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.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

This Picture Could Cause A Fuss

Many submariners know that there have always been "holes" in the Arctic ice during the summer months, sometimes even in the farthest north. Stripped of this context, however, I'm sure there will be people who will make a big deal about this picture of USS Providence (SSN 719) "moored" at the North Pole:

USS Providence is on her way to the 7th Fleet AOR, and surfaced at the Pole to honor the first trans-polar voyage of USS Nautilus (SSN 571) -- Nautilus left Pearl Harbor to start her journey 50 years ago today. House Resolution 1067, honoring the Nautilus and her historic accomplishment, unanimously passed the House last month.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Excellent insight Joel.

I have been a global warming skeptic. That photo just changed my mind.

Go nuclear power! Go renewable and carbon free. Divorce from fossil fuels!

PS: I still don't like Al Gore, though...

7/23/2008 7:30 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think history will show that our weather is nothing more than cyclical. While the environment can act as a catalyst, Global warming is over hyped.

7/23/2008 8:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have nuclear subs long conserved reactor life, using polar ice for "free" cool downs?

That would make mankind somewhat responsible for the eventual polar melt. It also seems more plausible than all of the greenhouse gas modeling to date, and just as fictional. - Chauncey

7/23/2008 10:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure what you mean by a "free" cooldown - the nuclear fuel ADDS heat to the process, so cooling down would not save reactor life....

7/23/2008 10:50 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't the PROVIDENCE just return from a deployment a few weeks ago or is this a picture from that deployment?

7/23/2008 11:51 AM

Blogger HSNormal said...

The real jaw-dropper is sending a sub not capable of surfacing through the ice (without suffering significant damage) to the North Pole. THAT is what should confirm global warming the believers. I'd guess the COMSUBFOR assessed the risk, and found the ice thin enough to warrant the trip.

7/23/2008 12:16 PM

Blogger J120 Bowman said...

When I first saw this picture on The Sub Report, a north pole sign obscurred the open water and I thought somebody photoshopped the picture because there was no way a 688 with fairwater planes was surfacing through the ice. When I realized there was open water, I had the same thought as Bubblehead.
Back in the 90's my similar boat had to stay a significant distance from pack ice because if things went to shit, we wouldn't be able to suface. What has changed with the sub force to change this attitude? I'm not against the under ice ops for older 688's, I'm just curious. Is it because we need to send more east coast boats to the Pac to deploy and going over the top is the cheapest/fastest? Any insight folks?

7/23/2008 1:24 PM

Blogger HSNormal said...


I think you're words on deploying to PAC are close to the mark. Maybe Joel can provide more detail, but I think there have been 'several' LANT subs deploy to PAC through the Artic over the past few years. Proving the viability of this route adds value to the East Coast homeports.

7/23/2008 3:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can think of two boats (OK City and Newport News) off the top of my head that went up and over to get to the PAC.

7/23/2008 3:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the nuclear fuel ADDS heat to the process, so cooling down would not save reactor life...."

The nuclear fuel supplies energy. What you are saying is cooling pumps are never used to tap that energy, and excess heat does not effect chemistry. Very well, if you say so. - Chauncey

7/24/2008 10:10 AM

Blogger Aggie Sailor said...

I have traveled to the Arctic in '98, '99, and, '04. During the voyages in 98 and 99 on HAWKBILL, we surfaced both through the ice and through Polynya (Russian for lake, open water holes in the ice).

In '04, I went across on an I boat on the way to Yoko, but we did not surface. During the same tmpd, we sent some first flight boats up to practice surfacing through relatively thin ice (a couple ft). They did fine. End of story.

7/25/2008 8:04 PM

Blogger blunoz said...

We went through the Bering Strait in March 2002 on a second flight 688 with fairwater planes. We did it to test a new sonar system and prove that a 688 could make it through in the worst part of winter, and we did fine. We found a couple of open-water polynya's and did a verticle ascent in one of them. The CO looked out the periscope and said he saw chunks of ice the size of volkswagons flying by, so we slipped back down into the water and continued our mission. Anyway, the Arctic Sub Lab guys briefed us before we went on just how much ice the fairwater planes could take.
After we did that run, I think ALEXANDRIA and OK CITY were the first two boats to deploy to Westpac via the Arctic. That was in the 2003-20004 timeframe.

7/27/2008 12:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The following vignette seems to point to the fact that there's not a global warming problem at the pole. Note that the USS SKATE surfaced in a "lake" at the pole.

History Note. The nuclear attack submarine Skate hung below the Arctic ice like a matchstick suspended an inch from the ceiling of a large room. A knot of Sailors in the control room stared intently at an instrument inscribing patterns of parallel lines on a rolling paper tape. The pattern looked like an upside down mountain range. “Heavy ice, ten feet,” said one of the Sailors. Suddenly the lines converged into a single narrow bar. “Clear water!” the Sailor called out. Commander James Calvert, the skipper, studied the marks on the paper closely. He stopped the submarine, ordered “up periscope,” and peered into the eyepiece. The clarity of the water and the amount of light startled him. At this same depth in the Atlantic—180 feet—the water was black or dark green at best, but here in the Arctic, it was pale blue like the tropical waters off the Bahamas. The crew laughed nervously as Calvert reported seeing nothing but a jellyfish. Calvert turned toward the Sailor in charge of the ice-detecting instrument. “How does it look?” The Sailor flashed him the okay sign. “Bring her up slowly,” Calvert said. The three-thousand ton sub began drifting upward like a giant balloon. The diving officer called the depth as the Skate rose. Otherwise the room was deathly quiet. Calvert continued to peer through the eyepiece. When the top of the periscope came within sixty feet of the surface, he spotted heavy ice to the side. He flipped the prism to look straight up, but saw nothing except the same blurred aquamarine. Sweat appeared on his forehead as he felt all eyes in the control room bear down upon him.

Calvert had survived eight war patrols in the submarine Jack and later became the third naval officer selected by Admiral Hyman Rickover to command a nuclear powered submarine. It was one of the Navy’s most demanding jobs, for it required the intellect and the courage to operate the Navy’s most sophisticated and dangerous propulsion system. This success of this mission would help Navy planners determine whether submarines could navigate safely under Arctic ice, a question with grave implications for national security, given the emerging Soviet submarine threat. Calvert ordered the ballast tanks blown. The roar of high pressure air seemed earsplitting after the tense silence of the last few minutes. Upon surfacing, Calvert ordered the hatch opened, then climbed up to the bridge. The sky was slightly overcast and the damp air felt like an unseasonably warm February day in New England, with the temperature hovering near freezing. The submarine’s black hull stood out in stark relief against the deep blue of the calm lake in which the ship now floated. Beyond the lake, stretching to the horizon in every direction, was the stark white of the permanent polar ice pack. The officer who had climbed to the bridge with Calvert called the skipper’s attention to the port side of the ship. There a full grown polar bear was climbing slowly out of the water and up onto the ice. The date was 11 August 1958 and the Skate had just become the first submarine to surface at the North Pole. Exploration of the sea has long been a naval mission. Sometimes such missions have involved simply producing scientific information, as was the case with the United States Exploring Expedition (1838-1842) led by Captain Charles Wilkes, the first American to reach the coast of Antarctica. At other times, however, the missions were linked to national security, as was the case with the voyage of the Skate. Whatever the purpose, however, those who do the exploring put their lives on the line to carry out the mission.

7/30/2008 7:22 AM

Blogger Mark Tempest said...

Where's Mitchell Gant?

8/11/2008 7:43 PM


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