A gentle rain fell on the streets of New London as Fran and I sipped our pints of Cottrell Old Yankee Ale at the bar of the Bank Street Road House. During breaks in our conversation, I would cast my gaze beyond the back deck and across the channel of the Thames River in hopes of spying a Virginia or Ohio class submarine making its way upstream to the Electric Boat facility at Groton. On this particular August afternoon, the behemoths of “The Silent Service” would not rise from the depths. Though south of my position something was stirring up Atlantic waters.
An interesting photograph found its way onto the internet of a surfer in the waters off Strathmere, New Jersey. In the background appeared to be what was possibly a Russian nuclear submarine. Staff writer John West, who was on assignment at McMenemy’s Pub in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was summoned back to New Jersey to take command of naval operations from aboard the Escape Goat (the flag ship of American Public House Review’s Atlantic fleet). As fate would have it, the boat was conveniently docked across from Maynard’s Cafe in Margate, New Jersey–in close proximity to the supposed Russian intruder.
Commander West began his investigation at Maynard’s, knowing full well that this legendary local hub of hard partying and well respected repository of useless information was the kind of joint foreign agents might target in order to glean military secrets. When he was satisfied that nothing sensitive was compromised, other than the inside line on next week’s Notre Dame game, he moved the “Escape Goat” to the docks adjacent to Twisties Tavern in Strathmere. Once more his inquiries did not turn up anything unusual other than a report of a group of pale skinned tourists asking how many rubles were needed to purchase a Twisties tee shirt and a bottle of vodka. Commander West concluded that what was being mistaken as a Russian intruder was nothing more than a deep sea dredging operation.
After filing his report with the Coast Guard, John returned to Portsmouth to complete his story about McMenemy’s Pub. According to his findings, this fine old Irish tavern may be haunted by a number of the ladies that provided companionship and comfort to the sailors who served on the more than seventy submarines that were built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard during the Second World War. One of which, “The Galloping Ghost of the Japanese Coast” the USS Torsk now keeps a watchful periscope on our favorite pubs in Baltimore: The Wharf Rat, Slainte Irish Pub and the Cat’s Eye.
For those of you that are still not convinced that our shores are safe from an incursion by the Soviet Navy, our own intelligence gathering unit, operating out of the Trinity Brewhouse in Providence, Rhode Island, has confirmed that the only Russian sub operating in U.S. waters this summer was the Juliette class K-77. She was commissioned on October 31st, 1965, and assigned to the Soviet Northern Fleet. The submarine remained on active duty until 1988, and was decommissioned in the early 1990s. In 1994, the boat was sold to a Finnish businessman, and it was operated as a rather unique restaurant and watering hole, (this writer’s idea of a great “Dive Bar.”)
In 2000, the K-77 was moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia where it was used in the film K-19: The Widow Maker, the fact based film starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson. Then in 2002, the boat began its final assignment as a museum ship operating with the USS Saratoga Museum Foundation in Providence, Rhode Island. In 2007, the K-77 sunk after a combination of high tides, heavy winds and a storm surge flooded the submarine . The boat was raised in 2008, but the extensive damage made restoration and repair economically unfeasible. Sadly, the Juliett Class K-77 made her final voyage on August 11th, 2009, down the Providence River to a site owned by RI Recycled Metals to be dismantled for scrap.
The staff and writers of American Public House Review salute all those intrepid souls that have served in “The Silent Service”– and we raise a glass to those that are still on patrol!
Thanks to stevehdc for his photo of the Torsk.
Posted by: Chris Poh