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, September 14, 2005

Lt. (Ret) Perry Writes Again!

My old buddy Lt. Raymond Perry, USN (Ret.) has written another article on a submarine mishap for Soldiers For The Truth -- this one on the recent USS Philadelphia collision. I discussed my objections to (Ret.) Lt. Perry's earlier articles on the San Francisco grounding here, here, and here in response to his stories here and here (Edit 2348 14 Sep: One of the articles I complained about now seems to be missing from their website... I guess they thought it was too stupid to retain. Also, the links in my original posts don't work anymore, but I corrected the links to Perry's original articles at the bottom of the comments in a couple of my posts). In many of these posts, I postulated that Lt. Perry (Ret.) was an "asshat". Has he overcome his propensity for sphincter-cranial insertion? I'll answer that question later on in this post.

Let's look at some of what Lt. (Ret.) Perry has to say:

"Perhaps the real question is how a large ship like the 625-foot, 52,000 ton vessel like the Yaso Aysen could get so close to a submarine without any maneuver to prevent collision?
"Maybe it was because it gets awfully dark at sea on some nights and ships are normally almost silent. My suspicion is that Philadelphia was not using her radar in order to make identification as a US submarine more difficult for those that would do her harm. Philadelphia's sonar should have detected the Yaso Aysen and shown a constant bearing, a clear caution to Philadelphia...

"...The one element that will affect CDR Oxholm's future is the Submariner's Professional Ethos, which tells submarine skippers to maneuver early on to avoid collision regardless of the rules of the road. This is because a submarine is always more vulnerable to damage than a surface ship.
"Thus, depending on what the investigating team discovers, CDR Oxholm's superiors might take a dim view of his ship colliding with another. Yet, unless the investigators discover some kind of culpable negligence or an intentional act that flies in the face of prudent seamanship, I believe that CDR Oxholm will ultimately survive."

Perry asks some reasonable questions. I'll provide my response after I get back from running some errands...

Post continued 2243 14 Sep: I'm back, and I've deleted the first spam comment already (so you don't think that Ninme's just blabbering about nothing in her comment, there used to be a spam comment above it.)

Back to Lt. Perry's article -- actually, it's about as good as one could expect from a skimmer. He apparently doesn't understand the concept of "baffles" as it applies to sonar, especially a sonar sphere on the surface. (For non-submariners, "baffles" are the area in back of the boat that sonar just can't see very well, because the boat's in the way. The width of the baffles varies, but you really can't see much about 45 degrees either side of dead astern). Obviously, a ship overtaking you would come out of the baffles, and you wouldn't see it on sonar until it was coming alongside; and if it was on a collision course, you probably wouldn't pick it up at all -- particularly with a ship that long (the propellers and engine room being in the back). He might be thinking we'd pick it up on the towed array, but subs don't have that deployed when they're on the surface.

He also figures the Philly wasn't using their radar, assuming that we wouldn't want a terrorist speedboat with ESM gear advanced enough to identify a BPS-15 radar set to be able to pick it up (/sarcasm). He could be right; I really don't know enough about current Fifth Fleet SOP to say if we do that or not. However, submarines do carry a commercial Furuno radar set that they can mount on the bridge, and almost every boat uses it if it's not broken. (You don't have to click on this link unless you want to see an official Navy document that says submarine training facilities have commercial Furuno radar as standard equipment in their navigation trainers.) If the Furuno is broken, I would assume that most prudent COs would go ahead and use their BPS-15.

Earlier in the article, Perry mentions that "later reports indicate that the Yaso Aysen approached the USS Philadelphia from the submarine's port quarter and overrode the submarine, damaging the screw and rudder, the sailplanes, a periscope and denting Philadelphia's hull." If he's going only based on media reports I can't really fault him for that, but I think the merchant hit the Philly's starboard side. I base that on the damage to the starboard fairwater plane in the second picture in my post below, and no apparent damage to the port plane. (It's hard to see, but I have the high-res version of the pic.)

Finally, he states his belief that Captain Oxholm will "survive" (not get fired). If the Submarine Force follows tradition, the CO will almost certainly be fired, even if he didn't violate any Rules of the Road other than the General Prudential Rule in Rule 17. He might have a point here, but not for the reason he states. I'm starting to think that the Navy might not want to "admit guilt", as it were, by firing the CO when fault for the collision is still to be determined. Since I have confidence that CDR Oxholm is a good CO, that might not be the worst thing for the ship and crew. I also assume that there won't be other COs who figure they can run into other ships without repercussions since one CO didn't get fired...

Conclusion: In his latest article, Lt. Raymond Perry, USN (Ret.) displays ignorance, but not asshattishness.

Staying at PD...


Blogger ninme said...

Spam! Spaaaammmm!

Didn't your mother ever tell you never to tell the man on the phone that no one's home but that they're busy upstairs? You're just asking for the villains to attack you when you announce you're leaving the blog unguarded.

9/14/2005 8:52 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Those spammers are getting pretty quick... I've had them post within five minutes of putting a new post up...

9/14/2005 10:41 PM

Blogger Vigilis said...

Nice post! Please tell me it is safe to assume two lookouts would have been posted, or has that ancient precaution been altered since the Cold War? If true, the OOD and lookouts definitely seem to be toast.

Finally, thought I remembered Lt. Perry had been a submariner.

9/15/2005 12:50 AM

Blogger PigBoatSailor said...

Alrighty, a few points to add =)

Radar: Furuno would definitely be in use, if not broken. Also, the new BPS-15H negates any real worry of ESM ID. So radar would be operating. However, it has limitations, as does everything. If the merch went through a squall, or if there was heavy traffic, they might have lost track of him. We don't have auto trackers for radar, yet. This is not an excuse for not ID'ing the danger, just a possible reason.

Sonar: You are dead on.

Lookouts: There would have been, min, 3 people in the bridge - OOD, lookout, and gunner. I am not sure if they station a second lookout in 5th fleet, but we didn't in the Med until we stationed the Manuevering watch.

Rules of the Road: Perry qualified *something*, right?
"The Submariner's Professional Ethos, which tells submarine skippers to maneuver early on to avoid collision regardless of the rules of the road." Let's review those rules of the road, LT Perry, shall we?
Rule 2: Nothing in these Rules shall exonerate any vessel ... from the consequences of any neglect to comply with these Rules or of the neglect of any precaution which may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case.
Rule 7: Every vessel shall use all available means appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions to determine if risk of collision exists. If there is any doubt such risk shall be deemed to exist.
So, if a sub CO is manuevering early because he perceives a risk, he is fully in compliance with the rules of the road. Duuuh. Nothing in the rules is meant to restrict you from taking early preventative action.

CO: As I said in an earlier post, although I forgot to reference Rule 17, bad on me!, he is pretty much screwed. There is almost no such thing as a completely innocent party when a collision occurs. However, you might have it right by saying the Navy might not want to fire him straight away, as that might appear to be an admission of guilt. I fear that he will reap the whirlwind eventually, though, which is too bad, as from the sounds of it he was a good CO.

9/15/2005 7:41 AM

Blogger ninme said...

Thanks for defending my sanity!

9/15/2005 12:42 PM

Blogger Chap said...

Let's not forget the infamous bow null, and the fact that on the surface a sonar works about as well as any other skimmer's sonar.

The radar thingie is pretty silly, though.

Why does this guy become their "go-to" for submarine stuff? Whiskey Tango, over?

9/15/2005 10:39 PM

Blogger Skippy-san said...

Im Bahrain I saw Sailors from the Philadelphia walking around and I talked to a couple of them. They seemed very matter of fact, and somewhat sad that this is the only thing their deploment will be remembered for.

9/17/2005 7:48 PM

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10/08/2005 7:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a midshipmen aboard the Phil in July of 05 while she was in transit to the Persian Gulf. I'm not commissioned yet, so I have zero sea experience, but while I was on the Phil I also got a real sense that this situation seems unfitting to Oxholm. There was a specific situation on the bridge of the Philly one night in the Persian where the Cdr took control even in a slightly tight spot near a pleasure craft - having spent almost a month on board and just reading this news now is shocking and is not what I would have ever imagined about Oxholm.

12/25/2005 1:38 AM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Yes, he's an asshat.
Oxholm took the wardroom from do what is needed now, to , always get my permission. You only get officers who will act when you accept that they will make mistakes. Then, you put in backstops to keep the mistakes from being to big.

For example, when the Eng calls down and says, "CDO, what do you think about this guy" and the XO says "Figure it out" without ever leaving the wardroom...well, you get a new job.

4/01/2009 4:22 PM


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