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Sid note:

This is how this series of postings on a submarine BBS started. First there was a posting by ELT 627 (Gil Raynor) about his QUIET AFTERNOON. Enter stage right were additional characters: Capt Zeb Alford, the former CAVALLA XO and CO of the SAM HOUSTON and the SHARK, and Warshot aka Ron Smith (former TM2/c of the WWII sub, USS SEAL) plus Gil's Navy Airdale son-in-law.

Well anyhow --- that got it started.   And isn't that how most NTINS stories begin? One thing inevitably leads to another --- and so on and so on.

Posted by ELT 627 on January 04,


Well, it started out that way, the grandkids were both heading down for a nap and Grandpa was thinking of one for himself when there was a raucous noise at the front door. Knowing Christmas was over, I knew it wasn’t Santa Claus. I hobbled over to the door and there filling the viewer was Warshot. Well, he couldn’t be much trouble, so I opened the door and let him in, but following on his heels was Capt Zeb. 

And that folks was one of the best afternoons of NTINS’s I have ever had.

We talked about a number of submarine stories and Ron acted out his listening for depth charges in the Torpedo Room in WWII, and then Zeb told a few of his stories and everything was going along fine on an even keel until the Airedale showed up. My son-in-law managed to get free of his KP duties or diaper patrol or whatever and joined us in the story tellers' den. He told of some of his Kosovo tales that got him the DFC and filled us in on the sorry state of the military and had a few good sea stories of his own, at least as good as a fly-boy can have. Then Capt. Zeb began telling a story that kept everyone interested. Seems that many many moons ago there was a picture of Esther Williams that floated around the fleet, being stolen from one ship and taken to another. Normally this painting was in the possession of the fancy-dan Airdales. However, Zeb remembered arriving in Japan during the Korean War and one of the items promulgated were the Esther rules. It seems that a protocol had been developed for heisting this painting and there were a set of dos and don’ts. 

The painting was normally in the possession of the fly-boys, however somehow, some submariners got wind of this painting and actually managed to secure it. Perhaps someone can fill us in on the boat/s involved in this.

Keith sat there listening to the story and Zeb really enjoyed telling one on the fly-boys. When Zeb finished, Keith remarked how he enjoyed the story and how it answered some questions he had.

Seems that the painting is on a carrier stationed in the med and is transferred to the oncoming carrier at the change of station. 

This normal transfer did not happen during Kosovo, instead the departing carrier packaged the transfer items and helo’ed them to Italy, then they were brought out to the ROOSEVELT. At that time the opposing sqds on board the ROOSEVELT rifled the storage lockers when they arrived and one of them heisted the Esther for their quarters.

Shortly thereafter, with the help of a mess steward and a borrowed pass key (no keys on board anymore, just like hotel locks) the “rightful” sqd re-obtained their Esther. Left shaving crème messages on the other Sqd CO’s stateroom mirror, announcing that they had retrieved the painting.

The painting was then welded into a metal frame in the ready room of the Black Aces and stayed there until transferred to the Carrier who relieved her. 

The painting has several new features, it is surrounded by the plaques of the different organizations who have “owned her”. Included are several SS plaques of boats.

Keith was delighted to hear how they got on the painting and they remain there in their glory among all the aviator plaques.

So the Esther painting is now Navy Tradition.

Does anyone have additional information on this? Did your boat ever have Esther?

Surely there are more great stories like this.

Well, the quiet afternoon ended up not being so quiet, but it was as relaxing and fun as could be. Look out if you get submariners and aviators together in one room.


Posted by Bill Green on January 04, 2001

In Reply to: A quiet Afternoon- posted by ELT 627 on January 04, 2001

The SEA FOX wardroom captured "Esther" from the USS LUZON in November 1956. The fighting copy of the photo hung on our wardroom bulkhead for several weeks, which meant that liberty was lousy. Had to keep fighting to keep her. The rules in those days were Esther could be possessed by use of stealth, guile or brute force. She had to hang free and clear from the wardroom bulkhead. A lot of sea stories resulted from the time she was with us.

Finally, as we pulled into Hong Kong desirous of some peaceful liberty, we made a flashing light signal to HMAS HOBART saying "We have Esther are you interested?" Quick as a flash came back "We have gin are you interested?" So we transferred her to HOBART. Three days later HOBART asked if we would take her back. We demurred saying SEA FOX was transiting directly to CONUS, and the rules forbad Esther from leaving the Far East. 

A very drunk LT getting his head shaved after an unsuccessful attempt to possess Esther while she was residing with the LEXINGTON in Yokosuka.