Date: Fri, 4 Jan 2002 11:02:40 EST
Subject: Blue Crew 85-89

Just a note for anybody who was on the USS Henry Clay Blue Crew from 85-89. 
This is Mitch Mack from M Division.  I'd like to hear from anybody who served 
with me.  Yes, I'm still "stuck" in South Carolina!!

Date: Tue, 26 Mar 2002 04:16:49 -0800 (PST)
From: william scism <>
Subject: Henry Clay (SSBN 625) Blue


Saw the web site, it is great.

I was RM1(SS) William Scism when I left the ship.  I
came aboard as a RM3.

I was on the Henry Clay from April 1977 to June 1981. 
I was on the blue crew and did the last part of the
PNSY Shipyard thing, sea trials, DASO, shot lots of
torpedos and did lots of patrols, 6 total I think. 

My most memorable moment was as a nonqual when I
accidentally called away a fire drill in the galley.
I was goofing with the phone and said something like
chow in the galley, which must have sounded like fire
in the galley.  I didn't know about the white rat on
the JA circuit. The whole crew stopped by Radio to
look at the idiot non-qual.   The XO came by also and
shared his views of my IQ.  I forget his name, but the
one before Tollifson.  The cook visited me too.

The Clay is full of memories for me, who could forget
ENS. Harmatuk calling telling Capt. Cook that he had
sighted a UFO.  Turned out to be a drifting tanker
with all of its lights on.

Or the mysterious Bermuda Triangle when the reactor
scrammed itself, (or was it a drill), and we couldn't
start the Diesel for 12 hours.  Had to surface and
wound up wallowing in the swells on reduced

Thought we were going to have to call for a tug, but
the A gangers finally banged and cussed the thing back
to life.

I wonder if there will ever be a reunion.  Or was
there one that I missed?

Bill Scism, RMCS(SS) USNR (Ret.)

Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2002 17:04:05 -0800 (PST)
From: ted bauman <>
Subject: sign me up

Have enjoyed the web site. I was on board at the "grounding"
Will try to find the article from the paper and e-mail it. Maybe
worth posting, maybe not. Also on board the night the bow was
blown off at pier side at NNS&DD. About a week before
commissioning. If you look close at comm pictures, the bow was
draped in canvas painted black and the drydock was not filled to
the water line. I think we were on keel blocks. Story is one of the
shop 36 cleaners knocked open a HP air valve to one of the tubes
and blew the outer door off. 

Ted Bauman,  EN2 (SU) USNR

Date: Mon, 15 Apr 2002 04:05:08 -0500
Subject: Mk19 gyro middle level ops.

I have to get this off my chest.  It's been over 20 years so I hope the
statute of limitations are done.  My favorite time of the week was field day
on patrol.  Naturally, being a Nav-et Sins tech I got to clean middle level
ops.  Despite all the nukes and their dirty sneakers we managed to get  the
floor to it's original color.  One particular field day, I had just woken up and
proceeded to vacuum under Mk19 gyro with just the steel tube of the  cleaner.
With a loud pop and an impressive flash, I was instantly awake.  Captain Ray
Sester showed up and asked me if anything had happened.  Rather calmly I
stated "nothing going on here".  Less than a minute later the whole forward IC
crew was messing up my floor.  Their gyro had died!! After replacing a few fuses,
one a 20 amp, their gyro was back up.  Yes guys I apologize, I blew up your gyro,
but not intentionally.  This story wasn't earthshaking, but if you pause for a 
minute and think of all the wrong switches, handles and valves that where turned
during any patrol, it's wonder we didn't sink ourselves!!  God was smilling on us
back then and I hope he still is today.  Smooth seas and fair winds to all of you that 
I shared memories with on the Clay.  (Sure miss pizza night).

ET-2 Beau SSBN 625 1980-84

Date: Thu, 30 May 2002 22:12:58 +0100
From: "Raymond Clarke" <>
Subject: USS Henry Clay (circa 1982)

My local paper has a column of "Twenty Years Ago This Week" and it
recently contained a reference to the "USS Henry Clay. This referred to
a discovery in fishing nets of a box of approximately 24"x10"x?,
containing a 27 page document  referring to the "Henry Clay". These
papers allegedly concerned a recent dry-docking operation and weapon
systems. They where dragged up from the Irish Sea by a Kilkeel County
Down Northern Ireland fishing boat named the"Discouri". The skipper was
a man named  Charles  Shields and these documents and the box were
passed to the US Embassy in Dublin. Does anyone have any memories of how
the box found its way into the Irish Sea? and can they be revealed
without embarrassing any one?

Thank you

Raymond Clarke
2 Meadowvale
Newcastle Co. Down
Northern Ireland
BT33 0SD

Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 19:15:16 -0500
From: " Paula Clark" <>
Subject: Henry Clay pic

     Was surfing through the web sites and found the one for the CLAY.
I then came across the picture of the inspection of 4 Jan 1973 at Ford
Island.  Lo and behold there I was , Lynn Clark EM 3.  After reading
some of the sea stories I thought that I'd let you know about how
"lovelys" got their name.  According to LCDR Mladineo, who was the
Engineering Officer, some one on a prior patrol had got one and after
drinking it looked into his cup and seeing the gunk left there said
"Ain't that lovely!"

     I left the Clay and went to the Ethan Allen but never got the chance
to serve aboard her as an EM type on the ROBERT E. LEE went drug
exempt and I was picked to take his place.  They were about to leave
on patrol so I had to leave in a hurry.  Did 4 patrols on the CLAY and 3
on the LEE.  Made EM 2 on the LEE.

     Here is another sea story that didn't happen at sea.  You can call
this the case of the forgotten shore patrol.  I was on duty aboard the
Clay one day while we were tied up next to the tender in Guam.  Word
came down that one person from the boat and one person from the tender
were to do shore patrol at Andy's.  I was selected to be the one from
the boat, the person from the tender was to show up with a radio
"later".  So here I go over to Andy's about dark and wait for the tender
guy to show up.  You guessed it,he never shows up.  However, during one
of my rounds through the bar someone in the bar threw a full can of beer
to one of the members of the band on stage.  Unfortunatly he didn't
throw it hard enough and it hit the wife of one of the other band
members in the back of the head.  I hit the door and let them work the
problem out, which they did pretty quickly.  After the OOD found out
what had happened we didn't have to supply any more shore patrol.

Lynn Clark

Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2001 17:44:34 EDT
Subject: Fwd: Fw: Diesel Boat Reflections

Webmaster's Note: This isn't really HC scuttlebutt, but was too good to pass up!

"I think we all can remember those "Non-Qual" days"

E-3 Summit Meetings
by Bob 'Dex' Armstrong

Remember your non-qual days? Back when the entire submarine force seemed
hell bent on convincing you that you might be the dumbest sonuvabitch ever
born in North America?  In Squadron Six, being a non-qual was a lot like
being a whore at a logging camp...  You got used and abused, and everyone
told you things would get better once you 'learned the ropes.'

But there was one place where the non-qual union held their meetings...
Our 'Union Hall'.  It was a location that belonged exclusively to the
non-quals...  Our place... A place where you could go whine, moan, bitch
about the old bastards, the lifers... The Chiefs... The qualified
sonuvabitches whose sole entertainment in life seemed to be making our
lives hell.

Our place was the dumpster area on the pier.  We used to congregate there
after evening chow.  We stood around...  Caught a smoke or two and exchanged

"Jeezus...  What's it like on your boat?  You guys have a bunch of old
coots who sit around drinking coffee and talking about old
decommissioned boats they used to ride?  Brain dead bastards."

"Yeah...  We've got 'em.  You guys got a lot of married guys?"

"Hell yes...  All they want is for you to get qualified so they can hit
you up for a stand-by.  They drive you nuts, showing you pictures of
their kids."

"When you volunteered for the boats, didja think it was gonna be like

"Hell no, thought it was gonna be an adventure."  "What?  You mean like
in the war movies?  Up scope...  Range...  Mark...  Angle...  Mark...  Down
scope...  Fire one...  Fire two...  Time to target?  45 seconds...  Boom,
boom and there goes the Fishhead Maru?  Hell Dex, that was 1945...  This
is 1960."

"You ever see a gahdam recruiting poster showing a smiling bluejacket
with a wirebrush and a chipping hammer?  A dirty apron?  Haulin' shitcans
down the pier?"

"Hell no...  Always show some First Class Bosun' mate buyin' flowers for
some good lookin' virgin in Greece or guys in whites riding a rickshaw
in Hong Kong, grinning like idiots."

"Life on these worn out, stinking things has to be the bottom of the
tank...  Man, I think they sold us a ticket to the bottom of the gahdam

"You ever see the inside of one of those nukes?  Jeezus, those monsters
have damn near everything.  Hell, damn E-3s get their own racks."

"No shit?"

"No shit, Horsefly...  Got little privacy curtains...  Got head phones to
listen to their multi-channel ships' entertainment system...  And
a built in reading light."

"You're lying."

"No shit.  The damn things are clean...  Smell like the inside of a high
school girl's lingerie drawer...  Everything is bright and new."

"That beady eyed shrimp, Rickover gets anything he wants.  The bastard
must have a movie of Congress at a goat gang bang."

"Did you ever consider going nuke?"

"Nah...  Too friggin' stupid.   Besides, you don't see guys wearing combat
patrol pins riding those big monsters."

"Yeah, but they get their spare parts gift wrapped...  They don't have to
steal stuff off the tender and canibalize boats heading to the scrap yard
to keep going."

"Screw'em... None of 'em ever sunk a damn thing that could shoot back."

"Anyone going to D.C.?  Looking for a sharing gas ride this weekend."

"Anyone showin' a decent movie tonight?"

"Cubera's got Splendor in The Grass...  Natalie Wood."

"Carp's got some shoot 'em up with Kirk Douglas."

"Geedunk truck should be around in thirty minutes."

"Hey Jack...  Got a smoke?"

"Jeezus Dan...  You quit buyin' smokes and just go to bummin' off

"How bout a smoke without the sermon.  I notice you don't seem to have a
problem draining beer pitchers you never toss in for."

"Screw you."

"Just gimmie a smoke...  Got a match?"

"Good evening gentlemen."

"Good evening, sir."

"What's going on?"

"Just talking treason...  Plotting mutinies...  Cussing our senior petty
officers and swapping Bible stories."

"Carry on."

"You know that guy?"

"Naw, must be a nuke."

A year later we were all sitting around in our respective control
rooms...  Drinking coffee and ragging the non-quals.

"Hey kid...  Did you ever get trim and drain signed off?   Jeezus, you are
one thick sonuvabitch...  You'll never make it."

I had become my own worst nightmare...  And I loved riding the old
wornout boats.  We were all fat, dumb and happy and Hyman couldn't have
sold us a nuke...  Even if he threw in six nekkit blondes and his pay


Skippy Eaters
by Bob 'Dex' Armstrong

Life in diesel submarines could get very boring if you didn't stir the
pot constantly.  To those folks who led normal lives it would be
damn near impossible to explain...  But we fabricated major controversies
just to keep from going nuts.  Arguments were a form of
entertainment.  Totally stupid controversy that divided the crew into
factions supporting totally idiotic positions was the best
entertainment you could get.

To compensate submariners for living in steel septic tanks like
Aborigines, the United States Navy decided to feed us like King
Henry.  You know, in the movies they show King Henry the Eighth...
Big fat sonuvabitch...  Always had this table piled high with
roast beef, haunches of venison...  Loaded with everything, flagons of
wine...  Big heavy goblets...  Everybody digging in, eating
with their hands...  Reaching across the table and spearing a leg of duck
with a dirk...  Greasy beards...  Wine dribbling off their
chins.  Laughing and hellraising and tossing the bones over their
shoulders to waiting dogs...  The good life.  That was the boats,
the last freebooting buccaneers.

The Navy fed us.  Any bastard who rode smokeboats and doesn't say he
never ate better in his life is either a liar or a way beyond
redemption, unsalvageable whiner...

And we had the best cooks.  We never told them that, because ragging
cooks was not only part of the unwritten code, it too,
provided great entertainment.  You tell a cook that he was worth a damn
and the next thing you knew his head would get so fat
you would have to Crisco the bastard's ears to poke him down the after
battery hatch.

We had the best.  Rodney A. 'Rat' Johnson.  He could have been the head
chef at The Waldorf Astoria.  Loved Rat...  We all did...  We never told
him, but he knew.  Once, saw the man absent mindedly pick up a
radish and a paring knife and carve it into a perfect
miniature rose, toss it to a mess cook and say,
"Beauty is where you find it, kid."

All of my memories of Requin are somehow linked with Rat...  He refereed
the crew's zoo like the warden of the rat box, and fed us like kings.

One night we were jackassing sea stores aboard the boat...  Somebody
tossed us a box of powdered eggs off the truck.  This booming voice
yells, "Throw that shit back in that truck, I ain't serving no gahdam
powdered eggs to no boat sailors."

The O.D. said "Hold up there, what'll happen when we run out of eggs?"

"You let me worry about that sir, but I ain't usin' no damn frigging egg
dust, you can bet your ass on that...  I wouldn't serve that fake shit to
a cocker spaniel."

And he never did. I yelled,

"Give'em hell, Rat."

And he winked...

"I'll have chickens livin' in the gahdam ward room before you see egg
dust in my galley."

We ate better than the average bluejacket because the Navy damn near
doubled our per man ration money...  And this allowed our
cooks to buy extra stuff at the base commissary.

Official Navy peanut butter came in olive drab green cans.  It tasted
like stuff you would find between a hippo's toes...  Evil stuff.

So one morning when Mother Rat was heading to the commissary to do her
little 'go to sea' shopping we said,

"Hey Rat get some damn decent peanut butter."

"What do you wayward children consider to be decent peanut butter?"

That is when it started and it was still being fought over when I left
the boat.

"Peter Pan!"


There were two political factions on Requin. The 'Peter Pans' and the
'Skippy-eaters'.  I was a Peter Pan.  We were the intelligent
culinary knowledgeable connoisseurs of the finer things in life.  The
'Skippy-eaters' were worthless idiots who had hemorrhoids for taste
buds. I wouldn't want to interject any personal bias into this
raging controversy or taint this objective history with the slightest
hint of prejudice but, anyone on the 481 who intentionally ate
Skippy would spread kangaroo crap on Ritz cracker.

We Peter Pans kept book on the Skippy eaters so we knew who they were so
we wouldn't run over them on the highway, late on a dark night, when they
were out eating runover dead skunks.

To this day I can't understand why we had Skippy eaters.  I have tried to
forgive them but find it impossible.

I hope that the nuclear boat force had the good sense to outlaw the
degenerate practice of hauling Skippy to sea...  This would be
a step up in the history of undersea service...  A giant leap for

Date: Sun, 4 Aug 2002 13:48:02 -0700
From: "FRED BASYE" <>
Subject: USS Henry Clay

Terrell, TX

Dear Sir:

I was a crewmember of the USS ARD 26 during WWII.  I went aboard her shortly
after she was commissioned in Tibron Bay, Ca. and served aboard her as her radioman
until February 48.

Very little is available concerning these old ships.  They provided the fleet with drydocking
facilities thus negating the long voyage back to either Pearl or the West Coast.  We repaired
damaged vessels and when not repairing battle damage we provided a place to get the hulls
scraped and painted thus providing a fast fleet as well.

The drydock used by the Henry Clay appears to be an ARDM can you tell me what kind of
dock is represented here.


Frederick C. Basye
T/Sgt., USAF, Ret.

Date: Tue, 03 Sep 2002 08:47:30 -1000
From: Lance Davidson <>
Subject: Henry Clay Blue Crew 1972-1975

this is for you GERALD POLLACK,

A good friend got me this web site and YOU are the only one that was on
my crew.  I see you must have retired by now.  You took all the photos
while I was stationed onboard the Clay.  Anyway this is LANCE DAVIDSON
SK3(SS).  I was discharged from Portland, Maine in 1975,  while
undergoing posiedon conversion at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, I had
previously made 5 patrols out of Agana, Guam.  I will get some photos
together to add to your collection.  I'm currently living on the Big
Island of Hawaii and have been in the Islands since 1984.  Hope to hear
from you and possibly see more photos while we served on the Clay
together.  I've got one photo on the shelf of BOB WEIER & MYSELF standing
topside watch in Guam  @  1973.

                                               LANCE DAVIDSON
                                               e-mail is

             HOPE YOU GET THIS GERALD!!!


Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2002 19:43:03 -0800 (PST)
From: George Pelham <>
Subject: Just found this site

Just found this site.  We're going to Hawaii in a few weeks and it's bringing
back memories.  I was on the Henry Clay from the overhaul in Charleston to
August of 1972.  Blue crew.  I like to get in touch with some of the guys.  My
memory is so bad I don't remember "ANY" names.  Three or four of us shared
an appartment (condo) in Honolulu.  Across from the convention center.  We
swap with the gold crew.  There were four nurses who lived below us and we
would swap parties.  If this is familier to any of you.  Let me know. 

George Pelham

Date: Sun, 17 Nov 2002 08:50:42 -0500
From: "Mike Adams" <>
Subject: Henry Clay

Hello everyone!
My name is Mike Adams, I was on the Henry Clay from 70-73.  I was a TM in the
room most of the time (a great place to hide out for 3 years).  Would be
great to hear from any of you guys.


Date: Mon, 23 Dec 2002 13:16:26 -0600
From: "Wiggs, Alex" <>

Hi all, 

I was stationed on the USS Henry Clay 625 Gold Crew from about the early
80's to August 1982.  My name is (or was) ET2/SS Alex Wiggs. 
MC Russell was the COB at the time and one of my most memorable moments was
when the COB was down in berthing waking us all up in his gentle and kind
manner as always and he said to, I believe it was SA Brown who had dyed his
hair and it came out orange, "Alright Brown!  Out of that rack - orange hair
and all!"  We all got a kick out of that!  And, "What do you think this is, a
Caribbean cruise?!" 

Also during the half-way night celebration Brad Peterson and I did a skit
where Brad played the guitar and I played the banjo.  We did a version of Hee
Haw's 'I'm a pickin' and I'm a grinnin'' where we poked fun at different
folks on the boat. 

Does anyone remember the other skit Brad and I did called 'The Cruel
Phones'?  It was a plagiarized version of Steve Martin's 'The Cruel Shoes".
We had one of the officers on board, Mr. Green, help us out.  Those half-way
night shin-digs really broke up the monotony. 

Anyone remember time we finally got a port call in Wilhelm's Haven, Germany
and no one had any money?  I walked around Germany carrying a brown lunch bag
with my lunch in it because I was broke! 

I also remember Chief Trudue, (forgive the spelling) the best mess chief in
the entire US Navy, in my opinion. I remember the fresh bread and pies and
all the unbelievable feasts at half-way night that he and his men created.
Hats off to you! 

If anyone would like to converse over the internet, my email is <> . Let's hear your stories! 

Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 20:39:41 -0600
From: "Tom Ilgenfritz" <>
Subject: John Roger Baker

My father-in-law is a former shipmate of the Clay.  Ironically,
I was attached to the sister ship, USS Daniel Webster SSBN626
about 15 years later.  He now has an email address of his own
but has asked me to enter this information into the website.
It reads as follows.

John R. Baker reported to the Henry Clay SSBN 625 in January 1963
as a member of the Blue Crew.  Was awarded a "Plank Owner's
Certificate" as a member of the building and commissioning crew.
I went on all sea trials including the running aground on Chesapeake
Bay.  Went on first patrol and left the boat in Rota Spain and flew
with the blue crew to Charleston, S. Carolina where I was discharged
in October 1964.  I served aboard in EN2 and EN1 rating as a Nuclear
Engineer on the main engines and generators.  I remember names such
as Garland, Sam Colt, Chief Goode and others whose names slip my
memory. I would like to hear from Engineering members of the Blue
Crew who are also plank owners. By the way, I didn't get my plank
from the deck when the boat was scrapped!!!!

My email address is

John Baker

Date: Fri, 27 Dec 2002 09:55:37 -0800 (PST)
From: Marjean Secl <>
Subject: Crew mmeber sign up

Found your website and I'm a plank owner and one of the original HC Bettis
Lab class members from the Blue Crew.  Name is Dave Secl, ET-2  Nuke,
made two patrols out of Rota, went through new construction from keel laying.
Was on her when we developed the new drink "Henry Clay on the Rocks" in
honor of us going a ground in Norfolk Harbor. Have pictures and stories if you
want them.


To add your wit to this page, send email to:

Please send all comments, corrections and harrassments to:

Return to the top of the page

Return to the USS Henry Clay home page

© 2009 Gerald A. Pollack