USS Casimir Pulaski (SSBN-633)

The Story Of A Cold War Warrior

Look But Don't Touch...

This page will deal with photographs of artifacts from the Casimir Pulaski herself.  They are, sadly, all that remains of this proud warship.  The items are owned by myself or are on loan from other crewmembers.  These photographs will hopefully give some insight into the legend of the Casimir Pulaski and at the same time, share a glimpse of what it was like to serve onboard her.

Exhibit 1: Lensatic Compass And Pouch

The standard military issue lensatic ("Engineer's") compass was standard issue in the escape kit and came stored in the common olive drab canvas utility pouch.  The pouch has an "Alice" clip on the back to attach it to your regulation belt prior to use.  The compass is shockproof and contains such submarine equipment trademarks such as brass parts and black bakelite construction.

Exhibit 2: Submarine Penlight With Pouch

Submarine operations are performed with as much frequency at night as during the day.  Therefore it is important to rig the control room and other spaces "for red."  The process of "rigging for red" is to turn off all lights except red lamps.  This keeps one's eyes accustomed to the dark for time periods when it will be neccesary to operate with the lights off.  The need for a flashlight to carry out tasks is coupled with the need for maintaining "rig for red" integrity.  The submarine penlight has a rotating black barrel at the tip with contains a red filter.  Turning the barrel changes the beam from white to red to enable operation during "rig for red" operations.  The light itself is constructed out of a brass tube with a black bakelite barrel.  The light operates on two AA batteries.  The nylon pouch is open ended with no closure to facilitate constant resheathing of the light.

Exhibit 3: Ship's Patch

 

The Casimir Pulaski had one of the more colorful ship's patches in the submarine fleet.  The patches were for wearing on the standard blue working jacket or the submarine coveralls ("poop suit").  The patch shows the ship's motto in Latin, and a stylized spining atom, representing the nuclear propulsion. 

Exhibit 4: Cloth Submarine Warfare Insignia

These patches were designed to be sown on to the standard issue submarine coveralls above the left breast pocket.  By having a patch of "dolphins" instead of a physical pin, the wearer was freed from having to pin an actual set of dolphins onto his coveralls each time.  A matching set of cloth rank patches was also available.  Unfortunately, a limited supply of these cloth uniform items was available.

Exhibit 5: Bausch And Lomb Stereoscope

This device was used for interpreting photographs taken through the periscope with any camera capable of being fitted to the periscope eyepiece.  The different rings had graduation marks to simulate the different types of power (high power and low power) that the periscope may have been in.  The viewer could then use the stereoscope to determine how far away the image was from the submarine.  The scope was stored in a brown leather case.

Exhibit 6: Rig For Red Goggles

These glasses would be worn during normal ship's lighting conditions by watchstanders who would be operating under night conditions.  These glasses would keep the wearer's eyes accustomed to the dark.   The main watchstander wearers would be the Officer Of The Deck (OOD), the Fire Control Technician Of The Watch (FTOW), Quartermaster Of The Watch (QMOW) and sometimes the Chief Of The Watch (COW). 

Exhibit 6: Mark 2 Desalter Kit

The Mark 2 Desalter Kit was specially developed by Electric Boat for submarine use where space is at a premium.  The kit itself weighs close to a pound and is stored inside a waterproof metal can.  The can is sealed with waterproof tape until ready for use.  The purpose of the kit was to provide a means to obtain drinking water by a submariner or group of submariners who have escaped from a submarine and are on their own.

Inside the can is a waterproof bag with filter, eight blocks of desalination chemical and a card with more waterproof tape for mending the bag, should the bag obtain a rip.  The chemical is crumbled into the bag and then the bag is filled with salt water.  After shaking the bag, the water should be safe to drink though a small amount of salt is left in for health reasons.

At the bottom of the bag is a filter to prevent any of the chemical sediment from entering your mouth while drinking.  The kits were stored in the escape trunks and surrounding spaces so that every group of four escaping submariners could take a kit or two.

Should the bag be ripped beyond repair of the mending tape, the can itself can be used though the amount of drinking water would be reduced by a considerable amount. 

Exhibit 7: Submariners Knife

The knife, made by Camillus of New York, known for their military issue knives is one of the more interesting pieces of military cutlery.  Optimized for submarine use, the knife has two blades; a cutting blade and a flat edge screwdriver blade that is also sharpened.  The screwdriver blade is the only blade that locks.  The sharpened edge on the screwdriver acts as a wire striper.  The black bakelite body is for safety from electric shocks.  The knife is several ounces heavier than a normal knife giving a slight hammer functionality.  All submariner's carry knives and although most prefer personally chosen tools, the Pulaski had more than enough of these knives should anyone want one.

Exhibit 8: Ship's Patch Tie-Tack

Your choice when wearing a Navy uniform tie for securing it is pretty minimal.  The standard issue silver tone bar is quite boring.  Enter this piece of fine jewelery, courtesy of one of the many ship's store vendors that ply their wares throughout the various squadron offices.  The tie-tack is a miniature copy of the ship's patch with a jeweler's back and securing chain.

Exhibit 9: UK Royal Navy Submarine Dolphins

This submarine warfare qualification badge was obtained during a port call to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  A Canadian submarine sailor traded it for a set of US Navy "dolphins" which I was only too happy to provide.  The badge is gold for either enlisted or officer as opposed to the US Navy tradition of silver dolphins for enlisted personnel and gold for officer personnel.

Exhibit 10: Steinke Hood

The hood, named for the inventor, is half submarine escape device and half life-jacket.  This is one of the original batch from 1960 that was allotted for SSBN use.  The wearer uses this device to escape from a sunken submarine and then, once on the surface, the device functions like a normal life jacket.  There were enough hood's onboard for all the crew plus extras.  The hoods were stored in canvas bags with a strap and were in two locations; the torpedo room and the engine room which is where the two escape trunks were.  The hood contained everything needed for a successful escape from a submarine.  Escaping from a submarine entails filling one's lungs with oxygen and then exhaling all the way to the surface.  The hood was built to make sure the wearer did as instructed; there was a nose plug to prevent breathing through the nose, a mouthpiece that closed to prevent the wearer from exhaling at the wrong time and ear plugs to prevent punctured ear drums. 

The wearer would grab a hood and throw away the canvas bag, but keep the strap.  The strap would be threaded through a loop on back and serve as a normal life jacket belt.  The wearer would insert the ear plugs and nose plug and bite down on the mouth piece.  The hood would remain deflated as the wearer entered the escape trunk.  Upon entering the escape the trunk, the wearers would connect their hoods to the air supply, inflating them, using the connection at the bottom of the hood.

This particular hood is missing the canvas bag and nose plug.  The connection is covered by a flap to keep out debris when not in use.  Once the hood starts filling with air, the wearer will close the mouth piece.  This then fills the wearer's lungs with air.  Once everyone's hoods are inflated and the pressure in the escape trunk has equalized with sea pressure, the trunk will be opened and the escape will commence.  The escape trunk has room for four submariners.  Once the order is given to escape, the wearers will open their mouth pieces and begin their ascent to the surface.  Once there, the black tube is used to manually inflate the life jacket should it lose some of it's air.  The tube is slipped inside a sheath when not in use.

Once on the surface, the wearer could either keep the hood part of the device on or unzip it.  Once unzipped, the hood could be used to catch rain water, etc.  Notice the large viewing window and the plastic mouth piece valve.

The pouch below the inflator tube contained shark repellent (ha ha) but the earlier hoods contained a nifty emergency fishing kit complete with hooks, line, lures, etc.  The kit came in a waterproof/shockproof container and also included a handy pamplet with fishing instructions.  The rule of thumb was that every other man in the escape trunk would have a shark repellent equipped hood and the fishing kit in the others.

Assuming you survived the initial submarine combat there would invariably be flooding or a fire to contend with.  Then, there's the physical trauma of the actual escape itself.  Once on the surface, the last thing on your mind would probably be fishing, but hey...maybe that's just me.

Exhibit 11: Meritorious Unit Commendation

This is the original, signed citation received by the USS Casimir Pulaski when awarded her Meritorious Unit Commendation in 1986.  A photocopy of this original citation was placed in each crew member's service record.  A color photocopy was provided to the Gold crew, with the Blue crew retaining the original.

Exhibit 12: Uniform Shoulder Tab

The shoulder tab is worn on the right shoulder uniform sleeve and carries the ship or command name to which the wearer is stationed.  This USS Casimir Pulaski shoulder tab is courtesy of Walter Tanski who served onboard the Pulaski.

Exhibit 13: Commissioning Booklet

This pamphlet comes to us courtesy of Plankowner Charles Scheer who was there when it all started!  The booklet has a heavy stock cover and a placeholder cord with a metal card attached.  The card has the ship's emblem engraved onto it and the reverse side of the card has the boat's specifics (date launched, etc) engraved.  You can download the complete booklet on the "Downloads And Other Cool Stuff" section of the Links page.

Exhibit 14: Count Pulaski Patch

This is the famous "Count Pulaski" patch which was commissioned sometime in the late 1960's by an unknown source.  The emblem found it's way onto cigarette lighters, stationary, even the nose of the boat herself as evidenced by this photo of the boat in dry dock in Holy Loch, Scotland.

Thanks to Don Ward for sharing the patch and the photo.  Don served onboard the Gold crew in the 1970's and deployed out of Holy Loch, Scotland.

Exhibit 15: Gold Crew Welcome Aboard Booklet

This is the Gold Crew's Welcome Aboard Booklet, courtesy of Gold Crewmember, Don Ward.  The complete booklet can be downloaded from the "Downloads And Other Cool Stuff" section of the Links page.

Exhibit 16: 20th Anniversary Cover

 

To mark the 20th anniversary of her commission, a special stamp was issued for use on letters and official correspondence.  This cover displays that stamp impression prominently.  The stamp is a black and white copy of the ship's official patch.  The cover is courtesy of Tom Olson who served onboard during the 1980's.

Exhibit 17: Belt Buckles, Lighter And Mugs

This quality collection showcases some of the beautiful items that the ship store vendors made available to the crew at the off-crew office.  The two beer mugs were see through glass while the buckles were highly polished brass with a bronze effect set of tradition dolphins.  The lighter is the standard brushed aluminum Zippo.  The back of the lighter is visible in this photograph and portrays the "Count Pulaski" emblem of Count Casimir Pulaski, hat pulled down over his eyes with sword drawn.

The front of the lighter shows the traditional ship's patch and an engraved set of dolphins.  Buckles, lighter and mugs courtesy of Walker Bousman who served onboard the Gold Crew from 1978 to 1980.

Exhibit 18: Forty One For Freedom Poster

A poster of this type adorned the passageways and/or wardrooms of pretty much every US Navy Cold War SSBN.  The poster is standard Navy issue and has a miniature of each SSBN's namesake portrait.  Poster courtesy of Walter Tanski who served onboard the Pulaski.

Exhibit 19: Ship's Portrait

This is the ship's official, US Navy portrait that was proudly displayed onboard the Pulaski.  Each US Navy vessel has an official portrait somewhere onboard.  Pulaski's was missing when I reported onboard in the mid 1980's.  Photograph courtesy of Walter Tanski who served onboard the Pulaski. 

Exhibit 20: Ship's Plaque

This plaque was a standard retirement, re-enlistment or transferring gift to a departing Pulaski crewman.  This example of a brass plaque on a wooden base is courtesy of Walter Tanski who served onboard the Pulaski.  By the time I reported onboard in the mid 1980's, the plaque design had changed. 

The wooden plaque is larger and incorporates a set of bronze dolphins, FBM Deterrent Patrol pin ("Pocket Rocket") and a Meritorious Unit Citation ribbon, Battle Efficiency "E" ribbon and National Defense ribbon.  The main plaque component is made of bronze colored resin.

Exhibit 21: Bumper Sticker

This is the famous "Count Pulaski" emblem, as printed on a bumper sticker.  A few of these stickers were still to be found, fixed to locker doors and equipment onboard the Pulaski.  Sticker courtesy of crewmember Tom Olson.