This summer I received the following narrative from Michael N. Arterburn, a Missile Tech who served on the Kamehameha in the late 1960's. It's a pretty good account of life on a boomer.
The one thing I remember
the most is the "Deep Dive" test that was conducted in the Marianas
Trench at the end of my first patrol. I remember that the patrol we
were on was just about over and we were all eager to return to Hawaii and start
our 3 month R&R period. The Captain (who I believe was
Capt Dickieson) came over the 1MC and announced that we would be making this
"Deep Dive" test. Well, I knew that the boat had been
built with the new "Sub-Safe" designs and that meant we would be going
pretty darn deep! I insisted to the Weps Officer that I be in charge
of the Missile Compartment valves, etc., during the dive. I remember that
we tied a string about two foot high across the Middle Level of the Missile
Compartment before we started the dive. Everyone was on station with
sound powered phones when the dive began. They would go down 100 feet at a
time and then cycle different valves and check for leaks. Well, let
me tell you - - - the Missile Tubes (16) each have a muzzle hatch ram that goes
through the hull on the Upper Level Missile Compartment. The
diameter of each ram was probably 18 inches or so. Each ram had a
big grease box with a fitting. At each 100 foot level, we
would find water seeping down some of the muzzle hatch rams. We were
running back and forth from tube to tube pumping grease into those grease boxes
with a couple of foot pump grease guns. Even as an experienced
submariner, I can tell you that I was as wide awake and alert as I have ever
been in my life. I don't think I was scared as much as anxious about
the rest of the boat and all the rumors I had heard about the boat's problems.
When we reached the test
depth, a shipmate in the torpedo room could have heard an engineer fart in
Maneuvering. And then it was over. A cheer went up and
the depth gauge began to take us to the surface - I am pretty sure we did an
emergency blow test as well, because I remember broaching the surface.
The entire crew did an
outstanding job and the boat performed impeccably. At that moment, I think
the entire gold crew felt like we had been to the edge and done the job.
It probably made us all closer as a crew and definitely gave us confidence in
the systems we were so well trained to operate and care for.
For me personally, any
doubts I had about the Kamehameha were history. I made two more
patrols on the Kam Gold until August of 1969 when I completed my hitch.
Now, at 58 years of age, I look back at all the things I have accomplished in my life and I have to say that my proudest moments and greatest memories were serving as a submarine sailor in the United States Navy with some of the finest men I have ever known.
Michael N. Arterburn MT2(SS)
Claremont, CA 91711
Back to the USS Kamehameha in the 1960s