Villager Recounts Service Aboard
U.S. Navy Sub During Viet Nam Era
Villager Bob Christians tells HSV Evening Lions about his experiences aboard the USS Pomfret, a sister submarine of the USS Razorback, now on display in North Little Rock, following 67 years active duty with the U.S. Navy and the Turkish Navy.
When he graduated from high school in 1968 at Spencer, IA, Bob Christians enlisted in the U.S. Navy and volunteered for submarine service while in boot camp.
Now a village builder of custom homes, Christians recently gave some 100 Evening Lions a colorful review of his experiences as a Navy sailor.
Christians’ naval service began with training schools in electricity, electronics, interior communications and submarines. He then began two deployments covering 18 months in the Pacific and Southeast Asia aboard the USS Pomfret, which had been commissioned in 1944 for service in WWII.
Adding to his skills, Christians received diver training with Navy Seals, and then served as one of two divers aboard his boat.
Christians, who received the Viet Nam service medal and the National Defense medal, said life onboard the Pomfret was crowded. The 300 ft. long boat was only 27 feet wide, providing just 1,500 sq. feet of living space for a crew of 36.
He asked the Lions what they thought living in a 1,500 sq. ft. house with 35 other people would be like?
Because the boat’s limited capability to process sea water, sailors didn’t take showers, he said. And the shower stalls were used to store potatoes, which soon became ripe and smelly.
The diesel-powered Pomfret could submerge to 400 feet. Its weapons were six torpedoes, each carrying a payload of 3,000 pounds of explosives, very meager firepower when compared to today’s atomic-powered subs each loaded with 16 or more missiles
Christians concluded his talk with a high praise for the WWII class subs, such as the Pomfret and Razorback. He said 251 U.S. subs destroyed more than 1,200 Japanese ships, more than half of all Japanese shipping destroyed in WWII. However, the cost was high, with 52 U.S. subs and approximately 3,500 seamen lost.
For more information about Evening Lions, please visit the club’s website at www.hsvelions.com
Visit Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum web site for map and information on tour of the submarine USS Razorback (SS-394) in North Little Rock, AR.