After graduating from the Naval Academy in 1927, William Irvin served in both the Atlantic and Asiatic fleets. In 1932 he attended submarine school and then reported to the USS S-48, in which Lieutenant Hyman G. Rickover was executive officer. Irvin served in various submarines in the late 1930s and early 1940s and commanded the USS Nautilus (SS-168) during three war patrols in middle of World War II. She provided photo reconnaissance of beaches at Tarawa, Apamama, and Makin prior to invasions.
In this excerpt from his U.S. Naval Institute oral history, Rear Admiral Irvin recounts the involvement of the Nautilus in the amphibious landings at Apamama, an atoll in the Gilbert Islands recaptured from the Japanese in November 1943.