Letter from the crew

By John S. Robers, Jr., RM2 (SS), 12/51 to 7/52

Had served on surface ships plus USS SEA CAT and USS FLYING FISH prior to reporting on board USS IREX. All good homes. Really enjoyed the cruise aboard IREX. I was not aboard her too long, but we made one memorable northern cruise (1/52 to 3/52) that was a real corker. Really rough seas, lost all antennas, part of sail and even part of the teak wood decking. As I remember, we were with USS SEA ROBIN and we had to separate due to weather conditions. She lost all of her communications and we could not contact her for days, neither could ComSubLant. We felt she was OK, but, of course, all were worried. Knowing the communications problems we were having, it was felt that she was experiencing the same difficulties. Finally, we made contact with her, and, as it turned out, she had also lost all of her antennas.

We managed to replace antennas a number of times in extremely heavy seas. Having used up all of our spare whip antennas, Tom Layton, RM1SS and myself fashioned an antenna out of a 20mm gun barrel spring and mounted it on top of the snorkel. Worked fine and we left it there for a while. Best antenna we ever had for transmitting.

Seems the same battery problem existed as previously indicated by former crewmembers as our battery again shook loose and we pulled into Halifax, NS, to make emergency repairs. Had to rewedge the cells as they had been shaken loose. While in Halifax, King George died and, as I remember, we got underway on Sunday morning due to his death. This cut our stay and battery work very short, think we were there 2 days. Proceeded to New London, where we went into upkeep and the crew re- spiked the batteries and, with help from SubBase personnel, we made all other repairs, including replacing portions of teak wood decking and sail plating.

We made several other trips prior to my departure, but I cannot remember just where we went. In all, she was a good home and had a super crew and officers. Of course, the snorkel was still a new thing and we did all kinds of things testing it. For interest, between Christmas '5l and New Year's 52, the OOD (Ltjg. Burke, I think) decided to raise the snorkel while we were in port to test it, much against our recommendations not to do it, and you know what happened. All cables were frozen in ice in the snorkel well and we broke every cable. I spent New Year's with head down and a.. up in the snorkel well trying to re- place the cables, as we were scheduled to get underway the 3rd of January, as I remember. You can well imagine how teed off we were and after that he was mud as far as we were concerned, at least for a while. I was newly married and, having had duty over Christmas, was really PO'ed about having to be there over New Year's also. New wifie was WILD! Well, that's what made the Navy so interesting. Can laugh about it now.

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