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, December 01, 2006

Steam Leak On Sub Tender USS Frank Cable

(04 Dec: My most recent update on the story can be found here.)

[Intel Source: The Sub Report] There's breaking news out of Guam of an in-port "steam-related accident" aboard USS Frank Cable (AS 40):
KUAM News has confirmed the Guam Fire Department was contacted this evening at the request of the U.S. Navy to transport victims to the hospital after an accident aboard the U.S.S. Frank Cable. GFD spokesperson Phyllis Blas says the agency was alerted around 8pm Friday to respond to an incident on the 646-foot Submarine Tender, which is moored at Naval Base Guam in Sumay.
Upon arrival, medics transported a number of sailors from Polaris Point to Naval Hospital in Agana Heights. Navy spokesman Lieutenant Donnell Evans says in a press release that eight sailors were injured during maintenance operations following a steam leak aboard the ship. The conditions of the injured is unknown at this time.
You can download the Navy press release from this site (or by clicking here). Our prayers are with the injured Sailors, their families, and shipmates.

Staying at PD...

Update 0645 02 Dec: Five of the injured Sailors are in critical condition, and another is listed as serious. It appears that they'll be flown to Tripler in Honolulu, and then maybe to the Burn Center at Brooke AMC in San Antonio.

From the number and severity of the injuries, it sounds like it was a steam line rupture in the Engine Room. This is one of the scariest possible casualties for people who work in a ship's engineering spaces, and while they might not be as catastrophic on an oil-fired surface ship as they can be on a nuclear-powered sub, as you can see, they're still bad. Some relatively recent examples of even more deadly steam accidents were when 10 Sailors were killed on USS Iwo Jima (LPH 2) in 1990, and the steam leak that killed 10 submariners on the French submarine FS Émeraude (S 604) in 1994.

Update 2104 03 Dec: Updates to the story are here and here, as well as this update from the Pacific Daily News that says the injured Sailors have been flown to Hawaii:
11 a.m., Dec. 4 - A nine-member Army Burn Center Flight Team are in Hawaii to care for six sailors injured Friday during a steam leak aboard the USS Frank Cable, which was docked at Polaris Point.
Military officials said the sailors suffered steam burns to 20 to 70 percent of their bodies. At least five sailors were on lung ventilators, said Army Col. Dave Barillo, a critical care surgeon and the officer in charge of the team from Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
The sailors were injured when a steam line from a boiler room in the ship's lower deck ruptured, according to Navy officials on Guam. The men were flown to Hawaii for further treatment.
All we can do for now it to continue to pray for their recovery, and for comfort to their families.


Blogger Dale Courtney said...

I concur with your assessment.

Please holler if you hear anything new.

The Cable's CO is Leo Goff. Leo served with me on my first sub. He left early in that tour to be the Radcon officer in Guam (a position reserved for hot-runner JOs).


12/02/2006 11:15 AM

Blogger Chap said...

I am glad to have worked with CAPT Goff when he was on a staff with me once. He was a very competent staff officer, and his guys I met under him in his sub command thought he was a hot runner. I am sorry to hear his sailors have been injured.

Nothwithstanding, though, the radcon officer in Guam job was also at one time open to people who would go to the job. I almost went to it in '96 (would have meant a spot promotion about three months after I pinned on the previous promotion!), but my wife assured me I would be going alone. I'd been married long enough to know that if this was the first time she'd put her foot down, I'd better go somewhere else.

Tenders are a heck of a challenge to command, as far as I can tell. Lots of leadership to practice, lots of new things for a career submarine captain to learn, lots of new kinds of pitfalls, and everything's different on a surface ship in Guam vice the previous submarine...

12/02/2006 11:39 AM

Blogger wmcjjohnny said...

Casualty was in the Fire Room and without getting into details, it occurred as a result of an issue with #1 boiler. Also served pretty recently under CAPT Goff and he is a good Naval Officer who had done good things for the ship when I was there. The CHENG is a good friend and an outstanding Engineer and the injured guys read like an all star team of great BT's who love their work and what they do. I am deeply saddened for the ship and the Officers and men of Engineering Department on Fightin' Frank. My prayers are with those guys most seriously hurt and with their families.

12/02/2006 5:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes the chain of command is a good one, but right now we should be thinking more of my friends and co-workers that will have to deal with this for the rest of there lives.
i have never seen anything so terrible in my entire life.

12/03/2006 9:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joel, there is an update on this story at this link:

12/03/2006 12:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a family member who was injured from this accident. He has a long road ahead of him and at this point no one can say for sure what all that entails. 3rd degree burns over 30% of his body.

Please pray for him and all the others injured. I know I am!!!

12/03/2006 3:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Consider it done...

12/03/2006 6:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son has been in the Navy for less then a year and in Guam only a few months. He was on his way to the boiler room when the line raptured. He was one of the lucky ones, he was treated for second degree burns and released from the hospital. He was very upset over the pain and suffering of his fellow ship mates. My heart goes out to all of them and their families.

12/04/2006 10:06 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Conventional MMC. I Saw pictures today of the carnage. Ripped the top off of the boiler. All BT's and MM's are praying for those guys.

12/04/2006 3:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any chance of posting a link to those pics? I just missed putting the Cable in commission and my heart goes out to the ship and her crew. I served from Jan 1980 through Feb 1983. She was and is a good ship. By the way, I don't know where all the reporters are getting their info on her commissioning, but she was not commissioned in 1978, but in Dec 1979 making her 27 years old instead of the 28 that the pressing is putting out. Admittedly that is very minor compared to the suffering of these men and their familys, but the old girl deserves some respect.

12/04/2006 4:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a Frank Cable sailor who worked down in the Fireroom with the guys who were injured. They are very good friends of mine and I am proud to have served with the for 5 1/2 years. All of the guys on the deckplates at the time were in fact the Best Boiler Techs and most qualified Boiler Technitian Of The Watch. It is true that they were setting safety valves on #1 Boiler which is a Preventive Maintenance Requirement (PMS) every 18 Months. This is a high profile and high risk evolution with extra watchstanders and Senior Leadership in the space. Safety Valves must be gagged which on this boiler there are 3. At the time 2 were gagged Drum #1 and Drum #2 and testing was being accomplished on the Superheater GIS. They Safety did not lift at required pressure. Normally when the valve lifts it will blowdown the pressure for #1 Boiler 3 to 6 %. EX. Valve lifts at 710 PSI and reseats at 685 PSI. Pressure increased at which time a burner which there are 3 are supposed to be cutout. Evidence and experience suggests that a burner was cutout and reported improperly giving the BTOW on watch a false report. BTOW expects Boiler pressure to come down and it does not. A second verification must have took place underwhich the discovery of an improperly cutout burner was discovered. The improper cutout of the burner caused a Flareback Boiler Explosion (This can occur in less than 60 seconds)which resulted do to unburned or inadequate combustion. This inturn resulted in accumulation of unburned fuel in the Boiler Economizer area and caused an explosion there as well. This resulted in a major steam leak/flying parts due to several suspected boiler tube ruptres caused by the Flareback Boiler Explosion. This is a more accurate discription then what I have been reading and hearing around the fleet. This could have happened anywhere. Fires extinguished by the watchstanders in the #1 Boiler and under normal circumstances all 3 Safety Valves would have been lifted via the hand easing gear. However as mentioned previously 2 were gagged and one would not lift. So the watchstanders in the space did what they could to save the lives of eachother on the deckplates in the Fireroom. They are Shipmates of min e and I would like to set the story as straight as I can for you guys. Instead of trying to blame and point the finger on who,what,when,where. Get the facts straight. These guys are the best of the best. May God watch over them.



12/05/2006 2:56 AM

Blogger FbL said...

To all who are friends and family of the injured sailors:

I just wanted to let you know that the Soldiers' Angels Wounded Team at Brooke has been aware of the sailors since yesterday and will be doing all it can to help them and their families (a truly vast array of assistance is available). If you know of any needs not being met or someone hasn't been contacted by SA yet, please let me know and I'll make sure it gets to the right people.

12/05/2006 7:50 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pit snipe

Screws turning and fires burning is the humble life of a pit snipe. We know that at anytime we step on the deck plates that there might be a chance of casualty like this happening and we are trained in how to properly secure the boiler and space in this situation.

My only question that I have and I hope that BTC from Cable has it backwards is on the following statement made by BTC “It is true that they were setting safety valves on #1 Boiler which is a Preventive Maintenance Requirement (PMS) every 18 Months. This is a high profile and high risk evolution with extra watchstanders and Senior Leadership in the space. Safety Valves must be gagged which on this boiler there are 3. At the time 2 were gagged Drum #1 and Drum #2 and testing was being accomplished on the Superheater GIS.”

In my experience testing safety valves onboard a 1200 psi (D) Type boilers, we tested the Superheater GIS valve last because it lifts first in case the boiler does over fire and steam drum pressure increases to high.

But before the Superheater GIS valve is tested we have already completed testing on the previvous 4 Drum Safety valves and the GAGES are removed from the 4 Drum safety valves and Superheater GIS control cabinet before we commence raising pressure to test the superheater GIS.

I agree that flare back caused this casualty. There was possibly a uncontrollable smoke casuaty in progress that was not identified in time and caused an explosion in #1 Boiler.

This is no ones fault it happened and now our engineer brothers are in a fight for their life to survive. Let’s stop worrying about the CO or CHENG and prey for our fallen engineers.

12/05/2006 1:31 PM

Blogger Marvin said...

From reading the news reports and these comments..
I think a huge amount of credit should go to the Damage Control teams.
To protect the other major pieces of equipment ("ship could go to sea on the other boiler")and
To get these badly burned shipmates out of the main space and keep them alive until they were transported to the Guam hospital. BZ

12/05/2006 4:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a loved one on the ship who had talked with the men a little bit before the accident happened and is devastated. Please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers.

12/05/2006 4:49 PM

Blogger wmcjjohnny said...

Also a recently departed FC crewmember in Eng Dept. If you served with these guys then you probably served with me. I personally served with 4 of the 6 of the most gravely injured BT's and they are as good a group of Engineers as you will find anywhere in the Navy. I have a good idea of what happened after talking with my shipmates there onboard but have deliberately avoided supposition about the cause of the casualty as I do not want speculation on the cause to sully the reputation of any of the guys, injured or otherwise. All that being said, I am in contact with BAMC and intend to go down and see my shipmates and check on the families hopefully in the next 2 weeks with some other previously attached FC Eng Dept guys. Will pass your sentiments amongst the others that I have heard. Thanks for your time in the pit Snipe and hope to hear from you again at some point.

12/05/2006 6:55 PM

Blogger wmcjjohnny said...

BTC (Chief F???), is my e-mail if you want to talk. Will be on travel for a few days and checking e-mail when connectivity affords me the opportunity. Have a great Navy day.


12/05/2006 8:21 PM

Blogger andrew_carbaugh said...

I recently retired off the USS Frank Cable and worked in the Engineroom, was saddened to hear about the guys in the firerrom. I hope and pray they are alright. I agree with BTC 100%, setting safeties is a high risk high profile evolution and I am quite sure that each and everyone involved performed with nothing more than excellence

12/06/2006 8:41 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you everyone for your thoughts, well-wishes, and prayers. My nephew was one of the most critically injured. It's great to know that he served with really good people.

12/06/2006 5:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My nephew is, I beleive, is the most critically injured. He has burns of 70+% on his body and his eyes may be damaged as well as his lungs. He is responding to treatment but there is a long road ahead for him and the other 5 men who were transported to Brooke AMC. Please pray for him and the others as well as their families.

12/06/2006 9:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of them died this morning.

12/07/2006 12:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My niece is there right now. I think she was one of the first responders......she and all the sailors are in my thoughts and prayers. My two sons have been to and returned home from Iraq.....I pray every night that all of those away from loved ones come home safe! No matter where you are, you are always in my heart!

12/07/2006 3:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As we pray for the sailors that are fighting for their lives, please say a prayer for those that initially took care of the victims. My daughter was the first to help one of the victims as he came out of the boiler room. She and a crew member were seconds from going into the boiler room when the explosion occurred and heard the screams. She tells me that she helped the sailor to a safe place, helped him sit down and talked to him. She has told me, "All I could do is to try to keep his focus on me so that he wouldn't look down at himself and see what I was seeing".
She has told me that she was in awe of how the crew came together and assisted the injured, "even those that didn't have medical background were helping the medics - holding IV bags...
Please keep these 'kids' that helped the injured sailors in your thoughts, they too will need help from above to heal.

12/08/2006 12:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son was also one of the first on the scene. He is a very good friend of your nephew with the 70% situation. Our prayers are with you and your family.
Feel free to e-mail me @

12/08/2006 2:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am also a Frank Cable sailor who worked in the Fireroom with the guys who were injured. I wish I could fly out and be there for them. They are more than friends to me and I am crushed by this. They are all like brothers to me. We grew up together. I guess this defines the word "Shipmate" as many have heard this term in the Navy. I hope and pray our Shipmates make it through. If any of you need someone to talk to shoot me an email at or

12/09/2006 5:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Stepson is one of the critical. I thank all of you for the prayers and get well wishes. I will be a long road. Remember also the one we have lost and his family.Thanks again to everyone.

12/10/2006 5:29 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if they are gonna release the names of the injured? My fiance was a MM1 on the Frank Cable for a few years until the end of 2004 and is curious if he worked with any of the guys. Our prayers are with all the injured and their families.

12/10/2006 9:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


12/11/2006 1:03 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pannullo, if your fiance left in 2004 and worked in engineering then yes, he knew some of them. I left in late 2003 and 2 of them had worked for me in the fire room.

As previously stated by many in our support network, it's important the crew and their families know we are all thinking about them and keeping them in our prayers. This blog helps alot, because there isn't much information being given.

There are organizations out there that you never even hear about, like Soldier's Angels, until something like this happens. The support this Army group gives is unbelievable, especially when you consider it's being provided to us Navy folks. My hat's off to these kind souls.

To the Sailor's of the Fighting Frank, their families and friends, May God's light shine upon you during this difficult time. You are in our heart's and prayers. Keep the fires lit.

To all in the support networks, THANK YOU! Words can't say enough.

12/11/2006 11:06 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

Anyone that has ever served on the Frank Cable had to have that nervous feeling everytime they went into the Engine Room and Fire Room. Heck, I still remember when the Switchboard blew up when I was standing behind it. The Frank Cable has some of the finest Engineers in the Navy. I was proud to have served with those guys.

12/12/2006 1:00 PM

Blogger BTCM POPS said...

Where was the Chief Engineer and MPA during this evolution? At the POINT CLUB having a STEAK Dinner while there sailors are being burned and one dies. They should be relieved or better yet COURT MARSHALED

12/14/2006 10:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The injured are making very small steps at getting better. My stepson is still in critical but each day we see improvemnet. Thanks for the prayers keep themcoming they all need them. His Dad and I are retired Army, but we defiantly have found the Navy is a tight family and look out for theirs. They have been there every step if help is needed. Thanks Again.

12/14/2006 3:13 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

I am glad that MM1 is making progress. He is a great sailor. I agree with BTCM Pops....where the hell was the MPA and Chief Engineer? I remember when we would shut down. It seemed like the Engine room and Fire room were full of Khakis. BTCM Rock and LCDR Sheehan would have been there monitoring the evolution. I agree they should be relieved. I heard the Chief was only there about a month. is MMC Ullegue still there?

12/14/2006 5:50 PM

Blogger ConnieBruce said...

My brother was one of the sailors injured on the ship. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for them. My brother and I are extremely close and I could never imagine losing him. It was so scary to hear that no one knew nothing. Keep the prayers coming and God Bless.

12/14/2006 7:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

God Bless Jack Valentine and his heroism as well as that of his shipmates who now fight every day. God bless the families who now care for those injured men. God Bless the men who steam the plants at sea tonight.

12/14/2006 10:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


2/09/2007 7:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i know the engine room and the fire room, i know who is to blame! i did pray for those guys but at the same ime you cant turn your back on the cause, and the cause of this stil works there. keep in mind just about everyone knew about the faulty tubes in the boiler even down to the last firemen. #1 in charge of the engineering dept. knew and still did thtest might i add he was not even present at the time and was called back to the ship when it happend. the frank cable was hell worst experience of my life and ask anyone around even to this day and they will all say the same the frank cable is full of BS, lies and cover ups. read the manual of doing the test if there were test done showing the tubes might be faulty and they were, then why did the test take place?

4/16/2007 9:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

as a former CHENG (AD44) and first qualified & stood the watch EOOW on CABLE in 1983 - I am deeply dismayed at the idea that the CHENG wasn't there - has the MRC changed - it used to be REQUIRED. Our JOs need more SEA time and less staff time!!! I'm also mortified that this didn't make the press here in Norfolk.

7/06/2007 8:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew Jack, he was a cool guy there was this one time i was standing brow watch right it was 2300 and one of the subs was starting up so the have us radcon guys stand watch to make sure no one gets on the brow other then ships commpany. So the sub was having some problems so i had to be there all night. Well Jack came on sound and security watch at midnight right and he was making fun of me becuase i had to stand there all night and stay awake. and i tell you its not like standing on the quarterdeck becuase you have people to talk to, but i only had jack, i got to shoot the shit with him for alittle while he made his tour of the ship, he got me a soda and tryed making me stay awake. so hes getting off of watch now and i was pissed becuase i wassnt getting to go to bed untill the afternoon. and ways he got off watch and hung out with me, he didnt have to it was 0400 in the morning and it was a tuesday which ment work starts again at 0700 (Thank God for training.)after that he lived across from me and we shoot the shit, id give him rides to the nex cause i would see him walking from south tip. he was a cool guy. So I go on leave in December and i go to Las Vegas to hang out with some friends i was having the time of my life untill i saw the news on cnn and with the HeadLines "Disaster On U.S.S. Frank Cable" I called my girlfriend at the time and she told me what happened and who got hurt. later on she call back and tells me the Jack Passed away. it didnt realy hit me till i got back to the ship and stood brow watch again, i just kept thinking that jack was going to swing by with another soda, and bust my balls again. I realy dont know why im writeing on here, i just thought people would like to here stuff like this. But i'll tell you what, now when i see some one on watch and they look bored to high hell, i get them a soda and shoot the shit with them.

thanks Jack for being there, and i pray for everyone who was affected by accident.

7/25/2007 4:52 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mongo. I'm always glad to hear from someone who knew my son. Thanks for letting me know he made a difference in your life and that you will carry on that difference to others.
With love, Jack's mom

10/01/2007 9:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, My name is tina. I use to work on the Frank Cable as a snipe back in 96, and left in 98 to go to corspman "A" school. I know about the conditions of the Boiler room and the risks that are taken each time you set foot on the deck plate. I had some of the worst and best experiences during my tour in Guam. I was saddened to hear about this tragity. My deepest sympathy and love goes out to my fellow sailors and their families. I Pray for our fallen salior and the other's who were critcally ill. I know that this is long over due, but it is never to late to show someone that you care and are thinking about them.

Good Bless,
* Feel free to shoot an email anytime*

1/12/2008 8:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was an HT aboard the"Love Boat" from 88 to 92 while she was stilled stationed in Charleston SC. I believe the overall decline of a safe work environment is a direct result of the insane rush to remove qualified and more importantly experienced crew from the Nav to save money. When I first arrived there, the majority of crew members were sailors with sea-time under their belts. By the time I left, early retirements and forced outs due to an inability to advance in rank caused all of the experienced sailors to depart leaving a ship crewed with fresh out of "A" school kids. There were very few of us left to pass on the ins and outs of operating the ship. As a result, I noticed a sharp increase in injuries and broken equipment. Hell, once I got to SIMA, there were several occasions that I had to boat out to a ship to perform and or teach basic repair and maintenance to these kids because they were clueless. Many times the shops had E-4's running them because all of the E-5's and E-6's were gone. As a firefighter, I spent plenty of time in the engineering spaces (especially during dry dock) and can only imagine now as the years have gone by, what kind of shape some of the equipment was in when these poor sailors were injured. Now that I'm thinking about it, the cht line had a habit of bursting about once a year..always good for a nice foot-deep flood in the passageway!

7/18/2008 10:37 PM

Blogger daddysgirl said...

I was looking to surprise my dad with some of his pals from the Frank Cable. He served during the 80's. If you were there with him Please let me know. I would love to help you get in touch with him.

12/28/2008 2:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

reading all these comments on what happened on Dec. 1, 2006 just really hit me. I was there when it happened, in the fireroom of the USS Frank Cable. i was in front of the boiler when the back of the boiler blew out. it's been many years since but still i remember it clear as day. it was a day that makes me thank God i'm still alive and well. at the same time it brings back painful memories...i was able to walk out of there with only minor burns. i am honored to have served with these fine men that were hurt.

2/09/2011 6:38 PM

Anonymous said...

It won't work in reality, that's exactly what I consider.

11/02/2011 12:52 AM


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