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.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

So There I Was...

The well-deserved attention being paid this week to the outstanding professionalism and seamanship of the crew of USS San Francisco (SSN-711) in bringing their damaged ship safely home may have obscured for some of us the fun side of submarining. For the benefit of any readers who may not be as familiar with submarine life, and even for those who are, I thought I might share one of my more humorous sea stories. Anyone with other good sea stories are invited to tell 'em in the comments.
Anyway, my first boat, USS Topeka (SSN-754), was on the homeward leg of her first WestPac in January 1993. It was a very eventful deployment -- the Global Security website describes it thusly:

In August 1992 TOPEKA began her first overseas deployment which involved six months of operation in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. TOPEKA was the first attack submarine in the Pacific Fleet to deploy in support of a carrier battle group. On 4 November 1992 TOPEKA achieved another first by conducting operations in the Arabian Gulf.

We were on our way to a well-deserved port call in Hobart, Tasmania. I took the watch as OOD when we surfaced at about 0200 on a clear January morning, and drove her up the River Derwent. It was one of those watches where you wonder why they're paying you; early summer night, a full moon, good deep water all around, no ship traffic, a quiet lookout, and the CO in the rack. It came time to station the Maneuvering Watch, and I was getting relieved on the bridge by a young officer who was getting his "final observed watch" prior to earning his submarine qualifications, from a Captain who happened to be riding us from Perth to Hobart (wonder how he scammed into that boondoggle?) As I was giving the young officer a turnover, I pointed out the lay of the land. "Okay, see that island up there? We'll be going to the left of that; our anchorage is about a mile past the tip of the island. There are some small boats there, but don't worry, they'll get out of the way."

He relieved me, and I went below to change, and await the first liberty boat. (As off-going OOD, I didn't have a Maneuvering Watch station.) I'm sitting in the wardroom, listening to the conversations between the bridge and control. The "small boats" I had seen earlier turned out to be a protest fleet, concerned that we would turn their fair city into a radioactive holocaust with our evil nuclear reactor. As the poor OOD was trying to reach our anchorage, the kayaks and other small boats kept trying to cut us off, while the Aussie police boats were trying to keep them away. Eventually, a protestor in a kayak pulled alongside our sub and jumped onto the hull. The Aussie police pulled up, grabbed the guy, held his head undewater for a few seconds, then hauled him up into their boat. Eventually we got anchored, and the protestors left (the TV crews had gone away), and they went up to a mountain near Hobart to fast for the duration of our stay. The rest of the town opened their doors to us, and gave us what all agreed was the best liberty call anyone had ever experienced. (I ended up sleeping on a park bench that first night in my Service Dress Blue uniform because I missed the last liberty launch back to the sub.)
The comments are now open for your sea stories...

13 Comments:

Blogger Steve said...

Got any good Rickover stories? Being Rickover trained, and proud of it, I always loved hearing some of the strange stories about nuke officers' interviews with Admiral Rickover. Someone should write a book full of them!

Many of my sea stories relate to the fun us enlisted nukes had with young midshipmen out for a familiarization ride on the boat with us. They were all great guys, but their seriousness demeanor was usually too good to allow us to pass up the opportunity to, er, have fun with them. Examples would include the (unauthorized) spill drill in the engineroom where the young middie was completely doused in "contaminated" water. Another example that comes to mind is the middie in the AMR2 head/shower aboard Ben Franklin (SSBN 640) wherein the victim is allowed to get comfortable sitting on the can with his poopie suit around his ankles, whereupon the outside water valve for the shower in that little space is turned on (the shower valve inside the shower having been opened after shutting off the water from the outside.)

It's strange they way guys on an FBM patrol had to get their kicks, since there were few port visits to break up the circle-turning in the middle of the ocean.

And some other time, ask me about the Lt. Frank story....

1/20/2005 8:29 PM

 
Blogger Bubblehead said...

Ah, yes, fun with plumbing on the boat. We had this one JO who blew the shitters on himself not once, but twice, during one run. We were blowing sans on the midwatch, and he stumbled out of the rack, past the signs, to use the head. The Doc claimed he used his largest needle to give him the "shot", but I'm sure it was just the regular one...

1/20/2005 10:33 PM

 
Blogger submandave said...

The Toe-pecker? I was working up at CSG-7 then and wrote the codeword OPORD we gave you guys. Was that Jablonski or Dave Duffie? Whoever it was, if I remember right he was quite the screamer.

1/28/2005 10:35 AM

 
Blogger Bubblehead said...

Subman Dave -- It was Jablonski. The good thing about being on the Topeka then is that I knew that I would never have a worse (personality-wise) CO than I had then; it simply wasn't possible. I won't post any specifics on the web, but it you'd like to share stories, write me at: subhusker@yahoo.com

1/28/2005 10:50 AM

 
Anonymous Squid Inc. said...

Submandave and bubblehead,
I remember Jablonski as being a major loser. Unfortunately, he doesn't hold a candle to Ken Milhoan. Worst screamer I've ever seen. It was pure poetic justice that got him fired off the Salt Lake City for something that wasn't his fault!

3/14/2005 7:35 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know Dave Duffie now and he still thinks he's a Captain!

6/04/2008 3:04 PM

 
Anonymous Carl Taylor said...

I served under Ken Milhoan too -- We called him "Da Spitta'" He would get pissed and start screaming and spit while doing so.. he was completely out of hand, and yes, he ruined a lot of good careers, so, poetic justice it was when he was disgraced and lost his command which he never should have gotten in the first place.

5/02/2009 4:45 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting stories.... Ken Milhoan retired as a Navy Captain five years ago and now works in Northern VA

9/03/2009 11:54 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I remember Ken Milhoun. The worst commanding officer I have ever seen. Prior to him assuming command I had met a seinior officer at my daughters softball game and I mentioned about our Milhoan taking command soon. This officer went on and on about how bad this guy was going to be. At the time I was very surprised that this officer was telling me this and did pay much adue. Well the rest is history.

11/25/2009 12:45 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kenneth D. Milhoan relieved CDR Carl T. Frohelich as commanding officer of the USS Salt Lake City SSN 716 on 12JAN95. He was relieved of command by orders of CAPT Tom Travis, Commodore of CSS-11, on 26JUL95 by CDR Thomas Hunnicutt. USS Salt Lake City had four commanding officers in 1995.

7/06/2010 11:40 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys mean "da spitter"? He was in command of Salt Lake City in San Diego when one of his SRO's came back from the command picnic drunker than a skunk and relieved the watch. One NRRO monitor watch later the Commodore had him on the doorstep and when Milhoan stated, "I know how to run my boat, leave me alone" suprise suprise, he was no longer in command.

7/06/2010 11:43 AM

 
Blogger Darryl said...

In regards to CDR Milhoan's situation I was the Leading YN and the SDO was not a command picnic, he just left the Sub without permission and preseded to get drunk and then was escorted back to the Sub when he kicked over a lamp in the courtyard. After being returned to the Sub he realized that he had watch so he left the Sub again to get his uniform and returned and relieved the watch. There was just a trickle of things that occurred, but CDR Milhoan was relieved. The XO at the time has gone on the have a brilliant career and now is a Vice Admiral.

3/25/2011 12:31 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Milhoan - "red hair and temper to match"

3/25/2011 12:55 PM

 

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