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San Diego submarine captain describes the real 'Hunt for Red October'

Retired submarine Naval captain tells his San Diego story in 'Down Deep'

SAN DIEGO — An American military hero and recipient of two Distinguished Service Medals is sharing his story in a new memoir titled "Down Deep". In this Zevely Zone, I went to in Point Loma to meet one of the most decorated Naval submarine captains in U.S. History. Captain Charlie MacVean loves submarines so much his wife converted their master bedroom into a Navy man cave for him. You feel as if you are inside a submarine capsule surrounded by memorabilia. No surprise, Charlie's ring tone on his cell phone is the ping from a sonar. "Well, because I respond to that. Music I don't respond to but I have responded to that noise for a long time," said Captain MacVean.

Credit: Down Deep: Captain Charlie MacVean

As a young Navy man, he relished the open ocean. "I had a job, I had a wife, and it was exciting to go to sea," said Captain MacVean. Excited wasn't the word MacVean recalls when on his first voyage his fellow seaman became seasick. "He threw up and hit me right in the middle of my back, that was my first day at sea," said Captain MacVean.

Credit: Down Deep: Captain Charlie MacVean

During the Cold War era of the mid-1970s, Capt. MacVean commanded the fabled USS Seawolf submarine in the most daring and dangerous undersea missions of the Cold War. The captain pointed a Tom Clancy novel in his den and told me the Navy once had to tell the author to cool it because the 'Hunt for the Red October' hit too close to home. So, did MacVean ever sneak up on the Russians? "I'm not comfortable talking about submarine operations," said Captain MacVean.  That's because those mission are still classified. 

Credit: Down Deep: Captain Charlie MacVean

Captain MacVean is one of the most decorated submarine commodores in U.S. History. "This is the Distinguished Service Medal with the star indicating the second award," said Captain MacVean. That's right he receives two of those medals awarded normally to astronauts. "That's true," said Captain MacVean. He says when you spend four and half years of his life under water, you miss the four "S's". "The first was sunshine, the next is sleep, salad and there is a fourth one that you can imagine too," said Captain MacVean. He once went 89 days without seeing the sun to avoid the enemy and 56 hours without sleeping in the underwater cat and mouse game. "Absolutely," said Captain MacVean.

Credit: Down Deep: Captain Charlie MacVean

His stories of sabotage and the sea are now shared in a self-published memoir as told to John Freeman and C. Gresham Bayne.  "A lot of times you are scared and you are tired and you have to trust the guy next to you because you are going to go to bed, and you hope he is going to turn the right valve in the right direction at the right time," said Captain MacVean.

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Captain MacVean was proud to serve his country. Something he feels "Down Deep" as an American hero. Retired and now living in Point Loma with his wife Ellen, the commodore is a popular guest speaker, and, especially, a gifted storyteller. Captain MacVean holds a PhD in Nuclear Physics.  If you'd like to order the book click here on 'Down Deep'.