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 12, 2009

USS Pittsburgh Returns From Deployment, Rigs Shore Phone Line

USS Pittsburgh (SSN 720) returned from a Southcom/Africom deployment last week, missing out on watching their namesake city win the Super Bowl by only a few days. In addition to a story about their return, the official Navy website had five pictures of the homecoming, including two of a submarine evolution that isn't appreciated nearly as much as it should be -- hooking up the shore phones. The non-shore phone pictures are located here, here, and here. The first shot that really grabbed my interest was a rare action shot of a "heavie" being thrown from on top of the sail to bring aboard the shore phone line:

I think he's got pretty good form.

The second is of a Submariner trying to untangle the inevitable knot the shore phone cable had when it was brought aboard:

In the days before everyone had a cell phone, shore phones always resulted in interesting conflicts aboard submarines. It seems that every duty section had one or more girlfriends or wives who would call up the boat several times a night and expect whichever poor soul answered the phone to go find their Submariner. As the newer phone systems replaced the old "MJ" system in the late 90's/early 00s, you ended up with the resulting problem that there was nothing preventing a well-meaning but clueless coner from transferring a call from a wife/girlfriend to the on-watch SRO in Maneuvering -- as Eng, I ended up conducting personal training on that issue with everyone who checked into the command.

What are your favorite shore phone stories?

(Edited 0957 13 Feb to add photos.)


Anonymous ew-3 said...

A "heavie" ??

Is it not PC to call them monkey fists anymore?

2/12/2009 6:02 PM

Blogger Brian said...

Better than the calls from wives/girlfriends were the calls (more than once!) from a sailor, crying because his wife beat him up. That's something they don't typically cover during the board...

PS: Doesn't the EDM/EDOM prohibit shore phones in/near maneuvering?

2/12/2009 6:17 PM

Blogger Patty Wayne said...

Is it really a monkey fist if it isn't a metal core with a monkey fist knot tied around it?

Bringing on shore phone lines in dress blues? That blows.

I was an EM and qualified AEF during the end of a WestPac, along with an RO, just out of sheer boredom. The command wouldn't allow second classes to even start a qual card for EWS. After coming home to Pearl the boat was wiped out of ICmen for various reasons and we were down to one IC1. We were pulled off of the nuke watchbill and went on the AEF watchbill. Getting ready for one local training op we did he and I were taking our sweet time disconnecting and rolling up the shore phone cable while watching my fellow EMs taking off shore power. Pulling back into port we had the shore phones connected and were across the brow on the heals of Sonar division, as E-Div was still connecting shore power. After the first weekly op the Bull Nuke forgot to put us on the inport watchbill, and being nukes the COB didn't put us on the forward watchbill.


2/12/2009 6:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never transferred calls to nukes. It was either take a message and leave it on a sticky by the phone or tell the girl on the other end that "he just left with his wife" or "he didn't come to work today, I think he is on leave".

2/12/2009 6:43 PM

Anonymous whoop_dang said...

I have two memorable call outs, not ins. One was in Guam, about to hit the rack and called my sister in Chicago to see how she was doing the morning of Sept 11, 2001. 3 hours later I woke up cussing, trying to figure out why the lights were on in berthing.

The second was while we were suspension during sound trials, I called my wife while submerged.

2/12/2009 6:50 PM

Blogger chief torpedoman said...

A "heavie" ??

I had an old Boatswain Mate tell me it was actually called a Heaving Line once, but I usually heard them called Heavies.

There is a real good story about them at this link:

2/12/2009 7:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Calling the base operator in KB and asking for the Tennessee got you connected to Maneuvering.

Regarding the EDM, it's been a while, but if mentioned, it would have been in the "keeping maneuvering some shade of purple" section. The phone was required for rx accident comms.

Speaking of rx accidents and phones, the wife never called the boat. The only day she did call was the day we ran the full blown LOCA/triage response/shoreside assist drill. Some poor clown picked up the ER phone and set it down on the stantion. She listened to the MC announcements, alarms, horns, and reports for 5 minutes before she hung up. Pretty funny, going home that night listening to her ramble on like "WTF?"

2/12/2009 7:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best phone call I ever had was with my Girlfriend when she was stationed at Incirlik Airbase Turkey in October 2005.

When she found out her S.P. squadron wasn't deploying to Iraq, I was one happy bastard to say the least!!!!

I bought a $140.00 bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne and had it nice and cold along with a dozen red roses for when she came home 3 weeks later. I'd already ETSed almost a year before, and she had roughly 3 months to go. Her Squadron flew home to Tinker AFB and the girlfriend had 2 months and 8 days for terminal leave. Like me, she just wanted to come home and go back to school. Well, all that's happened.

I love giving her a hard time about it...but I was absolutely happy as hell that she wasn't going to Iraq. That phone call over 3 years ago at 4am my time was well worth the while. I just wanted her to come home safe. There was no F**king point for her to go to Iraq in the first place.

I'm just glad I got my wish.
Talk about a happy phone call indeed.

Thanks, J.

2/12/2009 8:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a story out where, upon a return to port, a guy from Naval Reactors named Mr. Keel called the duty officer of a boat asking to speak to the CO. As it happened the CO was in the wardroom talking to Admiral Konetzni. The SDO told Mr. Keel that the captain was talking to the admiral, to which Mr. Keel responded "oh, well then let me talk to Admiral Konetzni."

The SDO stepped in the wardroom and informed the Admiral that Mr. Keel from Naval Reactors was on Line 1. Admiral Konetzni picked up the phone and said:

"Hey Keel, what the Hell you want from me, the six factor forumla?!?!"

And then Big Al hung up.

2/12/2009 8:41 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pulled our 688 into Toulon, France once, whereupon the local port folk insisted that we had to install their freaking phone onboard instead of hooking up ours to their system.

Should have smelled a rat immediately, but it only occurred to us after some hearty WR discussion of...ah..."recent events" that we might be (likely were) being gamed by frog land.

Le phone was banned to La Pantry for the remainder of our stay.

2/12/2009 10:42 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Except for in the shipyard, I've never been on a boat that had a shore phone aft of the rx compartment. (and in the two times in the shipyard, it was either a completely separate line or part of the SY phone system. and both times well behind maneuvering - and i thought the reason was like Brian @ 6:17 said - that it was against the either the EDM or EDOM to have such a phone in or within a certain distance of maneuvering.

But I haven't ever been on a boat without an MJ either (and it's only been 2 years since I last set foot onboard)

2/12/2009 11:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I'll bite. What's an MJ? I've only ever heard of JA and 2JV as major phone circuits.

2/12/2009 11:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had a new comms thingy installed on the boat called a MARCOM. It was actually pretty cool. It came with a handset and a keypad where the buttons were little LCD displays. Depending on what you pressed, all the key labels changed to something else.

Anyway, this system pretty much enabled you to cross connect any comms methods together. You could pick up any marcom handset and punch into the 2JV, JA, 1 or 2MC, sound ship's alarms, or get an outside phone line. You could even call in from home, punch in a PIN code, and do any of those things.

You see the possibility of screwups or abuse already, I bet.

Before the system was fully turned over to us, another boat called us up and told us to quit being informal on the radio circuits. The radiomen were screwing around with it, not knowing it could actually transmit voice traffic off the boat on bridge-bridge.

(I'm not clear on how they found out it was us.)

2/13/2009 12:42 AM

Blogger Lou said...

The MJ phone circuit (on a 640 class) was a sound powered phone circuit that for some reason, the growlers were on the same circuit as the phone line. When using the MJ, one would pick up the handset and say "line clear?" before growling the station you were calling. Typically the caller would forget to wait to see if in the line was actually clear before growling, which would then result in someone getting their ears blasted...

2/13/2009 3:53 AM

Anonymous silverback said...

My tired old eyes may be tricking me, but that doesn't look like a real monkey's fist. It looks like some type of OSHA approved ball on the end of the line

2/13/2009 7:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


We were pretty good about MJ line clear's. The funniest bit though was when someone would pick up a 2JV and then announce to the world with a "line clear" they were going to growl. There would be a race to a handset to say "line not clear." The best thing about it was about one out of every three times, about twenty seconds later, they would try again.

2/13/2009 7:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are right. The lines today have the big orange balls on them. They are made of rubber and don't fly as far as monkey fists. They do however make a nice "SLAP" sound when you blast someone on the pier in the side of the face.

2/13/2009 8:38 AM

Blogger montigrande said...

I find it hard to believe that either the boat’s XO or COB, or someone at Group 2 would endorse the publication of such “mundane” photos, primarily because of the potential embarrassment factor. Is the sailor on the sail wearing his harness correctly? Why is the shore phone cable fouled? Isn’t there a “per plan” storage location for it that would prevent knotting? Additionally, why is the ET3 wrestling the cable topside in his patent leather shoes, by himself, without the safety lines up instead of moving the whole thing to the pier and then running it? Not that I think that anything here is seriously wrong, there are just some things that don’t need to be recorded for posterity (and critique).

Joel – I apologize for the tone of this post, I’m having a cranky day…hope your surgery went well. You and your family are in my prayers.

2/13/2009 9:10 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Thanks for the good wishes. As you might guess, I disagree with the idea that the Navy should only publish non-"controversial" photos; I really enjoy their documentation of any aspect of life on the boat, and I hope they keep doing it. Sure, I make fun of the pictures sometimes, but I think the memories these pictures bring back are priceless. I hope the Navy continues posting pictures like this.

2/13/2009 10:02 AM

Blogger Lou said...

@anon 7:51

I completely had forgotten about "line clear" over the white rat.

Even funnier is when someone would forget to remove the handset from their ear before growling and end up blasting themselves in the ear...

2/13/2009 10:30 AM

Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

Not quite a shore story, but we used to hit INMARSAT a lot while underway and even inport while onboard LaSalle. My wife and I at the time during my TAD deployment were stationed at the Dahlgren naval base and I used to call her direct to the front gate and they'd patch me through....the calls were free, and what a morale booster that was.

As for phone systems use target navy guys had the "dimension 2000" phone system onboard. What a piece of crap that was!!

2/13/2009 10:49 AM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

I was at the Pittsburgh welcome home and that young sailor missed the first time and the heavie landed in the camels along side the pier (Judging from some of the remarks, I think he was trying to show off for his significant other). He was successful on the second (or it might have been the third) try).
I my day there were no outside lines in vicinity of maneuvering. I also have "fond" memories of "line clear" before cranking on the sound powered phone growler.
Joel - Hope your recovery goes well. Will be thinking and saying a prayer or two.

2/13/2009 11:18 AM

Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

I'm a bit younger, but I still sometimes mumble in my sleep:

"Maneuvering, Engineroom Forward. Mark levels."

I'm pretty sure that's going to haunt me for the rest of my life.

2/13/2009 12:03 PM

Anonymous Anon E. Moose said...

Lou -

I always thought the 'white rat' was the Maneuvering area 2JV speaker that allowed us to listen in on the mysterious calls like: 'Nucleonics, ERF, bring Kim-wipes to ERF!'

My favorite was what we called the 'ol 1-2' We would growl AMR, wait about 10 seconds, then growl the COW. The next 30 seconds would go like this:

AMR: Machinery Room.
COW: Control.
AMR: Machinery Room.
AMR: Control, Machinery Room, you called me.
COW: #$%#$% See me after watch!

Of course, this worked best with some COW's that others.

2/13/2009 1:35 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Scene: IC Div has been getting their butt kicked because it takes so long to get phones connected after mooring. The Chief and I talked it through and have a plan to get the whole ev done in less than 10 minutes.

The ship moors. Without order the IC man dashes across the freshly landed brow toward the phone box. I run into the XO topside. "Don't hook up shore phones," he says. "What?" I say, "We are moving on it already. Got to be fast!" The XO shakes his head, "The CO is probably going to get orders he doesn't want and he doesn't want the detailer to call him." "So, if he doesn't get a call then the orders won't happen?" The XO shrugged, "Don't hook up the phones."

I race to the pier. The phone line is already across from the ship. The box is open. The wires are out and the connections are about to be made. "Do not hook up shore phones," I order the young man. He was about to meet the goal, beat the clock, and I crushed him. I'll never forget the look on his face.

Oh, and we spent the next day and a half without shore phones till we got underway, and the message traffic worked even if the phones didn't.

2/13/2009 1:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phones are allowed in the Engine Room during availabilities. They are usually 15-20 feet aft of maneuvering and are regular SY phones with outside lines available.

At some port locations, phone in maneuvering directly to the source of shore power was authorized, but those have almost all been replaced with "remote" shore power breaker trip switches.

During SY availabilites involving significant work on the reactor plant, Naval Reactors will approve a phone in Maneuvering that connects to the Emergency Control Center in the SY.

2/13/2009 2:13 PM

Anonymous Warren H said...

Dial-a-sailor in Australia. Duty sections had to station a phone watch and log.

2/13/2009 4:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As EDMC on a 688 during a shipyard availability I would get a few beers in me and for some reason (curiosity?) call the ER phone at 0200 to see who answered the phone. It was always the young MM3/MM2 bestowed with the mid-watch SRW watch (in violation of EDOM). The next Monday we would have a discussion. I was never seriously upset with the young man as it was most likely something I would have done in his place in my younger years. My advice (jokingly) was always to say you were the SRO answering the ER phone by the ERUL coffee pot (I was an MMCM). He understood the rules and agreed to conform to regs and we moved forward.

2/13/2009 5:03 PM

Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

EDMC's like that were the reason I got out. The phrase, "Set up for failure" comes to mind.

Seriously, there's no point being an asshole just for the sake of being an asshole.

2/13/2009 8:04 PM

Blogger Brian said...

Srvd_SSN_CO: CO or no CO, you'd never get close to 10 minutes nowadays...they require a tagout to rig shore phones now. I guess too many wirebiters cried that they got ouchies from ring voltage.

2/13/2009 9:49 PM

Blogger Patty Wayne said...

a_former_elt_2jv you are right about the set up for failure. In the shipyard our watch sections would disconnect the engineroom phones for just that reason and it would upset the 3450 STEs to no end.

During the day it would ring and most times no one would answer it. One day an MM did and it was a head hunter looking for any nukes getting out. I don't think any of us actually got a job through that head hunter but it definitely wasn't the intended use for the phone.


2/13/2009 10:50 PM

Anonymous ex-et nuke said...

Warren, you bring back awesome menories of Brisbane! NTINS, we had a SORORITY call the boat looking for 10-12 sailors, and I was part of that crew. That was the BEST port visit I've ever had!

2/13/2009 11:19 PM

Blogger Bearpaw said...

We were in PNSY and I had SRW but was getting ready to turn over to my relief. The relief was being conducted at the ER desk behind maneuvering. As things were slow in the shipyard not much was happening so our turnover was "same o, same o, I had it, you got it". Neither of us noticed the phone was lying on its side off the cradle. Apparently it was Capt Porter from NR waiting for the EDO. He got the EDO on the line and we were disqualified over the phone.

We all thought it was funny in MDIV but the Engineer - not so much.

2/14/2009 4:30 AM

Blogger David said...

what was the multi-function switch message that one got on a bad call while in Guam?

I hated that recording.

2/15/2009 6:44 PM

Anonymous TCO said...

real subs are named after fish...ya damn shallow diver, crappy lack of ESM La classer

2/16/2009 7:20 PM

Blogger Jack said...

It was the Fineguyan multi function switch!! I must have heard that recording a million times while trying to drunk dial my wife back in the states via Charleston AFB. LMAO!!!

2/16/2009 10:07 PM

Anonymous coolerthanelvis said...

LMAO @ anon e moose. I remember an M-div'er would get the ICs in trouble by jogging the switch on the 4MC in ERLL whenever the XO would try to make a 1MC announcement. We had the most-overhauled 1MC system on the waterfront.

2/27/2009 3:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't believe this myself... but just got a letter and certificate from NavPers today with my transfer from the Fleet Reserves to the Retired List. So that tells you that my pup days were early 80's. I was (at that time) an IC2 and we used to draw straws to see who got to hook up shore phones. Usually first to cross the brow, sunny San Diego, getting to use the lineman's handset to call your girlfriend before you actually hook the boat up... you get the picture. However, it DOES occasionally rain in San Diego. One time I was hooking up in the rain and must have been shocked by the ring current from an incoming call about 10 times, and I was pissed (that 90 volts pulsating DC fricking HURTS)! I hooked up the handset to the posts and hollered at the wife on the other end "The f**king phones aren't even hooked up yet. Hang up and call back in 15 minutes!" As I disconnected from the posts I noticed, to my horror, that I was not on the crew's line, but was on the CO's line. I had just cussed out his wife! I thought it best to throw myself at his mercy before his wife called back, so I left everything unhooked and ran below to try to explain myself. He laughed his ass off and said "Damn, I wish I could get away with yelling at her like that!"

3/13/2009 10:12 PM

Anonymous Justina said...

This is all erroneous what you're writing.

9/14/2012 8:56 AM


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