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.)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

USS California (SSN 781) Joins The Fleet

PCU California (SSN 781) becomes USS California this morning in a commissioning ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk. You can watch the ceremony live at 1100 EDT here; it should also be available after the ceremony for viewing at your convenience. A timelapse video of the boat and crew preparing for commissioning can be found here. Some comments from RADM Breckenridge can be found here. And a message from the Lieutenant Governor of California is here.

Are you a plankowner?

Update 0855 29 Oct: Based on this picture on Facebook, it looks like the weather might have driven the ceremony indoors. Wusses. I stood outside in bitter December Groton cold for the commissioning of Connecticut in 1998. (As Eng, my job was to stand in front of the formation of the crewmembers who didn't have any specific role in the ceremony. That's the job I've seen the Eng do at every commissioning I've attended.)

Update 1407 29 Oct: Here are some pictures from the ceremony. And here's a picture of the crew "manning the ship and bringing her to life":

I'm sorry, but I think a commissioning ceremony is one of those times where it's OK to have the crew wear their dress uniforms topside. It's not like they're actually going to handle lines. Call me old-fashioned...

Update 2000 30 Oct: Either I didn't read the caption correctly the first time, or they've since changed it, but the caption now explains the picture above was taken during rehearsal, so it's perfectly fine that they're not in Dress Blues.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

And did you enjoy that experience of standing in the freezing cold? BZ to the powers that be for making a decision that favors the crew!

10/29/2011 10:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plankowner, USS AUGUSTA. Kittery, Maine-Jan 1985. BRrrrrrr

10/29/2011 10:14 AM

Blogger Bryan Lethcoe said...

Plankowner on 740

During our Christening ceremony, which was early July 1993 if I recall correctly, it was so darn hot during the ceremony that we had a number of folks fall out, almost including the skipper.

Our Commissioning was a bit nicer, up in Newport a year later. Good times...

10/29/2011 10:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wanted new construction, detailer insisted shore duty, went to shore duty and promptly got into trouble. Begged to go back to sea, detailer instead released me to surface detailer and ended up on the Vinson. BAH! Left the Navy after that as all QM's became ET's while on the Vinson.

10/29/2011 10:20 AM

Blogger 4MC said...

USS Louisiana (SSBN 743), Plankowner. September 6, 1997 if I remember correctly.

"They saved the Best for last."

10/29/2011 10:55 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joel, I attended the event today. Great ceremony.

The weather was fierce at the pier, much better for all inside a hanger. Impressive ship, crew, and construction schedule.

As I recall, the SSN-22 commissioning was on a Friday. There was a no-work period imposed on the other boats, so naturally we did rod testing that day.

10/29/2011 12:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fast Attack tough, NOT!

10/29/2011 1:01 PM

Anonymous Jim Skinner said...

Interesting, no SHT tiles on the hull and my god don't those camo working uniforms look horrible. It doesn't even look like they're in the Navy. Definitely should have worn dress blues and cracker jacks.

10/29/2011 3:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somewhat disappointed to see there's already a tear in her hull coating.

10/29/2011 4:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A message from the lt. governor? What, Moonbeam (the Sequel) couldn't make it?

10/29/2011 5:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Either you do it right (in dress blues) or not at all. What a disgrace!

Wear the NWU for a commissioning but not to the store? WTF - when is leadership going to finally figure this out and fix it!

That being said, Congrats to the crew for the hard work that got them to this point, and the hard work ahead - too bad they were set up to look like idiots.

10/29/2011 6:27 PM

Blogger DDM said...

Plankowner on SSN 23. It was about 8 degrees the day of the ceremony and we were in this giant heated tent. The crew stood in the back where the wind blew across our feet for about two hours. When it came time to bring the ship to life, I couldn't feel my feet. A friend of mine is the E Div Chief on the CA. He was in dress blues in a FB picture.

10/29/2011 6:41 PM

Anonymous Biologic Trace said...

So I assume you know/remember David Krucek and Eric Auglis?

10/29/2011 7:42 PM

Anonymous Boise Idaho said...

Impressive Picture

10/29/2011 8:26 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

@dddm - It looks like only the guys who ran onto the ship weren't in dress uniform; the pictures of the guys standing indoors all showed them in SDBs.

10/29/2011 8:54 PM

Anonymous Lord Symptom said...

Several were in civies, 4 wore half dress/half dungarees, another 6 Sharai double-effort punts, while the rest wore anti-wardroom quizi lift_skirts with English ruffles.

10/29/2011 10:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting, no SHT tiles on the hull . . .

Maybe I'm mistaken, but in the hi-res version it seems they can be made out.

10/29/2011 10:37 PM

Anonymous news reader said...

It looks like a platoon of Army soldiers standing on deck has just captured a submarine from the Navy.

10/30/2011 3:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those who are quick to jump on the "They are so screwed up" bandwagon, that picture was taken the day before the ceremony during rehersal.

10/30/2011 6:17 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems the boat is so ambiguous that there is an arrow pointing to the front of the boat to show the way?...We go this way men!

10/30/2011 6:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No SHT tiles because these boats (& 21-class) use MIP (mold-in place). Supposed to have been better, but jury is still out (definitely harder to replace). The lines on the sail are where the panels can be taken off for maintenance.

And in case you weren't COMPLETELY joking (or someone out there takes you seriously), the arrow is to tell the tugs where not to touch the hull (due to underhull sonar panels; see any picture/model of a 774 or 21 hull to see what I mean).

10/30/2011 8:32 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

SSN 763 (winter of 1993?) commissioned in a very heavy snow and very cold temperatures. The Gold Star bridge was closed to I-95 traffic and the Coast Guard band couldn't make the party. I believe we were also the second to last boat to slide down the ways in Groton.
I remember very well how cold it was as we waited for the tugs to come get us.

10/30/2011 9:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plankowner of USS Seawowf (SSN-21). I did not attend our commissioning (July of 1997) though, was living it up at BSY-2 factory school (at Lockheed Martin) in Syracuse, New York.

10/30/2011 12:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

*Ahem* USS Seawolf (SSN-21) that is.

10/30/2011 12:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And in case you weren't COMPLETELY joking (or someone out there takes you seriously), the arrow is to tell the tugs where not to touch the hull (due to underhull sonar panels; see any picture/model of a 774 or 21 hull to see what I mean)."

You never know in today's nuclear trained force where a person can't take a dump without a procedure.

10/30/2011 5:02 PM

Anonymous news reader said...

@anon 0617 Aww, we're just messin' whichya

10/30/2011 7:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plank Owner- Uss Michigan SSGN

10/31/2011 12:15 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plank Owner- Uss Michigan SSGN

Sorry dude, just because your boat changed missions you don't get to call yourself a plank owner.

10/31/2011 9:06 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

USS Portsmouth October 1 1983 at Portsmouth shipyard. Had the duty that night

10/31/2011 10:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "No Push" arrows are for the retractable bow planes, not the WAA panels, there are more of those aft with no arrows.

10/31/2011 6:53 PM

Blogger tennvol said...

Plankowner, USS Nebraska (SSBN 739), July 10, 1993. It was hot, and if I remember correctly, we set a new record high temperature that day.

11/01/2011 8:48 AM

Anonymous KVI said...

Plankowner on the Hartford. IN December, IN Groton ,IN Dress Blues, NO peacoats! :)

11/01/2011 1:32 PM

Blogger Ross Kline said...

Plankowner on the USS Alaska (SSBN732). Commissioned January 25, 1986. Yes, it was cold. No, peacoats were NOT allowed. I, however, was the SRW.

Plankowner on the USS Wyoming (SSBN742) Commisioned July 13, 1996. Bertha (I don't remember if it was still a hurricane, or had been downgraded to a storm) was blowing. We went inside the auditorium at Subbase, and comissioned the boat at NUSC via radio

11/01/2011 8:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plank Owner USS Andrew Jackson SSBN-619B. Commissioned July 3, 1963 at Mare Island. Arrived PreCom in August 1962. Last reunion summer of 2009. Thirteen Plank Owners attended including me.


11/02/2011 6:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thankfully in my 24 years I was never a plankowner and never did yard period. Just operational boats and an occasional drydocking for SRA or upkeeps and those were bad enough.


11/02/2011 8:43 PM

Anonymous TRF said...

SSN 763 - we had a blizzard/ice storm for the launch in Jan '93, and a blizzard for commissioning a year later.

11/03/2011 11:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, we did the REHEARSAL in nwu's the day before. The Day of commissioning we wore full dress blues. The ceremony was moved from the pier to a hangar the night before. We did not get to run on the ship and bring her to life.

11/05/2011 11:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’m a Plank Owner on USS La Jolla (SSN-701) it was commissioned 24 October 1981. What a miserable day. It was in the 40’s with 15 mph wind gusts. We had to wear dress blues with no gloves or coats. I was in such pain as I had been frost bit on my extremities while I was growing up in Iowa and after that, any cold just becomes pain. My only saving grace was that I was in the second rank topside and I could move around a little bit. For such a joyous occasion, it was one of the most miserable times of my carrier. There were guys crying from the pain. I don’t know how long it lasted but it seemed a lifetime.

I’m also a Plank Owner on the USS Chicago (SSN 721). That was a great commissioning. We were the first crew to “Run” onto the boat to man the boat. We were towed over to Norfolk for the commissioning and then towed back to Newport News to finish the work required PSA.

That Damn Good Looking Aganger From Iowa.

11/07/2011 9:14 PM

Blogger Mal said...

Here are some pics of the indoor ceremony from Flickr Here is the long form if that does not work

11/10/2011 12:58 AM

Anonymous nike free cheap said...

Left the Navy after that as all QM's became ET's while on the Vinson.

11/10/2011 10:50 AM

Anonymous Dave Cochenour said...

The Co was my ENG on the 705. Pretty good dude glad to see his career has gotten this far.

11/11/2011 8:24 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

SSN-701 plankowner: what can you tell us about Adm. Rickover and the crash back testing? It one of the last straws that got him fired, so it's a tale worth telling.

11/16/2011 3:26 PM

Blogger Hals said...

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1/18/2012 6:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a plankowner, and the rain that day was rediculous. I can promise you that they didn't move the ceremony indoors for the crew....they did it for the guests

3/24/2012 6:39 PM

Blogger d-dub said...

That picture was rehearsal, not the commissioning. I would know... As I am a part of the crew...

4/04/2012 4:34 PM

Blogger Steveap88 said...

Actually I thought we were the last to slide down the ramp. Glad to have had the experience for sure, but MAN was it cold. I reupped topside while we waited for the tugs (first on board!) and remember trying not to shiver. Btw didn't we have Hillary Clinton christen us, listed as someone else. (plankowner,rm2)

6/28/2012 7:35 AM


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