Archerfish - Operation Sea Scan
Mike Giambattista, LTJG, USS Archerfish
I joined Afish from Sub School in July 1959 in Key West. 

In early 1960, ARCHERFISH was chosen to participate in Operation "Sea Scan," a scientific study of marine weather conditions, water composition, ocean depths, and temperature ranges. She entered the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in January to be specially equipped for this new mission. During this time, the vessel was redesignated an auxiliary submarine, AGSS-311. Embarking a team of civilian scientists, she commenced the first phase of operation "Sea Scan" on 18 May. On the cruise, the submarine visited Portsmouth, England, Hammerfest and Bergen, Norway; Faslane, Scotland; Thule, Godthaab, and Julianehaab, Greenland; Belfast, Northern Ireland; and Halifax, Nova Scotia, before mooring at New London on 3 December.

LCDR Ken Woods reported aboard as CO in Philadelphia and promptly got my orders bask to Key West to a “T” boat cancelled.  As the only unqualified officer, Afish needed a SLJO and I was it!  CO appointed me as the Supply and Commissary Officer for Operation Sea Scan.

In order to continue independent operations, fueling was obviously an issue that had to be provided for at each port of call.  It was a snap in places like HMS Submarine Base in Portsmouth, England.  Because of our relatively high-speed surface transit between survey points (every 60 miles) our 100,000+-gallon fuel capacity was often stretched to prudent limits between port visits.

After fueling 100,000 gallons or more in Hammerfest, Norway I began to develop a reasonable confidence in the system supporting us.  The Naval Attaché’s office in each of the countries visited seemed to work well with our supporting submarine force administrators. 

On arrival in Bergen, Norway, eager to get ashore, I wanted to leave no stone unturned with regard to refueling (my “Sea Daddy” Miles Graham always supplied sufficient “heat” to make sure that I was not asleep at the switch).  Consequently, I took the precaution to confirm our fueling arrangements for that port with the Attaché’s office in Oslo.  I was instructed to contact the ESSO bunker depot in Bergen where all the appropriate arrangements for our fueling had been made. 

The fueling proceeded with the expected ease.  I went below to spit shine my shoes and brush my best blues (after all, it was July!) in eager preparation for a day viewing the Bergen fish market and riding the cable car.  My reverie was interrupted by a call from the topside watch reporting that some incoherent Norwegian wanted to see me about the 99,800 gallons of diesel that we had just taken aboard. 

The gentleman’s limited English and a total absence of even a single repeatable word of Norwegian in my vocabulary inhibited the ensuing conversation.  Finally through some gesturing and much intuition it dawned on me that the ESSO guy was demanding payment for the diesel.  I produced all the documentation associated with the event (after all, it had worked up the fjords in Hammerfest a few weeks before).  All to no avail, he was adamant about receiving payment before departing Afish!   

In desperation (although the sun never set, I was getting edgy about the late hour for my departure ashore), I pulled out my wallet and produced my ESSO credit card.  Much to my combined astonishment and relief a huge smile spread over Stig’s face as he snatched the card from my hand.  He copied all the data on to the form on his clipboard and requested my signature.  What the hell, I figured by the time any charge got to me the whole thing would be straightened out, so I signed! 

The story was retold (with some embellishment) over the years in wardrooms and bars as part of the Afish legend.  Never did hear from ESSO although I have never tried to get another card from them.
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