Sea Stories
by Dick Helm

If you were around in the mid-1970s when the JM was going through refueling overhaul, missile upgrades at Mare Island there was often difficulty for subs clearing the Golden Gate due to the tides, the current, and rather large waves. In fact, one CO was washed off the sail and lost from one boat (Plunger or Barb I think?) before the JM finished overhaul.
We were on our way out for shakedown or some such thing and I was Surface OOD. As I said, the waves underneath the Golden Gate were huge and one washed up over the Bridge. I probably wouldn't have gone anywhere because the wave peened the windshield over and laid it on my gourd, keeping me from floating up out of the bridge. The CO was behind me, hanging on to some of the bridge structure, so I was pretty well wedged in.
That happened after I had slowed to 1/3 and Denny Dyckman called up on the 7MC, "Bridge, Navigator; we're going backwards!" So I goosed it up to 2/3. Shortly thereafter, I saw another wave coming and told Control to shut the lower hatch. Can't remember if they got it in time; when I could, I looked down into the doghouse and saw what looked like the results of a toilet flush - a "swirly" was in progress. Not sure if that was the bridge trunk filling up or the Control Room getting a saltwater bath.


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