You’ve Finally Made It To Subic

You’ve Finally Made It To Subic

By: John Petersen

Finally off watch, it’s been one helluva night.

Six in the morning, no more fluorescent light.

Been almost three weeks since the lines have been pulled,

just the sight of anything but water would be like finding gold!

The last couple of days, they’ve been strangely upbeat,

To assume the crew is anxious is, safely bet, a simple feat.

Liberty’s a’comin’, God knows we’ve all earned it!

Several weeks of continuous watches and work, no break from the grit.

Always hearing the stories, of debauchery and fun,

this next place to visit holds no candle to anything under the sun.

Out on the fantail for a smoke then fresh air,

off in the distance is the sight that all have desired to ensnare!

Finally here! Can it be true?

Will the truth come forth, from all the tales others spew?

Only time will tell, for within a few hours,

life will do a 180, all aboard will be under it’s powers.

We’ve finally made it, worked our asses off for it,

this place called P.I., and the Gods be thanked, no shit!

After all is secure, and standing on unmoving ground,

link up with your buddies and head towards where treasures abound!

First stop of course, and this is required,

is the famous money exchange, how else will your night be mired?

Today’s rate is 21 to 1, oh damn what a deal!

All the San Miguel’s you can drink, and more than one meal!

For if all the stories you’ve heard prove to be fact and not fiction,

You’re in for one unforgettable night, all fun and no bitchin’!

Past the front gate you go, the MP’s stare you simply ignore,

let him think what he will, you’ve new lands to explore!

First order of business as you have been instructed to adhere,

is crossing Shit River, second only to obtaining Shellback status you hear.

The river queens, all dressed up (or down) and calling for your sight,

along with their ‘assistants’, who’ll dive for Peso’s day and night. (ugh!)

Stopping to grab a pack of black market smokes,

Time to venture forth, many fires that require continual stokes.

Hundreds of offerings on this street called Magsaysay,

The lights, the noise, the girls, so much candy for the eye.

You’ve finally made it to Subic, this land of low standards and high hopes,

activities abound that would clearly upset Popes!

The sights, the smells, these get your heart a pumpin’,

it seems from all directions the music is a bumpin’.

A cacophony of noise, people, glitter and colors abound,

seems almost more than the brain can take and still hold its ground.

At each door at least two honey’s beckon you in,

very pretty they are, their charms alone raise little bumps on the skin.

They appear to be everywhere, flesh the color of root beer brown,

you can’t blink once without seeing a thousand more in town.

Throwing caution to the wind you choose your first stop,

of what seems like a million of stops you’ll definitely hop.

Convincing your buddies, ’cause the CO set the word,

“The Buddy System is enforced, no arguments to be heard”.

Ah, yes, Magsaysay, your avenue to moral descent,

Whoever said “What goes on in Vegas, stays in Vegas”,

Obviously not a minute on this street they spent!

No sooner than the moment your foot graces the door,

Mamasan and her charming charges escort you across the floor.

Not quite firmly seated and ingesting your first gulp of beer,

You have a new friend, one who finds your lap comfortable and clear.

And with the charm of a litter of kittens, she’ll wiggle and ask you so nicely,

“You buy me drink? Pay bar pine? It not too pricey”.

For one, you think, it’s way too early on your first night’s foray,

To sink for one so seemingly sweet, so early this eve, no way!

Secondly, you think, there’s too much to do, too much to see.

‘All the stories I’ve been told, tonight the truth for me!

Let’s see if they hold water, these tales of dark fun and lust,

I’ll find the truth or die trying, this accomplishment a must’.

Bidding farewell to your little lap warmer now all alone,

You gather up your buddies and Northward you all shall roam.

Just remember one thing, as you sample each place and watch every penny,

That the warm little wiggly thing on your lap just may have been named Benny!

(There may be more to be told…)

MM1 Petersen


ARA San Juan

ARA San Juan



An analytical review of all information released by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization on the acoustic signal associated with the loss of the Argentina Submarine ARA SAN JUAN confirms the following:

That acoustic signal originated near 46-10S, 59-42W at 1358Z (GMT) on 15 November 2017. It was produced by the collapse (implosion) of the ARA SAN JUAN pressure-hull at a depth of 1275-feet. Sea pressure at the collapse depth was 570 PSI. The frequency of the collapse event signal (bubble-pulse) was about 4.4 Hz.

The energy released by the collapse was equal to the explosion of 12,500 pounds of TNT at the depth of 1275-feet. That energy was produced by the nearly instantaneous conversion of potential energy (sea-pressure) to kinetic energy, the motion of the intruding water-ram which entered the SAN JUAN pressure-hull at a speed of about 1800 mph.

The entire pressure-hull was completely destroyed (fragmented/compacted) in about 40 milliseconds (0.040s or 1/25th of a second), the duration of the compression phase of the collapse event which is half the minimum time required for cognitive recognition of an event.

Although the crew may have known collapse was imminent, they never knew it was occurring. They did not drown or experience pain. Death was instantaneous.

The SAN JUAN wreckage sank vertically at an estimated speed between 10 and 13 knots. Bottom impact would not have produced an acoustic event detectable at long range.

The open question is: why was no corrective action – such as blowing ballast – taken by the SAN JUAN crew before the submarine sank to collapse depth? According to Argentine Navy spokesman Gabriel Galeazzi, the Commanding Officer of the SAN JUAN reported a “failure” in the submarine’s “battery system,” The time of that report was 0730 on 15 November, assumed to have been GMT. Subsequently, the problem was reported to have been “fixed.” The SAN JUAN intended to submerged and continued its transit north. The SAN JUAN pressure-hull collapsed at 1358 GMT on 15 November.

In the case of the loss of the US nuclear submarine SCORPION (SSN 589), hydrogen out-gassed by the main battery exploded at 18:20:44 GMT on 22 May 1968 incapacitating/killing the crew with an atmospheric over-pressure in the battery well estimated to have been 7-10 times the fatal value. The pressure-hull was not breached. This assessment was based on analysis of acoustic detections of the event and damage observed in pieces of the fragmented battery recovered from the wreckage at a depth of 11,100 feet by the US submersible TRIESTE, e.g., microscopic, spectrographic and x-ray diffraction analyses. (There was no flooding of the pressure-hull before the battery exploded.)

SCORPION lost power and sank slowly over nearly 22 minutes to collapse at a depth of 1530-feet at 18:42:34 GMT on 22 May 1968.

There is the possibility that a similar sequence of events occurred aboard the SAN JUAN. If the wreck is located and efforts are made to recover components, emphasis should be placed on the battery system.

The author of this assessment was the lead acoustic analyst at the US Office of Naval Intelligence for 42 years, analyzed acoustic detectors of the loss of the USS THRESHER (SSN 593) on 10 April 1963 and testified before that Court of Inquiry. The author expresses his appreciation to those who supported this assessment with research and calculations


Fair winds….


My Boat is so Small

My Boat is so Small

Bernard Henri Eldredge

“Lord, Thy sea is so great, and my boat is so small.”

Anyone who’s ever gone to sea can relate to this sentiment. Especially those of us who’ve gone beyond the green water to the open blue, and then submerged beneath the waves.

The sea is so vast that even massive Battleships and Carriers are naught but a speck on the surface. Nature’s immeasurable power can be braved, but never truly conquered. In its more docile state, the temperamental surface of the waters awes and inspires. In its wrath, it terrifies and destroys.

In submarines, we often had the luxury — if you will — of diving the ship beneath the tumult of the tempest. But not always. The diesel-powered “smoke boats” of eras now passed had to surface or come to snorkel depth to run the diesels and recharge the batteries. The sea had no regard for the status of your power plant. Thus, submarine captains of days gone by were forced to discern which would be the lesser of two very real evils… risk losing propulsion in the relative calm of the deep, or brave the rolls and swells of the surface in heavy seas. This was not a realm for those with a weak constitution.

Nor were the modern nuclear-powered boats immune. Transits through certain waters had to be conducted on the surface, and in several locales on the globe these shallow waters can be especially treacherous. Certain missions called for the necessity of remaining at periscope depth for days at a time. Riding out a typhoon at periscope depth in waters labeled “international,” yet deemed the sovereign territory of a potentially hostile foe, one quickly comes to realize that national security trumps your own by a considerable amount.

To dive beneath the waves often provided for a respite from the turmoil above. Yet, to enter this third dimension of the most foreign and hostile environment on the planet… well, it quite literally adds a whole new dimension to the equation. Yes, our boats were DESIGNED to enter this realm, but the process was anything but automatic.

True sailors are not merely passengers aboard their vessel. Rather, they “sail” the vessel, and submariners are each quite intimately involved in multiple aspects of the process. This is especially true at depth, and the personal intimacy of this sailor-ship relationship increases at a rate consistent with the increase of the forces of the sea on every square inch of the hull. Unless you’ve heard the groanings of HY-80 steel straining against the pressure of the deep, you simply cannot truly relate. But even if you’ve never been there, perhaps you can understand the dynamic I’m speaking of. It is no wonder then, that we old submariners, whose boats have been relegated to the recycle bin, speak of them in personally possessive and nostalgic terms.

My nostalgia also increases at a rate consistent with the increase in the gray in my hair and the years I’ve walked this Earth. It is at times a strange and dichotomous mix of both pride and humility, and very difficult to explain.

Yes, Lord… Thy sea is so great, and our boats were so small. But they took my brothers and I into harm’s way and brought us back again. Most of us. In reverent awe, we remember those who remain eternally in the dark deep, and commend them to Your care.

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Birthday Away

Birthday Away

By Robert “Okie Bob” Layton

There is a saying in the Navy, that seagoing sailors like to use when one finds himself in trouble with the upper chain of command.

Heavy on the sarcasm, dripping with apathy, and boldly challenging, it went like this:

“What are they going to do—-take my birthday away?”

For it was a common assumption, that your birthday was safe from any punitive action one might incur after a foul up.


I’m here to testify that the US Navy took my birthday away!

Here is how it happened.

In the summer of 1967, I found myself stationed at Naval Air Station Agana Guam. After a brief stint around aircraft, I was shanghai’d to the Weapons Department, where I was tasked to be the Weapons Department yeoman. This assignment came with a requirement of a Top Secret clearance, and with a background investigation. Here is where the rub started.

Now, my Mother had me believing that my birthday was on the 29th of November, and I regarded this to be true for 20 years.

During the course of my background investigation, it was revealed that on my birth certificate, my date of birth was the 28th of November! One day off—how could this be?

I want you all to know that mother swore the 29th was my true birthdate.

She would say, “I ought to know I was there.”

She had all the details about the event:

I was born at 6:36 PM, weighed 8 Lbs 6 oz.

My place of origin was the old Lindsay Memorial hospital, Pauls Valley Oklahoma, which is now the 1st Baptist Church parking lot.

But—yet there it was, in black and white, my official birth certificate, from the state of Oklahoma records my birthday as the 28th of November.

And so it came to pass, that the Naval Investigative Service [NIS] recognized the 28th of November and took my birthday away, granting me a Top Secret clearance.

So now here I am—70 years young, confused as hell, but happy to be on top of the daisies. I guess I’ll count both days.

Thanks Mom, for having me, Love and miss ya.


A Destroyerman’s Creed

A Destroyerman’s Creed

We are Destroyermen!

Ready to sail and always can-do,

the first to arrive and the last to go.

We believe a big-ship man would have trouble filling our shoes.

We like to think we would have no trouble filling his.

We learned the lesson of self-reliance, of pressing the fight with all we’ve got.

By not being afraid of a little rough living, or any tough assignment.

The green-water, open-ocean sailors in the little but mighty combat ship

We are real sailormen, the Destroyermen of the fleet.

We can follow the tracks and ride the backs of the dolphins.

We will be where the action is in every situation.

When things are getting too rough for anyone else,

they’re getting just right for us


Tales of an Asia Sailor – 2nd Anniversary

Tales of an Asia Sailor – 2nd Anniversary

Garland Davis

Monday, November 27 marks two years since I created and began posting the Crap, true and not, that wanders through my mind on Tales of an Asia Sailor. I have tried to post each day. In addition to my own ravings, I have reached out to Shipmates David McAllister, John Petersen, Okie Bob Layton, Captain Jim Barton, Captain John Wallace, Jerry Juliana, Pat Dingle, Jerry Collins, Kurt Stuvengen, and others (if I haven’t mentioned you, it isn’t because I don’t appreciate your participation, it just speaks to my ability to forget almost everything). I have borrowed from renowned Diesel Boat sailor and storyteller “Dex” Armstrong for his view of the diesel submarine world.

The title, Tales of an Asia Sailor, was taken from an association of which I am a proud plank owner and founding member. The Asia Sailor Westpac’rs Association is a membership of almost seven hundred sailors who served in Asia during World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, throughout the Cold War, until the present. I am proud to be a founding member of the website and the Facebook group ASIA SAILOR Westpac’rs Association.

Qualifications to join either the website or the Facebook group are simple, you must have pulled at least one liberty as a member of an afloat or ashore unit in Asia. Membership is free; there are no costs or fees to join either entity.

We have conducted five extremely successful reunions in Branson Missouri since forming the Association, and plans are well underway for the sixth reunion scheduled for May 2018 at the Clarion Hotel in Branson. Sea stories abound, and many activities are available. It is the most fun you’ll ever have with your clothes on. Information regarding the reunion can be found here:

I am overwhelmed by the reception of my stories and the Blog. My stories have been viewed by people all over the world, from countries on each of the continents, even Antarctica. I am humbled by the comments from the many readers and the compliments on my inadequate attempts to tell my tales and our stories. During the previous two years, there have been over 275,000 individual viewings of articles. Overwhelmed doesn’t describe my feelings and amazement.

I wish to say Thank You to everyone who follows and reads Tales. I also extend my thanks to each of you who have shared and passed along the link to friends and shipmates.

I created the Blog as a venue for my writing. I didn’t start Tales for personal enrichment. I gain no monetary benefit from Tales and I haven’t permitted any advertising (we get enough of that elsewhere). I pay annually for the site and the domain name and am happy to do so.

Anyone wishing to contact me with a story idea, comment on something I have written, or to inquire about becoming a member of the Asia Sailor Westpac’rs Association can do so at the following e-mail address:

Thanks again and have a great Navy Day Shipmates!