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Old 02-18-2021, 18:09   #1
JJ_BPK
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Key West Scuba School, USS 315, Sealion, 1969

The more I look, the less I see. I put out a post on FB SFB looking for any and all students and instructors from the 60ts, Nada So, I will post here and there of my exploits. Don't worry only a couple of posts to follow.

TBT: Tales of my Combat Divers Course Submarine Training

I have been told my class 8-69 was the last to train on the USS Sealion before it was decommissioned and sunk in the summer of 1970.

The Sealion, USS-315 had a long career starting in WWII. The 2nd pic is her battle flag. Her keel was laid down on 25 February 1943 by the Electric Boat Company of Groton, Connecticut. She was launched on 31 October 1943

She is sometimes referred to as Sealion II. Sealion I, USS-195 was sunk early in the war and her caption was the 1st to captain of Sealion II.

After WWI she was relegated to training and went through several physical changes. At one point she had what looks like a dive chamber on the aft deck behind the tower. If you look closely, you can see some of the changes. By the time we use her the deck guns were gone and steel plating was welded to the bridge as protection.

Oh,, If you watch the Cary Grant WWII movie "Operation Petticoat" ?? The sub used in the film, the Spearfish USS-190, was a sister of the first Sealion USS-195


Our classes consisted of multiple lockouts & lockins, all underway.. This filled up the daylight hours as a two-man team would take about 30 minutes to cycle in/out. The RIB we used on the surface was small so you had to turn around and go back after a short break. The "surface" part was actually with the sub at periscope depth, so the deck was at 20-30ft.

We used the chamber in the forward torpedo room, two at a time, if you OR your buddy were of bigger build it kinda sucked. You could not put your fins nor mask on until you were outside. Very cramped..

The lock in/out at the surface underway was tricky, With the sub was at periscope depth, you started from a tender RIB tied to the tower. You swam forward, around the tower then down a lie to the hatch. This is while the sub was at some 4-5 knts. When you get down to deck level you took off mask & fins and did a barrel roll backward into the chamber. Several of us whacked our heads on the chamber door frame. In my 2nd post, you can see the deck hatch we used to access the chamber hatch. Additionally, the chamber was flooded to enter,, so that BIG breath of air you took at the surface had to last until you were locked in and the chamber was drained.

Give me one breath Valisi, one breath only, please


The lock-in/out at depth was more fun. We locked out at 80ft. Then stretch a 100ft rope on a North-South bearing, with 1/2 the team at each end and tried to stay at the 80ft depth. At one end of the rope, a diver with a tuning-fork would tap on their tank. The sub's sonar operator could hear it and line the sub up on an East-West track, trying to split the "Goal Posts".

Found it a little unnerving,, seems sharks also are tuned into tuning forks. As we waited about 15 minutes for the sub, we attracted a BUNCH of fish, including a couple of sharks in the 8ft, 300lb+ range. We knew they were no bother, but it was a little worrisome.

BEST SCENE EVER: As the sub closed in on us it pinged so we knew it was coming. The view of that sub coming into sight, props turning was as good as any sub movie ever.

As the sub caught the rope we shimmied up and make our way to the protected area on the bridge. This was a strain. All of us were swimming against the ship's wake upstream. The last pic shows the bridge and tower as we used it. Swimming around the various structures was cumbersome, to say the least.

After we made the bridge, we used regulators attached to the deck, running off internal ships' air. You had to take off your mask, as the sub speed and the water turbulence would break the mask straps. The ride up was easy until you started to break the surface.

Then it was AWESOME. you got the E-ticket ride of the day.

Final bit. the forward torpedo room had been stripped of the racks and had bunks for us to sleep in. I think there was 18inch between each bunk. If you wanted to turn over, you had to get out, turn over, and then crawl back in 😍

End of todays tale.
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Old 02-18-2021, 22:55   #2
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Grandpa story telling 101:

"If you watch the Cary Grant WWII movie 'Operation Petticoat' the sub used in the film, the Spearfish USS-190, is the one we did all of these very dangerous and exciting feats on. The very pretty nurses on board were extremely turned-on by our heroics and manly physiques."

Try it again from the top.

p.s.: Remember to explain what an E-Ticket is.
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Old 02-18-2021, 23:20   #3
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Great stuff JJ, great stuff!

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 02-19-2021, 06:46   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PSM View Post
Grandpa story telling 101:

"If you watch the Cary Grant WWII movie 'Operation Petticoat' the sub used in the film, the Spearfish USS-190, is the one we did all of these very dangerous and exciting feats on. The very pretty nurses on board were extremely turned-on by our heroics and manly physiques."

Try it again from the top.

p.s.: Remember to explain what an E-Ticket is.
I try to keep the QUIET Professional in my war tales at least until my G-kids are teenagers


Planting tells in a story allows me to age-date the audience
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Old 02-19-2021, 06:59   #5
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Cool story bro...tell it again. Thanks for the pics too!
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Old 02-19-2021, 07:00   #6
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Thanks for the stories & pics. Fulton concept underwater, holy krap.
How fast was the sub typically going during the recovery?
I imagine the intent being to get the team out of the area rikki-tik? That would indeed be E-ticket worthy. (your story, you can explain the Disneyland connection)

Someone needs to use that in a movie.
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Old 02-19-2021, 07:17   #7
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JJ, I went through Key West in '81 or 82 (CRS). I later was stationed at JIATF-S doing counter-drug (2006-2008). The guys at the new compound gave me the keys to the kingdom. Seriously great dudes, I'd go over and run fleming key after work and swim in their pool. Even ate in their chow hall a couple times when the good SGM Houston (?) invited me. Anyways, I tried to find all the remnants of the old school and most of it had been given back to the Town/County as low-income housing.

The new facilities were freaking awesome but it was funny to hear the new guys (all E-6, E-7, E-8 instructors bitch about how the new compound was "old and broken down."

At any rate, I did a LOT of diving with my next door neighbor at the time, an old 7th Group Dude (Curtis David). Guys was nuts....we'd go way the hell out to do deep drift dives off the reefs and spear fish. It must have been an all day affair to get that sub anywhere near the depth to do this. 10-12 miles offshore?

Last edited by JimP; 02-20-2021 at 07:30.
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Old 02-19-2021, 08:08   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimP View Post

The new facilities were freaking awesome but it was funny to hear the new guys (all E-6, E-7, E-8 instructors bitch about how the new compound was "old and broken down."

It must have been an all day affair to get that sub anywhere near the depth to do this. 10-12 miles offshore?
Here it is as I knew it, A couple of cinder block sheds. one for gear and the compressors. One for the school/bunk-house for those of us that could not get into the EM, NCO, or BOQ billets. It's where I stayed. We left the doors open at nite and had a 36inch fan at each end for "air conditioning"

There is an old WWII bomb range South West of Key West that drops off. The map points to the general area. For scale, it is about 10 miles from Flemming Key to Baca Chica NAS. Guessing it was 10-12 miles out.
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Old 02-19-2021, 08:20   #9
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Forgot where I found these. Three 1st SF guys and the Sealion. By the looks of the uniforms, guessing 65-67? OG-107's and Jungles with exposed buttons and colored patches. I also don't think it's in Key West??

Good pic of the forward access. The chamber hatch is open, but that one could not be used un-way. So you ducked down under the deck via the access the SSG in standing in. There was another access hatch vertically mounted. The deck as a structure mounted on top of the hull.
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Old 02-19-2021, 08:29   #10
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I would have to root through my pictures - but the picture JJ posted of the old site was pretty much all there was at the end of Fleming Key.

As you look at the picture the parking lot was just to the left of the buildings. On the other side of the parking lot was the "Boat House". A glorified shack that held the air bank system for filling tanks and a lean to area that could hold a few of the boats.

Other side of that was the pistol range where if you messed up you'd be sent to dig lead.
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Old 02-19-2021, 21:53   #11
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Great stories! Thanks!
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Old 02-19-2021, 22:08   #12
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Love the history! Thanks for sharing the stories.
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Old 02-20-2021, 08:42   #13
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Posts like these are what keep history alive! Great posts!

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Old 02-21-2021, 13:17   #14
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Man, I would loved to have checked out an old sub like that.
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Old 02-21-2021, 13:46   #15
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Quote:
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Man, I would loved to have checked out an old sub like that.
As a 21YO who grew up with all the WWI movies, I was awestruck just for getting the chance to just ride in one

I posted to FB SFB and a separate page for those that have taught or completed CDC, looking for someone that has an older class date, 8-69.

Finally found a feller on another site that predates me. Still, need to find someone to vet him?

Say hello to Jonathan. He was born in 1832 and is 189 years old. He was 30 during the Civil War. He is the oldest known living terrestrial animal in the world.

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