Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Skate Captain Calvert - 1st to surface at the north pole

Those childhood memories of the not so happy 50's were retrieved by news of the death of James Calvert, captain of the nuclear sub Skate, which surfaced at the North Pole in 1959.

Nautically speaking quite the coup.

It was the Sputnik hysteria and the missile gap nonsense that helped elect John Kennedy, and took the Skate to the north pole. No more sled dogs. Soon we would have Polaris submarines - the undetectable threat of massive nuclear retaliation against the Russian surprise attack. The submarines and the stupidity of it all would end the era of band-aids, biscuits, and barrels of drinking water in Civil Defense bomb shelters and elementary school air raid drills, crawling under desks and getting down on our knees with hands over heads in the hallways of the Abbey Lane School in Levittown.

I still believe that no one will use the bloody things again - not the Israelis, not the Iranians, not the North Koreans, not the Indians, nor the Pakistanis, the Russians, the Chinese, and certainly not the Brits. How can we stop any of the aspirants if even we won't give up the strategy of nuclear deterrence?

Anyway, the Times obit for a great mariner - who got to the north pole without the north star to guide him - is here.


bonnie said...

I suspect that if I'd been a boy, I would've at least tried to be a submariner like my dad. Don't know if I would've made the cut, and if I had, I suspect things would be a lot different than they were in my dad's day.

The submarine community that was fostered under Rickover was a pretty remarkable group.

George Conk said...

I remember reading Run Silent, Run Deep. I don't think I could have handled the claustrophobia if my plan to be a naval officer had not been wrecked on the shoals of my myopia.

For a great account of a rescue check out Peter Maas - The Terrible Hours.

And of course there is Das Boot.

bonnie said...

I think The Terrible Hours was on my list once in a Favorite Books meme. Incredible story.