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, June 25, 2010

USS Philadelphia (SSN 690) Decommissioning

The decommissioning of USS Philadelphia (SSN 690) is going on today, the 33rd anniversary of her commissioning. Anybody have any good stories about the old girl, or any stories about being on a decomm crew?

Update 1530 25 June: Here's a story about the ceremony, with pictures.


Anonymous Time for lunch said...

The best Philadelphia story that I know of involves the lassoing of a certain Victor III's towed array that had been originally misappropriated from the USS McCloy back in least, according to Blind Man's Bluff, which we can of course neither confirm nor deny.

However, I did once see a piece of said towed array's cable publicly mounted on a wooden plaque in the office of the OP-03 at the time, Admiral Metcalf.

According to the plaque, the lost part was being returned courtesy of the U.S. submarine fleet. To the Admiral's credit, he obviously got the humor in it.

6/25/2010 10:44 AM

Anonymous Time for lunch said...

Here's a Google Books' link for the above story.

6/25/2010 10:51 AM

Anonymous Philly JO said...

Anyone remember the 05' collision of the Philly in the Persian Gulf? I was a JO onboard at the time.
We were in the Gulf on the surface, ahead of schedule (IIRC) and transiting into Bahrain at about 5 kts. The ENG was OOD, an unqual JO was CC, and it was the midwatch. CO was asleep, XO was CDO. I was asleep. It was cloudy or foggy and very dark. At some point prior to 0300, the FTOW on the scope saw a shape behind us and reported it to the CC- the FTOW (a pretty junior FT3) thought the object had a 0 angle on the bow (meaning it's headed right for us). The CC (or possibly the FTOW himself) reported it to the XO, in control. The XO gets on the scope and says "no, it's 30 degrees on the right drawing right", or something to that effect. Minutes pass. The shape gets bigger, and the FTOW makes the same report. The CDO disagrees again. Finally someone (I don't know exactly who) realizes it is heading right for us. The OOD requests a recommended course of action from the CC and the CDO. The CC says he's working on it, and the CDO does nothing (or at least nothing productive). We're still going about 5 kts, and being overtaken by a fat Turkish freighter about to run us over diagonally. The events of the next several moments are unclear, but involve the ENG (a little man with an abnormally high pitched voice) yelling "Get away from me!" and a somewhat heroic non-qualified and non-native-English speaking Lookout Under Instruction grabbing the Lookout AND OOD and pulling them to the deck of the bridge. Immediately before impact the COW furiously screams into the 1MC "Rig ship for collision" (which is when I wake up) and sounds the collision alarm, than seconds later a huge impact that almost hurls me out of my top bunk.
We were wedged underneath the forward part of the 50K ton Turkish freighter's hull for over an hour, with the blade of one fairwater plane and the rudder wedged inside the freighter's hull, and our screw banging against their hull with every turn. We couldn't drive our way out. WEPS was on the iridium phone the entire time. Finally the EDMC suggested we lower the ass end of the ship out from under the freighter. So, all off watch personnel go to Shaft Alley. This lowers us a bit, but not enough. So next we manually open the aft MBT vent valves and flood the tanks (BTW- if you're a submariner, you can recognize what an ENORMOUSLY risky act this is for a surfaced submarine). This works, and with terrible screeching sounds of metal tearing, we get free and limp into Bahrain.
The aftermath- we're in Bahrain for a month. We actually got to like the place. The Squadron deputy and his assistant, an O-4, the SQENG, and a mysterious O-3 arrive to "assess" the situation. Just a few days after we arrive, the CO, XO, and ENG are GONE.
There is much rejoicing. The ENG was incompetent in all things and hated. The XO, while not totally incompetent in all things, was hated as well. The CO was almost hated, but I still felt bad for him. The mistake he made was signing that watchbill- the WEPS had recommended himself (a superior OOD and DH) as the OOD for the midwatch, or a more senior CC, but the CO overrode him. And he was not incompetent- he was just kind of a lousy leader, and had no empathy for the crew. I think he was afraid of the crew, and the crew sensed it.
So we got to know Bahrain. And the temporary CO was an awesome dude, a real gung-ho, cowboy type, who made it fun to be onboard. And the permanent replacement CO, while very low key, was a great guy as well, and very satisfying to work for. The SQENG was cool as temporary ENG.

6/25/2010 11:38 AM

Anonymous Philly JO said...

(05' collision, CONT)

The replacement ENG was, somehow, even worse than the previous one. He was incompetent in all things and permanently ANGRY. About six months later he broke down crying and "was sent away". Our WEPS, a great, wonderful DH who had always wanted to be an ENG, was finally made ENG (and he continued to be awesome). So I must be one of the very few JOs who can say they served under 5 ENG's (including the temporary SQENG) in one JO tour.

Goodbye, Philly. I'm glad to be done with you, but I'm so, so glad that I was a part of you.

6/25/2010 11:39 AM

Anonymous Philly JO said...

Some analysis of the above:

By the rules of the road, the Turkish freighter was "at fault", but obviously we could have and should have avoided the collision. What's almost mind boggling, is that I'm certain we could have taken ALMOST ANY ACTION, but we took none. We could have turned or slowed down (as long as it was early enough), or sped up.

The inaction doomed us. I still take that lesson with me today. Take action, people- whether it's choosing what kind of cereal at the grocery store, or inching out of a gas station onto a busy street, or trying to make a move on a lady.

6/25/2010 11:42 AM

Anonymous Back from lunch said...

I still take that lesson with me today. Take action, people...

That also summarizes my own #1 lesson while serving on the boats as a JO. It didn't take a cataclysmic event to make that just sort of stood out as being both obvious and powerfully true, and powerfully dangerous if you didn't call 'em as you see 'em.

6/25/2010 12:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure, the problem guys got relieved. Did the FTOW get a NAM or something? Got to both punish the guilty and reward the virtuous. Its not easy for a very junior petty officer to take on the XO. Got to encourage that, if possible.

The reward for being right and sticking your neck out should not be NOT getting into trouble.

6/25/2010 12:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Philly getting run over made for the best WESTPAC of my life! I was on the boat that got to cover her exercise with the Indian Navy. Then we got to go to Thailand and Singapore when we should have been on station bored out of our minds for 50+ days. It was fucking epic. I'm glad no shipmates got seriously injured on the Philly. Everytime I meet a Philly sailor I thank them.

6/25/2010 3:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 12:16,

No Awards and Decs for identifying a problem.. Only Awards and Decs for solving problems.

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


6/25/2010 10:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree, the young FT3 deserved a NAM or a JSAM, for actively taking the initiative. At the very least, I hope his actions were on record for his next command to see what he's capable of.

Another FT

6/26/2010 12:27 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

While in NROTC at NC State, I was prepping to go on my 1/C Midhipman Cruise during the summer of 2001. I discussed with my advisor LT Mark Cooper (most recently XO of JAX) my desire to go on a "cool ride," particularly a SEAWOLF class submarine (you know, those submarines that were cool until VIRGINIA came along). He had contacts at DEVRON 12 and arranged for me to spend my time on good ship Philadelphia.

I arrived in Rome, had a 9-hour layover (which I made much use of), and flew/ferried out to where the boat was in La Madd. I got to the boat with some other Midshipman, and was told the boat wasn't going to get underway for about a week, so they put is in...The Sanctuary. Yeah!

While in La Madd, we took a ferry with the NAV (LT Wayne Grasdock) to Bonifaccio, Corsica. We ate some awesome Italian food with the wardroom, and ate a lot of gelato.

Once the ship finally got underway, we headed to conduct a first-ever TORPEX in the Adriatic with JAX.

After the TORPEX, we had a first-ever port call (for an SSN) in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Following that, we made our way back to Italy where we did a swim call and then picked up CSG-8 (VADM Munns).

Our last stop before we got off was Gibraltar. Philly was celebrating the 200th anniversary when President Jefferson sent the Navy to deal with the Barbary pirates, and CSG-8 was going to give a speech after a parade. While in Gibraltar, we (obviously) went to Spain, and also hopped across the Strait to Tangiers (Morocco).

When I got back to school, all of us Midshipmen traded summer cruise stories and I heard a lot of, "I was on PATROL the entire sucked," or "I went from Connecticut to Norfolk and was bored out of my mind."

Listening to my peers, I just sat back and smiled.

As a shore-based-prior-enlisted sailor when I went to ROTC, I was strongly considering the submarine community prior to this cruise. The experience I had on Philly was hands down one of the most fun I've had in the Navy. CAPT Emil Casciano and his crew were professional and you could tell he loved being CO and they loved him for it.

6/26/2010 3:43 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

philly jo:
Served with your WEPS as JOs on the FLORIDA - fantastic guy and a great member of the wardroom.

You'll be happy to know that after a quick stint in the Navy Reserve, he's fleeted back up, got his nuke quals back and is headed to SCC enroute to being an XO.

The Sub Force definitely got one of the good guys back. The boat that gets him as an XO needs to thank PERS-42 for detailing him there.

6/26/2010 9:46 AM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

I rode Philly as a midshipman for the two day 'fam-op' out of NL back in the mid-80s. The next time I was on the ship was in PCAN doing bumper drills as a guest OOD during my XO tour on a boomer.

Many good people served on that ship.

6/26/2010 10:20 AM

Blogger Bearpaw said...

I attended the de-comm on Friday morning. It was 33 years to the day that she was commissioned. It was a good ceremony - the fam even liked it. It was good to see some formality to a submarine ceremony.

There was a 4+ day reunion associated with the de-comm. It was good to see a lot of old friends and that you just step right back into the jokes and sea stories. Like you never missed a beat.

srvd_SSN_CO - We probably played some funny gags on you and your middie friends.

6/27/2010 8:19 AM

Blogger Friendly Persuasion said...

I was fortunate enough to serve on Philly during the time frame of the operation described in BMB.

Besides memories of that deployment, which is the single deciding thing that kept me in the Navy, I remember low level Tab as a major casualty. The ice cream machine and soda machine breaking (another low level Tab emergency). The Eng being restricted to the boat in LaMadd. Almost sinking during ORSE. Coming into New London in thick fog so the CO could get married...even though we had been told it was too dangerous to come in......and many more meories.

6/29/2010 8:35 AM

Blogger Bearpaw said...

Friendly persuasion,

We either know each other or just missed each other. I got on shortly after the BMB incident. Kevin Reilly - Nuke MM. I was tutored by Beast (Chris Slavens) in ERLL, Harry Sarver and Paul Koenig.

7/02/2010 6:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Middie Anon at 3:43 on 6/26. I have to agree that my ride on the Philly in the Summer of 2001 was the best ever. Did you do some partying in Dubrovnik with a certain LTJG and some other nukes?

I rode across the ditch and had lots of liberty in Rota, Gibraltar, La Maddalena, Toulan, and of course Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik was the most memorable as I met my future Aussie wife there. This entire trip was a dream come true and by far the best 4 months of my submarining career.

Look me up on Facebook as I probably have some photos from that trip that I can send you.

7/02/2010 1:35 PM

Blogger Friendly Persuasion said...


Beast gave me one of the most interesting introductions to topside line handling. i just reported aboard in Naples and we were pulling into LaSpeizia. i was in charge of lines aft and Beast asked permission to pull up his socks. I thought this unusual but as an ensign, albeit prior enlisted, I gave him which he promptly dropped his pants (wearing no undies) and pulled up his socks.

You didn't mention Joe Foelsch or Skrtich. Where you there when ENCM Cornell was the master blaster?

7/02/2010 9:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We were under the pack ice in 96 or 97 and we were cleaning back aft when one if the nukes got his greenie caught in the rudder. Crushed his keg and we hauled ass too Norway.

7/09/2010 7:39 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

I was their when she was born, 2 years after I reported onboard. Remember the 47 deg downangle during the second sea trial. I was there the day she was hit by the Archerfish at State Pier two days before our first big NATO op and rushed into EB drydock and replaced the screw and repaired the sternplane dents and underway in 2 days. I left here when she was in NNS for PSA. Came back onboard in 1981 as a first class then made Chief. It was so true" I use to work in this dept, now I run it" We were the first 688 to wrestle the Battle E away from the 637's in Devron 12. Was in the control room during the Blindman's Bluff part. Would follow Capt Parry into battle any day. It is true many good people served on Philly, my brothers in arms. People I still talk to and see when I get a chance. She was truly a Ferrari. I was also their the day she was retired. Old warriors done die, they just fade away.

11/21/2012 11:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Brother served on her for six years. To this day, he can only talk about five ports she made anchor in six years. I remember having the opportunity to come aboard once & to see the officer's living quarters. She was an impressive vessel & I'm sorry to hear she was de-comm.

6/06/2013 10:32 AM


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