Russell C. Coile
Schwartz, and the executive offi cer was Lt. Cdr. "Pappy" Sims.
Ralph was famous in the Navy he was a wild man which is
desirable for wartime ops when the person is considered a
hero. In peacetime he might be court-martialed for some of
For example, once he was sailing submerged on a routine
snorkeling voyage from Pearl Harbor to Hong Kong. His
submarine received a message giving him an arrival date
and time and assigning his sub a berth. However there was a
garble in the message and the arrival date was several days
earlier than was possible with usual cruising speed. But, if
they speeded up the diesel engines to go considerably faster
than their legal top speed, they might just make it. Instead of
questioning the message, Ralph decided to "go for broke" as
Hawaiians say. He set the world's record for longest (5,000
mile) completely submerged fastest snorkeling submarine trip
ever. In another famous event, he arranged for a submarine
whose captain was a friend of his to be waiting on the surface
with several photographers while the Pickerel was at minus
400 feet. Usually a submarine comes to the surface by slowly
blowing water out of its ballast tanks and rising to the surface
at a small angle between 5 to 10 degrees at a slow speed.
Ralph blew all the water out of the ballast tanks and emerged
at full speed from minus 400 feet at an angle of 54 degrees.
The Commander of Submarines Pacifi c immediately sent a
message to all submarines forbidding this extreme maneuver
because it might break the submarine's back. Then, a few
weeks later, Commander SubPac sent Ralph a message asking
him for thirty 8 inch by 10 inch enlargements of the historic 54
degree photograph instead of court-martialing him.
A few days after my at sea trip, one of my new friends
from the Pickerel came to our offi ce and invited me to
participate in the crew's annual exercise to practice escape
from a sunken submarine. At the Submarine School at New
London, Connecticut and at Pearl Harbor are Escape Training
tanks. These tanks are 100 feet high. The entire crew of a
submarine from commanding offi cer to the cook participate.