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, January 10, 2013

USS Jacksonville Collision

From the Navy website:
No one was hurt when the periscope on USS Jacksonville (SSN 699), a Los Angeles-class submarine, struck a vessel while operating in the Arabian Gulf Jan. 10 at approximately 5 a.m. local time.
Jacksonville surfaced from periscope depth to ascertain if there was any damage to the unidentified vessel. The vessel continued on a consistent course and speed offering no indication of distress or acknowledgement of a collision.
Damage appears to be limited to one of Jacksonville's two periscopes. The reactor remains in a safe condition, there was no damage to the propulsion plant systems and there is no concern regarding watertight integrity.
A U.S. P-3 Orion aircraft conducted a search of the area and saw no debris in the water or vessels in distress. The airborne search of the area is complete.
The incident is under investigation.
Jacksonville is on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility.
There's some more information in this Navy Times story, including a statement from a Fifth Fleet PAO that the damaged 'scope is "slightly bent".

Staying at PD...


Blogger RM1(SS) (ret) said...

Crash crew of '82. Back for more in '84. Same ol' tricks in '96.

What rhymes with "13"?

1/10/2013 8:05 PM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

IT is hard to transit submerged with a bent scope. I hope the J was near a maintenance port or it will be a long surface transit. Will another CO bite the dust?

1/10/2013 8:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Considering the area they were in, this is a whole other kettle of fish than Montpelier's collision.

I served with CDR Sukols on his XO tour and interacted with him and some of the 699 crew professionally within the last year. Great guy that I would be happy to have as my CO. Sometimes bad things happen to good people.

I'd like to see what the final report says...

1/10/2013 9:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great CO and a great crew. Glad no one was hurt!

1/10/2013 11:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ABC is reporting that the periscope "had been sheared off, cut right off."

I feel terrible for the officers and senior enlisted on board. They are all great men, and I don't think any of them deserve to lose a career over this.

1/10/2013 11:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about "Not coming clean in thirteen"?

1/10/2013 11:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm still trying to figure out how this continues to happen...back when i was on subs in the 80's and 90's we had a clear procedure maintain 2000 yards away from any surface contact...what was the Sonar Sup doing? did they clear baffles before coming to periscope depth? with the type of sonar i'm sure you can hear a fishing vessel...i have spent say 3yrs total in the gulf....yes there are tons of shipping and surface contacts....subs can operate with scope up just cant go MM1(SS/SW/AW) RETIRED

1/10/2013 11:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the privilege to serve with CDR Sukols on his CO tour and would like to say he is incredibly well-liked and respected by every one that serves under him. While I know that the CO is always ultimately responsible for every thing that happens on his boat, knowing his probable fate is a particularly big pill to swallow. Both he and his crew were top quality submariners and it just kind of sucks, as posted above, that sometimes bad things happen to good people.

1/11/2013 12:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Respectfully, I'm not sure I'd take the word of a retired MM1 as gospel when it comes to high contact density PD ops in brown water.


1/11/2013 12:09 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is getting old...

1/11/2013 12:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to see no one hurt, now brace for the investigation. Won't be fun with the microscope heading your way.

Good luck Nate! We're pulling for you brother.

1/11/2013 4:44 AM

Anonymous BTDT 1120 said...

MM1 High Contact Density expert-

If you have spent 3 years doing PD ops in the Arabian gulf, then I am willing to bet that you spent significant time inside of 2000 yards from fishing contacts... your approach officer/CO just weren't telling you about it.

BTDT, hard work, only a matter of time when you are in that environment. This is not a "alert watchstanding could have prevented it" sort of situation". Sometimes, all the escape paths close off, can't go deep, and that SOB fishing boat decides all the fish are located where you are and drives up your tail at 8 kts.

That being said, this thread has potential to touch operational issues, and I urge posters not to elaborate more on operational patterns.

1/11/2013 4:46 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


1/11/2013 5:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ABC is reporting that the periscope "had been sheared off, cut right off."

Top 5' is gone ("Not Present"). Remainder bent aft 30-45 deg.

1/11/2013 5:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking at comment in Yahoo! even the public now realizes how fucked up the submarine officer corp is.

Subs are waste of money anyways.

1/11/2013 5:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nate is going to get what is left of the scope rammed up his anus.

Dock his pay and and boot him from the Navy with no pension. Or give him is pension in lieu of paying to fix the damage.

1/11/2013 5:53 AM

Anonymous Scott Waddle said...

Damn those SOB fishing boats, always looking for fish and driving up your tail.

1/11/2013 6:50 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a plankowner from the USS Montpelier. I reported aboard in December of 1990. It boggles my mind how this can happen unless they were on an "OP" and were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Otherwise I agree - they should have not been at PD at that specific time.

Is there any possible way the ignorant posters can simply not post please. You serve to only show your lack of knowledge/information. Tha language needs to go also (bleeding heart liberals be quiet - I don't care if your feelings are hurt - decent language is preferred)

1/11/2013 7:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's all do the Aspro salute!

1/11/2013 7:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...Otherwise I agree - they should have not been at PD at that specific time."

And you're basing that assessment on.....?

"Is there any possible way the ignorant posters can simply not post please."

Please include yourself in that broad-brush category.

1/11/2013 7:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rule number one.... DON"T MAKE THE NEWS.... That was broken ergo Bye Bye... See you on Admin duty...

1/11/2013 8:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It always depresses me to see the pathetic glee people on this forum show when something like this happens to "our" sub force.

1/11/2013 8:27 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does the sub force learn this lesson? Aren't we running out of docks and pier side availabilities?

Pretty soon even friendly countries will frown on US boats.

Oh well, ramming speed!

1/11/2013 8:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ignorant people please do not post, as you have no idea what you're talking about. People with actual knowledge, please do not post for OPSEC reasons.

1/11/2013 8:45 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ummm. So, who does that leave? AWWW CRAP, I wasn't supposed to Post. I think we need DODGE!

1/11/2013 8:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How does the sub force learn this lesson?"

They don't. They simply rediscover them.

1/11/2013 8:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry guys, but this is actually a good thing in the long run.

The entire Nuke program needs to be looked at. The structural problems are significant and it goes from the newest Nuke in boot camp right now, all the way to the top.

The system is and always has been broken. The difference is in today's rapid media and information highway, it's easy for everyone to see.

I remember when I was in (pre internet and everyone with a smartphone) and a boat had an issue, not a word written about it anywhere. No Navy Times article, nothing.

These problems have been there all along, don't kid yourselves.

Taking engineers and technicians and assuming they are all leaders by virtue of advancement is a huge mistake.

The vetting process sets guys up to fail and think they are better than they are too.

The Nuclear Navy needs to look at the CIVILIAN world to fix it's problems. Heresy, right? And be prepared for more of the same.

Has the Navy every done a 360 review with former members about what was good and bad about the program? None that I've ever seen or heard of. But with the current system, they wouldn't listen anyways.

If any high ranking officer or admiral out there reads this blog, you need to start with clean slate. Have a spine. Make the changes.

Fix the things that make people want to leave the Navy so you get better people. That means better pay, better shore duty rotations, shorter sea/shore rotations, etc.

You need to put everything on the table.

Yes, this incident as with others is a result of the mentality of the Nuke program. Remember, every O-ganger is a Nuke.

Have technical tracts and leadership tracts (both O & E) so bad leaders but good technical people are not lost.

My the changes I would make.

Now for the current CO of SSN Hiteverything, lube up honey. Karma....

1/11/2013 8:54 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

well said... sadly, the stars won't stand up in fear of not getting another star. The birds won't step up for fear of not putting on a star....

1/11/2013 9:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the One-Eyed Jax, will the Old Man get the ax?

1/11/2013 9:43 AM

Anonymous don't pass the buck said...

This is not a Nuke problem -- the nuclear reactor ran just fine and was not part of this mishap. It surely is not an enlisted Nuke problem. This is a coner mishap. If anything that might be a sonar technician, but don't pass the buck down to any (junior) enlisted regardless. Who gave the order to raise the periscope?

NNPTC does not train the CO in "ship handling" either. The O-gang's nuclear qualifications are not what failed them.

1/11/2013 9:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems to me that with the looming MASSIVE defense cuts and general financial chaos headed our way, we are headed from a one-ocean navy to a coastal defense navy (if that, whether we like it or not.

Remember what happened to the Soviet Union. Financial collapse. No defense budget. Their navy rusted to pieces by the piers.

Why do you NEED 270+ admirals if you have less than 100 ships in the water?

I fear that our country is headed back to pre-1900 status.


1/11/2013 10:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, I rather doubt the CO should or will be fired. This was different in one very important attribute and much too similar in an increasingly familiar result. more at Molten Eagle.

1/11/2013 2:28 PM

Blogger Jeff Stevens said...

As a civilian, layman, and complete admitted KNOW NOTHING, it is always amusing to see these conversations, where people who would appear to know what they're talking about are told they're completely wrong by other people who would appear to know what they're talking about.

I just throw my hands up and go "WTF!?!?!" and continue to pay my tax dollars and keep my yap shut about what should and should not be.

But it is amusing.

1/11/2013 3:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a 13 year Navy Submarine veteran, E-6 Sonar Technician (SSN-757 and SSBN 633 Blue), I have spent some time in the Mediterranean where shipping traffic is very heavy. Submarine operations are dangerous and especially operating at periscope depth (PD).

I have no doubt that the baffles were cleared prior to coming to PD as that is standard operating procedure. My first thought was that the fishing vessel may have been dead in the water and sonar did not hear it. But, the article reports that the vessel continued on it's course and speed. So, the sonar supervisor and operators may have some explaining to do.

The officer of the deck should have seen the vessel thru the scope, assuming that the collision occurred some time after reaching PD and the vessel had it's running lights turned on.

I recall a situation where we were on the surface near Andros Island and Nassau in the Bahamas after midnight. I went to the bridge to have a look and we (Officer of the Deck, Lookout and I) could hear a clanking noise, but we couldn't see anything. After a few minutes, a sail boat passed down our port side within 100 feet. It had no lights on and sonar reported no sounds from it. The clanking was from the lines and pulleys hitting it's mast. We reported the boat to local authorities as a hazard. So, I can see how you can go 'bump in the night'!

Joe Lacy STS1(SS)

1/11/2013 4:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’m a mom, so I’m sorry if this is an obvious question, but does this mean that they will come home early from deployment? Will they fix the sub in the next port and continue deployment? Then, if they get fixed, will deployment get extended to make up for the time spent fixing? What usually happens in these cases? Thank you for any information.

1/11/2013 5:49 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Joe Lacy, while you are telling us a lot you are also withholding as much. Two things particularly come to mind.

First, how long ago did the described take place -- 90's or earlier?

Secondly, and most germane, as a result of the incident you described, was anyone on your boat including the CO fired?

Did not think so.


1/11/2013 6:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone who is posting 'this person should get sacked' or 'time to scrap the whole program' has clearly never been in the military or been close to anyone who has. Before you get on your high horse and head off to the races, consider taking a break from your scheduled feeling smug time to think about the guys on board and the people who love them. My fiancé is on that boat. I know everyone is fine and all that (thank goodness), but I have gotten phone calls and emails I could have happily loved my whole life without. You my see the Navy nuclear program as an outmoded waste of money and that's your right, but before you get too bombastic and self-congratulatory, please just stop to think about the people involved. Regular guys who joined the Navy to have a job or because they believe in protecting our freedoms. Think about their wives, girlfriends, parents, children, and friends. These people love a sailor, maybe in spite of him being a sailor. It's already hard enough, don't make it any harder on these people - please.

1/11/2013 8:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We don't know the particulars of this incident, so maybe we ought to wait and see what they are before we all decide what the Navy should do about it.

To the poster who offered his perception of a lack of balanced training for the O-gangers (operational vs. technical skills):

Could be a valid point. We all know there are those who excel at one side of the problem over the other, and being top-drawer in both categories can be difficult to mass produce. Natural selection seems to be the default setting on this one.

Not sure how that might apply to this incident, though. (Just sayin' so's you know you were weren't misunderstood by everyone).

I once knew an ENG who was recommended for a Bronze Star for his technical prowess. The man was quite literally a genius. But heaven help us all when he stood a watch as OOD...scary.

He had absolutely zero feel for shiphandling. Everyone knew it and we all smartly lent a hand to compensate. Team effort. (Life is good!). LOL.

There was fwd v nuc rivalry on our boat too, of course, but that went RIGHT out the TDU when the ENG had the Conn.

So please, if there are any more silly nuc blueshirts out there who feel the need to distort, garble and otherwise warp another's statement for the purpose of misshaping the topic to better grind THAT old rusty axe....stow it, will you please? You insult everyone's intelligence with that BS.

Just f@#'n stow it.

Now get back to the kitchen and get that tea kettle cookin', and make sure there's plenty when I ask for it! WE are probably going to need it...

COW, over the 1MC: "Prepare to ventilate".

1/11/2013 9:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Iran concluded naval exercises in the Strait just a couple days before hearing of the J-ville's accident. Makes me wonder if it was a fishing trawler.

1/11/2013 9:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That occured to me, too. Odd that he kept right on going without even a hitch in his step. I didn't get the impression from the reports that it was a large enough vessel to not even notice.

I'd be interested in knowing if he had high-freq. side-scanning sonar operating at the time...

1/11/2013 9:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jacksonville has always been a bad-luck boat since the very start.

No new lessons learned here.

1/11/2013 10:14 PM

Blogger KellyJ said...

A lot of those "fishing boats" are smugglers making the nightly run from the UAE to Iran. They run cross channel at night with no lights and dont stop for anything. I've had quite a few run right up my stern and the only indication you get in sonar is a brightening in the baffles on the sonar display. We got pretty adept at calling out to lower the scope from sonar (once we learned the pattern and knew what to look out for).
Supposition: The boats at PD doing boat stuff. No close contacts visible, still dark, but its 0500. The oncoming watch just started chow, the noise level in the boat is a bit higher. Your probably just finishing pumping/blowing Sans adding to the general noise. An unlighted smuggler just happens to run up the boat from dead astern, hits the scope, and keeps going. From the smugglres perspective he thnks he just hit a dead-head log or other chunk of debris (rather common in the gulf...even saw a dead cow float by; what is the mast head height of a horn?) and keeps hauling butt into port. He is smuggling forbotten stuff into Iran after all. The last thing he's going to do is stop, make a scene, and end up sentenced to death in some IRG kangaroo court.
It is what it is and if that is the scenario no punishment in warrented. Consider when 637s bent their scopes and smashed sonar mounts doing under-ice ops no one was ever fired. It was expected as part of the price of operating in those conditions.

1/11/2013 11:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love how everyone is so concerned about one-upping each other with the comments. How about we just try and hope that families get word from their loved ones? Even the public media is giving more information than the Navy's press release. The families haven't gotten any new information.

1/12/2013 4:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, please!! You are right - I was hoping for more information yesterday, but I've heard nothing, at all.

1/12/2013 4:54 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

They call it the Silent Service. Welcome aboard.

1/12/2013 5:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might try Facebook instead of Joel's blog if you were expecting to find a chat session for Navy families.

1/12/2013 5:29 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Good comment. Thanks for the input. A smuggler makes sense. Concur no punishment warranted, if indeed the case. Just the price of doing business over there, I guess.

I wonder if not having a separate sonar shack could have been a contributing factor. I would think there'd be more of a distraction factor at play with Sonar being part of the Control Room population?

1/12/2013 6:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^^ JAX (SSN 699) is one of the oldest first flight 688's still in service, and has a separate sonar shack.

The integrated sonar shack on the CONN didn't start until VIR (SSN 774).

Probably not a player here at all

1/12/2013 6:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

+1 with family crap.

And a +1000 on the silent service. Get over it "mom". Hope your son isn't a blabber mouth since you seen to assume you can get any detail you want on operations.

1/12/2013 6:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so happy to not be part of this community anymore.

1/12/2013 8:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had scopes get hit before, it really sucks to see sea water coming into the Control Room!

Sounds like this one got sheared off.

1/12/2013 10:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bead window gents! Be careful about what you post in here... Retired, prior, or active... Does not matter.

1/12/2013 1:49 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Might want to review your IDW procedures instead of the improper use of the brevity code "BEAD WINDOW".

Roger Out

1/12/2013 3:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those that think they are entitled to an opinion on thegood and bad of the subforce that haven't stood the watch, earned their fi or been in the position to make decisions in this three dimensional environment where anything can kill you... GO FUCK YOURSELF!!! Here are some crayons, sit down, STFU and color! Stand the watch make the decisions then f-Inge bring an opinion! The subforce isn't perfect but at least we show up and give what we have to our shipmates, ship and mission... Hagar if you're out there you opinion matters since I know what your skipper thought of you on San fran.... the rest, what is that f-ing buzzing sound.....

1/12/2013 5:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unlike their predecessors (eg. - 637's), flight 1 boats have a passageway thru the SCR if I'm not mistaken. No dedicated shack, in other words. I think later flights still have that design...

1/12/2013 6:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fire the CO, XO, Nav, Sonar Sup and Aux of the watch. Create three more flag billets to oversea the investigation and create the Office of Submarine Collisions.

Also, hold another early separation board to get rid of another 1,000 Sailors.

Oh, and because of this incident, have Obama go to the gulf and apologize to all the Iranians for interupting the flow of weapons going from Mexico to Iran via the Fast and Furious operation.

This will fix all the Navy's problems!

1/12/2013 8:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Restricted area, shallow water ops with high density contacts has proven that the odds are stacked against you. How deep was the water? What was stationed in the control room?
Years ago, such things as this used to happen I think in a much greater number, just with different "friends". That was also before the world wide web and facebook showed up.
I find it fortunate that only a reported scope and probably a fairing have to be replaced. It could have been much more significant such as the Hartford, or the NewPort News.
I'll wait to see what the final report says.
I'd give a periscope any day over one of our guys being injured or lost.


1/12/2013 8:34 PM

Blogger Doug Sampson said...

I know the urge is strong to open your mouth and pretend to be an expert despite knowing that you're not, especially when you can do so anonymously. I suggest you take a deep breath, count to ten, and pull your head out of your ass.

Those of you who think you know what happened, what should happen, or have an opinion about it ought to, at least, have the nuts to include your name.

Having been at PD (as a CDO) in the gulf and the straights I'll say it's very, very tough and requires intense concentration from beginning to end by the entire team (HARTFORD), not just the OOD, Scope Operator, or STs. So if, as a Nation, we're going to preserve our freedom we and our allies need to rule the seas (in, on, and above) and since nearly all of our allies don't have the stones to go to the tough and necessary places, we have to do more than our share - and things like this are going to happen.

I have also served with Nate at sea and have been under the microscope that he and his crew are about to endure. Nate is an excellent leader and tactician (and a very good Nuke for those that care), but no one knows better than he does that the microscope is necessary - what the result is, when it comes, will certainly be arguable (no matter what happens).

For now, I'm happy that he and the rest of the crew are safe and I hope (because, sometimes, hope has to be Plan A) the investigation treats them fairly.

Doug Sampson

1/12/2013 8:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTDT, got the t-shirt. It's not the first collision/grounding and certainly not the last. But that's the price one pays to do what we do where we do it.

The goal is never to make the same mistake twice. If you're going to pork the pooch then at least do something original and then own it!

1/12/2013 9:08 PM

Anonymous SR said...

"I have also served with Nate at sea and have been under the microscope that he and his crew are about to endure. Nate is an excellent leader and tactician (and a very good Nuke for those that care), but no one knows better than he does that the microscope is necessary - what the result is, when it comes, will certainly be arguable (no matter what happens)."

Reading between the lines just begs for juicy details on the La Jolla firing! Care to share while we wait for the Jacksonville report/firing?


1/12/2013 9:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

CDR (RET) Sampson, I still wish you were my ENG on the Floriduh Gold, but, in the end we received GOOD relief!
Glad to see you surface.


1/12/2013 11:19 PM

Anonymous MentalJim said...

Reading the comments on stories like this one always remind me why I was glad to retire when I did.

Not because things like this collision happen, but because of the attitudes of some of the folks in the force.

1/13/2013 7:01 AM

Blogger Doug Sampson said...

SR -

Not really interested in sharing (sorry, but I'm sure you understand). I will, however, offer a few thoughts on the process.

When it's not a nuclear issue, there is great dissent among the Flags regarding a zero tolerance policy on collision, groundings, etc. Before we took Command, Admiral Walsh told us that if we had one we would be shown the door, no questions asked - fair enough, happy to know the rules. That is not a universal view and I don't know what the current climate is (as an aside, the three O-6s most directly involved in my relief - Moore, Hankins, and Robertson - had collisions at sea while in Command, but retained their Commands). When it is a nuclear issue, the Chain of Command lines up to agree with NR's position, whatever that happens to be.

How this will fall out for Nate and his crew depends on the climate (if its zero tolerance, only a very strategically placed sugar daddy will be able to save them), the circumstances of the particular incident, and the ship's command climate (are they looking for a reason to fire folks? - based on what I know, that is not the case).

- DS

1/13/2013 8:37 AM

Blogger Doug Sampson said...

hagar -

Good to hear from you. Even nukes have to come up for air eventually.

- DS

1/13/2013 8:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mom: Don't expect your boy home anytime soon. Just be grateful this was an accident that only involved the boat, not the bodies aboard. ((Hugs)) Another Mom

1/13/2013 4:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How this will fall out for Nate and crew? Hasn't anyone else noticed Sub command's race to bulk up CO firing stats since the Pentagon ended its ban on women in 2010?

Gee, wonder what baseline such stats (all male COs)could possibly be used for down the road. Duh?!

Nevertheless, Nate should be safe as Molten Eagle predicts.


1/13/2013 6:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

""...Otherwise I agree - they should have not been at PD at that specific time."

And you're basing that assessment on.....?"

By definition, if you get hit, it wasn't safe. How much the crew knew ahead of time is not known, but you can't say it was a safe situation.

1/13/2013 8:20 PM

Blogger Doug Sampson said...

To Anonymous: Stan Robertson snagged a tow cable in the Straights of Juan De Fuca (then came within a whisker or doing it again on the very next patrol).

- DS

1/13/2013 10:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

""...Otherwise I agree - they should have not been at PD at that specific time."

And you're basing that assessment on.....?"

By definition, if you get hit, it wasn't safe. How much the crew knew ahead of time is not known, but you can't say it was a safe situation.

...any more than you can say it was UNsafe. Anyone can make that call AFTER the fact - so, if you've convinced yourself that you're a genious and have this all figured out, I would ask that you retreat to the sidelines until you can cite some relevant FACTS. K Thx Bai.

1/14/2013 4:51 AM

Anonymous Dardar the Submarian said...

Do you know what isn't safe? Submerging the ship; starting the reactor; dumping trash; shooting water slugs; surfacing.

Going to PD is always "NOT safe". Did you ever notice the nice man on the conn, spinning around with a scope in his hand, thinking (or outright saying) "no shapes, no shadows, no shapes, no shadows"? D'ya know why? Because it isn't a given. If it were, he would raise the scope and just stand there.

Safety is a relative term. One does the best he can to mitigate the dangers, but Murphy gets through from time to time.

Fight on, Jacksonville, fight on.

1/14/2013 5:27 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To those who are telling other posters to STFU, please read Joel's Top Banner ( (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me).

To me that means that Joel is the one to say STFU to anyone. Joes is very tolerent of most posts on here, can we be less so?

1/14/2013 6:30 AM

Blogger chief torpedoman said...

Been out for many, many years, but I do believe that there are two fine sub tenders in West Pac. The Land is at Diego Garcia, I believe.

Anyhow I know that when I was still in, the sub tenders had a periscope shop for this sort of thing. Is that a capability that was retained?

1/14/2013 6:41 AM

Anonymous Dardar the Submarian said...


1/14/2013 6:41 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was on the 733 when we snagged the tow cable. I was also onboard the very next patrol. CAPT Robertson wasn't.

1/14/2013 7:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given all of the other ISR assets we have in the region, and the number of submarines we've had damaged there in the last 8 years, why do we continue to operate submarines submerged in the area? It's not really doing much for us besides keeping our shipyards busy with unexpected repair work.

1/14/2013 8:01 AM

Anonymous Josh Hoops said...

Anon 0801 - If you have to ask that question, you clearly have never spent time over there in any real capacity. Our presence there (particularly the submarine force) is not only necessary, it is vital.

When you understand the dynamic of the the oil industry and general shipping on that side of the world, it becomes pretty clear why we are there... Among other reasons that clearly can not be discussed in this forum.

1/14/2013 8:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To RM1(SS) (ret),
Scope has a mean lean in 13.

L Brother

1/14/2013 4:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"To Anonymous: Stan Robertson snagged a tow cable in the Straights of Juan De Fuca (then came within a whisker or doing it again on the very next patrol)."

Please: It is the Strait of Juan De Fuca.

There is only one STRAIT. Just like Strait of Georgia, Messina, Gibraltar, etc. etc.

1/14/2013 5:20 PM

Blogger Doug Sampson said...

Anon 0726: Thanks for the correction - the info came from Robertson himself (during a counseling session), but I must have mis-remembered.

- DS

1/14/2013 5:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

After thinking about it, the tow cable incident was on the outbound transit at the beginning of the patrol. We came back in for repairs, and finished the remainder of the run. Which he was still around for. Anything we came close to hitting, but didn't, I would probably never have heard about (A-Ganger). Sorry if I came off condescending earlier, I read your comment literally.

1/14/2013 5:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I remember your firing and was shocked, because the word on the street is that Robertson did not want to fire you at all. Sucks when the decisions come from too high up to know the real deal.

My thoughts are with the guys on the J'ville, but really - families need to find their public support elsewhere as this page tends to be where the submariners themselves hash out without pretty edges. Not to mention - boat schedule at a time like this? There can't even BE one until they've been with the tender for a bit.

1/14/2013 5:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Face it folks, it's past time for putting our heads in the sand and repeating over and over, "it's happened before, it will happen again". Too many of our submarines are running into other ships! Why is it happening?

4-5 years ago the submarine force invested a lot of money in hiring graybeards for the specific purpose of preventing collisions. And we continue to pay them big salaries.

Is the training effective? What is the measurement of success? Are we just going to ignore the metrics of the past few years, close our eyes, kiss the O-gang ring and not hold anyone accountable? Why are CO's failing?

Firing CO after CO is obviously not a way to improve performance.

Training them better may be. Who is asking the tough questions? Who is willing to examine with a critical eye the way in which we train our crews to prevent collisions? Other O gangers, part of the good-old-boy "I hope you hook me up with a cushy big paying job when I get out network"?

1/14/2013 8:54 PM

Blogger Old Man from the Sea said...

Chief Torpedoman,
Yes, the tenders still have scope shops. Likely one has already sent a team to commence evaluation and repair efforts.

1/15/2013 2:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guys I post above what's broken. As nukes we spend a couple years in school and rigorous training at prototype just to be able to go to a boat to be a nub and learn how to run a plant.

Then we take said nuke officer and basically just use on job training for seamanship and operating a boat.

They need to split of the tracks and have dedicated people to operate the boat who go to school specifically for that task.

It's a stupid way to operate and leads to the issues of operations we have. People will blow off and say, "but we've always done it this way". To which I would ask, how is that working for you?

Everyone in the Navy goes to school and trains for their applied job whether it be nukedom or in the sonar shack. Officers who drive the boat don't really get that to the level they need.

1/15/2013 2:53 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This 100pct preventable. Look, my last boat we followed PROCDUREs. Easy, prior to going PD, we briefed as a watch TEAM at hour H-24, H-2, and 30 minute prior. The H-2 briefed was a FULL SOUP AND NUTS (the WHOLE precedure) rehearsing. If, it was not perfect, or, if someone make a mistake during soup and nuts, ALL STOP and conducted remedial training that was DOCUMENTED. Also add, if in high density traffic, pop a 3 flares at 5 minute intervals PRIOR to getting PD. COMMUNICATE!!! When surface tranitioning, our CO demands by order to radio out “surfaced submarine at position (lat and long0 heading in direction x at speed y difficult to see please remain clear” every 5 minutes. You know what??? NEVER a close call. In everything, you do, remember your soup and nuts to awlays be sure youd followed all steps of procdureds. Thank and think about it.

1/15/2013 3:09 AM

Anonymous Dremble said...

I am a top executive at a large safety management company for Fortune 100 corps. All of these incidents have really garnered my interests and resulted in my study. This is obviously a leadership problem. Just like anon at 3:09 who has exhibited some great and possible revolutionary ideas that should be considered, look at the leadership you purge. For example, you rid your organization of great experience such as the guy you call "Dirty Dave" for just getting a little trim on the sub, which is perfectly natural and proves that there are heterosexuals (or at least bisexuals) in the USN. Instead he and thos like him, with his vast breath of experience whipped to a stiff peak, providing leadership presence too, could have prevented this and several other accidents. Really, it is not complicated to rectify this.

1/15/2013 4:03 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there such a thing as "top executive" at a "large safety management" company...? Really...?

'Cuz one of the findings at NASA after BOTH of the shuttle disasters was that safety needed to be an embedded function across all lines within an organization -- such as within Rickover's Nuclear Navy (which NASA studied intently).

Just sayin'.

Guys, take the knot out of your panties. Shit like this happens when you're on the ocean's frontier...and it certainly happened throughout the Cold War. Peepees get slapped, and people move on. Just like you can.

1/15/2013 8:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This 100pct preventable."

Sorry, collisions going to and at P/D are not 100% preventable. Many measures can be taken to reduce the risk of collision (and many are), but some risk always remains.

1/15/2013 9:43 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

WoW.... 1120 One star rumor mill is up and running... One Big snub to report.. not sure who, just heard that a lock is not always a lock.. guess it really is who you know..

1/15/2013 9:50 AM

Anonymous Rip said...

SSN-699 plankowner here.

Separate sonar shack, I know I spent a lot of hours sleeping in there :)

Going to PD is always dangerous and you can never be totally safe. Also the launch flares comment is just crazy, a submarine launching a flare while on patrol is just crazy talk. Remaining undetected is paramount while on patrol in potentially hostile waters.

1/15/2013 12:38 PM

Anonymous QMCM(SS) Ret. said...

Dremble, Your an idiot. Dirty Dave flipped his middle finger at the entire Navy and even stated after his mast that no matter what, he still "F'd a middie underway." as if it was some badge of honor. Yeah, that is the kind of guy you want. Look him up and hire him at your fortune 500 company. I dare you.

1/15/2013 3:02 PM

Blogger DDM said...

I'm a nuke and claim no expertise in contact management or submarine tactics, but I have stood a lot of COW and been on several trips where the JAX had their collision. Since I don't know what happened, I'll give the crew the benefit of the doubt because, contrary to what some have written, it is possible for a periscope to get run over with no prior knowledge of the contact. This happened on a boat I was riding once and the damage was minimal by dumb luck only. The CO was not fired in this case. Given there is always risk in going to PD, whenever you bypass standard procedures you increase your risk of collision at a greater than linear rate. In some cases, you change your risk of an accident from one in 10,000 to a coin flip.

1/15/2013 4:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Lots of drunk, idiot submariners post on this blog.

1/15/2013 5:44 PM

Anonymous ETC(ss)-Ret. Glenn said...

All Non-Submarians posting comments here calling for the CO's head - It is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

If J'ville was run over by a smuggler or hit a dhow sitting DITW, then it was unpreventable by procedure. Stuff happens.

We go under the microscope to learn whatever we can from what occurred and play smarter. We take more risk and we learn and develop faster than any other force - and we still have a better safety record than most.

We have a problem with our leadership we cannot fix. The PC culture that changed us in the 90's has concentrated the politician-types in our flag ranks, and the risk-averse culture they have imposed is alienating all the normal people to check out.

It does not go away through turnover, because we attrite the ones who think for themselves and promote the ones who tow the party line.

We are running out of good CO's, and it is starting to show. We are running out of good ANAV's and it is starting to show.

I dont see it as being different from our present US congress. the Politics there has become more important than taking care of the business at hand, and the politics in the sub force is too important to the leadership to keep the focus on the things that really matter.

That is the way US culture has gone, and so will go our officer corps, and so will go our sub force. I fought it my whole 24 years in the sub force. I can proudly say I never received an EP eval, never had one of my sailors go to mast, never had one of my guys disqualified, never had a guy quit on me until my very last boat. I cared about the people and the mission and I did not care for the politics or the career politicians one bit.

The way things are heading, we will lose a boat, and the politicians in our flag circle will blame it on who-knows-what. Then we will lose another and the sub force will be forced to radically change its culture.

Good luck with that.

1/15/2013 6:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love that lifers are too dumb to realize that the CEO guy and the flare guy were just fucking around. No wonder they. Are holding jobs for you at Wal-Mart...

Managing wal-mart stock pickers at the distribution center is all most of you are good enough for. ( can't drive the forklifts, you might hit something)

1/15/2013 7:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ annon 7:00
Awe, isn’t that cute. Someone gave you a keyboard. I’m glad that you have shown such a keen interest in Wal-Mart because with those “mad” skills you just displayed you may have a chance at getting hired. Actually you should probably practice saying “would you like fries with that?” Dumb ass.

1/15/2013 8:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Assian (sic) Troll

Looky here fellas, we got another one who wants to play! Who's up for this one? He actually thinks no one could possibly tell that the flare guy, the "CEO" guy and the wal-Mart shopping cart guy are all one and the same.

And, was that just a hint of Asian ideation I'm smelling? Why, I do believe it is! I got this one...


And next time you drop by, remember...No MSG, and extra duck sauce. Chop chop! >]

1/15/2013 8:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last time I checked, all the men lampooned on TSSBP for either intentional or accidental "Bumps" and were fired, have had no problems finding a good job after the Navy.

Everyone gets out sometime, and as long as you kept your work ethic and rose above the BS typically spouted on TSSBP, you'll be in the top 1% of the civilian workforce.

1/16/2013 4:43 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reality is that many employers
1) Don't check references
2) Don't ask for FITREP's (and often not DD-214's)
3) Realize that having some bad luck in submarining is not really meaningful to most desk jobs.
4) Don't know much about submarining or the military anyway.

I think a lot of military guys really don't appreciate how little most HR departments know about the military.

(note: I don't work in government contracting, so YMMV in that sector).

I am not sure I would say that it puts you in the top 1% of the workforce, in general, however. That is very very dependent on what you want to be when you grow up. If you want to go work for Northrop on SSBNX then yes, I am sure it does. If you want to go do something completely different, it can be difficult, but not impossible, to translate your experience.

1/16/2013 1:12 PM

Anonymous Danny H said...

I know a lot about this boat and collisions, how they happen and what to do to prevent them. As a young J.O. on 699 for the General Z Dogan collision, I was next in line to go through OOD qualification after she came out of repairs. As such, I got a lot more training than anyone onboard before.
The most junior OOD (surfaced only, not yet qualified submerged) was driving. We were well past 12 miles from land, out of restricted waters and on our way to our dive point. The navigator was standing an EOOW proficiency watch since it was a quiet time. There was no contact coordinator (not required for our circumstances), but that changed for all our submarines as a result of this collision. The main problem was the OOD's inability to relay the importance of the situation to the Captain. Contact picked up xK yards away, by the time he tells the CO, it's probably xK and then by the time he actually gives an avoidance order he is xK (numbers left out to avoid classification disclosure but you get the point). Inexperienced watchstander gives inadequate orders and collision happens.
A lot of new procedures were developed for the entire submarine force as a result of that collision. I leave the boat for my next tour and a year later, smart people do dumb things and voila, the barge of 84 collision happens. I wasn't there, but I learned of mistakes made in communication on board and at the squadron level to prevent the Jacksonville from knowing about a harbor exercise and what happens? They bump a barge they couldn't identify in the channel. I was even called as a character witness for an admiral's mast for the CO. I thought he was a great CO and he fared better than others (the admiral's mast was cancelled and he finished his tour albeit shortened).
A tour later and I am navigator on a sister boat in the fleet. There I see other instances of how easy it is to get into an extremis situation. It is hard work and requires constant vigilance. It can happen in the blink of an eye and that is probably what happened last week. Don't make judgments without knowing the facts!
Also for those of you who are making comments on how messed up the NUKE navy is, you are dead wrong. The NUKEs are better prepared for just about any military decision that comes along. Back during the BP oil spill, seeing the incompetence of that casualty, I could only repeat over and over again as redundantly as I could repetitively say that any submarine qualified OOD should have been able to attack that oil spill with orders to call in help, assistance and casualty control to get work done. Rather than pontificating that "we will hold those responsible accountable" as our leaders stated on tv, LT "fill-in-the-blank" would have gotten craft there to contain the spill, called on the international community who was offering help to get expertise (it's not like that is the only oil spill or worst one to every happen in the world). Order the CEOs of all oil companies into the same room to brainstorm solutions. etc, etc, etc...
So I trust the submarine force to be the best and know the most. This unfortunate accident does not mean that 95% of those on board were not expert professionals. It only means a handful might have made a mistake.

1/16/2013 2:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope you really don't think people are just lining up to hire nukes (enlisted or officer).

If enlisted and no technical degree (ie, legit ABET accredited) plan to be a technician.

If officer, depending on how long you've been in your education and skill set is not as up to date as someone 1-2 years out of school

Outside of government jobs, former JOs and dept heads are not the top 1% of a civilian company. Not even close and don't have the training or experience to be there.

And if you come into a place and think you are, be prepared to have your ego deflated.

As stated above, 99.9% of employers when they see "nuke" assume the missles, don't care about how many watchs you stood, and will just say, wow, how was it being submerged for so long and move it. It's mean squat.


1/16/2013 2:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reality is that the truth is in the middle. Being a JO isn't going to make you an instant 6-figure earner in most cases, but the experience is significant and will, in most cases, net you a better position and higher salary than someone just leaving college. A 5 and out will take a paycut in most cases, but in the majority of cases he will make more money than Navy pay within 5 years.

Bottom line is don't tell everyone that you can't translate your experiences managing a major workcenter and a division of 5-12 people and companies never care just because that was your experience.

1/16/2013 3:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Going to P/D in high traffic areas is difficult. It requires open communications and leadership from the CO and the OOD.

Determining range to contacts is an in-exact science, the best Officers spend years challenging themselves on whether they're reading the screens correctly, and performing the mental gymnastics accurately.

Great OOD's continuously examine whether they chose the right course and whether they they made the right decision.

Great CO's expect a high degree of skill to perform this task. Great CO's coach the wardroom on a regular basis, involve the senior officers in training scenarios, and err on the side of caution when necessary. Great CO's practice "Emergency Deep" exercise regularly.

This specific skill "safely going to P/D" is similar, yet different, from skills needed to avoid contacts on the surface, or when remaining submerged.

Years ago, before the proliferation of computer screens, the best officers knew mental gym like the rest of us knew how to count from 1 to 10.

They could visualize the contact picture, because they understood relative motion by having performed hundreds of mo board problems on a regular basis.

Computers do these things today, so the skill of "seeing the picture" may be more difficult to teach and more reliant on computer processing power to achieve success.

Can the tactical software be improved to meet the mission and safety elements of going to P/D?

Can Officers be challenged to re-learn mental gym, relative motion, contact avoidance and practice stressful P/D scenarios?

I don't know, but it seems to me we should take a good look at the issue.

1/16/2013 5:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 1/15/2013 2:53 AM

Chinese your first language?

1/16/2013 8:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Almost sounds like a sales pitch... Ok, I can go along with working to personally develop that skill to better interact with the team. You're still going to need some rack time at some point, even if you are CDR Port 'n' report.

Short of commissioning FT's/ST's, who can already do all that in their sleep (not gonna tell you how I know that), I think it comes down to developing the management style that best enhances that particular contact management team's performance.

So, I'll see your great CO and all your great OOD's, and raise you one good Sonar Supervisor and one good FTOW/Contact Coordinator.

Know your team members, know your team. Communication is a 2-way process. Know and follow your procedures - no shortcuts. Don't assume anything. Ask questions as needed to fill in any blank spots.

Horatio Hornblower is immortal by virtue of being a fictional character.

I've personally witnessed a couple of JO's who thought they could "prove" what hotrunners they were - they could do it all by themselves...

Each of them had one thing in common. They shared an attitude which led to each of them actually IGNORING what their enlisted resources were providing them, and with predictable results:

(3 near misses = 2 oral's + [1 written/1 NAM]).

And for what? Impress the skipper? Bragging rights? It is NOT a one-man show. (Repeat as needed)...

Whether or not ANY leader is deemed great (or even greatest) is in no small way measured by the overall performance of those in his charge.

"Repel boarders!"

From: KnotonMYwatch!

1/16/2013 9:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Danny H,

Perhaps you can shed a little light on some scuttlebutt regarding the General Z Dogan collision.

Was the OOD known to have comms issues from his quals as EOOW and Surfaced OOD?

During the lead-up to the collision, did the CO visit the control room to check out the tactical picture?

If so, did the CO look out the periscope at the contact?

While the situation was deteriorating to the point that collision finally became inevitable, where was the CO and what was he doing?

Were the OOD's orders merely "inadequate" or completely contrary to the Rules of the Road?

Where was the FTOW during all of this and what was he doing?

1/16/2013 9:57 PM

Anonymous Danny H said...

To Anonymous who asked and anyone else who may have questsions from my earlier post, I am not a blogger, my cell phone is 7 years old and the 9 and # don't work unless I flip the top, I hate texting, but I work in a very techincal area using all the skills I learned from both success and failure over the years and a lot of people come to me when they need to get things done. A lot of that ability to facilitate things, I learned from shipdriving as a young JO and NAV in submarines. I credit the NUKE training that some on here criticize. Maybe, I don't know the current ins and outs of navy shipdriving, but I knew what to do in the 80s when confidence and reliance on good procedures and practices was important (I hope it still is).

Anyway, without trying to trash too many from the JAX crew, I will answer what I can.

The CO was a screamer. He had been on about 1 year and ignored most people aboard in his interactions unless you were the XO, a DH or the OOD. Then, he was a screamer. So imagine a young 25 year old OOD without a lot of experience dealing with someone like that on the bridge outbound after dark trying to get to the dive point. He calls the CO (who is in the wardroom. I can't remember exactly if it was dinner, post dinner, movie time or some other conversation since I was in the ER working the dive comp calculations) on the 27MC (forgive me if I mix up the circuit, its been a few years) to report the contact that was picked up ahead by about 9k yds away. It is CBDR and by the time he was able to relay the contact information, some time has gone by (no longer 9k as you might guess). So the CO wants the OOD to use the JA phone, but the bridge suitcase JA isn't working. He's chewing out the OOD for having to use the MC instead. (An incorrect assessment of priorities of phone operation over contact situation) So I think the OOD was told to maneuver to avoid. Now this is speculation, but if you are familiar with Hampton Roads, you know that there is a range to the south where you exit. I think the OOD wanted to avoid going south for that reason so he asked the QM if there was good water to port. Yes, there was good water to port, starboard, aft, everywhere. We were over 25 miles from land. He could have turned south for several miles and not violate a range.

So here he is, CBDR contact, time elapsed to report to CO, time elapsed to think of action, time elapsed to get QM answer, and he takes action finally and turns left approximately 30 degrees. By the time that happened, the contact was no longer 9k away, but probably 1k away. When they saw the JAX finally, they responded as expected. They turned to starboard. We were hit amidships on the starboard side.

The radar operator just watched the contact march in. I think he reported occasionally, but noone took interest. I am ignorant of what the FTOW did. The QM was probably one of the junior ones after the piloting party had been dismissed earlier on the outbound transit. I don't think the CO left the wardroom until the collision. He did leave the boat at midnight the next night and never came back.

A few practices:
1) Ships leaving port will always have contacts appearing who can be CBDR because those contacts are heading to where you just came from.
2) If you are at 15kt and the other guy is at 15kt coming towards each other, distance is closing 1k/min. Many go faster than that. Time is not your friend.
3) If you turn in a contact situation, make it a deliberate noticeable turn that tells the other guy what you are doing.
4) Submarines don't have much experience on the surface, they aren't that visible in the dark, and they turn slower than you expect when surfaced, so it takes increased awareness of your surroundings to drive well.
5) Don't hesitate to call for help. A CO may be upset at you for calling him to the bridge or conn, but he won't question you reaching for his authority.

1/17/2013 7:09 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Danny - you can't list "a few practices" and not have as numbers 1 through 5, in all caps,





1/17/2013 8:01 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Danny: Please accept my own personal thanks for confirming to the mass audience of TSSBP that the CO in question was a screamer extraordinaire.

As it happened, I was the Weps of the day when your old CO went through combat systems training (ol' Mk 117) during his PCO training. I've never met any CO/PCO before or since that was as much of an unprincipled screamer.

Though I was not stationed there, I was in the offices of the submarine officer detailers shortly after the news came in of the JAX collision. To no one in particular I just had to comment upon hearing the CO's name that "it couldn't happen to a better guy" and gave my reasons for this. The CO detailer was right in front of me, and jumped 10 feet down my throat, asserting that comments like mine always get made after the fact.

I had and have a huge admiration for that particular detailer (so did the Navy...he was later CINCPAC), and so was taken aback a bit by his chastisement. All I could do was shake my head and tell 'im like I saw it. The guy was the King Kong of screamers, and by my observation clearly out of control.


1/17/2013 9:11 AM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...






And for God's Good Sake, put the fucking BTB microphone DOWN, and LEAVE it in its holder! The guy you're charging toward KNOWS what YOU are supposed to do...JUST DO IT...and DO what HE EXPECTS you to do!

1/17/2013 9:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Danny H,

Gracias on your comments.

I had heard the CO was too busy eating dessert to leave the weirdroom. It turned out to be an expensive confection, so I sure hope it was worth it.

I know the OOD. He's a nice guy, but no match for a screamer CO. That combination was eventually going to lead to a problem one way or the other.

The Submarine Force has had more than its fair share of overbearing pricks. They effectively cut off all communciations to them, which eventually comes back to haunt them because everybody makes mistakes. And when you make a mistake as a CO, but everyone else is afraid to point out the mistake, disaster frequently follows.

1/17/2013 1:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon Jan 14 0630 (am since youre probably a F-ing non-watchstander-ever)

STFU! free speach is only free if 1. youve stood the watch
2. you have an f-ing clue what "standing the watch means"
3. your not an f-ing idiot
4. If your an f-ing idiot you carry crayons or a bottle of bubbles

Its obvious that sine you too offense to being told to STFU you have never stood the watch, earned dolphins (enmphasis one EARNED MF) been up for so long that sleeping in a bilge full of water sounds attractive so when you wake up you can field day it...
OR understand that despite all we do to prepare, train, etc sometimes we are human! have you ever used the words, "oops", "i'm sorry", "sh!t", or done something you didnt intend? this isnt about emailing the owner of this blog this is about telling Dumb SOB F-ers like you to go back to the grocery store and bag groceries for the public because your opinion can kiss the ass of every guy that tried to do good and failed!

USS San Fran! great boat, bad luck, miss a great skipper that took the fall for many failures and "i believe" grieves every day for the loss of "cooter"...

All you monday morning quarterbacks... STFU!!!

CDR S. never served with you but knew you by reputation from your men. "Attention on Deck!" great leader arriving!

Very respectfully Sir

1/17/2013 6:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Reality is that the truth is in the middle. Being a JO isn't going to make you an instant 6-figure earner in most cases, but the experience is significant and will, in most cases, net you a better position and higher salary than someone just leaving college. A 5 and out will take a paycut in most cases, but in the majority of cases he will make more money than Navy pay within 5 years.

Bottom line is don't tell everyone that you can't translate your experiences managing a major workcenter and a division of 5-12 people and companies never care just because that was your experience."

That is probably true, but it is supremely dependent on what you do. If you want to go work as a Six Sigma guy at a manufacturing plant, or manage a team of wage slaves at an Amazon distribution center, your Naval leadership training is pretty relevant. You are also probably well-suited to engineering work, or ops at a power plant.

If you go work in a corporate business setting (marketing, M&A, etc), your typical Naval leader is going to have to hard sell really well in the interview, if they will even talk to you at all. As someone who works in the corporate side of the world, I would have been better off either getting out exactly at 5 years or just not going into the Sub Force at all. I am closing in on what I made as a 8 year LT three years out, but I probably would already be there had I focused on this career path earlier.

Paradoxically, I would rather hire a disgruntled JO who is looking for a big change than a guy who loved it, because the corporate world is so different from the military world. The more indoctrinated one is to the military side of the world, the harder the transition will be to working a world that is much grayer than the very defined structure of the military.

1/17/2013 7:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^^...Disagree on several points, based on my own experience.

Intelligent, hard workers from top schools (gate #1) with good attitudes (gate #2) are in demand everywhere. Generally speaking, you don't (or at least "didn't") get to be a nuclear-trained submarine naval officer without passing gate #1. The gate #2 guys -- whether you want to disparage them or not -- are the ones who will quickly surpass their peers in the civilian world. All habits have momentum; having a good attitude can carry one far...having a shitty one 'shows.'

As others have pointed out on this blog several times in the past over the years, the most generic way for recent ex-sub officers to get ahead is to attend a top-20 MBA school. I don't disagree with this as a general statement, but there are plenty of other paths to success.

Not an MBA, I stepped out by segueing into defense software work for a few years, then hit the hockey stick earnings-wise after entering commercial software development on the sales/biz-dev side. $$-wise, mine was an outlier experience, I'm fairly certain, but the largest group of ex-submarine officers go into 'Information Technology' in some form and do just fine with it.

Only a small fraction of ex-sub officers go into power plants for obvious reasons regarding relative lack of opportunity and, frankly, sheer boredom. I know of very, very few truly 'top shelf' guys that went into commercial nuclear power. In fairness, there are a few, but I can also honestly count them on one hand...and they tend to be fairly senior, post-SSN command guys.


1/17/2013 7:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those of you who do not understand Caveman-speak, here is a translation of anon 1854.

1. If you have not qualified in submarines, kindly post elsewhere.

2. Some very fine leaders have paid the price for others' incompetence, so don't judge them.

That is all.

1/17/2013 7:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 1956

thank you for the emotionless translation of my rant! ready to relieve you of the watch sir!


now my new nicname/moniker!

1/17/2013 8:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stand relieved

1/17/2013 8:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL. Well said. On a personal note, if I may:

Although I will confess a decided ambivalence towards crayons, I find I rather like bubbles...


1/17/2013 8:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 1828,

thanks for the bubblehead rant compliment! it was meant for the right reasons! Extra bubbles for you! (and no crayons unless you want them)

Reallly wish we had a moniker like the dieel boat guys... they had DBF...

I guess we're "F-in Nukes?"

sorry I was drinking midwatch coffee got really spun up...


1/17/2013 8:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geez, you two get a room.

The CO is there to take the blame when things go wrong and to credit the crew when things go right.

Just like in sports, you can't fire the whole team, so the coach takes the fall.

Sometimes it is sad, but there you go.

Also, the civilian world doesn't need ex-JO's, they need technicians. Retired Chief, no degree and I made 106k last year (not counting travel money) and a 30k retirement check with medical that is priceless. Sure it's only middle class money but it gives me enough to take vacations and play with my hobbies.

Regardless of when you get out, what your rank is or what you have done in the past, go into a new job with a positive attitude and you will go far.

Ps. nobody cares that the military was hard or that it sucked...the taxpayer expects it to be hard...after all, it's the military!

Retired ANAV

1/17/2013 9:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Also, the civilian world doesn't need ex-JO's, they need technicians."

The latter part is true, and yet you're flat out wrong about the ex-JOs. The civilian world needs both. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

But if it makes you feel good...hold that idea close and rub-a-dub-dub.

1/18/2013 5:48 AM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Lasik surgery is the worst thing that ever happened to the sub fleet.

1/18/2013 8:46 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shut up Mulligan. And go away. F'ing nitwit.

1/18/2013 9:41 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

He's right. Before Lasik, all the good guys who wanted to go pilot but couldn't, went subs. Now they go pilot.

1/18/2013 11:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

All ex-nukes can find a job somewhere, all exnukes (O or E) being top one percent is the big lie that sets people up for disappointment.

When I hire someone I need a skill set and the nuclear Navy doesn't provide it. The hard skills I need whereas soft skills are a nice to have but the nukedom is so applied to be of much use outside of shipbuilding and nuclear power.

My company has locations on both coasts and close enough to sub bases that we get our share of nuke resumes come through. When I read them it's obvious many don't understand what is important.

I've got many examples to share. One thing that definitely holds trues is the IT/software comment above for ex-officers.

I'm an ex Ediv guy who went EE and MBA and have seen the gamut of what comes out of the Navy. 6 figures for ex enlisted? Guys please, please do not think that is the norm (assuming even true). I know what other tech companies pay and sans degree to six figures right out of the Navy for regular civilian company (no defense,etc) and that number isn't even close to reality.

Even ex officers from decent schools don't get that on day one post service.
My experience with ex chiefs is not favorable. Entitled and that, I've got my pension and don't "need" this job attitude cost one guy his job in a layoff. The other one hated reporting to what he perceived as "junior" people.

And I'm one that gives a lot of BOD to ex nukes!

Ex enlisted guys, get that degree. Trust me.

1/18/2013 1:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^^ A poster child ^^^

STFU until you can write a coherent sentence and compose a clearly developed point.

And if you're the guy hiring - remind me why I'd want to work at a company that tolerates you?

1/18/2013 3:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of post-navy careers, a former CO now specializing in National Security issues proposes: Why I Advocate Scrapping SSBN's. The link allows reader comments. Be nice.

1/18/2013 3:31 PM

Anonymous k said...

In other Navy news, the USS Guardian (MCM-5) is in pretty bad shape

1/18/2013 5:01 PM

Anonymous k said...

and now everyone is off the ship.

1/18/2013 5:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey 3:17, this isn't the Navy and screaming STFU like a child won't get people snapping to attention in the real world.

Does it hurt knowing that the Nuke pipeline develops very limited skills? I can't help you there. I call it like I see it.

You sound just like the Chief that I had to can. And he got let go at next company he went too as well ;)

1/18/2013 5:18 PM

Anonymous Anon 3:17 PM said...

^^^ Short, coherent, and to the point finally^^^

Hey, I got it - not a disgruntled Chief though.

But you didn't answer why I'd want to work for your company if you're the HR poster "child" with such a chip on your shoulder - and struggles with your writing skills, unless corrected ;)

1/18/2013 5:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, it's a blog. If you want perfect editing go buy a best seller.

You're question is assisine and not taking the bait. The low turnover of my staff speaks for itself.

And, your pathetic attack is called marginalizing and I've already sized up several things about you. Glad the Navy nuke program is your panacea. Top one percent? No way.

1/19/2013 1:48 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surrounded yourself with like-minded idiots I see!

They probably don't leave because that would take initiative, not because of your overly narcissistic amazing leadership talent :)

1/19/2013 8:24 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think whatever you want but it still doesn't change the fact that ex-Nukes are somehow a cut above those who forgo the Nuke program.

It's not arrogance, it's humility and telling people the truth about what to expect when they get out. Ex nukes aren't the super stars they are led to believe they are and remember, I used to be one myself. You're tone deaf.

Not one former enlisted Nuke would be more than a technician at my company without a degree. Ex officers would actually be behind younger peers because the younger guys would be proficient with the latest design and layout software. They have to play catch up and "leading a 6-12 person workcenter" (who they don't hire themselves) means jack squat.

I'm done with this BS. All I know is I've lived it.

1/19/2013 8:53 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^^ Did you take your ball and go home? ^^^

Thanks for your input - all inputs are generally appreciated, except yours and mulligans :)

If you can't run with the big dogs, stay in HR!

1/21/2013 5:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^^ "Sierra Tango to Foxtrot Uniform". I say again, "Sierra Tango to Foxtrot Uniform".

Take a hint, will ya?

-Hey, we still got some bubbles over here! Oh, wait a minute....

Never mind. It's coming from the conversation still equalizing.

(From when it turned into an employment board "discussion").

Thank you so much.

Nothing more to see here boys, move along now!

I know. (I know). But - somebody had to say it.

Submariners once....

1/21/2013 8:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any more news on the current topic? How long will the boys get "liberty" in Bahrain before repairs are complete?

Any other OOPs out there - heard something about CCC in Pearl, but not seen much.

1/22/2013 4:39 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey 5:57,
Your posts show how childish you are. I'm glad you think you're superior. Imagine that, a former blueshirt who's now the boss and two advanced degrees later. Must hurt and the best you can do is try and claim some kind of "victory" on a small submarine blog. Yeah, you fuckin' rock man!! Thumbs-up!!
HR, that's cute. Last I checked HR folks don't get patent filings. There's a very high probability that you own one or more products my team designed.
I'm laughing at you right now and also reminded why it was so easy to leave the Navy. You're a chump.

1/22/2013 9:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^^ Exactly why the HR former submariners should move on and quit posting here. No one here is interested in how good you think you are now, or that you're king of your cubicle!

1/23/2013 4:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So has the CO been flogged and fired yet?

Should let the crew do the flogging since they were the one's put at risk.

And dock his pay too.

1/23/2013 9:19 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haven't seen anything in the Navy Enquirer, so I'd guess that the investigation is still progressing

1/23/2013 3:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Stood the watch...continue to do so.
Mind your OPSEC gents. Life doesn't get any easier out there when we don't.

Even with experience in that part of the world, at any watch station or level, we can not understand or judge this CO or the crew. NONE OF US! because we were not on the CONN. We were not on the watch.

That said, those that were NOT there will have to judge this man and his Sailors. They get paid plenty to do so and ultimately the CO will answer for this one way or another.


I am proud to continue to serve in a service and a community that is brutal on its members and even harder on those that lead them. I will go sea with any and all. Good leaders fail, some get a second chance, but it is RIGHT for the CO to answer for things.


I encourage anyone that serves/served on submarines to read an article from the Wall Street Journal from 1952 called "Hobson's Choice". I imagine it has been mentioned in a post on TSSBP at some point. It is worth the time GOOGLING. It makes the point far more eloquently that I ever could.

I wish CDR Sukols and the Submariners of Jacksonville fair winds...

But for the grace of God go I

1/25/2013 9:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Sonar's not perfect. Going to PD is inherently dangerous because you may spot a contact at the last minute that you couldn't hear due to acoustic conditions.

2. Fishing boats sometimes shut down to work with their nets, set lines or do whatever it is they do. You can't hear a boat that's dead in the water.

3. We almost hit one during an ORSE scram drill just as the scope broke water. Fortunately, the fisherman saw our scope and reacted VERY rapidly.


I've worked with ex-nukes in the civilian world, both officers and enlisted. As far as I'm concerned, they're pretty much the gold standard for brains, work ethic, and, yes, teamwork skills. Good teamwork skills doesn't mean, in this case, that they are always charming but that they can get the job done working with and through others. They earn the respect and cooperation of colleagues. Some are rough around the edges (Exhibit 1: some of the comments above) but they get the job done.

One of our Navy's more "mediocre" SEALs could probably kick the lights out of 99% of other folks. Likewise a "mediocre" JO or E-5 on some boat is playing in a very tough league -- if they've made it that far, they're probably going to do very well in the civilian world.

1/27/2013 6:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^^ Yep, any of those punished will shine among their lazy, unmotivated civilan co-workers when they realize that the Navy has pushed them - rightfully - aside for whatever their transgression was.

Those that get "caught" doing this stuff (collisions, groundings, ethics stuff) in the Submarine force are pretty much shown the door.

It's the way it is, and those of us who wear dolphins, and those few of us priviledged to wear the Command at Sea or CMC badges fully understand this.

Bang a midshipman, a 23 year old banker as a "spec ops" PCO, another ship, the bottom. It's the same reliable and predictable result.

1/29/2013 5:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of speculation and thoughts that 'it could happen to anyone.' Nonsense. We cannot operate that way and we do not.

The ship was at PD, had been there for some time. Watched the target close range and did not take sufficient action to get clear. They were not overwhelmed with contacts. I know plenty of people on JAX, but they had the watch and they are responsible: not the squadron, not the TYCOM.

While I do not know if the CO will get the axe, I will not be surprised if he does.

2/01/2013 3:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update. Sounds like somebody wasn't paying close enough attention and/or may have assumed too much in the teamwork department. Most regrettable.
As an aside, you prefaced with: "Lots of speculation and thoughts that 'it could happen to anyone.' Nonsense. We cannot operate that way and we do not".
I respectfully disagree. It is not nonsense. It's a brutally cold, hard reality. I take mine straight, thanks. Neat. (No rocks). It can happen to "anyone" - especially to those who suffer a lapse and get careless or sloppy. I would even go so far as to suggest it could even happen to those who are the most squared away. Much lower probability in their case, yes, but I don't believe it's out of the realm of possibility. I will not close my eyes to any possibility while underway. Here's why I believe the way I do: It is precisely because it can happen to anyone that I resolved to remain mentally alert to the very best of my ability.
I think I'm quite safe in saying that no one here has suggested or even thinks we should operate "that way". Come to think of it, I'm not even sure what "that way" is. If it CAN'T happen to anyone there's really nothing to talk about, is there? It either can, or it can't. Common sense tells us that still leaves us with a maybe. So, a false dichotomy. Put another way; is the glass half full or half empty? Answer: Yes. (Or, Neither). Because it is both.
Some acknowledge the POSSIBILITY it can happen without undue concern that by doing so we will somehow cause a wild headlong rush into some all-pervading, fatalistic mindset resulting in calamitous self-fulfilling prophesy. Nobody's attempting to engender or otherwise foster an erosion of standards here that I know of. Are they? Anyone?

When I say it can happen to anyone, I include myself in that set. That's just my own personal way of looking that beast right in the eye without blinking. Alert watch standing is absolutely key, 24/7/366. There is no substitute. No exceptions, no excuses. No question.

(Continued, next post)

2/03/2013 9:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That being said, it is my opinion one needs to stand their watch fully aware that our Lady the Sea CAN be an equal opportunity bitch who doesn't know or care how exceptionally special and talented one is. As my training progressed, I also learned more and more of the responsibilities of others I normally (ok, maybe not the best choice of terms!) interacted with in the conduct of our trade. If I thought I noticed something awry, I spoke up. Either by asking a question or by direct statement and/or action. And I would certainly hope that anyone would do the same for me. (Rest assured. They have).

Translation: You watch my back, I'll watch yours. You see a problem, fix it. Those precepts are hardwired into each and every set of fish you've ever seen - silver and gold alike. And I sure hope that THAT never changes.

While I do understand the need to have the bar set where (not necessarily how) it is, it grows somewhat tiresome to being taken to task in that way for employing an ethos that served us quite well, thank you. So when some of you folks hear, "There but for the Grace...", just know that that is simply a nicer, more polite way some of us have of saying, "Wow. That really sucks". It is not a precursor to rebellious anarchy, nor is it intended as such. Rather it is offered as empathy, tempered with an appropriate sense of humility.
It's also a means by which some mark the occasion to serve as a reminder that even though we are the best (and it is definitely ok to know that) we need to balance that knowledge in the most practical manner possible. How? By "paying the requisite price of admission to that theater". One of the coins involved in that transaction is remaining constantly alert and aware, lest one hears, "There but for the Grace..." etc., in reference to themselves.

My two cents anyway. Think I'll catch tonight's movie in the Crew's Mess after chow. Messenger said they're gonna show, "The Emperor with New Clothes Meets Godzilla!" That oughta be a real hoot!
Apologies for the lengthy rant. Safety of Ship has always been a subject near and dear to my heart. Thanks for hearing me out. Vigila semper.

"Round of contacts Sonar aye, Conn"


2/03/2013 9:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone else get bothered by "24/7/365"? It doesn't make sense from a unit cancellation standpoint. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week... 365 days a year? Shouldn't it be "24/7/52"? Or "24/365"? Or just "24/7"?

2/04/2013 5:43 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@2/3 9:58,
You misunderstood me a bit. The threat is always real to everyone, and if you don't respect it, it can and will catch up with you. In that way, yes, it could happen to anyone.

What I was trying to poorly say is that we cannot operate as if it -will- happen to anyone. That is just an excuse for not doing anything, like no matter what a tier 1 event will occur.

We don't operate that way. If we did, we would just leave guys in command after a big event because, oh well, sh*t happens.

2/04/2013 12:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

-Doh! I misunderstood you all right - and by a considerably larger margin than your response would otherwise justifiably indicate. Looks like I misplaced the proper context/arena, and it was off to the Pavlovian dogsled races for me.

My sincere apologies to a true master of understatement. I shoulda known... Think I'll try reading more carefully from now on!

I stand corrected. Thank you, sir. (I don't want another).

-Btw, the movie sucked. Can't recommend it.


2/04/2013 2:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@anon 2/4/2013(0543):

Fwiw, 366 was intended to include leap years. (I got the embedded message as well - I HEARD that!) My mistake. Gotta love coffee! :-)


2/04/2013 2:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perfectly avoidable, but that would entail them actually following procedures and paying attention. Sounds like the G-Ville incident only no lives taken this time. Only a few million on a new scope and waste of a deployment and careers. Make them go back to port, debrief and do TRE every month for 6 months.

2/09/2013 5:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Running out of all good submariners!

2/09/2013 5:39 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, clean house and fill the sub full of women to run it.

2/09/2013 5:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't you all start thinkin' about slacking off when it comes to field daying now. Can't let the girls do all the work, right? I'll start it off right here and now by being the first to step up and volunteer to do my fair share.

I'll get ALL the windows - fore and aft. Every last one of 'em!

2/09/2013 7:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grapevine says both CO and XO on JAX were just relieved (for cause).

2/10/2013 2:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, its now posted on Navy Times...
CO/XO both gone, both ADM masted... Gonna be another freakin banner year, no money, no Congressional or Presidential Leadership, less training yada yada...

I think my days of trying to be part of the solution are coming to a close.

2/10/2013 5:43 PM

Blogger Old Man from the Sea said...

CDR Seif may hold a record. Ten days between SSN command tours, nine with the dateline factored in

2/11/2013 4:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Pittsburgh still holds the "record". CDR Savageaux had his change of command 8/3 and was back on 8/10 when CDR Ward was relieved, so that one was just a week, although it was on the same ship. That one is going to be hard to beat.

2/11/2013 9:06 AM

Anonymous Rip said...

Danny H great to see you are still doing well.

Your memory was pretty straight on. I do believe ANAV was in control though but working on charts or something not coordinating.

I remember being amazed that after the collision I was made man watch lookout after having been lookout during collision.

On the subject of the CO, after the collision he shot up the bridge hatch and was screaming at the OOD so hard and fast all the OOD could do was stutter (anyone that knew him will recall he stuttered slightly on occasion). As a just turned 18 seaman apprentice it was only the shock of still being alive that allowed me to report to the captain what had just occured. Also note the CO was a HEAVY smoker. I watched him smike almost an entire pack in the radio room that night as we contacted SUBLANT and reported our situation. One night of many I will never forget of my adventures on The Bold One.

3/23/2013 1:46 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a Tm on the Jax in 91 this boils down to sonar and I do believe this happened to another boat while I was active just can't remember who it was at this time I have too much blood in my pot stream these days.

4/03/2013 7:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I currently have a son on this boat. In searching for info about this event I came up on this blog.
I am just a mom worried about her son and the crew of this sub. I pray noting more happens to them and they all go home safe.

4/07/2013 8:16 PM

Anonymous Rip said...

Don't worry mom, there is no safer place on earth. He will be fine.

11/28/2013 8:34 PM


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