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, November 15, 2006

Did You Ever Worry About This?

Over at Navy NewsStand, they have a good picture of USS Asheville (SSN 758) as she was participating in the U.S.-Japan ANNUALEX that made the news this week because of the Chinese sub that was poking around. Here's the picture:

Do you notice anything? Other than the fact that Asheville seems to have had her B1rD system removed, nothing seems out of the ordinary. However, take a look at this blown-up portion of the picture, focusing on the bridge:

It still looks normal, and that's the problem. Many of us have stood watch on the bridge just like these guys, on the 751 and later boats. Look again -- where is the radar going to be pointing when it rotates another 270 degrees? How high off the top of the bridge is the radar elevated, and where does that correspond to the bodies of the people standing on top of the sail? You can see where I'm going here...

On surface ships, they have to tag out their radars whenever someone goes aloft. On subs, since there's no room to do that, they just had us stand there right in the middle of the beam without even giving us lead underwear. And we all thought that the reactor was the thing that was going to mess with our future kid's DNA...

This is just another in the long list of reasons that Sub Pay wasn't nearly as much as it should have been.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Solution: get the captain off the bridge, put the JOOD in the cockpit and let the lookout sit on the sail safely below the radar beam.

Yeah, we had a couple near-death by BPS-15 incidents on my boat too.

11/14/2006 10:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because radar range is a function of mast height, and BH does not say the height of the radar mast on SSN 758 is positioned unusually low in this photo, he implies that this is the normal limit of mast extension.

I am familiar with submarine radar and find it difficult to believe it would have been active in such a low position (effective range would diminish greatly) even on a clear day.

If the low mast height is the current design (have not checked) and lax topside safety is the current S.O.P. this photo would be very bad news indeed.

When operational, the radar is a high-powered microwave oven with no door interlock. Like nuclear radiation the power effect obeys the inverted distance squared rule, however. At fully raised mast height (say another 8-10 feet or more above the bridge party) the hazard would be very minimal for males. Guess

11/15/2006 12:33 AM

Anonymous ew-3 said...

along the same lines, during an operation readiness test since I was a short time they banashed me to the ECM on the 0-3 level. While up there I was playing around with the ULQ-6 and took the flexible waveguide off and forgot to shut the gear down and zap the activity light went off....
Glad to save I have a healthy 35 year old son.

11/15/2006 3:11 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

2nd Anonymous: I was on the 754 and two Seawolfs, so you'll have to trust me -- on the 751 and later boats, that's as high as the radar mast goes.

11/15/2006 5:28 AM

Anonymous bullnav said...

Concur with Bubblehead--I served on 759 and 756 and that is all you get with the BPS-15 (and that is the way it is on all 688's). Additionally, we usually had a commercial radar (such as a Furuno) mounted up on the bridge, since it gave you significantly more functionality than the BPS-15. I stood plenty of bridge watches and never had any issues with the radar. I forget the exact power output, but this is a surface-search only radar and does not have near the output of a 3D air search radar. So you get a little big deal, its just microwaves...not like some neutrons or anything...

11/15/2006 6:45 AM

Blogger Steeljaw Scribe said...

Parenthetically would note that today is the 46th anniversary of the first deterrent patrol. GW underway from Charleston SC, 15 Nov 1960...

11/15/2006 7:17 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The BPS-15 has an interlock that will not allow the RADAR to rotate unless the BPS-15 Mast switch on the BCP is in the Raise position. And I know for a fact that that interlock works (SSN 758 was my last boat).

As for the radiation hazard, if memory serves me correctly, in point mode, the safety range was 4 ft, and there was not a range while radiating (other than getting smacked upside the head from the radome). Reference is the Electromagnetic hazards handbook.

Rat Bastard.

11/15/2006 9:02 AM

Blogger SonarMan said...

You wouldn't have to worry about your DNA from the radar, you'd have to worry about getting cooked like a hotdog. Kinds like the same worries of frostbite, only in reverse.

I never stood watch in the bridge, so let me ask you guys this - anybody ever have a candy bar in their pocket that melted while you were up there? If not, don't sweat it.

11/15/2006 9:50 AM

Blogger PigBoatSailor said...

anybody ever have a candy bar in their pocket that melted while you were up there? If not, don't sweat it.

Actually, yeah, I did. (Of course, we were pulling into PCAN in June, but nevermind that)

I have been damaged by that dern BPS-15, though - it just about knocked me out when I let me head get too close to the rotating emitter.

You might be suprised by the BPS-15H (dunno if there is a newer update now - that was the new one 3 years ago). It actually had -more- functionality than a furuno, by a long shot.

However, we still used the furuno, as there was no BPS-15H repeater on the bridge, and even though it was more capable, the new whamodyne software still tended to freeze up now and again, while the furuno always worked as long as you didn't cut the power cord with the lower hatch.

11/15/2006 3:32 PM

Blogger Subvet said...

I was working on the head valve of the OMAHA (SSN 692) pulling into Pearl and had to work my way around a rotating radar. Lots of fun and yeah, I asked the OOD if we could secure it due to my concerns about being cooked. As far as the height was concerned, I was crawling under the rotating head itself.

Charlie Oscar said, "No." when that request was made. My Eng was OOD and gave me sympathy but that's about it.

Sympathy, its a word you'll find in the dictionary somewhere between syphillis and shit.

11/16/2006 4:27 AM

Blogger WillyShake said...

My 2 cents: My experience on 753 concurs with the comments of bullnav and PBS--especially that the BPS was more of a mechanical threat to one's noggin (especially when trying to rig that bleepin windshield!) than anything. We rigged Furuno too, and it was so simple that even a shiny new Ensign training to be OOD could understand it. LOL I only hated getting that thing in and out of the bridge trunk.

11/16/2006 10:24 AM

Anonymous Shower Tech said...

I never stood watch on the bridge so i dont know about the BPS 15, but i worried more(not really) about some poor diver in the water while we went active on the sonar.

11/16/2006 11:58 AM

Anonymous TCO said...

1. Use your frigging brain and the basics that they taught you in nuke school and college. Radar is low frequency, non-ionizing radiation.

2. All real submarines are named after fish.

11/16/2006 8:54 PM

Blogger submandave said...

Another plus of the commercial radar was that when you used it on the boomer-pig the AGIs wouldn't be able to pick you out of the crowd and come running.

11/21/2006 11:34 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I began every watch as lookout a bit leery and conscious of being swept by the BPS-16, but would eventually stop thinking about it. I do recall shipmates mentioning that it made their digital watches a bit screwy, but never saw evidence of it myself.

I do recall a period when we were having problems with the mast and it would intermittently stop rotating. Whenever it locked up pointing aft (directly at me), I would astutely duck from the top of the sail into the lookout puka and keep my head down.

11/22/2006 6:45 AM

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1/04/2012 11:36 PM


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