Home Address Pirates Brotherhood Churchhill T.S. Eliot Quote - Going too far Religion

It’s been a busy few weeks sorting through personnel reports from the boat. As I discovered previously unidentified shipmates from 1974 (seven so far), I also discovered that significant changes to the website and site database were required to accommodate and make available what I was discovering.

For example, I was surprised to find the enlisted rating “SD” among the documents. A little research revealed that there was a rating for “Stewards” up until 1975, and we actually had several assigned to the Bates. Of course, that required that the list of ratings in the database be updated, which required restructuring because of the sheer number of ratings, which required the addition of new rating fields (RANK/RATE - ROB, and RANK/RATE - DEP), the transferring of rank already assigned, which means you’ll see an extra rank/rate field or two until I can complete the data transfer.

Yes, it’s been a busy few weeks. There have been many changes that I’ll sum up here:

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I was pleasantly surprised on Monday morning when I checked my email and found a bill from the National Archives. You might think it hard to use the words “pleasantly surprised” and “bill” in the same sentence, but I was pleased to find out that they had identified 69 records related to muster rolls on the boat, and if I would be good enough to send them $55.20, they would email me copies of the reports.

I had expected it to be a few weeks between submission of my request last Thursday, so I was impressed with the fast response. I wasted no time paying the invoice, also happy to find that the archives actually accept electronic payment. Again, I’d expected having to mail a check and wait for a few weeks while my payment processed.

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As many of you know, I’ve been working to obtain a complete muster roll of all personnel assigned to the USS William H. Bates (SSN 680) over the nearly twenty-eight years that she was in commission.

Mark Gray set out to compile such a list back in the late nineties, producing a complex spreadsheet that listed everyone that he could identify. In fact, much of what we call the Master Sailing List on the www.ssn-680.org website is the result of Mark’s initial work, and we clearly would not be where we are today without the his tireless effort.

As of today, we are closer than we ever have been. I have recently been in extended conversation with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), in an attempt to locate official documentation related to the boat and the people assigned to her. Today I have sent off the first of many requests under the Freedom of Information Act that should produce the Personnel Diaries and Quarterly Personnel Reports for the life of the ship.

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March 1st, 2018 - Sixteen years ago today, in 2002, an unnamed project manager, more than likely sitting at a battered grey steel desk on the second floor of a nondescript building at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, finished his review of a stack of documents pertaining to the dismantling and distribution of the pumps, valves, wiring, and mass of stainless steel that once comprised the naval vessel formerly known as the USS William H. Bates (SSN 680). I’d like to believe that he paused to reflect on what a ship that was home to us Bates sailors for almost 30 years meant to each of us, but the fact is that he probably didn’t give it a thought as he signed off as project manager, certifying that the scrapping of ‘our’ boat was complete.

She was gone

Sure, parts of her remain. A reactor compartment sealed and sitting on a concrete pad in eastern Washington. Handfuls of various miscellanea scattered around the country in forgotten cardboard boxes stored in attics and basements. Random pieces of hull metal (Steve Perry has entrusted me with the piece he had), some treasured (see previous), others forgotten. I heard that the torpedo tubes had been removed and were bound for TM school to be used as training devices. Who knows?

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You’ve heard the old joke about the drunk looking for his car keys under the streetlight after closing time, I suppose.

Somewhat sober guy asks the drunk, “Whatcha doing?”

“Lost my keys…”

“Where’d ya lose ‘em?” the sober one asks.

“Over there by my car”, the drunk replies.

Curious, the sober guy continues, “Why are you looking for them over here under the street lamp then?”

Says the drunk, “Because the light is better over here!”

Seems some of us aren’t too different from the drunk, even if we are sober. There are currently four of us committed to tracking down missing shipmates and if you visit the site occasionally you can follow our efforts as we update the Missing Shipmate List under Quarters. Mark Gray, author of the original missing shipmate spreadsheet, Terry Fessner, myself, and an eager new hand to the search, Chris Watson, dedicate many hours of our spare time locating and contacting shipmates who served on the Bates, but whose current whereabouts is unknown.

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It is understood that the Argentine Navy has declared the ARA San Juan lost with all hands - 43 men, 1 woman, possibly as a result of an explosion, though wreckage has not yet been found or evaluated.

The search for the ARA San Juan continues without hope for the crew.

A link to the first report I found. Some foreign language skill required.  www.diariodenautica.com


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The Argentine Navy has reported the ARA San Juan missing as of Wednesday, the 15th of November, with an estimated seven day air supply. Today is day eight, and we hope and pray for the crew and families of the San Juan.

This is image has been created specifically for posting on Facebook and social media. Please post, share, and circulate as we stand watch with the families waiting for loved ones to return from the sea.

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Fund Sailing List Research!

Help fund SSN–680.org research and recover Personnel Diaries and Quarterly Muster Reports from the National Archives, helping us in our goal to identify every sailor that sailed on the USS William H. Bates (SSN 680) and add them to the Master Sailing List.


Watch, Quarter, and Station Bill

© 2018 Brad Williamson
and/or the
U.S.S William H. Bates Association
or respective image owners
All Rights Reserved
Permission is granted for not-for-profit reproduction of text and images under the condition that all attribution as to owner and source is included,
and additionally, when republished electronically, a link to is provided.

U.S. Naval Institute News

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