Wednesday, May 20, 2015


It was late summer of 1984.  I'd been serving in Moinester for just over three years, standing watches in Combat Information Center and steadily learning my craft as an Operations Specialist.  FF-1097 being primarily an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) platform, much of my education had been in the science and art of localizing and tracking submarines.  I was also then, as now, something of an amateur artist.

"Ghostbusters" was a big hit that summer, and it was natural for Sailors involved in the hunting of subs to parody that film's theme song.  Ray Parker's "Who ya gonna call?" was popular refrain when a new mission came up.  I found myself going a little bit farther; one day in CIC I doodled a silly variation on the "Ghostbusters" logo on a plotting sheet.  I really shouldn't have been drawing then and there, as we were involved in an operation at the time, and the sheet was an official "log" of the ship's movement and contacts being tracked by our radar and sonar.  Still, I was young, and 30+ years later I can't argue with the results of my little violation of regulations.

My drawing was simple, actually.  A red circle with a diagonal line across it, and a caricature of a submarine, plainly Soviet, captured in the middle.  Down to the right of the line were a school of six rather happy-looking fish.  And that's all there was to it; three minutes "work", when I really should have been working.

Since I'd drawn the logo on an official log sheet, and erasing anything from such a document is verboten, I could hardly crumple it up and throw it away. So the drawing stayed, which meant that over the next few hours quite a few people saw it.  Including the Captain.

The good news is, he liked it. So much so that a few days I was called to his office—not for a chewing-out but for a sales pitch.  Captain Forrest Horton wanted me to flesh-out my design, so that it could be used on ship's emblematic items like t-shirts and Zippo lighters, ball-caps and stickers.  All of these items would be for sale in Moinester's ships' store and though I would never receive any remuneration for my efforts I would have the satisfaction of contributing to crew morale, esprit de corps, and FF-1097's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) fund.

And so I became USS Moinester's "official" artist.  In addition to refining "Sub-Busters" I became the ship's go-to guy for mission and exercise logos and cartoons (I'll try to dig some of those up for posting as well), and even illustrated the ship's newsletters for a while.  Admittedly my work was amateurish but I had a lot of fun with it, and people did seem to enjoy my contribution.  In late 1984 I even received a Letter of Commendation (LOC) from Captain for my artistic endeavors in general and for "Sub-Busters" in particular.

And my design?  Five years later, outside the Naples USO, I bumped into a young man wearing a "Sub-Busters" ball-cap—it was my design right down to the six happy fish, but it was from another ship!  Some other frigate had adopted my logo. They say that imitation is flattery; is that true of plagiarism as well?

 A final note: three years ago I received a birthday gift from our kind neighbors Leo and Carmela; opening the wrapping I was gob-smacked to find a large mug from Moinester—complete with the "Sub-Busters" emblem.  The wonderful thing is that Leo and Carmela had run across this mug in a thrift shop and bought it knowing that I collected naval mugs and cups; they actually had no idea at the time of the relationship it bore to me!  What a fantastic coincidence—and an amazing gift. It now holds pride of place in my collection.

Moinester sails under a different flag now—she decommissioned in 1994 and now serves on in the Egyptian Navy, but a small part of her legacy, my part of it, lives on.  I'm proud to have created a lasting emblem for a great crew and our fine ship.  Not a bad legacy, not bad at all!

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