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.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Seamounts near the Caroline Islands

Robert Hamilton, of the New London, CT, Day, and one of the most informed newpaper writer around on the subject of submarines, has a good article (annoying free registration required after two days) in which he talks to local retired submariners about the area where the San Francisco (SSN-711) ran aground. The article (limited to the blogosphere's requisite four paragraphs) states in part:

•••During the Cold War, the Navy focused on charting the Atlantic because of the threat the Soviet Union posed from that direction. Submariners said that until recently some of the Pacific Ocean charts carried warnings based on soundings made by Captain Cook in the 18th century, and even modern charts can be based on soundings taken 20 miles or more apart.
Local submariners say the area where the sub was traveling is notorious for no-warning sea mounts; the water depth can change 1,000 fathoms in seconds.
“We know more about the backside of the moon than we do about the bottom of the ocean,” said retired Navy Capt. James Patton, president of Submarine Tactics and Technology in North Stonington.
The area in which the San Francisco was traveling, through the Caroline Islands chain, is one of the worst, with dozens of islands rising out of the water and many more uncharted seamounts between them.

I remember transiting once from Perth, W. Australia, to Hobart, Tasmania; the charts for the area basically had only a narrow lanes of sounding data, and a lot of blank areas. The Pacific is a big ocean; there's lots of places we haven't been yet, and the San Francisco may have been in one of those places.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with these comments. I have been involved with updating nautical charts for over twenty years. After the end of the "cold war", funding was eliminated for blue water bathymetric surveys, leaving large areas of the worlds oceans unsurveyed.
However,some of the responsibility has to rest with the CO. Running through that area at high speed would be like driving a bus on a dangerous moutain road and the driver only knows the road by glances at a map.

1/26/2005 9:32 PM

Blogger Hutch said...

I remember boring holes through the Atlantic & Carribbean at all sorts of depths and speeds and and wondering to myself about the charts of the submarine mountain peaks ( did they get them all ? ) ,at least the ones that would extend into our operating depth range --------
What those guys experienced on the SF was nothing less than pure terror ------ I can't imagine
I believe the paper trail of the 1999 charts and the failure to update them to the fleet will lead to someones ass and then on to someones head.....

Nice Blog BubbleHead --- am a new and frequent visitor

Hutch...... (rider of the hull that broke the cold war's back) SSN 673 69-72

1/30/2005 6:21 AM


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