Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Sailor, Rest Your Oar...

Word this morning from Guam is that one of the Sailors on USS San Francisco (SSN 711), the grounding of which is discussed below, has died. His identity has not been released pending notification of next of kin. Also, the story provides an update on the status of the injured personnel:

About 23 out of the submarine's 137-member crew suffered a range of injuries, including broken bones, lacerations, bruises and a back injury, according to a written statement from the Navy.

This PacFleet news release says that additional medical personnel have transferred onto the boat, and are treating the remaining injured personnel.

Navy medical personnel were surged overnight and came aboard the submarine at the first opportunity this morning, but the one Sailor’s injuries were extremely serious. The medical personnel, including a doctor, remain aboard and are treating 23 other crew members for a range of injuries including broken bones, lacerations, bruises and a back injury. The submarine remains on the surface and is continuing toward its homeport in Guam, escorted by the Coast Guard cutter Galveston Island and USNS Stockham. The submarine is expected to arrive in port Monday afternoon (Guam time). USNS Kiska and military aircraft are also continuing to assist as required.

Staying at PD...

Updated 1533 14 Jan: Here's a poignant report of the ship's memorial service for Petty Officer Ashley from the Pacific Daily News. No additional comments are necessary...

Updated 1936 14 Jan: Actually, I decided I did need to say more about this. My additional thoughts are here.


Blogger Andy said...

Found your blog while searching for more info on the San Fran since all the news outlets are basically repeating the same story verbatim.

I was on the San Fran from '91-94 in the ESM/NAV division, back in the day when it was stationed out of Pearl so i have a lot of interest in this story!

I'm totally bumming this morning after hearing that the one sailor died, i can only imagine what those guys are feeling and going through right now. We'd had a few serious medical emergencies in my day and i remember that a somber mood permeates throughout the boat in cases like this, but to have to transit back on the surface for several days must be exacerbating the situation.

I've been pondering exactly what happened to cause so much physical injury to the personnel. Perhaps doing Full or Flank when they hit? Maybe at a down angle going deep at the time? What do you think?

1/09/2005 12:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having served on a diesel boat many years ago, and never having been involved in somthing as serious as this, my question is as follows; When the investigation begins, will the operations personel be the ones where the most attention will be paid? Also, to what extent will the remainder of the crew (those who were forward or aft of control) be questioned. Will the crew be restricted until the questioning is completed?
Joe SS485

1/09/2005 5:07 PM

Blogger Andy said...

More than likely the investigation has already begun on board while they transit home with pertinent folks on watch at the time of the accident filling out statements while the incident is still fresh in their minds. Also, all logs have probably already been secured and locked up waiting to hand over when they pull in.

There will surely be extensive questioning and affidavits from everyone in sonar, nav and in Maneuvering and the control room after they pull in port. The investigation can take days or months to complete.

1/09/2005 5:18 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

I think you're right; when they transferred the medical personnel on board, I bet they also transferred some Squadron 15 or CSP people on board to start the investigation. One of the more interesting things I've seen today is some reports that CSP officials are saying they're not sure what the boat hit. This leaves open, to me, the possibility of a whale strike, although I don't know if whales are very prevalent this time of years in the Carolines...

1/09/2005 6:33 PM

Blogger Andy said...

Whales! I was on the Sculpin (ssn-590) in '87 transiting down to Chile to participate in UNITAS when we think we hit a whale while submerged, the boat shuddered, there was no clanging or bang so whatever it was it wasn't very hard like a submerged log.

We surfaced to inspect for damage and found a transducer on the top forward section of the sail was missing and some wires dangling where it used to be. *grin*

We guessed it must have been a whale, though there was no hint of it on sonar when we went back and listened to the tapes again right before the impact.

1/09/2005 8:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading what you said about whales, it makes me very happy I was on a SLO-moving diesel boat....I only hope for the quick recovery of the crew and my concerns for the "buck stops here" the CO. He's a new CO and this is terrible for what I can only assume was a promising career.

Let me ask this. Even if it is proved that nothing he did or could have done was the cause of this tradgedy, do you think he will lose his command?


1/10/2005 5:26 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

There are a couple of dynamics at work here. The Navy has fired something like 80 COs (both ashore and afloat) over the last few years, and they've taken a little heat for it. On the other hand, if he was at fault (even a little) and they don't fire him, previously fired COs may have a grievance. I expect that unless it turns out that it was a very steep, uncharted seamount, he'll be relieved. Which is too bad, because CDR Mooney is a really good guy, and a good CO (I worked with him in my last job before I retired).

1/10/2005 6:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also stumbled onto this site while looking for info on the SFO grounding. A fairly decent stories can be found at like bubblehead says. BTW, if you dont feel comfortable creating an account at and want to read their archived stories get in using a username from

I reacted just like I'm sure everyone else when I first heard the story, figuring the old man really must have messed up, but it looks like these guys were doing everything right and just ran into a seamount at flank speed that wasn't on the charts.

Having spent 6 years in myself, and 4 yrs on active sub duty, I can imagine what the heck running into a vertical sea mountain at flank speed must be like. Wow those guys are lucky and WOW I can't believe that boat didn't go down! I've also made several trips to Guam during my years, the thought of that uncharted mount lying there all this time reminds me how lucky we all are. This could have been any one of us.

I've always known our subs were the best in the world and incredibly well engineered. I've seen first hand just how much they can take and still keep going, but this accident...I'm speechless.

I salute the crew of SFO, from the CO to the lowest mess rat). As we all know, it takes all 137 to survive things like this. Job well done!

Barb-Nuke '85-89

1/16/2005 2:28 PM


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