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, April 24, 2009

USS Bonefish Fire -- 21 Years Ago Today

Today, April 24th, is the 21st anniversary of the fire aboard USS Bonefish (SS 582) in which three Submariners were lost. As we remember this tragedy, please check out this post honoring one of the three lost heroes, LT Ray Everts, over at Chaotic Synaptic Activity.


Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Comments I posted at Chapmatic, where the Bonefish link was first posted....

First time I’ve seen these BONEFISH blogs…

A couple points to add. Mike Wilson (BONEFISH new CO at time of the fire) relieved me of command at end of my tour and had his own successful tour, putting ‘our’ boat out of commission at the end of his time. He went on to be XO of Trident Training Facility Kings Bay, where he was when BONEFISH’s ISIC decided to DFC the BONEFISH CO (another old friend) at nearly the end of his tour. Mike was tagged to fill the gap and take the boat until the scheduled relief finished the PCO pipeline.

The record shows hints of neglect in BONEFISH’s material condition both by parent squadron in Charleston and by its CO. The after-action investigation bore this out (I had a lengthy off-the-record conversation later with the investigating officer, name escapes me but another guy from the diesel mafia of the time) and suggests that the CO became isolated from his crew and wardroom - information just did not flow to the top and the blog’s tale of squadron turning off hatch inspection results - if true - says this continued on up the line.

Shortly after the accident I got two calls from Charleston, one from Mike Wilson in the hospital there and the second from his wife. I was a DC rat at that time and both were seeking advice on how to proceed to protect Mike’s career. By pure chance, I was playing handball at the POAC that afternoon with the Navy Jag himself and so asked him what he might advise, off the record. I was pleased to pass along his comment to the Wilsons: “Hell, he doesn’t need representation - everyone thinks he’s a hero!” And so it was.

4/24/2009 3:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ray was my neighbor in Hawaii when he was on BLUEBACK...what a guy! The FT2 on date with destiny's post was very accurate of what came out of the investigation - and of my personal tour onboard the ship a month afterwards. Bottom line is that Ray tried to exit a faulty hatch that had significant overtravel and didn't know about it/couldn't get it open. This problem was "known" to all those who had been on the boat some time, but wasn't "allowed" to be reported nor corrected. He was "essentially" murdered by his Squadron! Real real SAD....

4/24/2009 3:52 PM

Blogger Bigbill said...

The HMCS on the Daniel Webster during the MTS conversion was on the Bonefish during the fire. He would never talk about it but I was told he suffered lung damage from breathing fumes while pulling shipmates through the topside hatch.

I read the investigation report and watched the videos. These days when I do a zone inspection, the images of the burnt interior goes through my mind when I see a false bulkhead, wood paneling, and improperly stored flammables.

In my opinion, the GW fire shows that we are short sighted.

4/24/2009 4:54 PM

Anonymous xformed said...

For rubbery ducky and BigBill;

I'm just a "target" sort of guy, but if you have some gouge on where I might be able tot track down the videos/investigation reports, I'd appreciate a tipper or two. I've sort of taking a liking to the details that keep coming out.

email is xformed at chaoticsynapticactivity dot com.

Thanks n advance, and Bubblehead, thanks for the link!

4/24/2009 7:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the time of the fire, the boat was doing a battery charge with a 50k ground....,way below specs. Yet everybody was a hero. WTF!

4/24/2009 9:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone knows a "firefighter" gets mad respect- but preventing problems just isn't high visibility.

4/24/2009 11:18 PM

Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Original investigation report:

4/25/2009 4:44 AM

Blogger 630-738 said...

To Anonymous @9:54 PM: Would you rather they didn't do a battery charge and sit dead in the water, Mr. Braniac? You are aware BONEFISH was a diesel boat, right? You might just want to get a little educated before you start throwing stones.

4/25/2009 8:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw this situationn play out time and time again during my 8 years as an FTOW on fast boats. Many OOD's always thought they were "better" than the common enlisted guy who had to wear an EAB during fire drills. I wonder if this practice of not wearing EAB's during drills made the OOD act the same way during the casualty.

4/25/2009 8:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anonymous @9:54 PM: You must know something about diesel boats that I don't. If they were at 150 feet when the fire started, how were they doing a battery charge?

4/25/2009 12:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rubber Ducky, you going to the B-Girl Reunion at Portland?


4/25/2009 1:21 PM

Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Rubber Ducky, you going to the B-Girl Reunion at Portland?

Regrets. Not a B-girl vet. Many friends who were. Sorry to see loss of Mike Jantz, PCO School classmate. Let me know if you have a sighting of Bernie Patton.

4/25/2009 3:09 PM

Anonymous xformed said...


Thanks! I got to do more research.

4/25/2009 3:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had one of the guys come to our 688 after the fire and I have never seen a bigger waste of a submarine sailor. He thought he was God’s gift to the Navy and the nuclear submarine force. He thought because he lived through the fire that we couldn’t compare to his gallantry or greatness. His knowledge of auxiliary equipment was negligible and he was an asshat. There were only two people I ever hated and he was one of them.

Don’t get me wrong. What he went through was horrendous but after awhile, that only gets you so far. I was on two 688’s, a 637 and a Trident. I saw fire, flooding and death on those boats and you have to suck it up or get out and get help.

4/25/2009 5:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who was the CSS-4 Commodore during BONEFISH? Who was the investigating officer?

I thought the endorsement letter was very interesting. It went out of its way to vindicate the squadron.

Duck, can you shed light?

4/25/2009 7:34 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Not everything that followed BONEFISH made sense. Glow in the dark paint will not help you find things in smoke. Glow sticks at AEB manifolds (which we never train to use) also don't shine through smoke. And the AEB system still has silver brazes. When something big happens there is a huge call to DO SOMETHING! So we do. It would be nice if the call was answered by something more meaningful than paint and glow sticks. But instead we switched to give more credit during an ORSE to the ability to evaluate trends from two data points than our ability to fight fires.

As to the battery charge discussion, the spec now has not always been so..wonder why it changed?

4/26/2009 4:39 AM

Blogger DDM said...

"At the time of the fire, the boat was doing a battery charge with a 50k ground....,way below specs. Yet everybody was a hero. WTF!"

I was a junior EM when this occurred, but I remember minimum ground for performing battery charges went to 100K. BTW the CO can authorize battery charges with grounds < 100K but above 50K.

4/26/2009 5:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rubber Ducky,

Misunderstood your post RE: Command tour. Assumed you were Bonefish. I'll look up Bernie Patton. Expect to see Chuck Ward, I think you know him?

Keep a zero bubble........


4/26/2009 11:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 630-738: As an overhaul Engineering Officer and later XO in BONEFISH and as CO BARBEL, I consider myself somewhat "educated" in 580 class boats.

4/26/2009 12:25 PM

Blogger DDM said...

As to the battery charge discussion, the spec now has not always been so..wonder why it changed?

As I recall, one of the lessons learned was living with low DC grounds. The spec for all electric plant grounds went from
50K to 200K as a direct result from the Bonefish fire. For those of us on boats with Westinghouse 300KW SSMGs and 60KW 400 Hz MGs, this was a nightmare. We spent whole patrols keeping DC Bus grounds above 200K. Later on the electric plant ground spec went back to 50K, except the battery went to 100K for battery charges.
<100k required CO's permission. Additional guidance was provided that the battery ground, when isolated from the rest of the DC busses had to be > 500K. This is where it still is today. There are additional caveats to this, but to answer the skipper's question, DC and battery bus ground specs changed as a direct result of the Bonefish fire. (I once had a CO who did not want to be called "Skipper" because Skipper was some fat f$%k on Gilligan's Island. If you're offended by Skipper, I apologize)

4/26/2009 6:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yesterday I printed some of the photos & FT2's remembrance of that day. Posted them + the rescue story from the Approach magazine in the ML passageway along with a short note before morning turnover.

We've been so busy on the boat (yesterday was a 16hr day for me) that it is easy to forget about events like this where we learned a hard lesson (in blood).

Some of my younger Sailors had never even heard of the Bonefish fire, which astonished me. The anniversary went by Friday w/o even a mention, and it slipped my mind as well.

Joel, thanks for posting it. I'm sure a # of my crew just had their eyes opened as an indirect result.


4/26/2009 9:03 PM

Anonymous Cullie said...

" Anonymous said...At the time of the fire, the boat was doing a battery charge with a 50k ground....,way below specs. Yet everybody was a hero. WTF! 4/24/2009 9:54 PM"

Check the facts before you post. You are WRONG! AND remember things were different back then, and different today! For the record, the battery charge was secured!

12/06/2009 7:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello, my name is brent eckert. i was one of the swimmers from the HS-7 sguadron off the JFK. I just wanted to say hello to the the guys that we hoisted off the sub and the guys in the raft. since i live in alaska i am far removed from just about every one and wondering if anyone remembered the guy who yelled " it's not just a job" and the bone fish guys yelled back, "it's an adventure!"

2/01/2010 12:49 PM

Blogger AW2 Brian Gary said...

Hello, my Name is Brian Gary, answering to Brent Eckert. I too was one of the rescue swimmers that helped that tragic day, in fact the last swimmer to pull the last survivor from the raft. I too have had a varied life as I am now in the active Army National Guard and an officer. (LTC) I hope all those who survived are well and for the families of those Saliors who gave the ultimate sacrifice may you know I do think of that day often and may God and your loved ones watch over each of you. Sincerely, Brian Gary

1/21/2012 3:34 AM

Blogger BubbleheadLDO said...

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Bonefish fire. I was an ET1(SS) who scrambled up the midships hatch and was helo'd to the USS Carr (FFG 52), lucky enough to have survived this casualty. Today, as I have every day for the last 25 years, I will thank God for this bonus day.

4/24/2013 7:59 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


5/03/2013 11:10 PM

Blogger Jan said...

Ray was my nephew's uncle. My sister was married to Ray's brother. I never had the chance to meet Ray, but I can tell you his parents are wonderful people. Ray's death really shook Ray, Sr. and Lee to their core. I sat down with them and read the investigative report. Ray, Sr. passed away in 2013, and Lee is now struggling with cancer. I would have loved the opportunity to get to know LT Everts.
Response to Officer's wearing EABs:
For the record, Ray didn't put on his EAB because he was trying to get the sub to PD and it was very difficult to do wearing an EAB. Also, he wanted to be heard. If it wasn't for his bravery many more would have died.

1/13/2014 10:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ran across this blog for the first time in almost thirty years.
God bless the survivors, and God Bless Ray.
Did some actually refer to this surviving “interim” as a hero?
The fire on Bonefish was a sad loss of life I attribute to an orchestrated neglect at the time of the value of the diesel submarine by those in OP-03, and exacerbated by the promotion of individuals to command level whose only prior claim to fame was the successful carrying of an admiral’s and his wife’s soiled clothes to the laundry. The man was not a hero. He was the kind of man who was from the beginning destined to join the club of those who lost men at sea and escaped the accountability they deserved. (I remember silently saluting the remaining E-8’s in our force as one of this guy’s “club-mates” subjected us to his own grandiose idea of himself in front of a chalkboard at PCO school.) He was a man who his Captain despised when he was XO. He was a man who thought it would be “neat” to load sailors into an escape hatch in California current waters, flood down and pressurize for drill - and that after the Grayback disaster. He told this Assistant Training Officer at the time I was skating on thin ice when I successfully refused to allow that to happen. That’s how “in touch” and qualified for hero and command this guy was.
Oh, and, this guy is the conflicted guy who, no doubt, fortifies his self esteem by continually reading this blog, wondering if he will forever dodge the truth.

2/16/2014 9:51 PM


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