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November 5, 2015
Dear Shipmates,
Hopefully, you were one of the members of the Mine Force who attended the 2015 AOM in Reno, Nevada. Details will be forthcoming in future newsletters but until then, you can get a good idea of what went on and who attended. Through the superhuman efforts of John Loonam, the 2015 reunion booklet is available on our web site. In addition, many other booklets are available including those back to 1984, although a few are missing. Check the AOM web site.

"Rebb" was one of my good Navy buddies back nearly sixty years ago. Officially, Bruce E. Rebbetoy, a native of Rochester, NY, we were close buddies until he went from Mineman to EOD.  I lost track of him for almost fifty years. He finally found me, a few years back, when he was a Ski Host Team Leader at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area/Resort in California, not far from the old Navy Magazine in Hawthorne, NV. He wrote one page on his navy career. I hope that he provides more information on his very colorful career sometime soon.

Meanwhile, he sent me a story that I will include here. I'm sure that many of you can identify with this story about drinking establishments in the Far East.
This is no doubt one of the best descriptions of a good sailor bar that I have ever read. Whoever wrote this certainly knew what he was talking about. Talk about walking (or crawling) down memory lane? Our favorite liberty bars were unlike no other watering holes or dens of iniquity inhabited by seagoing men. They had to meet strict standards to be in compliance with the acceptable requirement for a sailor beer-swilling dump. The first and foremost requirement was a crusty old gal serving suds. She had to be able to wrestle King Kong to parade rest. Be able to balance a tray with one hand, knock sailors out of the way with the other hand and skillfully navigate through a roomful of milling around drunks. On slow nights, she had to be the kind of gal who would give you a back scratch or put her foot on the table so you could admire her new ankle bracelet some "mook" brought her back from a Hong Kong liberty. A good barmaid had to be able to whisper sweet nothings in your young sailor ear like, "I love you no chit, you buy me Honda??" 

 "Buy a pack of Clorets and chew up the whole thing before you get within heaving range of any gal you ever want to see again." And, from the crusty old gal behind the bar, "Hey animals, I know we have a crowd tonight, but if any of you guys find the head facilities fully occupied and start pissing down the floor drain, you're gonna find yourself scrubbing the deck with your white hats!" 
 The barmaids had to be able to admire great tattoos, look at pictures of ugly bucktooth kids and smile. Be able to help haul drunks to cabs and comfort 19 year-olds who had lost someone he thought loved him in a dark corner booth. They could look at your ship's identification shoulder tab and tell you the names of the Skippers back to the time you were a Cub Scout. 
 If you came in after a late night maintenance problem and fell asleep with a half eaten Slim-Jim in your hand, they tucked your pea coat around you, put out the cigarette you left burning in the ashtray and replaced the warm draft you left sitting on the table with a cold one when you woke up. Why? Simply because they were one of the few people on the face of the earth that knew what you did, and appreciated what you were doing. 
 And if you treated them like a decent human being and didn't drive 'em nuts by playing songs they hated on the juke box, they would lean over the back of the booth and park their soft, warm t ts on your neck when they sat two San Miguel beers in front of you. And the Imported table wipe down guy and glass washer, trash dumper, deck swabber and paper towel replacer. The guy had to have baggy tweed pants and a gold tooth and a grin like a 1950 Buick. And a name like "Ramon", "Juan", "Pedro" or "Tico". He had to smoke unfiltered Luckies, Camels or Raleighs. He wiped the tables down with a sour wash rag that smelled like a billy goats crotch and always said, "How are choo navee mans tonight? He was the indispensable man. The guy with credentials that allowed him to borrow Slim-Jims, Beer Nuts and pickled hard boiled eggs from other beer joints when they ran out where he worked. 

 The establishment itself. The place had to have walls covered with ship and squadron plaques. The walls were adorned with enlarged unit patches and the dates of previous deployments. A dozen or more old, yellowed photographs of fellows named "Buster", "Chicago", "P-Boat Barney", "Flaming Hooker Harry", "Malone", "Honshu Harry", "Jackson", "Douche Bag Doug", and "Capt Slade Cutter" decorated any unused space. It had to have the obligatory Michelob, Pabst Blue Ribbon and "Beer Nuts sold here" neon signs. An eight-ball mystery beer tap handle and signs reading. "Your mother does not work here, so clean away your frickin trash." "Keep your hands off the barmaid." "Don't throw butts in urinal." "Barmaid's word is final in settling bets." "Take your fights out in the alley behind the bar!" "Owner reserves the right to waltz your worthless sorry asz outside." "Shipmates are responsible for riding herd on their ship/squadron drunks." This was typical signage found in any good liberty bar. 

 You had to have a juke box built along the lines of a Sherman tank loaded with Hank Williams, Mother Maybelle Carter, Johnny Horton, Johnny Cash and twenty other crooning goobers nobody ever heard of. The daamn thing has to have "La Bamba", Herb Alpert's "Lonely Bull" and Johnny Cash's "Don't take your guns to town". The furniture in a real good liberty bar had to be made from coal mine shoring lumber and was not fully acceptable until it had 600 cigarette burns and your ship's numbers or "F**k the Navy" carved into it. The bar had to have a brass foot rail and at least six Slim-Jim containers, an oversized glass cookie jar full of Beer-Nuts, a jar of pickled hard boiled eggs that could produce rectal gas emissions that could shut down a sorority party, and big glass containers full of something called Pickled Pigs Feet and Polish Sausage. 

 Only drunk Chiefs and starving Ethiopians ate pickled pig's feet and unless the last three feet of your colon had been manufactured by Midas, you didn't want to get anywhere near the Polish Napalm Dogs. No liberty bar was complete without a couple of hundred faded ship or airplane pictures and a "Shut the he ll  up!" sign taped on the mirror behind the bar along with several rather tasteless naked lady pictures. The pool table felt had to have at least three strategic rips as a result of drunken competitors and balls that looked as if a gorilla baby had teethed on the sonuvabiches. 
 Liberty bars were home and it didn't matter what country, state, or city you were in. When you walked into a good liberty bar, you felt at home. These were also establishments where 19 year-old kids received an education available nowhere else on earth. You learned how to "tell" and "listen" to sea stories. You learned about sex at $7 a pop -- from professional ladies who taught you things your high school biology teacher didn't know were anatomically possible. You learned how to make a two cushion bank shot and how to toss down a beer and shot of Sun Torry known as a "depth charge." We were young, and a helluva long way from home. We were pulling down crappy wages for twenty-four hours a day, seven days a-week availability and loving the life we lived. We didn't know it at the time, but our association with the men we served with forged us into the men we became. And a lot of that association took place in bars where we shared the stories accumulated in our, up to then, short lives. We learned about women and that life could be tough on a gal. While many of our classmates were attending college, we were getting an education slicing through the green rolling seas in WestPac, experiencing the orgasmic rush of a night cat shot, the heart pounding drama of the return to the ship with the gut wrenching arrestment to a pitching deck. The hours of tedium, boring holes in the sky late at night, experiencing the periodic discomfort of turbulence, marveling at the creation of St. Elmo's Fire, and sometimes having our reverie interrupted with stark terror. 
 But when we came ashore on liberty, we could rub shoulders with some of the finest men we would ever know, in bars our mothers would never have approved of, in saloons and cabarets that would live in our memories forever. Long live those liberties in WestPac and in the Med - They were the greatest! "Any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction,     I SERVED IN THE UNITED STATES NAVY." (John F. Kennedy)
Some of our fellow Minemen served on carriers and other duty stations that were responsible for nuclear weapons. When we left the service, our lips were zipped and may still be. Since then, many details have become unclassified and can be found on public access sites on the Internet. Here is what may or may not be familiar with you.

Mk-101 Lulu NDB (Nuclear Depth Bomb)

The Mark 101 Lulu was an air-dropped nuclear depth bomb (NDB) developed by the United States in the 1950s. It utilized a W34 nuclear warhead, with a yield of about 11 kilotons. It was deployed by the United States Navy for the purposes of anti-submarine warfare, in five different models, from 1958 until 1971. Weapons were also stockpiled at overseas allied bases under American military guard for use by maritime aircraft of NATO allies, notably at RAF St. Mawgan, Cornwall, for use by Royal Air Force Avro Shackleton aircraft, and the Dutch Navy P-2 Neptune and P-3 Orion aircraft.

The Mk-101 "Lulu" began to be replaced by the multi-purpose B57 nuclear bomb in the mid-1960s. The B-57 was a bomb that could be used by tactical strike aircraft in a land warfare role, as well as a nuclear depth bomb. The Mk-101 "Lulu" had a length of 7 ft. 6 in., diameter of 1 ft. 6 in., and weighed 1,200 lb.
This weapon lacked an important safety/arming device, i.e., there were no sensors to detect free-fall from an aircraft which would result from the bomb being intentionally dropped in flight. As a result, if an armed Mk 101 bomb accidentally fell off an aircraft while it was parked on the flight deck of a warship and then rolled overboard, it could automatically detonate when it sank to the preset depth.
The W34 boosted-fission warhead used in the Mk-101 "Lulu" was also used in several other similar weapons, and a version referred to as 'Peter' was used as a thermonuclear primary in the British Yellow Sun and as the "Python" in the U.S. (The B28 nuclear bomb).

A Nuclear Depth Bomb (NDB) is the nuclear equivalent of the conventional depth charge and can be used in Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) for attacking submerged submarines. The British Royal Navy, Soviet Navy and United States Navy had nuclear depth bombs in their arsenals at one point. Due to the use of a nuclear warhead of much greater explosive power than that of the conventional depth charge, the Nuclear Depth Bomb considerably increases the likelihood (to the point of near certainty) of the destruction of the attacked submarine. Because of this much greater power some NDBs feature a variable yield, whereby the explosive energy of the device may be varied between a low setting for use in shallow or coastal waters, and a high yield for deep water open-sea use. This is intended to minimize damage to peripheral areas and shipping.
All nuclear anti-submarine weapons were withdrawn from service by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China in or around 1990. They were replaced by conventional weapons that provided ever-increasing accuracy and range as ASW technology improved.

The W34 was an American nuclear bomb developed and deployed during the mid-1960s. Dimensions of the W34 are 17 inches diameter and 34 inches long. The device core weighs 311 to 320 pounds depending on model. Yield of the W34 was 11 kilotons.

The W34 was used in several applications: Mark 101 Lulu nuclear depth bomb, the Mark 45 ASTOR torpedo and the Mark 105 Hotpoint nuclear bomb.
The Mk 101 Lulu was manufactured from 1958, and used until 1971. A total of 2,000 were produced. The Mark 45 ASTOR was produced from 1958 and used until 1976; 600 ASTOR were produced. The Mark 105 bomb was produced from 1958 until 1965, with 600 having been produced.

The design of the W34 has been described as identical to the fission primary of the B28 nuclear bomb by some sources. That would place it in the Python primary family of nuclear weapons. The dimensions and weight of the W34 are consistent with the W40 warhead, which is more solidly identified with the Python primary family of weapons.
The Mark 90 nuclear bomb, given the nickname "Betty", was a cold war nuclear depth charge, developed by the United States in 1952. It had a length of 10 ft. 2 in., a diameter of 2 ft. 7.5 in., and a weight of 1,243 lb., and it carried a Mark 7 nuclear warhead with a yield of 5-10 kilotons. Its purpose was to serve as an anti-submarine weapon for the United States Navy.
A test of the Mark 90 was conducted in 1955, as Operation Wigwam. All units were withdrawn from service by 1960.

On September 25, 1959, a United States Navy Martin P5M-2 Marlin (BuNo 135540, SG tailcode, '6', of VP-50) was patrolling out of NAS Whidbey Island when it was forced to ditch in the Pacific Ocean, about 100 miles west of the Washington-Oregon border.
A Mark 90 depth charge casing was lost and never recovered, but it was not fitted with an active warhead. The ten crew members were rescued by the US Coast Guard, after ten hours in a raft. The press was not notified at the time.


Nuclear ASROC launch from USS Agerholm (DD-826) 
Operation Dominic was a series of 31 nuclear test explosions with a 38.1 megaton total yield conducted in 1962 by the United States at Johnston Island, Johnston Atoll; Kiritimati (Christmas Island), Kiribati and in the Pacific Ocean off California This test series was scheduled quickly, in order to respond in kind to the Soviet resumption of testing after the tacit 1958-1961 test moratorium. Most of these shots were conducted with free-fall bombs dropped from B-52 bomber aircraft. Twenty of these shots were to test new weapons designs; six to test weapons effects; and several shots to confirm the reliability of existing weapons. The Thor missile was also used to lift warheads into near-space to conduct high altitude nuclear explosion tests; these shots were collectively called Operation Fishbowl.
Of the number of tests conducted in Operation Dominic, only one utilized underwater nuclear weapons and, as such, is of interest to U.S. Navy Minemen. Each exercise was identified by a subset name. In this case, the operation was known as "Operation Dominic Swordfish." It was conducted in the Pacific Ocean off California (31.245°N 124.212°W ) on 11 May 1962 at 20:02:05.9.  The full scale RUR-5 ASROC ASW, plutonium implosion, rocket proof test was fired from USS Agerholm (DD-826) at target 4,348 yards away. The weapon never rose higher than 165 feet above the sea surface.

The nuclear device, identified by its military designation, W44, a nuclear warhead used on the ASROC tactical anti-submarine missile system, or more properly, a nuclear depth charge. The W44 had basic dimensions of 13.75 inches diameter and 25.3 inches length, a weight of 170 pounds, and a yield of 10 kilotons. The W44 was in service from 1961 to 1989. A total of 575 weapons were produced. It was probably the same basic design as the Tsetse primary, or fission bomb core used on the B43 nuclear bomb, W50 nuclear warhead, B57 nuclear bomb, and W59 nuclear warhead.

MK 45 Astor nuclear torpedo

The Mark 45 anti-submarine nuclear torpedo, a.k.a. ASTOR, was a submarine-launched wire-guided nuclear torpedo designed by the United States Navy for use against high-speed, deep-diving, enemy submarines. The 19-inch (480 mm)-diameter torpedo was fitted with a W34 nuclear warhead. The need to maintain direct control over the warhead meant that a wire connection had to be maintained between the torpedo and submarine until detonation. Wire guidance systems were piggybacked onto this cable, and the torpedo had no homing capability. The design was completed in 1960, and 600 torpedoes were built between 1963 and 1976, when ASTOR was replaced by the Mark 48 torpedo.
This electrically propelled, 19-inch (480 mm)-diameter torpedo was 227 inches (5,800 mm) long and weighed 2,400 pounds. The W34 nuclear warhead used in ASTOR had an explosive yield of 11 kilotons.The requirement for positive control of nuclear warheads meant that ASTOR could only be detonated by a deliberate signal from the firing submarine, which necessitated a wire link. Because of this, the torpedo was only fitted with wire guidance systems (transmitted over the same link), and had no homing capability.The torpedo had a range of 5 to 8 miles (8.0 to 12.9 km). By replacing the nuclear warhead and removing the wire guidance systems, the torpedo could be reconfigured for unguided launch against surface targets.

Development of ASTOR was completed in 1960 and it entered service in 1963. Approximately 600 torpedoes were built by 1976, when the torpedo was replaced by the Mark 48 torpedo. The ASTORs were collected, fitted with conventional warheads and wake homing guidance systems, then sold to foreign navies as the Mark 45 Mod 1 Freedom Torpedo.


U/W blast from MK 45  Astor nuclear torpedo

See also Operation Wigwam for a complete list of other NDB (nuclear depth bombs) 

For a complete list on unclassified U.S. nuclear devices, refer to this site.

[Material from this article and references may be freely found on Wikipedia]

Who is this young MN3 shown here when he was home on leave? 


Please let me know if you can identify this Mineman.