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WATERCOLOR by "John La Presle"

scanned image donated by TRACEY JOHNSTONE

SHIPMATES ON ETERNAL PATROL

EDWARD D. RABBITT RM1(SS) 1961-63 - 12/09/2017




                    

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A small world

I don’t know if this is true, but it’s a daXX good read...

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April, 1961. Pearl Harbor Hawaii.


I was a junior officer aboard USS Wahoo (SS-565) on completion of a six week period in Pearl Harbor shipyard. We were preparing to do a post-upkeep
shakedown, or rather harbor cruise, to check out our propulsion system and new battery. All that was planned was a short transit around Ford Island and
a return to the shipyard.


The day before our harbor trials the captain received a phone call from the shipyard commander. He stated that there was a captain from the Japanese
Navy in Hawaii studying shipyard techniques. He wondered if it would be possible for that officer to accompany Wahoo on her short trip around Pearl
Harbor. Our captain agreed it would be perfectly fine and he was invited aboard the next day.


Some background information. In 1961 the Arizona Memorial, as we now know it, had not been built. Rather there was a small wooden platform attached to
a flag pole, which was attached to the sunken hull of the Arizona. Each morning several Marines would row a small boat out to the platform and, at 8
AM, raise the American flag above the Arizona. At evening colors, the flag was lowered.


We got underway for the harbor cruise. I was the Officer of the Deck, the captain was on the bridge as was the Japanese Navy Capt. Maneuvering Watch
was stationed with our most experienced phone talker on the sound powered maneuvering telephone circuit. As it happens, he was our chief torpedo man
and had many years of Navy experience. Because there was limited space on the bridge, he was stationed about 8 feet below us on the intermediate level
in the ships sail.


As our ship proceeded around Ford Island we approached the area of Arizona. The captain said "Mike, render honors to starboard." As we passed Arizona I ordered "Attention to starboard, hand salute, two," the line handlers on deck and all those on the bridge rendered honors properly, including a somewhat puzzled Japanese captain. He turned to our captain and said "Excuse me, to whom were you rendering honors?"


Our captain replied "we were rendering honors to the USS Arizona which lies under that flag, and has been there since December 7, 1941." Things became
very quiet on the bridge. After about 30 seconds the Japanese captain said "So sorry about Arizona." He continued after about 15 seconds, "During the
war I was on the aircraft carrier TAIHO which was sunk by the USS Albacore".
The bridge remained very quiet. The only sounds were my orders to the helm to take new courses as we rounded Ford island.


Then came a voice from the deck below us on the bridge. It was our phone talker. "I was a torpedo man on the USS Albacore when we sunk the TAIHO".
After a short pause he continued "So sorry about TAIHO".


The tension was so thick you could almost cut it. Fortunately I had the ship maneuvering responsibility upon which I could focus. I did not look at the others. After about 30 seconds the tension level seemed to subside and normal conversation was restored. I thought, "It is, indeed, a small world."

Re: A small world

I saw that posted somewhere else. Small world indeed.