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.)

Friday, March 14, 2008

"Paddles" On A Submarine

When I did a deployment on USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) in 2000, I learned a lot about flight deck operations. One of the things I found most fascinating was the job of the Landing Signal Officer, or "Paddles" -- the officer on the carrier deck (actually in a bunker) who helps the pilots land. I always figure, "Well, there's one job a submariner will never have to learn".

How times have changed. Here's a recent picture from USS Ohio (SSGN 726) that shows they have their own version of "Paddles":

Other pictures of the helo PERSTRANS are here and here. Having an inordinate fear of getting shocked, I'm glad I never had to be on the team that received a transfer from a helicopter.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Around 20 years ago I was on a Trident SSBN that did a helo pers-trans in the Gulf of Alaska. A series of errors led to a crewmember getting washed overboard and torrential flooding down the MC hatch until someone alertly grabbed the line and shut the lower hatch, leaving several people topside. The helo plucked the 'Oscar' out of the water, saving his life and we completed the transfer. Photos were taken, but the camera was ruined in the melee, taking the film with it. The incident likely contributed to the XO never getting his own command since it was all preventable.

3/14/2008 8:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back in 1972, as a young TM3, I was the one being hoisted off the missile deck of a 608 class SSBN (at a location that shall remain undisclosed). I knew my mom had cancer before I left on patrol and I accepted that I would not be able to get leave until after the patrol. In comes a message to the C.O. saying to rendezvous with a helo at such and such a place at such and such a time. Turns out the boat was a bit out of position from those coordinates to quickly get there. Since he could not reply to the message and I don’t believe he wanted to miss that rendezvous and have others think something happened to a Polaris boat, he had no choice but to crank on the turns and try to make it, all the while still streaming the buoy and hoping it would not break. Just prior to surfacing, the XO gave me a brief in his stateroom and told me not to take any mail with me because he didn’t want to risk a security breach. I was too scared to tell him that right then and there I had 40 letters stuffed down my dress blue pants! Sorry XO. Anyway we didn’t have any “paddles” but me and the leading seaman were topside in safety harnesses attached to the safety track when the helo comes over and turns a beautiful glassy blue sea into a bunch of choppy waves and a lot of wind. I was terrified that they would hook onto me, raise me a few feet and beat feet for the horizon while reeling me in like a fish. They were very professional and just hovered until I was hoisted up and safely secured in the aircraft. The XO had to hear later in off crew about the letters, but he never said a thing to me.

Chief Torpedoman

3/14/2008 11:53 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did a one-patrol TAD run on that boat the patrol after that happened, in '89 (the incident happened in '88). I remember who that guy was that got washed overboard. He was the Deck LPO. RM2 Mullinax, I think. He told me he dunked in the water, and when he came back up, the boat was a mile away. He thought he was going to die. They picked him up and dropped him off on the boat. He was pissed.

The other guys up there told me that everytime a wave would wash over them in their kapocs, they'd float violently to the top of their tethers, like a helium balloon in a wind storm, and then slam down on the deck when the wave subsided.

The XO? Yeah, he had Hogan's Goat stamped on his forhead. That boat had a lot of problems, and they all started from his stateroom (I've got a funny story about him). It was thought he never screened for command, but I nearly fell out of my socks when I saw him in his PCO class picture at NSTCPAC two years ago when I went out there to do installation training for the Pasadena.

3/14/2008 12:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i thought the ohio would have ASDS hooked up. all i see is the pylon

3/14/2008 2:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Until 1963 submarines still had a requirement to support personnel transfer by highline. We had all the gear, snatch blocks, inhaul lines, padeyes, etc. on my first boat SS 348. fortunately in 1963 that requirement was deleted for submarines so we disposed of all that stuff during precomm on my second boat SSBN 619B. there is a photo floating around of the Nautilus doing a high line transfer. Helo transfer is a lot easier and makes a lot more sense. BTW, paddles are not necessary for use by the LSE. As long as he is wearing a yellow vest the pilot knows he's the guy to watch. Hand signals are fine. We do it all the time on MSC T-AE's.


3/14/2008 4:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yarens ago, I was attached to a Joint Intel Command. We flew from Norfolk to Charleston and boarded a FF at 0215 hours and underway five minuets later. We sighted our assignment later that day. Two Soviet Krivacks, a broken down Foxtrot SS and a tanker.

Of course the Soviets didn't run out of fuel but guess who did? We had followed them into the Gulf of Mexico, up to Pensicola(sp)Naval Air Station and back to Havana, Cuba. The relief FF met us just as the Soviets were about 20 miles from Havana. The Captain met with me and told me my Intel team would be transfered by helicopter. I commented that we had a zero sea-state and perhaps it would be a lot safer to use the whale boat. He laughed and said don't worry Master Chief we'll get you to the other ship safely. When it came time for us to go the 1MC barked out this order Master Chief *&^^% lay to the flight deck asap. About ten minuets later there was a knock at the CPO Qtr's door. The CO entered sat down and said you just gotta do it. He gave three mini brandy bottles and two Valium pills. Of course the word was out about the submarine sailor that didn't like to fly. I had quite a send off. Just as we took off four Mig's over flew the ship almost colliding with us. The Cuban's put on a really big show. I have to admit I have a big time fear of flying. I have done two horse collar transfers from helo to submarine always heavy seas. One Tailhook landing on a carrier never of the above helo flights was from the carrier I had just landed on. There is no way I would ever caltapult from a carrier. My guess is that SSBN's with their big deck aft made transfer's allot easier. SSN's they put you down on top of the Sail.

3/14/2008 6:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article says what ASDS is supposed to be doing in "early 2008." Haven't seen anything about it on the web lately though.

3/14/2008 10:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back when I was Eng, we were doing a TRE in SOCAL when low-and-behold, it appears the Senior Member is having a heart attack!!! We start hauling back to San Diego, but the June gloom is full tilt, so we wind up sprinting on the surface in between fog banks. We call for a helo, and out the USCG comes. Turns out our Doc HATES helos (from his time w/ USMC), so the XO has to trick him by not telling him he is going until he slaps a cranial on Doc's melon and points him up the hatch.

The TRE team continues the exam the whole time this is going on, including identifying a few deficiencies w/ our helo transfer kit.

Turns out the SM had an infection of the tissue surrounding his heart, which combined w/ the turkey tetrazzini we had for lunch, gave symptoms just like a heart attack. Needless to say, the legend of the boat's "killer tetrazzini" stuck for quite some time....

3/15/2008 6:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We did one on the Nebraska about 3 years ago. It was pretty fun, we gave them some cookies and they gave us the latest newspapers.

3/15/2008 6:26 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

Probably remembered by very few: USS Corporal (SS 346) landed an H-34 CHOCTAW on deck and ferried it into port.

While operating off Key West in 1957, CORPORAL received a distress call from the CHOCTAW operating nearby, in extremis and unable to reach land. Seas were calm.

Corporal gave the CHOCTAW a level deck and she set down aft of the sail. Each wheel was overhanging the deck edge, but had enough rubber on the walking deck to remain upright and aboard.

Tied down, CORPORAL (now re-designated SSH 346) brought her and crew safely to port.

3/16/2008 7:35 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

Two more comments on postings above:

As former LSO in a cruiser off VietNam (192 landings) and OOD for 6 helo transfers in JOHN MARSHALL, totally agree that the paddles are silly. The helo pilot needs a visual reference on the boat and an indication that the transfer is ready. Nothing more. Transfers aft of the sail are much easier, because the sail is that visual reference. Transfers from the sail are tough - nothing to sight on for the pilot I've done a couple in rough seas and on these, radio and trust are what works.

On highlining, I participated in a highline transfer between CAVALLA (SS 244) and TULLIBEE. TULLIBEE was on extended sea trials in the Caribbean in 1960/61 and one of the things she had to check out was highlining. We transferred one guy from CAVALLA to TULLIBEE. It nearly ended in disaster. TULLIBEE's low sail put the highline close to the water. When the boats got out of synch in their rolling, the guys on deck could not keep up with the slack and JJ Wallace in the boatswains chair would be dunked under. Then the boats would roll apart and he'd be snapped straight up. The real danger was that he might be snapped upside down and fall headfirst one the blocks. He did get to TULLIBEE in one piece, but that was last time TULLIBEE ever tried that drill. Am not sure whether her highline gear ever got back to the cage on the beach - it may have been tested for its floatation properties.

3/16/2008 8:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those aren't the Pylons on the Ohio...that is a Dry Deck Shelter on the port side. Currently, ASDS and its Pylons are on the Michigan completing OPEVAL.

3/17/2008 5:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

of course you are right. that is the drydock shelter and stupid me saw asds a few weeks ago.

3/17/2008 6:25 PM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

While working with Destroyers off Vietnam in the 1960s on SEADRAGON, we did lots of helo transfers for mail, people, etc. Our ever enterprising nuc MMs devised an LSO outfit from yellow decon suits and aluminum foil paddles. One of them got the signal book and learned the signals and convinced the CO to let him be LSO. He even earned a picture in the Cruise Book we had published on the UNCLAS portions of the deployment. I am sure the HELO pilots got a chuckle from the efforts to provide some guidance to the helo. In the seventies, on another sub, we did a transfer from the sail rather than the aft deck and the LSO crowed out the OOD on the bridge. It was tough because the helo had no sight line and we had to keep masts down so the helo would not collide with them. Fortunately, all transfers I was ever envolved with either as OOD or transferee were very successful.

3/18/2008 2:08 PM

Anonymous kittygoespotty said...

Really useful information, lots of thanks for your post.

4/02/2012 7:20 AM


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