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.)

Friday, February 18, 2005

Another USS Jacksonville Fire in Shipyard

(Intel source: Ron Martini's Submarine BBS)
This article in Foster's Online discusses a shipyard fire on USS Jacksonville (SSN-699) during a refueling overhaul at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. This follows another small fire they had two months ago; this more recent fire seems to have been more serious, with 8 people treated for smoke inhalation. It doesn't say for sure, but I'd bet that this will turn out to be another fire caused by welding. I predict a lot of training on fire safety and extra work for the shipyard workers and crew. Normally, if you have one safety violation, there's a little extra training, everybody's more vigilant for awhile, and everyone goes on with their lives. However, when you have a second occurrence of the same type, this means, to Sub Force higher-ups, that: 1) Your training the resulted from your first accident wasn't effective in preventing a recurrence; 2) Your internal monitoring programs were not effective enough to determine that your training wasn't effective; and 3) You now need to have Group and Squadron personnel come down (or up, in this case) to watch you constantly to make sure your training and internal monitoring procedures are effective. My theory is that the Sub Groups did that mostly to make the corrective actions painful enough that noone wants to go through them again; if desire to avoid personal injury isn't enough, then desire to avoid more Group and Squadron monitor watches may be a more effective deterrent to continued unsafe behavior.

Note: The link I chose for USS Jacksonville above is the one general link I found that included a description of Jacksonville's collision with MV Saudi Makkah off Virginia in May 1996. I'm surprised as I look around the 'Net that I don't find more about that collision. About the best summary comes from this page that generically lists accidents at sea; it says:

17 May 96: Jacksonville (SSN-699): Collision. The attack submarine USS Jacksonville crashes into the Saudi Makkah cargo ship in thick fog in the Chesapeake Bay. Both ships suffered significant damage, but no one was injured. The Jacksonville’s captain was relieved of command two weeks later.

The CO on Jacksonville had earlier been my XO on USS Topeka (SSN 754). I love him like a brother, but that was one case where the CO did, unfortunately, deserve to be relieved; not for his actions, but for the actions of his watchstanders.

Staying at PD...


Blogger WillyShake said... this yet further proof in the existence of "bad-luck boats"? If ever there was one, it would be the J-ville; you know what they say: things have never been the same since the depth charging!

My roommate at the time was a senior JO on the J-ville during that collision. Sad, depressing business, and he got thrown into it because, at the last minute, he was called to control to assist the Contact Watch. Like you said, I heard that this was another good CO whose career was ended too early (even if he was culpable). The crew loved him, apparently, after the guy they had before that. Seems that the J-ville is still not catching any breaks!

2/18/2005 6:38 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Kind of like Guittaro, and then Houston. My personal theory is that the gremlins hop from boat to boat when they're tied up alongside each other. On Topeka, we did a burial at sea once, and the ashes got sucked into the snorkel intake. Things started breaking soon after, and only after we established the Church of the Holy Neutron and drew up a small animal sacrifice PMS schedule did the gremlins go away.

2/18/2005 7:21 PM

Anonymous Greg Wilk said...

I was on the Greeneville when they moored outbourd of us after that collision. Starboard fairwater plane bent, scrapes along the starboard side and the anchor light on the rudder was abit messed up. Our NAV was appointed the investigating officer. I was topside watch when the CO might have walked off for the last time. He had a mustache and his name was Yarborough. I remember our COB said he was a good man and he said it was a shame he was going to be relieved, within hours of them coming in. Norfolk had sortied out for a hurricane. Boats were coming in in a rush. CO, XO,COB, NAV, ANAV all relieved. And dammit, I'm not superstitious( needed to look it up in the dictionary I took off the Green Evil)but I thought the Greeneville might catch some of that. The reasons for the blood letting were that although qualified watchstanders were standing manuevering watch watches, there names were not on the watchbill, but those of people who had detached were still on. Furuno radar operator told control room supervisor that they were going to come in close contact with the Saudi tanker and he was ignored. I also remember that the OOD and the lookout had to do a spell over at Portsmouth because they could reach out and touch the bow of the tanker. Apparently the bridge was too close for comfort to the water too. The EDEA was a plankowner, who had been on board for the two previous collisions( Crashonville). He was an ELT? They got there new fairwaters from the recently decommed Cincinatti. Memories insignificant and otherwise come and go.

Greg Wilk
USS Greeneville Plankowner

2/18/2005 9:39 PM

Anonymous Greg Wilk said...

Their not there. So much for college comp 101. Sorry for the grammer, I am drinking.

2/18/2005 9:43 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Yeah, it was Capt. Yarbro. I talked to him afterwards, and he said that he climbed up to the bridge when the OOD sounded the collision alarm; he got up there just as the collision happened, and was pushing with both hands against the hull of the tanker, thinking it was going to crush them in the bridge. I felt really sorry for him...

2/18/2005 10:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I transferred off the Jax a little over a year before that collision; didn't know Yarbro, but I'm not at all surprised that the crew liked him better than they did Matzelevich. I was working at CSS 6 at the time, and took a break a couple days later to go down to the pier and have a look. Was really impressed by the damage - sure wish I had some pictures!

2/20/2005 7:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahhhh...this brings back memories. I was the furuno operator on that fateful day....About all I remember after crowing about us being too darn close is being thrown half way across the control room. The furuno monitor was mounted just aft of the ladder to the bridge, so I got pretty friendly with fire control there for a second. The fog was really bad that day - you could barely see the aft end of the ship. All of the sudden the tanker was just there...a huge green monster. The ANAV was on the #1 scope and saw it come out of the fog about 2 seconds before the collision...what he said I won't repeat here.

That was one long day. I have some pictures somewhere, and I have a piece of HY-80 from the hull and a small chunk of the hard foam they use on the inside of the fairwater plane. My souvenirs :).

The only good thing to come out of that collision? Five months in drydock and a delayed deployment!!

2/07/2006 6:59 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, like some kind of meeting place for people who know about the 699 and some of the amazing bad luck with collisions.

I was the lookout for the 82 collision with a Turkish freighter that hasn't been mentioned. I also recall there being a collision a few years later with a barge while I was away in school.

Still the best boat I ever served on.

1/25/2007 9:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone forgot to mention the the Jville became the new jack city because she got the nyc's fairwater planes after the collision. The Jville is a career ender.

12/22/2008 3:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh God. Please keep your assumptions to yourself. This wasn't the worse of it when I was aboard.

3/13/2009 7:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Came aboard just after 82 collision,was aboard for barge collision. RKM was an outstanding skipper. Was the best boat in the squadron. HMC

5/27/2009 7:33 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually boarded the Jville as the Captain, etc were heading for mast. Checked on board with new Captain. Our boat was the noisiest pig in the fleet after that, and bent from bow to stern. We called it the Jackedupville.

9/03/2009 10:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problems with the Jacksonville started early on. During new construction at least one shipyard worker died in one of the main ballast tanks trying to save another worker who had passed out. Another shipyard worker was severely burned when working in the battery well with a wrench wrapped in EB Green. The electric current went into the wrench and arched out thier forehead to the bulkhead somewhere. The worker was able to make a hasty(noisy) exit under his own power.When the boat was all wrapped up nice, ready for inspection, and about to be handed over as "complete" everything had to be stopped. Many of the interior spaces had to be dismantled because it was discovered that piping hangers (welding jobs)were signed off as complete by managemant but were never done. "Crash Crew 82'" T-shirts were going to be printed after the first mishap with a Turkish freighter but idea was prudently shot down by the XO. We had just spent 6 months in Portsmouth Naval Shipyard having a new "Towed Array" system installed on the boat. Amazingly, the fraighter that broadsided the Jacksonville destroyed the towed array system. I've probably said too much, but I just wanted to say that the USS Jacksonville was always filled with hard working dedicated sailors, and contractors. There were no gremlins or superstition involved. You know, come to think of it, there was the incedent where the barge docked at Electric Boat Shipyard that was our barracs (living quarters and offices)sank at the pier. Hmm. Mabye thats where it all started.

4/30/2010 4:41 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks like the last few comments are a reunion of sorts for the "Crash Crew of 82". I am an original member of the Commissioning Crew and was on watch at Engineroom Forward during that fateful night. I will shed some more light on that collision, adding to my previous shipmate's comments. We were transiting out to the Virginia Capes on the surface that night and we were less than 30 minutes from dive point when we were broadsided by the Turkish Freighter. The collision was senseless since it was a clear night and we had the contact visually, on radar, and on sonar. The problem was that the freighter was headed right for us on a zero bearing and we needed to break coarse and go around him. The decision to maneuver was delayed too long as the captain's phone was shorting out and he demanded that his phone get repaired instead of maneuvering the ship out of danger. It seems that he root cause of both the "82" and "96" collisions was a violation or lack of procedures to put the boat and crew out of danger first when an impending dangerous situation arises. In both cases, the boat could have been maneuvered out of danger and the collisions would have been avoided. The Navy needs to look at these collisions and others and make the proper navigational and operational procedural adjustments. These collisions had nothing to do with bad luck or gremlins and we need to thank our lucky stars that the boat was designed strong enough to withstand these collisions with no loss of life. In the case of the "82" collision, the reactor stayed on line in spite of a 29 knot combined impact and the engineers were amazed that the reactor didn't "scram" because it was supposed to shut down. That night was enough of a mess without losing power and propulsion.

5/25/2010 3:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boy oh boy if all the people that said they were on the Jville when we wrecked, we would have been nut to butt. I was there, standing in middle level passage way by the ammo locker when the cob came out of the wardroom going "this is a no-shitter". And nobody was sad to see Yarbro. (Jellyroll) leave. Even tho Bill M. was a dick at least he knew what he was doing. IC3/SS Jody A. Lett

8/03/2010 2:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I to was on the J'ville during the accident in '96. I was keeping logs in control and I remember everything like it was yesterday. The accident came on so suddenly that no body seemed to have any time to react. The worst for me was not the accident but what was said on the 1MC by CDR Yarbro shortly after it occured. Those who were there know exactly what I mean. CDR Yarbro was/is a hell of a man and didn't deserve what happened to him. QMSN/SS Tanner

9/24/2010 4:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was EDEA at the time of the 96 collision. What a day. Immediately after being hit, word went out over the 1MC that we were sinking by the stern. That prompted me to put sailors in the bilges looking for any sign of water coming in. As it turns out, the bubbles rising to the surface, which caused the original determination that we were sinking, were caused by the rotation of the boat caused BY the collision. No water ever came into the engine room.

Strangely enough, the Engineer was the EOOW. I don't recall if he was there at the moment of the accident, but he did stand many hours of watch afterward. He and I both did.

10/11/2010 10:17 AM

Anonymous comprar un yate said...

This cannot have effect as a matter of fact, that is what I suppose.

11/21/2011 1:29 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jacksonville had a great captain and crew. I remember a very close call with a small sailboat just before the 96 northern run. Very funny day.

2/11/2012 11:45 PM

Anonymous Rip said...

82 Collision lookout back to add that I agree with all great boat and great sailors. Finest memories of my life. Despite the collision.

Anyway just saw she just hit a fishing boat and took out the #2 scope.

Thought I would roll out the carpet for the new guys as we wait to hear what happened.

1/10/2013 11:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was not aboard when the crash with the saudi maka occured but I would like to say that it really affected the crew. Some of the officers that were my friends were relieved. I was not sad to see Yarbro dismissed as I didnot like him very well. The same can be said for myself though. In my humble opinion. Cdr Matzalevich was a very good Captain. He had to be to earn a MUC and an Expeditionary.

IC3/ss "S-10" Chuckey Schweickert

5/08/2013 1:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recall that the J-ville was called the Crash-n-ville

5/08/2013 1:04 AM


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