USS Portsmouth


















Diving Alarm

July 20, 2013

Thirty years ago this day the boat left for the open sea for the first time for its initial trials. The first dive nearly tanked when a flooding alert was sounded, apparently the freshwater variety, but it was smooth sailing afterward. The only almost-real incident back aft involved some pump packing burning up, filling engineroom forward with steam. At one point there were 10 or more brass watching the repair job. Even the admiral couldn't resist a flyby peek.

September 18, 2012

Thirty years ago this day the boat went sliding down the ways into the Thames at the EB shipyard in Groton, Connecticut. Reagan was president, the Cold War was in full blast, and the weather was perfect!

This video was compiled about the boat 20 years later. It was apparently a strange new era, full of church services, backgammon and a salad bar.

October 30, 2010

A woman wrote in asking where to find Portsmouth stickers. Securing memorabilia for future interest certainly wasn’t one of the strong points of the last crew under CDR Brenton. Anybody out there at least have a picture? Chuck Baker has provided one of the windbreakers used in the early days.

September 14, 2010

Posing on the bridge of the Portsmouth during its final swim call is shark watch Guillermo "Willie" Juarez and behind him the CO (Commander Brenton).

July 26, 2010

This photo just surfaced showing members of the 707 M Division receving some kind of kind of recognition while in the shipyard in Bremerton, 1986. The cloudy sky was the giveaway as to the location. From the left - Darren Baker, Ron Herrington, Sam Heath, Doug Miner, Mike Troupe, Ron Rice, with CO Ron Gumbert and COB Kirk Smith doing the honors.

February 11, 2010

Gary Stewart, former IC chief aboard the Portsmouth during its early years, died of heart attack 31 January 2010 at the age of 62. With a great laugh and sense of humor, and absolutely no pretensions to rank or authority, Gary was one crewmember you always felt at ease around, one you could always rely on and go to for anything, even simple company. He was quite a fellow.

September 1, 2009

Found a nice former ballistic missile submarine on display in Cherbourg, France. The reactor compartment of Le Redoutable, of course, has been replaced by an empty shell, but the rest of the boat is intact and open to the public, including the engineroom and Radio. Unlike the Nautilus, which has been pretty much encased, you can put your hands where you like while you tour through the spaces.

August 5, 2008

After a quarter of a century I finally made it to Portsmouth, England. Nice city, with a large sprawling park along the quayside and a memorial to the thousands of sailors who set off from there never to return. That’s me next to the memorial with my son Michal.

May 15, 2008

Matthew Pyzalsk, former torpedoman from the 1990s, has joined the 707 roster.

April 6, 2008

Former M-Div chief Bob Trachsler is getting married to the lady shown here in the New Year’s 2008 photo, Melissa, later this month. Anyone in the neighborhood of Fairhope is welcome to drop by.

January 29, 2008

The Portsmouth underway circa whenever Chuck Baker took this photo. The mid-1980s for sure.

October 14, 2007

Al Burkett and his wife Jenny, both stationed in Naples, flew up to Prague to spend a week where they met the Portsmouth’s resident-in-Czech Darren Baker (with son Michal).

September 2, 2007

Gary Stewart came up with this antiquated photo of the Portsmouth before the digital age. In the foreground that looks like Mike Brenner's blue shorts and yellow T-shirt and maybe that's Larry Beuchs sitting on the cleat. The other 3 characters in this picture?

July 5, 2007

Former first diver of the Portsmouth, Craig Harwood, has sent along some excerpts taken from local papers arround the time of the Launch and Commissioning.

May 15, 2007

Site back up after a near meltdown. The pictures below show the Portsmouth steaming through the canal and somewhere else.

April 17, 2006

This picture just arrived showing various crew patches that were issued over the years.

December 2, 2005

In the Same Boat, a novel based on the Portsmouth's early days, was officially launched at the Academie bookstore in Ostrava, Czech Republic. More like christened, as a bottle of champagne was poured on a copy in front of 15 or so invited guests. It was no doubt an obscure location for launching a book about a submarine. The nearest port lies 500 miles away - north or south, take your pick. But the author happens to live nearby and submarines are naturally something of a mystery to the people of this landlocked country. Reports of one lurking in the depths of a mountain lake just across the border in Slovakia, however, have never been substantiated.

April 18, 2005

The Family Support Group sent a birthday card and specially-made pinata marking the boat's 20th. The guys couldn't bear to beat the pinata to get the candy out of it, so they simply opened the hatch that was created to get the candy into it in the first place. Apparently it was later used when doing a brief about a particular mooring event.

March 25, 2005

CDR Kevin Brenton was relieved by CDR Hicks. One of the last official acts before the change of command was presenting the ship's nameboard to Albacore Park in Portsmouth, NH. The presentation was made to Mayor Evelyn Sirrell, who you can see really dressed for the occasion.

November 9, 2004

The Portsmouth is sitting in DryDock #3 at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, with most of the non-nuclear systems shut down and turned over to the shipyard. "We already have several big hull cuts to provide temporary services and remove equipment. It is sad to see such a proud ship get pulled apart." Below is a picture of the boat's "dead stick" move to the shipyard.

November 4, 2004

The plaque presented to the Engineering Department by the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard during commissioning ceremonies. Like any good relic, it seems to have mysteriously disappeared.

September 19, 2004

A new item has been added to the menu detailing the Inactivation ceremony that took place on September 10, 2004. No need for me to go off here about what a great occasion it was for the old crew to get together and make one final tour aboard the boat. Special thanks go out to Rich Talipsky and Randy Campbell for making a few of the events happen. Another new item called Famous Snaps is in the works to include photos and stories from the USS Portsmouth.

August 11, 2004

The word is out. The Portsmouth will be decommissioned on September 10, 2004, at Norfolk Naval Station. The ceremony will also serve as an occasion to get the initial manning crew, plankowners and other crewmembers from way back when together. Ever reliable Lee Rossetti has been named the unofficial cruise director. Invites can be had by contacting the 707 supply officer at daltonbe@msn.com.

June 13, 2004

Check out Barry Aboard and Rich Talipsky's very funny recollection of Goldwater's visit aboard the Portsmouth in...when the hell was that, anyway?

January 26, 2004

This word from Lee Rossetti that Donna Talipsky, wife of first XO Rich Talipsky, passed away on January 17, 2004. With boundless energy, Donna filled in as the first wife of the initial manning crew until Captain Olson's wife arrived later in Groton. Our condolences go out to Rich and his family.

October 3, 2003

The 20th anniversary of the commissioning came and went without much notice that I can tell. The John Marshall staged a reunion around the Portsmouth during the summer and provided this picture of the plaque on board.

September 23, 2003

Bob Avery sent along this fine photo of the crew's mess as it looks today. It seems our dreams of a Saturday night disco have finally come true after all. Bob added an interesting, only-on-the-Portsmouth anecdote about the commissioning. The ride up to New Hampshire was supposed to end with an emergency blow for the benefit of some local dignitaries bobbing away on a nearby boat. Either the underwater phone was working as well as it ever did or someone screwed up the coordinates, but everybody was looking the wrong way when the boat came crashing through the surface. So nobody got off a picture of it in time. We'll just have to settle for the crew's mess here instead.

September 2, 2003

I just happened to flick on the National Geographic Channel and there was the USS Portsmouth underway. So I called my kids to come have a look but by the time they got there the Kursk was on the screen. "That was your submarine?" they asked. What could I tell them? "Sure." The Portsmouth reappeared toward the end of the program, but mostly it was about the Kursk, Thresher, Squalos and other boats that have gone down. I wonder how they came to decide the Portsmouth would make good company alongside them.

July 23, 2003

Rick Halcisak has informed me that it was no fresh water sink overflowing during the first dive, rather the relief valve on Aux Tank 3 doing something it wasn't supposed to. All I know for sure is, it wasn't my gear. And I got this email below a few of you could probably answer better than I can. It deals with the specs of the hull - once again, not my gear.

"I am currently builyle="width:620"> Rick Halcisak has informed me that it was no fresh water sink overflowing during the first dive, rather the relief valve on Aux Tank 3 doing something it wasn't supposed to. All I know for sure is, it wasn't my gear. And I got this email below a few of you could probably answer better than I can. It deals with the specs of the hull - once again, not my gear.

"I am currently building a scratch built LA Class submarine in 1/230 scale. Since I live a few miles from Portsmouth NH, I decided to finish the model to the SSN 707 Portsmouth's specs. After looking at the pictures on your site I noticed that she did not have that rubber tile surface common on a lot of the boats in that class. Could you tell me when or if she did get these tiles? Accuracy is very important to me so I would like to depict this boat correctly. Also since she was deployed to the Pacific did she have a dark bluish gray sail common to fleet boats that served in that ocean, or was she just painted black overall above the water? Thank you for any help and your time, Scott." tradewind58@stowetel.com

July 19, 2003

Twenty years ago this month - 7/20/1983 if I'm not mistaken - the Portsmouth put to sea for the first time with something like 100 enlisted personnel and 150 officers on board. Memorable moments include the first dive, when an A-ganger sounded the flooding alarm after a freshwater sink started overflowing. And then there was a pump down in engineroom forward that started smoking. It was clearly a case of scorched packing, but it took the 150 officers some two hours to decide that, yep, it's the packing all right.

June 30, 2003

This email arrived from George Chappell, USMC (retired)

"Records indicate that the USS Portsmouth was/is home ported in San Diego. During a recent bay dredging operation in in San Diego bay, a coffee cup was brought to the surface with pictures of the insignia of a Sonar Technician, Second Class on one side and the name of "SKEETS" over the enlisted insignia (breast badge) of a submariner on the other side. The age of the cup is hard to determine as it is still in great shape, but when dredged up, it was on top of the sledge, which means it may have been beneath 2 or 3 feet of sledge.

"I realize SKEETS is probably a nickname, but I would imagine this cup has many memories for the sailor/submariner who owned it. Is there a way to search your current/former crew member roster(s) to see if the name/nickname or a deriviation of SKEETS might show up?

"Thanks for your help."