Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Friday, January 25, 2013

USS Pasadena CO Fired

Looks like 2013 is off to a fast start for submarine CO firings. The CO of USS Pasadena (SSN 752), currently in Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, was fired today:
Rear Adm. Rick Breckenridge, Commander, Submarine Group 2, relieved Cmdr. Luis Molina, commanding officer of USS Pasadena (SSN 752) on Jan. 25 due to loss of confidence in executing his duties as the submarine's commanding officer.
"I have lost confidence in Cmdr. Molina's ability to effectively lead USS Pasadena through its maintenance overhaul," said Breckenridge.
The boat has been in the yards since September 2011; CDR Molina took command a couple of months before that. Haven't heard any specifics yet on what may have precipitated the DFC. This one is tough for me personally; then-ENS Molina was a student on my crew at NPTU Charleston back when I was a Shift Eng on MTS 626. I remember him especially because he was a really, really good runner, and he got TAD orders from prototype to represent the Navy in some big race.

What's New This Week?

In submarine news from this week:

1) Secretary Mabus announced that, as part of the review of the role of women in service, the first women who will serve on Virginia-class SSNs have been identified:
I am pleased the Navy has completed an initiative I announced several months ago to open up one of the few areas not currently available to women, that of service on Virginia Class submarines (SSNs). Three years ago we announced a policy change allowing women to serve in guided-missile attack (SSGNs) and ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) and this is a planned continuation of that effort. Newly commissioned female officers have been selected for assignment to Virginia Class submarines upon successful completion of the Naval Nuclear Powered training pipeline. We expect these officers, along with female Supply Corps Officers, to report to their submarines in FY15. We also plan to include female enlisted Sailors in this process. The Navy has a long history of inclusion and integration and I am proud we have achieved another important milestone during my tenure as Secretary.
Left unsaid is where exactly on the boat they'll be berthing.

2) The DoD announced that Rear Admiral Hilarides, former PEO Submarines, will be getting a bump to VADM to go along with his new assignment as head of NAVSEA.

I note that he had the rare-but-effective "Flag LT/Detailer" Daily Double for his post-JO/post-DH shore tours. I always wondered how exactly one got lucky like that. (Actually, I don't wonder at all; it's fairly obvious.)

3) My old boat Topeka was forced to participate in a PR stunt to make it look like they're happy to be in the yards. Sucks to be them.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Minesweeper Aground

Even though it's always somewhat humorous to see a skimmer in distress, I still feel bad for the officers and crew of USS Guardian (MCM 5), aground in the Sulu Sea. The latest information is here. This picture shows  how quickly the water goes from "deep enough" to "oh, crap".

Have you ever been on a boat that was grounded hard enough such that it was unable to move?

Update 0900 25 Jan: It looks like they've decided she'll sink if they pull her off the reef, so they're sending some heavy sealift assets to carry her back to port.

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...

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Submarine Force Year In Review

Here's the official COMSUBFOR video showing the highlights for the Submarine Force in 2012:

Changes In The Wind

The 'Phibster has his thoughts on the changes to the prospective CPO training philosophy just released by the new MCPON. He doesn't like the changes. Neither do I. Excerpt from the Navy article:
"Effective immediately, we're respectfully sun-downing the word 'induction', and in its place we'll use CPO 365 as the primary term," said Stevens. "I believe that induction is more about a moment in time, and CPO 365 and the development of our FCPOs to become CPOs is not about a moment in time. It's about a continuous time. This is something we're going to do every day, 365 days a year, and so we want to make sure the term we are using is matching what we are doing."
What do you think of the proposed changes? Will it make E-7 just one block up from E-6?

Sunday, January 06, 2013

The Other Shoe Drops

In the least unexpected piece of news about the Submarine Force in some time:
Capt. Blake Converse, Commander, Submarine Squadron 6, relieved Cmdr. Thomas Winter, commanding officer of the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Montpelier (SSN 765), of his duties Jan. 4 due to loss of confidence in Winter's ability to command.
The relief comes after a thorough command investigation into the collision that occurred between USS Montpelier and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56) off the coast of Florida Oct. 13, 2012.
The investigation revealed that the principal cause of the collision was human error, poor teamwork by the Montpelier watch team, and the commanding officer's failure to follow established procedures for submarines operating at periscope depth. Additionally, the investigation revealed contributing factors threaded among the various command and control headquarters that provide training and operational oversight within Fleet Forces Command.
Our previous discussion about the Montpelier collision can be found here. While I'm interested to see the relief announcement say that the investigation uncovered "contributing factors" among the headquarters and oversight commands (normally these investigations say that it was entirely the fault of a few "bad apples" on the boat, and the shore duty guys who trained them were blameless) we won't know what really happened until someone does an FOIA request for a redacted copy of the investigation. Hopefully that will come out soon.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

2012 Battle "E" Winners

As we enter 2013, a year that will likely focus on the 50th anniversary of the tragic loss of USS Thresher (SSN 593) in the submarine community, we can look back on the best of the Submarine Force for last year. As usual, SUBPAC got their announcement out into the wild first; here are their winners:

Commander, Submarine Squadron 1 (Pearl Harbor) - USS Hawaii (SSN 776)
SUBDEVRON 5 (Bangor, Wash.) - USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23)
SUBRON 7 (Pearl Harbor) - USS Columbus (SSN 762)
SUBRON 11 (San Diego) - USS Jefferson City (SSN 759)
SUBRON 15 (Guam) - USS Buffalo (SSN 715)
SUBRON 17 (Bangor) - USS Maine (SSBN 741) (Blue and Gold)
SUBRON 19 (Bangor) - USS Ohio (SSGN 726) (Blue)
Submarine Tender USS Emory S. Land (AS 39)
Special Category was awarded to floating dry dock Arco (ADRM-5) and the torpedo weapons retriever Swamp Fox (TWR 821), both in San Diego.

Other than Frank Cable and Arco, who always win[s], the only repeat winner from the Pac was Buffalo -- Congratulations, guys! I was glad to see my old boat Jimmy Carter earn an "E" (they also got the Engineering "E"); this is her first one since the 2009 cycle. (Note that there was no SUBRON 3 award because the squadron merged with SUBRONs 1 and 7 back in February.)

I'll post the SUBLANT list when I find it.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Update 0850 03 Jan: While we're waiting for the SUBLANT list, here's a Google Earth "mystery" for Submariners from I'm guessing it's NR-1.

Update 0740 06 Jan: Here's the SUBLANT list:

SUBRON 4 (Groton) - USS New Hampshire (SSN 778)
SUBRON 6 (Norfolk) - USS Boise (SSN 764)
SUBDESRON 12 (Groton) - USS Toledo (SSN 769)
SUBRON 16 (Kings Bay) - USS Georgia (SSGN 729) (Blue and Gold)
SUBRON 20 (Kings Bay) - USS Alaska (SSBN 732) (Blue and Gold)

Boise seems to be on a tear lately, and I was happy to see my old Nuke School classmate CAPT Rhett Jaehn earn one with his new boat. For those wondering where the CSS2 boat is, remember they were disestablished almost a year ago (and SUBRON 8 went away back in 2011).

As always, BZ to all the winners!

(Also corrected my mistake in automatically assuming that Frank Cable won again without actually reading what I posted -- thanks to the commenter for pointing that out.)