- Operation Sea Scan
by Mike Giambattista, LTJG, USS Archerfish
I joined Afish from Sub
School in July 1959 in Key West.
In early 1960,
ARCHERFISH was chosen to participate in Operation "Sea Scan," a
scientific study of marine weather conditions, water composition, ocean depths,
and temperature ranges. She entered the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in January
to be specially equipped for this new mission. During this time, the vessel was
redesignated an auxiliary submarine, AGSS-311. Embarking a team of civilian
scientists, she commenced the first phase of operation "Sea Scan" on
18 May. On the cruise, the submarine visited Portsmouth, England, Hammerfest and
Bergen, Norway; Faslane, Scotland; Thule, Godthaab, and Julianehaab, Greenland;
Belfast, Northern Ireland; and Halifax, Nova Scotia, before mooring at New
London on 3 December.
LCDR Ken Woods reported
aboard as CO in Philadelphia and promptly got my orders bask to Key West to a
“T” boat cancelled. As the only unqualified officer, Afish needed a
SLJO and I was it! CO appointed me as the Supply and Commissary Officer
for Operation Sea Scan.
In order to continue independent operations, fueling was obviously an issue that had to be provided for at each port of call. It was a snap in places like HMS Submarine Base in Portsmouth, England. Because of our relatively high-speed surface transit between survey points (every 60 miles) our 100,000+-gallon fuel capacity was often stretched to prudent limits between port visits.
After fueling 100,000
gallons or more in Hammerfest, Norway I began to develop a reasonable confidence
in the system supporting us. The Naval Attaché’s office in each of the
countries visited seemed to work well with our supporting submarine force
On arrival in Bergen,
Norway, eager to get ashore, I wanted to leave no stone unturned with regard to
refueling (my “Sea Daddy” Miles Graham always supplied sufficient “heat”
to make sure that I was not asleep at the switch). Consequently, I took
the precaution to confirm our fueling arrangements for that port with the Attaché’s
office in Oslo. I was instructed to contact the ESSO bunker depot in
Bergen where all the appropriate arrangements for our fueling had been made.
The fueling proceeded
with the expected ease. I went below to spit shine my shoes and brush my
best blues (after all, it was July!) in eager preparation for a day viewing the
Bergen fish market and riding the cable car. My reverie was interrupted by
a call from the topside watch reporting that some incoherent Norwegian wanted to
see me about the 99,800 gallons of diesel that we had just taken aboard.
limited English and a total absence of even a single repeatable word of
Norwegian in my vocabulary inhibited the ensuing conversation. Finally
through some gesturing and much intuition it dawned on me that the ESSO guy was
demanding payment for the diesel. I produced all the documentation
associated with the event (after all, it had worked up the fjords in Hammerfest
a few weeks before). All to no avail, he was adamant about receiving
payment before departing Afish!
In desperation (although
the sun never set, I was getting edgy about the late hour for my departure
ashore), I pulled out my wallet and produced my ESSO credit card. Much to
my combined astonishment and relief a huge smile spread over Stig’s face as he
snatched the card from my hand. He copied all the data on to the form on
his clipboard and requested my signature. What the hell, I figured by the
time any charge got to me the whole thing would be straightened out, so I
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