In keeping with UNDERSEA WARFARE Magazine’s charter as the Official Magazine of the U.S. Submarine Force, we welcome letters to the editor, questions relating to articles that have appeared in previous issues, and insights and “lessons learned” from the fleet.
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I recently read the article “Bells Left Behind” [UNDERSEA WARFARE, Winter 2001] on your Web site. It discussed USS Nautilus (SS-168) and Shirley Temple. I have a picture of Shirley Temple with my grandfather, Carl Herald Walls, on Nautilus, he has his arm around her which I always thought was pretty cool. I am having a very hard time finding out things about my grandfather who served on Nautilus.
I hope you can help me find things out about him or point me the right direction.
Thank you for your interest in UNDERSEA WARFARE Magazine. We recommend you contact the Submarine Library and Museum in Groton, Conn. (http://www.ussnautilus.org/index.html) or the Naval Historical Center in Washington, D.C. (http://www.history.navy.mil) to learn more about your grandfather's service aboard Nautilus.
Also, veterans and next-of-kin can request military service records by submitting form DD-214 to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. To learn more visit http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/dd-214.html.
Best of luck in your search.
What are the differences between a ball sextant and others? Somebody told me that ball sextants were used on submarines in WWII. Is this true?
Chief Petty Officer (SS), Ret.
After some research and talking with some colleagues, we can shed a little light on your question.
Just prior to World War II the long evolution of the sextant culminated in the invention of the ball recording sextant. It is ironic, and perhaps fitting, that the final form of the sextant – an instrument for measuring angular distances used especially in navigation to observe altitudes of celestial bodies (as in ascertaining latitude and longitude) – was not a sextant at all but a much earlier ancestor, the true quadrant. Developed for use at night when no horizon was visible, the recording “sextant” used no reflecting mirror. Rather, the celestial object was viewed directly as with the true quadrant. Instead of using a plumb bob, a liquid-damped steel ball recorded the altitude of the object on a screen. A drum micrometer was used to determine the precise altitude reading.
Because of its size, ease of use, and nighttime capability, the recording sextant found favor with airplane navigators, leading to “aircraft sextants” built on the same principle. Numerous examples still exist for the collector’s choosing at relatively inexpensive prices.
Each commissioned U.S. submarine has a sextant. There is no requirement to use them; however, they can be used as an option for navigation. They are primarily used to carry on navigation tradition.
Hopefully this answers your questions. Thank you for your interest in UNDERSEA WARFARE Magazine.
I am a member of the Universal Ship Cancellation Society which is dedicated to the study of naval and maritime covers. I recently came across two first day covers that had a picture of each boat’s patch. Would you kindly provide me with the translation of each boat’s motto? They are as follows:
USS Rhode Island motto “In Spe Pacis Perennis”; and USS Providence motto “Providentia Remedium Belli”.
Thank you for your assistance with this matter.
While there is no comprehensive list of ship mottos, we did some digging and found the translations.
USS Rhode Island: In hope of everlasting peace.
USS Providence: Providence for war is the best prevention for it.
(left to right) Submariners of USS Cheyenne (SSN-773) (left to right) Petty Officer 1st Class (SS) Nick Green, Petty Officer 1st Class (SS) David Pojar, and Chief of the Boat, Master Chief Petty Officer (SS) Andrew Worshek, sign photos of their Pearl Harbor-based Los Angeles-class attack submarine at the Frontier Mall in Cheyenne, Wyo.