NAVSECGRU Headquarters
March 1958 – March 1959

Upon reporting for duty at Headquarters in March 1958, I quickly understood why we had so many problems getting proper test devices to maintain our new equipment. It seems the various branches of headquarters were only interested in funding new equipment and to hell with the test equipment needed to maintain them.

Submarine School

I was assigned to Logistics G-401, who had responsibility for maintaining an inventory of all Security Group equipment. My bosses were LCDR Carl Duberg and Chief Bill Scullion. I did not know the first thing about drafting official correspondence when I arrived, however, thanks to Bill, I quickly mastered enough to carry my own weight. I discovered the inventory of all our equipment was being maintained on 5×8 cards in a haphazard manner. My first task was to come up with a method to effectively manage this inventory. Therefore, I spent a few weeks with Ben Bolt, MA1 learning about the capabilities and limitations of the IBM 1401 computer system. Eventually, I worked up a proposal which would provide control over every item of equipment in detail. I presented it to Chief Scullion and he had me tone the project down some before presenting it to the powers that be which quickly approved the limited scope. Over the next ten months, I would routinely spend one or two days in the computer facility punching up IBM cards on all the equipment identified. When we went out with our first draft listing, I included about 20 to 30 percent more of each item than everyone believed they held. Initially they wanted me to limit it to just what they believed they held on a given site. I argued it was simpler for them to draw a line through each item they did not have. When I received their review of my initial inventory, headquarters went into shock. Instead of about 10,000 items in our inventory we had over 20,000. I was able to assemble a complete and accurate inventory of all our equipment in the field before I left for Submarine School in March 1959.

Another of my tasks was shipping equipment between sites as their mission changed. One such site was the Security Group Detachment at New London which was growing rapidly. These submarine trips were quite productive in the intelligence area. It took me a couple of months to discover that all the program branches of the Navy Department with equipment assets had women assigned the task of inventory manager, while the men had the role of program or funding manager. The women did not like such an insignificant role as being responsible for equipment inventory. Therefore, I would spend hours on the phone or visiting these women in their offices sweet-talking them out of one or two items of equipment we happened to need badly (for example, stealing R-390 receivers from other program offices). Instead of me waiting until our equipment came off production, I would sweet talk these women into giving me one or two items at a time. It did not take long before I could assemble a respectable quantity of receivers or other equipment that we sorely needed.

Billet for a Naval Security Group CTM1 on USS TRITON?

After about six months, I learned the Security Group had a billet for a CTM1 for the USS TRITON (SSRN-586) under construction at Groton. I investigated this billet in detail and began a campaign to have me assigned instead. The operational branches did not realize the person had to be a volunteer, pass a pressure tank and escape tank test before even attending submarine school. I did not remind any of these officers about these criteria. Meanwhile, I quietly went to the Naval Gun Factory where they had a shallow water diving school and arranged to take the pressure tank test which I passed. In addition, I would casually talk with individuals involved in the program about my willingness to go, passing the pressure tank, etc. Of course, LCDR Duberg told me he would never approve my going, as he wanted me to remain in my present job. I finally got desperate and had a private audience with our admiral for whom, on my own time, I had serviced his television set at home several times. I asked him if he would at least consider me a candidate for the TRITON. The big day arrived when they had to decide what to do and time was too short to send out a flyer asking for volunteers. At this meeting one person suggested we change the billet from a first class and send Chief Hadley. Several others quickly remarked that was whom they had in mind. Finally, the admiral told the group that apparently Chief Hadley had conducted an excellent campaign and they should notify BuPers to change the billet to a Chief and cut orders for me.

LCDR Carl Duberg came back from that meeting very mad with me. He told me I would go on the TRITON and I promised him I would have the inventory current on the day I was to be transferred. I kept that promise by working all night producing a complete inventory for every one of our sites.

LCDR Hank P. Morgan Writes a $300K Check

When I arrived at the submarine base, I noticed a Volkswagen “bug” at the head of one pier smashed down the middle like a huge knife had hit it. I quickly learned what happened as the DepComSubLant SSO holding my security clearance was LCDR Hank P Morgan of the J.P. Morgan family. He had been the commanding officer on the boat in question that rammed the Volkswagen. The Thames River can be difficult trying to moor at a designated pier so skippers would turn and line up for the desired pier and order all ahead flank to get out of the current and then quickly put the screws in reverse. Well Hank’s car was at the end of the pier and he wanted to tie up there. So he lined up ordered all ahead flank and when he ordered all back caused the diesel engines to drop requiring a couple of minutes to shift to battery. In the meantime, the boat continued in a forward motion until it hit the pier and rode up on the car. The court of inquiry held about this incident experienced a very unusual session. Hank became upset with the board members when they expressed concern about the $300,000 estimate it would cost to repair the submarine’s sonar and bow. According to Hank, he wrote out a personal check for the specified amount and asked if there was anything else.

He would have me come to his office on occasion to talk about what we did, as he was interested in our activities.

The U.S. Army Tank Incident

While in sub school, the Army moved some equipment, including a Sherman tank, on to the base for display during Armed Forces day. A number of sailors noticed they did not lock this equipment up and asked why. The reply was it takes a week of instruction to learn how to start, let alone operate, a tank or amphibious truck. That was the wrong thing to say to a bunch of sailors. That night the base commander attended a function at the Chief’s club located on a hill. Several of us started the tank and drove it up to the Chief’s club before we realized the parking lot was full and we could not turn around. About this time people began to leave the club and saw us climbing out of the tank and running like hell. The next day the Army had to go all over the base to locate their equipment. The brass was very upset and a number of us began to sweat out being responsible for this. Rumor has it that when they learned what the army said about operating this equipment, the investigation seem to lose its drive, thank God.

Escape Tank

The escape tank was quite interesting for several reasons. First, they had switched from the Munson lung to the “blow and go” method. In later years they switched to the hood method, which was easy for normal people. The “blow and go” method was quite simple. You take a number of deep breaths and with the final one, step out of the lock, blow all the air out of your lungs, and continue trying to blow as you travel to the surface.

My second attempt almost caused my rejection from school. When I stepped out and blew all the air out I relaxed as I began to raise. They quickly grabbed me and pulled me back into the lock. I had to do some fast-talking to permit me to finish the trip. After the third try from the 50 foot level, they asked for volunteers for the 115 foot level, which I indicated I wanted to try. It was the easiest of all four attempts; by the time I hit the surface I shot almost completely out of the water. Afterwards, the Officer-in-Charge of the operation asked who was named “Hadley.” I raised my hand and he remarked, “If I had known it was you, I would have rejected you.” It seems the last individual to die in the tank was named HADLEY and at the time they used 70mm film for chest x-rays. They assumed the small spot on his lung was dirt from developing so much film. In reality, it was an air sack and he was the last to exit the 115 foot level. When he came to the surface his lung popped out of his mouth due to the amount of air collected under pressure at 115 feet.

Chief Petty Officers normally did not have to go through sub school and I understand that personnel assigned to the TRITON afterwards did not attend sub school. Therefore, I was the one and only CT to go through sub school.

Source: NCVA CRYPTOLOG Spring/Summer 2012

Featured Image: Young William Hadley

A special thanks to CTRCM John A. Gustafson, USN (Ret.) for providing this story.