MFC Submarine Vignette
left click photo to enlarge
I really enjoyed all aspects of MPC Fest VI. But to me the highlight of the Fest was C-day when we converted from series 041 to series 051 MFC. There, to my delight on the ever-so-convenient $24 denominated MFC note was a submarine vignette on the face. It was easy for me to recognize that the submarine depicted was the USS Sam Houston (SSBN 609), since in a previous life I had served as her Commanding Officer (1977 - 1981).
My goal then was to find out more about this particular picture and to see if I could repeat what I had done several years ago with the vignette on the face of the MPC series 681 fractionals - that is to identify the man on top of the sail. I found the photograph used for the MFC design on a USS Sam Houston web site:
I remembered from my previous research on the USS Thomas Edison (SSBN 610) that it is a good idea to get independent verification of facts before I draw conclusions. For example, I first reported to the Gram that the man on top of the Edison sail was the C.O., CDR Walter Dedrick. That is because it it is "always" the C.O. who stands on top of the sail when entering and leaving port. But after I posted my conclusion on a web site I received an email from Gary Lew, who told me the story of why it was him and not the C.O. on top of the sail. That web page with Gary's first posting of his account is: http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/6153/610pics.htm
So, in the case of the MFC vignette I decided to go to the producer of the MFC to verify that I had the correct photograph. I noticed that both series 041 and 051 MFC had security micro printing around the perimeter of the face design fields. The micro printing reads: "military payment certificates great lakes bank note company port clinton holiday inn express mpcfest military fest certificates remember mike cummings" that is then repeated completly around the perimeter of all the notes, including Training MFC, with the one exception of the $1 MFC training note. I contacted the President and CEO of the Great Lakes Bank Note Company who verified that I had indeed found the correct photograph.
Next was to find out when the photo was taken and to identify the man on top of the sail. First, the general time frame of the photo had to be between 1962 and 1965 because the ship was commissioned on 6 March 1962, and the practice of painting the hull numbers on the side of the sail stopped in mid 1965. The web site sponsor for the site I mentioned above thinks the picture was taken early in that period with the Blue Crew aboard. That would mean that the C.O. was probably Commander W.P Willis, Jr., who was the commissioning C.O. of the Blue Crew. That would also mean that the man on top of the sail is not me.
Then I took the scan of the photo rather than of the note and with a little enhancement I discovered that there is NO man on top of the sail. What looks like a man on the note is really the ECM Mast ! More evidence of this is the fact that no safety stanchions and chains are rigged. Therefore no one would be allowed on the fairwater planes, or on the top of the sail. That is clearly visible on the scan of the photo which I used. Also from the size of the wake on the photo, and visible on the MFC note, the ship is making very high speed (in excess of 20 knots). In such cases no one would be on the planes or on top of the sail.
So, for now, my research is done on this vignette. If I come up with more I'll make another submission.