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, August 01, 2008

USS Houston Radioactive Leak Reported

I'm back online now, but during the short time I couldn't post here after being erroneously identified as a potential "spam blog", a story about submarines and nuclear power showed up on the front page of Excerpts:
Water with trace amounts of radioactivity may have leaked for months from a U.S. Navy nuclear-powered submarine as it traveled around the Pacific to ports in Guam, Japan and Hawaii, Navy officials told CNN on Friday.
The leak was found on the USS Houston, a Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine, after it went to Hawaii for routine maintenance last month, Navy officials said.
The problem was discovered last month when a build-up of leaking water popped a covered valve and poured onto a sailor's leg while the submarine was in dry dock...
...Officials with knowledge of the incident could not quantify the amount of radiation leaked but insisted it was "negligible" and an "extremely low level." The total amount leaked while the sub was in port in Guam, Japan and Hawaii was less than a half of a microcurie (0.0000005 curies), or less than what is found in a 50-pound bag of lawn and garden fertilizer, the officials said.
While us nukes know that this really isn't that big a deal, we really can't talk about it in the open like this. All of us know where the leak came from (it's obvious they weren't using the "drum" this time) but any discussion of coolant discharge is pretty much covered by NNPI, so we can't go there. For example, until this post, there's only one Google return for the search "coolant discharge log"; luckily for me, it's from an official Navy site (Vol. VI, Chapter 25, Para. 25.2.4 of the JFMM), but it only says that the discharge log can be used to determine the number of days in-port or in drydock for URO periodicity determination -- that brief mention at least allows me to mention that such a document exists.

Pretty much all we can do is confirm that the amount of radioactivity reported discharged in port is very, very small and wouldn't be likely to cause any problems. I can also add that, in my experience, the discharge log is one of the most closely audited pieces of administration on the boat, so you can be pretty sure that the numbers the Navy is putting out are right. Not that this will matter to the many alarmists who are sure to come out of the woodwork. Still, I think the Navy did a smart thing by releasing the total curie content of the potential in-port discharge, along with a comparison of how small this level of radioactivity really is.

Update 2205 01 Aug: Checks With Chart has more, including a link to the Navy Times article on the incident.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still, to quote Judas Priest: "Some heads are gonna roll..."

At least it opens up some billets so the rest of us can have a better shot at promotion.

8/02/2008 7:48 AM

Blogger Jarrod said...

I'm having trouble with the whole "popped" the covered valve thing. Without looking at the Two Guys I can't be sure how much pressure that would take, but it sounds like there was more going on here than the article says.

8/02/2008 8:06 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

I think it's perfectly normal. If you have a leaky relief valve, under certain leak mechanisms the pressure on the blocked outlet side will essentially equalize with the inlet pressure (have a small d/p with respect to overall pressure). If inlet pressure is fairly high, the outlet pressure on the valve can get high too over time.

8/02/2008 8:39 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To The Tick... ha ha ha... Well said.

8/02/2008 9:34 AM

Blogger Bot said...

I personally audited this particular discharge log just a few months ago. I hope they don't track me down on shore duty for the critique.

This is a classic example of making mountains out of mole hills (or ant hills, in this case). I like how the media have connected this with the GW fire, although they actually have nothing to do with each other.

If the Japanese radiation monitor boats had found anything, they would have screamed at the top of their lungs. Since they didn't....

8/02/2008 9:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it just "coincidence" that this story "breaks" in the major news media the day after a Presidential Candidate announces that he might support nuclear power IF it can be "environmentally safe?"

Just wondering...

Dave! ex-FTB1(SS)
USS Michigan SSBN-727(G) 82-88

8/02/2008 10:21 AM

Blogger richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/02/2008 12:00 PM

Blogger richard said...


I am glad your dispute with the "Man" was resolved and you were not detaind like "EM Log" I am not sure how I would cope here with 2 of my favorite sub bloggers being gone.

I also love how the news media blows things like this out of proportion with information they know little about. I am posative that if there was any contamination in the water in Japan the guys in the small boat in RAD suits with buckets and geiger counters would have picked it up. They must have forgotten to mention that part.

8/02/2008 12:02 PM

Blogger Jarrod said...

I guess that could work for a relief valve, but it sounded a bit like they were talking about your garden variety capped valve. Popping a cap off one of those seems like it would take a significant pressure, indicating significant valve leakage.

8/02/2008 12:46 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

While not being conversant with the operational pressures involved here (I was a QM), it seems to me that the firing of the CO was a bit of an overreaction.

Can anyone comment on that?

8/02/2008 3:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

it didn't "pop" off the cap. It simply had pressure built up in the line so when back leakage protection was established more water was in the line than was expected.

8/02/2008 3:45 PM

Blogger Jarrod said...

Well, that makes more sense.

8/02/2008 4:42 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

g. randy,

The CO was not fired. It was the CO (and XO) of the GW that got fired. I know the CO of the HOUSTON. He is rightfully, very much still in place. Bubblehead's analysis is right on the money.

8/02/2008 7:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't they get the units wrong on one or the other of the renderings of total activity reliced? looked like micro micro cu. Maybe I'm rusty.

8/02/2008 7:25 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

anonymous & bubblehead:

Thanks for the info.

It is still bothersome that the media would hype the incident of the pressure relief valve (?) by equating a normal (if rare) mechanical incident with deliberate dumping, which would of course be malfeasance.

8/02/2008 8:44 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

It’s already a major embarrassment to the Japanese government.

What a hunk of junk…two dry-dockings in 4 months. It is a floating wal-mart…like to see its maintenance history say for the last year?

We need an independent material and readiness inspection…non navy people…to inspect ever ship in the Navy. Remember the Navy itself has had such a inspection on a few ship…..basically these ships lacked a war fighting capability because of their readiness capability.

The Japanese should make a formal request for an investigation…what was going on in that maintenance period in Japan…what was going on pre Sasebo?

The four years I was on my sub…we never went into dry-dock except for a scheduled shipyard overhaul.

8/02/2008 9:22 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

I wouldn't put any faith in a non-Navy inspection team, or in any case, one that had even the remotest connection to the outfit doing the civilian maintenance.

My sub incurred a blowout (from a pinhole to 3" in about ten seconds flat, according to the Aux Machinery rover) in the Main Steam Return pipe at depth in the Tongue of the Ocean (a real emergency blow to the surface followed). We returned to Charleston on the outboard (!).

A review of the contractor's records revealed that they had faked the refit inspection x-rays, a not uncommon practice, I understand.

8/02/2008 9:37 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

I was off the coast of Russia where we had a propulsion electrical short…we ended up on the outboard too…we didn’t think we were going to get the generators back. That’s the closest I ever came to re-upping. We figured it would at least take us 4 years to get back to the states on the outboard going 1.5 knots on hour….but doesn’t the gulf stream go north? We thought they were going to make us drive it home on the ouboard…least we could get the re-up bonus if we were stuck on the ship.

You must be on one of those new ships cause we never had a steam return line. How was Fort Liquor-dale?

We put it together in two days.

That aux machinery watch is a forward puke…lucky it didn’t hit the O2 bottle?

8/02/2008 11:30 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Hmm, they asked the right question...we got a safety problem....not a radiation problem.

8/03/2008 12:33 AM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Sorry forgot this.

A civic group opposed to the deployment to Japan of the nuclear-powered George Washington said the leak raises doubts about the safety of the U.S. Navy's nuclear-powered vessels.

"The claim...that the U.S. Navy's nuclear-powered vessels are safe and are not susceptible to radiation leaks has completely broken down," Masahiko Goto, a lawyer representing the group said in a statement.

8/03/2008 1:00 AM

Blogger Rosemary Welch said...

Gosh, I'm glad all of your commenters made it home safely!

Hi Bubblehead. How are you doing? I'm well. I really like your site. I am going to add it to my site (blogger) Rosemary's Thoughts. You will be able to find the others from there.

I am a civilian (if you hadn't figured out yet, lol), so I do not understand some of the Navy lingo. I tried to join, but that's another story from a long time ago.

Why did the other person get fired? (The one who is not the CO, but higher up.) Was it his responsibility to make sure that all ships are shipshape? And why does everyone refer to their ship as a 'boat'? I always thought those little itty bitty things I drove were boats, and the ones you drove were ships! They are so big and beautiful and magnificant. But that is just my opinion. ;)

8/03/2008 1:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the Japanese whack jobs- why home port the GW out of Yokoska? It's insanely expensive, since their shipyard can't do half of the maintenance (I guess it never occurred to anyone in the Pentagon that there were "foreign nationals" living there). It was great throwing them some make-work with the Coral Sea, but the good times are over.

8/03/2008 8:39 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forward deploying a carrier in Japan gives the U.S. a very rapid response to anything happening in Korea or even China/Taiwan. Hell South Korea and Japan are in a bit of an argument over an island in the Sea of Japan. Isn't or wasn't GW going to have essentially a two crew thing going on or I am thinking of the Guam boats?

Houston is an early second flight 688, 27 years old. They are getting a little long in the tooth I would bet. Houston is also one of those boats that seems to pop in the news fairly regularly and not in a good way IIRC.

8/03/2008 10:59 AM

Blogger T said...

rosemary: Boat refers to any vessel small enough to be hoisted on a ship. Old (like really old) subs were small enough to be hoisted out of the water onto a ship, and the idea of subs as boats has stuck, even though our biggest subs are nearly 600 feet long now and certainly could never be hoisted onto any ship we currently have built.

8/03/2008 11:03 AM

Blogger David Guettler said...

Bubble Head,

This is David from blog "AGSS-555"
I was on the Baton Rouge as well, so I find this information helpful and intresting. I was not a nuke, but I get a general idea of what your saying, since I had to qual on "nuke" basics. I spent a lot of free time back aft, as I thought it was awesome! I knew that after my time was up on submarines, that I would never get a chance to see this technology up close again. After Baton Rouge I did two tours on the diesel "Dolphin". Thanks for report. David (g-man)

8/03/2008 11:08 AM

Blogger David Guettler said...

Bubble Head,

I'm bragging now. As a SK on a nuke we had to get "some" nuke parts for you guys. Mainly mechnical. This gave me clearence to the 3 demensional drawings of the reactor. That was awesome too! It was like walking thru the reactor. David g-man

8/03/2008 11:34 AM

Blogger bothenook said...

after the navy, i was a nuclear shift test engineer at mare island. i can't even begin to guess at how many hull valve and relief valve leak checks i did. the one and only thing that really stands out is that there was NO submarine commanding officer in my experience that would accept the allowable leakage rate of any of the valves connected to sea that had to be reported on the discharge log. when you have specs down in the cc per hour range, even a couple of cc's of water over a long time ends up as a number big enough to give CO's a conniption fit. as a shipyard test engineer, i was pissed plenty when we had to go back into a valve to make it 0 leakage, since what we tested was well within limits. as an ex ELT, i understood completely, and often advocated for the ship with the joint test group members to go fix a perfectly good valve.
the articles i've read in the last couple of days have been ambiguous to say the least, but understandable since a vast majority (like 99.99999999%) of the reporters out there a: don't understand what the hell they are talking about in the first place, and b: "if it bleeds, it leads" sells newspapers. one statement i read was right on, but still cloudy: "it's about the same amount of radioactivity found in a 50# bag of fertilizer". they haven't really said whether the leak was about that amount at each stop, or over then entire deployment. either way, it's still great fodder for the sensationalists...

8/03/2008 1:34 PM

Blogger bothenook said...

hey joel, something off topic, but relevant i think.
i notice that a lot of your commenters have "blocked" profiles. i get it. really. blogger requires a profile to post to many of the blogs, based on the blog author's requirement of having one to reduce spam. you and i don't choose those constraints, but they are there. what i'm talking about is that there are a bunch of submariners out there, most if not all with something interesting to say to the rest of us, but don't have a blog. based on the quality of the comments, i'm sure of it. wish they would fix that, because most of the submariners that do have blogs are intelligent and have a lot to pass on to the rest of us. if nothing else, the sea stories would make for many interesting evenings sitting in front of the 'puter.

8/03/2008 1:45 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Houston is an experienced actor, initially starring in a Navy recruiting film and then getting her "big break" in June 1989 with a part in The Hunt for Red October (where she played her sister ship Dallas). However, that summer and autumn were plagued with mishaps.
In May, before getting involved with the film, a broken valve caused a depth excursion. Then on 14 June, during the shoot, Houston snagged a tow cable, sinking the tugboat Barcona in the San Pedro Channel near Santa Catalina Island, and drowning a tugboat crewmember. Then, two days later, after filming wrapped, Houston was en route to San Diego, California when she was caught in the net of the fishing boat Fortuna. The nets were destroyed, but no injuries were reported.
On 1 July 1989, Houston left port for a training run. A few days into the training schedule, a standard low-pressure ventilation procedure was conducted at periscope depth. Suddenly and unexpectedly, seawater began flooding from the main air vents. The boat took a sharp up-angle and began driving toward the surface, but lost headway to the weight of the water she had taken on and began to slide backward. Seawater reached the battery compartment and chlorine began to rise from the battery well.
Emergency surfacing
The full power of the Houston’s engines restored headway and drove her to the surface. As soon as she broached, however, she lost her up-angle, and the thousands of pounds of water in her bilges rushed forward. The boat pitched forward, taking on a steep down-angle. Pulled by the weight of the water and pushed by the full power of her engines, Houston dove precipitously.
The engines were reversed in a crash-back maneuver and an emergency ballast tank blow was performed. Houston’s plunge slowed, reversed, and she shot up again, this time remaining on the surface.
Houston returned to port after a long and slow surface transit. The main snorkel valve had failed to close properly. An audible signal that would indicate the valve's opening and closing had been disabled. While eight crewmen were transferred from the Houston, not all left the submarine service.
Houston’s troubles were not over. On 1 August, an electrical fire ignited in the engineering spaces. In September, because of a navigation error, the boat had a close call with a torpedo launched from a helicopter in a training exercise. In November, a navigation error caused the loss of the boat's towed sonar array.
Crewmen aboard the boat during her troubles in the late 80s/early 90s called her the boat from hell; some with affection, some not.
In December 1998, Houston was off the coast of southern California during a training exercise when the common discharge flex coupling for the boat's R-12 units ruptured. R-12 is a refrigerant that is used in air-conditioning and refrigeration units and is toxic.[citation needed] The quick actions of the crew allowed the R-12 to be ventilated overboard while the crew were in emergency air-breathing apparatus (EABs) that protected them from the toxic effects of the gas. A quick stores off-load also saved the perishable foods in the refrigeration compartments. A subsequent and similar rupture happened again in late 1999. These flex-coupling weaknesses have been identified as class problems on Los Angeles-class submarines
Houston was awarded the Battle "E" and engineering "E" in 1998 and Tactical "T"'s in 1999 and 2000.
In May 2000 Houston while transiting between Pearl Harbor, and Yokosuka, Japan, damaged her screw, and had to return to Pearl Harbor for repairs in dry dock. USS Asheville (SSN-758), took over Houston's duties, and completed her planned mission.
In September 2000 Houston lost her anchor while attempting to anchor off the coast of Pattaya Beach, Thailand for a port call. In order for the crew to get a few days of much needed liberty, the crew was divided and took turns steaming the ship around the bay while their counterparts were ashore.
In November 2000 Houston had seawater introduced into her high pressure air system through an inproperly capped shore connection header and leak by of several high pressure air valves that allowed seawater to contaminate the system from the shore connection all the way to the high pressure air dryer (HPAD). This affected her ability to stay at sea (due to emergency recovery requirements in maintaining high pressure air) and she subsequently returned to port to decontaminate the system.
In June 2001 Houston was conducting normal training operations in the Pacific off the coast of Washington state, which included a "crash back" drill, in which the ship goes from ahead flank (maximum forward speed) to back full emergency (maximum engine power in reverse). The maneuver proceeded well, despite the tremendous shaking, noise, and stress the maneuver creates, until the boat began to gain sternway (actually moving backwards through the water).
When a vessel is moving backwards, her rudder and in the case of a submarine, her planes, function in the opposite manner than when she is moving forwards. The stern planesman failed to compensate for this phenomenon, and continued to try to trim the boat as if they still were making headway. When the stern began to rise, he raised the stern planes, which would have depressed the stern if they had been moving forward. While making sternway, it had the opposite effect, increasing the down-angle. The stern continued to rise, more rapidly as the boat accelerated backwards. Before the problem could be corrected, Houston had attained a 70 degree down-angle and her screw broached the surface while still turning at a high rpm. The control team performed a partial emergency ballast tank blow and safely surfaced the boat.
Houston underwent an extensive overhaul at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, WA, commencing September of 2001. The upgrades included reactor refueling, as well as navigation, fire control and sonar upgrades. In December of 2004, Houston departed PSNS for her new homeport of Apra Harbor, Guam.
Author Robert D. Kaplan embedded aboard the ship in the spring of 2005 and recounted his experiences in her for his book Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts[1] in Chapter Four "Geeks with Tattoos: The Most Driven Men I have Ever Known."
On August 1, 2008 the Navy reported to CNN that the Houston was found to have been leaking radioactive water for months while on patrol and visiting stations in Japan, Guam and Hawaii. The problem was discovered a month earlier during servicing at Pearl Harbor. One crewman was exposed to radioactive water but not injured. The Navy reported that the Houston's leak released only a "negligible" amount of radioactivity. [2]

8/03/2008 5:39 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Man they are hitting the USS Houston story hard on CNN today.

She is a movie star...with a horrible record. She was an almost American widow maker many times?

Why aren’t most sub’s records like this, but they are keeping that information from us....they are just documenting more accurately problem with the Houston because she is a star.

I’ll tell you want....everyone today is looking for more hidden problems in the whole fleet.

USS Houston (SSN-713)
Houston is an experienced actor, initially starring in a Navy recruiting film and then getting her "big break" in June 1989 with a part in The Hunt for Red October (where she played her sister ship Dallas). However, that summer and autumn were plagued with mishaps.

8/03/2008 5:54 PM

Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/03/2008 8:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, all. Just to give everyone a little bit of info. I spent 4 and 1/4 years on the Houston. Brought her from San Diego to Bremerton then took her to Guam. Well Tick, Yeah, some heads will roll. That's a given. It always is. By Navy logic, somebody screwed up, somebody else screwed up in not noticing that someone had screwed up. Houston is a decent boat but, again, yeah, she's getting up there in age, and she's had more than her fair share of problems. In some cases they're deserved [i.e. the stupid will be punished] sometimes they're not. I with several thing though, from my knowledge of the Houston. Yeah, the leak was probably infinitesimally small, so this probably isn't a radiation problem, it is, more than likely a safety and admin problem. As far as the whole GW thing, hey, if the Japanese don't want us there, let's take ALL our toys, and ALL our money, and spend it someplace else, where they might appreciate it a little bit more. Also, for general info, HOUSTON IS NOT an early second flight 688, HOUSTON is a late 1st flight 688, no VLS. For 'a fomer elt 2jv' Give it a rest, everybody and there brother has heard that bleeding g**h c**p. You did your time, got paid, extra, and got out. If your job was such a heartache, you shoudl have talked to the chaplain or the psych evaluator at the hospital Maybe they cuold have helped you. It's obvious no one else could have.

My best to all,
ex-QM Nav-ET


8/03/2008 9:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Twenty year surface ELT showing his ignorance here. The CNN article stated "An investigation found a valve was slowly dripping water from the sub's nuclear power plant. The water had not been in direct contact with the nuclear reactor, Navy officials said." Do submarines have a source of contaminated water that us surface sailors are not familiar with?

8/04/2008 2:31 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

I reported above that it was the Aux Machinery rover who discovered a steam leak in the Main Steam Return pipe on my sub (a Lafayette class FBM).

In point of fact, it was the Engine Room rover who discovered the leak in the diesel engine room just forward of the Main Engine compartment (actually, he nearly walked into the steam jet). The Main Steam Return pipe was in fact the actual return pipe (13" dia.?) from the turbines to the reactor room just forward of the diesel room. The holing of the pipe occurred on the port side, approx. ten feet forward of the open hatch which is immediately next to the Maneuvering Room. I shudder to think of what would have happened if the rover had not had lightening reflexes, as after he dove through that hatch, he immediately closed and dogged it. Otherwise, four steam-poached engine room personnel and Lord only knows what after that.

So you can see that the bursting of the pipe was rather serious. I believe that the superheated steam in the pipe runs at about 450 F (?) and is under considerable pressure.

And yes, Mike, we got some assist to the outboard from the northwardly-flowing Gulf Stream.

8/04/2008 4:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could produce a history file like that for any of the boats, where a cook grounding out a mixer becomes "The boat then suffered several electrical failures". Just think about all the close calls you have just driving to and from work. If you started keeping track of them, after a while you'd be too scard to drive.

I would assert that where a carrier is home ported has little to do with its response time - after all, it's not like the Navy leaves them in port until they're needed. They're going to have to go back to Bremerton for any major overhauls, anyhow. Trying to operate one out of a foriegn port is our way of providing some make-work, and a half-assed territorial claim.

8/04/2008 7:12 AM

Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

Anonymous et alii:

I apologize for my previous rant. It took about 2 hours before I realized that it was not appropriate, and for those who read it, I'm sorry.

FYI. I'm pretty sure that 5 microCurries of Navy long lived completely ignored the other really-really long lived stuff. The activity estimates of 08 are usually underestimated by a factor.

Best of luck.

8/04/2008 8:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's gonna be a whole new ball game with the GW in Yokosuka. think of all those additional CNFJ billets to be staffed to cover the USN "six" with a Nuc Carrier Home Ported there. It's easy to hide an inport SSN in Yokosuka or Sasebo. Just stick it out in the boonies and you'll never know it's there. With 130 + crew who knew when they were inport. With 4000 ships company on the GW, it's the big elephant in the yard. Learning curve for CNFJ gonna be steep, very few port visits in Japan for CVN's. Last one I was aware of was the Reagan visit to Sasebo in late 06? MWR club operations made a bundle off the crew and "Sailor Town" girls were very happy, wealthy, and very tired when she left. JN's in Sasebo didn't seem to be fazed by their visit. Pretty sure GW reception gonna be very different in Yokosuka.

I'm hunching GW will spend a considerable period of time inport Guam. Submarine Tender there to handle their Nuc "Stuff". KH been there on several occasions as well as the Lincoln and the Reagan I believe. I do know that there is a major construction project to improve Kilo Pier to support CVN's.

Yep, gonna be an interesting time for the Nav in Yokosuka after September.

Keep a zero bubble.......


8/04/2008 12:43 PM

Blogger submandave said...

G. Randy Primm: I'm not trying to bust your tale, but to understand it better. Sounds like the leak you're talking about was in AMR2LL, but what gets returned to the RC isn't "steam" but condensate (hot water). If I'm remembering the USS Vallejo (SSBN 658) right, the main feed pumps were in AMR2LL, so there shouldn't have been any "steam" in that space at all. Now, on the Valley-Joe we had a boot on a condenser ruptred and that filled the ER with lots of nice fog very quickly, but, like I said, that was in the ER.

As for all the new jobs in Yokosuka with the GW, FYI and FWIW they've added a second floor to CSG7 and the Commodore has picked up a new job as headquarters for the Emergency Response Cell. So, yes, there are some additional manpower requirements, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it largely handled in the traditional Navy nuke manner (additional watches for those qualified and competent).

8/04/2008 1:25 PM

Blogger submandave said...

re. the boot rupture, it was a very memorable pucker event to hear a loud noise come over the 1MC with indistinct words followed by the PPC alarm. Training really does take over, because I was in the tunnel peeking through the AMR2window looking for lobsters before I had time to think about what I might have been running towards.

8/04/2008 1:29 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...


That was a true story about being off the coast of Russia without our main propulsion...and on the outboard....1978. We faced the gulf stream from the other side....I knew you were in the gulf stream at the other end. I was stationed on the USS Lipscomb. Its razor blades now. As you can see from my entries...people generally spend a lot of effort with challenging me on being authentic. I am a little paranoid. That’s why I went a little humorous when I seen some discontinuities in your message. The Lipscomb was an experimental ship and generally considered as dangerous and a technological failure.

It’s difficult with all these different submarine designs. We had only one bulkhead above the reactor...the engine room was just one big open space and forward of the reactor was another huge open space...except the diesels. You confused the heck out of me with all these compartments. We was always worried about flooding and that water sloshing around, like the USS Houston. Is it a design defect?

We were an extremely long, heavy and thin fast attack submarine... for its time. I am sure that made us even clumsier on the outboard.

I sorry if I sounded like I was disrespecting you.

8/04/2008 4:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Lipscomb might not be 100% razorblades. Have a look...and be sure to zoom in.

8/04/2008 4:43 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

I remember ‘first” seeing that long lean beautiful was brand new...from the shores of Holy Lock Scotland. We was heading towards a northern run.

I couldn’t imagine when coming across the bay on that personnel boat that someday I’d be seeing the empty reactor compartment of my sub from my lap top in my living room. I could see it anywhere in the world...of a picture from a satellite in Google in the Hanford Reservation ...with Google now one of the most important and biggest companies on the planet.

If you are a young man of around 25 years can’t even begin to imagine with how your world will turn out in 30 years. Even when you ride on one of the most advanced technologies known to humankind.

I just asked my 15 year old son, who was also working on the internet, an honors student, what’s the “cold war” about. He gave me that very familiar wise-guy smile, thought for a long time, then said “it’s something about Europe or something”.

8/04/2008 5:56 PM

Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

An interesting picture can be found here

See if you can find your boat.

8/04/2008 7:44 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

I would have taken rad samples underneath where the nuclear ships and tenders are typically docked...I mean in the top layers of the mud.

8/04/2008 10:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was on Houston in the late 80's and lived through all that crap...the stories I could tell. The closest I came to thinking we were going 3 section.

THE LIPSCOMB!!! I was on Hammerhead, early 80's, that boat was welded to the pier. The one time it did get underway, it's turbine sent a fireball across the engine room and she was towed in and re-welded to the pier. Oh those were the times...

8/07/2008 9:54 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

Great set of quotes, links, stories etc. Apparently, like many of you, I was a Nuke. Did 3 year tours back to back on the Minneapolis-St. Paul and Helena and have quite the wealth of stories to tell. I can affirm the absolute anal way the Navy takes care of its Reactors and anything to do with the care and feeding of any of its specific systems and related ones. The only other program that was even close was the Sub Safe one. All I can say is much todo about nothing and like someone else mentioned, even the slightest hint of radioactivity would have been picked up by the little follower boat and broad casted to the world. I know saner heads and comments will not prevail here, but the underlying message should be that this is not an issue, nor is it cause for alarm. Just sensationalism at it's finest.

8/07/2008 10:44 AM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...


There was a lot of junk welded to the pier towards the ending of the 1970’s in Groton. We should have been welded to the pier.

8/07/2008 8:07 PM

Blogger Bubblebreath said...

Lessee, 9 micro-curies over 2 my calcs,that comes to 0.0005 micro-curies per hour into a huge ocean, damned difficult to detect, as it obviously was an external 'leak'. Can you say 'XC'? I knew you could....

Just for the record, I was a member of the last nuke school class that required SS qual for entry. I qualified first on the SS-483, then served as an RO and Lead Ships Diver on the 611 and 598, both razor blades now. Left the navy as an ET1(SS)(DV) after 5 years, 10 months, and 22 days on an early-out to attend college under the GI Bill.

8/14/2008 11:03 AM

Blogger Socialfuel said...

Computers are impersonal, but that doesn't mean your computer techs should be impersonal, too.
Computer Repair Pearland

11/28/2011 11:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

many of the "problems" reported from USS houston ssn 713 come from the cover up of a very large depth excersion in 1986 far exceeding test depth. I was on the helm during this event so this is first hand reporting.

12/07/2011 11:45 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home