The Stow-Away RAT


–An in-Port Sea-Story–

J.J. “Joe” Duran


ASR = Auxiliary Submarine Rescue

BM1(DV) = Boatswain’s Mate First Class (Diver)

GM2 = Gunners Mate Second Class


I served on the USS Chanticleer (ASR-7) as BM1(DV) from July 1963 to Sept 1965. I do not recall the exact month & year we were tied up at the B St. Pier, downtown San Diego when we returned from a 6 month West-Pac cruise.

Our Skipper was fanatically opposed to rodents, cockroaches & all vermin. He saw to it that the ship was ” inspection clean ” at all times!!!

Then the unthinkable happened! A RAT got aboard! – We figured we picked him up in Sasebo, Japan or Olongapo, Zambales, Philippines! – The Captain put a bounty on that RAT: 30 days basket leave to whoever killed or captured the RAT! About 19:30 while tied up Starboard side to the pier, the duty section was setting up seats on the fantail for the evening movie. It was twilight- – – -Here comes the RAT out from under the towing machine! The fantail exploded with sailors running after the RAT; some to the swab rack (just aft of the tow-machine) to get a broom, swab, scrub brush,  squeegee or anything to hit, kill, disable or capture the RAT. Anyone on the pier or on the street witnessing that eruption of sailors on the fantail would think they were watching a ship gone CRAZY!….The RAT jumped up on top of the port gunnel just aft of the McCann Sub-Rescue chamber & started running aft. The Petty Officer of the watch was a GM2 who was a USN competition shooter.He had lots of trophies for marksmsnship. He jacked a round into his 45 Auto side arm & opened fire! His 3rd round hit the rounded top of the steel Gunnell & must have ricocheted, grazing the RAT’S inboard side, knocking him over the side! In a heartbeat, the messenger of the watch took off his undress blue jumper, duty-belt & white hat & WENT OVER THE SIDE IN HOT PURSUIT OF THE RAT!! He grabbed the RAT around the neck with one hand & swam with the other… The 1MC blared ” MAN OVERBOARD, PORT SIDE! ” The messenger held the RAT with a strong choke hold while the RAT lacerated his arm with his hind legs. We got a jacobs ladder over the side. A Deck sailor went down the ladder & shoved a small marlinspike through the rat’s eye & out the back of his head, ending the RAT’S problems.We immediately sent the messenger to Balboa Naval Hospital in the duty Jeep. Next came the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Provost Marshall and the San Diego Police Dept with sirens screaming.

Discharging a firearm in downtown San Diego is against the law.

The next day we did not see the CO or XO. Rumors were flying hot and heavy.The newspapers were twisting the facts.The #1 story was that the Gunner’s mate would be court-martialed.

The third day the CO and XO came aboard. The gunner’s mate,  the messenger, and the deck seaman were all granted 30 days basket leave, (leave not charged)–no questions asked.

The captain took all the heat from the squadron and U.S.N.

Years later, I discovered he did receive a letter of censure for unorthodox action and poor display of leadership.The Chair-warmer who wrote that letter would not see real leadership from a Mark V gas mask with panoramic vision.

The crew and Officers loved that Captain.

CWO-4(DV) J.J.(Joe) Duran USN(RET)