Sea Stories

I left Sub QM school in Groton for San Diego the last week of October of 1981. The QMCS at the school had said that the Billy Bates was a very Special Boat. I was one very excited QMSN.

My orders said to report to COMSUBRON on-board the USS Dixon or Sperry (I can't remember which one had our Squadron), for the William H. Bates at SUBBASE San Diego. So like a newbie, I walked down the pier and went right by the Bates, as my orders said report to COMSUBRON.

The minute that I requested permission to come aboard the tender, they had a Security Drill. I was stuck on board for about 2 hours!

When the OOD finally looked my orders he said, "you passed the Bates, it's right there", pointing down the pier.

I was like Whisky Tango Foxtrot!!!

Anyway, back down the long tender gangway I went, with all my stuff.

So I got signed aboard and met QM-2 Mike Morehead. He brought me to the QMC, (can't remember his name, he was before QMC Al Varela). It was dinner time by now, and my long day of travel was finally over.

After all the sign ins with Capt. & the COB, I was assigned to the deck gang to help complete painting and nonskid topside. They handed me a new pair of Sperry Topsiders and I went to work.

It was a motley crew. Somehow the LPO sent me up to the Tender to go get some two part epoxy paint, the green primer stuff. I guess that he figured that I could talk my way into coming back with the supplies we needed. Well, finding the BM2 on the tender with the paint locker key was a big deal! But somehow it was a success and the LPO back on our boat was pleased. We got the topside all primed. So the next day I went again up there to get some non-skid and Black topside paint. With in the week we about had the job completed.

While I was trying to pay close attention to detail along the starboard bow waterline, I slipped right down into the bay! I was totally surprised!

Immediately the sharp Topside watch, (maybe the STSN Ward) saw I slipped overboard, he sounded the alarm and passed the word over the 1MC, "Man overboard starboard side - away the rescue detail." Oh my gosh, everyone was quickly topside. I think someone rolled out a small Jacobs ladder down the hull and I was quickly climbing back aboard.

Was one of the Oliver brothers the rescue swimmer? By the time he got topside, he had a big smile on his face as I had climbed back on board. I was really embarrassed but everyone was very happy no one was hurt, and there was much fun made of the whole situation.

After that many of my fears of this new assignment aboard the mighty Billy B were gone, thanks to the great crew.


"Others went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep........They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men."

Psalm 107:23-31
Steven Perry
Lee thanks for the reminder. Yes it was QMC Kolbrak. Shotly after that it was QMC Al Varela. Both were great mentors. MSCS "Rod-father" Rodrigez tild me at the 2009 Reunion that Varela was serving with the VA.
Hope to see in Sept 17

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Lee Oslund
I am not sure if QMC Kolbrak was before or after QMC Varela. Could it be Kolbrak?
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