So where was Flier 66 years ago today?
She was passing under the Golden Gate Bridge and churning the final few miles to the Naval Base at Mare Island. Mare Island was the West Coast’s submarine base, they were building and launching several a month, in addition to the scheduled overhauls most long-serving submarines were scheduled for every two years or so. They had building ways for the new construction, dry docks for the overhauls and repairs of any kind. Every kind of laborer, shipwright, welder, metalsmith, and technician was employed at Mare Island, and they churned out submarines, ships and any kind of naval vessel you could think of at an amazing rate.
Mare had been a Naval Base since shortly after California’s entrance into the US. It built and repaired boats for the Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII (it was built up immensely to handle the demand for services by the Navy), Korea and Vietnam.
Flier would spend the next two months up on blocks, being thoroughly checked, overhauled, and made fit again.
It would not be cheap, nor easy, and Crowley, like any other submarine captain, would be right there every day overseeing all of it. Submarine captains were allowed and encouraged to make numerous decisions about their submarine and her fittings every time they were in port. Where the guns the sub was assigned would be mounted. How the ladders going up and down the floors would be mounted (I once lead a Trigger veteran through the Silversides and he remarked how rare it was to see a ladder mounted on the long side of the hatch, instead of on the short side, as the Trigger’s was) or anything else they wanted.
While Flier was in port, she would have the latest technology installed in her if any of her systems were out of date (they were, computers then being like computers now, on the cutting edge for the blink of an eye), and anything else desired.
Most of the crew, since they had not been out for a patrol yet, would remain attached to the Flier, though many of them would be sent home to visit for several weeks while she was up on blocks. In retrospect, that was probably a good thing.
Al, meanwhile, was still in Submarine School, still wondering who his first sub would be. An established warrior with a record like the Bowfin, or the Barb, or the Finback, or one of the dozens of submarines under construction at New London, Mare Island, or Manitowoc?
While we leave Flier up on blocks in California, we’ll start meeting two other submarines that ended up being vital to the story of the Flier: the Robalo and the Redfin.