Leaving for West Pac was always a big deal for any of the boats stationed at Sub Base Point Loma. The Submarine Wives Club would always show up with fresh coffee, juice, cookies, and donuts for the crew and their families, and the Sub Base Band would also show up to play ‘Anchors Aweigh’ when we began casting lines to get under way. I never got to see or hear any of the ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ on either of the two West Pacs that I made on Sailfish (1972/1973, and 1974) since my maneuvering watch station was in the Engine Rooms, but I heard that it was always pretty cool.
Leaving for deployment and assignment to Submarine Flotilla Seven (I think it’s now called Submarine Group 7) as part of the U.S. Seventh Fleet was always an exciting time for me – especially not knowing what type of challenges and equipment breakdowns we’d experience over the next nine months.
I believe that it was the 1974 deployment when we spent the entire summer without air conditioning in the boat. I know most of the crew were pretty miserable, but being an engineman standing watches in a compartment that was typically never under 110 degrees (and even more miserably hot and humid when running the distilling units) pretty much had me acclimated to anything any Subic Bay summer day could bring.
Ever since, that West Pac has always been referred to as “The Sweat-Pac of ’74”.
I believe the photos above were taken just before our 1974 deployment. They show the USS Dixon (AS-37) in the background, and if my memory serves me correctly, Dixon wasn’t at Point Loma when Sailfish left for the 1972-1973 West-Pac deployment, however, USS Sperry (AS-12) was. One photo also shows USS Wahoo (SS-565) tied up as first boat dockside.