On 13 June 1954, CHARR left San Diego, California for a six month tour of duty with Commander Naval Forces, Far East, based in Yokosuka, Japan. During this tour, CHARR helped train air and surface units of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and United Nations Fleet in anti-submarine defense, and completed her second Special Patrol. Generalissimo Chiang Kei-shek, President of Nationalist China, Vice Admiral Alfred M. Pride, Commander U.S.SEVENTH Fleet, and Captain F. W. Scanland, Western Pacific Group Commander embarked on the CHARR on 9 November 1954 during the visit to Formosa. It was the Generalissimo’s first underway trip aboard a submarine.
GENERALISSIMO CHIANG KEI-CHEK
EMBARKS ABOARD USS CHARR
9 NOVEMBER 1954
LT(JG) SCHELL HARMON.
A day or two before the Charr was to depart Japan, Captain Whitman held a confidential meeting with the officers in the wardroom with information that Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek had requested (via Vice Admiral Pride) a demonstration ride on a U.S. submarine. The Charr was to be that sub. We also learned he requested chicken for the noon meal. Since most of our meat and fowl was frozen, a military aircraft was already en route from the U.S. with fresh, not frozen, chicken in sealed boxes. These containers simply said "Refrigerate - do NOT freeze".
t.GETTING UNDERWAY FOR FORMOSA WITH CAPTAIN WHITMAN
AND NAVIGATOR WILLIAMSON ON THE BRIDGE
At this time, late 1954, the military and political situation between the Chinese mainland and Formosa was very tense so the presence of U.S. naval vessels near Formosa was an added deterrent to the Communists. A U.S. heavy cruiser with Vice Admiral Pride aboard plus two destroyers and a submarine rescue ship were also involved in this exercise. The cruiser anchored in the Keelung harbor, one destroyer patrolled outside the harbor, the second destroyer acted as a target (to enable us to fire a dummy torpedo), and the Charr moored to a city dock to board visitors. Large caliber weapons protected the harbor area.
Admiral Pride and his aide followed later by the Generalissimo, his son, an aide, an interpreter, his top Admiral (Commander of the Chinese Nationalist Navy), and a political officer came aboard with little fanfare other than saluting each other. As the Generalissimo and his entourage approached the Charr, we observed machine gun nests on the tops of nearby warehouses, armed soldiers along the street, and several armed vehicles.
By the time of our departure for the torpedo firing exercise the weather had significantly deteriorated to the point where the "target" destroyer would be unable to launch a small boat for retrieving the dummy torpedo. Nevertheless, we invited the Generalissimo to the forward torpedo room where we loaded the dummy torpedo. A few minutes later he returned to the conning tower to observe the approach to the target destroyer. At this point we quickly unloaded the dummy torpedo and stowed it in a different holding rack. This was followed by flooding the same torpedo tube which had held the dummy torpedo. When the approach to the target had the Charr in a good firing position, a water slug* was fired. As long as he lived the Generalissimo never knew we had not fired a torpedo at the destroyer!
FORWARD TORPEDO ROOM
* A water-slug refers to shooting a submarine's torpedo tube without first loading a torpedo.
On 7 December 1954, CHARR returned to San Diego, California and commenced local operations as a unit of Submarine Division THIRTY ONE.
FIRING A BOOZE-SLUG
THE NIGHT BEFORE RETURNING TO
SAN DIEGO SUBMITTED BY
Just the mention of booze brings back memories that Capt. Whitman made an all hands announcement in Yokosuka that every member of the crew could bring back two bottles to the states. (Those few who did not drink gave their rations to other shipmates.) We carefully loaded the bottles into a torpedo tube and then flooded it with water to provide a cushion.
We got through Pearl Harbor with no problems. A few days later we arrived at San Diego in the early evening but were told to standby until the next morning so the Admiral could be at the Broadway Pier to meet us. (This was devastating news to me, a newly wed guy who had not seen his bride for six months!) So we circled all night off Coronado using the Del Coronado Hotel cupola for navigation. During the night we received word that we would be inspected by Customs! Our skipper could not take the chance of having the booze found so we fired the torpedo tube. There may be a lot of good booze somewhere on the ocean bottom!
The end to the story is that Customs never did inspect us!