Spud War of 1975
It all started with the port visit by the Canadian Navy submarine "RAINBOW" Time frame 1975, Sub Base Pearl Harbor. The POGY was moored at Sierra One the day the RAINBOW arrived (RAINBOW was the old USS ARGONAUT), her engines belching smoke as she started to back down into her berth up channel from us.
On her foredeck, just in front of the sail, was a big bronze cannon. As her engines shut down a blast and report was heard and caught our attention. Toilet paper streamers were raining down on us as well as the surrounding pier sides! "BOOOM" another blast and this time assorted bras and panties along with more toilet paper! Much comment was made about this unusual deck gun, submarine sailors being the breed they are, the mother of invention is very common place!
And so, the beautiful evening topside, evening colors completed, POGY sailors having just completed the duty section drill and muster, settled in for the nights movie and housekeeping chores. Later in the evening a blast from the "RAINBOW" was heard by our topside watch shortly thereafter another followed by a "THUD" and the topside watch log desk was knocked off its fittings. A quick check showed the missile was "frozen Grapefruit." Basically, we had been attacked!
The following night, the same events took place as well as being shot at by the Canadians. What happened next took place in a very short period of time. The duty section on POGY that night, procured a section of 2-1/2 pipe about eight feet in length, hooked a ball valve to one end, coupled it to a hose on the pier complete with 150 pound air. After several hours of test and failures, it was found that if a regulation Idaho spud was squeezed down the tube to the ball valve and the barrel aimed with care and if the ball valve was opened and closed in quick succession, the "round" not only had extreme range but was very accurate indeed!
Several nights later the gun building duty section was once again on watch! The evening colors followed by the usual ships routine for the evening was completed. The duty section mustered in the crews mess, a honest to god battle plan was drawn up with "What about the Canadian's shooting at us" being the key question for all hands to discuss. Later in the evening, the off watch duty section began going topside to catch some "fresh air and a smoke" and after a short while the Mk 1 Mod 2 super spud cannon was put together ever so quietly, several choice "spuds" were brought up, each being "hand picked based on weight and shape"
USS BLUEBACK SS581 was tied up across the quay from us at the SUPDEPT pier a good one hundred fifty yards from our vantage point. "Let's test the range to the BLUEBACK" and a round was put into the barrel, aim set, pressure up "FIRE"! A loud wooosh... then silence. Finally a splash right next to the BLUEBACKS vertical rudder! Egads! Can ya believe this? It was really tough to keep the noise down! We were all jumping around whooping it up! Getting the noise down was a chore the as the excitement was running very high. We loaded another round and fired at the BLUBACK! Again the silence followed by a good splash near the vertical rudder, only this time the topside watch called down below and soon several of her crew were going topside to look around. We started moving very slowly to the starboard side of our sail just in case they started looking our way!
At about 0300, the on-going and off-going watch standers were just about beside themselves. Some off duty crew members had gotten the word about the nights events and made their way down to the boat to see first hand what the "Big Secret" was all about! The events were happening very fast, not only had the "Gun" been modified, the rounds were now loaded via the breech end (rapid unscrewing the ball valve and stuffing the spud - reconnect the ball valve and fire!) all accomplished by the gunners in ten seconds flat! Up to this point the Canadians had not a clew about our capabilities nor did they suspect us to be a threat, yet somehow we should be watched!
Watched we were, the following morning the RAINBOW fired up and began the getting underway routine. Finally about 1000, they started backing down and we were ready. They were midstream between us and the BLUEBACK. They fired a grapefruit at us! I couldn't believe it! Unprovoked attack!
We opened up taking the RAINBOW by surprise! One shot, two shots, three shots in rapid fire all finding the mark along side their sail! There was so much smoke from her engines their gunners couldn't get a fix on us!
We now loaded our "CumberRoc" (hollowed out cucumber with a regulation Mk one egg inside) "FIRE" and sure enough, "Kersplot" hit their doghouse entry, getting two crewmen gooped up really well! We fired again and again, "spuds n rocs followed by orange"! About thirty rounds and several hits and misses! What a morning what a crowd!
As RAINBOW started making ahead turns, the range opened rapidly "One more shot at em boys" but alas, the ball valve got stuck in the mid open position, and we "ceased fire." The crowd cheered and ships whistles were blaring, Submariners, always!
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