50 years of submarine qualification

Holland Club welcomes Paul Adams

Sun, 10/13/2019 - 8:45am

In June 1943, Paul Adams joined the Navy and became a submariner.

Last month, he joined another organization of submariners, the Holland Club.

Named for John Phillip Holland who developed the Navy’s first commissioned submarine, the club is exclusively for those qualified in submarines for 50 years or more. “Qualifying means you have to know how everything on the submarine works,” Adams told the Boothbay Register.

Ceremonies marking his induction were held by United States Submarine Veterans, Inc. on Sept. 22 in Augusta. U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, Gov. Janet Mills and Sen. Susan Collins sent congratulations. Members of Maine’s legislature sent official congratulations on behalf of the state.

Submariners who qualify receive their “dolphins,” an insignia of a submarine flanked by two dolphins. Qualification is strict. Submariners must know the location of equipment, how to operate all of the submarine’s systems, and how to control any damage to the boat.

“If something happens to the captain, you are qualified to operate the submarine.”

Adams explained, “Everyone has to know how to do everyone’s job.” There is a qualifying board and a senior officer takes the candidate through an exam.  Enlisted men receive silver dolphins. Officers’ dolphins are gold. 

Personnel have to re-qualify when transferred from one sub to another.

Adams grew up in Boothbay, attended East Boothbay High School, graduated from Coburn Classical Institute in Waterville and attended Colby College in Waterville on a scholarship. He served on submarines in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, he settled in California, stayed in the reserves, graduated from University of California with a forestry degree and worked for Southern Pacific Railroad for 17 years. He and wife Becky had an insurance business for 23 years, were married for 60, and had four children. The couple moved to Southport in 1983. Becky died in 2005. 

For the past 12 years, Adams and Lucy Marlowe have been companions. They have known each other since first grade in Boothbay.

Adams stayed on active reserve for 28 years and then changed to inactive reserve status. He retired from the military with the rank of Lt. Commander (Ret.) after 42 years. Asked about his long career in the Navy, he said: “I enjoyed it.”

Very few people can see their names on a monument as they drive by, but Adams can see his on the World War II monument in East Boothbay.

And now he doesn’t have to drive anywhere to see an acknowledgement of his military service. It’s as close as the bright red “50” on his Holland Club coin.