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Enders P. Huey oral history interview, February 5, 1994

Date: Feb. 05 1994 | Identifier: OH0144
Captain Huey comments on his background and his experiences at the U.S. Naval Academy; his service aboard the USS RICHMOND, operating out of Pearl Harbor in 1941 and off the coast of South America during 1942; and submarine duty in the South Pacific in the USS PERMIT. Of particular interest is a description of the sinking of a Russian trawler in the Sea of Japan. Postwar experiences include details of duty in the USS SKATE at Bikini during the atomic tests in 1946. Interviewer: Donald R. Lennon. more...



EAST CAROLINA MANUSCRIPT COLLECTIONORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW
Capt. Enders P. Huey
USNA Class of 1941
February 5, 1994
Interview #1

Donald R. Lennon:

What we'd like for you to do, Captain Huey, is to think back on your childhood before you went to the Academy, why you went to the Academy, and any experiences that come to mind while you were there. Then move through your career with your various commands.

Enders P. Huey:

O.K.

Donald R. Lennon:

What about your background, your childhood? Where are you from and where did you go to school?

Enders P. Huey:

I was reared in Cisco, Texas, which is maybe a couple hundred miles west of Dallas. One of the people that I worked with in Cisco was Leon Maynard(?), who was the owner of the city drug company, which was obviously a pharmaceutical thing. He had gone to the University of Texas and was a pretty well-rounded fellow.

Mr. Maynard(?) thought I should go to West Point. Typically, when he made some suggestions like that, I'd give it a go. My dad knew the congressman and I put in to go to West Point, but all of his appointments there and to Annapolis were already filled at that



time. Consequently, I ended up going to the junior college in Cisco, Randolph Junior College. It turned out to be a pretty pitiful excuse for a junior college. I think the Christian Church pastor, Reverend McKissick, was the president. He also taught history and was sort of a “pontificater.” Because Mr. Maynard had given me books and ideas about books to read at the local library, and had talked with me about them, I soon realized that Reverend McKissick was giving us incorrect information. He would get his stories mixed up, get them in the wrong country or in the wrong time frame. I ended up not staying at the junior college because of that.

I went up to Abilene, which is about fifty miles from Cisco, and got a job with an ice cream company, dishing out ice cream cones and that sort of thing. When they moved the company they invited me to go down to San Angelo where their factory was. I moved down there and worked as an ice cream dispenser in the front of the factory that made the ice cream. I had been down there for a short while when they decided they wanted to open a retail ice cream store in town. I got the job of opening that up and running it. Various people would come in and talk to me and several of them would “plug” one of the academies. So again, I put in for West Point but all of the appointment slots were filled. Unfortunately, they were also all filled at the Naval Academy.

One day, maybe six months after we opened the retail store, I got a call from one of the congressman's assistants. He said one of their appointees to the Naval Academy had dropped out after being there just two or three weeks and that the appointment was open. If I was interested, I should go down to Dallas and take a physical. If I passed the physical, I could go on up there.



So, that's how I got into the Academy and why I arrived a little over a month after my classmates. That doesn't sound like much, but I had a lot of catching up to do.

Donald R. Lennon:

A lot of them had been to prep schools or had a year of college behind them.

Enders P. Huey:

Yes, and I had had maybe a year and a half at that crappy junior college. I had never had that much trouble with my grades, however. I went into a room with three other classmates and I got along with them alright. One of them bilged out his plebe year. In any event, I enjoyed the Academy.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did you take part in any sports or extra-curricular activities?

Enders P. Huey:

I was not a very good athlete. I played a little tennis, but I wasn't good enough to play on the tennis team. We would play just among our class. We'd play some form of catch football, but the people who were actually going out for football were much better athletes than the group that I played with. I had done some debating in high school and I did some of that at the Acadmy, but not to any great extent. I was not a spectacular “striper” or anything like that at the Academy. I was sort of “middle-of-the-road.”

Donald R. Lennon:

Any particular incidents or individuals that stuck in your mind? I know several people over the years have talked about Uncle Beanie and incidents they were involved in.

Enders P. Huey:

He was one of the executive officers there. He had a wonderful sense of humor and good rapport. I think our class may have adopted him sometime before we graduated. I have very fond memories of him. It wouldn't be uncommon for there to be a knock on our door, the door would bang open, and in Uncle Beanie would come with his white gloves on and his sword on to inspect the room or just to see what the hell we were up to. But he was always friendly about it.



Donald R. Lennon:

He was always fair in dealing with you. Once you graduated early in 1941, your first assignment was to the RICHMOND?

Enders P. Huey:

Yes, as you probably know, if you've been interviewing these characters, we drew lots for when we got to choose our ship. My number was such that when it came my time to choose, I could choose only between a battleship or a cruiser. The destroyers were gone.

Donald R. Lennon:

Most people wanted destroyer duty?

Enders P. Huey:

A smaller ship was where you'd have a chance to do something. My idea was that if you got on a big ship, it would be a long time before you'd get to be a department head.

Donald R. Lennon:

Particularly a battleship or a carrier assignment.

Enders P. Huey:

It turned out that that was about the way it was. I went to the RICHMOND, which was a cruiser, but the luck of the draw was that it was a cruiser that was also the flagship for ComSubPac, Commander Submarine Pacific Fleet. Pearl Harbor was its home port.

When we graduated from the Academy, we got some leave and, as in my case, I was going out to the Pacific on some travel time. It happened that when I got out there, the RICHMOND was not in port. I knew that it tied up to the submarine base, so it seemed logical to put in for a room in the “O Club” there and be ready for them when they got in. So, I had maybe two or three weeks there rummaging around the sub-base. I had a chance to look at a submarine tender and some of the submarines. They also had a diving tower and a lot of other things that I wasn't familiar with at all. It was interesting to me at the time.

When the RICHMOND came in, I reported aboard. I paid my respects to the captain and then the exec talked to me for quite a bit. The RICHMOND had a working



arrangement where they started the junior officers in a deck division. We'd be an assistant division officer and learn the trade from that and, then, they would shift us around from a deck division to an engineering division. They had a computer up in forward control, which is way up high on the forward arrangement, and I got to be the operator for it for a while, which was a good experience. Then I got rotated down to engineering and was down there for a while. It was, I think, a fair way to break a young officer in, and I thought they did a good job of it. Because of the RICHMOND being the flagship for ComSubPac, there were a lot of officers on there who had been in submarines. They were familiar with what the RICHMOND did. The skipper, when I was on there, was a guy named John H. Brown Jr., who had been a very successful submarine skipper, and the exec was an aviator, a lighter-than-air guy. There were a lot of competent people on there and I was happy to be there. When my class was invited to request submarine duty, I put in for it and I got sent back to sub school.

Donald R. Lennon:

During the summer of 1941, the RICHMOND was doing maneuvers off of Pearl and throughout the area, was it not?

Enders P. Huey:

That was what it was doing when I first got there, but there was a command change-up and it went back to the States about the time the war started. Then we were around San Diego for a while.

Donald R. Lennon:

So, you had come back to California in December.

Enders P. Huey:

Something like that. We were not in Pearl Harbor at the time of the Japanese attack. We were back on the West Coast. Then we went down to the Panama Canal. The idea was just to have a combatant ship down there in case the Japanese made a pass at it. My



skipper, Captain Brown, thought it would be a good idea if we'd go out--this is about a month after the war started--and look around the islands that were off the Pacific Coast near the canal to see that there weren't any Japanese coming in to try and plug up the canal. That, of course, would have interfered with our moving ships back and forth.

We went to an island that belonged to one of the South American nations. I don't recall the name of the island. They had a command set up there and the skipper sent the exec in to talk to this guy. The exec wanted somebody that could speak Spanish and I had taken it at the Academy, although, I was something less than fluent. We went in and I was able to communicate to him the captain's concern and what the exec was trying to learn. One of the questions was whether there had been any Japanese shipping of any kind that they had observed. He said, “No,” they hadn't seen any. We had a cup of coffee and, before we left, he invited us to let the crew come ashore if we'd like to. We went back to the skipper with the message. We had gone in and paid our call about ten o'clock and we had gotten back to the ship around eleven o'clock. About twelve o'clock, the captain says, “Liberty for two sections.” They went over and some of the officers went over. I did not go back then. When the ship prepared to leave that afternoon, everybody was back except one reserve ensign, a Mr. Camel. He was missing. The skipper said, “Well, maybe if we leave him here, he'll learn a lesson. We'll up anchor and depart at four o'clock.” He made this announcement at something like one or two o'clock. We had put a recall flag up and people were coming back. (We had boats going back and forth bringing them back). So, bigger than hell, it was four o'clock and Mr. Camel was not back! We up-anchored. About that time here came a little “putt-putt,” putting out towards us. It was Ensign Camel. He'd hired



a horse and the horse had thrown him, so he had had to walk back. We thought it was pretty amusing and pretty typical of this guy. He was forever getting. . . .

Donald R. Lennon:

To be left behind on some little island off the coast of South America. . . .

Enders P. Huey:

The RICHMOND went with some convoys in the early part of the war, but we didn't encounter any opposition. We ended up, I think, in Bora Bora, where the Army was going to put the better part of a division to defend the island. We were ticked off to stay there until they got some guns in place. So, we anchored in that beautiful big harbor. It's a beautiful place; it has little islands sort of strung around the big island there. We'd get our work done by noon, have lunch, and go over to what we called Richmond Island there and go swimming and sunning and whatnot.

We'd been there maybe two or three weeks when a report came in that somebody had spotted a Japanese submarine off the harbor. We had two SOC aircraft on there and the senior pilot was a guy [William Lamberson] out of the Class of '38, three years my senior. He was a jg, sort of a wild man, but a very attractive fellah. The skipper said he thought if we could fly out there before dawn, we might catch the guy on the surface. If we were going to do it, however, we ought to tell the Army so the commander would know that it was a friendly airplane and also what we were planning to do. The skipper selected another ensign--we called him “Sunshine”--to communicate with the Army. “Sunshine” wanted somebody to go with him. I said, “I'll go with you.” We waited until an hour or so after dark and went over in one of the ship's boats. They had one of their cars and a driver there waiting for us. Everything was all blacked out and it was pretty spooky going up there, but we made it and delivered the message. The command ashore said to be sure and



thank the captain for giving him the “dope” and they'd be on the lookout for the submarine, also.

When we got back to the ship the jos were still up drinking coffee in the wardroom and we sat around shooting the breeze with them. In a little while in came the aviator [Lamberson] looking for volunteers to go on that morning flight with him to see if they could catch the submarine on the surface. He didn't get any volunteers so I said that I would go with him.

We rolled out about five o'clock in the morning. The aircraft was an SOC, which has pontoon-like things that give it floatation. The aviator was in the front cockpit and I was in the back cockpit. We got hoisted over the side and Lamberson said, “Have you got your seatbelt on?” I said, “Hell, no. Where is it?” I had never been in one of those damn things before. It was down on either side, if I'd been smart enough to look down there for it. So, I snapped that in. This was the first thing in the morning. It was quite early. The sun was not up and the idea was for us to get airborne and catch the guy on the surface. We cranked the thing up and lifted off. The wind direction was from the island, so we were taking off right toward the island. We got up, not very high, and as we were approaching the island, we turned parallel to the coast. As we turned we lost some altitude so we were just barely above the surface skipping along. I had my head out looking, trying to see where we were going, and I saw this god-dang barrier down there. It was something the Army had built to unload the guns and ammunition off the ships. We didn't clear it. It caught our pontoon and we flipped that baby over. Of course, we were going, I don't know, maybe a



hundred miles an hour by the time we were airborne. Whatever it was, we weren't going fast enough to clear that thing or to get the altitude.

When I came to, I was hanging by my seatbelt with part of me under water. As I said, this was the first time I had been in that particular thing and the guy that Lamberson had had flying back there had reversed the seatbelt. Normally, you put in the seatbelt and it clips, and if you want to unclip it, you've got to pull it up. Well, I was hanging there by this thing, trying to unclip it, and the son of a bitch would not unclip. What he had done was turn it around so that he could have his hand on that to free himself while he was giving his radio transmitter--sending Morse code--right up until they would flip out of the thing. In any event, I saw that, and when I did, I pulled it and, of course, that dropped me on my noggin back into the water. I was hanging out of the water, because the water was so shallow where we hit in there. About the time that happened, the pilot had gotten out and came thrashing back to help me. I said, “That was a piss poor maneuver!”

The ship's crew saw it and sent a boat over and got us. We went back the next day and got the airplane back aboard, but it was just junk.

Donald R. Lennon:

Was there not a danger that that sub would have come in at night and torpedoed the RICHMOND?

Enders P. Huey:

I guess there was a possibility of that and, of course, we had people on the lookout all the time. You've got to put yourself in the position of the Japanese. If they didn't have the charts or the experience of going in and out of that harbor, they were more apt to try to pick our ships off coming or going.

Donald R. Lennon:

It would have been hazardous for him to try and get into that harbor.



Enders P. Huey:

If he had, almost for sure, he would have tried to come in on the surface as opposed to being submerged. That may seem like it ought to be easy, but as an old submarine guy, I can tell you that it ain't necessarily easy. In any event, he didn't try to do that and we never saw him.

When we got back to the ship, I had been soaked pretty much, so I changed clothes and went to the wardroom for a cup of coffee. The skipper decided we needed to tell the Army command about what had happened. They might be able to spot the sub the next morning and if they had a gun in place, they might be able to at least spook them some. The communicator was another ensign named Coleman. He, too, wanted somebody to go over there with him, so I ended up going. There was no problem in the boat getting over there, and there was a car waiting for us, but all along that road, there were soldiers with live ammunition in their guns and they hadn't been alerted to the car coming. We could hear the “snick, snick” as they put a bullet in the chamber as we approached. That was sort of spooky, but we got that done and we came on back.

The RICHMOND operated in the vicinity of the Panama Canal and then, a little later on, further out in the Pacific, but I didn't really see any action while I was on there. That lone airplane incident was the only time we were aware of a Japanese threat. My class was asked to volunteer for sub school and I did.

Donald R. Lennon:

So, you went to sub school in September of 1942.

Enders P. Huey:

Yes. The sub school had a thing they called an attack teacher. I don't know whether you're familiar with it or not. If you are, stop me. It was set up just like the conning tower of a submarine. There was a periscope in the center and we “upped” that



periscope just like we would do on a submarine. We had auxiliary equipment around it just like in a submarine. The ceiling was laid out so that when we looked through the periscope it looked like what we would expect if we were on an actual submarine. They even had little model ships that moved around by computers. We could get set-ups on them and prepare our torpedoes and shoot at them. We didn't really shoot at them, but we went through the business of solving the problem of their course and speed. Back in the olden days, that was done by using an “is-was,” which was a computer kind of a thing, a celluloid round thing.

Donald R. Lennon:

It was called an is-was?

Enders P. Huey:

Yes. That's where it “is” and here's where it “was.” That was the idea. We also ran a plot. We did that for a while. It was not all that difficult.

When the sub school officer was giving us the tour, I saw a computer there on the wall and I asked the officer if we “could use that, please?”

He said, “Oh, no.”

I said, “Well, why not?”

He said, “Well, we're going to teach you the fundamentals here. We're not going to waste your time with how to run that.”

I said “Well, who do I have to see if you're not going to let me?”

He said, “Well, you can talk to the department head, Commander Bart Bacon.”

I said, “I'll be happy to.” Bart was the old submariner who was there. I asked him and he said, “Enders, there's only one person who can let you do that and that is the officer in charge of the submarine school and I know you don't want to go see him.”



I said, “The hell I don't, Commander.” I asked some of my classmates and a couple of others to go with me and we went down there into the “holy of holys.” It took Karl Hensel probably five minutes to tell us, not only “No,” but “Hell, no” and “Go on back and stop interrupting the sub school schedule.”

One of the things that Karl Hensel said--which was particularly amusing with the way things worked out--was, “When you get aboard your first submarine, you're not going to be doing that. You're going to be either plotting the bearings and ranges or you're going to be helping get the periscope lined up or something like that. You're not going to be on the computer. They'll have somebody who knows what they're doing.”

I said, “I think I could maybe learn that better if I had some of your good teachers explain it to me and show me how to do it.”

He said, “No way.”

After I got out of submarine school, I was assigned to the PERMIT. (My skipper from the RICHMOND was the squadron commander there and he had something to do with where I got sent.) The skipper of the PERMIT was “Moon” [Wreford G.] Chapple, Class of 1930, who had been a big football player at the Academy and really, quite a wonderful person, I thought. I got aboard and he said, “Well, tell me where you've been.” So, I told him my little experiences on the RICHMOND and that I had worked the computer. He said, “Glad to hear that. We've got a TDC and I haven't gotten a satisfactory. . . . I'd like you to take over the TDC.” This is the day I walked aboard.

“Yes sir, Captain.” It was a Mark I TDC. The newer submarines all had Mark III's.



The chief of fire control was in charge of the computer. His name was Bush and he was a really smart guy. The Mark I TDC, which was about the size of this tape recorder, had an analyzing position. If you put two ranges in bearings in there, it would solve the course and speed for that particular set-up. Unfortunately, nobody knew how to run the thing. This chief fire controlman was smart as hell, but he had been to school on maintenance, not on operation. In point of fact, I don't know how long the PERMIT had had that thing, but they really didn't have . . . .

Donald R. Lennon:

Any expertise?

Enders P. Huey:

No. I talked to the fire controlman and he really couldn't give me any answers. I talked to the guy that had been running it--they had been on a couple of patrols or so--and he said, “You know, Enders, I never did get that figured out.”

I went back to the captain and said, “If I'm going to work this, I want to work it right. There must be somebody the hell around here who knows how. If you don't mind, let me go up and talk to the commodore and see if he can send somebody down here to help us.”

So, I go up--this next part is wonderful--to see Dave Brown, the commodore. He had been a football player at the Academy and had been my skipper there [on the RICHMOND], and he had put up with me remarkably well, I thought.

He said, “Enders, I've got just the guy for you. Karl Hensel has just come out of sub school.” (This was the guy who said I wasn't going to be able to touch that thing.) He said, “When do you want him to come down there?”

I said, “Gee, whenever it's convenient for him.”



He said, “No, I'll get him down whenever you want.”

I said, “Well, time is a-wasting and I'd like to get on with this.”

He said, “Well, how about one o'clock this afternoon?”

I said, “That would be fine with me.”

So, something like twelve thirty, I went topside to watch for him. He came down and needless to say, I didn't refer to what he had said, but I said, “We just need some help. The ship doesn't have anybody who really understands this, and although I think I can understand something about the analyzing, I'd sure like to have somebody really show me how to do it. Could we set up a problem and have you solve it for me?”

Well, we went down there and, bigger than hell, he didn't know how to do it. This was a smart guy. He was out of the Class of 1930 and really a sharp guy, but he had never been involved in running a g-d computer. So, he kept wanting to give me some theory and I kept saying, “Well, why don't we just solve one of these things?” He put up with this for half an hour or forty-five minutes, but when he left, he hadn't really solved the problem of teaching Enders Huey how to work that g-d thing. I got my chief fire controlman and we worked on it until we got so that we could work it.

Donald R. Lennon:

You had to learn it on your own.

Enders P. Huey:

Yes.

In any event, I made several patrols in the PERMIT. Some of them were probably more interesting than others. On one occasion we were sent into the Sea of Japan, which meant we had to go through a couple of fairly narrow straits to get in there. The idea was there might be some Japanese shipping in there that we could knock off. Nobody would get



a crack at them if we didn't go in. We went in and successfully went through the straits submerged. If we had not gone in submerged and they had had artillery on either side, we would have been a sitting duck. We went in and bigger than hell and found a trawler-sized ship. It was sitting not too far off the coast of Japan and we could see antennae on it. We were not real sure what the hell it was all about, but the skipper decided that we would go in and get in range and use our four-inch forward gun to knock this thing out. (We were on the surface, of course, at this point.) It turned out that I was the gun captain, too. My people ran the gun, so I was up there doing the ranging for it, and I think our second shot hit the ship about at the water line. I guess we fired maybe five or six shots and about three or four of them hit the ship. I think one of them went over and I'm not sure where the other one went. We started closing in and as we got close to it, we could see that it was partially on fire and people were jumping off. We nosed on over there and picked up all of them we could. It turned out that about two thirds of them were women and they were not Japanese--and neither were the men--they were Russian. It was a Russian ELINT trawler that we had knocked off. One guy had been hit--this was with a four-inch gun--in the leg and he didn't live very long. I think we got him aboard and later buried him. We took the ones that we could get aboard and headed out. We had to go out again through the LaPerouse Strait and another strait to get out from the Sea of Japan where we had a little more open water.

The skipper wanted to report that we had those Russians aboard. They were very friendly. The skipper was going to put them ashore somewhere--I can't remember where--unless otherwise directed. But the word came back in, in an exceedingly rapid transmission, “Do not.” Repeat. “Do not do that. Proceed to the open seas and we'll give



you some directions.” They ended up telling us to take them up to Alaska, which we did. It was a lot of fun having those gals on there, because some of them were pretty cute. Of course, some of them were not so cute, but it was a diversion.

Donald R. Lennon:

Who would have thought they'd have women operating trawlers anyway? Maybe because all the men were at war.

Enders P. Huey:

It was an ELINT ship and it was collecting radio information. As the Japanese used their transmitters, this thing was picking it up.

I was on there [PERMIT] for something like seven patrols with “Moon” Chapple and we usually got a ship or two. However, as the war went on the Japanese ships were more scarce.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did you ever have a situation where you were in serious danger from Japanese destroyers? Any cases of you having to dive and stay down with depth charges?

Enders P. Huey:

We were depth-charged several times, but we were never damaged by any of them. Maybe we were too cautious. I don't know. In any event, we came back and that has some merit in it, particularly if you're riding a submarine.

I thought that “Moon” Chapple was a hell of a guy. He had a good sense of humor and lots of staying power; probably wasn't the smartest submarine operator I ever saw, but he wasn't dumb. The exec was a little sawed-off guy out of the Class of '35 named [John Jay] Flachsenhar and he was smart. The third officer was out of the Class of '39 and he had a good sense of humor.

Donald R. Lennon:

So, you had a good situation with the officers.



Enders P. Huey:

Good people to learn from. After my time in the PERMIT, I was sent back to new construction and put a new submarine--a Manitowoc-built submarine--in commission. We did our initial trials in the Great Lakes. Then to get the ship out to sea, we had to go down the Mississippi. We could have gotten out going the other way, but since the war was in the Pacific, the elected way to go was down the Mississippi, through the Panama Canal, and on out. We got there a lot sooner.

Donald R. Lennon:

Now is this the MAPIRO?

Enders P. Huey:

Yes. “Amby” [Vincent Ambrose] Sisler was my skipper and I was the exec.

Donald R. Lennon:

So you did your shakedown cruise on the Mississippi?

Enders P. Huey:

Well, we had to go through the Mississippi to get there. It wasn't much of a shakedown. We gave two thirds of our crew, leave, and they were to meet us in New Orleans. The trick to getting into the upper reaches of the Mississippi from the Great Lakes was to go through the Chicago Drainage Canal. The Chicago Drainage Canal was just about what you'd think a sewage thing might be. We couldn't provide our own propulsion by running our engines because they were cooled by water pumped in from outside and this water was really bad. We discharged the high water and we couldn't suction because it would have clogged up the strainers really quickly. I don't know what number of Manitowoc-built ships had gone before us, but they had learned all of this before we had to do it, so we were towed down through the canal. Then we went into a floating drydock, which you may be familiar with.

Donald R. Lennon:

Right.



Enders P. Huey:

It was about the size of a football field in length but less than that in width. They would flood the sides and that would sit it down. We'd drive the submarine in there, brace it, and pump or blow the water out of the sides. Then we would need a river steamer to provide the propulsion and steering. The management crew on that thing consisted of just one section of men. I went on it and I had one other officer, but that was just for the security of the submarine. It was fun to watch this process. They had a skipper for this contraption and two pilots; the two pilots shifted back and forth and the skipper would take over the con when there was something fancy to do. They had a million stories, and it was fun just sitting up there listening to them. It was a nice ride down there.

Once we got to New Orleans, we had to re-ballast the submarine. We had made our initial trials up in fresh water and we were going into saltwater, so we had to change the weights. We had to get our supplies aboard: our chow, our spares, and those sorts of things. We were in there for about two or three weeks. Then we went on down through the canal and on out to Pearl, where we proudly showed off the “latest, straightest, slickest thing” at that time.

We topped off at Pearl and started out on patrol. We were directed to go down to a particular island and stay there. This was during the negotiations at the end of the war and then “Bingo,” we were ordered home. We went through Pearl and then back to the West Coast. The deal back then was that the exec would get command and put the ship out of commission, but I had a very smart skipper who had friends in the Bureau of Navy Personnel. He explained to them that he and his wife hadn't had much time together and he would like to put the MAPIRO out of commission. I had thought that as the exec I might be



putting the ship out of commission, so I had decreed that we have all of our machinery histories, that we have all of our spares cataloged, and so on. We were in really beautiful shape from the standpoint of being ready to say that this and this and this had been done. But “Amby” Sisler, the skipper, got it.

A guy out of '39 had a wife get polio down in San Diego. He was in command of the SKATE, which was getting ready to go to Bikini for the A-bomb test. They pulled me off the MAPIRO and gave me command of the SKATE, and I took it down to Bikini. I don't know whether you're familiar with that or not, but it was an interesting, interesting thing.

Donald R. Lennon:

Yes.

Enders P. Huey:

They had a cruiser, which was the target for the bomb. The SKATE's stern buoy was the cruiser's bow buoy, I believe. In any event, what they were trying to do was to drop that atom bomb right on top of the cruiser, but it also made a mess out of the topside of the SKATE.

Donald R. Lennon:

How close were you to the cruiser?

Enders P. Huey:

The buoy that was to one end of the cruiser was to one end of the SKATE, so probably one hundred yards from there. The bomb was supposed to go right over that. I'm sure you've seen a submarine with its conning tower. It is streamlined and wrapped in steel. The force of the explosion unwrapped that steel and would have probably blown it off into the water, except that the forward gun was in front of it. It wrapped around the gun.

Donald R. Lennon:

You were aboard the SKATE at the time?



Enders P. Huey:

No. We were three or four miles out in other ships, observing this. When they let us go back aboard, we got some tugs that had the capability to fight fires and we had them spray us down with water. We also had them blow sand at the topside, trying to make the topside “sweet.” We never did get it really all gone.

Donald R. Lennon:

They didn't anticipate that it would damage the SKATE like that, did they?

Enders P. Huey:

I don't know.

Donald R. Lennon:

They just wanted to see what it would do.

Enders P. Huey:

We weren't that far from the damn cruiser. We were told where to put our ships and not what they thought, so I can't give you any insight into their intelligence.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did they check the SKATE's radioactivity afterward?

Enders P. Huey:

I don't know what they did before they let us go back there, but we had the meters with which to check and we tried to stay below decks where it was sweet. It didn't go through the hull. We had the idea that if we could get it cleaned up enough, they'd let us go back. If we were ever trying to get a crew of sailors to do something, if we could point out that getting it done meant we could go back a little sooner, everybody would be for that. It got old out there pretty quick.

Donald R. Lennon:

Not much action.

Enders P. Huey:

We went over and got sand from the beach. One of the tenders had a sandblaster and we sandblasted the topside and then washed it down with hoses. For whatever reasons, however, they decreed we would have to be towed back. We were towed over to a little island with a nice protected harbor. The tender FULTON was there. It had been designated to tow us back. The island also had an Officers Club and the day before we were going to be



towed out, a lot of officers and chiefs were over in the club. Some of them were from the SKATE and some from the FULTON. The “O Club” closed down at maybe ten o'clock, but most of the men--both enlisted and officers--had been over there for quite a while by the time it closed. The skipper of the tender, a guy named [Robert Vincent] Santangelo; his exec, “Red” {Robert Daniel] Quinn, who was a class ahead of me; their doctor who was a captain; some of their department heads; and two or three other submarine skippers were there. I asked for permission to ride back with them. One of the things that I had observed when anchoring the SKATE in there--I also had looked at the topography of this particular anchorage--was that there was a shoal spot directly out from the “O Club.” I said very quietly to “Red” Quinn, “Red, we're heading right for a shoal spot. I suggest you have your coxswain change course."

He said, “For Christ's sake, Huey, we have a very experienced coxswain up here. He knows what to do.” So, I sat there and I was really concerned because I thought it was pretty stupid.

I reached over and said, “Excuse me, Captain Santangelo,” and I said the same thing to him. When I did that, Red Quinn got up and went topside. He said, “Just relax, Huey, we'll run the show.”

I said, “Aye, aye, sir,” and sat there. In a little bit, CRUNCH. Then all hell broke loose. They had about fifteen or twenty of their crew up forward and I could hear them trying to back the boat down, but we were hung up on that shoal spot. I said, “If they would move some of those people back here. . . .” By that time, I think, Red Quinn had gone up there and Santangelo said, “Huey, just be quiet. They'll take care of it.”



“Yes, sir.”

The next morning, we picked up a tow line from the tender so they could tow us on back. I rode in the FULTON, and I noticed that not much was said about the running-aground incident.

Donald R. Lennon:

I hate for us to cut this short because it's really good material, but your wife said she needed you back at the room by six thirty. We'll have to do another session some time.

Enders P. Huey:

I'll be happy to if you can stand it. In any event, I enjoyed visiting with you.

[End of Interview]

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