USS Dogfish (SS-350)

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What's Bugging You, Chief? [1964]

Submitted By: Ken Caye

I reported to the USS Dogfish (SS350) on 24 Sep 1964. A day or two later, I stood my first Duty Chief day under instruction with Chief George Thomas, EMC(SS). The day had been uneventful. After an excellent evening meal and the cleaning up of the crew's mess, we started the evening's entertainment - a movie.

The duty projectionist performed his task flawlessly. I had taken my position leaning up against the cozy stainless steel partition between the mess and the galley.

The end of the first reel brought the lights back on. That's when all hell broke out. The damn bulkhead was alive, or so it seemed. Everywhere I looked was man's oldest mascot, the cockroach. They were everywhere, and I hate them from a really bad little boyhood experience when I woke up with them crawling across my chest.

I was outraged that one of "my" submarines was so infested. Upon inquiring what had been done about it, I was told--NOTHING! Seems the XO thought it better kept on the boat and didn't want to go to Squadron Medical for help. Besides, the problem didn't exist in the Forward Battery. Guess the roaches didn't like old goats and gold.

Naturally, the critters had run for cover when the lights came on. The start of the second reel, and under the cover of darkness, we began to see them coming out to join us. After all, this was one of the cockroaches favorite movies.

At the end of the second reel, we saw them headed for the wire ways and back into the lockers. I asked one of the mess cooks to get me an empty jar with a cover. I was now ready for the end of the movie. When the lights came on again, I pounced on the roaches like an anteater on an ant hill. Scooped them into the jar. When I had a sufficient quantity, I headed for the Officer's Pantry. Told the duty steward to move over so I could get under the sink. He didn't have the faintest idea what I was planning..

I shook the roaches out of the jar. Now there was a roach problem in the Forward Battery! How long was it going to take to get action. Morning would tell.

As soon as the XO came aboard I rapped on the doorframe and pulled back the curtain stating, "XO, we've got a cockroach problem on this boat." I told him that we even had it in the Forward Battery now. He said he hadn't seen any there. I told him that several of the After Battery roaches had been given PCS orders after the movie and I had even supplied the transportation.

We then had a little discussion about the fact that I was going to go to Squadron office and demand a transfer to a boat that was not infested.

We were scheduled to go into the ARD in a couple of days. The first evolution after the ARD was pumped down started with the base health folks coming down to get the boat ready to fumigate. When we were allowed on the boat again, we started the cleanup. We scooped them up by the dustpan full. It was incredible how many there were on the boat. No wonder cockroaches have been around throughout civilization - they do multiplication well.

So, I never did go to sea on a cockroach-infested Doggyboat. It proves that Yankee ingenuity can overcome many a nasty situation. And......being a sarcastic Chief doesn't hurt either.


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This page last updated: July 21, 2002