It is my great privilege to talk with my uncle, former Petty Officer 2nd Class Wayne Howie and First Class Petty Officer Ronald Warnick. They served together in the early days of the Navy’s Nuclear Submarines.
Howie joined the Navy at 21 years old on January 28, 1962- January 24, 1968. He
originally went to college, but after two years he decided to join the Navy. He was an ET-2 (Electronic Technician) in the U.S. Navy aboard diesel and nuclear Submarines.
What was your training for your MOS?
I went to boot camp in San Diego, California. While there I also attended ICA School, (Interior Communications A school). While in ICA School some months after joining the navy months I was pulled out of class by my Commanding Officer to learn that my parents were concerned because I had not written or called home. My parents had notified the Red Cross and the Red Cross had notified the Navy. I assured my CO I would write them a letter later. He told me I would write them before leaving his office and handed me a pen and paper.
After ICA training I went to a submarine training school on the East Coast. After completing submarine training in New London Connecticut I was assigned to The Razorback SS 394, an old diesel submarine, for six months of additional training and qualification. While aboard the Razorback I was extended a couple of months to complete a WEST PAC patrol in the South Pacific Ocean.
I was then assigned to Nuclear Power School on the West Coast near San Francisco, California. That is where I learned the majority of my engineering skills and the science behind it. They poured a lot of information into six months.
After getting married in 1964 I was stationed in South Carolina and served on The James Madison SSBN 627 where Ron Warnick and I met.
What did you like most about serving?
Some of the people I met were fantastic. Ron Warnick became a lifelong friend, and now that we live in the same area, we get together with our wives for dinner every Friday. In addition to good friends, the training I received served me well throughout my civilian working career.
My most exhilarating experience came at Sea. It was viewing the awesome power of the ocean. We were almost to Japan and when we hit a typhoon with waves up to 70 feet high. Our sail was 50 feet above the water level when on the surface. On a submerged nuclear submarine you can ride out any storm, but we were in a diesel sub, The Razorback, and it had to surface about every twelve hours or come to snorkel depth which is about 50 feet below the water level. When coming back to the surface a submarine’s center of gravity is affected and has about the same stability as a rolling log. We were taking rolls of up to 70 degrees. Below deck everyone was sick and throwing up, so I volunteered to take top side watches with another crew member. We wore safety belts with “D” rings and were chained to the super structure so we couldn’t fall into the ocean. It was the middle of the night and a raging sea when I heard the officer of the deck, Lt. O’Brien, who looked like a bearded young Viking, singing. I asked him what he was singing and he sang it to me…
“In Fourteen hundred and ninety two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Divide the son of a bitch in two, and you’ve got the electrical watts per horse power…” I’ll never forget that!
What did you like the least?
What I liked the least about the Navy was the same thing that many others loved. They had you for twenty four seven and told you what to do and when to do it. It was very structured. Those who loved structure went on to have long careers in the Navy. I was ready to be out and spend time with my wife.
Thank you Uncle Wayne for your example of service!!!