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, September 30, 2010

Witness To History

As often happens to us old folks, a song on the radio today made me flash back to a memory. In this case, it was the first night of the Rodney King riots, where I was out with a good portion of the crew of USS Topeka (SSN 754) at the old Horse and Cow in Vallejo; we were in the area for a port visit to Alameda for some reason. Much Nuke Waste was drunk, and the Dance of the Flaming Asshole was performed as we cavorted through the bar, skivvie-less, singing "How can we sleep while Los Angeles is burning?"

The next day, I had duty, and we monitored the spread of the riots to the San Francisco Bay area as guys came back to the boat with reports of almost being assaulted on the BART. We watched the news, half-expecting to see A-Div streaming out of some looted hardware store with lots of new tools. Luckily, no one associated with the crew was hurt, and we left the next morning.

Where were you when history was being made? (In general, not just this particular event. Remember we already covered 9/11 earlier this month.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Underway on patrol, listening to lf radio on the wire (the skipper was an old 41 for freedom, A1 missile type of guy) when we heard the news reports of the Challenger explosion. Quite a shock to most, even though we were doing something that most thought was nearly as dangerous.

9/30/2010 12:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Horse and Cow was still there in 1992? I thought we tore it up in 1974!

9/30/2010 1:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

April 29th, 1992
There was a riot on the streets
Tell me where were you?

I was in 6th grade.

9/30/2010 1:55 PM

Anonymous Submarines once... said...

May 1st (a Friday)-recall driving up I-15 from San Diego to I-10 then I-210 W to Oxnard. Looping around LA; mid day and the lightest traffic I had ever seen. Smoke (not to be confused with smog) from the riots easily visible. Don't think much good was accomplished from the whole deal...

9/30/2010 2:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now there's topic for this forum: Stories from the Winnie & Moo, or the Royal Canadian Ballroom or any other alias used to describe the Horse & Cow. Killed many a brain cell there...and met some mighty fine late night companions!!!

9/30/2010 2:21 PM

Anonymous Treat Him Like a King said...

On the CHICAGO underway off SOCAL. We were hoping we could use VLS Tomahawks to level South Central LA and take care of business. Darn Constitution got in the way.

We were out for a while so we missed the TV coverage. When I finally saw it, I was amazed to see Korean Americans and other citizens taking a stand against the looters and thugs.

Unfortunately, King is still a lifelong criminal.

9/30/2010 3:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Challeneger explosion - In Charleston shipyard with boat in the drydock. Was on the barge in the E-Div area and heard the news. Went to the wardroom and turned on the TV to see the coverage.

9/30/2010 6:41 PM

Anonymous Ross Kline said...

For the Challenger...I was submerged, off the coast of central Florida, waiting to pull into PCan so the USS Alaska could start the missile certs. Needless to say, that got put on hold....

9/30/2010 6:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Challenger - I was in that club on Ford Island (damn if I can remember the name of it..can anyone help me here?) eating lunch on a break from some school at NSTCP...saw it being reported on the TV.

9/30/2010 7:40 PM

Blogger Old Salt said...

Challenger was my senior year in high school. I remember being home that afternoon and watching it on TV.

When the San Francisco hit, I was on Cocos Island by Guam at a Scout campout. All of the sudden, pagers started going off among most of the adults recalling us all back to the Cable. We thought it was another typhoon avoidance until we got to the ship.

9/30/2010 8:58 PM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

Challenger explosion - In the CSS2 briefing room in New London. Watched on TV and then CSS2 told a messenger to get down to NR-1 to tell them to get ready to deploy (Before any official orders came from on high)
Robert Kennedy Assasination - Underway on local ops off of Hawaii. XO made announcement on 1MC.

9/30/2010 9:08 PM

Blogger KenH said...

Challenger: In college, sitting in the cafeteria playing cards when someone shouted "Holy Sh*t the shuttle just blew up!" First thing I said was 'yeah, right' .. turned around and saw this was not a joke.

Spent rest of the day watching the coverage repeating endlessly

9/30/2010 9:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Challenger - In training during 726G offcrew when Ens. (Now Captain) John Litherland came in and told us the shuttle had just blown up. Remember thinking "But their for the Grace of God go I."

9/30/2010 10:51 PM

Anonymous 3383 said...

I and many other nucs were outside (for lunch?) at Orlando watching the Challenger liftoff live.

9/30/2010 11:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Challenger, I was in NewCon on
the Miami. Bonefish the same. Rodney who?? Horse and Cow Vaj. was still
open in 93, I can attest to that. I
still remember entering the place
at least.
San Fran? I was the on watch dive,


10/01/2010 12:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in pearl at the barracks I had went to bed early , i didn't hear the news. I had just got up to head to the boat, turned on the TV and saw the riots. My room mate was in the shower and I said "john , what was the verdict?" and he yelled "Oh , the cops got acquitted!".

No shit.

10/01/2010 12:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The day the verdict was read in the O.J criminal trial, was performing a D-5 missile load in Kings Bay. Every television on the wharf was tuned in. The evolution was delayed because everyone was watching except for the civilian crane operator who was left holding the loading tube. He was pissed.

10/01/2010 12:45 AM

Blogger reddog said...

I was working nights and had the TV on at home when Challenger went up.

Watching Reagan's reaction, standing on the bandstand with Nancy, I realized he had senile dementia.

I could see the smoke from the fires in South Central, just as I saw the it during the Watts riots a generation before, as a child.

Businesses quit hiring anybody that spoke Eubonic or dressed Ghetto after that and African Americans are mostly gone from South Central today. They either integrated into the culture or left SoCal. I don't know where the ones that left went.

10/01/2010 5:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK City Bombing: I was underway on WestPac. First word that came to the boat was that squadron had contacted all the family members from OK and they were alright. We had to send off a reply asking WTF happened.


10/01/2010 5:54 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jan. 1991 getting ready to go out on patrol (657 Blue) when the Gulf War started. I was splitting a room with a friend in the BOQ watching Scuds start falling on Israel, on CNN. That made me think of all those Nostradamus type movies and WWIII type of things. Fortunately the Israelis did not respond by starting WWIII and all but I thought it was a pretty big moment at the time.

A couple of months later Spring 1991, out on patrol, sitting in Radio listening to the BBC I think it was via our floating wire. I do recall hearing a scratchy AM radio broadcast the RMs put on a loudspeaker either late at night or early early in the morning saying the Gulf War was over.

10/01/2010 6:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Heh, I was the last man down the San Fran's hatch in 2009 for her initial tightness dive during sea trials...that was a strange feeling.

Being younger, I barely remember the Challenger and even the King riots (they weren't such a big deal in the small Indiana farm town where I grew up). I do remember the loss of the Columbia pretty vividly though; I was at the Academy, just finishing Saturday morning PT. Word started circulating about the disaster, and my first reaction was, "God, Not again!"

10/01/2010 6:50 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

On Sam Houston while during the fall of Saigon. Communications were pretty limited back then. We had a teletype saying that it was happening. By the time we got off patrol it was all over. Only saw a few pictures (pushing helos of the deck of the Kirk really stuck in my mind). Remember wondering what all of that cost us and to what end.

10/01/2010 8:19 AM

Anonymous Below Decks Watch said...

Riots in Los Angeles After the Rodney King Verdict (April 1992): Boot Camp Great Mistakes IL, Company 069 Div 021, DC1 (SW) Massy & BM2 (SW) Williams

O.J. Simpson car chase: At the E-Club on Subase NLON watching the whole thing.
O.J Simpson verdict (October 3, 1995): Standing in front of a big TV @ Sears in the Crystal Mall in Waterford, CT.

Challenger disaster (Jan 28, 1986): Senior @ High School, Watched Pres. Regan give a great speech that evening.

We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.'

10/01/2010 9:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the Challenger made its final flight I was on a barge in Mare Island. We were doing a long overhaul and had just finished a training session on the barge when the Bull Nuke said you have got to see the T.V. news of the Challenger.

10/01/2010 9:30 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My boat was in the IO headed to Perth when the Challenger accident happened. A month later we pulled into Subic the day Marcos fled into exile in Hawaii, and got to party with all of the Aquino inaugeral festivities.


10/01/2010 10:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not knowing that some day I would meet Rodney... Twice
Dr Drew Penske
Celeb Rehab

10/01/2010 10:11 AM

Blogger Vigilis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10/01/2010 10:14 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Challenger - in Orlando finishing the last week of Nuke School before heading to prototype

10/01/2010 10:15 AM

Anonymous bullnav said...

Challenger - in the Ratline. That was big news at VMI because Christa Macauliffe's husband was class of '72 and she had a set of George C. Marshall's stars on lone from the George C. Marshall Library to take into space.

Oklahoma City - on station in the Adriatic as part of the multinational task force enforcing UN sanctions against the former republic of Yugoslavia.

10/01/2010 10:33 AM

Anonymous Jim C. said...

San Francisco Grounding:

I remember hearing about it on a Saturday afternoon while listening to the radio while working on my boat at the marina.

I logged on to the computer and saw some news reports and general location of the grounding. The first thing I thought was what was the ship doing there?

As an ANAV, I started looking at the charts on my laptop and GPS and knew right away something ddin't make sense.

I was also the Ops Chief at CSG-7 back in the mid 90's when we stopped routing boats that way, if at all possible, due to the shallow waters and lack of good information in that area. I remember taking the CHICAGO through that area in the early 90's and being really concerned.

I went to the office on Sunday to take care of a local issue and release some messages. Of course I saw the SITREPS and spent the next few hour plotting things out.

Hindsight is always 20-20 but there were a lot of mistakes made by the SUBOPAUTH and SF navigation team.

On the flip side, a lot was learned in the submarine force about charting, navigation in general, damge control and submarining.

Pretty amazing the crew was able to get that ship back to port. Almost as amazing was the ability of the shipyard to repair and return a warship back into the fleet.

10/01/2010 10:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Event: Man lands on the moon.
Event: Woodstock Festival.
Event: Wife does the Blue Crew.

My location: 125 feet at 3 kts...

10/01/2010 10:44 AM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Challenger--freshman at GaTech. Was at lunch and heard about it. Didn't get much else done that day.

Rodney King--Were pulling out of Sydney on our way to Brisbane (was on the Proteus as a brand new ET2 Radcon weenie.) Chaplain got on the 1MC and instead of some comforting words, basically called it the "end times". Way to go.

OKC Bombing--USS Pogy, last month of Westpac 1994-95, ORSE workups.

10/01/2010 10:48 AM

Anonymous Blue Crew said...

Event: Man lands on the moon.
Event: Woodstock Festival.
Event: Wife does the Blue Crew.

My location: First two events: Off crew building. Last event: Your house...

10/01/2010 10:55 AM

Anonymous Bill said...

Late-90s, just off the Oval Office in my little private study. Just Me, Monica, and a big fat Cuban cigar. She’s screeching, “size does matter”. I'm looking for my Special Executive Order pin to formally sign off on Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

All the while, That Bitch is off planning the accidental suicide of Vincent Foster.

10/01/2010 11:39 AM

Blogger Vigilis said...

We arrived Vallejo the month after the Zodiac killer's last confirmed murder.

"Weather Underground", the rich kid Bill Ayres's terror group, was also active then in San Francisco. A bombing in Golden Gate Park killed a police officer. Later, the Presidio Army base was bombed.

Was delighted to learn last week that the scum, Prof. Bill Ayres, was denied emeritus status by the Univ. of Chicago's board of trustees.

10/01/2010 11:43 AM

Blogger jack said...

JFK Assassination Nuke school Bainbridge Md.

Woodstock underway on spec op, can't say where I was.

Challenger work southwest marine San Diego

I remember the Nixon Checkers speech on radio.

I'm an old phart.

Was one of Whitey Mack's crew on Lapon.

10/01/2010 12:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

1973 Yom Kippur war, Nixon orders DEFCON increase. Inport PH, Duty CPO on USS Barbel SS-580. Below Decks watch wakes me at about 2330 and says Duty Officer wants to see me in Wardroom. Skipper onboard and says roll out duty section, we're moving the boat to West Lock in half an hour. Get everyone up, disconnect shore power, light off two engines, back out of finger pier and go West Lock with just the duty section. After tie-up Me and the duty TM start rigging the torpedo room to load fish and set up the loading skid topside. Rest of crew shows up by Mike boat about 0900. That morning we loaded full war load of MK 16-8's and MK 37-2's, go back to Subbase, load stores and underway that evening. We hanging out near Big Island for about ten days wondering whats going on.

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


10/01/2010 2:09 PM

Anonymous Veemann said...

Challenger: Underway on SS American Lark of United States Lines. I still have the Time magazine with Challenger on the cover from when we stopped in Guam.

Rodney King Riots: At Horse and Cow with Joel and others.

US Airways Crash in Pittsburgh/OJ Bronco Chase/OKC Bombing: In my living room in Monterey, CA for all 3.

10/01/2010 6:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For: Challenger - I was in that club on Ford Island (damn if I can remember the name of it..can anyone help me here?) eating lunch on a break from some school at NSTCP...saw it being reported on the TV.

It was the Arizona Club and I drank alot there in 1975 and missed a few ferry boats too.

10/01/2010 6:45 PM

Anonymous HMCM(SS) Retired said...

Challenger Explosion... In the Med on board 709 and just gotten my dolphins.

10/01/2010 10:49 PM

Anonymous How to seduce a woman said...

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10/01/2010 10:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Anon 6:50 who was the DOOW
on the initial dive? That would have been fun, hehe....I read some of those sitreps.
I'll be celebrating walking the San Fran decks again on a walkabout in the not too distant future. Can't wait to see a boat I put so much blood, sweat, and tears into back in action.

rodney who???

10/01/2010 11:41 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

1991, when the wall came down

We were on mission, getting our news from VLF, and that meant an awfully large number of hits. Over the course of two weeks we heard snippets of news, as if it was not important enough to warrant a full message.

First there was news of a coup, then some guy named Yeltsin was mentioned, but we could not really figure out what was going on.

We pull into Guam, now several weeks later, and no one even knows what we are talking about by then.

Talk about living in a time machine.

10/02/2010 7:17 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is good to see an unsung American hero participates in this blog. Danny Hagar saved the San Fran. He is too modest to claim or admit what he did but while most were wriggling in pain and fear he, with a seriously broken leg, barked orders and got the team to focus. He stepped up when it counted most. He personifies what it means to wear dolphins.
Well done shipmate.
My hat is always off to you.

10/02/2010 8:46 AM

Anonymous Math Teacher UpState NY said...

Challenger blew up as I was loading a U-Haul in Ballston Spa and heading to EM AMT (C-School) in Great Lakes. First I heard of the explosion was the headline picture in the paper the next morning, then on the radio (every station) the entire trip to Great Lakes. No CD or tape player to listen to.

731 G
Patrol 12 The Berlin wall came down
Patrol 14 Operation Just Cause
Patrol 16 Invasion of Kwait, Operation Desert Shield
Patrol 18 Operation Desert Storm
Might have been 10-16, bottom line was that every time I went to sea, the world changed and I missed it. “IT” being the constant CNN coverage that defined the era of information change.

Columbia disassembled over Texas occurred while the 769 was in PCAN. I was at Jonathan’s Bar watching the landing. When the landing didn’t occur, the place cleared out fast as most of the patrons worked at the Space Center.

King and OJ, I didn’t care about and didn’t notice.

Someone mentioned being at sea was like being in a time machine. It really was and the rack was the heart of the machine. It was a constant blur of training, cleaning, ORSE prep, TRE prep, standing watch, doing maintenance (cleaning MG’s for EM’s was a never ending task). Before computers and cell phones it was very hard to communicate home and much of what happened in the world went unnoticed while onboard, even in home port.

25 years of little to no news, FF-1052, TS-Empire State, S7G, 607, 731G, D1G, 767, 703, 769 and I would not trade a second of it for the rice in China. It made me who I am today.

10/02/2010 9:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Challenger: Underway on LA. Did a Sun. AM perstrans off Hospital Point. Flags at half-mast. WTF? Riders told us the shuttle blew up and noone brought a newspaper with them.

Desert Shield: Ship Supt. at Pearl Harbor SY. Repair ships headed west took all plate steel.

Desert Storm: Back on LA headed west!

A Hand Salute and a cold beer for the Dive on San Fran. I'm in awe. Could have been any of us. That is the kind of watchstanding, training and submarining that counts when the chips are down.

Let's quit sniveling about nuc training and how tough life is in the wardroom and get back to what counts. Get the boat to sea, Keep it there and know how to fight the boat.


10/02/2010 11:21 AM

Anonymous ret.cob said...

Reagan shot - On alert patrol while Al Haig said he was in control at the White House. I shudder now...

10/02/2010 11:32 AM

Anonymous Pops said...

JFK assassination--missile boat off of Vladivostok

10/02/2010 3:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the accolades, but I was just the right man in the right place at the right time.
Bwah! Twas only a flesh wound!
I've had worse! I laughed when they
started calling me Tiny Tim as I was
hopping around on 1 leg. God love us each and everyone!
Our motto in the Goatlocker at
the time? "there's plenty of time
to sleep when yer dead".

'nuf said.
Don't miss it, but loved it.

10/03/2010 12:08 AM

Anonymous STSC said...

April 29th, 1992
There was a riot on the streets
Tell me where were you?

I didn't (still don't)count that as a historic moment. Pretty sure I was out to sea which is why it didn't affect me though I heard about it when we pulled in.

CHALLENGER explosion shocked me, and school came to a stop. I remember crowding around an ancient A/V lab television wheeled into the classroom.

SAN FRAN I was underway also. Still gives me shivers thinking about it.

10/04/2010 6:44 PM

Blogger John said...

25 October, 1983 Invasion of Grenada. I was an infantry company XO in the field in Germany when the battalion command net suddenly announced a no-kidding, we-are-going-to-war alert message. I climbed out of my track and got into my jeep and headed with the other XOs to the ASP to draw the war load of ammo for my company. The Soviets announced the same kind of alert at the same time. Things got a little tense along the inner German Border for a few days.
26 January 1986 Challenger Explosion. In my office at FT Stewart, GA writing an OPORD.
1 Aug 1990 Iraq Invasion of Kuwait I was the Post Staff Duty Officer at FT Lee, VA
27 October 2004 My beloved Red Sox finally win the World Series. In a hotel room in Colorado Springs, CO, yelling, crying, drinking beer and calling everyone I could think of!

10/07/2010 11:17 AM

Anonymous said...

I found a lot of worthwhile info here!

10/02/2011 10:55 AM

Anonymous PhD said...

I didn't (still don't)count that as a historic moment.

7/02/2012 1:03 AM

Anonymous Georgina said...

Well, I don't actually think this is likely to have effect.

9/01/2012 3:22 AM


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