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.)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Riding The Bow Wave

Here's a cool propaganda video from the PCU Minnesota (SSN 783) sea trials, with some dolphins riding the bow wave:

IMHO, surface OOD is the best possible watch on a submarine. I've had dolphins make a beeline to the boat from over a mile away to ride the bow wave. I found that they got bored fairly quickly with a 2/3 bell, and a standard bell was a little fast for them and they tired easily. My last surface OOD watch on the Connecticut coming into Groton, we were a little ahead of schedule, so I was able to slow down to "turns for 12" which is right in their sweet spot, and the dolphins rode the wave for about 10 minutes. A most excellent watch.

Any nominees for "best watchstation" on a submarine other than surface OOD?


Anonymous mln84 said...

I would just add "at night", when you are way out away from lights and can see a bajillion stars.

5/19/2013 8:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lookout. All the perks of the Surfaced OOD, none of the responsibility.

5/19/2013 9:08 AM

Blogger ex-768 ENG said...

One night coming out of New London the bioluminescence was very strong. After a bit we started seeing these bright lines all around the hull culminating with a splash in the bow wave. Never realized that dolphins don't just swim in the bow wave, they swim up the side of the hull, jump the bow wave, then swim down the other side of the hull and turn around aft of the sail. We were doing a standard bell and they were going around us like we were standing still. Coolest thing ever and yet another reason Surfaced OOD rocks...

5/19/2013 10:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a civilian rider, I was able to 'stand watch'/surface OOD with the XO on the USS Buffalo one morning as the boat surfaced and was sailing towards the sunrise while the moon was slowly setting astern. Kind of reverse Hunt for Red October moment, but still, something very few civilians will ever experience.

5/19/2013 10:12 AM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

ANAV, standing NAVSUP on the surface. Made FREQUENT trips to the bridge for the sunrise stogey. Did a family-day cruise out of Mayport right before I retired...took my wife up to the bridge, saw the dolphins and she was all smiles. Looked at her, smiled and said: "Yeah, you made lots more money than I did, but the view from MY office is much better"!

5/19/2013 10:38 AM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

Surface OOD is great as long as there are few close contacts and the weather is nice. "Cold and damp on the bridge" were never my favorite wake ups. However, I agree that I saw the best sunset ever as surface OOD transiting the Solomon Islands and spent some delightful nights pondering the Milky Way. The most dolphins I ever saw were during a surface transit into Brisbane, Australia. There must have been fifty around us, including two who engaged in a "how high can you jump and make a big splash" contest off of our bow. We assumed they were showing off for the ladies.

5/19/2013 10:54 AM

Blogger DDM said...

When I was relieved as EDMC on Jimmy Carter, I had several days as "crew gentleman". I went to the bridge going into Puget Sound. It was cold but pretty nice.

5/19/2013 11:09 AM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

Grew up on boats in Puget Sound/San Juan Islands/Gulf Islands. Only managed a trip to the bridge on a submarine in the sound a couple of times. It was usually less than beautiful weather, but it was home and I didn't need to look at a GPS or charts to know where I was and where I was going. REALLY knew I was home when the pilot came down to the Control Room and it was a guy I had known for many years!

5/19/2013 12:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surfaced OOD can be both the best and worst watch -- best when it's warm with calm seas, worst when it's cold with rough seas. Pulling into Groton in the late fall or late winter/early spring is generally terrible.

5/19/2013 12:27 PM

Blogger Bryan Lethcoe said...

Concur - best dolphin bow wave speed was 11-12 knots - any more would tire them out, and less and they would move on.

I had many surface OOD watches during my last patrol as ENG - it was a TRE run, we were doing midshipmen ops, and my JOOD had to be medevac'ed off, leaving me 1 in 3, with plenty of surface time.

The most weird dolphin experience I had involved an outbound transit from Norfolk during middie ops - I came across a huge area of pure flat water, as far as the eye could see, and after transiting for a few minutes off in the distance I saw what eventually became a school of hundreds of dolphins. They swam over to us, but in keeping with Navigator's track we kept on the standard bell, so we eventually outran them. But it was very cool.

My best surface OOD watches were mid-watch OOD at AUTEC - clear, warm, and all I had to do was stay in a box.

5/19/2013 1:41 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definitely doesn't hold against surfaced bridge watches, but on the day to day I enjoyed ERS. Sure, you have responsibility, but if you have a good watch team life is pretty easy. About the best it gets for an enlisted nuke. I also enjoyed it because I could actually get shit done when all of the other ERSs used it as an excuse to be as lazy as possible. Nothing better than getting those handfuls of stupid 10 minute maintenance items knocked out when you have nothing better to do.

5/19/2013 2:13 PM

Anonymous Cupojoe said...

"Midnight Cowboy" where your only job was to get as far forward in your moving haven as possible for drills the next day wasn't too bad.

Good shipmates make better watches. Surface OOD with screamer-captain? Not a good watch.

5/19/2013 2:30 PM

Anonymous Vince (civ) said...

Awesome video. Thanks for posting it.

5/19/2013 3:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dolphin's riding your wake: cool.

Killer whales riding your wake: awesome.

5/19/2013 4:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am really surprised that the best watch of all, port and starboard SRO,while in port and starboard duty, on a boomer tied up in Kings Bay was not mentioned yet. The thrill of 12 + hours staring at a shutdown plant, the laughs you got from noticing the impression on the guy you relieved forehead that looked nearly identical to a mirror image of the shim switch, the really fun maintenance on your duty day was the best. Shuffling though your non duty day waiting for liberty to go down so you could get to Jacksonville as fast as possible to party as much as possible and then the thrill of getting back just in time to be written up by the tender pukes when all you wanted to do was relieve the watch.

5/19/2013 5:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

sonar when you have a good watch section and are going 4 knots to nowhere. goodtimes

5/19/2013 5:50 PM

Anonymous STS2/SS - 686 said...

I've only spent about 5 minutes on the bridge underway, in the Med and we were either stopped or had just enough headway to maintain steerage. Middle of the day just outside the Straights, beautiful. Never stood a watch up there. Saw the dolphins many times on the man watch while topside, though...

5/19/2013 7:29 PM

Blogger KellyJ said...

Pierside linehandler casting the pig off while you stay behind for a school or transfer.

Other than that...Sonar Sup on an SSN on mission when the SHTF.
What do you mean we've been on watch for the last 10 hours?

5/19/2013 7:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Diver/Rescue Swimmer coming into San Diego or Pearl. Nothing to do but watch for boobies and thong clad bottoms. Ahhhhhhh

5/19/2013 9:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back when I was a three-section ST and had the "spare" time, I used to augment as night lookout whenever I got the chance. One night in the Caribbean stands out in my memory. On a northwesterly heading, egressing AUTEC. The moon was full, big and bright in a star-filled sky that seemed to have the texture of velvet. Green-gold streams of bioluminescence alongside and in our wake. And then we went through a large school of flying fish doing their aerials. They'd burst out of the water all aglow and glide for a distance, quartering out into the dark, and where they re-entered would be these syncopated polka-dot bursts of light. Coolest thing I ever saw (on a boat).

Then I qualified as Sonar Sup, and shortly after that went port and starboard when our LPO rotated out.
So then it was just like KellyJ said. Something comes up and it gets busy, next thing I know my shoulder's getting a shake and I hear "What you got?" Seemed like only a couple of minutes had gone by instead of hours. Best video game on the planet - only for real! I ran outta quarters, dang it. :-)


5/20/2013 12:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cupojoe, yep, that was the attitude the navigator had when we hit the mountain. Didn't have flank authorized in the night orders so he used a different configuration in the tractor which resulted in the same speed.
Standing DOOW was my favorite watch, bar none, and when you had an OOD that was smart enuf to not try and broach/blame you was awesome. Doing real angles and dangles or a torpedo evasion was the best of times. So what if we lost a couple of radar mast ice caps?


5/20/2013 2:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my experience the dolphins enjoyed the 637 bow wave more than a 688, but they always seemed to really love it.

-Scott M

Oh, and there is no better watch than surfaced OOD.

5/20/2013 4:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lookout USS Bremerton transiting inland waterways from Nanoose to Juan De Fuca during the summer. Lots of topless women on boats.

5/20/2013 5:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sonar Sup shooting the straights of Juan De Fuca with Ivan or multiple Ivan's waiting to play.


5/20/2013 5:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a 580 Class Eng, Nav, XO, and CO I had plenty of time watching dolphins. Best watch was a nightime battery charge off the South shore of Oahu with a full moon coming up over the Wahinahi Range.

5/20/2013 9:01 AM

Anonymous STS2BAB said...

Sonar Sup on station is by far the most fun I had standing a watch, although topside man watch in and out of San Diego is not a bad deal either.

5/20/2013 12:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was maneuvering watch lookout for couple of years, we got a new COB and he changed the watch bill around and I was put topside as line handler but the CO was not happy with the new lookout so the next underway I was back in the sail. Loved it

5/20/2013 12:04 PM

Anonymous Dardar the Submarian said...

Scope operator, maneuvering watch, pulling into Pcan.

Boobies are much more visible in 12X power.

5/20/2013 12:58 PM

Anonymous Dardar the Submarian said...

Scope operator, maneuvering watch, pulling into Pcan.

Boobies are much more visible in 12X power.

5/20/2013 12:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does PNEO count?

5/20/2013 5:22 PM

Anonymous Wheeling Wizard said...

I'd go with surface OOD at night. The most scared/exhilarated time in my life was off North Carolina coming out of Norfolk on a 637 - getting far enough out to submerge. A storm was coming in and the seas were very rough. Of course after 30+ years, the sea story exaggerations kick in and I usually spiel how I was looking up to see the green water coming at me.

5/20/2013 7:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon 5/19/13 0908. Maneuvering watch lookout during sea trials and ops in Puget Sound and San Diego after that on a 637. The only topside type watch A gang had. The dolphins were always a welcome sight.
CWO3 (ret)

5/20/2013 9:57 PM

Anonymous Partywear saree said...

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5/21/2013 2:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I watched this happen. Douche.

5/21/2013 7:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about during daily ops from Pearl and staying in since only 2 watches were needed, I went jetskiing at Hickam AFB on my standup and happened to see the Bates coming back in. I headed toward the channel and was able to jump (more like ride over) the boat's wake as it passed and I found out later I made it as a surface contact. Score!

Actually, coming into Pearl at night on the bridge is an unforgettable experience. Quiet, beautiful, loads of stars, and few surface contacts to deal with.

5/21/2013 11:09 AM

Anonymous You Rookies said...

Best watchstation?

COB's office on patrol with female middies onboard!

Dirty Dave

5/21/2013 3:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting. Which boat was the douche bag supposed to go to?

5/21/2013 11:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

News: One of four nuclear-powered cargo ships ever built, NS Savannah, now on display in Baltimore.

5/23/2013 8:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


5/23/2013 8:14 AM

Anonymous TRF said...

Surface OOD can be the best watch - warm weather, little traffic, watching the dolphins; but it can also be the worst watch - cold, rainy and foggy while someone in Control is sounding the fog horn every couple of minutes.

5/23/2013 12:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with general feeling. Surfaced OOD in Caribbean transiting Autec to St Croix. The velvety smooth voice of the Virgin Islands Maritime Radio operator in the background of the VHF, watching the sun rise. Except for those damned cruise ships with 20 bazillion lights (where is the actual running light amidst that mess) and respecting only the law of gross tonnage. Loved the dolphins riding the bow wave. Thanks for the post!

Worst watch- surfaced OOD Groton to Bayonne, NJ in a driving hail/snow storm in January. Glad I missed that run!

Steve M-703

5/23/2013 1:23 PM

Anonymous DR said...

The best watch is that rare bird when you get kicked on the evening watch, and actually get a full night's sleep.

5/23/2013 7:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Underway ELT. Get your daily sample and surveys done and you can achieve more rack time than the Doc.

5/24/2013 9:23 AM

Anonymous k said...

"Any nominees for "best watchstation" on a submarine other than surface OOD?"

No - for officers. For enlisted, as mentioned, Lookout.

5/24/2013 10:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a watch, but as Eng, my last underway, standing topside with my EDMC and a few nukes by line 4 while we pulled into port following a very sucessful deployment and an excellent on ORSE.

5/24/2013 11:36 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

While as rhe R.C. Division chief and having completed the Public Affairs Officer course, being off of the manuevering warch bill, on the sail planes pulling into many of the greatest of European ports in great sailing weather!

What a sight to see on board the nearby sailboats.

5/24/2013 12:39 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Some of my shipmates up north and on the sail got totally dunked under water. We were in terrible weather and really really heavy seas, in the winter. It was during the night. We hit a wave just the right way and the whole sail went underwater.

And both hatches were open!

5/24/2013 2:38 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

I thought about signing up for the navy, but I got distracted and signed up for laser hair removal training instead. Now I wish I had made the first choice.

6/04/2013 3:35 PM


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