Well, two days ago, the Flier’s men reported for duty. Flier had been worked over through the past two weeks under the command of a Relief Commanding Officer, whose name is not recorded (whoever he was, he had been reassigned out of Australia by the investigation in September). Following the refit, a Training and Fire Control Officer, Captain George Patterson, was assigned to Flier to run training runs and practice firing drills. These were customarily done for two reasons. One, there were often new crewmemebers onboard a departing submarine. As much as one-third of the crew could be new and these new men and the established crew needed a chance to work together and mesh in less-stressful circumstances. This also gave the CO and XO an opportunity to observe the crew and get rid of men who showed signs of high nervousness and stress, indicators that they would not be able to thrive or be an asset the 50-80 day patrol. Flier carried, according to the investigation following her loss, thirteen new crewmen. One was a new ensign, Philip Mayer, and the rest were enlisted. I do not have an exhaustive list of the new men, but I know that Fireman Elton Brubaker and Fireman Donald See were assigned to Flier at Fremantle.
The second reason was to allow the homeported training officer a chance to watch the submarine’s CO, XO and crew in action, and report back to HQ. If a CO in particular showed signs of being too passive, too abusive, or otherwise ineffectual, he would have to be removed from command, likely on the next time the submarine came into port. (If a CO was so abusive it was unlivable, then the crew would more than likely have reported the CO long before now, and his removal would have been already been assessed and or completed before the crew reported back aboard.)
Today, Flier was in the waters west of Perth, running her engines at high speeds, low speed, diving, surfacing, testing her engines and props and hull. This test was primarily to listen to the submarine, and see how she sounded. A Diesel submarine, properly shaped and running, is almost undetectable underwater (this is still true, a modern diesel sub is quieter than a nuclear submarine), but slight variations in the propellers, a dent or bulge in the hull, worn bearings, misaligned struts, could cause bubbling or swishing noises that a surface ship could use to find a submerged sub.
And Flier proved why these tests were necessary. Her starboard prop was very loud, so Flier turned to head back for Perth to see what the trouble was.
On the book front, the proof was mailed overnight air mail to me via UPS. Alas, mailing something via overnight mail at noon on Friday means it turns into three-day mail, and will be delivered on Monday. Using the tracking number, I discovered that the book is in fact, at the UPS depot here in my town, and a part of me is sorely tempted to break in, find my package, and leave a note.
I’m fairly certain that will get me arrested though, so I’m resisting!
On the Memorial front, we have some rather funny news. Turns out, there is a change of command at the submarine base in San Diego on…yup, Friday August 13, 2010. So a speaker hasn’t been secured just yet, as quite a few people were scheduled to be there. But the Navy, who is the one who sends someone to these National Naval Memorial Services, assured us that they will be sending an excellent speaker. In the meantime, even without a speaker, details of that weekend are coming together to help us honor these men and their memories.