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, July 12, 2005

Unexpected Trips to PD

A reader comment in this post got me thinking about the time the good ship Topeka took an unexpected, drill-induced trip to the surface. The comment, from mikeh, says:

"We had a very funny MT and during a flooding drill in AMR2LL he secured the depth sensor piping to the hovering tanks. About 10 min after the flooding drill was secured, we began preparations to go to PD and setting up for a meal. I was heading to control for my watch when we took a huge roll, launched all of the wardroom china on the floor and broached big time. As I got to control I told the OOD "I didn't think we were going to PD until after lunch?" He says as he is raising the scope "Neither did I."
"During the debrief from this incident it was found as soon as the COW placed the hovering tanks online we pumped all of the hovering tank water overboard shooting us to the roof. The cause was tracked to the sensor valves and my MT friend never got into trouble since he 'did the right thing'. We then began putting a drill monitor at the sensor valves whenever we 'flooded AMR2LL'."

Here's my story -- we were running engineering drills, and ended up losing a plug out of the diesel. Apparently something similar had happened fairly recently to some other boats in the squadron, and the COs had been told not to be the next one to damage their diesel generator. As a result, our CO ("He Who Must Not Be Named") was very interested in finding said plug, and repairing the diesel before we returned to port. To aid in finding the plug in the AMR bilge, we ended up running at 150 feet with a 10 degree up angle, and using the bilge blaster to send all the crap in the bilges to the aft bulkhead. The CO was personally leading the search efforts in the bilge.

It turns out that running with that much of an up angle makes depth control a little problematic. Somehow the Ship's Control Party "lost the bubble" and we headed straight for the surface at 10 knots. The COW pressurized Depth Control in order to try to keep us submerged, but it didn't work; we soon heard the familiar "bow planes slap" that means you really screwed up depth-keeping on a 688I. (For those who are interested: "Bow planes slap" on a Seawolf is much louder.)

The CO rushes to control, and the DOOW gets us back down to PD. They decided to stay there to clear the broadcast, and the CO went back down to AMR to resume the search for the plug. One of the things that you have to do after pressurizing depth control is to eventually vent the high pressure air from the tank; this vent is located, you guessed in, in the AMR bilge. We came down from PD, got a trim, and the COW asked for, and got, permission from the OOD to vent depth control, which he did... right in the CO's face. As I wasn't involved in any of the screw-ups, I enjoyed it immensely.

One additional funny moment from this episode: As soon as the ship broached, the OOD informed the various watchstanders of the ship's condition by reflexively announcing on the Conn open mike that he had just energized, "Raising #2 scope". The RMOW, who of course had no idea we were going to PD, and probably figuring he had missed the PD brief, immediately comes back with "In sync Verdin"... we probably were, but there's no way he had checked it, the lying sack of...

Going deep...


Blogger Robert Schumacher said...

We had a moment similar to this during a delayed SCRAM recovery drill once on my last WestPac.

There we were...reactor down due to simulated RC Div faults, coming up to PD to snorkel so we can troubleshoot and recover an isolated loop. We are on reduced juice, on the EP/TG (Mod 25 engineroom, think EPM), basically got nothin' for "oomph" as far as engine power.

And of course on the way up our sonarmen pick up something. Something close enough to prompt an "Emergency Deep".

The helm of course rang up ahead full cavitate, to which we nukes said "yeah, RIGHT"...though the EOOW (quick thinker) sent out a "Prepare to shift propulsion to the Main Engines" and reported ready to shift to CONN. And it was so ordered...let's just say that the recovery was from a much lower Tc than I (as RO) had started from in a long time.

And the sonar boys had really earned their keep that wasn't a false alarm, we really had a VERY close contact (that on the pre-drill peek had not been around). I'm a nuke, so forgive my forward ignornace, but apparently visibility was crap that day, and this guy on the roof had been sitting DIW until sometime near when we put poles in holes...and it was a tad rough up there, so any stray noise he did make was likely drowned out by the surface noise. But a young STS3 heard him, and our Sonar Supervisor (an STS1, now a Chief) wasted not a nanosecond in singing it out to the OOD.

That close call, and sonar's ass-saving ears, was a nail-biter, but there were two sonarmen who were up one Navy Commendation Medal at the post-PAC awards ceremony...

7/12/2005 12:21 AM

Blogger Chap said...

He Who Shall Not Be Named was on PCO ops on the boat I was riding for a midshipman ride. The crew had stories about him even before showing up...

Been there, indeed. Stern null on a DIW cruise ship with the engines off and an emergent PD...yikes. Not what you want to see in the scope. Thankfully it was more than twenty degrees off the beam...

7/12/2005 12:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was on Jefferson City, right after we brought the boat over from the east coast to San Diego, we used to hear Topeka stories...about your adventures...about the CO...

7/12/2005 5:51 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

For those who know about Harry Potter (new book coming out Saturday!): When I got back from deployment in 2000, I started reading the four books that were out at that time to my sons, a chapter or two a night. When I read Professor Snape's line, I used that CO's voice; scared the boys a lot...
Earlier, on that deployment, I ran into this CDR who had been XO on USS McKee under this CO. He came into the Ops "Barrio" and I introduced myself to him:
"I heard you just got off the McKee"
Him: "Yes"
Me: "I was on the Topeka"
Him: "Fellow survivor!"

7/12/2005 8:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Due to faulty maintenance, I once surfaced with a 30 degree down angle. All our Low Pressure Blower Air went AFT instead of FWD and AFT. This raised the screw up into the air. Control kept ringing up higher and higher bells and cavitate. Thank goodness for limiters. The CO once he made it to Control took almost no time to EMBT blow putting the rest of the boat on top. Imagine it..."Comence Low Pressure Blow on all Main Ballast Tanks"....30 Degree Down Angle....Head Valve under....Throttleman doing his best to answer the ordered bell (K circuit pegs on 0 after wrap around)....Throttleman belives he has lost throttle control which is announced to control...EWS(MMC) has his head on runs to Throttleman, tells him to shut throttles...."EMBT Blow all main ballast tanks"....Yea! We lived.

If only I could have been on a ship to witness that surface from topside had to be a site to see.

7/12/2005 8:15 AM

Blogger bothenook said...

angles and dangles, shaking out the loose stuff in the corners before getting into the op area. skipper decides to throw a few drill sets that included an emergency blow to the surface.
we were in the middle of the deep blue sea, gazillions of miles from anything.
up pops the old girl, and we popped the bridge hatch for a garbage run.
about 30 feet off the stbd side was a nice pretty sailboat. and a couple of VERY scared passengers.
all in a days work

7/12/2005 11:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

During a flooding drill from stbd depth sensing, sombody also secured port depth sensing. Ahead Full, 20 degree up angle, depth gauges slow to a stop. The first thing most of us knew of the mistake was the unmistakable feeling of the ship reaching the surface at high speed. We came far enough out of the water to capture air in the forward ballast tanks. The next sound from control was the expeditious opening of the CO's stateroom door and the old man "suggesting" to the OOD that a periscope would be useful in the current situation.


7/14/2005 10:17 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was on a boat out of San Diego in the early 90's... Will someone tell me if they are talking about a Capt. Jablonski???? If so, where did he end up after the McKee???

7/21/2008 8:44 PM


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