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, September 06, 2005

More Info on USS Philadelphia Collision

Bob Hamilton of The New London Day has some more information on yesterday's collision of USS Philadelphia (SSN-690) with a Turkish merchant off the coast of Bahrain (annoying free registration may soon be required; a longer lasting version is here -- Edited 2302 06 Sep):

"The accident occurred about 2 a.m. local time while the Groton-based submarine was on the surface headed for Bahrain for a routine port call. The Turkish ship, the Yaso Aysen, was reportedly headed for the United Arab Emirates to take on cargo.
"Navy sources said the collision is likely to be a career-killer for Cmdr. Steven M. Oxholm, the captain of the Philadelphia, because the large freighter should have been spotted by both radar and crew members on lookout duty...

"A U.S. Coast Guard vessel was dispatched to the Yaso Aysen to offer assistance, but the Aysen was determined to be seaworthy, with only minor damage to its hull above the water line, and it continued on its way. The freighter was built five years ago in Japan, and reportedly there were 20 crewmen on board."

Captain Oxholm has been with the boat for quite a while; he relieved as CO when I was still in Groton. I had worked with him quite a bit when I was Engineer on Connecticut, and I remember him as being very professional. Despite all the good things Philly's done during his tour (including the award of the 2003 Squadron TWO Battle "E") this one "aw sh*t" will likely be enough to cancel out a hundred "attaboys". I do remember that he reached command in a kind of roundabout way... can't remember the details, and it shouldn't lead anyone to think that he wasn't qualified; after all, the boat did great for the 2+ years he's been in command.

While Philly is normally a DDS boat, I'm guessing she didn't have it on during this transit, as evidenced by her July transit through the Suez Canal without it. Depending on where the boat was struck, it might have been worse if the DDS had been installed. (If that last link doesn't work, click here, and go down to the 9th picture.)

Staying at PD...

Update 1044 06 Sep: Whiskey Tango...??!?:

"The accident that occurred in Bahrein's open sea is thought to have been caused by the failure of the Turkish ship's sonar's failure to locate the military submarine. The Turkish-flagged M/V Yaso Aysen, a cargo ship carrying 20 Turkish crew hit the US submarine "USS Philadelphia" that was traveling towards Bahrein. The submarine that hit the Turkish ship from port side caused some damage to 35 meters of the 190-meter ship. The estimated cost of the damage to the ship is about $300,000. The accident reportedly occurred three hours after the cargo ship departed from the maintenance shipyard in the Asry town of Bahrein. It is stated that the accident was caused by the sonar's failure to see the submarine. Authorities point out that the kind of dye called "kriyt" which is used on military ships makes it hard or totally prevents these ships' being noticed by sonar in commercial ships."

Yeah, that's it -- all the "kriyt" dye coating your tax dollars are buying keeps the sonar on merchant ships from seeing our surfaced submarines. (/sarcasm) Anyway, word on the street is that the merchant T-boned the sub, and not the other way around; the mention in the story above about damage to the "port side" could lead a reasonable observer to believe that the bow of the merchant hit the port side of the sub, which means the sub had the right of way. Probably not enough to let those responsible on the sub keep their jobs, but enough to keep the U.S. Navy from having to pay for damages to the freighter.

Update 2305 06 Sep: According to this report from the Navy Times, the Turkish M/V Yaso Aysen is a 52,400 ton ship with a crew of 20 that was carrying "small stones" to the UAE. ("Small stones" -- Gravel? Or maybe a typo of "small (general) stores". I'd almost believe the gravel; the sand in the UAE is very fine, almost dustlike, and not very useful as a building material.)

Anyway, from what I've been able to piece together, my guess is that the Philly was heading towards Mina Sulman (the port for Manama, in Bahrain) and the Yaso Aysen was outbound. Somehow, I think the merchant crossed over into the inbound traffic separation scheme, and collided with Philadelphia. I can imagine the OOD trying to raise them on the radio, trying to figure out what the merchant was doing, and getting no response... I'm just glad no one was hurt.


Blogger Brainy435 said...

Isn't it funny how none of the facts are known yet, but there are so many people ready to blame the military? Unreal.

9/07/2005 8:31 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

I thought the most humorous part is how the AP article that went out on the wires said the sub "slammed" into the freighter, claiming this came from the 5th Fleet spokesman, even though the statement said nothing of the kind.

9/07/2005 9:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son is an officer on the Philadelphia (luckily not one who was on duty at the time but one who helped get the sub safely to port). He's amazed the media knows more than the ones who were actually there.

9/13/2005 11:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm currently stationed on the Philly and was onboard for the collision... I'd just like to say that we definately did not hit them. It was the exact opposite and it's a terrible loss for the Philadelphia that CDR Oxholm was relieved of command. He was a great skipper and didn't deserve what he got.

1/17/2006 6:30 PM

Blogger Tyler Herrin said...

Steve Oxholm is my cousin, and hes an awesome guy. who is an extreamly good leader, and awesome sub commander.

6/02/2006 10:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a veteran of 23 years of Naval service as an OOD and who has been a 100 ton master USCG Capt. for 16 years, junior chief on subs/surface ships, it is responsibility of the (OOD) to maintain a set distance between his ship and other ships at all times. Whether the ship turned into the sub or not is irrelevent, the OOD should of turned much sooner to stbd to maintain this set distance, especially during night time steaming.

2/21/2007 11:11 AM

Blogger nicedad1 said...

I have been a radar operator on submarines several times while maneuvering in foreign or local waters. The radar operator will always pass information to the bridge of any and all contacts and points of reflection (on land) as he sees them. It is also his responsibility to send any changes in that information to the bridge. Our old radar (serial number 5) never worked quite right, but we were able to make do and get good navigation information to the bridge. A freighter will put a huge blip on the screen. It's hard to see how this could have happened.

7/10/2007 12:25 AM


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