Unknown Waters: A Firsthand Account of the Historic Under-Ice Survey of the Siberian Continental Shelf by USS Queenfish (SSN-651)

By Alfred S. McLaren | Go to book overview

7
Taking Command of Queenfish

I reported aboard Queenfish in Pearl Harbor in mid-August of 1969. After a thorough turnover and inspection both in port and underway, I relieved Captain Jack Richard as commanding officer on 12 September. Although Jack seemed happy to have me succeed him, he jokingly remarked that there was nothing worse than having his former executive officer conduct an administration inspection of his former submarine and commanding officer.

Words could not describe my joy on finally returning to, and taking command of, what I had always felt was truly “my boat.” I knew Queenfish to be superbly constructed, having seen Newport News build her almost from the keel up. But I also had gained a close, hands-on familiarity with her hull, her major components and equipment, and all her key systems—nuclear, mechanical, electrical, and hydraulic—during their testing and operation both in port and at sea. I believed I knew the boat like the back of my hand. Such intimate knowledge of her “bones and guts” and of her maneuvering, handling, and depth-keeping characteristics, gained during my previous time aboard her at sea, were soon to prove vital in pushing the submarine to the limits of her capabilities and in dealing with occasional engineering problems and casualties.

Behind me were more than twelve years of sea experience encompassing eleven special operations, two Arctic operations, and many lengthy deployments in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Mediterranean gained on board Greenfish, Seadragon, Skipja c k, Greenling, and, as her precommissioning executive officer, Queenfish. My personal philosophy of command had evolved and been shaped by the superb personal

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