The USS Irex SS-482: Family-Gram No. 2

Care of Fleet Post Office
New York, N.Y.

15 August 1961


Dear Wives, Mothers, Sweethearts, Children and Fathers:

We have now departed New London on our long scheduled deployment. We sailed New London at 1000, 1 August outbound with USS DIABLO bound southwest for a rendezvous with the USS SEA LEOPARD and the rescue vessel USS KITTIWAKE both out of Norfolk, Va. Our departure from New London was very fine with a few tears and little sadness. Chief Yeoman Schneider was a very tired new father. Mrs. Schneider entered the Naval Hospital early in the morning on 1 August and at about 0700 A.M. presented the “Yeo” with his second child.

After clearing the Thames river, we moved east to Montauk Point, Long Island and then set course 157 for rendezvous. The weather was beautiful with a little sea running. Unfortunately we all had been in port too long and after a few hours most of the men were in their bunks wondering why their stomachs were upset. This seasickness usually lasts 12 to 24 hours, however during this period the IREX resembled a tomb as everyone slept.

Wednesday, 2 August 1961

Wind has picked up a little but a few bodies are now vertical and everyone will recover. At noon we sighted our other ships and wee were all about 300 miles east of Norfolk. DIABLO and IREX joined and we all set out east for Rota, Spain. The ship has purred all the way and by 1300 (1 :00 P.M.) everyone was up and feeling better. The sea is now astern and we are riding smoothly. The sea temperature is going up and we are now in the Gulf Stream. Around New London, the sea temperature never gets much above 65° F. Today we are in temperatures of 83° F. Flying fish, dolphins and porpoise are very prevalent.

Tonight the men are all feeling very well. Supper was outstanding with steak, mushrooms, baked potatoes, whole kernel corn, green salad and chocolate cake. Electrician's mate Gary was rolled away from the table after his third steak. Chief O'Malley stopped after two small steaks. The sea is now azure blue with the clearness that is absolutely beyond description. Many of our men are now seeing why men have gone to sea for generations. With our relatively large superstructure most of the men are able to come topside and see the beauty of the sea.

Thursday, 3 August 1961

We are now approximately 500 miles east of Norfolk and sailing smoothly east. The sea is now moderating with no birds or sea gulls around. The deep blue and crystal clear water is ever impressive. Early this morning a large sea turtle was seen placidly swimming west on the surface. These large monsters (200 lbs.) are years old and they eye the ship as we quietly slip by. In the morning we conducted training exercises with DIABLO and quietly took a swim in the very warm water.

The crew of IREX loves to swim and of the 84 men aboard over 50 came topside and swam. The navy issues large cakes of “salt water” soap and everyone soaped down and washed. We have carried about 10 tons of fresh water from New London and today while the other submarines sweltered everyone came topside and had a very pleasant shower in fresh water. We run a large fire hose on deck and everyone soaps down and gets very clean.

Friday & Saturday 485 August 1961

The force still moves east in clear beautiful seas with warm weather. Each day we have exercised some and worked diligently to clean the ship. We still hear one or two New York City radio stations and are only a few hundred miles south of Newfoundland. Turtles are now quite prevalent and the sea has continued to be kind.

Sunday, 6 August 1961

We are now 1400 miles due east of Norfolk, Virginia and enjoying beautiful weather. At 0800 Commander Submarine Division 62 (CDR BAYNE) was high-lined from IREX to KITTIWAKE. He was high in his praise of the crew. The men are very happy and at 0900 we held church services for the whole crew. Today we are all rested and at 3:30 P.M. had a fine swim. The crew again turned out in fine style and the salt water soap flew. Everyone had a fine two hours of swimming and sun bathing. This morning the Executive Officer (LT GRODER) found a very large turtle and with a beautiful shot killed it. Unfortunately, he sank and there will not be turtle soup. Newton, the cook has promised a fine soup if we can land one so from now on we are all eyeing each turtle with a new idea in mind.

Many of the men are now hard at work studying college English and six are studying advanced mathematics. It is indeed a good thing to see so many men studying to improve themselves. We hope to have everyone studying some course or trying to read some new books. During the last year, we have collected over 1000 good books and many of them are now being read. Surprisingly enough the reading interests of the crew vary very little with most of the men preferring history or historical novels. The movie schedule has been very good. We have now completed almost one week of solid steaming and have had very fine performance from every single piece of equipment. The work the men did before sailing has now paid off many hundred fold. To date we have had no one sick or even slightly scratched. Sonarman Chadwick bumped into the coffee pot and he now has a very pink stomach. He will not be swimming for a day or two because he won't need a sun burn. Most of the men are now tanning nicely and if the good weather holds will arrive in Spain brown and well. Most of the younger seamen are bald because they asked to have their hair trimmed off. The barber, Firecontrolman Fischer, took them at their word. There are now twelve cue balls running through the ship selling useless combs.

Monday, 7 August 1961

The very pleasant weekend has passed and we are still in clear calm seas moving east. We are now only a day and one half west of the Azores. This morning one of the officers pumped the auxiliary tanks down by 8000 pounds. Over the side went some of our shower water. He is now known as the “Mad Pumper.” The SEA LEOPARD made a gift to us this morning of an old plaster board owl. We loaned them several blue prints and they were very grateful. The owl now adorns the control room. Chief Dunn says he feels it's eyes are always peering at him. Today, we sighted two sharks going by. One now has an awful headache as the OOD, LT SCHIWITZ, caught him right behind the eyes with a bullet.

Tuesday, 8 August 1961

Underway as before with beautiful weather and a few hundred miles left to the Azores. Late in the day we had a very large whale, very close to our port side. He swam lazily on. Land birds are now appearing and at dusk we could see the clouds over the Azores ahead.

Wednesday, 9 August 1961

Another quiet day dawned with little activity. By noon the barometer had started down and we could see the clouds ahead scurrying across the sky. By 4:00 P.M. the wind had reached 15 knots and the seas made up. At midnight we had 55 knots of wind across the bridge but fortunately all from ahead. During the night we slowed and the wind howled as slowly worked east from the Azores. Tonight the Quartermasters caught a “sea bat.” This is an old Navy custom with the new men. This time it worked quite well as the older men told the new hands the “sea bats” had been blown aboard from the Azores by the high winds. Accordingly, they confined one of these fictitious animals in a box and each time someone bent over to peek at the fake animal he was walloped in the behind. Of course each new victim of the hoax is always quick to get some new victim and shortly people are standing in line to see the “sea bat.” This hoax lasted several hours before everyone had been duly initiated. All harmless fun with everyone having a very fine laugh. Signalman Ramsey and Chief O'Malley were at the bottom of this hoax.

Thursday, 10 August 1961 .

North: northwest of the Azores with heavy seas and some of the younger men joining the “green crew.” We have rolled heavily all night and by now everyone was tired of staying on their to the rock and roll. We have had no trouble riding the storm out. By 4:00 P.M. the weather had moderated and we were able to proceed east a little faster. We are now running late on schedule.

Friday & Saturday, 11 & 12 August 1961

On Friday the weather moderated and swung to our beam. All day we plodded and rolled east. The rolls of the “green crew}, became quite large. It was an uneventful two days. Late Saturday night we left all the other ships and have now moved about 30 miles south of Cadiz, Spain to participate in a fleet exercise.

Sunday, 13 August 1961

Today we had our first view of the Spanish coast on radar. During the day we worked with several units of the U. S. Navy. The sea is again flat calm. Tomorrow we rejoin the other submarines and on Tuesday we will enter Rota, Spain. To permit the yeoman to complete this letter before we reach Rota, I have decided to stop here for this writing. I hope you have enjoyed our little trip so far.


Grant B. Apthorp
Lieutenant Commander, U. S. Navy
Commanding Officer, U.S.S. IREX (SS-482)

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