“Annie” and USS Bremerton SSN698
By Russ Woods, Plankowner, USS Bremerton
OK, shipmates this video has been around a day or two. Here’s a couple of trivia questions for you. In the video there is a moment where the diving klaxon is sounding. This is a non-stock klaxon with the name “Annie” painted on it. What is the origin of that klaxon? And who is Annie? I will provide the answers after a respectable amount of time has passed.
[No one in the FB group could provide the right answer, so Russ Woods enlightened us…]
OK, my Bremerton brothers it is as I suspected. The history of Annie has not been past on. Frankly I was very surprised to see her still onboard and being used. Kinda got a little thrill when I saw her in the video.
Most everyone should have heard if they did not experience it first hand the labor pains (pun intended) Mother Navy experienced in giving birth to Bremerton. It was a struggle to all in Navy blue connected in any way to her. We were mostly complete in the EB shipyard. Days away from our first sea trials. We were “in service” and flying the commissioning pennant. Galley was open and then the bad welds were discovered along with the hangars made with high carbon steel.
For the younger members of this group it was the design of our boat and her sisters to be able to withstand 100 G’s of instantaneous impact. I.E.. a close aboard nuclear detonation. The high carbon steel hangers would have shattered instantly in that situation creating much hate and discontent to us lowly swabs.
So after serious thought and verbal jousting between Capt. Anderson, the Admiral at the time whose name escapes me and the nefarious P. Takis Valiotus the head of Electric Boat the decision was made to change all of the suspect hangers which numbered in the heaps. And virtually every weld on the boat was re-inspected and either completed or redone as needed.
To facilitate this we as a crew were moved off the boat and into get this mobile homes and Winnebagos. We were virtually living on the Electric Boat shipyard. Only watchstanders and supervisory persons from the boat were allowed onboard.
Here is where the creative minds of young sailors were allowed to run free.
Onboard at this time was IC1(SS) John R. Wollseifen “Wolf” to us. I at the time was a snot-nosed, wet behind the ears IC3 and as Wolf was fond of saying to stupid to be afraid of electricity. Anywho with nothing but time on our hands Wolf and I would go exploring in the shipyard. We would visit the different “Codes” just to see what they did and perhaps what we could scavenge.
Wolf is a gregarious fellow that can engage anyone in conversation. In our ventures out he spotted this diving Klaxon. He inquired from the shop foreman if it indeed was a Klaxon of the “aaooooga” variety. And by golly it was. He engaged the foreman in conversation for a bit before exclaiming how neat it would be if we could have a Klaxon like that for Bremerton.
Now I cannot be sure if the shop foreman could care less about this device since it was not going to ever be installed as stock equipment on another boat produced there or if he felt sorry for us swabs who were enduring the rigors of an extended shipyard stay. Bottom line, he gave Wolf the Klaxon and out the door we hustled.
Now instead of heading back to the boat as I suspected we would do, Wolf says, “Come with me I got an idea.” Over to the paint shop we go. He spies a lady painter he had made friends with previously, and no, close your dirty minds, he did not know her in the marital way. What she had going for her was she was more than a person who spread paint. She also had the artistic hand.
Wolf asked her to paint the name “Annie” on the horn of the Klaxon. Annie was the name of his wife.
The lady painter broke out her brush and some black paint and in short order had “Annie” scrolled across the horn. Wolf was just beside himself in his pride and satisfaction. I was too, although I was nothing more than a tag along infected with his pride in what we had.
We brought our prize back to Bremerton and there would need to be some wiring done as she needed 120v to operate. Hence the power cord we installed in her.
The skipper was pleased with Annie but we were told when guests were on board, i.e. Admirals and such, we would keep her under wraps. When we did use her the COW had to hold the 1MC mike to the horn and push the button to sound the Klaxon. It was old school and we were as far as we knew the only 688 boat to have one. She was still there and in use when I left Bremerton in 1983.
As I said I was tickled to see her in use in the video above. And that is the story of how Annie came to Bremerton and got her name. So if Wolf is present when Bremerton is decommissioned I would hope he could have Annie. We will see.
USS Bremerton is home ported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and is scheduled for decommissioning in late 2017. The average lifespan of a submarine is expected to be about 30 years, although I did read an article recently that spoke of being able to keep boats in service for up to 40 years with the right combinations of upkeep. Bremerton clearly resides in the successful old-timer category.
Save the 698
Are you passionate about preserving the USS Bremerton in any way shape or form after her decommissioning for the benefit of the public and of naval history? You are invited to a new closed group forum on Facebook “SaveThe698” to be involved in public discussion related to Saving 698. You can see the group site by clicking HERE.