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.)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Australian Submariners Get Bravery Medal

Last month, the Australian Navy reported that three Submariners had been awarded the Bravery Medal for their actions aboard HMAS Farncomb (SSG 74) in 2007. Today, The Australian has two articles the describe the actions for which they were awarded, here and here. Excerpts:
As Petty Officer Langshaw was trying to undress his stricken crewmate, the sub was heaving up and down in the choppy seas. He was slammed against the side of the boat several times, breaking one of his ribs.
He and Leading Seaman Rowell eventually lifted their exhausted crewmate on to the sub, but the effort meant all three men were spent.
With four men still bobbing in the ocean, a new volunteer swimmer was needed.
Chief Petty Officer Rohan Pugh put up his hand. The 40-year-old Pugh was a veteran lifesaver and father of two from the coastal town of Secret Harbour, south of Perth.
Knowing time was running out for a safe rescue as the conditions worsened, Petty Officer Pugh did not bother with a wetsuit.
Instead, he put on his Speedos with Secret Harbour written on them, slipped on some fins, hopped out of the hatch and into the swirling ocean.
He said he didn't think twice about the risks.
"We're all mates plus we just go and do it," he said.
By this stage, the swell had risen to about two metres and the men had been in the water for more than an hour.
Please read the whole story of the rescue of the five Submariners who went overboard while trying to clear a fouled screw. To CPO Rohan Pugh, PO Greg Langshaw and LS Steven Rowell: Good On Ya, 'Mates.


Blogger Daniel Golding said...

Oh yeah, one other thing: it was at NIGHT.

These guys have balls of steel. I'm guessing that they all felt like hamburger after being tossed against the hull.

Only 45 crew, by the way, so this involved a not insignificant portion of the crew.

This is why I don't understand why the Navy puts so much emphasis on running for the PRT and not swimming.

9/19/2009 10:04 AM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

JeeeeeZusssssss. Only word I can think of after reading the story.

Yeah, those medals are well and truly earned. No thoughts 'bout nothin', just Git-R-Done.

9/19/2009 10:18 AM

Anonymous FastAttackChief said...

You would think that after the MSP incident the navy would have put stricter requirements on topside personnel. For instance 1st class swimmer for all personnel and development of some type of rescue swimmer course for Submarine Scuba Divers.

9/19/2009 11:21 AM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

Ya know...over in the Chinese CO post, someone mentioned a worldwide lessons learned database (Or something to that effect?). Would be nice if things really worked that way but, unfortunately, things ain't always so. Here's a bit of irony for ya, though: The senior rider on MSP at the time of the accident was formerly the USN submarine liaison officer for the RAN. Got nothing to do with nothing, really, just found the connection ironic.

9/19/2009 2:53 PM

Blogger DDM said...

During our 1996 deployment, HAWKBILL did some Ops out of Perth where we had an Aussie rider. He was very down to earth and was impressed that we had soft serve ice cream and showered every day. In port, the Aussies were awesome hosts. I doubt they best practiced, lessons learned this to death like we would. They probably gave their CO credit for doing what he needed to do to stay on mission. Great Story!

9/20/2009 4:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why did it take them 3 years to award these medals which are clearly deserved? Our Navy cross recipients don't take that long. Even our MOH research for dead Soldiers and Seals only take 18 months before the medal is presented to grieving parents.

9/20/2009 10:36 PM

Anonymous Ross Kline said...

Ducky, we are (I think) reading the same article. What I saw was a CO that made a difficult decision, then changed his mind when conditions got worse. Since I wasn't there, I don't know what his tactical situation was. If they were in the same sort of places we have gone, a fouled screw is a very bad thing...

I think he did the best he could do under some really crappy circumstances. I think I'd be willing to sail with the man, given that this article is all I have to go by.

9/21/2009 9:46 AM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

Reading this story reminds me of a night operation at an undisclosed location where the sub I was on had to remove a fishing line that had wrapped around our screw. Locked shaft, life jackets and safety lines, divers in wet suits (We were fortunate to have three qualifed divers on board at the time), a well briefed topside crew, and a slightly nervous OOD were successful without incident, casualty, and no special awards. We went back to work on patrol the next day. Sometimes, the good Lord does look after "fools, drunks, and sailors", not necessarily in that order.

9/21/2009 9:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the screw were fouled and required divers go in the water to un-foul it, would the skipper trim the boat so that the screw was raised closer to, or above the surface? You know, "Trim Party Lay Forward"...

9/21/2009 11:06 AM

Blogger Daniel Golding said...

I second the comment on first class swimmers. Never understood why first and second class swim quals weren't a bigger deal. From what I remember, they made you raise your hand in bootcamp and asked if you had worked as a lifeguard or were a varsity swimmer in high school. That got you the test. After that, I don't think it was anything other than a p13 entry, unless you wanted to be a navy diver, SEAL, or what not.

You would think being a strong swimmer (which we have a bloody TEST for) would be a pre-requisite for working topside in most conditions. That goes back to making sure no one dies for dumb reasons.

9/21/2009 12:37 PM

Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

This is why I don't understand why the Navy puts so much emphasis on running for the PRT and not swimming.

You know, I remember pressing this same topic back in 1998 - two complete years before I retired. I created a point paper and submitted my query to them, received absolutely no reply, thereby assumed they pretty much ignored my point paper entirely.

This goes to show that there are idiots who create rules and regulations in the navy who will refuse to listen, contrary to practical and common sense.

9/21/2009 2:10 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Deleting some comments; closing comments. I generally prefer that we don't personally call people serving on submarines out; this forum is read by submariners all over the world, and people can draw that wrong conclusions. In this case, I was called by the Submariner who was mentioned, and he was able to provide some additional information to me to made me decide that leaving the comment up could unfairly jeopardize his professional reputation.

Also, I personally am very thankful that our Allies, including the Australians, have been by our side fighting the Global War on Terror for over 8 years, and I think they're doing a good job.

9/24/2009 3:48 PM


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