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Commander Wyatt's Letter to Crew Family Members
It is not unusual for the Commanding Officer to send a letter to wives prior to a long deployment. At that difficult time for a family it is important to explain the necessity for such deployments and describe how to get help in the event of emergencies at home. It is of great concern to us that those at home are assisted in any way possible if the need arises.
As we considered a "half-way" letter, it was pointed out that families and friends of our bachelors are likewise interested in BERGALL. So, in addition to the wives, this report is being sent to other relatives and friends of BERGALL. Unfortunately, the press of operations will not allow individual typing of letters, so we beg your understanding of a XEROX edition. It is meant to be no less personal. Indeed, having met so many of the wives and parents, as well as other relatives of BERGALL sailors, I feel a personal attachment. With so many new families joining BERGALL, I am anxious to have the opportunity of gaining new friends on our return. Incidentally, thank you for the letters that have been received. Full mail bags do more for our morale than all of the programs the Navy could conceive.
BERGALL will very shortly enter Naples for a few days of rest and a little repair work, and this is a particularly suitable time for another letter to you. Naples is a key date for us - the "half-way" mark. Three months have been spent away from homeport - only three months remaining. "Only" is, perhaps a fair term. That is basically the amount of time spent away form home on a ballistic missile submarine patrol. Separation from family, wives, lovers etc., is always difficult. Six months is a very long period of separation - almost hard to imagine for those leaving for the first time. Three months is more usual number for those who serve under the sea. Being past the half-way point also gives the feeling that it is downhill from here.
Let me give you a quick update on how we have done since leaving New London. In a word: OUTSTANDING. First, we have successfully met every challenge and completed every task assigned. I believe that we have been a substantial asset to the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. We have done nearly every kind of operation and training - from essentially independent operations to participation in large NATO exercises. (You're right - we haven't gone under the ice. If any were available in the Mediterranean, I'm sure we would have done that also). As is obvious from the news, this beautiful body of water continues to be of the greatest importance to us and our allies. Unfortunately, it is of great importance to other nations who may not always share our peaceful intentions. The vast commitment of resources to this area by both NATO and the Soviet Union demonstrates its value. Continued unrest in some of the nations bordering this sea has undoubtedly reinforced the conviction of our government that a strong naval presence is essential to any plan for peace. BERGALL is a key unit in our nation's plans, and we work hard at performing to the limit of the capabilities of the ship, which is one of the most capable platforms in the world.
Second, we have become much more expert at our jobs. BERGALL has never been safer or stronger than she is right now. The work that many of the men have put into improving their skill has been impressive. As the experience level of the men increases in the demanding operational environment of the Med, tasks that were difficult two or three months ago are now done smoothly and expertly.
Third, many men have achieved personal goals. This is of extreme value to all of us, not just the individual involved. Each new qualification of goal attained improves the ship's performance as a whole and ensures that the ship will stay ready in the future. Of more immediate importance, these qualifications allow us more flexibility in duty assignments, our leave and liberty policies and so on. I am sure that I will omit some key achievements, but just to give you a feel for how well we have done, I'll provide some examples of personal goals attained since we left New London:
(1) Qualification in submarines, a most important goal, allowing a man to
wear the dolphins, gained by demonstrating that he is proficient at our
MM3 (SS) CYRUL , STS2 (SS) ZIZZI , QMSN (SS) KOEPKE
TM3 (SS) ROARK , SN (SS) PETTIS , MMFN (SS) SIMMONS
STS2 (SS) STEPHENSON , ETR3 (SS) DRISKELL , HM1 (SS) GUTIERREZ
MM2 (SS) TAYLOR , STS3 (SS) CARDINALE , EM2 (SS) RUSTICK
(2) Requalification on BERGALL for men previously qualified on another
ETC (SS) McCARTHY , QM1 (SS) LACARIO , RM2 (SS) DIXON
MM3 (SS) GARMON , RM2 (SS) GRIFFITH
(3) Officer of the Deck:
(4) Diving Officer of the Watch:
LTJG FAHLBERG , ENS McANDREW , LTJG BEARDEN
ICC (SS) KUENNEKE , ENS ZACHARIAS
(5) Chief of the Watch:
YNC (SS) ST. CLAIR , ETC (SS) HEHMANN , MM1 (SS) CONREY
(6) Duty Chief Petty Officer:
YNC (SS) ST. CLAIR , ETC (SS) HEHMANN , MM1 (SS) CONREY
(7) Engineering Watch Supervisor:
ICC (SS) TAYLOR , ET2 (SS) BURGWALD , ETC (SS) McCARTHY
EM2 (SS) BLOSSOM , MM1 (SS) BERGREN
(8) Engineroom Supervisor:
(9) Reactor Operator:
ETC (SS) McCARTHY
(10) Shutdown Maneuvering Area Watch:
ICC (SS) TAYLOR
(11) Sonar Supervisor:
STS2 (SS) STEPHENSON , STS2 (SS) ZIZZI
(12) Sonar Watchstander:
FTG2 (SS) ROBERTS , STS2 OTT , STS3 (SS) DONALSON
FTG1 (SS) SOBKOWSKI , HM1 (SS) GUTIERREZ FTG3 JOHNSON
(13) Electrical Operator:
EM2 (SS) RUSTICK
(14) Shutdown Roving Watch:
(15) Engineering Laboratory Technician:
MM1 LEUENBERGER , MM3 STERNITZKY
(16) AMR2 Lower Level Watch:
(17) AMR2 Upper Level Watch:
ETC (SS) McCARTHY , ET3 LEARY , EM2 (SS) BURNS
(18) Engineroom Upper Level Watch:
MM2 CORLISS , MM3 JONES , MM3 PAGE
(19) Engineroom Lower Level Watch:
MM2 CORLISS , MM3 JONES , MM3 PAGE
(20) Basic Engineering Qualification:
ETC (SS) McCARTHY , EM2 (SS) RUSTICK , MM1 RUPERT
MM2 (SS) TAYLOR
(21) Below Decks Watch:
STS3 (SS) FOX , STS2 (SS) STEPHENSON , RM2 (SS) GRIFFITH
(22) Atmosphere Control Watch:
MM3 (SS) SMETANA
(23) Auxiliaryman of the Watch:
MM3 (SS) GARMON , MM3 (SS) SMETANA
(24) Radio Watch:
RM3 (SU) JACKSON
MM1 RUPERT , IC3 KINSELLA , EM3 MENZEL , IC3 FRY
(26) Diesel Operator:
MMFN (SS) SIMMONS
(27) Battery Charging Electrician:
EM2 (SS) RUSTICK
(28) Fire Control Operator:
(29) Secondary Chemist:
MM1 LEUENBERGER , MM3 STERNITZKY
(30) Auxiliary Electrician Aft:
IC3 FRY , EM3 MENZEL , ET3 LEARY
(31) Shutdown Electrical Operator:
IC3 FRY, EM3 MENZEL, ET3 LEARY
(32) Helmsman and Planesman:
SKSA (SU) POTTER, SA (SU) ANDERSON , MMFN (SS) SIMMONS
MM3 (SS) CYRUL, MMFA (SU) CARPENTER, TMSA (SU) MAY
(33) Topside Watch:
ET3 (SU) HANSON, QM1 (SS) MYERS, STS3 ROSTBERG
FTG2 GUINN, STS3 (SS) DONALSON
If your main BERGALL man doesn't appear on the list, there are at least three easy explanations: he's already qualified on all required watches; he's just about to qualify; or I made a mistake. Incidentally, that list of qualifications is hardly all-inclusive. There are several others also. This gives an idea of the tremendous variety of highly skilled individual talents that go together to effectively operate this complex machine. No special effort was made to put them in precise order of importance or seniority - they are all important. Our qualification programs are demanding, and each of the men qualified to serve on BERGALL should be justifiably proud of his accomplishments.
Additionally, many men have nearly completed other watch qualifications, and
several men should qualify in submarines prior to return to New London. We also
did very well at advancement. As a result of the exam last February, the
following men have been selected for advancement:
EM2 (SS) BLOSSOM, RM2 (SS) DIXON, IC2 (SS) KOEPKE, ETN3 (SS) BRIEN
MM3 (SS) SMETANA, STSSN DOWELL, STS3 (SS) CARDINALE, MM2 (SS) AUSTIN
MM2 (SS) CONROY, ETN3 (SS) DIBLASI
A few additional men may also be added to that list in the future. Moreover,
several of our First Class Petty Officers will be considered by a selection
board for advancement to Chief Petty Officer. Most important, we are mounting a
massive effort for the August examination. Many men have already completed all
the requirements for this test and are working hard to prepare for it. Several
men have also been presented awards in the Med. Among these were:
(1) Commander Submarine Development Group Two Letter of Commendation:
ETN3 (SS) BRIEN, MM1 (SS) KUNGES, ETN2 (SS) BURGWALD
EM1 (SS) ROBINSON, MM1 (SS) BERGREN
(2) Good Conduct Award:
STS3 (SS) YADEN , ICC (SS) KUENNEKE, ETN3 (SS) BRIEN
MM2 (SS) KOHUS, MM2 (SS) FRYE, RM2 (SS) DIXON
(3) Meritorious Unit Citation:
STS3 (SS) DONALSON
Fourth, given that we have to be deployed, I believe that we have had a fairly good time, with the more interesting times yet to come, with the spring and summer upon us. At the very start of the deployment, Petty Officer CARDINALE had appendicitis and was transferred from the ship near the Azores before we entered the Med. He is now well and back onboard. Since then the health of the crew has been superb, and we have even gotten a few movies worth watching.
Our first port after leaving New London on 17 February was La Spezia, Italy where we stayed from 5 to 10 March. This is in Northern Italy, not far from Pisa. La Spezia is a spectacularly beautiful little town with an excellent harbor. Unfortunately, there are not really a lot of things to do for entertainment, and early March is still cold with a lot of rain. It did give us a chance to get a little used to Italian customs. Nearly everyone got out to a restaurant for at least one Italian dinner. The easy pace of life, with long afternoon rest periods and evening promenades, was unique compared to our way of life. One day tours by bus to Pisa and Florence were available and many men took advantage of them. A few of the more adventurous of the crew got as far as the gambling tables of Monaco or the ski slopes of Saint Moritz in Switzerland. After too short a stay, we were underway again for a one day run to La Maddalena, Italy for a regular upkeep.
BERGALL tied up next to the USS GILMORE, a submarine tender at San Stefano, a little island off the Northern coast of Sardinia. To go on liberty it is necessary to take a fifteen minute boat ride to La Maddalena (a somewhat larger island) or take a twenty minute boat ride to Palau, a small town on the Northern tip of Sardinia. The only facilities right near the tender are a well equipped gymnasium and a game room/beer hall. These were well used, but not as much as the liberty boats to Palau and La Maddalena.
These areas of Sardinia are extremely popular resort areas in the summer, with lots of summer homes for the wealthy of Europe. The scenery is spectacular - a rocky coast-line, many dramatic islands, and beautiful beaches on the incredibly blue Mediterranean Sea. It should be particularly nice in La Maddalena when we return toward the end of this deployment. In March, however, the area was, to a large extent, closed up. The year-round residents of the little towns in the area go about their farming, fishing, and shop-keeping. It is a quiet rural scene. Behavior is quite proper. The U.S. Navy's profile in the area is extremely low - essentially none of the residents speak English, for example. "Night-life" as we know it in the U.S. is non-existent.
One of the claims of the Navy is an opportunity to "see the world", and this area, as charming and picturesque as it is, didn't offer enough at that time of year to keep everyone occupied. Therefore, we made every effort to allow the crew a chance to do a little touring. Several men have toured various parts of Europe. A few have had their wives over to Italy and several others have flown back to the U.S. for leave. Unfortunately, not everyone has the money and the time for that large undertaking. A special liberty plan was therefore developed to allow almost everyone to do a little serious sight-seeing. Instead of a regular three section rotation, this plan gave each section one long weekend (we were in port a total of three weekends). The men who wanted to could leave after work on Thursday and catch a ferry that traveled over-night to Rome. Sight-seeing could thus start first thing Friday morning after sleeping on the ferry. The men could spend Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday on the loose in Italy. They would then catch a ferry at midnight Monday night in Rome and be back to work Tuesday morning. This trip was quite popular and perhaps sixty members of the crew took advantage of it. The reports were very favorable. Apparently the USO really took care of the men in Rome - arranging rooms at a very good price, setting up tours and so on. I actually believe that some of our young men headed for Rome with plans for a wild spree and returned full of culture and an appreciation for the antiquities.
Best of all, we were able to do all these things and still do a superb job of maintaining the ship. We actually finished all of our important jobs and left La Maddalena a few days earlier than scheduled. The excellent condition of the ship as we enter Naples after operating continuously for 1 1/2 months, and the equally impressive condition upon reporting for duty in the Med, is a tribute to the energies and talents of the BERGALL crew, who routinely take on the tough jobs and take care of problems while they are still small. Remember, maintaining millions of dollars of highly sophisticated equipment is no small task. Our stay in each port has been made more pleasant because of Petty Officer DiBLASI. It seems that most of the folks in each area are relatives of his! I'm not sure how good his Italian is, but it seemed to do the job for us several times.
Several changes in the crew have occurred since deploying. In La Spezia we
were joined by LCDR MORITZ (the new Executive Officer), ETC (SS) McCARTHY
(Reactor Control Leading Petty Officer), MM1 LEUENBURGER, and MS3 (SS) BUTAY. In
La Maddalena Ensign HEARD, STS3 (SS) YADEN, MMFN (SU) CARPENTER, and SA (SU)
NOBLE became Bergallites. Commander MAUER left enroute command of the USS PARCHE;
MM1 (SS) MYERS left for the USS WILL ROGERS (with school enroute); FTGC (SS)
GRAY left for recruiting duty in Milwaukee after school in Orlando Florida; MS2
(SS) MILES departed for the USS DANIEL WEBSTER, ET1 (SS) CARY left the service
to return to his home in Michigan. With Chief GRAY's departure, Chief GAGNON
took over as Chief of the Boat. Several new men are expected in Naples. Three
men who helped us get going on the deployment will head back to their own ships:
STSC (SS) MITCHELL to the USS ARCHERFISH,
SKCS (SS) TOLBERT to the GROTON, and
TM1 (SS) KENNY to the USS BATES.
These men made significant contributions to the ship and we are sorry to see such fine shipmates leave. It is however, an indication of our improved abilities that they are able to leave.
Lastly, a quick guide to finding assistance should the need arise is attached. This is very similar to the one provided to the wives in February. Do not hesitate to call the appropriate person if necessary - they are waiting to help. Thank you for your continued support for the men of BERGALL during this demanding and long deployment. The strength you provide, though from afar, is nevertheless real and provides us the motivation to do our best. It is my hope that all remains stable on the home front and you are blessed with good health and a nice spring. I am sure that New London was never been as beautiful as it will be when we steam up the Thames River in August.
R. E. WYATT
Commander , U. S. Navy