New makes history
Shipboard life is all too often just routine. Daily cleaning and upkeep as well as standing watches. Sometimes we have done things or been a part of history, seemingly small to us and never paid any mind to what we were doing at the time. Two occasions are illustrated here. One in 1953 somewhere in the atlantic and one in 1967 in the North Tonkin Gulf near Red China and North Vietnam. Few if any of us thought anything of it at the time. I was part of the 1967 crew and was radio talker in communications to the helo from the bridge wing at the time and managed to take a few polaroid shots of the US Air Force helo we were refueling. I didn't even know the significance of it at the time. I later learned New was the first US Navy ship to refuel a non naval aircraft while in flight.
Tom Nau was an MM2 in 1953 and took these pictures of the USS Torsk SS 423 during the first at sea refuling of a submarine from a US Navy Destroyer. What makes these particular photos important is that the Torsk is a historic vessel in itself. It has the distinction of the last submarine action in the Pacific against the Japanese. It fired the last two torpedoes fired in WWII and sunk two Jap communications vessels. The Torsk is still afloat today in the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland as part of our Historic Fleet. I passed these pictures along to the Torsk people in Baltimore and they were very happy to get them. Big reason that these are the only post war photos they have seen of the sub with it's 5" gun in place. That makes the pictures that much more special. Later that year they were removed and some other alterations were done to modernize the sub. How many old photos are sitting in an old album in a basement or attic or pictures stuffed in a box somewhere that may have even a little signifcance to someone. Like the picture of the USS Rich in the 1953 New cruise book taken when pulling along side. I passed it on the the USS Rich association and they were very greatful. They have very few pictures of Rich in pre FRAM days. So dig around for some old pictures from your days. You might have a jewel in hiding.
The Torsk sail at left as it looks today. Torsk is a tourist attraction in Baltimore, Maryland. Like our destroyers old sub sailors volunteer time and work on "field days" to help maintain them for the public to see what our navy was like.
Five photos of USS Torsk SS 423 coming alongside USS New DD 818 during a 1953 refueling at sea first. Thanks to Tom Nau who took the pictures from the New.
In 1967 while New was assigned to the US 7th Fleet New became the first US Naval ship to refuel Air Force Helos in flight. Navy helos were already routine for us so it was no problem to refuel Air Force helos. All the same to a destoyerman and all in a days work. This photo was taken with an old Polaroid from the port bridge wing by RDSN Rick Palmer. Notice fuel line attatched to helo. More photos can be found in the West Pac photo pages. Palmer became the first RT communicator to this project. " It wasn't hard. I would talk with the pilot and give him a course which to approach and give him wind direction and speed and relay any other information between the pilot and bridge."
Altho succesful I don't know the extent of submarine refueling from destroyers after that. It wasn't long before the old diesel boats were replaced by nuclear powered subs.
The helo refueling went on for a long time tho and was routinely done on a daily basis by other ships on the North SAR station in the North Tonkin Gulf.
Good color photo of Torsk taken by LTJG Jim Norris
American World War 2 submarine ops
Silent Hunter and the Pacific War, 1941 to 1945