Sea Stories

Sea Stories

We were on a Mediterranean Cruise. At an party in our 2nd (Rota was first) port-of-call, Barcelona, Captain Shanahan (slightly under the influence) wagered the Admiral in command of the U. S. naval forces that the silent-running Guppy sub CUBERA could "sink" the then brand-new nuclear carrier Enterprise (CVN65), the flagship. (In those days, it was possible.)

Now T.A.N.S.1

A week later, at the close of our part in the NATO operation, Commander/Enterprise called "Tommy-" bluff. The bet was a case of Jack Daniels for the Admiral against an equal amount of booze for each hand of the CUBERA!

We maneuvered to the safe-distancing point, and submerged at an early hour several miles from the Enterprise and her destroyer screen. I recall how many DDs and DEs there were, perhaps five or six total.

We found and hid below a thermocline (layer of colder water) for over 18 hours. We planned ahead for heavy carbon dioxide build-up and spread the absorbant chemical crystals that would convert that poisonous gas back into oxygen on the mattress covers of the forward and aft torpedo room berths. Above us the skimmers2 milled around, demonically possessed with the desire to locate and "destroy" us symbolically with a PDC ("practice depth charge" - like a grenade).

We plotted and tracked each ship. I was on sonar watch. Captain Shanahan and I listened and waited and finally they gave us an opening. We poked the sail far enough above the thermocline to use the transducers mounted at the cardinal points of the sail to confirm our suspicions, then headed quietly for the carrier, not a half-mile away.

We closed to 150 yards off the port quarter, broached, and T. L. popped the conning tower hatch, leaped to the bridge and fired a green flare onto the flight deck looming far overhead. " the biggest S.O.B. I ever saw!" he exclaimed, dropping with a crash to the deck of the conning tower as we crash-dived. I was manning the ST periscope radar - I was there to hear it.

We disappeared below the thermocline again, circled beneath the task group and headed for Rota. The Enterprise and escorts stayed on location for another week, trying to figure out what went wrong!

OK, remember I said this was a "sea story"? Here are the deviations from "truth":

As part of operation Sea Orbit, the USS ENTERPRISE (CVAN-65) was in Cannes, France at the time, where we eventually went for some GREAT liberty!

One day of that week I was volunteered to make the mail run to ENTERPRISE on the motor whaleboat "bus" circulating amongst the ships at anchorage. In the time it took to eventually reach the carrier, the sea state had turned too rough and the "bus" service was halted. I spent the rest of the night touring the floating airbase and ended up somewhere up in the island in an electronics shop answering skimmer ETs questions about submarine life at sea. I think I managed to nap a few midwatch hours before grabbing a quick breakfast and catching the first "bus" back to CUBERA.
1 T.A.N.S. ("This ain’t no s__t")... the proper beginning to a good sea story; roughly translating to: " never gonna believe this in a million years..."; take whatever follows with a grain of salt!
2 "Skimmers": surface craft, or... targets, if you like.


made a second Med-cruise in the fall of 1964, taking part in an enormous NATO war game called Operation Steelpike. Hundreds of ships of all types converged on a long deserted section of the coast of Spain and assaulted the beaches in the early hours of the morning. I was on lookout duty when Cubby debarked a UDT team to "clear beach fortifications".

At a designated instant all ships turned on their lights. I am not afraid to admit now, that the sight of all those powerful ships suddenly illuminated in the darkness absolutely thrilled me to tears with excitement and pride.

Rota Spain - October, 1964

This photo was contributed by Jim McCoy, who was aboard the USS RIGEL, a supply ship docked across the slip when we pulled into Rota after Steelpike. The CUBERA is mooring outboard another SUBRON6 boat, the USS SIRAGO (SS-485), a TENCH-class boat launched almost a year later than Cubby, in May 1945. She sports a recently-acquired distinctive Guppy-III straight fiberglass sail and superstructure. (on the right, is a Guppy-II aluminum-alloy sail.) I was aft capstan phone-talker on the Special Sea Detail (on-deck line handling crew for entering and leaving port) so it is a good chance in the group near the stern on the far right.

Historical Notes:

Sometime during this operation or afterwards, on the way home, the CUBERA was high-line refueled from the carrier CVS-15 RANDOLPH while underway at sea, a maneuver pioneered by CUBERA under Captain J.J. Herzog.

As recalled by Patrick Hogan:

During the summer of 1964, Cubera went up the St. Larence Seaway to Montreal, Canada, for a week. On the way out the ward room realized that the fuel levels had been below minimum set by the Navy and arrangments were made with the carrier Randolph. In the Atlantic, seas were rough and four people had to go on deck with only two track belts. We took on 3000 gallons of JP5 and every one in the ward room was worried the JP5 would burn too hot and burn exhaust valves in the main engines. I had goen thru this on the Sea Cat(SS399) a couple of years before and even thought the thermal rating of JP5 is higher than diesel it actually burned some 70 degrees cooler, but no one believed me. They mixed the JP5 and diesel 50/50, one engineman did tell me the mixture did burn cooler, the rest denied checking it. I went aboard Cubera in October 1963 and transfered off a year later. Because I was not an EB throttleman I went to the AUX gang, but had a lot of friends in the I transfered to the USS Tirante(SS420) in Key West and got out in October, 1966, with seven years under my belt. I would not trade that seven years for a million dollars but I would not do it again for a million dollars. know if you remember me, but in the event you do and have any pictures of me, appreciate copies. I lost all my pictures in the Katrina flooding in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. Thanks.
--Patrick J. Hogan MM1(SS)

Navy and CUBERA life as recalled by Carlos "Andy" Andaya:

I just came across your Cubby Bear stories and truly enjoyed them. They sure brought back a lot of fond memories. My name is Carlos Andaya (nicknamed "Andy" Andaya throughout my navy career) and I was onboard USS Cubera from Feb 64 to May 65. I was a young Steward Striker (TN), worked in the Fwd Battery Comp and slept in the Honeymoon Suite (2 racks side-by-side right under the Fwd Torpedo Loading Hatch). LCDR Shanahan was CO, Dusty Dean was COB, and my Qualifying walk-through Officer was LT Andrew. I remember the Med Cruise and the ton of fun I had in the many ports we visited, the qualifying watches I stood on the bridge strapped down during rough weather, as well as the "stills watch" I had to stand as punishment for using too much water while washing dishes in the Wardroom pantry. I joined the Navy from Sangley Point Naval Station in the Philippines. Went to boot in San Diego then was briefly assigned to ComServLant in Norfolk. 3 years in NavFac Cape Hatteras, NC followed before being transferred to USS Albert T. Harris DE-447 in Flushing, NY. Then it was on to USS Cubera in Feb 64 until May 65 when I crossed the brow over to USS Runner SS-476 till Mar 67. I then served on USS Patrick Henry SSBN-599 Gold and made 6 patrols. I made Chief Personelman on shore stations, and then also served on USS Tecumseh SSBN-628, USS Independence CV62, and USS Ranger in San Diego, as a Commissioned Warrant Officer 2 ( Clerk). After 2 West Pac Cruises (one was 9 months long during the Iran Crisis), As a CWO3, I was ordered as Assistant Officer-in-Charge of Personnel Support Detachment (PSD) Naval Training Center San Diego in 1981. The following year, I switched over to the Limited Duty Officer Program and was promoted to LTJG in the Administration Specialty. In 1984 I was promoted to LT and was then transferred as Officer-in-Charge of PSD ASW Base, also in San Diego. I retired with the rank of LT and the retired pay of CWO4 with 28 years of service. It was a full and very satisfying career. I went from Destroyer Escort, to Submarines, to Carriers and to various shore installations and met many unforgettable characters and made countless friends. Served my country and got to see the world while doing it. Who could ask for anything more? Growing up poor in a small provincial town in the Philippines, who wouda thunk?

My wife Betty who has worked as a Registered Nurse since 1965, started working at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital while we were in the Bay Area in 1976. Last year she completed 30 years of Federal Service as a Civilian Navy Nurse yet she does not plan to retire for 3 more years. What a gal!


Last modified: 06Oct2019