USS Whitehurst Logo by: Pat Stephens, Webmaster, DESA

The Mystery Key
A Whitehurst Curiosity
By: Max Crow Webmaster, USS Whitehurst Assn.

In April 1971,  before Whitehurst was towed to sea off the Washington Coast (to become the target of the first "war shot" test of the new Mk 48 Torpedo) the crewmen of the USS Trigger SS-564 were give the opportunity to board the ship and collect souvenirs.  In June 2009, with the help of several veterans of the Trigger, I posted the story of The Last Hours of USS Whitehurst.  In February of 2011, I received the following e-mail from
R.J. Hansen LCDR USNR Ret.


I hope this is the "Max" who once served on the USS Whitehurst.

If so, I am one of the USS Trigger sub guys who sent you info on the
sinking of the Whitehurst.  I was going through my "stuff" (collected
"junk") and came across a small souvenir that I picked up when I walked
through the ship just prior to her being towed out for the Mark 48 shoot.

I thought about what I should do with it and I thought about you and your
article.  If you would be so kind as to forward a mailing address, I'll
send it off to you.  It does not have any Whitehurst identify marks on it.
But, as I pledge on my "Dolphins", as a "steely eyed fire breathing dragon
of the deep torpedoman" who loaded and fired that first Mark 48, it did
come off the USS Whitehurst in April 1971.

Anyway, I hope this is the right "Max" and that you are doing well.

Best regards,

R.J. Hansen
Former TM2(SS)
USS Trigger SS564


The key arrived a few days after the e-mail. Enclosed was a penciled note which I have typed "verbatim".
I picked this out of the Key Locker on the bulkhead in what I believed was the yeoman's shack as I walked through the Whitehurst.  Thought the tag said it all --- "Officers had "Baths", enlisted group had showers ---
Best Regards signed RJ Hansen
USS Trigger SS 564

I have since queried officers and enlisted men, including yeomen about this key. re: How  and why it was in a key locker on the Whitehurst.  No one remembers or even hazards a guess. Captain Roger Ekman USN Ret, who served onboard in the early 1950s, has assured me that there was no such "hierarchy of the baths" in Officer's Country on Whitehurst.  The Captain had his own private bath which in fact was a shower*, but the rest of the officers all shared the same facilities.  So here we have a minor mystery.  If this key could talk perhaps it would tell us of its own history.  Where were the "Baths"? If there were special baths for Division Officers, then surely there was another set for Commanding Officers. Of course each  Admiral would have his own.  And what about the Junior Officers? Did they bathe or did they have to settle for showers?

Too bad the key can't tell us.  Perhaps some Navy Veteran will read this story and give us the straight scoop.  I hope so.  Please e-mail me with any details or even theories you may have.

 * The Captain's shower was once hazardous. See Lewis Cowden's story.   Steamed

Send feedback to Max Crow

Feedback from Any Mouse (Anonymous)

Hi Max,
Concerning the mystery key, the officer's shower and toilet area in "sleepy hallow" and forward area each had doors not hatches.  Each door had a lock.  I believe that the mystery key may have been for one of these doors.  I think the confusion about the word bath and shower had its origin with naming areas on the ship when it was construct.  I suspect that a "limmy" draftsman had a little fun with this. There were several other misnomers also.  For example the sonar shack was named the ASDIC Hut.  The 40 mm was named POMPOM. Other abnormality escape my brain. As the saying goes-"Memory is the second thing to go and I can't remember the first.  Now, why bath for showers, well bath is an area for cleaning oneself and not a BATH TUB.
Smile with tongue


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