghost Boat".   It's an old boat, with a hole in it.   This is a memory from our northern trip (above the artic circle).   We would make contact with a boogie, start a track and lose it.   This went on time and again for quite a while.   We never did confirm a description of the boat but we sure were tracking "something" and chased it for a while!    The bubble reads, "Conn, Sonar, regained Mike-4 at 8 knots. Signal is weak. No positive match."

On the northern run, when everybody got "Blue Nosed" (initiated), we didn't have enough certificates so I drew us up one for everybody.   This is just the "background" that I used.

One of the Bergall's favorite hangups was loosing depth control.   In this drawing you can see that the diesel is still running, 'cause the exhaust is bubbling out.  We had a couple of diving officers that were real goofsticks and couldn't seem to keep depth control if they had to, and that was their JOB!

The one above was one of the first ones that I drew, but this next one is the classic.   I'm the proud holder of the record for a 160 foot snorkel on the diesel.   When you dip the snorkel, the engines are suddenly deprived of outside air, and if the diesel's aren't shut down... they are gonna pull air from SOMEPLACE.   In this case it was from the inside of the boat, pulling the boat to a 6" vacuum.   This shows the boat trying to accordion into itself.     There was a few "pointed" questions asked about that one because that's one of those things you can't hide on a submarine!   It's like immediately taking a plane ride straight up to 15,000 feet in only a few seconds.   The ears have a hell of a time handling the change.   I tried to submit these to the magazines, "Silver Dolphin Stars" and "The Challenger", but they didn't see the humor in it, I guess, and they were never accepted.

Nik Lewis was our diver and he was a Sugar Pops freak.   This one particular patrol found us running out of supplies in several categories that were thought important by a few of us.   The bubble reads, "1st it was MY Sugar Pops, then toilet paper, now it's SSXBT's.   Gee!  What next?"   SSXBT's were used to accurately determine depth and water temperature and would be dispensed at depth... and we ran out of those too!   So this shows Nik taking over THAT shortage, holding up a piece of Plexiglas so they can read it in the periscope.  The card he's holding shows "326' 76".  Our divers got some VERY interesting tasks to do on the Bergall!

I'll say this about the "13's" and the Bergall... it never popped up as an ill omen, or marked a tragedy.  It was more of a call of the thirteen and long for the team to score points in the pinch. I say this in a kind way so don't read me wrong. It's the stigma to John Hyde, an excellent skipper.  The decision to make the run for Fremantle in the end cost him any future command and advancement due to Lockwood. I, in a way, learned from his example. 10 Feb 81 I reported into Squadron Six to report to the 663 boat, Hammerhead, and found out my orders were changed for the 667 boat, reporting on the 13th of February.  In June of that year the woman I dated for five years said yes to marriage.  Her mother's birthday was 13 June (died in 1979)and that was the date she wanted our small family wedding.  During the run we were on Ivan managed to screw up that plan.  We got married on the 18th of June, the day before T.J's birthday, and honeymooned on Cape Hatteras a couple of days.  In 1983 ten days after her birthday, and a few weeks before a SpecOp, she died of cancer.  We had a fine captain, but a horse's patoot for an XO (It's the only printable definition I could scrape up).  It was advancement cycle and the results were out. 13 times up for E-7, recommended for LDO and Warrant, and this is the tenth time of making selection board.  This was the time to make it and would be a boost to my morale.

My second humanitarian transfer request to another sea billet was denied.  Five times the XO took me to mass and five times I walked away without NJP proving my point as correct action taken.  Case in point: 667 holds the deepest snorkel record without a casualty.  We lost depth control shortly after loading, and in quick action, shut down at 150 feet without gulping a drop of seawater.  I was charged with "Securing the engine without asking permission from maneuvering. "   EXCUSE ME!!! In a bloody casualty you act as trained and notify proper authority. The boat was pulled into 6 inches of vac. with the 1MC announcement of "Spill in the Tunnel".  Thirteen months after the passing my wife that loved the boats and my work, I met a sweet blue eyed woman from N.C. in July of 84 and plans were placed for our wedding in the 2nd week in August. Thirteen before out chopping we picked up a contact of interest. Sandra's birthday was the 17th, we married on the 18th at Cape Point N.C. at high tide and sunrise by an Ex-Coast Guard Chaplin.  This was the realization point in my career. FIDO (Forget It Drive On)!   This was not the Navy I loved, and Grahm Ruddman had a better idea in making it politically correct.  The only suitable plan was retirement.  The rest of the story is fifteen happy years of doing what I love, working with submarine people who learned the business the right way.

Richard Mahler

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