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.)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I Bet This Was A Fun Maneuvering Watch!

Check out this picture of USS Philadelphia (SSN 690) after a recent mooring in Groton:

Notice all the white stuff on the sail? That's ice. I remember quite a few very cold surface transits in the Long Island Sound, but nothing where I saw this much ice. There was this one, though, when I was a NUB on USS Topeka back in early '91, where I was manning #1 periscope on the surface during an outbound transit (as Contact Coordinator U/I, if I recall correctly), and every couple of minutes a wave would hit the optics of the raised 'scope -- followed a couple of seconds later by a huge slug of water coming down the bridge trunk and hitting the bear trap. Someone suggested we shut the lower bridge hatch to keep everything from getting wet, when someone else remembered a story of a boat that did that, and then had the bridge trunk fill with water and then something clogged the drain valve, trapping the OOD and lookout on the bridge. We ended up moving the OOD below and navigating the rest of the way out to the dive point at night, with reduced visibility, and no one on the bridge. I wonder how that would be looked at in today's ORM-centric environment...


Blogger Draamal said...

Is that a recent picture? Does that mean that my old boat is done banging out the imprint of that Turkish ship from her hull in Portsmouth?

2/01/2007 4:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Photo dated 2006.

2/01/2007 12:49 PM

Anonymous ex SSN Officer said...

Had a similar experience in the Med, but at that time I was an experienced OOD on the bridge of a 688 driving into 50kt winds.

For the first time in my career, I had suggested moving the watch below to the skipper. Problem was, he was a world-class contrarian, though otherwise not a bad guy. Contrary to my suggestion, the word came back to just put on harnesses, which we did.

As we drove along, several waves came up to within a yard or so of the top of the sail, and of course well over the top of the fairwater planes.

Finally, 'the big one' approached, and I told the lookout watch to "get down and hold on." He sort of hunkered down mildly, with plenty of head and shoulders exposed. I then firmly told him, "No...get down, and hold on."

Lucky for him, he did, as we then took a wave that sounded like a thunder clap over the top of the sail that hit the scopes and shut the head valve (I'd been doing a low pressure blow as the air kept spilling out of the MBTs). No one thought to look at the depth gauges as we were mentally on the surface, but my best guess is that we did indeed fully submerge, scopes and all, however briefly.

The lower hatch got shut, but only after taking a few hundred gallons of water aboard. The wave was of such proportions that the folks down below didn't know if we were alive or dead. It didn't help the situation that the bridge suitcase had shorted out for a while.

But the JA still worked, and with the captain's somewhat sheepish concurrence we buttoned up the bridge and started below.

As I finally got down the ladder to see a bunch of faces smiling with genuine gladness to actually see that we were OK, I handed the blown-out plexiglas windshield to the Nav and said with my best cowboy accent: "Y'better get this in your ESL."

It was quite a moment...certainly good for a nerve-soothing laugh.

The strongest feeling I remember was not one of vindication that I'd been 'right' to station the watch below -- nor was it even any sense of fear from a close brush -- it is simply how it felt to see the genuine and obviously hearfelt relief on people's faces as we came below without having been injured in any way.

Yes, despite all the hardassing and browbeating and general moronity that we gave & I'm sure still give to one another, we really do care about our shipmates, don't we?

2/01/2007 2:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Based on what I've seen, NOT stationing the watch below would be the wrong answer. If I recall correctly, an OOD on Providence broke his neck on the bridge windshield in rough seas. I know we routinly stationed the watch below if it was rough.

USS Hartford

2/01/2007 4:14 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Although the photo says it's dated Jan. 2006, the code number at the beginning of the description indicates it was taken Jan. 26, 2007, so I think there's a typo.

2/01/2007 5:28 PM

Blogger Dale Courtney said...

One thing about being stationed in Kings Bay -- no ice there! :)


2/01/2007 5:36 PM

Anonymous EW-3 said...

You poor SS guys ;)
Was on a DE in and out of Newport RI back in the Cold War days. Ie was a constant companion. I happen to be on the sea and anchor detail, so being on the starboard bridge wing for an hour or two in frozen mist was all too common.
Let's not even talk about taking a 40+ degree role in the north atlantic during moderate seas. As I recall our record on one crossing was 54 degrees. I was in the passageway just outside of sickbay when it hit us. I had my right boondocker 2 or 3 feet up on the starboard bulkhead while my left boondocker was lightly loaded while I slammed into the bulkhead.
Weltcom to the the surface of the North Atlantic in an under than 3000 ton ship.

2/02/2007 1:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember on the USS Baton Rouge when we were sent to see as Hurricane Andrew closed in on Florida. We were close the path of the hurricane, but not directly under the hurricane. We had to dive down to almost 700 ft to not feel the wrath of the hurricane. I remember nasty seas could be felt at 150 ft as we prepared to go to PD, so this had to be absolutely crazy! I can't imagine being on or near the surface in that mess!

2/02/2007 6:37 AM

Blogger RM1(SS) (ret) said...

The Providence OOD was the Weps. They were rigging the bridge for dive, and had just unfastened one side of the windshield when the wave hit. It tore the other side loose, and the windshield whit him upside the head. They got him below, HMCS stabilised him, and we went back in to offload him. He's fine now.

On an earlier trip, we had moved the OOD below without difficulty, but then a wave hit and tore the radar antenna off.

2/02/2007 8:43 AM

Anonymous Birdie said...

It's nice to see a skimmer (EW-3) reading a submariner blog. Good boy.

I remember standing lookout back in the mid-70s on a boomer transiting to the patrol area. The winds were calm without much wave action. The swells were about 20 feet and moving at 90 degrees to our course, in sets of two. The OOD was our engineer, Mr. Baronoski. He's probably a really nice guy but at the time was not well liked by the forward enlisted guys.

Anyway, as we encountered each set of swells we would ride up and over the first one and get hit head on by the second. It was like having a 55 gallon barrel of cold salt water dumped on your head every thirty seconds.

After a while the salt water created a great urge to spit, and for the two hours I enjoyed spitting on Mr. Baronoski.

I suppose it was small payback for all the #$^&* some officers seemed to enjoy dishing out to their captive enlisted audience. And I'm sure he was spitting on me all the while.

2/02/2007 11:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ex-ssn officer, Did that happen in 1990? We had something similar happen on the USS Key West in the med. One of my friends comments how strange it was to look up at the bottom of the wave from the bridge when the wave came over the top.

2/02/2007 8:24 PM

Anonymous ex SSN Officer said...

Anon: Actually that happened way back in 1983, when I was Weps during my just ex-newcon boat's first overseas deployment.

And I agree with your friend: looking down at the bottom of the wave is a strange sight indeed.

In our 50-kt strong gale, I'd estimate that the 'period' of the waves (peak-to-peak, horizontal distance) varied between a nominal 300 and 500 feet in the extreme.

Sometimes we were supported fore and aft by the wave peaks, and sometimes we were driving 'up' the waves, and sometimes down. When running up over the wave's crest, the forward MBTs would vent violently as their flood gratings came very shallow, and ditto aft as we ran down past the crest.

It was the boat's downward momentum on one of the sledding-like down cycles that drove us well underneath the cresting wave. So, get a good look at the bottom of the wave under those circumstances. It gave a strong sense of literally diving into the ocean with the boat, which, of course, we did.

2/02/2007 8:58 PM

Blogger G-Man said...

I have to say this is a great article. Especially to those of us that stood topside during the manuvering watch. I did most of the time.

To those of you that serve our country on shivering winter submarine's my thanks to you.

2/03/2007 8:50 AM

Blogger CDR Salamander said...

Global warming strikes again. I blame Bush.

2/03/2007 10:23 AM

Blogger SSN661Commo said...

I remember transiting the North Sea in the fall of 78, on the surface, doing flank, as an NQP JOOD, the OOD, myself and the lookout were down in the box, lower hatch shut, taking green water every 45 seconds or so, with the head valve being shut (snorkel mast raised) by the waves about half the time. We were limited to 3 hour watches but the CO never wanted to bring the watch below decks. That was a brutal three hours to endure. All we could do was to bend at the waist and look down the bridge trunk as the water poured over us about once a minute. Slowing down wasn't an option either as we had to make port with the tide in order to pull into a drydock for mooring. Considering we had a week in Edinburgh, it was worth it!!

2/05/2007 9:44 AM

Blogger Subsunk said...

The strongest feeling I remember was not one of vindication that I'd been 'right' to station the watch below -- nor was it even any sense of fear from a close brush -- it is simply how it felt to see the genuine and obviously hearfelt relief on people's faces as we came below without having been injured in any way.

Yes, despite all the hardassing and browbeating and general moronity that we gave & I'm sure still give to one another, we really do care about our shipmates, don't we?

2/01/2007 2:09 PM

Ys, sir. Despite all we put each other through, no matter how large an orifice he is, I'll take my shipmate over a politician or a quitter or a man or woman who would abandon soldiers in combat before their job is done and for purely partisan gain.

As we all like to say mechanics/sonarmen/corpsmen/electricians/NavETs/name your rate are the Salt of the Earth. And I'll serve with any of them, any day.


2/06/2007 7:46 AM

Anonymous Mark/MM1(SS) said...

Doing an incremental dive to test depth on 637 class off of SD after some subsafe work with an extra watch section on the phones. I'm lucky to be on the one off-watch section in my rack in the 18 man. At test depth, "flooding in the ER" is announced on the 1MC, simultaneously I hear the air flasks discharge in a full EMBT blow, as the boat takes an up-angle. I come flying out of the rack, ascending the ladder to the fwd signal ejector, joining several others in watching the sea pressure indication on the signal ejector gage - watching for confirmation that we are ascending. After the surface broach and bobbing back and forth, the word makes the rounds that the leak was from a SW vent on the R114, which had blown trapped debris that had prevented the valve from seating fully shut, creating a wall of water at test depth that took out two of the three AC/ASW pumps. Was happy to return to SD the next day, with the two week op cancelled.

9/10/2011 5:12 PM

Anonymous afrogshop said...

Quite effective material, thank you for the article.

7/02/2012 6:21 AM


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