The Ditty Bag

Ditty Bag

Webster's 1913 Dictionary --
     Definition: \Dit"ty-bag'\, n.
               A sailors small bag to hold thread, needles, tape, etc.; --
               also called sailor's housewife.

US Navy --
     DITTY BAG: A ditty bag (or box) was originally called a “ditto bag” because it contained at least two of everything: two needles, two spools of thread, two buttons, and so forth. With the passing of years, the “ditto” was dropped in favor of “ditty” and remains so today. Before World War I, the Navy issued ditty boxes made of wood and styled after foot lockers. These boxes carried the personal gear and some clothes of the sailor. Today the ditty bag is still issued to recruits. It contains a sewing kit, toiletry articles, and personal items such as writing paper and pens.

This Page --
     Used to present items that do not seem to fit anywhere else.

USS Swordfish (SSN-579)


Click HERE for a Newsletter from the Reunion - PDF


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Sent by:
George Hudson - IC2(SS).

Please send me pictures, sea stories, and anything else you would like to share and I will add them to this page, under your name.

Pictures from the 2013 Blueback Base Christmas Party held at the Monarch Hotel Park on 11 December.









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Pictures from the 2013 Blueback Base Picnic held at Clackamette Park on 10 August.










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Sent by:
John Robbins - TM2(SS) who qualified on the USS Bugara (SS-331) in 1966

From the Aft Torpedo Room, as far away as you can get from Officers Quarters.

Two skimmers boarded a quick shuttle flight out of Atlanta, headed to Norfolk. One sat in the window seat, and the other sat in the middle seat.

Just before takeoff, a squid came on board and took the aisle seat next to the skimmers. He kicked his shoes off and settled in for takeoff.
Right after takeoff and the stay in your seat sign was extinguished. The two skimmers decided they wanted a wanted a coke.
Probably to help mask the diesel boat smell of the dress blues of the submariner. Being the good sub sailor the submariner was he offered to go get the cokes.

While the sub sailor was gone the two skimmers spit in the submariners shoes.

Upon arrival at Norfolk the sub sailor puts his shoes on and right away feels the gooey mess in his shoes.

He turns to the two skimmers and says when are we going to quit this childish behavior.

This spitting in the shoes and peeing in cokes?


USS George Washington (SSBN-598)

Pictures from the 22 March 1963 LIFE Magazine thanks to Dylan "Mac" McComiskey.
Note the price 20¢




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Pictures from the 2012 Blueback Base Christmas Dinner held at the Monarch Hotel on 13 December.








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Pictures from the Veterans Parade presented by the Lough Legacy held on the Fort Vancouver National Site, Vancouver, WA - 10 November 2012.




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Hit the books with this year’s (2012) CNO reading list.

The Navy announced its new selections Oct. 12.

The reading isn’t required, and CNO Adm. Jon Greenert, stressed it wasn’t intended as a burden. Now look shipmates, I’m not trying to make historians out of all of us. And I don’t want you to get a history degree out of this, he said. I want you to be interested in your Navy and see how your predecessors, sailors just like you, made your Navy great.

The List – CNO - October 2012

The list is broken down into two categories: Essential Reading, or 18 books deemed the best of the lot, and 24 others dubbed Recommended Reading. There are three subcategories for each based on the CNO’s tenets.

Essential Reading

War fighting First

1812: The Navy’s War (George C. Daughan)

Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It (Richard Clarke)

The Gamble (Thomas Ricks)

SEAL of Honor (Gary Williams)

Shield and Sword (Edward Marolda)

Wake of the Wahoo (Forest J. Sterling)

Operate Forward

Crisis of Islam (Bernard Lewis)

Execute Against Japan (Joel Holwitt)

Monsoon (Robert Kaplan)

Neptune’s Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal (James Hornfischer)

Red Star Over the Pacific (Toshi Yoshihara and James Holmes)

The Man From Pakistan (Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins)

Be Ready

A Sailor’s History of the U.S. Navy (Thomas Cutler)

Navigating the Seven Seas (Melvin Williams Jr. and Sr.)

In the Shadow of Greatness (J. Welle, J. Ennis and Katherine Kranz)

The Morality of War (Brian Orend)

Time Management From the Inside Out (Julie Morgenstern)

Wired for War (P.W. Singer)

Recommended Reading

War fighting First

Art of the Long View (Peter Schwartz)

Shackleton’s Way (Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparell)

Six Frigates (Ian Toll)

Starship Troopers (Robert Heinlein)

The Second World War, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm (Winston Churchill)

The Seventh Angel (Jeff Edwards)

To the Shores of Tripoli (A.B.C. Whipple)

Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief (James McPherson)

Operate Forward

Aircraft Carriers at War (James Holloway III)

On the Origins of War: And the Preservation of Peace (Donald Kagan)

• One Hundred Years of Sea Power (George Baer)

• The Elephant and the Dragon (Robyn Meredith)

The Great Wall at Sea (Bernard Cole)

The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors (James Hornfischer)

The Sand Pebbles (Richard McKenna)

With the Old Breed (E.B. Sledge)

Be Ready

1776 (David McCullough)

Integrity (Stephen Carter)

Leadership, the Warrior’s Art (Christopher Kolenda)

Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of his Time (Dava Sobel)

Master and Commander (Patrick O’Brian)

The Innovator’s Dilemma (Clayton Christensen)

The Tipping Point (Malcolm Gladwell)

Two Souls Indivisible (James Hirsch)

Pictures from the 2012 Blueback Base Picnic held at Clackamette Park on 11 August.









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15 July 2012 - Swan Island, Portland, Or
Submarine Tender USS Frank Cable prepares to un-dock
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Chris Salisbury/Released)

§ § § § §

The Executive Officer, Commander Tim Sparks, of the USS Frank Cable (AS-40) invited the members of USSVI Blueback Base
and their families to tour the ship and share the noon meal with the officers and crew on 24 June 2012.
Click HERE for pictures.

Pictures of USS Blueback (SS-326)



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Pictures from the 2011 Blueback Base Christmas Party held on 8 December at the BEST WESTERN PLUS Rivershore Hotel, Oregon City, Oregon





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Pictures from Joint USSVI — Sub Vets WWII Luncheon held on 24 September 2011 at the Hillsboro Elks




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Pictures from Work Party at Tudor's on 17 September 2011 — Les Savage and Dave Vrooman also were there but were camera shy!



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Pictures from the 2011 Blueback Base Picnic held at Clackamette Park on 13 August.





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Some background on klaxons (i.e. diving alarms)

by John Clear, US Submarine Historian

In general, the items that you run across on e-Bay or other internet auction sites are NOT the genuine, submarine klaxons as we remember them. Here are some areas to remember:

  1. First, the Navy quit using these puppies on subs many years ago, pretty much at the end of the diesel boat era (circa 1975) - they now have those "annoying" electronic, sounding broadcasts throughout the boat.
  2. Submarines, and even the Navy are not the only ones that use/used them; e.g. all of the carriers (many) had upwards of a dozen installed (hangar bay doors, aircraft elevators etc.). Yes, they were usually painted gray but that didn't make them "submarine". Our nation's water treatment plants and other industrial applications have used them to overcome background noise for years.
  3. The vast majority of our "cold war era" klaxons were made by Federal Signals Corporation, who up until fairly recently were still making them with a price near $1,300.00 - when this was written, now?.
  4. An indicator of submarine use would be the FSN series on a name plate (please don't ask me to check them as they vary greatly over the years), or just plain stamping or stenciling which most often occurred (i.e. FTR, ATR etc.)...
  5. I have had many of these in and out of my possession over the years, (even gave a few away). A gray klaxon with no pedigree will go for upwards of $500 depending on where from and who's selling it. Sometimes you can get lucky and buy them from the breakers yards (but fewer and fewer nowadays). Antique shops (but they caught on to values and tend to gouge the customer). Garage sales (around Navy towns especially - think Bremerton). Ads in the papers (not too often)...

In the end, I have learned to make my own klaxons from other sources that sound IDENTICAL "but" don't look the same - think of the old AOOOGAA car horns, coming back to you? I mount one inside a box painted green with a plug-in cord (sometimes requiring a step down transformer mounted inside). I use these at convention sales tables and wouldn't worry if stolen (they still scare the hell out of the ladies!)...

This email response is much longer than I anticipated when started, but the subject does come up quite often and I feel like this answer should pretty well cover the subject matter at hand - please share with whomever is curious...

Here is a little bit of interesting history about the USS Capitaine (SS-336), from RG Walker

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Bob Walters and Tudor Davis sent this in.

The Diving Alarm Ballet

This was forwarded by Bruce Mitchell. Thanks Bruce. Bruce is the Base Commander for the Tucson, AZ Base of USSVI. He was a MM aboard Cobbler in the "60"s, so I guess he would know about crawling over the stern planesman to get to the trim manifold.

And this all happened in what, a minute? When all this was done, almost anywhere on the boat, one crewman would say to the other ".....and then I turned to this guy and said....." picking up the conversation where it left off, like nothing ever happened. To a submariner though, nothing special had happened. It was just a normal routine done so many times that it had become mundane. It looks pretty exciting when you see it in print though.

Makes you homesick doesn't it?

The Diving Alarm Ballet

by Mike Hemming

As I passbetween the controllermen, the oogah, oogah, “Dive!”, “Dive!” comes over the speakers andthey leap to their sticks and rheostats. The engine shut down air lever is hit,rheostats spun down, sticks are thrown, as the ballet begins. Generator electricity wanes as the hugestorage batteries are called on for power. Sticks pulled to new positions and rheostatsspun back up to keep the motors turning. The flurry of intense activity over, minoradjustments made and times logged while listening, always for the sound of water doing something it shouldn’t.

As I walkforward at the same time into the enginerooms, the two men in each one do the shutdown dance. Throttlesare slapped down, hydraulic levers pulled to the closed position to shut exhaust valves and drains opened by the throttleman. As his oiler spins the inboard exhaust valvesthe 32 turns to shut it, either the oiler or the throttleman (depending on who is closer) will have yanked the pin holding the great intake air valve open so it falls shut with a loud clang.  His inboard exhaust valves shut, the oiler drops below to secure the sea valves that allow the seawater to cool the engines.  Then, the throttleman checks everything secure one more time.

In the controlroom, the other area of great activity on a dive, lookouts almost free fall to their diving stations on the bow and stern planes.  Quickly the bow planesman rigs out his planes and both he and the stern planesman set their charges to the prescribed angles for the dive.  Arriving soon after the planesmen, the OOD, now the diving officer, gives the ordered depth to reach and the angle to do it. Then he checks that all is well and will watch the planesmen to learn if the trim needs changing.

The Chief ofthe Watch having closed the huge main air induction valve, will watch the Christmas Tree to see that all hull openings are closed.  Then he pulls the vents to flood the main ballast tanks and watches the depth to signal the auxillaryman on the air manifold when to blow negative tank to the mark to stop our descentinto the depths.  The manifold operator will hammer open the valve and then close off the roaring rush of compressed air, as needed.

By this time,the trim manifold operator will have arrived from the engine room.  After climbing over the stern planesman, he will be ready to pump and flood seawater to the tanks.  This will trim up the boat to neutral buoyancy.

In the conn, the helmsman will have rung up standard speed so the boat will be driven under by the screws. The QM of the watch will dog the conning tower hatch when the OOD, the last man down from the bridge, pulls the lanyard to close it.  There is no music to guide this dance except calm orders given and acknowledged.  Started in a flurry of activity, it will end by winding down quietly to a state of relaxed vigilance by men practiced and confident of themselves and each other. They have done this many times, this graceful and awkward descent into the depths.  They do it as fast as is safely possible. This is where they belong, with many feet ofsea hiding the strong steel of the hull.  Men asleep in bunks half-awakened by the raucous alarm and noisy ballet, drift back to deep sleep, confident they are at home where they should be.

Pictures of the USS Sterlet (SS-392), painted by Rudy Valencia and donated to the base by Marilyn Valencia. Unveiled at the June Meeting: 11 June 2009.


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Last   Monday 16 June 2014.
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