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, March 26, 2009

Annapolis On Ice

USS Annapolis (SSN 760) visited the Ice Station for ICEX-09, resulting in a lot of pictures on the Navy website; this one is my favorite:

I think that surfacing through the ice is one of the coolest things Submariners do that we can talk about publicly. One of my main disappointments in my submarine career is that I never made it under the ice. What's your favorite story from operating in the Arctic?


Anonymous quotecritter said...

Actually more a nightmare

You ever try to back a 637 class down an ice canyon for ten miles when you ran into an ice ridge to low to go under?

3/26/2009 10:10 AM

Anonymous CAPT Deepdiver said...

Not ten, but about 3 miles. Made the troops appreciate me making them practice driving backwards at slow speeds for most of the watch during workup!

3/26/2009 10:54 AM

Anonymous Former EM1SS said...

Gives me a greater appreciation when I shovel my driveway now.

3/26/2009 11:24 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopefully the Annapolis doesn't get attacked by a polar bear like the Connecticut did a while back. I though that was funny as hell.

Having and showing the ability to surface through three feet of solid ice, now that's seriously impressive. For this type of duty, does the whole crew receive the Navy Arctic Service Ribbon?

Thanks, J.

3/26/2009 11:39 AM

Blogger T.J. said...

I surfaced through the ice 11 times, but my best story involves not surfacing through the ice - we performed an unintentional ice picking maneuver when we lost depth control and impacted the ice. Ended up ice picked for several watches until we figure3d out what to do. Did some damage to the sail, including masts and antenna damage. This little incident made us skip the Bering Strait transit and go back the way we came, through the Panama Canal to get to Bremerton for Decom. Panama Canal without a stern light or running lights was fun.

3/26/2009 12:10 PM

Blogger Free The Nucs said...

Their coolness factor is reduced by an order of magnitude after their recent appearance on the Food Network ("Inside Scoop: Down the Hatch)

3/26/2009 12:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

6 hours of knots by log for a couple days straight was nice. That and the controller for my berthing's water heater broke directly after Blue Nose training.

3/26/2009 2:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Went on SUBICEX in 1988. First sub ride for me. We surfaced 25 times. No polar bears. We did take the civilian polar expert's stuffed polar bear. It's tied to a TDU weight and buried in the polar ice some where up there. Plus, since I don't drink beer, there are two cans of beer buried in the ice.
One shipmate strung a "Budweiser" banner from the sail, took a picture and was going to sell it to Budweiser, but got film confiscated by the XO.
We went to Holyloch when we lost our SPM screw!
When it was -65 degrees F, one idiot tried to take a whiz and got a little frosty on the skin from the exposure!
Two shipmates were cutting ice away from the dome with chain saws and it showed up on Sonar. ACINT rider called it a enemy sub and we manned battle stations, on the surface for two hours!
It had to be the best time I ever had underway!


3/26/2009 5:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of polar bears, what would today's sub crew do to repel such an attack? (if it happened) When a boat comes to the surface like the Annapolis did from under 3 feet of ice, and a bear sees and feels that that boat is violating his territory and makes an appearance and veers towards anything or anyone moving around, Then what do you guys do?

I'm gonna assume you have a roving patrol or atleast a stationary perimeter guard to watch over and protect any crew who are top side or off the boat and standing on the ice performing the mission's duties as required. I don't know what small arms are in a subs armory locker nowadays. My guess is a series of Mossberg Pumps, M16s/M4s and Beretta M9 side arms.

Sorry for such a long winded post, but I'm curious as to what the SOP is for defending the boat and one's fellow shipmates might be when (potentially) confronted with a 800LB polar bear while making a stop somewhere on top of the world and in the Arctic.

Some of you guys will consider this as a Bullshit question. But that's what happens when my curiosity gets the better of me.

Thanks, J.

3/26/2009 6:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, that's a good question and easily answered, J.

When a submarine is up north and polar bears threaten to the point of charging, the buddy system is employed with great success. we all know...when being chased by a polar bear you don't have to be faster than the bear...

...just faster than your buddy.

(Jokes aside, discussing submarine armament is not something for this blog.)

3/26/2009 6:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was up there, a thousand miles from nowhere and more years ago than I care to think about, we had a TM on the sail with an M14. Once we were getting ready to submerge and I was assigned to check the topside rig for dive. Things were going along at a leisurely pace when my phone talker said, "The bridge is reporting a polar bear on the next flow." I knew the OOD on the bridge was a kidder so the phone talker and I discussed how he was just trying to make us look. I did look up onto the sail and the TM had his weaponed shouldered and clearly had a bead on something. I figured we had to look now given the level of effort that the bridge was going through to sell this. Sure enough though there was bear sticking his head up over an ice ridge, sniffing amine. We weren't sure how well a bear could climb a rounded steel hull but we got topside rigged in record time.

3/26/2009 6:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We were given Navy training on what to do should we encounter a polar bear. As explained to me there were 3 choices. You could run at the bear and we would figure you were attacking and respond appropriately. You could run and he would think you were lunch and again respond appropriately or you could stand still and hope to confuse him. I'm glad I never had to out that little gem to the test!

3/26/2009 6:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ANON 18:48,

You realize of course, I'm not asking about missile & torpedo technology. Far from it actually. Such knowledge is well beyond my understanding or ability to comprehend any such working knowledge.

What I wanted to know is what is it Submariners do when the boat comes to a stop and surfaces on top of the world in freezing arctic temps from the other side if hell. Cold Weather and polar bears to me, means lets break out some small arms and stand fast until it's time to go home.

That's my uneducated guess as to what you guys do when you're laying in a stationary position at the given moment.

Mind you, I ain't trying to start a fight here. But I'm curious as to how the guys stationed top side arm and defend themselves and fellow crew when they are on top of the other side of the world.
None of the other services have this ability to even travel to where today's Subs can get to, so therein lies my simple minded curiosity.

Thanks J.

P.S. I am actually curious what a boomer or a Fast Attack would have in weapons inventory regarding small arms.

I could be wrong, but I don't think OPSEC is gonna be too pissed off about me posing such a question.

Thanks, J.

3/26/2009 7:23 PM

Anonymous Anon E. Moose said...

J -

You'd be wrong. Please, as a serving submariner, let's not discuss force protection specifics or generalities.
Not knowing what amount of firepower ship's force can, or cannot bring to bear should not be discussed. Period.

3/26/2009 7:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You Moose.

I understand what you're saying. My background is Military Law Enforcement and Airbase Ground defense, (Inner & Outer Perimeter).

I've always wondered how the Sub guys protect themselves when they are at a full stop with a possible necessity to repel boarders and wildlife. You can't provide and enforce such protection with torpedoes & missiles at such close range.

So, that is why I'm asking what it is you guys do to protect yourselves when small arms come into question.

That's all I have for my B.S. questions...and thanks for your response as well.


3/26/2009 7:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Submariners defend themselves with heavy snowballs and extreme flatulance. Anything else is classified. Don't ask anymore.

3/26/2009 8:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:05 PM Anon, You just made me douche a gulp of Heineken all over my screen with you last.

I'm done asking questions. I was just curious...but as they say "Curiosity will eventually kill the cat." I've clearly made an ass of myself enough for one night.

Thanks Gents,


3/26/2009 8:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's sorta like this...and this...and definitely this...but shhhh, don't tell anyone.

3/26/2009 8:42 PM

Blogger blunoz said...

Going under the ice isn't really someplace you'd think you could get any cool souvenirs. I've got a polar bear that has been under the ice cap though. We did an exercise near Guam then had a port call in Yokosuka before departing on PACSUBICEX 2002. I bought a polar bear lladro statue in the Yoko Fleet Exchange and took it with me on the boat under the ice. It's on a shelf in the living room now.

3/26/2009 9:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Matrix Trilogy?

I highly fucking doubt it.
Someone has some serious jack-off fantasies going on with this one.

3/26/2009 9:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then perhaps video #3 is more to your taste. Take a deep breath!

3/26/2009 9:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keanue Reaves looks very much like my boyfriend who is on deployment right now. I sooo much miss him and I hope he comes home soon.

Mike Mulligan.

3/26/2009 9:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The small arms locker is stocked with a full selection of harpoons, bolas, spears, and other high tech anti-bear weaponry, all designed to repel boarders - or is it BEARders?

The real fun part is when you drag the dead bear to the cook and ask him to prepare it, in the traditional inuit fashion, for the evening meal. Its great at first, but the polar bear sandwiches get old for midrats.

Other options include electrifying the hull (normally reserved for Giant Squid attacks), and taking the bear out by using the Flying Mini-Submarine. And before anyone gets their panties in a bunch (yes, you, Anon E. Moose), the existence of the Flying Mini-Sub was declassified last year.

Wait, did I make all of that up?

3/26/2009 11:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And then there was the time we took a dyslexic JAG under the ice with us and boy,that did not work out at all.

3/27/2009 1:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anon who is so interested in the small arms a boat carries, you can go to the website and look at the submarines in the photo galleries. The hi-res pics practically allow you to read the serial numbers off of the weapons displayed.

If this information is so secret or classified, I would think that the navy would sanitize these pics.

3/27/2009 7:32 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A picture of a rifle on a submarine is not classified. They WANT the bad guys to see that the boat is armed.

But discussing the small-arms loadout/limitations of any U.S. Navy warship just isn't done. If that's hard to understand, take a few deep breaths and get some oxygen. It'll come to you.

It was in fact a dumb question - particularly for someone who claims to have had military experience - to have asked this in the first place. Reminds me of the hilarious questions on Saturday Night Live that were posed by faux Middle East 'reporters' to SECDEF Rumsfeld at his Pentagon press briefings.

3/27/2009 7:55 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This should probably be the start of a new thread.

At my last boat reunion, the topic of discussion came up about "Submarine Force Marketing".

The basic question was: How do we generate support from the civilian community at large when the submarine community is so closed mouth - The Silent Service?

If we want political support for new boats/more boats from the general public, can we continue to use the "if I tell ya I have ta kill ya" mind set? Should we/can we be a little more open in discussing what we do?

We, the insiders, know what important work we do, how do we communicate that importance to our fellow citizens, the outsiders?

For a comparison, the USMC has phenominal image marketing.

3/27/2009 9:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

{It was in fact a dumb question - particularly for someone who claims to have had military experience - to have asked this in the first place. Reminds me of the hilarious questions on Saturday Night Live that were posed by faux Middle East 'reporters' to SECDEF Rumsfeld at his Pentagon press briefings.}

Easy, tiger. He wasn't asking for an inventory of small arms. He was asking what we do if a polar bear attacks. Answers could include "cower and hide", "shoot it with {classified} small arm", "fire torpedo because thats just how we roll", or send out least worthwhile nub as sacrificial victim.

I don't think he wanted to know how many rounds of ammo were rolling around.

3/27/2009 10:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: "Submarine Force Marketing"

The idea is too impractical and disconnected from reality. Real marketing only works well when you're dealing with a sophisticated, strategy-oriented clientele...and the average civilian hardly falls into that category when it comes to military strategy. Witness all the hoo-ha over Iraq, whereas a simple map and knowledge of both the complicity and religious-sensitivity of Saudi Araba would enable someone not politically poisoned by the MSM to figure it out.

What you're referring to is 'advertising.' I'm sure there's room for more, but there are plenty of submarine books and movies along this line.

Read "The Next 100 Years" by Stratfor founder Dr. George Friedman to get a sense of the strategic value of the U.S. Navy. Anyone in Congress - which hopefully has a strategic thinker or two -- gets the value of the U.S. submarine force...and probably more-so than your average, chin-dragging submarine JO.

And that's probably the larger problem: lack of strategic thinking (self-knowledge) within the submarine force itself. If they don't get it, how in the world can the general public?

Also see "America's Secret War" by Friedman. He predicted that "the war" would end in Pakistan, and that doesn't look to be too far off the mark right now.

3/27/2009 10:43 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous "STSCS(SS/SW) USN RET".....were you on the Q-fish?

3/27/2009 11:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

{I bought a polar bear lladro statue in the Yoko Fleet Exchange and took it with me on the boat under the ice. It's on a shelf in the living room now.}

Good thing for you we had "don't ask, don't tell".

3/27/2009 11:19 AM

Blogger Oz said...

Never did it, so this might be a stupid question:

It looks like that's a picture of the ship surfacing. How'd they get a picture of that? Do they come up, put a couple of guys off, and do it again so they can shoot the event?

Or are they just parked at an up angle?

3/27/2009 1:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Guys,

I've gotten some fairly creative and colorful responses regarding my questions on small arms. Anon 3/26/2009 11:57 PM, I especially like yours. Now, that was funny as hell.

Anon 3/27/2009 7:55 AM, If it's a dumb question, then why did you choose to address this subject in the first place? Dare I ask what your motivation was on this one.

To everyone else, thanks for the comments. You Bubbleheads have a very strange but fun sense of humor. I like and respect that simple attribute as well.

Thanks, J.

3/27/2009 1:34 PM

Anonymous anon e. moose said...


That camera is left there year-round - we just have to precision surface.

Kidding - just a guess, but I'm guessing the Ice Camp staff took the pick.

3/27/2009 3:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both ground control and a Helicopter took those pics. If you notice that some of the pics on the page are at an upward angle, someone had to be up in the air above the sail as the boat surfaced to snap a shot or two.

The base also uses choppers to go to and from "Ice Camp" when transporting brass and any wounded while going about day to day operations.

And yes J, all Navy personnel receive the Arctic Service Ribbon after spending at least a month in a frozen wasteland that no-body wants or has any interest in. I will say that is a good question to ask.

3/27/2009 4:25 PM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

I was fortunate to make an ICEEX in 1971 and it was the most fun I ever had on a sub. We surfaced in a polyna one night and had a great display of the Northern Lights. Unfortunately, that meant the message traffic we need to send did not get out (the real reason for the all night stay). Personally, the most professionally satisfying incident was when the Assistant NAV and I each took sun lines at the same time (I used the bubble sextant and the ANAV used the periscope sextant) as a nav sat pass. Both sunlines ran through the navsat fix which agreed perfectly with the SINS position. That never happened again. It makes for a good story. The color of old ice through the periscope while lining up under the ice is awesome. If someone offered me the opportunity to go again, I would be packed and ready in about five minutes.

3/27/2009 6:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about traveling around the world in less than 88 minutes?

3/27/2009 6:47 PM

Blogger Oz said...

Thanks. I didn't know we had a camp up there.

3/27/2009 6:52 PM

Blogger The Boise Picayune said...

"What you see here, say here, and hear here, stays here when you leave here!"

That was the sign a Boomer's Radio / Crypto

3/28/2009 8:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeez, stop with the classified small arms crap already. Navy ship's small arms inventory is a mixed bag, but almost always has M-14 rifles in the small arms locker. If you look at any pictures of an armed watch stander in the snow you will see the "bear watch" hanging on to a M-14. In fact, I recall hanging with our HM1(SS) and reading the instructions on what to do if we actually killed a polar bear--freeze contents of stomach, send to some agency in Canada, etc, etc. Said instructions specified that only 7.62 NATO was authorized for use in a rifle, 12 gauge 00 buckshot was acceptable in the shot gun. One assumes shooting a Polar Bear with a M-16 will be annoying to the bear and most likely fatal to the shooter.

I really must laugh loudly at silly people spewing crap about classified small arms--sounds like a nub statement to me.

Fun stuff at the North Pole, being with the first 3 submarines to meet there in 1986 was cool...reading the USS Ray's message traffic tale of woe when their R-12's died and they lost their frozen goods was a reminder that it wasn't a picnic.

I think the real kick for me was doing an all hands stores load at the North Pole and loading a case of "Iceberg Lettuce"--I knew I had to get the hell off the boat then!!

ETC(SS), ret...SSN 666

3/28/2009 6:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ t.j.
Was that story on the B-Fish! I was there! That's a great story. Remember how we almost went rappelling off the sail to try and fix the forward looking sonar?

3/28/2009 11:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We were under the ice and had a small steam leak from a steam valve located just aft of maneuvering. We had it covered with a coffee can for a few days until we broke through the ice and were able to fix it.

I came aft to relieve the watch and hear WHAM, WHAM WHAM, I look ant there is our biggest mechanic trying to take the valve apart by using a wrench, a cheater bar, and a sledgehammer.

I'm a twiget so all I knew about valves at the time was that they were the bumps in the shiny things the mechanics call pipes.

After three hours they had rotated the stuck part of the valve 1 and a quarter turns when the COB wanders aft to see how they were doing. The COB had started life as an ELT so he knew the engineroom.

He took a look at the mechanics and asks "did you guys take the set screws out of the valve?".

"Setscrews?, Oh S**T"

3/29/2009 4:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have to say that my Arctic run was the highlight of my career thus far. Surfaced four times, and we were the first first-flight 688 to do so. Made a round-the-world trip in just a few minutes, and I still have a bottle of North Pole water on my bookshelf. Done a lot of other cool stuff, but that run tops it all.

3/31/2009 2:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My boyfriend is on the Annapolis right now. He and his friends played football on the ice on St. Patrick's Day. ABC and the Discovery Channel are also on board filming for documentaries..pretty cool huh? No polar bears, as far as I know ;)

4/07/2009 8:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

SSN/SSBN/SSGN/NSSN's carry M9's, M-16A3's, M-203's, M-500A1's/M-870's, MK-46 MOD 0's, and MK-43 MOD 0 or MK-48 MOD 0's with the MK-109 MG Mount. The carry these weapons in quanity. They also have more that one small arms locker on board. The M-107 .50 Cal may also be used with the MK-109 MG Mount and may be present as well. Other weapons such as SHORAD Stingers, small and medium anti-armor weapons, and M-2HB heavy machine guns can and are also be carried dependant on the threat and mission. Other special weapons may also be carried that are not known to the public at large for special threats. These special weapons may be lethal, and less lethal Every now and again pictures pop up on the net and disapear shortly afterward. Force Protection measures for U.S. Subs are sensitive in nature. However, let's just say since the Cole attack and 9/11, the physical security profile on U.S. Naval vessels have gone way up. Carriers and Subs may be the best protected of all those U.S. Naval and military support vessel afloat. A terrorist attack would most likely fail, resulting in Terrorists 0, U.S. 1!

2/19/2012 4:11 PM


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