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, October 26, 2012

PCU Minnesota (SSN 783) Christening On Saturday

PCU Minnesota (SSN 783) will be christened on Saturday at Newport News by Mrs. Ellen Roughead,a native Minnesotan, and wife of the former CNO Gary Roughead. Word on the street is that the next day the boat will be rolled to the drydock and then floated a few days after that -- unless the incoming SNOWMAGEDDONPOLYNOREASTER ("You're all gonna die!!1!!1!(3-2)!!1!" -- The Media) interferes with those plans. Alpha and Bravo trials are tentatively scheduled for April and commissioning will take place early August of 2013, most likely in Norfolk.

The boat's Commissioning Committee has an active website here. You should be able to watch the christening ceremony here at 1000 EDT on 27 October; they should keep it in the archives for a while if you miss the live showing. In the meantime, please enjoy the boat's cool logo:

Have you ever done an official ceremony in crappy weather?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Russian Boomer Delayed Again

Remember back in 2006 when the Russian CNO said their first Borey-class SSBN, Yurii Dolgorukii, would be joining the fleet "in the very near future"? Or in 2011, when they said the boat would be put into service with the Pacific Fleet that year? Well, it turns out the Russians are continuing to have technical issues, and they're now claiming they'll get the commissioning done next year. I won't hold my breath.

Still, it's sad that all the NUCs waiting to be awarded to American PacFleet SSNs when the Dolgorukii finally does get out on patrol will be delayed yet again.

Should we LOL @ n00bs, or still be scared of the Russians for some reason?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Reader Shares His Memories

A reader sends in his memories of serving on submarines:

“The Stupid Shall Be Punished!” Yeah I heard that from MMCM/SS Tommy Connell back when he was the Unfiltered Camel Smoking, 2-3 pack a watch COB on the 617B out of Holy Loch in the early 80’s, he was my first COB and the man did make an impression. During off crew he was also famous for saying during the weekly all hands “One if you will die this off-crew.” And he was right, someone either died in an accident or came damn near close to it but lived. Interesting times which seemed to happen so long ago but also seems like yesterday.
Every once in a while I catch a whiff of boat or what reminds me of the boat smell, a few years ago I found my old A2 jacket I wore on the boat, yeah the green one and the one I stole and kept for my personal use. It was brand new and the guy responsible for the inventory on the boat was my running mate so we all know how that works. Anyway I pulled it out of the box and it still had that smell. Not as strong as it used to be but that smell alone just brought back a flood of memories both good and bad.
I was Boomer Sailor more specifically a SWS Nav ET a SINS Tech and I was never going to a fast attack unless I got another NEC. In Sub School our entire class was SWS, everything we were taught was boomer-centric, all the instructors were SWS and we were either going to be Nav ET’s, FTB’s or MT’s, we would find out that after the Sub School Survivors all went to Dam Neck together for A school. But we were segregated for a reason, every day we were reminded what we volunteered for…Submarines and Nuclear Weapons. We were the ones who were going to be trained to launch those missiles no matter what. Think about it…. who in there right thinking mind would give 19 and 20 year olds the knowledge and skills necessary to destroy the world? Pretty nuts if one thinks about it but it was and still is necessary.
SWS ‘A’ school was nothing but math and electronics for 26 weeks and LOTS of drinking, partying and being reminded daily that we were going to be nuking the world! It was also drilled into our heads we were the cream of the crop, better then the nukes, which IMHO still believe to this day. That is when people started dropping out of the SWS program out of my original A Schools class we lost 50% most were sent back to redo a week or 2 a fair number were sent to easier A schools after failing to many weeks but unless they were a total fuck up they stayed in the submarine community.
‘C’ School was across the street from ‘A’ School at Dam Neck, only lost 2 out of a class of 10 and the party did not stop either. The guys I went to sub school with were all in C school classes together but after about 16 weeks of C school guys started heading off to the fleet. Being a SINS Tech my C school was the longest out of all the SWS classes, when I left Dam Neck only the guys in my class were left from my Sub School days that was by now over a year later.
I end up on the USS Alexander Hamilton, SSBN 617, Blue Grew. The COB was MMCM/SS Tommy Connell, not the biggest fan of NAV ETs and us SWS types but he did not pick on us, he pretty much left us alone as did most of the crew. A couple guys I was in Sub School and A school with were already on the boat too. We were special, we did not stand topside or below decks watches, we sat on our ass in the NavCenter in port. Most times actually working but still lots of time sitting on our ass. Well let me take that back we did sometimes stand top side and below decks but it was not often when it happened and it usually was only for a day or 2 at most. As for special, yes we were, all our guidance for the SWS Weapons System came from SSPO, they trumped all, even SEA08, Naval Reactors. The boat revolved around the Weapons Systems and the Nukes hated us for it too. They had to keep the NavCenter nice and cold, they had to keep the power on and chilled water flowing, their drills could not disturb the SWS Weapons System else they got their asses reamed. So I can understand the fair about of resentment some have for us SWS types, I almost think of us as our own little sub community of the larger submarine community.
I don’t have any good sea stories of Tommy Lee, I do know he was one of the best people I ever served with but I did not realize it at the time. He did sign off on the DC portion of my Qual Card, most were too terrified to have him do it too and yes it took a few hours to get the signature Still to this day I can name the location of every piece of DC gear on the boat. Even today I remember Tommy Lee on his hands and knees during field day scraping gunk out of the corners on the deck. The man never asked anyone to do something he would not do himself; he earned more respect for doing that then anything else he did. To this day that is how I operate with people who work for/with me.
Thinking back over the years Tommy Lee Connell made one of the biggest impressions upon me….” The Stupid Shall Be Punished” is a truism and applies to everything one does. Another thing he used to say was that ‘the people you served with on the boats are the best people you will ever work with in your life.’ That is also true. From time to time I get to work with people who wear dolphins some I know some I do not but without exception they are always the best people to work with. Another truism I learned in life was told to me by a Retired RMCS/SS, Fast Boat Sailor…”You Wear Dolphins, You can do Anything!” and that is also 100% true.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

USS Montpelier Collision

The Navy got an unwanted present on its 237th birthday when USS Montpelier (SSN 765) and USS San Jacinto (CG 56) collided off the East Coast today:
NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- There were no injuries as a U.S. Navy submarine and an Aegis cruiser collided off the coast of the Eastern United States earlier this afternoon.
The collision between USS Montpelier (SSN 765) and USS San Jacinto (CG 56) occurred at approximately 3:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight time.
No personnel aboard either vessel were injured.
Overall damage to both ships is being evaluated. The propulsion plant of the submarine was unaffected by this collision. Both ships are currently operating under their own power.
The incident is currently under investigation.
Both the submarine and the ship were conducting routine training at the time of the accident.
Montpelier returned from deployment in February, while San Jacinto is assigned to Carrier Strike Group TEN with USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75), which is in a deployment workup cycle. Here's some more information from the ABC News website:
The Navy official says that at approximately 3:30 p.m. the bridge watch aboard the San Jacinto saw the submarine Montpelier rise to periscope depth about 100 to 200 yards ahead of them. The bridge ordered an “all back,” but still collided with the sub.
According to the official, the initial assessment of damage is that there was a complete depressurization of the sonar dome aboard the San Jacinto. Located below the water line of surface warships, sonar domes provide the bulbous shape to the bows of warships.
After the collision the official said the submarine surfaced and communications were established between all the ships on the scene.
Will update as more information becomes available. Staying at PD...

Update 2130 14 Oct: The Navy reports that both ships are pierside and being evaluated. In this picture of Montpelier, it appears that the upper section of her rudder is missing.

I've always thought that there was no more dangerous peacetime evolution (other than some ORSE prep drill sets) than fleet ASW exercises away from an instrumented range. During Topeka's 1992 deployment, we did an opposed UNREP against the Ranger Battle Group. After one simulated attack, we moved ahead of the group to get in position for a follow-up green-flaring. As we were coming to PD with the CO ("He Who Must Not Be Named") on the 'scope, the Weps watching the ASVDU, and me on Pri-MATE, the dots were stacking in such a way that it looked like a contact was coming closer and closer, and we started getting near-field effect on the sonar displays. The WEPS recommended we abort the PD trip, and the CO ordered emergency deep. When the contact (probably USS Rentz) passed astern and came back on the other side, the CPA calculated out to about 50 yards.

In this case, we don't know if the cruiser was operating a quieting system (some have questioned if discussion of such a hypothetical system skirts the bounds of confidentiality, but we'll assume the commenters are referring to the possibility of a system such as the one described in this open-source Wikipedia article), who was on the 'scope, and what the sea state was. I'm used to the CO or Command Duty Officer (when stationed) always being on the 'scope during a Battle Stations scenario for ASWEXs, but Montpelier might not have that requirement. Another thing to consider is that Montpelier, having recently returned from deployment, is probably on one of her first FLEETEX support missions after likely losing a lot of key players from the deployment to transfer, and is training up new Fire Control and Sonar teams. Alternately, they might have just been coming up for normal comms during a break in the exercise schedule, and, as one commenter suggested, didn't have a good track on the San Jacinto, having either missed a 180 turn or putting one in that didn't exist. (For a quiet target, a zero-bearing rate, decreasing range sonar track looks a lot like a >20K yard contact.) I've been in situations when the seas were high enough coming to PD that I didn't get a good look at one sector until my 3rd or 4th sweep after the optics break the surface -- and who knows, if they had a UI or two on the ship's control party, maybe they had a hard time keeping the 'scope optics out of the water. However, this is unlikely since it was reported that a lookout on the cruiser saw the submarine. I'd be more likely to guess a possible sail broach, with the OOD more concerned about yelling at the Dive to get the ship back down than completing his safety sweep. We really won't be able to have an informed discussion on potential lessons learned until we do know those things -- but, as usual, that shouldn't stop us from holding forth, since that's what us Submariners do.

And for non-Submariners visiting here and wondering, no, Montpelier is not yet one of the submarines with female crew members.

Staying at PD...

Update 1635 16 Oct: The heads of the crawl up their assholes with a microscope investigation boards have been named:
Vice Adm. Michelle Howard, deputy commander of USFF, appointed Rear Adm. Ann Phillips, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2, as the investigating officer to lead a command investigation into the collision of USS Montpelier (SSN 765) and USS San Jacinto (CG 56).
The investigation is administrative in nature and will look into the cause of the collision and determine any fault, neglect, or responsibility. Additionally, the investigation will identify any shortfalls in procedures and make recommendations for corrective action.
USFF has also directed a Safety Investigation Board (SIB), which will be led by Rear Adm. Joseph Tofalo, commander of Submarine Group (SUBGRU) 10. The SIB will identify hazards and causal factors for the collision, and make recommendations to prevent future mishaps.
I'm guessing they'll find that people on the submarine were doing a lot of things that happen on every single submarine in the world (like the Throttleman cleaning around his watchstation instead of standing straight and monitoring his panel 100% of the time) that will prove that Montpelier was grossly deficient but there are no Force-wide issues, as Montpelier was an outlier. [/sarcasm]

Sunday, October 07, 2012

The Good Kind Of VIP Tour

From Navy News:
Retired U.S. Army colonel, Vietnam War veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, Jack Howard Jacobs, and a group of distinguished guests who are in Hawaii for the National Medal of Honor Convention, visited the Virginia-class submarine USS North Carolina (SSN 777) for a tour Oct. 5 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
"It's was an absolute honor to be able to show a true American hero around the boat, and talk to him about what the submarine force does and how we contribute to our country's missions." said Cmdr. Richard G. Rinehart, USS North Carolina commanding officer. "The crew came together. They understood the importance of this opportunity to show this group around, and they enjoyed the chance to show them a little about the submarine force and what we do."
During the tour, the crew of North Carolina explained the difference between Virginia-class submarines and other submarines, submerging and surfacing systems, and basic day-to-day operations on board.
"Coming aboard a ship with the capability of the North Carolina is awe inspiring to me," said Jacobs. "It's hard to believe that only 150 Sailors can control this kind of firepower, and the projection of power around the globe. We are all very lucky to have the North Carolina on our side."
Who is the coolest person you've ever toured around the boat?