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, October 18, 2005

Carter Departs For New Homeport... Twice

(Cross-posted at the group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More)

My last boat, USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) is on her way to her new homeport in Bangor, Washington. (As usual, read the article quickly, since you'll need to register starting tomorrow.) [Update 2231: Longer lasting version of the article is here.] What makes this departure interesting is that they had to do it twice. According to the article:

“When they were in transit, somewhere in Long Island Sound, they took a nasty wave,” Lt. Mark Jones said. Water poured into the bridge hatch and damaged some computer equipment below, requiring that the submarine return to port, he said.
“It was essential, but an easy-to-fix piece of equipment,” Jones said. “It was an easy switch-out on the computer, and they were back to sea and on their way by Saturday.
"Carter had departed Friday for Bangor, Wash., as part of a planned change of homeport, after being commissioned last February. Bangor, which has increased security measures, has long been the homeport of the spy submarine USS Parche, which was decommissioned last year...

"...It left Groton Friday morning for its trip to Bangor, and was transiting the Sound on the surface until it reached water deep enough for it to dive.
"Two lookouts and the officer of the deck were standing watch at the top of the sail, as required when the ship is on the surface, when a huge wave swamped them, sending hundreds of gallons of water flushing down the bridge hatch at the same time.
"The Navy sources said the bridge was completely submerged by the wave, and that if the lookouts and the officer of the deck had not been clipped in because of the foul weather they could have been washed overboard."


The article goes on to mention that this is very similar to the scenario that caused the fire on HMCS Chicoutimi last year. Of course, taking water down the bridge hatch is a fairly common phenomenon on submarines, so most of the equipment that can be doused is fairly protected. I'm assuming that with the Carter, since she's a unique configuration, they moved some of the equipment around, so probably something that wasn't quite as "hardened" ended up in the path of the water as it bounced out of the "bear trap" (the area beneath the bridge access trunk designed to collect the water that comes down). Note that on Seawolf class boats, the main Control room is not on the top deck, so the bridge is accessed from the deck above Control -- and is a little more forward than other boats, just forward of the Combat System Electronics Space -- which has lots of nice juicy electronics. Also, the "boot" in front of the sail tends to worsen the effect of some waves coming in from certain angles, IMHO. I used to assign myself the surface watches coming in to Groton all the time on Connecticut, and I got plenty wet.

The article also mentions that the boat was in the yard for work on her hydraulic system just prior to her departure. This also doesn't surprise me; as you might guess, the extra 100 foot section has quite a bit of extra hydraulics that isn't present on the first two boats of the class. I wouldn't be shocked to learn that they had to do a little re-design work to make the system as robust as it needed to be.

There are few things more embarassing for a boat than to have to limp back into port after leaving for a long deployment (or, in this case, COHP). On my deployment on the good ship Topeka in 1992, we had something similar happen. Got underway on 03 Aug 1992 with all the pomp and circumstance surrounding such an event, and dived the boat. When we came back up to PD that evening, we started hearing this loud banging noise from the bridge. It turned out that the fairing for our radar mast had come loose on one side, and needed to be replaced. So, we contacted the base, got new orders, turned around, and headed back in. (Luckily, our sister ship USS Pasadena (SSN 752) was in port at the time, so we were able to cannibalize the fairing from her.)

Of more interest was what happened ashore. The squadron called the CO's wife and the ombudsman, letting them know that the boat was coming back in, but it would only be for a few hours, and the wives shouldn't bother to come down to the base. The word went out over the wive's phone tree, and by the time this was passed around, the wives understood that they were all to meet at the McDonald's on base with the Commodore, who was going to brief them on what was going wrong with the ship. Needless to say, there were dozens of anxious wives on the pier when we arrived. The XO eventually relented and let the guys whose wives had come go up and talk to them. We then got back underway that afternoon and rushed to catch up with the Battle Group.

Break... new topic. I mentioned earlier that the word on the street was that the author of this article, Robert Hamilton, was going to be leaving The Day and going to work for EB. Today's paper confirms this. We'll miss your straight-shooting reporting and submarine knowledge, Bob.

Going deep...

11 Comments:

Anonymous EW3 said...

That must have been one heck of a wave. How high up is the sail of a sub, 30 ft? We did have high winds in New England last weekend, but that patch of water usually isn't that bad, particularly with a NW wind.

10/18/2005 11:21 AM

 
Blogger Brainy435 said...

The Miami (SSN 755) took on a massive wave while we were transiting into Germany. A good 20-50 gallons found me...in my rack in berthing. Talk about a bad way to wake up. The collision alarm shorted and sounded like it was drowning, people were yelling and running everywhere....and I was standing in my skivvies, drenched with seawater..and did I mention it was in winter?...watching waves of water cascade down out of the control room and down the aft ladder. Then I had to grab my mattress to cover the battery well, cause the EM chief didn't want all the chlorine gas we'd end up with if we didn't stop the ocean from getting in there. Worst part? All the water fried the crews TV.

10/18/2005 1:35 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last time we (Providence, 719) took a wave like that, we had to pull back in to replace our Weps. They were in the process of derigging the bridge - specifically, removing the windscreen - when the wave hit. The last couple bolts holding the windscreen were torn loose, and it hit him upside the head, cracking a couple of vertebrae.

On a previous trip, the weather was rough enough that we secured the bridge well before the dive point. Shortly thereafter, a wave hit and neatly removed the antenna of our brand-new (ie, this was its first underway) BPS-15H. I had hit the rack immediately after the manoeuvring watch was secured, and was very surprised, on being awakened for my nest watch, to find that we were still on the surface, waiting for daylight ao we could head back in. 8)


RM1(SS) (ret)

10/18/2005 3:16 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beggar it. I meant, of course, "my next watch."


RM1(SS) (ret)

10/18/2005 3:39 PM

 
Blogger Lubber's Line said...

Came into Kings Bay at O'dark 30 in the morning in a gail at the end of patrol. Only time I ever got sea sick on a sub. I blamed it on the mid-rats leftover greasy pizza and sitting radar watch watching the roundy roundy thing.

I remember seeing water coming down into the bear trap and some misrable watchstanders being relieved from the bridge, but we didn't take and on any Blue Water over the sail. Must have been that SSBNs sit a little higher in the water and have a taller sail that fast boats.

10/18/2005 8:06 PM

 
Anonymous EW3 said...

This is actually a fun thread for me, having served on DE-1038, and my rack getting wet everytime we had seas over 10 feet. (I slept right under the ASROC launcher.)
We actually dealth with 80ft seas and 100MPH winds in that tub. The IFF antennas at the highest point on the ship got ripped off by the force of the seas and wind.
We spent 7 days rocking and rolling in that mess. If I recall correctly it was the time we rolled to about 50 degrees. I was walking down the passageway just outside of the Doc's office and we leaned to starboard hard. My right leg was walking along the bulkhead and my left foot was on the deck.
And they give you guys haz pay ;)

10/18/2005 8:26 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

EW3: And you skimmers say we bubbleheads are crazy???


RM1(SS) (ret)

10/19/2005 2:19 PM

 
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